Category Archives: Obscurantism

Specters of the Pedantic

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Not good enough

“Where is the life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” T.S. Eliot, Choruses from the Rock

“Mystical explanations are considered profound; the truth is they aren’t even superficial.” Nietzsche, Google, cherry-picked just now

Life is short, and Jason Reza Jorjani’s Prometheus and Atlas is long. However, I did have the recent good fortune of hearing a one-hour podcast interview of Jorjani with Henrik Palmgren of Red Ice Radio, and the discussion was substantive enough to respond to.

There are three prongs to Jorjani’s thesis: a prediction about the future, a conjecture about the past, and an inference from ancient lore that kind of ties the first two together. He also makes extensive use of the term spectral to mean three things: the impending supersession of the Cartesian paradigm (and a blurring of the binary distinctions implied in it) by a more “spectral” episteme; the specter, or psychic dread, of the kind of protean trans-humanism this paradigm shift will give way to; and the daemonic forces or “specters” at the root of it all.

According to Jorjani, humanity stands on the precipice of a spectral revolution centered around ongoing scientific discoveries of clairvoyance and telekinesis. He gives an overview of the research in this area since the 19th century (by William James, the CIA, the Pentagon, Princeton’s Global Consciousness Project, and the Stanford Research Institute, among others), and poses the question of why it hasn’t already resulted in a spectral revolution.

Of course, there’s more than one possible reason, chief among them that the implications of this research aren’t all that Jorjani cracks them up to be. But the only possibility he concedes is the old Foucaultian Kool Aid, i.e., “the inextricability of systems of knowledge from structures of power.” We’re supposed to believe these spooky avenues of inquiry pursued for decades at a stretch and largely in secret by some of the most august personages and lavishly funded institutions in the country represent a threat to the powers that be. Well, so did the atom bomb, and we know who got first dibs.

Granted, the revolution Jorjani anticipates would reorder the exercise of political power as we know it, for as he explains, clairvoyance would threaten to obliterate privacy and secrecy, and the ability to foresee events would alter their manifestation. But Jorjani believes the spectral revolution will alter the order of power as well. How these capabilities will slip the grasp of present elites, who are obviously best positioned to cultivate them, he doesn’t make clear, but his estimation of their research is pretty credulous.

That isn’t to say there are no extrasensory phenomena (though the production of ectoplasm Jorjani cites is real a knee-slapper, especially if you’re a South Park fan) nor to deny that they may manifest from clairvoyant or telekinetic faculties that are latent in us, and around us. It just isn’t clear how these forces might be cultivated to the point of reliable application, benefit and malleability, without some equal and opposite pitfall arising. But if they can be, clearly the human type this will most empower is the one that is least restrained by conscience, just as psychological tactics are most effectively employed today by the least scrupulous sorts.

Jorjani is unperturbed by this, seeing his spectral revolution as the Nietzschean becoming of who we are. He describes the world our primeval forbears experienced as one of intrinsically meaningful things in places, rather than deconstructible objects in a grid of space-time, but this is not the sharp distinction he takes it for, nor is it less true today, at least not for the minimally astute and spirited (fewer and fewer of those nowadays, I’ll admit—perhaps the category doesn’t include intellectuals.) Besides, binary distinctions get made viscerally all the time, quite in spite of the wall of abstraction—so how would we experience meaning without them?

Indeed, Jorjani references the apparent extrasensory faculties of animals and primitive man and conflates them with the psychical abilities he foresees being refined in us, describing them as technologies. This is where his term spectral may be particularly apt. Whereas technology is commonly thought to proceed from scientific theory, Jorjani sees the latter as a way of describing and rationalizing the order we already impose on the world with our technological endeavors, and he characterizes man (whose tendency is to impose this order on the natural world, augmenting his organic abilities by developing tools and techniques) as an inherently technological creature. Thus, according to Jorjani, technology itself, as something “more fundamental than science,” isn’t the real culprit in the attenuation of our primeval awareness, but the means by which this attenuation will be overcome and our latent powers of clairvoyance and telekinesis more fully actualized.

He then asserts flatly that there is no theoretical model that can accommodate the data on these phenomena, and that what this tells us is that scientific theory itself is a mere cognitive frame. Can this be so in all cases? Are there no degrees? If not, what would that make the “spectral revolution” itself but theatrical, postmodern luft?

But while this line of reasoning may be high-flown, in a way it doesn’t go far enough. In other words, if scientific theory invariably represents a mere cognitive frame, what species of knowledge, perception, and interaction with nature does not? Because there’s an obvious party (famously arraigned by Nietzsche) to the attenuation of our extrasensory instincts that’s missing from his consideration, namely language—the scarcely perceptible secondary categorization of the things we perceive. The most Jorjani says in this connection is that it’s possible some black swan such as a neurologic mutation took place in the fog of prehistory to attenuate our extrasensory faculties, but this would seem to call for less, not greater certitude about who we really are. It also suggests a sharp technical/pre-technical binary, and in any case it can’t be linguistic because even primitive tribes who still possess extrasensory faculties have language. (Jorjani relates a fascinating anecdote from British explorers about the clairvoyant abilities of South Seas aboriginals that’s too long to recapitulate here; my point is, these aborigines could also talk.)

Yet the characterization of man as a technological creature would serve to qualify language as a technology the way Jorjani uses the word—the refined outgrowth of some innate faculty, which we use to reorder nature and alter perception. Again, this complicates the picture of how we arrive at the kind of advancement Jorjani is predicting, given the fact that in many ways, instinct appears to be sharpest among the least intellectually developed communities of modern people. That’s why the bourgeoisie avoids the hood, right? And the aboriginals.

Jorjani’s thesis itself is spectral as well in another way he neglects to mention. That is its congruence with the symbology of secret societies and the prognostications of tech oligarchs like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and (especially) Ray Kurzweil. Of course, there will be a who and a whom: the political power that eminent technological breakthroughs are liable to impart—whatever they turn out to be—will not be wielded fairly, nor equally by all; not even close. At least Jorjani dispenses with this pretense, for while there’s a great deal of variance to these kinds of projections, Jorjani himself claims to stand at odds with the usual ideological commitments (i.e., liberal-democratic) professed by those who tend to make them (he has actually called himself a national socialist.) So on the surface, his thesis is less depressing than theirs, devoid of paternalistic public policy pablum, appealing instead to inner, organic sources of power as opposed to strictly outward, mechanistic ones. But on reflection, the world that Jorjani anticipates is as stripped of mystery and as dreadful in its utopian hubris as The Singularity, for what they both have in common is amorality.

This brings us to Jorjani’s take on comparative religions, daemons and his “specters of the titanic.” In short, he’s both a Zoroastrian and a Luciferian, claiming that Ahura Mazda, the titan Prometheus and the snake in the Garden of Eden all represent the light of knowledge and our consequent empowerment as a species that the Olympians, the jealous Old Testament God and sticklers for the Cartesian paradigm all wish to deny us. How Zoroastrianism of all things proposes to propel us beyond binaries is beyond my meager familiarity with the subject, but the notion of ever-expanding progress and improvement sounds awfully fatiguing and looks an awful lot like self-help charlatanry, or like tikkun olam, which is to say, carte blanche. At any rate, Jorjani’s is an incredibly superficial reading of the Old Testament.

