Barring some one-in-a-million chance, we are sliding into a long, dark time. When you have an intellectual class that’s gone insane, a wealthy elite that’s building bunkers for itself while looting the last of your liberty and prosperity, and a crusading enemy breeding new generations of superstitious intolerance, you don’t have a lot to build a future on. Unless it’s a future of rage, savagery, and chaos.
But then, look on the bright side.
The Endarkenment is a great age for Outlaws.
A corrupt and inefficient establishment is a habitat for Moles, as we saw with this week’s release of CIA documents to WikiLeaks.
Agitators have plenty to agitate about and more opportunity to find sympathetic — and effective — compatriots.
If it comes to battle, Agitators and Moles find each other and strike against the system.
As Endarkenment looms, even old, tired Cockapoos have more chance than ever of draining statist coffers as bread and circuses become the order of the day.
And Ghosts … may have the most enduring (if far from the most dramatic) role.
It’s no accident that when you look at the most corrupt, decadent, and decaying societies, that’s when you see individuals and small groups stepping out of them and going their own way in protest. One of the most famous (to us) examples is the Desert Fathers, who retreated as Rome built toward its fall. Seeking only retreat at first, they laid the foundations of monasticism, which institution in turn preserved knowledge and prepared the way for eventual renaissance.
But similar retreats happen around the world wherever serious, spiritual- or individual-minded people see society as being corrupt beyond repair.
What do these lone monks or clusters of creative Outlaws do? Not much on the surface. But their very lives — and their writings (there always seem to be a lot of writers) — serve as a rebuke to the powers that be and as both a message to the future and a means of ensuring that there’s a future worth having.
Being a Ghost in the Endarkenment isn’t solely a withdrawal. It’s not “Oh, things are so screwed up I’m going to go off and do my own thing and not give a damn about anybody else.” It’s an active retreat. In a sense, an active mission.
Sure, many Ghosts got where they are by going through stages of attempting to change the system, followed by deep wallows in disgust and temporary defeat. And not all who retreat deserve the name of Outlaw Ghost. People who retreat, then sit smugly saying, “I’ve got mine and there’s no point in anything else” aren’t in the Outlaw spirit at all. They’re just people making the most of their defeat. Outlaws aren’t so easily beaten.
But even quite a few who think they’re merely fed up are (dare I use this terrible term?) missionaries of a sort. Ghosts are guideposts. Ghosts are touchstones for Agitators and Moles. Ghosts help focus the efforts of activists. They can inspire, comfort, and protect, and serve and feed those who remain in the fray. Ghosts become the chroniclers of the fall and of the rebirth. But to do so, they must remain active (in their quiet way), committed, and positive. They must maintain a spirit of liberty for all and neighborliness for those who come their way in freedom. Being a Ghost is not for losers.
There’s a sad tendency for some Outlaws (Agitators and Ghosts especially) to see other Outlaws as wrong-headed and headed wrong. But that’s not true. We complement each other. At least when we’re at our best. Moles, Agitators, Ghosts — we all need each other.
Can we remember that as the gloom descends?