A Brief Overview of Archotropism

I'm interviewing Popular Liberty soon. Do yourself a solid and bone up on his Archotropism theory.

You’ve got homework

Heads up: I’m interviewing Andrew from Popular Liberty next week. He’s working on some new material building on his Archotropism framework.

If you’ve listened to him on other podcasts, you’ll probably catch right on. But if you haven’t, go listen to his appearance on Lions of Liberty (podcast link | Odysee link) to get a full explanation of what he’s talking about.

A brief overview of Archotropism

In case you can’t be bothered to listen to a podcast other than mine (who could blame you?), here’s an overview of Archotropism.

What’s the definition of Archotropism?

Archotropism (n):

  1. To turn a society towards a ruler

  2. The process of turning a society towards relying on state-derived order

Archotropic (adj):

  1. Of, or relating to, the process of Archotropism

  2. Chaos-promoting

  3. Demanding of state pro-action or reaction

Is this just a made-up word?

Yes. Every word is made-up, duh.

But also, yes. Andrew just made this word up. Archotropism has Greek roots: arkhon, meaning ruler, and tropos, meaning a turn or direction. So Archotropism is a turning (of a society, primarily) toward a ruler.

What’s an example of Archotropism?

Andrew gives the example of the book of Judges. If you’ve read my often-recommended book, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, you know the Bible is a story of a series of increasingly-large covenants, each bought about by man’s missing the mark (sin) and God’s love for man despite it all. Under the fourth covenant between God and Israel, which begins with Moses and the Exodus out of Egypt, the Israelites had no formal ruler. Instead, they were governed by the Law of Moses and Judges, whose job was to interpret the law.

Many libertarians consider a system like this, similar to British common law, the gold standard for what “a libertarian society” or “ancapistan” (or whatever) would look like. Andrew calls this covenant an “anarcho-covenant” because there was no formal earthly ruler.

The Hebrews, missing the mark, as was their wont, saw all their neighboring nations with their kings and armies. They saw their fellows wantonly missing the mark and and creating chaos in their little nation. And, as the chaos grew, the society began to crumble. They demanded that God give them a king. God, not one to miss the mark, discouraged this move. As a general rule (and as we all know), having a ruler is less preferable than being self-governing. Nevertheless, the people persisted, and, knowing he could make lemonade from the lemons, God gave in. Enter: King Saul.

So that’s an example of Archotropism! The people of Israel, dissatisfied with being free (and, likely, dissatisfied with their neighbors constant bending and breaking of the law), turned toward (tropos) a ruler (arkhon).

I don’t believe in the Bible. What’s another example of Archotropism?

Remember two years ago, when everyone would call you an insane conspiracy theorist if you told them your governor would do something as insane as shut down businesses for months and then make you wear a mask when they were allowed to reopen?

Remember a year ago when everyone called you insane for opposing them in their demand that your governor shut down businesses for months and then make you wear a mask when they were allowed to reopen?

That’s Archotropism. They turned away from liberty and toward being ruled.

What causes Archotopism?

Generally, societal degradation causes Archotropism. Andrew’s fond of the word degeneracy. I’m not a fan of that word, but it really boils down to the same thing: When people stop loving and trusting one another, seeing each other as on the same team, they make up lots of rules and social mores to prevent “them” from bothering “us”. Then it’s just a hop, a skip, and a jump to demanding violent enforcement of those rules and social mores. They turn away from love, trust, and unity, toward enforced compliance with their (almost always artificial and symbolic) rules and mores. Archotropism.

Sin makes us stupid

There’s a lot more to it than this, of course. There are many causes of societal degradation. The old catechisms, echoing Augustine and Aquinas, tell us “sin weakens the will and darkens the intellect”. Sin, missing the mark, begets further missing of the mark. And, worse, it makes us stupid.

You don’t have to be a theologian, or even particularly observant, to understand this. Think of all the times you’ve had a “bad day” because, really, you just keep fucking things up. You break a glass washing dishes in the morning. You cut yourself picking up the broken glass. You get blood on the counter. Soapy water gets under the Band-Aid and stings. You get to work, and the Band-Aid on your finger makes it tough to work, so you don’t get as much work done as you’d like. You feel unproductive. You’re constantly distracted by the stupid Band-Aid and how stupid you were to cut yourself. Preoccupied with your lack of productivity, you can’t get your head on straight and concentrate on your work, making you even less productive. You wish your boss would just give you a damn checklist so you don’t have to invent work for yourself and wonder if you’re ever doing it right. And so on and so forth.

That’s personal degradation, and it’s only over the course of one day. You sinned, missed the mark, by dropping a glass in the sink. It wasn’t even intentional! But you didn’t hit the bullseye of getting the glass form sink to drying rack or dishwasher, and that created a chain reaction that led to you continuing to miss the mark (weakening your will), not knowing what to do next in a job you’d otherwise probably be pretty good at (darkening your intellect), and, crucially, desiring more guidance from an authority figure than you would need if your will were strong and your intellect sharp.

One bad day you can recover from. Have a few bad days in a row and then you start despairing (another sin) of your ability to even do this job, which you now detest. So then you get lazy (one of the 7 deadly sins) and keep missing marks and getting less and less intellectually sharp. Eventually, the idle wish for a checklist becomes actively blaming your lack of productivity on boss, who obviously hasn’t been giving you enough direction and guidance.

This behavior of weakening ourselves through continued missing of the mark is what Andrew calls “prey behavior”. Whether we mean to do it or not, in demanding direction and imposed-order upon our chaotic lives, we are demanding a predatory relationship.

Now, imagine this personal degradation, this prey behavior, this misguided reaction to self-created chaos, collectivized on a societal level. That’s Archotropism.

The structure of Archotopism

I don’t want to give everything away here. Please listen to Andrew’s previous interviews for a fuller understanding of all this. But I do want to lay out the 6 laws of Archotropism, so you have a grip on the core and foundation of the framework:

  1. The value of power is relative, not absolute. Therefore, the value of power can neither be created nor destroyed. It may only be transferred from one wielder to another or transformed from one form into another. The sum total value of power is always conserved.

  2. Power seeks consolidation from lower concentration to higher concentration. “Predation” (for our usage) is defined as the act of consolidating power.

  3. The economic value of power is subjective.

  4. P=F/D (Power equals force divided by distance.)

  5. In a closed system, all power is subject to entropy (chaos) and tends toward decay.

  6. Overreach from one “side” demands overreach from the other “side”.

Is, not ought

To be clear, Andrew’s Archotropism framework is not in any sense aspirational. He’s not railing against “degeneracy” or advocating for any structure of government. Obviously, he has his opinions (often, they differ from mine). But this is definitely a descriptive framework, not a prescriptive one. It’s a really plausible explanation for the human social cycle, the “Fourth Turning” cycles, and even the historical progression described in Integral Theory.

So there you have it! You’re now ready to listen to me and Andrew chat. If you’re a freeloader, you’ll hear it sometime in the middle of August. But if you want to listen as soon as I hit “Save” on the Zoom recording, subscribe below for the low, low price of $7/month!