What is Winning?

YOU WERE NEVER MEANT TO BE FREE
You Were Never Meant To Be Care-Free
You were never meant to be self-sufficient
nor self-satisfied
nor selfless
Your life is meant to be one of subservience to masters, bosses, generals, markets, financiers, clergy, police, wardens, guards, alienists, administrators, and specialists. Your time is supposed to be measured, clocked, scheduled, predicted, productive, dedicated, and recuperative. The space around you ought to be regulated, designed, controlled, valued, purposed, planned, loaned, rented, mortgaged, bought, sold, subsidized, and recycled for someone else eventually. Your food, your clothes, your decorations, your entertainment, your hobbies, your passions, and your medicine is meant to become your trade or come from processes you don’t comprehend. Systems were created for your mind to be schooled, enlightened, trained, studied, condemned, forgiven, analyzed, purified, molded, and acculturated.

Yet… something happened.

Somehow you fell out of place, dropped out, escaped, cracked, resisted, were rejected, refused, or forgotten. Perhaps you were inspired. Whatever the case, here you are in this metropolis. What are you to do? How are you to live? Do you conform, assimilate, rebel, revolt, organize, destroy, teach, shout, hide? How do you relate to the others? Do you want to liberate them, annihilate them, ally with them, plot with them, criticize them, appeal to them, ignore them, spite them? Can anything change for you? For them?

What is success? What is it to win?

Is it to live without giving in? To prosper without allegiance to states, markets, religions, parties, morals, and other such things that are ridiculous to you? To pull off attacks? To get away with them? To form the TAZ, the Commune, the Safe Space, the Idyllic Life, the Resistance Movement, the Insurrection, the Revolution? To obliterate any trace of the control mechanisms that couldn’t control you?

You’ll never be a good citizen, a patriot, a saint, an official, or any other sincere participant. In other words, you’ll never work ambitiously towards the reproduction and expansion of this order …fervently increasing your value to it. You’re already on the other side. The side of criminals, rebels, traitors, villains, lazy bones, castaways, untouchables, filth, slime, decadence, sin, savagery, meanness, misfortune, underclasses, outsiders, lunatics, warlocks, vagabonds, vice, mutiny, and anything else that is the respectable people’s enemy.

and anything still unfixed and unknown to them

and you are not
alone


    At one end of the spectrum there are those of us who are indistinguishable from an ordinary, true believing citizen of the metropolis. Except for the tiniest, inscrutable, subtle doubt about their myriad forms of participating in the reproduction of the metropolis. On the other end, there are those of us who have never been assimilated, whom have resisted for all of this time. Between these two poles there are adversaries of this current order who are only looking for another path to a position of power that they have been denied. Everyone else in-between is a mix of compromises, comprehensions, concerns, and competencies. All of whom are only potentially anything other than convinced participants in the metropolis.

    Winning is a measure of perspective: how much you’ve resisted control, who you accept as your enemies, who you tolerate, how dedicated you are to a different situation, how much that situation has been realized, and how much your enemies have been defeated. On the spectrum of outsiders, the mix of these variables can define a politics. Your distance from the goals of that politics defines your role in carrying them out. There is no requirement that this politics is persistent, coherent, or existent. There is a direct relationship between your role according to your politics and what you can consider winning to be. According to some perspectives, winning may just be maintaining the situation they’re already in.

    Adopting the politics of someone else with a different perspective, who has answered these questions in a different way is foolish. Assuming that everyone else using a certain identifier can, will, or should share your perspective is naive. Foolish and naive decisions are a waste of time. Knowing the difference between perspective and politics comes through foolery, naivety, wasting time, and learning from it. Winning comes from refining your politics and increasing your capacity to perform the role(s) you’ve chosen.

    Some things can not be won. Some things will not be won. Some things are unlikely to be won. Some things won’t appear as a win. Some times it can’t be known if you’ve won. Contemplating these things will save you time. Realizing that there’s always an element of uncertainty about these things will make you humble.

    You will know that you’ve lost perspective when you forget what your life was meant to be and believe that you have lost completely. When you lose completely, you won’t believe that you have. Some perspectives are more prone to losing completely than others: those who can be chosen and who are gullible enough to believe that they alone had chosen to lose.


All of the above may be incorrect.

Informalist Anarchism: a Self-Interview

Q: Howdy, how are you doing Squee?

A: Pretty good. I have been finding it very easy to flow lately, which has come after some time of feeling at the helm of a ship in a storm.

Q: What do you want to talk about today?

A: I want to talk about informal anarchism, but really talk about it… especially related to other things I talk about.

Q: OK, so you know the routine. What is informal anarchism?

A: I don’t want to define this thing so much from the beginning that this turns into an essay, so I’ll just say a little bit about it now. Informal anarchism is a term that is usually used to describe an approach to formal anarchist organizations: the Platform, the CNT, the IWW, Coalitions, Collectives, Councils, etc. Some of the critiques are about the consequences of a particular structure’s mechanical processes …like issuing position statements, forming a treasury that is separate from the propaganda committee, naming your group something like “Local 15 of the Anarchist Work Force”, using consensus to decide what can be done officially by that name. Some of the critiques are about the way that the formality itself of creating anarchist organizations is similar to a lot of the things that anarchists oppose. When I use the term, it’s because I share some of these critiques. But I’m not entirely sure if a lot of my own thoughts have been expressed elsewhere before.

Q: So if informal anarchism is opposed to organizations, then what is actionable about this sort of anarchism? Isn’t this just a philosophy exercise?

A: That’s usually where these debates quickly become frustrated by the offense taken to the critiques of organization. It’s also where you see more of the diversity in this category of anarchists I’m maybe straw-manning called “informal”. An informal anarchist may be the stereotype of someone obsessed with stylistic minutia in their everyday life: diet, dating, how to spend money, how to avoid the boss, vandalism, attire. An informal anarchist may also be someone operating from a focus on marketing or public relations; a practice that functions mostly because it doesn’t talk about everything it’s doing to spread disobedience, disorder, revolt, or whatever the goal is. Sometimes an informal anarchist can be an insurrectionist, but there are insurrectionist approaches that are certainly formal …such as networks of armed urban guerrilla groups. I would also put some anarchists in this category that argue for actions to be taken in other’s venues or in life generally that fit into anarchist goals; like someone going to an Occupy encampment and arguing for an exclusion of police from the site. So as can be seen with the examples, there are plenty of actionable approaches that don’t involve a formal anarchist organization.

