Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Law Like Love"--9th Myth--Anarchy and Anomie

Others say, others say
Law is no more,
Law has gone away.

The Anarchists claim there is no more law. Auden has no patience for the anarchists, perhaps the first modern advocate of which being William Goodwin, who was married to the ur-feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, and was father of Mary Godwin (also known as Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein and wife to Percy Bysshe Shelley).

When at Swarthmoure in the 1940s, Auden wrote an article for the Phoenix in which he noted that though power corrupts, anarchism is to simplistic an answer to that problem. In Auden's view, Government, like it or not, is a necessary evil. And in a November 15, 1971 interview Auden stated in response to a question as to whether he thought that all artists are politically anarchists:

Basically I think this is true. It depends on what you mean by anarchism. Obviously, as a political doctrine anarchism won't work because you are always going to have some kind of regime. The idea you can have a state with no regime at all is obviously nonsense. I think we are all anarchists to some extent. We know some regime is going to be, and none of them is going to be very nice, and at any given point you feel one is the lesser of two evils. The other meaning is embodied in a certain technique which I learned at school which was how to do what you wanted without getting into trouble with the authorities.
Though in a manner of speaking all of us (not only artists) are anarchists (sin is nothing but rejection of the Natural Law, and so a form of moral anarchy), this anarchy is for most of us temporary or not systemic. Perhaps only the pathologically insane, a sociopath or psycopath, are fully moral anarchists. Most of us are anarchists only in part.

But the perception that there ought not to be law and ought not to be a State is impossible to entertain. Governance is required for the common good. So Auden viewed the Marxist notion that the idea would whither away into a benevolent anarchy as "clearly nonsense." (see

From the Anarchists, Auden then turns to the myth of the Democrats, who divinize the majority.

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