Ironically, monotheism itself is spectral in that it obliterates sharp distinctions between spiritual forces. Sites, symbols, saints—nothing is truly sacred but the one. This conviction is at the root of Atenism, of Jewish aloofness from the classical world, of Islamic and Protestant aniconism, as well as the message that Christian missionaries imported throughout Europe in the early middle ages. To be sure, these are all legacies of intellectual repression, but also certain important advances, and the authors of the Hebrew Bible (who cherry-picked a lot from the pagan cultures around them) may not have subscribed so strictly to such a leveling ethos. Indeed, if we read a bit of tongue-in-cheek into Genesis—and recall in true pagan fashion that an act of creation is also an act of destructionGod seems to be flawed in quite the same way that man is. This is what the snake represents in the creation story. If man is punished by God for defiance, that’s because it takes one to know one. We’re created in His image, after all, and if the snake is analogous to Prometheus, it would otherwise be curious that in the Greek version we’d have been created in the latter’s image. But God’s Will is compromised in much the same way that ours is; it’s an act of negotiation with us. That’s why Abraham walks before God, and why Prometheus is able to challenge Zeus at all. This is in fact far less restrictive than Jorjani’s take gives it credit for. These stories aren’t vindictive admonishments, they’re take-it-or-leave-it illustrations of the ironclad human condition.

So the message of Genesis is not that exertion of the will or the pursuit of knowledge are wicked, but that they’re tempered by nature, because the ineluctable pull that novelty exerts on the human psyche lends itself to hubris and destruction. If Eden is not suited to our inclinations, neither is Babel hospitable to our constitution. One can even argue that the Bible is in favor of the cultivation of human intellectual capabilities, to which its God gives His blessing. Again, if we avoid reading Genesis too literally, we can see that Jacob, as Prometheus was to the Greeks, is the archetype of foresight, which Genesis portrays as key to human striving (as Jacob strives with an Angel and extracts a blessing) and a fundamental element that distinguishes reflective man from reflexive brute as represented by the archetype of Esau (and from sheer control-freak avarice as represented by Laban in the same several chapters of Genesis.)

Jorjani, on the other hand, holds up Drs. Faustus and Frankenstein as representative of the Promethean struggle for enlightenment. Once this struggle is won, then what? Wasn’t it Goethe himself who said that happiness consists in facing and overcoming difficulties? In any case, this would be an odd kind of enlightenment to extol, because Faust loses his mind and then begs for God’s forgiveness, and Dr. Frankenstein’s creation is repulsively deformed. It will be interesting to find out whether Jorjani addresses these inconsistencies in his book, but in the podcast they seem to elude his awareness.

Those who cast doubt on the possibility of knowledge due to its alleged inextricability from power dynamics seem to always view those dynamics as fixed, the antagonists perennial. For the postmodern left, this means the forces of goyische Ward Cleaver and Cecil Rhodes arrayed against hapless Emmett Till and Lenny Bruce (or something.) Jorjani inverts this dominant paradigm—pointing to the fact that Prometheus was chained by Zeus to a Caucasus mountain—to make his case that Prometheus is the god of the Caucasians, i.e., the Nordic races most in need (due to environmental exigencies) of fire, who’ve made the greatest intellectual and technological leaps lo these past several millennia. Of course, Greece, Italy and Persia aren’t the snowiest lands, and while the suggestion that the disproportionately Semitic forces of ressentiment and priestliness represent the perennial adversary of enlightenment is certainly truer to Nietzsche than the postmodern left, it’s equally oversimplified, and woefully….. binary. So it doesn’t seem to me that Jorjani is denying the possibility of knowledge; rather, he’s claiming that knowledge as we know it is abstract, and that the genuine article is being denied to us. This is a terribly low estimation of man and his present abilities.

Ironically (for someone so power hungry), Jorjani himself looks as though he’s never been punched, but sounds like he needs to be, his lithe, Dennis the Menace countenance emitting a nasally voice with a smarmy, pedantic inflection. I don’t say this to be mean spirited, but in the spirit of Tyler Durden. That a wheezy, narrow-chested academic with a balled-up sphincter would be an incubator of the Nietzschean actually makes perfect sense. Brilliant though he was, when reading Nietzsche it gives crucial context to recall that the man was a sexually maladjusted autist. Someone strong and self-assured could never call man “a laughingstock and a painful embarrassment,” but neither do school shooter types revel in themselves, they only anticipate doing so. So I’m not interested in becoming who I am, I’m interested in being who I am. If as a species we’re well on our way to anything like Jorjani’s spectral revolution, it’s because the vindictive fantasies of software developer nebbishes and pencil-necked money shufflers are precisely the architecture of our post-meta-narrative, post-binary, peeping Tom corporatocracy. At least the Nazis put real skin in the game.

The Help

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House nigga 4 lyfe

The argument that black celebrities can’t possibly have grounds to complain about being black in America—because they’re rich—is a sophomoric bit of conservative boilerplate. But then, the absurd protocol that black perspectives be treated as more valid because black experience is somehow realer than others is equally tiresome. The morning headlines all insist on some variation of “Ice Cube schooled Bill Maher about white privilege,” but I wonder (not really) if it occurs to Mr. Cube that he was giving Maher moral cover by going on Real Time and calling him out.

Of course I’m not talking about a morality that I personally concur with; taboos against words can only elicit my sympathy for the sentiment that’s being repressed (naughty, naughty). So for example, I wouldn’t get too worked up if an Ice Cube were to rap, “You can’t be the Nigga 4 Life crew/with a white Jew telling you what to do.” In fact, Ice Cube did rap these lyrics, shortly after NWA broke up.

Now, ‘Jew’ and ‘white’ are clearly meant in the pejorative there, and it wasn’t the first or last time Ice Cube rapped anti-white, anti-Jewish or anti-Asian invective—which is not only excused but lauded in the NPR article linked above. So you can recapitulate the bollocks dogma that the N-word is more hateful because the black experience in America is uniquely unfair—in a way that’s totally unfathomable to non-blacks. But who I am is presumably as important to me as Ice Cube’s identity is to him, and I would be well within the electric fence of conventional cant to take umbrage, I just wouldn’t get anywhere because black resentment is more useful and (above all) malleable to elites than the white or Korean or even the Jewish varieties. After all, if you unreflectingly give people enough power that they can obligate you to respond to little trigger phrases like a marionette, then you’re a silly cunt and a weakling. Clearly, Ice Cube—a public image gangster who’s actually a pot bellied, noodle-armed little man in his late forties who lives in a gated community—sees things differently, and that’s his business. But by calling out Maher he’s reinforcing the entertainment industry pecking order he referenced in that song we just quoted from back in the 1990s.

This is not a spurious complaint, by the way. If I wanted to go all Irv Rubin and start calling in bomb threats to Farrakhan, I’d still have to admit the man’s got a perfectly valid point about Jews in the media. The fact is, a black actor or entertainer can only ever be a commodity in Hollywood, whereas a white Jewish comedian can conceivably reach a level—like Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, or Bill Maher—where he becomes an institution, an arbiter as opposed to a mere influencer of tastes and discourse, and a near-equal to real decision makers, who’re all Jews.

So Ice Cube can stroll into Real Time studios affecting as hard an image as he wants. The more indignant the better because, again, he was being used by Maher for moral cover. Public figures as powerful as US Senators have been taken down for saying nigger; obviously Maher has powerful protection. Again, the morning headlines all say Ice Cube “schooled” him, but if it matters to Ice Cube on any level what comes out of horse’s ass Bill Maher’s mouth then he’s a silly shit. “Please Missa Jewman, please don’t be using that o-ffensive language when you be referring to us black folk. We sho’ would be grateful. Nigga 4 Life crew, ya heard!?! You just been schooled.” This is why, according to the oligarchs and their marionettes, uttering nigger is what passes for unacceptable injustice in a world of actual slavery.