Q: I sort of see what you’re saying, but don’t all of these things still involve some sort of formality and organization?

A: An immediate No to formality, that is something entirely caught up in social customs and official sanctions. The organization part of the question is a bit more tricky to answer and it is also the reason why I try to avoid the term “organization” when I discuss informal anarchism. Organization doesn’t really mean a lot when you really dig into the concept. It’s not even a functioning concept when it is removed from a context and examined as an absolute opposed to something like chaos or randomness. The concept only works when you are looking at matter and energy at a certain scale and discussing the information present, which is actually what organization is synonymous with. At the scale of human beings, organization is a shared pattern of behavior: information among people. But an organization is not just organization, it is also the regulation of organization and information. An organization in this sense is something that is formalized. It is defined in its structure. An anarchist organization is a formal social structure that usually attempts to define positions and/or practices that will lead to insurrections and/or revolutions. When anarchist organizations aren’t aiming for that, they tend towards the regulation of other anarchists’ behavior. This latter form of anarchist organization is what I see a lot of lately…

Q: Oh? Well maybe you’ll say more about that; but, what’s your problem with anarchists creating formal organizations?

A: I have a lot of problems with it! At their best anarchist organizations are just a convenient and easy way to do what those anarchists could be doing informally anyway; but, for whatever reasons they believe they require the formalization of their activities with other anarchists. That’s at their best! At their best the formalization is so formal …in the sense of custom and etiquette… that they’re really just a mere formality …like saying “bless you” when someone sneezes or wearing a clean cut outfit to a job interview. For example, it’s customary to present you and your friends cooking for other people as the activity of a defined organization like Food Not Bombs. Other people see the formalities and look at you a little more respectfully. But you don’t actually need the Food Not Bombs formalism to do that with your friends. What’s the point when you’re just going to make it open to any group of friends that want to do that and use the name. It’s just branding. The important activity that is happening is that people are eating without spending money. The formalities are a distraction and they turn an important activity like eating for free into something it isn’t: a charity group. Then comes in the explanation of mutual aid’s difference from charity and by the time you get to explaining the part where you’re inviting other people to also produce meals with you, you’ve explained away any point to it being called Food Not Bombs.

Q: A bit of a tangent there Squee? It seems like you’ve ate some bad burritos.

A: Well I have a recent experience of that in mind, but I did say that FNB was an example of “at its best”.

Q: Haha alright well how about you don’t beat a dead horse and discuss something around now that ties into this.

A: LOL I love that I can ask myself the questions I want to answer. So I’ve been blowing up the Maple-Ash-Farmer-Wilson phenomena for a minute now and it’s an interesting middle ground. I have other writing where I talk more in detail about it, so I won’t repeat myself too much here. The thing that makes this really interesting to me is that it’s a very good example of anarchists coming right up to the edge of formal organizing and holding that line. It’s by far not all anarchists participating, even in some of the most popular events that come out of it. However, it does some of the things that it seems like a lot of anarchists just don’t believe can be done without specific anarchist organizations.

Eating for free with an emphasis on mutual aid? Check
People helping each other produce schwag and other things? Check
Causing a ruckus for the authorities? Check
Creating an audience open to anarchist thought? Check
Distributing art and literature? Check
Fighting efforts by capitalists and the State to recuperate it? Check
Getting media attention? Check

So many of these things are attempted by starting an organization and a lot of the time it turns out that it’s really just the people that get along already who stick around and make the thing work. That’s if the thing even winds up working for very long.

Q: When you put it that way, it starts to make a bit more sense where you’re going with this. Would you say that you think organizations are limiting?

A: That’s part of the problem, I think they consequently and in spite of anarchists’ intentions, limit the reach that anarchists could have. That may be a more contemporary thing now than in the Modern period, though. The thing is though that stuff from the modern period like punk culture and even earlier with the popularity of anarchism among European migrants to the US …there’s a lot of strictly cultural reasons for the flourishing of anarchism.

This is where I really see the difference of perspectives between an informal anarchist and those who are dedicated to organization building. Informal anarchists have this very gritty quality about them that makes their writing and activity seem just so natural to their situation; well, because it is. Anarchist syndicalists and the contemporary activist types have this perspective that’s influenced by the history of sociology and the way that sociological thought shapes their stories about themselves, their world, and the that are a part of …and the people that aren’t! Informal anarchists don’t have a lot of that. Maybe they have a very well-informed analysis that borrows from sociology, but they’re really just not operating in the world of statistical averages. They’re operating in the world of their experiences everyday with other individuals; not just ideas about other individuals that are some abstraction from a handful of social categories.

Another way that this comes through is with informal anarchists attitude of not giving a fuck about humanity or society a lot of the time. Those concepts just aren’t very useful in their world of thinking because the social divisions that sociology tends to clarify are very deep chasms between groups of individuals. So to pretend that you can just jump the chasm with an organization is naive, but sociological nevertheless. But the biggest problem is worse than all of this naivety and faulty theses. The biggest problem with anarchist organizations is that they tend to be most effective when they’re attacking anarchists that disagree with them. They can become quite vile. Not Stalinist or Nazi vile, but some of them do seem like they’re built with the sole purpose of purging anarchists. With accumulating the power to decide which anarchists can and can not benefit from whatever resources are anchoring these organization’s power to everyday life.

Q: Well shit, that’s a pretty strong claim there.

A: Yeah it is, but when you create a mask for you and your buddies out of formalities, you can pretend that you’re doing the work of some greater good and appeal to others that accept those formalities. I mean, look… something becomes conventional and eventually a formal thing because a lot of people accept it. Some of the original meaning will fall by the wayside when it changes into a formality, but the popular power of the behaviors and presentations carries over. So that is the quality of people that formal organization really digs in to and there’s more or less transparent ways to use that mask …the thing which is disguising the actual strengths of the people involved, their relationships, and their resources. Suddenly you’ll have fans or people that think they can be in the center of it with you, but they’re not seeing what’s there really …what they’re seeing is these formal activities and they’re mistaking that for the raw deal. It could be like a kid just wasting their time submitting their writing to a group, it could be like a cult, it could be like an authoritarian party. Something all of these have in common though is that BECAUSE the formality fools people, they provide something to the group they may not otherwise provide. Also, because of the formality itself, organizations can magnify the authority of their claims by playing off of popular appeal. This is how a small group that is really in control can eventually accumulate the power to destroy people they never otherwise could have. Anarchist organizations may or may not understand that, but the purges and the magnification of a group of friends’ opinions about other people (and ideas) happen often.

