After the weather had improved that first week of Hatchet's return and against Poole's pleading, Hatchet had moved to the banks of a secluded creek that ran through the heart of a wildlife preserve operated by an old friend of his family.
He found a deep draw where his truck could easily be driven around a caliche cliff onto a small open bank with a huge hollow elm on which he could hang heated water in collapsible five-gallon water jugs to shower. A thirty-watt solar panel charged a gel cell twelve volt battery system that ran an inverter for electricity and he and Malorie would sit by a campfire drinking beer and wine, watching black and white movies on his laptop into the early morning. She teased him constantly for what she called his mountain man ways. He told her the sky is the best bed sheet he had ever known and the sun is the most reliable alarm clock he had ever owned and he had grown to hate the idea of sleeping under a roof. The occasional high altitude airliner proved to be the only sign of civilization that ever pestered him.
A few days subsequent to his confrontation with the angry fellow in the nightclub, he and Malorie lay cuddling under heavy blankets watching Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not. Hatchet spent most of the film describing to her how Howard Hawks had drastically changed the setting and the plot from Hemingway's original novel, erasing most of the author's hints at Marxism and completely relocating the story from Florida and Cuba to the French Caribbean island of Martinique. Malorie tried to change the direction of the conversation, remarking Bacall’s age at the time of the film and her anorexic slouch but Hatchet continued with Hemingway's sympathies for the communist supported Loyalist during the Spanish Civil War. So she finally relented to his obvious desire to press her into a deep political discussion, something she had done a worthy job of avoiding until now, deflecting his unremitting hints at his anarchism since the moment she had unveiled her intentions for public office. Their most esoteric conversations thus far had been over literature or film or her depressing family history. Now, after many desperate and ignored attempts to discuss religion with him, a far more important subject in her opinion, he was forcing her to discuss politics. I thought you were an artist, she jabbed him, compose me a poem or something. I’m doing cocaine in the bathroom of your heart—. Oh fuck that.
With the sole intention of irritating him, she bluntly accused him of being a communist. What in the hell would make you think that I'm a communist? Oh come on, Hatchet; that proletariat crap you slung at that poor dude the other night...
That was simple truth, Malorie. But, no, I'm no communist. Not by a long shot. I am an anarchist and I'm pretty sure you've figured that out by now. I believe in the idea that laws are just plain bad. I think laws cause more problems than they cure. Good people don't need them and bad people don't obey them. I'm pretty sure it was a Christian who said that.
Malorie rattled her head resting against his chest with the movie and the campfire flashing at her face peeking just above the blankets. But, Hatchet, history has shown that anarchism doesn't work, not since the beginning of time. It's never worked, no more than communism or socialism. No law means no protection. You think people are greedy now? Wait until they see what's tucked away in your shed and there are no police around. Anarchy would be a great way to destroy hundreds of millions of lives, she quipped sarcastically. And I hate to break it to you, but anarchy doesn't last long. It's a tool to destroy government that always results in a new form of government, which historically is despotic and tyrannical.
Anarchism hasn't worked since the beginning of time? Anarchism has arguably been the most dominant way of life since the beginning of time. It's only been relatively recently that we've developed systems of law. Every single species on Earth, every biological and ecological system utilizes anarchistic principles. It's the way nature works.
Oh, good lord. Okay, sure, if by relatively recently you mean at least the last ten thousand years. If you want to return to that way of life, there are a minimum of five to six billion people who'll have to disappear in short order. We are special in our ability to think and organize. Do you really think that the development of systems that allow for growth and prosperity, science and the acquisition of knowledge are unnatural and deserving of destruction? You're talking about devolution.
Hatchet pushed her forward and pulled her around and peered into the beauty blazing behind her eyes. It's not devolution, Malorie. This iron-fisted order we've established is simply a wrong turn. It's what is unnatural and will inevitably collapse.
These are interesting ideas but at some point, you need to get serious and think about how best to serve society and come up with some real solutions. The abolition of government is not a realistic or desirable option.
You said anarchism has never worked in history. I would have to say it's been given little chance. Catalonia, in the earliest part of the last century, practiced a form of anarcho-syndicalism that worked beautifully for over a year with citizen patrols and fire brigades and the like until the Republic, those Loyalists that Papa Hemingway was so fond of, came in to crush them out of their fear of the Catalonian’s guns. It's always some oppressive power that rolls in to destroy it out of fear.
Malorie laughed in his face. You're proving my point for me, Hatchet! People are too concerned for their own self-interest for this fairy-tale of yours to ever work. You said they had patrols and fire brigades. That's government if I've ever heard it, Hatchet. You're contradicting yourself. It's human nature that requires laws. Laws equal freedom for everyone. Think about it.
Obviously, but that doesn't make you right.
Her intensity bristled and he felt an overwhelming need to touch her. He reached into the warmth of the blanket and pushed his hand into the nexus of her crossed legs. Look, he said, I accept the fact that people feel the need for government and are willing to take on the burden of governing and being governed but that's not human nature. It's conditioning. It is a sham and a phantom. We all, like it or not, pick and choose which laws we're going to bow down to.