To say that Ice Cube is a hypocrite for taking offense at Maher’s salty language after making a career glorifying drugs and pea-brained street violence would be another bit of sophomoric conservative boilerplate. I think it’s true, but so what? Hearst/Viacom/Zuckerberg say that one thing’s more offensive than another, and who am I to argue? It’s not my country, I don’t make the rules. I just wonder, with all the bloviating we tend to hear about irrational white wariness of blackness from all these three-named, Jew-approved horse’s ass black intellectuals (Marc Lamont Hill, Michael Eric Dyson, Ta Nehisi Coats, who can even tell the difference?) will it make black performers who bank on mean-mugging “jack-yo’-shit” yippity-yap—or their shithead street acolytes—feel any better to know there are whites who don’t take their bravado or their hurt feelings seriously? I won’t hold my breath waiting for an answer.

Jumping the Great Whitegeist: the Alt-Right Viewed from the Right

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“You guys feel like going for frozen yogurt?”

“The goyim know?” Bitch, please. Naming is the origin of all particular things, the medium is the message, and—as yours truly predicted—the alt-right is looking a little overcooked nowadays. Yes, thought trends have a life of their own, but brands are destined for tombstones.

The simple fact is, the alt-right is slave morality, and sooner or later, everyone gets tired of listening to bitching and moaning. Other than that, what does the alt-right offer its prospective constituency? Shits and giggles. Circle jerking. Bupkis. The conviction that bloviating is tantamount to action is a peculiar, late-20th century misapprehension, precisely the plush-doll American dream that Occupy Bernie and the alt-right both thought they were rejecting. Onward! The affairs of strangers must be meddled in. I’m all for realism (and vigilantism) in the face of swarthy Idiocracy, but…. an “ethnostate”? How very postmodern. Will there be spandex cycling shorts and fair-trade organic light roast for all us “conquerors and crusaders”? And how, exactly, does getting arrested and bricks thrown at you by Antifa harm (how does it not help) the plutocracy, the MSM, SPLC, “und so weiter”? I know, I know, Never doubt that a small, full-retard vanguard can change the world, and I wish you the best of luck. Come at me personally with that febrile Jewology you like to horrify nursing home yentas with on the Forward comments section and I’ll give your plebeian ass a Greco-Roman colonoscopy like I was Meyer Lansky. But hey, Richard Spencer says it’ll help you get your ideas out, right?

Don’t get me wrong—Spencer’s incisive, he’s got pluck, and neofascism is an overdue rejoinder to the empiricist hubris, intellectual courtesanship and mercenary behaviorism of TED Talk America. The Aryan race is indeed on the ropes, and I quite agree that this is a catastrophe. It’s just that (1) I don’t pick who gets a Darwin award, and (2) as a political program, the alt-right jumps the shark. To wit,

I asked [Spencer] whether I, as someone who is half-Chinese but had a classical Western education, would fit within his group… “I’m a generous guy,” he told me. “If you truly identify with our people, I would not have any problem with that.” But there were genetic deal breakers. “A full-blooded African, no matter how wonderful he might be—I’m not sure that would really work.” (Graeme Wood, Atlantic Monthly, June 2017)

How’s that for “freedom of association“? The pompousness here is far worse than the bigotry. It may be half-joking, but it can never be more than half-serious.

But to its credit, until just before the election the alt-right was the last bastion of real, uncöopted social satire. I mean, what’s less relevant today than SNL? Lately the dominant, left-liberal paradigm begets only humorless ideological directives and “validation” of skin-crawling peccadillos. Like aging pop-stars, Saudi oil-wells and boomer entitlements, the legacy media is an obsolete investment being defended with increasing shamelessness:

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Even its Silicon Valley supersessionist heirs (whom you’d think would display more independence of thought, Lord knows they’ve got the requisite leverage) cling to its mid-20th century CFR ideological commitments, such that criminal syndicates that reject the premise get more leeway than political opponents who accept it:

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Under the spreading chestnut tree….

Speaking of Vice, myriad popular online outlets affect a cutting-edge veneer these days, but a good general rule is that the more lurid and higher-budget the content, the more wholly owned are its producers by the planetary managerial class. The biggest backers of Vice, for instance, are BofA, Disney, George Soros and Rupert Murdoch. This brackish scene deserves the vilest ridicule, the most acerbic satirization, but there’d be no funding for that, for the same reason nobody ever invades Switzerland. The powerless don’t leverage power, it leverages them, and all the penny-ante social media antics in the world won’t get the alt-right’s fingers unstuck from the pearly gates of the Big Time.

Which is too bad, because some of the most incisive, iconoclastic shit I’ve read or heard in my life was spoken at NPI conferences or published on Radix Journal circa pre-Trump. When the point was to express these ideas (not just expand the audience for them), they were exhilarating. Now that the antiseptic media klieg lights have warmed the alt-right’s obligingly exposed butt cheeks, the fact can’t be concealed that vindictive, half-witted, pathos-laden language (not to mention dry, committee-meeting type knit-picking about activist strategies and doctrinal purity) is rife on Counter-Currents, Radix, TRS, Red Ice and Occidental, and this click-hungry humorlessness has diffused throughout the alt-right punchbowl as the imperative to justify itself to outsiders eclipses insider ribaldry. So what portends the Kali Yuga is not Jews or loose women, it is you, i.e., the inexorable pull that novelty and power exert upon the human psyche, which is why Evola’s advice was to ride the tiger, not stick your head in its mouth.

How sad to be peddling an ethos of order, hierarchy and opposition to commercial vulgarity in the .25 cents’ admission Imagination Land of new media, only to get mere first world pushback as they traffic in ideologies that really punished thought-crime. Now that they’ve had their fifteen minutes, the little D-list leadership will spend the rest of their lives panhandling like a one-hit wonder performing at an Indian casino, “Remember me? Just ten grand more to meet our goals this season.” Even Milo was writing interesting columns as recently as 2015, before the Twitter ban and his election year transition to full-time attention-whoring. Spencer’s criticisms of him are apt, and blissfully un-self-conscious.

So the problem with the 2016 NPI conference wasn’t the menace or poor taste of the coy sieg heiling, it was the quivering bunghole that compliments the kind of toast Spencer delivered. I mean, “Children of the Sun”? That’s what the Times was calling a Nuremberg rally? Sounds more like a Maya Angelou quote over a stock photo. Children of the fucking sun, why not “God’s Chosen People”? Take it from a tribesman, with that approach you’re going to be doing an awful lot of becoming, without ever being much of anything.

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“Hail Trump! Hail our People! Hail victory!”

The fact that the bourgeois American WASP is an over-socialized, emotionally sterile cardboard cutout who masochistically enjoyed deferring this past seventy years to comparatively dysfunctional cultures that have a little more cut-loose panache than his own is as little discussed on the alt-right as Germany’s no-go zones are on MSNBC—though Spencer has acknowledged it, calling it “the white problem.” But to suppose Trump will arrest these developments significantly is pitifully gullible optimism. As Spencer told some pie-faced yenta at Rolling Stone, “I think we’ve leveraged ourselves in an incredible way, but at some point we need to cross the Rubicon and have a footprint.” Translation: OMG, this might even lead to an internship. In a duck costume. At a mall kiosk. For (in the words of the great Marshall McLuhan) when you gaze long into the Facebook, the Facebook gazes also into you.

A Profoundly Evil Man

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“This next cat flew in all the way from the Hamptons, please give him a warm welcome….”