Q: Jesus christ, alright… but isn’t this just a part of social life? People compete, they find ways to gain strength against what they don’t like.

A: I don’t think it’s absolute. A lot of human beings have lived without spawning a bunch of organizations. Not just because they don’t develop a division of labor, but because they balance their tendency towards traditions and formal structures with consequences for gaining too much power or with the joys of living together without the formalized bullshit.

Q: So is this where your romanticized notion of partying comes from?

A: No that just comes from doing it! Partying is actually something a bit more interesting to me from an informal anarchist consideration, but I don’t think it’s the key ingredient to anything. It may be some people’s key ingredient to maintaining an informal revolt against domination and authority. I don’t know. Maybe there is even more to it than I realize.

Q: Alrighty Squeebert, is there anything else you want to say about this?

A: Nah – the next thing will likely be a formal essay where I cite the Tyranny of Structurelessness or something.

Green Anarchism: a Self-Interview

landfill_beale_joravsky_magnumQ: Are you a Green Anarchist?
A: The short answer is, “I don’t know.” I have more questions than I have answers about this. Like most things, it depends how the term is defined.

Q: Well let’s start with definition, then. How do you understand the term?
A: There has to be some sort of pre-requisites to make the term meaningful at all. The operative word is “Green”, which would mean that a green anarchism would be concerned with the Earth in some way. That satisfies some things, but not enough. A green anarchism would be a form of concern with environmental issues that is particularly anarchist. So something about the manner in which someone cares about the environment would lead to some kind of anarchism being meaningful. I don’t want to say that it would conclude that anarchism is a solution to environmental problems, nor that anarchism would logically include concerns about the environment. Just that anarchism would be one of the main features of the theory.

Q: If you are being this vague already at the point of definition, you either don’t know what you’re talking about at all or you are hesitating to make sense of the complexities involved. Which is it?
A: It’s almost both. I’m not very well versed in green anarchist literature. However, I have explored some of the philosophical problems with environmentalism in the context of phenomenology and in some more-or-less formal group settings. So I’m familiar with the complexities, but I’m hesitant to make any solid statements about the way that anarchists have dealt with them. I could provide some superficial overviews of something like… anarcho-primitivism or green syndicalism, but on a deeper level I haven’t familiarized myself with any literature that addresses the questions I have coming out of my own way of turning the environment into a problem.

Q: Ok. What are these environment problems? Clearly there are ugly things happening around us, particularly related to organic life on the planet. Even more-so tied in with the technological systems that human beings have developed over the course of civilization’s existence. Especially those of the 20th and 21st Centuries. You certainly recognize that there are some problems here, correct?
A: Well yeah of course I do …it’s all very depressing. But even in your brief summary of the situation, I become hung-up on the details: civilization, technology, the relationship between me, the context I live in, humans generally, and organic life on the planet. What makes this even more difficult for me is the anarchism part of these considerations. Where is the connection between my depression about this and my anarchism? Is there anything fundamental about these concerns to my particularly anarchist thoughts?

Q: You seem to be leading with that question. Why don’t you just continue and I’ll interrupt when I have something to work with.
A: Alright. So my anarchism develops out of an existentialist outlook on life and the concerns that come with living in this world as I interpret it. At bottom I fundamentally understand my own life to be meaningless, to be a situation that I’m constantly trying to make sense of without any interpretations being acceptably concrete. The desires that come from existing as an embodied consciousness – concerns that come from a body that wants to live – an interpretation of those desires isn’t even given concretely. They can be a compass, but those desires are suggestions, more-or-less. I can interpret them as obstacles to some other project, I can comprehend my own urges to eat, sleep, and shelter myself as some kind of weakness that must be overcome to …I don’t know, die for the Cause …or some other nonsense. This problem of interpretation sits like an anchor upon a bed of meaningless stuff, which is attached to this ship that I call, “anarchism”.

To summarize the logic: when you begin to think about life from this position, you don’t have any easy methods for evaluating your decisions. You can kill yourself or you can continue living without any reason at all, without any rationale… but the moment that you want a rationale, you need to sort through some very basic problems. Should I live, or shouldn’t I? Why should I keep doing these things that I need to do so that I can survive? Those problems. Well it turns out that when you obsessively attempt to answer these questions, there isn’t a very good rationale for killing yourself or allowing yourself to die. It turns out that when you create a rationale for suicide, you admit that you have already decided that all sorts of stuff is meaningful to you. Somehow the act of killing yourself is the best conclusion you can come to about all of this meaningful stuff. But that’s paradoxical: you’re basically responsible for deciding that all of that stuff is meaningful to begin with, so how do you take the meaning of it all seriously enough to kill yourself? The consequence of killing yourself is that you annihilate the agent that came up with these meanings, so killing yourself amounts to the same consequences as just simply changing what you think is meaningful in the first place.

There’s a lot of follow-up questions and answers about this, but to stay on topic, I’m just going to say that there isn’t a good way to answer those follow-up questions, either. Suicide is out of the question. So, I’m stuck with a life of irrational non-decisions, and the necessity of deciding what is meaningful about my own existence when I want to act rationally. This leads to some of the more interesting questions that eventually lead to my anarchism. An easy way to put it is that if I need to be the source of my life’s meaning, that meaning doesn’t and can’t come from authority, or an appeal to popularity, or a religious system. Those are all irrational, passive methods of establishing meaning. If I’m the source of what I find meaningful in life, that says something about the nature of my agency and my relationship to other human beings. It says something about my participation in creating myself. It also denies other human beings their rationale to dominate me, to force their meaning upon me …meanings that are ultimately based on the choices they made from their own experience. Not to mention the systems human beings come up with to support such a rationale. As if formalizing the problem of meaning has somehow changed the situation. Well none of it is acceptable. I don’t think there is any acceptable form of someone dominating me.

