The agents of chaos

Those of the Left Hand Path are the agents of chaos; standing at the edge of chaos; and they are the champions of what is just and good.

There are always at least two extremes in life. You know you have reached the first extreme when the police take it upon themselves to be judge jury and executioner. You then reach the other extreme when angry mobs loot the retail stores. Both extremes bring a sense of completeness of absolute stagnation or anarchy, where nothing can live or grow. Death rules over both extreme states.

Both extreme states bring about injustice: the police officer murders the citizen; a retail store owner loses their business. Thus, it is a struggle of justice against injustice, upon which a member of the Left Hand Path stands.

What is justice? The ancient Greek calls justice “becoming.” The Viking word for fate – “Wyrd” – also means becoming. Justice is the middle way between extreme states, the healthy mix between what disrupts against what reorganises. When Heraclitus says “strife is justice“, he means that there is a middle point between two opposites, that mix, join, and become something more. When one opposite is dominant in the extreme, there is no mixing, there is only a state of injustice, for nothing can become from it but the death of all things.

There is a scientific set of thinking tools called complexity theory. The world such thinkers say consists of systems of elements (objects) and relationships between these objects. Through these systems flow: information, patterns that influence the formation or transformation of other patterns; and energy, the capacity to create movement. Either what flows through these systems creates something greater than the sum of its parts (positive synergy) or disrupts the system (negative synergy). The point where systems break apart and reform into more complex systems, these thinkers call the edge of chaos. What emerges from the edge of chaos, they call emergence, which they define as becoming visible after being concealed. And becoming is justice.

The ancient philosopher Heraclitus says “Panta Rhei!” everything flows; strife is the agent and primary principle of change and motion; the unity of the opposites bring about justice and all good things. And thus, the point of two flowing opposites merge into a unity of opposites and justice. And when one opposite dominates, there is only injustice.

Those of the Left Hand Path stand at the edge of chaos – the agents of chaos. The LHPer are the agents of justice: the weavers of fate; the champions of what is good and just in the world. When the swamp stagnates, the LHPer releases a crocodile. At the point when two opposing armies meet, the LHPer builds a city; so the armies forget to fight, and trade instead.

Two faces of the same coin: the police officer that executes; the looter that burns the retail store. Police officer and looter are the same thing, absolute states of an opposite: lawful and unjust. Says Heraclitus: “The way up and the way down is one and the same.” Only where two opposites mix and merge into a unity of opposites at the edge of chaos, is there justice.

Thus the LHPer is different from the crowd, the lonely agent of chaos. The LHPer is at the meeting place of two opposites; as the crowd drowns their senses into the oblivion of one extreme opposite. The LHPer recognises the solution, and moves where the crowd does not. Then, as Heraclitus says, the LHPer is like a child leading the drunk (crowd) back home to what is just and good at the edge of chaos – an agent of chaos.

6 thoughts on “The agents of chaos

  1. Taoism contains quite a few elements here. The “child leading the drunk (crowd) back home to what is just and good at the edge of chaos” brings one to the theme of returning to the root, which basically means to realign the self with the Way (Tao). The Tao itself, despite being impossible to name (“the Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao”), in fact can be related through Wang Bi’s work to the concept of Negativity, which refers to the “negative opposite”, which is a way of pointing to contradiction of oppositions and the dialectical struggle thereof being in fact the true nature of the Way. From a Western perspective, this is easily collapsible back into the philosophy of Heraclitus, with his emphasis on the conflict and yet unity of opposites, and in fact it is because of this that Heraclitus is taken to be one of the ancient fathers of that which precedes modern dialectical philosophy (both the idealist and materialist variants).

      1. Unfortunately this is impossible know. The only thing we do know is that apparently the Taijitu (the symbol we refer to as the “yin-yang symbol”, apparently actually first appeared in Rome as a shield symbol of sorts. Exactly what it was doing in Rome is something of a mystery to me.

      2. The ideas of Heraclitus and of Taoism overlap so much, that he must have come into contact with someone from that philosophy. Heraclitus was based in Ephesus, located in Modern Turkey; and it was a trade hub. Heraclitus liked to interrogate the visitors to the Temple of Artemis (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world). The Temple also had a large library, no doubt moved to the Library of Celsus in the same city to become the third largest library in the Roman world at the time.

      3. OK, but we don’t know from there if this means there were Taoists there, as this would require Chinese contact with Rome, which despite the size of both the Roman and Chinese empires was quite limited. Even more limited is the contact between China and Greece. Under Alexander the Great, Greece spread as far to the East as India, but not much further.

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