Part one here

More post-election fools-gold profundity this week as Jon Stewart’s artificial-relevance tour continues:

I think one of the lessons of this book and what we’re talking about is to put satire and culture in its proper place, that controlling a culture is not the same as power. And that while we were all passing around really remarkably eviscerating videos of the Tea Party ― that we had all made great fun of ― [they were] sitting off a highway at a Friendly’s taking over a local school board. And the lesson there is, as much as I love what we did…there is a self-satisfaction there that is unwarranted, unearned, and not useful.

Since when do Jon Stewart’s ilk have to earn self-satisfaction? But the local Friendly’s, there’s the locus of power, not Viacom or the White House, where during Obama’s tenure Stewart was a regular and, at the time, secret guest. This flag-draped charlatan’s disdain for the world of Rockwell’s Four Freedoms is palpable. If controlling a culture is not the same as power, can any amount of power ever be enough?

Ah, but there is a silver lining (via HuffPo):

‘Not everybody that voted for Trump is a racist, I don’t give a fuck what any of you say to me. You can yell it at me, you can tweet it at me. They’re not all racists. Or they’re not giving tacit support to a racist system … We all give tacit support to exploitative systems as long as they don’t affect us that badly.’

[Stewart] brought up a conversation with another person who argued that ‘by saying that [Trump supporters] are not all racists, [he’s] giving tacit support to a man of racist language.’ Stewart then pointed out that many Americans are complicit in exploitative and damaging systems, asking the person to pull out his iPhone. ‘I was like, Guess how those are made, guess who makes them?’ Stewart said. ‘Oh yeah, but that’s …. It’s not different, we all do that. All of our shit stinks and getting beyond that takes incredible work.’

Incredible work,” Jeezus, don’t sell yourself short there, Jon. How much is this fifty minutes going to cost me? These remarks aren’t observations, they’re machinations, an effete struggle session. Power is always selectively moral, at least in China the proletariat keeps its mouth shut. So if a professional moralizer can get past his complicity in sweatshop slavery, what hope is there for those recalcitrant rubes down at Friendly’s?

Conversion therapy

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“Please, Rick! You have to let me help you!”

“That particular combination of arrogance and timidity sets my teeth on edge.” (Orson Welles)

The art of the con is all about abstracting the mark’s perception so that he no longer answers to his gut. America may not be the apex of civilization, but it is definitely the apex of the con, where the backbiting, eyeless-smile real estate lady posts schlock bible verses on social media, and the seed-eating yogi is liable to suffer a rage-induced aneurysm over a stolen parking spot at Trader Joe’s.

Jon Stewart is one of the more poignant exponents of this dissociation. Here he is this week with Charlie Rose, holding forth on the recent presidential election:

….America is not natural. Natural is tribal. We’re fighting against thousands of years of human behavior and history to create something that no one ever [has]. That is what is exceptional about America. This ain’t easy and that’s an incredible thing.

Did you catch that? We’re fighting against nature, human nature. Who among us can instruct men to transcend this mortal coil? Let he who is without humanity cast the first instruction. But the point Stewart wanted to make was that we (meaning, the appointed) should not stereotype Trump voters any more than “we” would Muslims or others. The earnest liberal’s moment of clarity is always another defense mechanism. Of course a figure like Stewart has something conciliatory to say all of the sudden. Ass-licker that he is, how could he stay relevant otherwise?

Obviously, “Trump voters”=nominally Christian Anglo-Saxons, the erstwhile national stock—those of them who aren’t left-wing, anyway. In Stewart’s worldview we are to refrain with few exceptions from critical discussion of the group characteristics of almost every other category of people. But Stewart isn’t suggesting “we” admit whites to the illusory hearthside of this exemption, no no no: he’s merely calling for a tempering of the critique, a strategic retreat. Stewart’s snide diagnostician’s schtick has always been to call for dispassion and in this, he’s as wise as his admirers say. Indeed, the depths of the inmate’s psyche must be plumbed, its mysteries penetrated, so as to determine upon the proper course of further treatment.

Bad Hair Day

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It was a simpler time

Left-liberal friends assure me that the right-wing corporate media elected Donald Trump. ‘Right-wing media’! Are they blind? But I think I understand their misapprehension: Bernie Sanders was derided as populist and utopian, ergo economic justice is not a priority of an intelligentsia long complicit in both neocon wars and neoliberal predations. But the intelligentsia isn’t merely corporatist and interventionist, it is sexually libertine and racially egalitarian. Should this not give the earnest liberal pause?

In Hebrew we have a phrase, avoda b’ayinaim, which means something like ‘brazen deceit’ or, ‘unconcealed legerdemain.’ Sweatshop lords sponsor anti-racist celebrity PSAs…. a 21st-century Guernica is rationalized in liberal quarters as humanitarianism…. a soilent-green corporatocracy champions a thing it calls ‘diversity,’ except when it doesn’t. Foreign aid and international lending are tied to the promotion of eugenics and homosexuality.

Far be it from me to credit musty old fables with prescience—ones that aggregate scientific hubris with multiculturalism and characterize sodomy and usury as aggressions deleterious to spiritual and societal hygiene—but some of us are starting to notice a pattern. In light of the chilling reality of ideological enforcement—an exclusively leftist speciality, at least nowadays—even I got fingerfucked into voting, and now feel eerily ambivalent and a tad greasy, as well I ought to. Donald Trump is a symptom, not an antidote, and clearly not the director of the show we’ve just seen, but a faux-paleocon, an exploiter of the working class and very probably a child-rapist, who will expand the police state and the war machine. That his butt-smoke showman’s bombast about ‘disasterous trade deals’ and ‘international bankers’ is what got him elected should indicate not what we can hope for from his administration, but how the system switches gears when it’s so far gone in terms of legitimacy. ‘What an stunner! Who could’ve seen it coming?’ Avoda b’ayinaim.

Trump’s wannabe greaser-pimp noblesse oblige—his periodic sympathetic gesture to the bellhop or the garbageman—is razor thin, but it’s precisely the bellhop and the garbageman who will now be savaged by the intelligentsia, permeated as it is by dread of the peasantry it presumes to know what’s best for. Though historically the left’s concerns are proletarian, lately it transpires that these can be assuaged very effectively with butt-smoke moral rectitude, little-man hip-hop flights of fancy or Whole Foods and gay TV characters. Joe Dirt, on the other hand, is armed—a bone in the system’s throat no hat-passing Bernie or OWS stink-in can hold a candle to. He needed placating this inauspicious autumn with #MAGA the way his counterpart in a Subaru needed ‘hope and change,’ eight summers and a thousand years ago.

Camile Paglia put it this way:

People want change and they’re sick of the establishment — so you get this great popular surge… If Trump wins it will be an amazing moment of change because it would destroy the power structure of the Republican party, the power structure of the Democratic party and destroy the power of the media. It would be an incredible release of energy… at a moment of international tension and crisis.

That the power of the establishment could be detonated so blithely is a woeful delusion from so normally prescient a commentator, but Paglia was correct about one thing: there has now been an incredible exorcise of energy, precisely the narcotic catharsis a mark needs to go on being conned.

Vegas Odds

pulpfiction_gimp

An idea whose time has come

Professor Woland declaring ‘Black Lives Matter’ is how you know to bet on Operation Human Shield.

As for pelt-head, I’m guessing he gets his orders in a manilla envelope from Jeffrey Epstein, in cartoon cut-n-paste text collaged over a blown-up negative of himself doing unkosher shit to a dog collared eleven-year old.