This doesn’t actually make me an anarchist yet. There’s still an opportunity for me to be comfortable with others being dominated, or even dominating others myself. Long story short, I also do not find any of that to be acceptable …at least insofar as the domination of others is contingent upon a system existing that subjugates me at the same time as it subjugates others. I could give less than half-a-fuck if two people on an island play power games. However, when power is formalized into systems of domination that I am also subject to, it becomes my problem. This is when I become an anarchist. I develop a self-interest in annihilating those systems, simply for my own liberation.

There is more to this though and it relates directly to the nature of power games. I don’t accept an interpretation of life that considers all relationships to be relationships of dominance and submission, master and slave. Whether those roles are crystallized into a formal structure or they’re in a fluid exchange with each other, I reject this comprehension of life because of its limits. Power dynamics may be common, but they’re not absolute in any sense. There is a boundary to these roles (or, positions) of power that is defined by relationships among equals. I’ll use an abstraction to help elaborate on this limit. Let’s say that there are two things in space …waffles. These two waffles aren’t simply floating about as if there aren’t any other forces at play to influence their trajectory. These waffles are acted upon by gravity, wind, whatever. They are put on a path by external forces… and only external forces …after-all they’re waffles. A power dynamic would come out of these two waffles having interfering trajectories, but they can also have parallel trajectories. There is nothing about the waffle nature that determines them to come into a dynamic of exchanging force with one another. If the waffles are on a parallel trajectory, then although they are separate units, they’re heading in the same direction in the same way. Without any need to depend upon a notion of intentionality, the waffles have become complimentary parts of a larger system.

People are a bit more complicated, but the analogy holds. The problem with people is that we’re intentional creatures, we choose meanings, we act upon those choices, we have a role in determining our own trajectories. However, like the waffles, we can project ourselves in directions away from each other, in parallel with each other, and towards each other. It is only when we project ourselves towards each other that we determine ourselves to exchange force: power dynamics. Well that’s not my ideal mode of relationship. My project is to maximize my own force by acting in concert with others, preferably because we’re in parallel trajectory.

There’s a range of power games that I think are acceptable, but as an anarchist I want to annihilate systems that dominate me. Despite Machiavellian techniques for doing this, I don’t recognize much benefit to existing in perpetual conflict with others. If not for any other reason than my own laziness, I prefer the company of others on the same trajectory. My preference is, at the very least, to not waste energy sorting out conflicts where there needn’t be conflicts. There’s also an interpretation of human psychology that studies what is called “flow”. This notion of “flow” is very important to me and my sense of satisfaction. You could also think about it with dancing as a model, or by reference to some forms of martial art. The interplay of force doesn’t come in a dichotomous pair of motion, there’s always a third variable of parallelism.  There’s a form of power that comes out of increasing the quantity of particles traveling in the same direction. That’s just basic. It’s not even taking something like emergence into consideration.

Q: Ok, so that’s interesting, and waffles. How does this relate to green anarchism?
A: That’s exactly the problem. Where can an interest in non-human, organic life come from with this sort of approach? It’s difficult enough to define “organic,” “life,” and “environment” in an especially green-friendly way, but to then recognize my own role in defining these things and interpreting their meaning… Something very easy to do is accept an egoistic rationale for the way that I interact with the organic systems that I am tangled up with. That doesn’t really mean a lot compared to some of the more traditional approaches to environmentalism, though. It says less about a particularly anarchist environmentalism, a green anarchism. Do I think that anarchism will fix the problems that are tied up with the way humans, technology, social systems, and the rest of organic life all relate to each other? Where does my anarchism become tied up in these concerns?

Q: Well you said that you’re against domination, or that you find it unacceptable. What about the domination of nature, of animals, of technology?
A: So that’s the catch, but only in some ways. It wouldn’t be inappropriate for me to elaborate the details of how the State and its capitalist economics depends on technology and ideological notions about so-called nature to perpetuate itself as a force of domination over my life and others. There’s some excellent thought that comes out of analyzing these things. The issue for me with this is that it’s very difficult to take the specific problem my own agency existing in conflict with systems of domination, and then expanding that problem beyond myself or beyond other human beings. I don’t want to settle for a mere transference of the relationships I’m familiar with as a human being, to my comprehension of non-human existence. What exactly justifies such a transfer of meaning? That’s one problem, then betting on anarchism is another one.

Let’s unpack this a bit. To begin with, I don’t specifically seek to protect all organic life. There are many organisms that are in my best interest to annihilate completely, like disease-causing organisms. There are other organisms that I’m ignorant of, apathetic towards, or benefit from consuming …even on the strictest vegan diet. So there’s no answers that come out of defining my interests in relation to “all organic life”. I’m specifically concerned with the way that I relate to particular organisms and how systems that I am part of relate to particular organisms. In some ways, the particulars set me against those systems from an interest in perpetuating the health of organisms I depend on. In some other ways, I must admit that these very same systems align with my interests on the point of annihilating disease-causing organisms. There happens to be many more reasons for me to destroy those systems, but even without them I wouldn’t suddenly seek to perpetuate the existence of all organic life. At face value I’m just not interested in “all organic life”, but at a very deep level my own existence competes with the existence of other organisms.

It doesn’t follow from this competition that I must dominate these particular organisms. It requires some sophisticated techniques to actually dominate and control organisms in an agricultural sense. I don’t need to participate in agriculture. I could even extend this argument to an anarchism that refuses to dominate the organisms a human being finds themselves in competition with. What I doubt is that even with such an extension, that this anarchism would be fundamentally “green”. It is still fundamentally existentialist. With or without “green” considerations, it still exists as anarchism. I would need to prove that this anarchism would fall apart if my concerns for non-human organisms didn’t play a role in it. I don’t think that I can argue that it would. It’s an anarchism that is consequently concerned with “green” issues, not an anarchism that extends from a central concern with “green” issues. Also as I was saying, I’m not confident that the anarchist societies would solve such issues. I’ll admit they’d likely be an improvement for strictly economic reasons, but I don’t think that the relationships between human beings and other organisms is specifically beneficial to other organisms. I think that these relationships are particular and that they are partially contingent upon the way other organisms become meaningful to particular human beings.

