When it comes to discussing Abolitionist ideology, it is noteworthy to highlight its symbol, the purpose of its use, and the meaning behind it. The “Abolish Human Archism” symbol, or “AHA” consists of an upright “A”, referring to the term Abolish, a slanted “H” for “Human,” and an upside down “A” that stands for “Archism”, all encircled together, partially as a pastiche of the common representation of anarchy, but also as a component representing a sense of totality in the cyclical natures of the ideology represented by the symbol, the worldview that ideology opposes, and the always present struggle between the two.
The symbol itself expresses this struggle because the opposing “A”s represent a conflict between the higher, natural Law of God which is right-side up, and lower, legalistic statutes of men which are upside-down, implying the victory of the former in abolishing the latter as they compete for the souls of mankind, one demanding personal responsibility unto liberty, and the other enticing men into bondage for benefits. Men must first abrogate (v. Evade [a responsibility or duty]) the Law of God in making themselves subject to the laws of men. This is evident in the fact that “The civil law reduces the unwilling freedman to his original slavery; but the laws of the Angloes judge once manumitted as ever after free.” (Co. Litt. 137.) Civil law is the law that men establish for themselves and “human laws are born, live, and die.” The notion comes from the Latin lex (legis), where we derive the terms “legal”, “legislation”, and “legalism” consisting of statutes, bills, principles, rules, contracts, conditions, etc., which are addressed in compartmentalized systems of jurisprudence like property law, trust law, tort law, constitutional law, administrative law, international law, commercial law, admiralty, and equity. The significance of civil laws in establishing frameworks for slavery is that they represent covenants made with human rulers acting as false gods in contradiction to the Law of God which explicitly forbids such misconduct. Civil laws are contract law, because “the contract makes the law” (22 Wend. N.Y. 215, 223.), and they are connected by contract to those bound to them through consenting application, from generation to generation. “That which bars those who have contracted will bar their successors also.” (Di.50.17.29.) The “A” that represents these things is characteristically upside down to reflect the backwards and unnatural “world” that foolish men make in their disobedience. This disobedience is also expressed by scripture:
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6)
In order for the higher law to abolish the lower law (heavy legal burdens made by men to enslave each other), the higher Kingdom of Heaven must abrogate (v. repeal or do away with [a law, right, or formal agreement]) the kingdoms of the world. This “law” in Latin is jus (juris), where we get terms like “just” and “justice”, referring to “the rule of right; and whatever is contrary to the rule of right is an injury” (3 Bulstr.313.). This law is recognized to apply to all freemen (“The laws of nature are unchangeable.” [Branch, Princ.; Oliver Forms, 56.]), before they do away with it in favor of going under legalistic social contracts: “There is in fact a true law–namely right reason–which is in accordance with nature, applies to all men, and is unchangeable and eternal.” (Cicero) This law is recognized in concepts of Natural Law, Mosaic Law, Common Law, Universal Law, and community ethics. It is this higher law that Christ addresses in saying “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil…” (Matthew 5:17) in recognizing for His Kingdom and His citizens the Perfect Law of Liberty: “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:25) The “A” that represents these concepts, being right-side up, is introduced to an upside-down world as the Gospel of the Kingdom through the Great Commission by abolitionists of every generation, as a message of reconciliation toward those who have abandoned the narrow road towards liberty and compromised their integrity by going with the multitude to do evil on the broad path towards destruction. It is for this reason that anarchism is not lawlessness, but a strict return to the liberating jurisdiction of God’s Law.
Before a repentant people can be eligible to adopt exclusively this higher law, it is necessary to be freed from the dominion of the lower law. Christ does this also by “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross…” (Colossians 2:14) This redemption of man from the dominion of man is the mission of abolitionism, represented in the symbol, and is expressed by Abraham’s message in Ur and Haran, Moses‘ actions in Egypt, Christ’s Gospel of the Kingdom, the abolitionist incentive against chattel slavery in the 19th century, and the abolitionist movement of today.