I dunno. I could be wrong.

Personally, I prefer earnest stupidity to refined guile. So the older I get, the less it bothers me to find myself agreeing with Stormfront.org. Yet the alternative right—shallowly erudite, media savvy—seems, well, a little… off. 

And not only the alternative right.

How was the Muslim Brotherhood crushed? It was brought to power.

Why are the people who killed Kennedy tolerating a decade’s worth of John Birch in national syndication?

What could the Carnegie Endowment possibly have to do with an ostensibly alternapunk guerrilla news outlet?

Every several months brings a new and oddly polished YouTube huckster positively brimming with esoteric supposed revelations. There’s so goddamned much truth afoot you’d think deceit was a revolutionary act. I mean, 9/11 gabs don’t have firmer ground to stand on than WTC 7?

Rand sang himself to sleep on a Rodney King cover. Papa Ron’s selling doubloons for JP Morgan Chase.

An arid, inverse 1968 is being ring-led by a gay Jew fratboy and an ex-academic outer-DC trust-funder.

And Donald surrogates are legion.

Ain’t that some shit?

When the Syndicate wanted to keep the Constitution suspended, they had [what does a white racist call] a black professor lead a Tracy Chapman hum-in. Now, seven years into the Trayvon administration they’ve got a method actor—one of TS Eliot’s lost golf balls—on the stump intimating 49% of what 51% of voters want to hear like it’s a Gods Must Be Crazy coincidence.

Ironically, responsive government’s what you get when everything you say is backlogged.

The bait ‘n’ switch

They-Live

Trump 2016

As a youth I admired a man, an experienced man with the wisdom of a poet. He was the hunter and I, the dog. I subsumed his instruction like a sultry musk. But when I asked a poignant question the smoke cleared, and he had vanished….

The promise of the good life is the bane of examination

Orchestrator of spectacle

Capturer of imagination

A grand discovery indeed, that connected fear and loathing to vices

Fool me twice, never again: an ancient, malevolent license.

The obscurantist’s inimitable art is to put a price on the sublime, not from town to town, but everywhere, for all time.

A discerning host, your merry diversions are his constant attendance to business.

 

The 48 Laws of Powerlessness

the great cornholio

the great cornholio

“Do not consider yourself wicked when forced to rely on your own efforts.” —Pirke Avot

“Consider the birds.” —Jesus of Nazareth

News broke this week not only that Mexican authorities had recaptured infamous cartel head El Chapo, but that during his time on the run, actor Sean Penn met the escaped narco in secret to conduct an interview for an American magazine.

As in the example of the otherwise forgotten gangster with which Dale Carnegie opens his seminal self-help guide, El Chapo’s self-image is decidedly counterintuitive. He told Penn,

Look, all I do is defend myself, nothing more. But do I start trouble? Never.

I’m not saying he’s a nice guy, but—strictly speaking—El Chapo is probably right. In places where life is as dire and cheap as it long has been in Mexico, for all practical purposes, people are little more than animals.

In contrast, the sterility of our lives in the US has retarded natural selection, proliferating cancer, androgyny, nervous ticks and strange new addictions. Decency has become lethargic and peremptory, a sort of Americanized building of communism, prodded by public service announcements and corprobureaucratic mission statements, maintained on life support with wiggle words and mealy euphemisms. The most thoroughly inculcated mental habits in the US are entitlement, deference, and delusion, the attributes of children, dogs and madmen. We call our goals “dreams” and our desires “rights.” Despite a zeitgeist of hardening cynicism we cannot untangle ourselves from the neuroses our congenital brutality as creatures entails under First World conditions, a respite which eventually reverts to war, by other means, of all against all; a melee of passive aggression.

A few years back, a man looking to make a quick buck authored and managed to have published a compendium called The 48 Laws of Power, a set of machiavellian precepts distilled from manipulative behaviors and business tactics he noted while living in Hollywood and trying to peddle screenplays to movie producers.

Of course, power is a quotient, and it’s perfectly conceivable that it adheres innately to a system of laws that might be discovered by scientific methods. Under the right circumstances, power can be applied to effect wondrous good, and its cultivation can uplift the soul. But power can also be also a soul-retarding, necessary evil that must ultimately be lamented the way aboriginal hunters used to pray for the souls of their animal victims. If living morally within its constraints can be likened to practicing a martial art for self-defense, The 48 Laws of Power, in contrast, is more like a guidebook for carrying out a school shooting. If you’ve ever felt thwarted or bullied, it’s an intriguing read. But beyond self-preservation, what can you really hope to win by the tactics it recommends? Certainly not peace of mind. Besides, very few people stand a chance of ever ruling anything worth lowering themselves to the grasping sleaze and darting paranoia prescribed by The 48 Laws of Power, which sells itself flattering the avaricious self-importance of ass-licking middle managers, foul harpies, excessive selfie attention-felchers and reality TV-like personalities.

More likely, you’ll just continue being subjugated by a web of agencies, conglomerates and remorseless, buck-passing apparatchiks—your neighbors, fellow peons and self-styled social betters—by means of transcripts, credit scores, criminal histories, licensure and various other cudgels. You’ll pay retail, you’ll pay innumerable taxes and ancillary fees with sub-Orwellian gibberish names that go to fund cheating, malingering and addiction, while precious few of the protections promised from the cryptocubicle hives those compulsory tithings funnel through will ever extend to you, unless you have a quarter-million budgeted for attorney’s fees. Should you require a hospital stay, overworked nurses may leave you to shit yourself and profit-driven doctors may fail to make more than the most cursory, mechanized inquiries into your condition. Employers and landlords will wring you dry with snickering disdain for the law. School authorities and later, cops will harass you for defending yourself, but do less than nothing (i.e., harm you somehow) if you turn to them for protection. Lawyers, creditors and sundry predators will constrain you to sign beneath utterly incomprehensible fine print, while hucksters of every variety tell you the most exquisite lies, entirely without shame, every single day.

In short, you will be reduced under absolute despotism, in America of all places. And however subconscious they may be, the by-now automated and seemingly disparate forces arrayed against you adhere giddily to an inverse-Christian theology of glad-handing, back-stabbing, inveterate insincerity, and an incentive system that punishes manful forthrightness, rewards slithering guile, demands gratitude of the exploited and remorse for the highest attributes of humaneness cultivated over centuries of civilization’s rise, unless that humaneness is pressed somehow into ulterior service. What you need aren’t laws of power, but laws of powerlessness, a guide for coping with the invisible shackles you’re dragging around, so that you can at least preserve some sense of self-worth and alertness to objective reality despite the obscurantism your many nibbling predators are constantly throwing up in attempting to convince you to hate yourself.

Here are 48 of them.

(1) In the beginning, there was you. The inscription at Delphi read know thyself, not “know everything.”

(2) Before you are reptile or mammal, hip or square, believer or apostate, right or left wing, you are a creature, a rack of meat that somehow possesses the capacity for understanding.

In the words of the poet, “He understands things only as he senses and smells them.”

Gaze past the abstruse layers of expectation built into your field of vision by education, convention and the interests of others in your interpretation of the things your vision beholds.

(3) You can take and be taken from, fuck and get fucked up, become prince or pauper. But in the end, the capacity for understanding, your independence of mind, is the only real power you ever will have.

(4) The pursuit of power over others may arise from any number of noble, guiding principles. But once that power is attained, the principle of power is power, and power alone.