Q: If you’re going to admit that it is in your interest to fight technological civilization, then why would it matter if your anarchism is “fundamentally” green?
A: It matters because my anarchism can’t be understood if I call it “green” or suggest that it ought to be comprehended through a green lense. The consequences of my anarchism are a sort of do-it-yourself ethics that actively combat the State, capitalism, and other forms of my own subjugation and domination. This means that there is a lot of potential for combating systems that dominate non-human forms of organic life, but that potential is tied up with the specific choices I make when it comes to the meaning of an organism …or the choices that those I am in affinity with make about this. Too much of it depends on my active participation in these decisions after-the-fact to blame the anarchist conclusions of my philosophy. While I don’t think that my personal concern about organic life is less important than my anarchism, the two concerns come from distinct sets of questions and answers. I could care about other organisms without the anarchism just as much as I could care about anarchism without thinking of other organisms. So I am an environmentalist and I am also an anarchist. My concerns about the conditions of the Earth and organisms that depend upon those conditions are very strong. They just aren’t the result of my conclusions about domination. They’re the result of my conclusions about how I want to live when I am not dominated, when I am intentionally relating to other organisms. I guess what I can say is that my existentialist trunk branches off into these two directions of concern. I think that these concerns parallel each other in fascinating ways, but I recognize that they are cleaved from each other at their base.

Q: If these two things are distinct for you, then what about looking at the path that your environmentalism takes. Doesn’t it also become an anarchism on its own?
A: It’s possible. I could say what that would look like, but I’m not sure that I’m there. It would look like a basic conclusion that my relationships with other organisms forms the basis for a rebellion against domination. I would have to somehow bridge this gap between the way that I conceptualize the meaning of my own life and the same sort of no-turning-back conflict with the State/etc. There’s a lot of obstacles to this kind of conclusion. For the most part, my life has been and it continues to be a series of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and social choices. My relationship with other organisms is mostly limited to consumer choices. The relationships are mediated by the systems that result in what I go shopping for. There’s my relationships with pets, with antibiotics, and with whatever other organisms are in my immediate environment. That’s a far distance from the sort of relationships that I imagine an especially meaningful green anarchism coming from.

The way I think about this now is that I depend on thought experiments to make environmental decisions. I think about relationships of production and consumption, about commodities, about macro-level impacts of agricultural production, and other such things that I minimally participate in. These considerations would be more immediate if I were to produce my own food and medicine, for instance. Right now they’re not immediate. In a somewhat hypocritical way, I could recognize that if I were to produce my own food and medicine, I wouldn’t do it by setting up these insane systems of industrial agriculture and pharmaceutical production. I could consider this “Good Enough”. What I think is difficult is ditching the sense that I’m merely pretending at an anarchism rooted in these concerns.

Q: Why does it matter if you’re making a choice based on a hypothetical situation?
A: How about I return that question with another question, “How meaningful would my hypothetical conclusions be?” I can say anything I want about what “I may do if” given this or that situation. The fact of my life is that I am not producing my own food, medicine, clothes, etc. I’m consuming things. I can stop consuming things based on how they’re produced, but that isn’t an anarchist action …it’s a consumer choice. It is a solution that fits into a consumer politic. It is a consideration after-the-fact of having already accepted my own participation in this system of capitalism. And if I were to to annihilate the separation between my activity as a producer and my activity as a consumer, I don’t know if I could sincerely suggest that I have annihilated that separation because of my concern for other forms of organic life. At least, not unless I were to first come up with that rationale. Currently, any environmental actions I take that would be anarchistic would be the consequence of how my anarchism shapes the environmental decisions I’m willing to make. I’d be lying to you if I said that my environmentalism has lead me to conclude with a strictly anarchist approach.

Q: How does this effect your perspective on existing green anarchisms then?
A: I recognize that they’re foreign to me, I guess. I would need to learn more about them first.

Q: It seems like your main issue is with your situation. At the level of the type of situation you want to be in, isn’t it an anarchist situation that “flows” with nature?
A: That’s an interesting perspective… Yes, the situation I want for myself isn’t this mediated existence where my decisions about other organisms are the result of subordinating myself to this shitty social order. At that level, yes I have a green anarchist opinion where the two blend together nicely. Although, that only means that I’ve replaced all of the reasons that go into these desires with a comparison of “situations”. That isn’t the sort of thinking that I come to anarchism from. I also don’t mind if others do come from that sort of thinking. I suppose that conclusively, I just have more to think about.

Q: I’d suggest that you consider it this way: your ability to survive currently depends upon these systems of mediation and domination that you detest. Therefor, it is in your own interest, in relationship to non-human organisms, to be able to be self-sufficient. That very self-sufficiency depends upon the annihilation of the division between your consumption of food and medicine from the way that it is produced. It depends upon forming an immediate relationship to the production of your own sustenance. This would be a green anarchism.
A: Well, thank you. I’ll consider that!

Ludwig Binswanger Blurb

Tomorrow I’ll be conducting the final installment of a 4-part workshop series on Existentialism. The text I will be using is, Foucault and Binswanger: Beyond the Dream. There are a few motivations for using this text that I want to write about before giving the presentation. These include: post-structuralism’s relationship to existentialism, the usefulness of existential psychoanalysis, and the overall significance of these two schools of philosophy for anarchist theory.

It has been noted (and specifically, by Aragorn!) that influences on anarchist theory can be demarcated by the May, 1968 insurrection in  Paris, France. Situationist and Post-Structuralist theory, related to that event, is very interesting. What I want to focus on is the time-period leading up to it. One such school of thought that had an enormous influence in the late-19th and early 20th Century is existentialism. Not only Nietzsche and Stirner, but also Camus, Sartre, Heidegger, Kafka, and Kierkegaard.

Alongside the development of this existentialist point-of-view, another school of thought rose to popularity: psychoanalysis. One of the most direct blends of existentialism and psychoanalysis comes out of Ludwig Binswanger’s Daseinsanalyse …a mix of Heidegger’s ontological writings and Freud’s psychological writings. Next to Jung and Lacan, Binswanger’s criticisms and alterations of Freudian psychoanalysis gained its own following (mostly outside of the United States) and Binswanger remained one of Freud’s best and only friendly correspondents.

