It is a sign of age, I fear, but I seem to be the last person to lament the declining quality of our Anarchists. Those of more than a century ago were rugged individualists, to a fault. With one well-placed bomb, they could do what takes the contemporary anarchist a cumbersome bureaucratic organization. They were men of action; and some of the women, too. No one could confuse them with party hacks. You could not coerce them into a party line.

When I was younger and, perhaps, more spunky, I used to read Proudhon and Kropotkin. These were all very well, but the systemizing tendency had infected both. Utopianism also muddled their thinking. Without going back to Zeno of Cilium, let me just say that the posterior tradition in recommending anarchy was more subtle and arch. (Read the Antigone, for instance. Today it’s just the brand name for a Givenchy bag.) Anarchy was an inheritance from Greece and even Rome. It could never have been reduced to an election manifesto.

It is interesting that the first English use of the term, anarchisme, dates back to Henry VIII. Those resisting his Divorce and Reformation were taken to be anarchists. Nobly they defended the ancient liturgical order, in such spontaneous actions as the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Prominent anarchists of our modern age have, at their best (or worst, depending on one’s point-of-view), had dodgy ideological affiliations, but a real appreciation for economy of means. One thinks of e.g. Gavrilo Princip, the ingenious Serbian, able to ignite a Great War with a few gunshots, and bring down the Austro-Hungarian Empire almost as an aside. Or a certain Osama bin Laden, able to drag a superpower into pointless foreign wars, with very limited means. I do not approve of either gentleman, please note, but their efficiency was astounding.

On the other hand, there was the case of “Sir Herbert Read, the Anarchist.” Or his Canadian disciple, George Woodcock, the polite traveller and essayist. Anarchists who could take tea with the Queen.

All great artists tend to be anarchists. They also tend to be extremely rightwing. Verily, leftwing anarchists need to be watched closely — even though they are usually talentless, and watching them is boring. That is what the police are for.

I like to put in a good word for Trump, if only to induce apoplexy in my more style-conscious readers. The high point of his campaign for the Natted States Presidency, back in ’16, was, to my mind, when he performed an exquisitely tasteless attack on the late John McCain, respected Vietnam hero. I thought, “Ah, there is a man.” In one stroke, he altered the voting intentions of ten million souls — albeit randomly. But he made his reputation as an anarchist, and in the four years since, he has confirmed his implicit promise.

It is complained, by the Nevertrumpers out there, that he runs a chaotic government, in defiance of “the way things are done” in the District of Columbia. For instance, he wakes of a morning, and decides to shut down the economy, just when it is going fairly well; then of another, tells his whole cabinet to delete a few thousand economic regulations, without specifying any, or giving tedious hints. This is heroic. Annoyed with statue-topplers, he announces ten-year gaol terms. Having endured years of abuse from his adversaries, he rises bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to fling a few more tweets at them. He should be giving exercise tips to that drudge, Biden.

As I (tried to) explain to several of my “liberal” friends, back in the day when he wasn’t president yet, he is a Constructive Anarchist. I haven’t yet decided what that means, but it is positive. The last one we had in the English-speaking West was Winston Churchill. Just the man you need when you find yourself in a swamp, and the alligators have begun to disturb you.