(5) Despite whatever inordinate estimation you may have of your worth or prospects relative to others, chances are, you’re a nobody, and nobodies are liable to have to answer to anybody and everybody. You can try to mitigate this the sisyphean way, by pursuing power over others on contemporary American terms, or you can mitigate it in the only real way possible: by guarding your capacity for understanding from the efforts of those who seek to co-opt it.

(6) You may be a nobody, but you’re only a nobody relative to society, to the limitless world of names and masks. Give too much of yourself over to that world’s approval and even as president or plutocrat, you’ll still be a nobody. Commune instead with your own soul, and set your own terms accordingly, because they’re going to get set one way or another.

(7) You do not have rights. Rights are a pretext for arbitration, for power, like the Messiah, a fairytale to placate the powerless.

(8) What you have instead are imperatives, mainly self-preservation, the mitigation of discomfort, face-saving, and maintenance of spiritual and intellectual autonomy if yours is more worth guarding than it’s worth trading. It may not be, in which case this blog post isn’t for you.

(9) Think of it from a Marxian perspective: imperatives and the will to invoke them are raw materials. Power, on the other hand, is extracted, rationalized and propagandized into an end product to be hoarded. El Chapo possesses a great deal of raw power. George Bush possesses a great deal of refined power. When I say power here, I’m speaking narrowly about the latter form.

(10) Power is pretentious. For example, both George Bush and El Chapo are powerful Mexican druglords who’ve wrought untold death and destruction. But only one of these two claims to derive his power from, and wrecks his destruction in the name of, a lofty values system that he supposes makes the world a better place.

(11) Because in the United States power is always exercised in the name of decency and righteousness, those who exercise it tend to exhibit smug self-satisfaction. Despite what anybody says, smug self-satisfaction—not justice or decency—is a primary end to which power is a means.

(12) Imagine (1) a young guy who’s homely and diminutive but conniving, who utilizes his non-threatening demeanor to lure a self-esteem deficient young lady and obliquely impose his jealous prerogatives on her using various mind games. Now imagine (2) a mechanic trying to repair the engine in a Ford. Those who seek to transform society, devising all sorts of protocols for how “We” should order affairs, perceive themselves as similar to the second guy, the mechanic. But they’re the first guy.

(13) You are not a participant in the transformation of society—no one is—only in its composition. Society on the scale we’re familiar with is a force of nature. If you’re part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

(14) Don’t ever worry about what others do and think and say when it doesn’t impact you directly. Nobody asked you.

(15) If, like me and most other people, you simply must take an interest in the affairs of others, recognize that interest for what it is: a lurid little diversion.

(16) There is no such distinction as abuse of power. Power is abuse, domination, the divestiture of others from their will to invoke their imperatives. Like dogs, people are evolved over many generations of socialization to yield that will without first thinking. You may not have the option of exercising or getting out from under it, but you can at least peer past the euphemisms and slights of hand to see things for what they really are.

(17) Power in the current grey-race global order of mass-organization antfarms is not the triumph by force of one lowly person’s (or even El Chapo’s) imperative over another’s that conflicts with his, but a vast epistemic matrix of falsehood. Ledgers and algorithms are manipulated, fast-moving assets are transmitted and skimmed with nothing of value produced, and glittering iconographic pornoganda is deployed upon our deepest hopes and basest fears. Withdraw your assent to the premise that public life requires anything genuine from you and you withdraw your consent to this madness, clarifying your vision of the monstrous powers arrayed against the autonomy of your mind. Keep what little is yours for you: better you should be forced than be first convinced, then force yourself.

(18) Consent is the hot air that inflates power. It comes in three varieties: unconscious, willing, and forced. Though still prevalent in some sectors, forced consent is basically an antiquated business model, while unconscious consent is the most advanced and cost effective. Willing consent is more costly—because power must be delegated in exchange for it—but yields greater gains. That’s why cops and bureaucrats get such generous benefits. It’s also why whores get jewelry.

(19) Cravenness, vindictiveness and treachery are the only reasons for willing consent to power.

“We’ve got a great team here and a product I really believe in.”

“I’d do anything for Bill and Linda because they have a unique vision and they really care about their employees.”

“We’re here to demand equality.”

“You have the right to an attorney.”

…..the language of felching vermin. They would watch Bill and Linda be raped in a stairwell, and do nothing.

(20) If you don’t wish to be dealt with by power, i.e., to be rendered dependent, then don’t deal in power. Don’t accept little titles or adopt organizational prerogatives as your own. Don’t sweat other people’s business—and it’s all other people’s business.

(21) When it comes to minimizing your subjugation, no possible benefit can derive from chiming in about what is to be done, what rules should be encoded, how the common till ought to be divvied, and what should or should not be rendered unto Caesar. It’s none of your business. It’s none of Caesar’s business unless you agree to Caesar’s terms. It’s not even any of God’s business, for He left these decisions to man. When, in exchange for others taking action on what you believe is your behalf, you accept—by voting, liking Facebook pages, calling the cops—that they are better qualified than you are to arbitrate your prerogatives, you spurn God by trading His incredible gift of volition, of capacity for understanding, for a leash and a poop baggie. At least Judas got thirty pieces of silver. 

(22) Policy positions are not beliefs. Stop conflating the two.

Policy positions are not philosophical—they’re pecuniary and vindictive. Right and wrong have nothing to do with them. For nobodies like you or me, any policy position is only the starting off point of dogma, of make-work neurosis, of lending your energy to those who would usurp your imperatives and do so, despicably, in the name of the common welfare, for no purpose other than their own.

(23) Conceptualizing morality in terms of “the common welfare” is just a way of rationalizing our sense of entitlement.

For example, this week, it was publicized that the rock musician Ted Nugent had called, on Twitter, for Obama and Clinton to be hanged for treason. I, too, would love to see the crows pluck out their eyes, but what’s this notion of treason? Were you, or was the public, owed something that Obama and Clinton failed to deliver? They didn’t betray anyone: their many crimes are entirely unsurprising. To feel betrayed by them requires a babblingly delusional sense of entitlement.

This same week, a major news story has been the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge by a rabble of self-styled militiamen in Oregon. Left-leaning sorts are all over Facebook calling for them to be shot or locked away in Gitmo. Why? Who cares? Have they done you any wrong? Are they less deserving of unnatural death or imprisonment than, say, Clinton or Obama? To feel effected by the story requires a monumental sense of self-importance. And yet, thousands are clickety-clacking about it on the Twitters and the Facebooks as if they have something personal at stake.

Weird.

(24) ” But I pay taxes, I should have a say!” That’s adorable. No one cares what you have to say, obviously. Besides: a manifest dictate of self respect is that you minimize or evade taxpaying (duh). If you can’t (I certainly can’t), well… When did it ever occur to you to have an opinion about what the school bully eats or shares with you using your lunch money? 

(25) Think of the US like Wal-Mart: an evil corporation that has trademarked a name, but embodies none of the virtues—thrift, diligence, free enterprise, risk-taking—that name represents. It cannot be revived, because it is undead.

The United States, its departments and subsidiaries, may perform certain functions very well and others not so well, but it is morally bankrupt in any case. When you accord it moral legitimacy by supposing that it has any, that it should or shouldn’t do this or that for the common good, that you can improve it by putting in your two cents, you’re consenting to its meddling, not just in your own affairs, but in those of other people, of strangers who’ve never done you a bad turn.

Well that’s just not very considerate now, is it?