Ok. So alongside Psychoanalysis and Existentialism, there was also structuralism: Marx, early anthropologists like Levi-Strausse and Marcel Mauss, and lingustic thinking such-as Saussure’s. Of the three of these broad categories of theory (Psychoanalysis, Existentialism, and Structuralism), Foucault and other notable post-Structuralists focused the most on psychoanalytic theory and structuralism. This has made contemporary critiques of existentialism difficult to come by, since contemporary theory is still quite often responding to post-Structuralism.

Oddly enough, Foucault’s earliest writings were both influenced by, and an evaluation of, Ludwig Binswanger’s Daseinsanalyse. In the piece that I selected, a connection is drawn between this early writing of Foucault’s and his later writing. What came in the middle – what Foucault is most famous for – is the development of theoretical methods that analyze the development of power-dynamics throughout time-and-space …methods in contradistinction to the structuralist methods Foucault critiqued. While these contributions of Foucault’s are amazing, towards the end of his life he began to come back to questions of the Self: self-care, an aesthetics of self, etc. In sum, after an elaborate analysis of the many ways which power shapes the construction of self and influences our choices… Foucault returns to the existentialist questions he departed from earlier in life.

Why?

Because at the end of the day, Foucault’s critique of existentialism is valid, but for as much as the limits of existentialism mark Foucault’s departure …they also mark the limits of his post-structuralist analysis. After rigorous considerations of social institutions, sexuality, identity, history, epistemology more broadly, Foucault returns to the practical considerations of our existence in a world where meaning has been constructed by power. Concluding as an existentialist would, that an techniques of self is a path to liberation, Foucault returns from his journey with an exceptional analysis of power that no prior existentialist could refer to for how to do this aesthetics of self.

Just as important as it is that Foucault comes back to questions of individual existence, it is important that Foucault looked to Binswanger (not Freud, not Heidegger, not Sartre, not Camus). It is with Ludwig Binswanger that existentialism produced a practice capable of dealing with other individuals in a serious way. In a world as described by Foucault (and other post-structuralists), the important task isn’t a mere egoist self-creation …but an egoist self-creation that is informed by methods of analyzing power and logical operations that can aid in the process of relating to other people contrary to the relationships created by power.

It is at that point (methods of analyzing power and logical operations aiding the process of relating to other people) that the value of this exploration of existentialism AND post-structuralism appears for anarchist theory …and praxis. Since it is beyond the limits of even a 4-part workshop on the topic, my goal has been to inspire others to learn from these philosophers. To apply existentialism to the projects of self-creation and building interpersonal relationships in revolt against powers long-known to anarchists and more recently focused on with the influence of post-structuralism.

The Rebel by Albert Camus reviewed by Squee

The Rebel by Albert Camus
reviewed by Squee


In 1951, Albert Camus had already dealt thoroughly with the questions of nihilism, rebellion, revolutionary politics, and anarchism. It may surprise many anarchists that this existentialist philosopher (mostly known for his novel The Stranger) was quite familiar with anarchism and was himself a frequent supporter of anarchists. As such, he fits the fellow traveler category and, with his book The Rebel, continues to be a relevant challenge to anarchists today. More context as to the nature of Camus’ relationship with his anarchist contemporaries can be found here:
http://libcom.org/library/albert-camus-anarchists.

To summarize, Camus is someone who not only openly supported anarchist-syndicalist organizing, but was excommunicated by the existentialists for criticizing their Marxist tendencies. He provided material and ideological aid to anarchists and received their support in return. When Franco had sentenced anarchists to death in Spain, Camus organized a speech, covertly inviting Andre Breton by networking with anarchist-syndicalist and prisoner support organizers. When a French anarchist was brought up on charges of subversion for producing an anti-militarist poster in 1954, Camus spoke at the trail as a character witness. He consistently published his writing in anarchist papers and shamelessly discusses anarchism in his more public works.

The content of The Rebel primarily focuses on the individual’s struggle to find meaning in a world that becomes inherently meaningless without a God, which he refers to as the Absurd. He performs his analysis using examples of individuals and groups who were coming to grips with the metaphysical, historical, and aesthetic situations resulting from nihilism. He leads each inquiry into the matter by asking if it is possible for the individual to rebel without rationally attempting to justify murder and other so-called crimes, by which he means harming others.

What Camus is further asking with this question is whether or not it is possible to move coherently from the rebellion of a subordinate to a social-political ethics without betraying what he identifies as the principle and initial choices involved with rebellion: the affirmation of human dignity despite death as a potential consequence. Reasoning that this makes the value of human dignity a value which transcends the individual — since they are willing to die in order to affirm it — rebellion for Camus has a universal quality that ought to lead to solidarity with others in revolt. From there, what he wants to demonstrate is that rational attempts to justify murder or crime (or to justify the irrationality of one’s desires) can only contradict these initial principles, since it would violate that universal and transcendent value of human dignity.

The text is divided into five main subsections: the Rebel, Metaphysical Rebellion, Historical Rebellion, Rebellion and Art, and Thoughts at the Meridian. The first defines what exactly Camus means by rebellion. The second deals with those whose rebellion is limited to the imagination (or, metaphysics): poets, philosophers, and others who are rebellious in thought more than in action. The third expands the points made in the previous subsection, but demonstrates how these can be made in the context of (mostly revolutionary) politics. The fourth section carries this into the world of aesthetics. Thoughts at the Meridian, though short, is where Camus outlines the moral limits to rebellion that he finds acceptable, using syndicalist trade-union organizing as a primary example of coherent rebellion. A wide range of figures are scrutinized, both real and mythological: Prometheus, Cain, De Sade, Baudelaire, Stirner, Nietzsche, Marx, Bakunin, and many others.

Murder and crime are still highly debated topics among anarchists; sometimes in the controversies around tactics and violence, sometimes in outlining a coherent moral opposition to the State and its supporters. Many of the arguments still seen today are embodied in Camus’ exemplary characters and situations: summarized, analyzed, and judged inadequate. The questions of nihilism, which for some have become major questions in their theoretical approach to anarchism, are subject to a more thorough inspection than in any other anarchist text I have read.

