Tribal morality, Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
In an early episode of Sons of Anarchy, a television series on FX entering its third season this month, Jackson “Jax” Teller reads a passage from his dead father’s unpublished memoir. It’s narrated in his father’s voice: “First time I read Emma Goldman wasn’t in a book. I was sixteen, hiking near the Nevada border. The quote was painted on a wall in red. When I saw those words it was like someone ripped them from the inside of my head.”
The son finds the passage on a wall under a dilapidated bridge in the California desert. It reads: “Anarchism . . . stands for liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from shackles and restraint of government. It stands for social order based on the free grouping of individuals.” The father’s voice returns: “The concept was pure, simple, true. It inspired me, lit a rebellious fire. But ultimately I learned the lesson that Goldman, Proudhon, and the others learned: that true freedom requires sacrifice and pain. Most human beings only think they want freedom. In truth, they yearn for the bondage of social order, rigid laws, materialism. The only freedom man really wants is the freedom to become comfortable.”