In Neal Stephenson’s latest science fiction novel, Anathem, it’s easy to make certain comparisons between the fraas and suurs of the Mathic world and the idjits of our world’s anarchist communities. Yet, the comparison isn’t really valid on anything other than a superficial level, because the fraas and suurs are one thing the anarchists will never be: competent.
One particularly lovely concept from Anathem that does show obvious parallels to the anarchist world is that of “first among equals” – referred to in Stephenson’s book as “FAE”. It seems mildly hypocritical, at first – “we’re all equal, but some of us are more equal than others” – and, among anarchist circles, at least a little ironic: Wait, anarchists have leaders? Nevertheless, it demonstrates the importance of ego and hierarchy, and the former’s desire to create the latter where none is needed, or desired.
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