My eye is infected. I don't know why it's just my right eye that's affected. When this happened weeks ago, I was told it was a development of allergies, that I should take allergy medicine daily. I'm prescribed a bottle of drops. They don't work. I'm prescribed an ointment. I'm to apply it on the inside of my eyelid. Six times a day. I do it because I'm tired of this shit. I do it because my own body's regulatory regime doesn't seem to care about conjunctivitis. I envy my son, stupidly, for his body's response to an ear infection.
I'd kill for a fever right now to cook this shit off. But it's not coming, so I buy the ointment, which costs a dollar and a half. I'm thankful for that, but resent the whole process. Resent my dependence on this, resent the itching, resent the fucking hazy vision. But I do it because I don't know what else to do. In the distance, I idly imagine my eye rotting out of my head.
I think about what Karl said. I think about modern America's fears: of death, of aging, of illness, of incapacitation, of maiming, of crippled hands and feet, of missing eyes and teeth. I know the disease that in turn springs from such hopeless fear, the real impotence that results from a life lived in denial of the inevitability of its end.
I think about human experimentation and drug trials. I think about Jack Crow and biological warfare tested in our own backyards. I think about millions of aching backs, millions lost to office obesity, millions of drug addicts legal and otherwise. I know about what society promises in terms of health and pleasure. I know how it delivers--no, fosters--plague, dysfunction, and pain.
And I think about the technocratic paradise that IOZ well eviscerates. I remember arguments with liberal friends who insist that all technology trickles down. I know that many of us have become accustomed to pleasures whose payment we are becoming less and less able to afford. I know that things are going to change, and that will bring disappointment as surely as opportunity. Many of us still live in a world that is fast being revealed to be false--and what is not false is flimsy.
And I remember Orwell's statement, in discussing Mein Kampf, that Hitler succeeds on the failure of Western capitalism--and most forms of socialism--to acknowledge that man does not merely desire idleness and pleasure--or, at least, not all the time. There is part of us that desires and should at least accept some hardship, some travail, some labor as essential to life, as inescapable and yet not necessarily evil or wrong. Some hardship is ennobling, and a life out of the cage would bring some amount of just that kind of hardship.
I feel we must acknowledge what states and authority and society do provide, not because we seek to defend all of the above but because we should think about what, in their hypothetical absence, many will still seek. Humanity has paid a high cost for civilization, usually unwillingly. And yet many would return to its greatest crimes, if only to obtain some of its benefits.
Can we fault the individual who would choose health in slavery over disease in freedom? It is a false choice, surely, for civilization impoverishes billions so that millions may enjoy marginal corrections, and yet this is the choice that people will face unless we can address their fears. People in anarchy will still desire antibiotics. People in anarchy will desire lenses ground so they can see, corrective surgery so they shall not limp, cancer treatments, braces.... And if the list of demands becomes ridiculous when we extend it to iPhones and Precious Moments figurines, the fact is that people have a right to demand them. Maybe liberty will make us less desirous of folly. Anarchists should choose well how they respond to the folly remains, and to the more deserving desires as well.
Archaeology even shows us that the first generations of city-dwellers dwindled in size. Hunter-gatherers were fitter and taller, if shorter-lived. We may wonder who was happier; there is no way to know. In any case, it is only with the rise of industry that humans began to get larger (in both positive and negative meanings of the word). One can marvel at the height of Japanese men and women today, compared only to their grandparents.
If there is much that is sick and perverse about civilization, and there is much about which to be discontent, we must still think about what anarchism will provide, and what will be sacrificed. Any model that relies on a precipitous drop in population is going to be a failure with those of us who do not want to be one of the billions judged to be excessive. Any model that tells us to shrug and accept death that has recently become avoidable will be dismissed for similar reasons. I'm not saying we don't have to prepare for changes, even painful changes--especially if we live above certain income brackets where our comfort is necessarily predicated on the suffering of others. At the same time, we should acknowledge why so many of us stay in our cages if we ever want to lure ourselves into an outside about which we are ignorant and fearful.