But that's exactly why democracy works. Democracy finds the laws that the majority of people agree on and keeps developing the system to serve the needs of the people.
The needs of the majority. He pointed his finger into the air.
How does that retain the autonomy of the individual?
Autonomy of the individual? Malorie's face puckered in frustration, nearly melting Hatchet’s heart. It's a democracy, Hatchet. If the majority of the people feel it's wrong to steal from their neighbor, sorry bout that slim minority that really wants to. A slur had snuck into her voice. A symptom of the wine she had been drinking.
Hatchet took his turn laughing in her face. Now you're being ridiculous.
Don't pull that crap on me. A cornerstone of anarchism is that property is theft.
Don't balk on this.
I'm not balking. You're getting off topic.
He couldn't help but smile at her and lean in to kiss her cool lips.
Now who's getting off topic? her words smushed by his attempt.
My anarchism is a philosophically personal form of anarchism—.
My anarchism makes the pragmatic assumption that if we're all obviously going to follow whatever laws we want within our personal willingness to face the consequences, that parallels how all creatures perform in nature and grants a personal autonomy to each person. All forms of government are oppression. It's simply a question of how much base line oppression we’re willing to tolerate. And as far as your democracy goes, we don't live in a democracy. This is a republic which is far from being a form of majority rule.
It's an efficient form of popular rule, Hatchet. A representative democracy. Most people are not interested in the processes of administering society, and as such, won't invest much in the way of understanding the processes and issues. We elect people to office who understand these processes and are willing to take into account the needs of the people who elected them.
And you call anarchism a fairy-tale?
It's about efficiency.
Why not embrace our natural instincts and live in a world where every situation is evaluated based on consensus? This applies to dealing with everything, including violent crimes.
Impossible. Consensus rule is too slow and cumbersome.
That's the same argument made against our so-called democratic system by totalitarian regimes like China and North Korea.
Jesus Christ. She yanked his hand from the cozy spot it had found in her crotch and leaned back to grab the bottle of wine sitting in the dirt. A representative democracy is the only solution. The only real problem with it right now is the amount of money we've allowed into the process. She took a huge gulp from the wine. But simple adjustment to the Constitution can fix that. Even with all of our technology, the idea of a direct democracy is still out of reach. I still contend that even if we could ensure that manipulation of a direct democratic vote is impossible--
If we can bank online, we can vote online
—we still have to deal with the fact that people just don't take the time to inform themselves of the issues enough to have a valid say in every single decision that needs to be made.
Hatchet could see the toll the wine had taken in her drooping eyes and loose neck. He gripped her flayed legs like bicycle handles and pulled her in very close to him, breathing in her floral scent just barely alive against the woody aroma of the campfire. You're still relenting to the conditioning that the human race has endured for far too long, he told her. Evolution controls all living things. The word evolution itself is a synonym for change. The history of homo sapiens is full of long drawn out change and short drastic change. The idea of leisure is a fairly new development in human experience.
Malorie attempted to interrupt him but he kept going, Societies have evolved from thousands of years of mutual paternal and maternal rule into monarchist structures mainly based on the influence of religious dogmas derived from a naive understanding of the universe. Now that we are slowly revealing that the mystical and the unseen are more mechanical and benign than our ancestors could ever have guessed, we are in a period of rapid growing pains. You said we are a special species. Yes, we are. We are truly unique in the animal kingdom in only one way. We can calculate the future based on past experience instead of being herded by pure instinct.
She quickly covered his mouth with her hand. That's the second time you've invoked religion during this discussion. He grasped her wrist and pulled her hand away. So? So you've run from that conversation every time I've tried to bring it up; it's not fair. What the hell is wrong with you? Fuck you, Hatchet! She sent the bottle into the fire and when it didn't explode, her anger swelled with bulbous potential. She pulled away from him and rose to her feet, dragging the blankets draped over her shoulders, leaving Hatchet cold and bare chested in the dancing orange lumina of the flames. Pacing and huffing drunkenly, Malorie stumbled clumsily around the fire on the verge of tears.
What do you wanna know, Malorie? I wanna know why. Why what? why I don't believe in your god? She stopped as if stricken with anagnorisis and glared at him. Then she furiously wadded the blankets into a boulder of fabric and propelled it into his confused face. I'm happy for you, ya know, she began hysterically as she bent to grab her boots from the ground, I'm so happy for you being the most enlightened, being of the purest light in this dark wilderness of retards! but do you really believe all this shit? that you're that special? some of us need these things, these assurances that we're not alone, that we are being guided by something that really cares for us and wants us to make the right choices! you may be as strong and as smart as you think you are but some of us aren't! and you can't go around just hating it all because it's so stupid to you! Hatchet sat dumbfounded. She was telling his future about his past but all he could muster in response: What the fuck is wrong? Just take me home, Hatchet. Malorie—. Take me home goddamn you!
River of Blood, a novel about anarchism, atheism, racism, violence, family, and corruption.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.