“Redemption is deliverance from the power of an alien dominion and the enjoyment of the resulting freedom. It involves the idea of restoration to one who possesses a more fundamental right or interest. The best example of redemption in the Old Testament was the deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage, from the dominion of the alien power in Egypt.” (Zondervan’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible)
Abolitionism is the vehicle for this redemption, repeating the message of the prophets, in concert with the injunctions of our savior-king: to repent of the sins that bring us under civil bondage, and to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, in establishing a network of repentant souls seeking to keep the weightier matters in faith, hope, and charity as they love their neighbors as themselves.
It is important to address the significance of Humanity in the equation represented by the symbol. Why is there a focus on the problem of authority exercised over human beings and not authority exercised over, say, the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, over cattle, and every other creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth? This is because, in the face of all of creation, of all kinds of animals, millions of microbes, and any other living thing found in natural history, Man is uniquely special. He is special for two foundations, for the same reason that the two planks of the “H” in the symbol can be broken into two “I”s, representing the two theological propositions of abolitionist ideology:
1. Image of God (imago Dei, צֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים) in man is the source of the initial, inherent dignity and worth in all human beings, which is compounded in the Dominion Mandate, and also establishes a moral imperative for him to remain free and upright, preventing him from being ruled by his fellow man in bondage.
2. Incarnation of Christ, which began not in a manger, but within the body of a woman. God Himself became like us in all things as an embryonic human being, to face our civil temptations, conquer our weaknesses, redeem us from bondage, and establish a Kingdom for us in liberation. (This second foundation in 19th century abolitionism may be said to be the sacrificial death of Christ for men of all colors.)
There is an explicit lesson in recognizing the AHA as a symbol, rather than a logo or a brand. Logos and brands are naturally associated with organizations, commercial or otherwise, and are trademarked pieces of intellectual property to sometimes push a product line and increase a revenue stream, but are always associated with hierarchical legal fictions known as corporations for the purposes of advertising for monetary gain and to be the faces of their respective companies. Logos and brands are property, as stated, and they belong to CEOs, or their boards of trustees, or, ultimately, to the government which trademarked it as legal protector and governor. Logos represent institutions. A world drowning in consumerism and driven by competition as a recompense for the spiritual isolationism contingent upon the emptiness of Empire is a world vomiting up logos like it does nationalistic idols.
Symbols are recognizably and ritualistically pure, incorruptible, and indivisible singularities representing fundamental principles that thrive beyond the tainting of human failure and inconsistency, even of those who adopt the symbol. In the same way that “AHA” is not a logo or a brand, but a symbol, “Abolitionism” is not an organization, but an ideology, and “Abolish Human Archism” is not a corporate entity, but a watchword for a grassroots, adhocratic movement, and ultimately a revival. The people who run this site aren’t CEOS or board members of abolitionist ideology, only some of its messengers, and we are equals of anyone else who adopts the ideology. This could be anybody. This should be everybody. The Prime Mover of Abolitionism is God, and as such, we offer no top-down structure, no business model, no micromanagement of the affairs of abolitionists, and certainly no consumer opportunity. We have no trademark or copyright, or any other government contract. In fact, we want you to adopt abolitionist ideology regardless of whether you adopt the symbol, not because we value notoriety or even anticipate success for our endeavors, but because it is the right thing to do. And if you do adopt the symbol, we ask that your conduct and behavior represent it as though you represent God in the face of a world running headlong towards destruction. Because it is His symbol, His movement, and His people with which you identify yourself. Anybody who acts out of character with the ideology while using the symbol will simply be misrepresenting Abolitionism. No action can be “endorsed” or “approved” because we have no control over individuals, families, or congregations that adopt the symbol. We can only agree unto brotherhood or disagree unto persuasion, as we are just fellow abolitionists seeking to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, minds, and strengths, in being faithful to the entirety of Scripture. We have no guarantor of certificates of authenticity or method of card-carrying membership or allegiance. Any individual, family unit, or congregation that adopts the symbol simply professes that Jesus Christ is their head, as the principal unifying factor for all of those who adopt the symbol. It does not represent a “parachurch ministry.” It simply represents those who seek to adopt a Biblical worldview expressed by abolitionist ideology. Therefore, the onus is on each and every abolitionist to practice discernment and prudence and judgment concerning anybody and everybody with which they desire to associate and partner. Good trees bear good fruit, bad trees bear bad fruit and in between, iron sharpens iron. Having said that, we encourage you to adopt the symbol simply because you are a Christian.