For fans of Max Stirner and Egoism generally, The Rebel offers a perspective that is somewhat unheard of. Camus argues that with Stirner “Individualism reaches a climax;” and, that along with all the nihilist rebels, it ultimately leads to a kind of collective suicide. This is not argued on the basis of orderlessness, it is argued on the basis of Stirner’s own vision for the Unique. Camus quotes Stirner, “You [the German nation] will be struck down. Soon your sister nations will follow you; when all of them have gone your way, humanity will be buried, and on its tomb I, sole master of myself at last, I, heir to all the human race, will shout with laughter.” Camus wants to surpass this vision of individual triumph, he wants to learn how to live in the desert which is created after subjecting the world to an Egoist critique.

To investigate the potentials for living in such a situation, Nietzsche and the Surrealists are used to conclude the book’s section, Metaphysical Rebellion. Camus refers to the rebellious path taken by Stirner and Nietzsche as “Absolute Affirmation.” If Stirner affirms only the Unique, Nietzsche goes further and constructs a philosophy based on affirming everything. While it is unclear if Camus considers this an improvement upon Stirner’s thinking, he credits Nietzsche with accurately diagnosing the illnesses of modernity as nihilism. Regardless, Camus concludes that Nietzsche’s Will-to-Power still leads to the same wall of collective suicide as Stirner’s Unique.

The section Metaphysical Rebellion ends in transition from the thinkers who acted less to the thinkers who acted more: the Surrealists provide the vehicle for this transition and offer a space for Camus to present his concluding arguments in their metaphysical form before demonstrating them in their historical form. It is here that Camus’ fear can be felt as he discusses Surrealist affirmation of the irrational murders and suicides its members authored. What he wants to show is that when the most Egoist conclusions are acted upon, they found actions that are worthy of as much condemnation as those that are rebelled against. While Camus will later demonstrate this causal chain at the collective level with Nazism and Marxism, it is clear what he is searching for when he is contemplating this at the Individual level: a principle of moderation.

Moderation is discussed in the final sections of The Rebel to clarify its place in Camus’ philosophy. In analyzing the nature of the rebellious act, Camus concludes that moderation is already present in restricting the rebel from themselves becoming another ruler. It is found in the realms of metaphysical, historical, and aesthetic rebellion when the initial value of human dignity that transcends the individual is adhered to. More interesting for us, moderation is the connection that ties Camus to the anarchists. What Camus reveres in the anarchist is the simultaneous embrace of individualism and the moderation inherent in the praxis of trade-unionism (and presumably more broadly in prefigurative politics). His philosophy is anti-Revolutionary and pro-Insurrectionary; it is anti-Collectivist and pro-Individualist. Camus is an accomplice in revolt against the Western tradition. This is the result of his refusal to negate the conditions which found and moderate rebellion, the Absurd condition that we each face individually, but together.

Overall, reading through this work has value even beyond Camus’ arguments. It is a comprehensive history of modern rebellion, a framework for considering a range of contemporary questions, a reference book for other interesting authors, and an excellent demonstration of clear and rigorous writing.

Nekro Anarko

Nekro Anarko

skeletorDeath is the only thing worth talking about…

Life is a short blip of resistance to the entropic expansion of energy that has been ongoing since the beginning of the Universe. At its most celebrated center of expression (humans), it is still merely an organized battery excreting through its leaks evermore diminished forms of energy. Energy, that beautiful and chaotic phenomenon that warms the cold, moves the stationary, and navigates this disgusting world of material objects …energy subjects everything to its ends. If a sewage system guides it in one moment, it speeds out from an explosive in a toilet the next: energy refuses order. Living is a practice of conservation. A fearful, embarrassing, and futile attempt by order to get what it can from its principles of prudence.

There is nothing at all worth celebrating about the living.

Human life has always organized itself to consume as much as it possibly can. All the better for correcting the terrible accident that is life on planet Earth. The Earth is a greedy and obnoxious planet, budding everywhere with hungry lifeforms stubbornly standing in the way of the goals of the Universe. That goal, like all goals is death. Human sentimentality about death has only helped death reign greater. The more that humans produce, the more they consume, the more that dies, the more that the total energy trapped by the Earth can escape to its true path of expansion. Human sentimentality can not hide the fact that death is really the only human goal.

Life is order’s cruel device to move energy around. Human life is its most pitiful form because for as much as sentimentality may fear death, the deeper fear is to never die: Thanatos. Thanatos is most explicit when humans burn up all of the chemicals that hide from consciousness how painful and terrifying organic processes truly are. The best cure for sentimentality is a quick purge of endorphins from the organism. A sharp revelation about what human life is and how much illusion must be maintained to keep on going. Nevertheless, Thanatos is shoved back into its expression through mythic beings: ghosts, ancestral spirits, vampires, and heavens. The lust for death is left to sneak around and hide amongst the psyche’s shadows. But death wins… and chaos smiles.

Death and darkness wins in the end, despite any half-wits attempt to concoct a greater life affirming force in the universe.

Let no one doubt that the State is an expression of humanity’s most despicable and dishonest urge to order. An urge that evaluates everything according to the gold standard of life affirmation. Make no mistake, the State would go to any extent to ensure that humanity can continue the project of growing its populations …even if those populations are complete automatons. The State refuses death and the death of its citizens will always be a practical calculation …a reluctant necessity. It will never admit to the ridiculous aims of its urge to order: life, human life, and as much of it as it can promote the existence of!

Nekro Anarchists do not take death for granted.

The authoritarian says, “live! We must live! Be strong and live!” We say, “I will kill you.” Some anarchists want to be the nice little leaders of a new order. These saints of anarchy, these imbeciles. They give in to their sentimentality and they will always be little students of statehood. Nekro anarchists know better, that death is the only thing worth talking about. And not just the fact of the matter (as outlined above), but how to exist in this tortured position as a form of life: how to act in affinity with death, with Thanatos, with energy and chaos.

There isn’t any need to elaborate on an anarchist position from the nekro conviction forward. It would appear to an idiot as the same formal checklist of goods and bads as any other anarchism. To smarter idiots, the consequences of a nekro conviction should be obvious enough. We nekros are the dark lords of the urge to chaos.

Now you have our name.

Critique of the Farmer Neighborhood in Tempe, AZ

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In Struggles of the Farmer Neighborhood in Tempe, AZ, I took a look at the neighborhood I had formerly lived in from the angle of anarchist, radical, and/or counter-cultural struggle. I concluded by stating that “I see it as a legitimate beginning and hope for the resistance there to sustain.” To follow up, I want to examine what some of the obstacles are from that angle, which by far is not the only or even the most popular angle to examine the situation from.