(26) Stalin is supposed to have said that “Gratitude is for dogs”, a sublime turn of profundity if ever there was one. Gratitude and hierarchy are well and good when love or respect are their bases. The problem is that gratitude in the global job market is really just sycophancy: submission on the part of docile rubes and ruthlessly self-interested chameleons to mass-organizations intended to be staffed by cheerfully interchangeable podlings whose allegiance to organizational prerogatives must be absolute. The employee may shift allegiances between organizations, but the essential relationship, the happy-talk lexicon, the aversion to all cognizance of certain of our basic needs and darker impulses, is always preserved.

Evola deserves quotation in this connection:

Entrepreneurs and employers have come to realize the importance of the ‘human factor’ in a productive economy, and that it is a mistake to ignore the individual involved in industry: his motives, his feelings, his working day life…. The private lives of employees are not forgotten – hence the increase in so-called personnel counseling. Specialists are called in to dispel anxiety, psychological disturbances and non-adaptation ‘complexes’, even to the point of giving advice in relation to the most personal matters.

In these circumstances, gratitude is absolute submission.

(27) Someone who tells you, “respect is earned” is probably a con-artist who wants to use you. Respect is earned, like trust is earned, affection is earned, and bread is earned. Respect can be maintained, it can be tarnished, it can be withheld or just not be established in the first place. Like love, it isn’t a constant: it germinates, it grows, it can wither. It is a prerequisite to, not just an outcome of, any non-exploitative relationship.

This is not true of things that simply must be earned.

(28) You can’t respect everybody. You can’t love everybody (if you’re a Christian, that’s what Jesus is for, it’s called outsourcing). It’s better to hate everyone and leave them alone than to love one person and push an agenda on them.

(29) People who have an agenda—naked power, “social justice,” corporate profit, “policy outcomes,” government funding, “family values,” new laws, “acceptance” (i.e., acquiescence), “a more perfect union”—are called busybodies. Busybodies are nobody’s friend.

(30) When there is no particular power above a busybody—as in the case of David Rockefeller or Bill Gates—the busybody will operate based on some lofty conception of their place in the world.

(31) On the other hand, classic gangsters and warlords like El Chapo, who proffer no morally aggrandizing rationale for fucking people over, do not usually qualify as busybodies. They are simply bastards.

(32) When you try to gain something from a busybody, you become one.

(33) Busybodies thrive on power asymmetry—the permission of those above (i.e., felching), and the sufferance of those below (i.e., leeching).

(34) No true act of friendship can obtain in a relationship of power asymmetry. When a supposed act of friendship makes its way up from below, this is called ass-licking. When it flows downward from above it’s called soliciting prostitution.

(35) Because a near consensus in this country equates morality with “the common welfare” on a scale so vast as to be meaningless, most people are busybodies of some sort, full and equal franchisees, voting and commenting on Facebook and whatnot. And because anyone who manages to have the media disseminate their grievances without being disparaged can claim the mantle of that righteousness, a visible enough busybody can get some power without really answering to anyone, at least not formally.

This is called democracy.

(36) The most despicable class of busybody, the thwarted aspirant who plateaued or didn’t have what it takes and now enforces for a higher busybody, is called a rat. Longing to sate his vindictive sanctimony by attaining a commanding position, the rat ends up worming into some middling, protected one that merely enables him to warm his ass while issuing petty directives.

(37) Power doesn’t work without rats to carry it out. So rats think of themselves as performing functions essential to the common welfare.

(38) Rats are especially characterized by the tendency to adopt the prerogatives of those who aren’t particularly interested in them and who have far more to gain, in exchange only for the smug satisfaction and protected outlet for aggression that comes with investiture, e.g., titles, badges, the conditional power to bully and extort fellow untermenschen. Even the president of the United States is a rat.

Especially the president of the United States.

(39) Power over others is compensation for uncorrected powerlessness over one’s self, for failure to maintain sole ownership of your capacity for understanding. This is why so many cops evince no critical capacity, only a rote vocabulary.

Another example: have you ever noticed the predominance of pasty, androgynous, narrow-chested sorts in government and corporate middle-management? A general, a mob boss or a CEO exudes some virility or sense of menace; an inmate, NCO or blue collar stiff displays some basic, non-negotiable dignity in the face of his lowly travails. But visit a medical billing cubicle bank, or go to the office of a government agency and locate the wall at the end of the elevator bay with the flag stands and framed portraits of their honors so-and-so, and you can’t tell the men from the lesbians. Supervisors in these environments are the types of thwarted, inadequate souls who lack all passion, but possess infinite patience to follow the scent of meniality and disaffectation straight to the easiest, most conspicuous victim. Cops do this all the time.

(40) By its very nature, the investiture of rats incentivizes bullying and mediocrity.

For example, where I work there was an on-duty supervisor who for all intents and purposes was equal to everyone, performing the exact same function alongside the rest of us. The only difference was that he received a slightly higher wage in exchange for the aggravation of making final determinations regarding assignments that couldn’t be parceled out from off-site. But recently, he has been given a special shirt, a desk and the use of a company vehicle, and exempted from the work he supervises. He’s still on-site, only now, all he does is keep tabs. Before, if he chewed someone out, it would be a last resort and in response to a near consensus among us all. Now, ostensibly, he seeks out violations, which is bad enough. But in actual practice he invents them, otherwise he’ll have nothing to show for his investiture without having to make an effort disproportionate to the power his superiors are willing to grant him.

(41) Should you be affected directly by their activities, the best way to deal with a busybody is by hammering out a vicious beating.

(42) Unfortunately, most of the time this is not feasible, as busybodies are adept at marshaling the protective energies of the authorities.

(43) Rats can be swayed by emotion, but can never be reasoned with.

Where the proverbial garbageman makes the fewest compromises with power and just settles for the shortest end of the stick, the bureaucrat or cop or simpering corporate apparatchik imbibes a whole inhuman lexicon his superiors may not even bother with, and be damned if he isn’t going to employ that impossible vocabulary to have a randy go at anyone unwary enough to become ensnared in his two-fingered jackoff web of knit-pickery.

(44) The mass media, the military, police, public primary education, the university system, the civil service, large corporations, courts of law, organized religion…. These institutions thrive on your indebtedness, and none has your interests in mind. That isn’t to say they do no good, but they thrive on power asymmetry, on leeching and felching. Never accept that this is fitting or morally necessary. Never lie to yourself at some other, more powerful party’s behest.

This is important enough a point that it’s worth bringing in heavier guns than my own. Another writer put it like this:

One of the fascinating facts of American politics today is that both progressives and conservatives hate their government. They just hate different parts of it, and they love and cherish the others. In foreign policy, for example, progressives hate the Pentagon, and love and cherish the State Department. Conservatives hate the State Department, and love and cherish the Pentagon….

But none of them hates Washington as a whole. So they can never unite to destroy it, and the whole machine is stable….[But] you can decide that none of these politicians, movements or institutions is even remotely worthy of your support. Trust me – it’s a very liberating feeling.

(45) If someone gives you shit, give it back as devastatingly and quickly as possible, if you can get away with it. If you can’t, let it go.

(46) Break any rule that impedes you, as often as you can get away with it.

(47) As often as you can get away with it, practice the art of completely ignoring anyone who wants something from you that isn’t theirs to have, especially your time and energy. Beggers, attention seekers, pushy co-workers, supervisors desperate to test your respect for their authority, people who talk too much, or who only take and never give.

(48) Finally, the Inverse Golden Rule: Don’t practice ethical precepts with those who ignore them. Don’t hesitate to abuse those who abuse you, as often as you can get away with it. Don’t greet, wish gezundheit or break bread for those who don’t do the same for you.

