The Cause of Liberty
The Cause of Liberty
By Ander Brightwood, Published in the Year of the Black Blazon (350 NR, 1382 DR)
The Cause of Liberty is a book by Ander Brightwood that describes his philosophy of anarchism, suggesting that people do not require laws or rulers. It is known almost entirely by references made in Brightwood’s later book, Lessons from the Anarchs of Shyr, written after the Spellplague. Nearly all copies of Brightwood’s earlier book have been lost, but Seipora Gend discovered one in Luskan’s Host Tower of the Arcane.
Part one begins with a theological examination of the dogmas of Lliira, Mielikki, and Tymora, the three goddesses most closely associated with the Harpers.
Most of the time, even her own Joybringers assume that Lliira’s command to make each day a festival must be taken with a grain of salt, but what if we actually listened to the goddess? I have read of the occasional Joybringer, considered far too radical by the rest of her church, who dares to take the goddess’s command seriously. They point out that Lliira also holds the portfolio of freedom. In the festival there are no laws or rulers, yet people come together to bring joy to one another. We have the capacity to help one another and live together without the threat of violence to do so, as every festival proves. Indeed, Lliira’s command subtly reminds us, it’s when the festival ends, when we submit to that dour resignation that we can only be good to one another under the threat of violence, that we cease to do so.
“The wild ways are the good ways,” the goddess Mielikki teaches. She tells us to live in the wild and to learn from it. I have lived for some years in a remote and wild place, and what I have learned is the importance of relationships. I see many kinds of relationships, between predator and prey, between friends and allies, and between rivals, but I do not see relationships between lords and subjects. Yes, some naturalists have projected their own concepts, for Siamorphe’s delusions are a subtle and powerful venom that pervades our every thought and perception. Take, for example, the wolf pack. I have read some naturalists who emphasize hierarchy and dominance as the continual preoccupation of wolves, but I have observed a pack of wolves who live near my cottage for several years now, and what they call “alphas” are much more accurately described as “parents.” Their metaphors of kingdoms and power structures speak more to their own concepts than the way wolves actually behave. To put it in terms of rulers and ruled is far too simplistic, and an insult to the much more obvious terms of family.
I’ve long noted that my devotion to Lady Luck seemed to sit well with my general disdain for laws, but having pondered the matter more deeply, it seems to me that every law written is an insult to the goddess. Embedded in every law is the assumption that we can foresee all ends well enough to prescribe the just response in advance. If we took Tymora’s lessons to heart we would accept that this world is an endlessly varied and chaotic place. We cannot predict anything, and we are blessed for that. We must take things as they come. Justice is always circumstantial, and so every law is always an abridgment of justice. It may make it easier to rule on a case to simply decide if it violated the law or not than to determine if something was truly wrong and how best to fix it, but convenience does not mean the same thing. Every law spits in the face of Tymora, by saying that we can predict what will come — and, at the same time, it spits in the face of Tyr, by saying that we will abridge true justice for expediency, and claim his blessing for it.
In the second part of the book, Ander Brightwood discusses his own experience in Neverwinter. He discusses the cases of Fenthick Moss and Aribeth de Tylmarande as examples of how the lawful thing to do and the just thing to do are sometimes at odds. Ander expands on these examples to argue that they are often and even usually at odds.
Most Neverwintans consider Nasher Alagondar a good ruler, perhaps the best the city has ever had. They may well be right, and yet I bear the man nothing but bitterness and rage for what he did. For those who have not suffered from the justice he oversees, though, I will merely raise a question of philosophy: is there any man so good that he can always tell what is right or wrong? Is there any man so wise that he can predict all ends? Even great men, perhaps even Nasher Alagondar, make mistakes. Admitting this, how can we say that anyone is so good or so wise that they have the right to tell another person what to do?
The final part of the book brings together the first two to make the argument that not only can people live without laws or rulers, but that the world would be a better, fairer place if they did. He considers how a community might work together to protect and provide for itself, emphasizing it as a philosophical frontier where answers can only be found by experimentation.