And you would not be alone on that front. Christian movements have always adopted symbols by which to identify themselves and to give recognition to God’s Kingdom. The first century Christians adopted the ichthys to identify each other as proponents of the same political ideology, and seekers after the Way of Christ. The 18th and 19th century abolitionists developed the Am I Not a Man and a Brother? as a bastion of anti-slavery sentimentality and readily identifiable symbol to propagate their evangelistic endeavors against the idea of owning men as property. The symbol was so widely produced and popularized in concert with the growing success of abolitionism that, according to Thomas Clarkson (first historian of the British abolition movement), gentlemen had the image
“inlaid in gold on the lid of their snuffboxes. Of the ladies several wore them in bracelets, and others had them fitted up in an ornamental manner as pins for the hair. At length, the taste for wearing them became general; and thus fashion, which usually confines itself to worthless things, was seen for once in the honourable office of promoting the cause of justice, humanity, and freedom.” (British History in Depth: The Black Figure in 18th-century Art. David Dabydeen)
Symbols represent ideas. And the idea that man should be liberated from the dominion of man is a good one. But the idea of a Biblical, and consistent worldview that puts that notion into practical effect is a righteous one that shines light and life into a dark and dying world. This is not some libertarian “I voted” sticker. This is not merely some representation of an innocuous moral opinion. The abolitionist symbol is a unifying label meant for a people who desire to designate themselves as “set apart” from a culture, and ultimately a political society, that is predicated upon oppressing one another through civil institutions for cannibalistic, socialist benefits. Its design is meant to be simultaneously enigmatic and bold, but simple enough to replicate ad infinitum and ad nauseum to a rebellious generation who will seek to snuff out its proponents on the basis of their message. “And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
This symbol is not meant for anyone who wants to look cool or edgy while remaining lukewarm, or while keeping one foot in carnal concert with an indifferent and apathetic society, out of some fear of man or scrutiny or normalcy bias. This symbol is expected to be a conversational piece about a controversial opinion on a difficult topic about which its prophets will be called “sensationalists,” “unhelpful,” and “too radical” by opponents who simply desire to “agree to disagree” and be left alone in their self-destruction. This symbol is meant to make one visible, like a city on a hill that cannot be hid. This symbol is meant to coincide with a lifestyle change, as an emboldening promise that the person who distributes it or displays it actually is against the world, for the world as a daily struggle to do hard things in iconoclastic, thankless, but indefatigable controversy. This symbol covers a people who are polemic dissenters of the status quo, who love their neighbors enough to, not only confront them in their idolatry and lawlessness, but to help them seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness unto liberty and prosperity in repentance. This symbol should represent an annoyance and threat of disruption for those who refuse to listen to truth and right reason, as a gadfly against their apathy and godless worldviews. This symbol represents the courage to call sin “sin”, and to see the world in black and white. Anyone who bears this symbol should get used to hearing “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also!” (Acts 17:6) In a white-washed society, bloated on the decadence of late-stage empire built on debt, death, destruction, and damnation, this symbol should stand as a stark reminder of its sins as a sign of Jonah, reminding all men everywhere that repentance is always now, and today is the day of salvation. This symbol is exclusive to those who recognize the ship is sinking when the majority of its passengers continue to eat, drink, and be merry.
It is a symbol of justice in a world that perverts justice. It is a symbol of mercy in a world that hates the least of these. It is a symbol of faith in a world that lives by contract. It is a symbol of hope in a world fattened with entitlement. It is a symbol of charity in a world enslaved by taxation. It is a symbol of anarchy in a world oppressed by institution. It is a symbol of counter-cultural Abolitionism in a world overrun with cultural “christianity.” It is a symbol of liberty and righteousness, in a world that pledges allegiance to symbols of bondage and paganism.