Steal high, sell low/The only true devil’s the Devil you owe/Scuttle the excess and burn off the lies/Your only defender’s the God of the skies!

A Tissue of Lies

This is what democracy looks like

This is what democracy looks like

Are you pro-choice or pro-life?

What is meant, respectively, by these monickers, pro-choice and pro-life?

If by the former we refer to someone who generally believes abortion to be morally acceptable, and by the latter we mean someone who finds the procedure morally abhorrent, then I, for one, am certainly pro-life.

However, pro-life and pro-choice are not simple states of thought or feeling about the relative moral acceptability of abortions. In public discourse these labels primarily denote policy positions, i.e., administrative propositions, and/or degrees of objection to or concurrence with same. They are answers to the question what is to be done about community business, about who is to be on the pitching and whom on the catching ends of officialdom, and in the case of abortion policy the greatest convenience to the greatest number is derived by giving prenates (babies, if you please) the short end of the stick. Yet these mundane considerations are almost always referenced in intangible moral terms. Granted, the pro-choice side tends to base their arguments on utilitarian grounds, but their bottom dollar is on an alleged, essentially sacred right to abortion that the government, by its very purpose as an institution, is entrusted to ensure. And those who are pro-life argue that legalizing abortion violates an alleged and no less sacred right to life that the U.S. government is uniquely ordained by History to protect.

This hinging of rationales on intangible moral authority stems from America’s claim to actual authority being rooted in a supernatural supposition, that men have intrinsic (“natural”) rights and that governments are instituted among men for the purpose of securing them.

An alluring induction, this high-flown catechism upon which Americans (meaning, nearly every modern bourgeois on the planet) base so many of our operative assumptions about propriety in the conduct of temporal affairs, falls far short of probability—though it raises (and manages to settle in its proponents’ favor) the prosaic line of inquiry, what is to be done? 

But if I possess something intrinsically, what need is there for a third-party guarantor? And if this guarantor’s powers can only be considered just if derived from the consent of the governed, what happens if I don’t consent? We know the answer: the Whiskey Rebellion. Ruby Ridge. A 5150 hold. Criminal syndicates that reject the premise get more leeway than political opponents who accept it.

But as individuals and families, either you buy this notion that some terrestrial party other than you is responsible for securing your rights, or you don’t. If you don’t, then you have no business demanding the government implement justice, not for baby seals or baby humans or victims of airstrikes or of faulty airbags. If the government happens to be tolerably just and responsible, great. If not, make a contingency and suffer what you must. Rights are as ethereal as the soul, and with mine I prefer not to bargain.

But even if neither God nor nature entitles us to x, y or z by simple virtue of our humanity, is decent treatment not a manifest good? Must we capture this Sasquatch and christen him Rights, or will a positive ID suffice? Say, the Golden Rule? What if the government took it as its job to simply enforce a consistent measure of decorum and propriety? Could we then declare ourselves pro-life, or pro-choice, or advocate for animal rights or a minimum wage, without thereby appointing a terrestrial arbiter of first things? And anyway, by advocating for this or that policy, aren’t we simply attempting to shape the notion of propriety we’d like to see enforced?

If you consider yourself a stakeholder in the business of enforcement, then yes.

A thought experiment: God forbid, your school-age child is raped by his or her soccer coach. You know right where this man lives, you own a gun, and can easily kill him, or kidnap and torture him horrifically. Knowing that the government forbids and very effectively punishes kidnapping, killing and torture (this is a hypothetical), and that it also forbids child-rape but that official punishment for the latter, though forthcoming and harsh, would be insufficient to satisfy your sense of justice—what is to be done?

Now, let’s pose this exact scenario, assuming (to be certain) that no one other than you is in a position or would be willing to break the law to exact a vengeance that would more nearly approximate your idea of justice than the government’s exertions, but in this case the kid isn’t yours, and the rapist isn’t your kid’s soccer coach. Do you avenge this crime, with the near-certainty of punishment (of you) vengeance entails, if the victim is your child’s classmate? What if he lives in the same neighborhood? The same town? What if he lives three towns over? Or in another state? If not, why not?

If you’re pro-life, I expect you’ll agree that the state sanction and subsidization of prenatal infanticide is pure madness. And that there are fashionable, highly educated people out promoting the mental gymnastics required to believe this abortion regime is a symptom of some virtue inherent in our system of government is maddening. But life was cheap back when Tamerlane was lopping off heads, and you want me to believe the intervening centuries have made it less so?

Granted, life in the US can be pretty expensive. As someone who works in EMS and has lived abroad I can say that the extent to which this notion is taken seriously (that we’re all equally entitled to a modicum of decent treatment) is impressive, and so are its results. There are many complaints that can be made about the insufficient and deteriorating maintenance of public health, order and education here, but all things considered, it isn’t half bad. I hear public order is kept better in China, where abortion is mandated by law. In America, it’s encouraged and subsidized. The latter regime maintains control with psy-ops, the former with bi-ops. You want hamburger, or egg fu yung? But the proliferation of supposed rights is inversely proportional to the steady deterioration of civilized life we’ve been witnessing post-WWII (others would date it further back, but that’s my opinion). How many more of us do we really want out walking around with these laundry lists of rights? Granted, giving babies the shaft is stupendously chickenshit, but them’s the times, and I don’t make the rules.

How did we get here? The way I once countenanced the proposition that “all men are created equal” was by crediting it as a slightly overwrought recapitulation of Marcus Aurelius’ “Neither have I seen my own soul, and yet I honor it.” You have to be a very thwarted little knit-picker to quibble with the Emperor on that score. Of course it is self-evident that we all intrinsically possess some unqualifiable dignity as creatures. And creatures come in all shapes, sizes and capacities—who are any of us to quantify these differences?

Then again, it’s inevitable that in the course of human events they will be. And this intrinsic dignity is reduced to so much pathos and puerility when it takes up the pitchfork and the petition. From its inception America ordains government as arbiter of the ethereal. At least Shylock’s pound of flesh was a clear-cut matter of principle. The more far-fetched these pitchforked petitions become—the right to public funding and social approval when subornning a physician to commit prenatal infanticide, the right of poofters to adopt little boys, first from Thailand, then from Church orphanages; the right of the well-off and late middle-aged to harvest their preciouses out of cut-rate rental wombs abroad—the clearer it becomes that, like Marx’s bourgeoisie, the tendency of this enterprise is to round ever southerly Capes and open ever newer markets. If the prenate is an “undifferentiated clump of cells”, what does that make the Congolese miner? The Bangladeshi seamstress? The migrant produce picker? The Pakistani drone victim? Always diluting its shareholders’ stock, by-and-by this Beelzebub eats its own head. Like the Church, democracy is always locating and innovating temporality onto the transcendent, and vice versa. When it isn’t a lead pipe, the consent of the governed is a conjurer’s sorcery, and we’re happy to be entranced. We tell ourselves that 120 million more hungry, subliterate mouths would be something we could live with, or that infanticide is a right enshrined in the Constitution which devolves to us from the Mother Gaia. I, for one, would rather minimize my involvement with Beelzebub than see him co-opted to my way of thinking.

So, though I and Hippocrates know (he without aid of the advanced insights into embryology that inform us) that abortion is murder, a natural crime and a morally reprehensible act; though I would make every effort to dissuade a loved one from committing it (and possibly attempt to restrain them physically), I cannot concern myself with the pretend moral arbitration of an authority that bases itself on uncorroborated claims, without as a consequence recognizing them. And since it only recognizes my rights—my soul—as a product of its protection, I would rather secure my own, such as I am able.