How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!
— Samuel Adams
Archon (Greek: ἄρχων, romanized: árchōn) is the Greek term for “ruler”. Cognate derivatives are, e.g., terms such as:
- anarchy (etymology discussed subsequently in more detail)
According to Aristotle’s Constitution of the Athenians (78-c. 100), the power and influence of the king first devolved to the archons, and these offices were filled from the aristocracy by elections on a decennial basis.
Archon Eponymos was the primary magistrate, the Polemarch referred to the head of the armed forces, and the Archon Basileus was in charge of the religious aspects of society.
Various fraternities and sororities use the title of archon or variations on it. Some Gnostic sects used this term for demons associated with the planetspheres.
The term anarchy is the negation of the term archon (i.e., the negatory prefix *a). It thus means “without a ruler/master”, i.e., human beings that do not accept a master and who do not allow others to rule over them (they are not slaves to anyone).
Niemand ist mehr Sklave, als der sich für frei hält, ohne es zu sein. ‘
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(Transl.: None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.)
Human beings who are anarchists are thus literally beings that do not accept to be ruled by archons, i.e., they are free and cannot be ruled and suppressed by external forces (they only subordinate themselves to natural law, viz., the timeless universal metaphysical foundation of morality and ethics; cf. the Kantian categorical imperative).
Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.
— Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785)
In this context a quotation by the freedom fighter Malcolm X is of great pertinence.
He asked the following quintessential question concerning the highest of all virtues:
What is the price of freedom?