An illusory sense of ownership and satisfaction with realizing a somewhat ideal democratic culture are two of the more obvious and limiting factors about the results of these experiments. Though capitalist relationships between renters and their landlords, customers and local businesses, and work aren’t entirely comfortable, they are challenged less as relationships of domination and more in the quality of their products. The worst thing that local capitalists can do to this neighborhood is offer shitty products and shitty prices. Retaliation against capitalists that make poor choices regarding social norms they want to enforce exists, but price is more of a factor than anything else. This isn’t so bad when it comes to creating demand for caution form capitalists regarding rent and tenant agreements, appreciation for consistent customers and tolerance of customer’s social transgressions, and visibly highlighting the relationships between capital and social life that exist in the neighborhood. However, that relationship itself exists comfortably next to projects that attempt to dispense with waged labor, profit, and a separation between production and consumption. The result is a neighborhood that provides something of an illusion that its residents own it by offering more explicit say-so to locals than most other neighborhoods in exchange for the profit those residents bring to the owner’s ventures. At bottom, the landlord, the business owner, and the boss have been just as much if not more-so the beneficiaries of these cultural experiments as renters, consumers, and workers have.

Facebook as a medium for social organization is a popular choice for the Farmer neighborhood. What had once (to a lesser extent) been done with flyers and zines left at East Side Records, Zias, etc., word-of-mouth at bars and drum circles, and interactions while walking around the neighborhood has been sucked up into world that is controlled by a notoriously fucked up corporation. This is an unfortunate situation, but I’m not sure how successful any of these experiments would be without taking to FB. The local record stores are gone along with sitting/lying on the streets, the vibrancy of street-based activities (which have mostly been recuperated by the city’s arts/cultural projects), and a number of venues for music, open mic stuff, and hanging out. On the bright side, one of the fundamental disappointments with life in the neighborhood is the disappearance of these spaces and activities …which look to be on the increase the more that events are coordinated in the manner that they have been. It would be nice to see FB become less-and-less the standard medium for social organization and face time in meat space become the primary arena for communicating these ideas/events. Ultimately, I don’t think that transition will happen, thinking about the Tech No! Tuesday experiment as an example of resistance to such a shift …but I do think that in comparison, the Farmer neighborhood will continue to emphasize the importance of physical interactions as a defining characteristic of the culture it produces.

There’s a common question that comes up in anarchist space about the effects produced by alleviating the disasters that the State and Capital produce: whether or not alleviation creates a more comfortable status quo that prevents further revolt …or increases the chances of revolt to take place. From examining the Farmer neighborhood situation, my answer in relationship to this context would be that alleviation has lead to more revolt and not less. All of the above considered, activity against the police, against profit-based decision making, domineering personalities, State authority, and the values of capitalists seems to be increasing in direct relationship to the extent to which social activity comes out of collective neighborhood efforts to have fun (or whatever). No one knows where this thing will go, but the more structural relationships of domination that found the basis for the neighborhood’s existence may ultimately suffer from these experiments. It’s still a giant step to go from a sort of counter-cultural conscious consumerism to a clean break with these systemically authoritarian relationships, but if I were my enemies I would pin the Farmer neighborhood on my Google map as a definite ‘at risk’ neighborhood.

 

 

The Future is DorkLinux

If you didn’t think Linux was dorky enough, you were right! This is a guide dedicated to the full expression of total nerd for *Nix-Craft Masters. Beware! The DorkFu is strong here!

DorkLinux is destroy everything. This must be done before anything else.

 

1) After you successfully destroy everything, you can build your linux system from scratch …and beyond!

Check it Out!

http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/

2) The next thing you will need to do is immediately install the New Adventure Shell so that you have an official DorkLinux shell environment (see image below): http://nadvsh.sourceforge.net/

newadventureshell

3) Finally, no DorkLinux would be complete without a 3D Desktop Environment, for this you will need to configure Project Looking Glass as your default X-windows server: http://sourceforge.net/projects/lg3d-livecd/files/

 

It behaves as beautifully as it looks…

 

Those are the 3 major steps. Once this is complete, you can download and install Second Life (use either Singularity Viewer: http://www.singularityviewer.org/ or Phoenix Firestorm Viewer: http://www.firestormviewer.org/ )…

robedonpenisbench_001

 

…and if your dork STILL isn’t satisfied, you can download steam and pick up Rube Works, a game based on the genius of Rube Goldberg

rubeworks

Happy Dorking!

No Title Yet…incomplete.

Techno Music

Forlorn Reflections

I am a slave to world you haven’t yet seen. Though now I sit alone on the bed of these woods, pants muddied, thoughts to myself …I am monitored by something, somewhere. All of the stars above me are connected, as I am, by an alien force moving through and around everything that has and will ever exist. There are no mysteries anymore, nor discoveries. Accident is the name of a devil unspoken. And everything that could be dear to me has become committed only to what is coherent about me; for there is no more potential, nor worry, nor regret. Everything has its name, or number. Floating about a quantified world as some sort of equation or algorithm that designates its limits in a relational space. Just like an accident, what is lonely in me can not be named and it can not be known. It is this emptiness that is my last hope…

 

Augmentation

Annabelle Fax woke up early to check outside her apartment door for the new AR, one-a-day lenses she had pre-ordered from Cornea-X. It wasn’t very long after their release was announced that she confirmed the order; but, since it was the day of the release there could always be last-minute setbacks. They had arrived in a small package, marked from an address only a few miles away. Though she was somewhat excited to explore the new features, her excitement was diverted by the practical necessity of installing them before she defended her latest client. This could be a brilliant advantage for her defense if she had everything organized and uploaded to the lenses in time.

Judge Fillmore was presiding over the ruling. He had become a well-known advocate in the world of cyberlaw for his unbending defense of harsh legislation against social media trolls. As one of the first generals in the United States’ Tenth Fleet serving under Vice Admiral Bernard J. McCullough III himself, you would think he would have become jaded to the lesser-transgressions in cyberspace. Anna was torn about her defense. Her client was Anchor Nabe, a celebrated actor that caught the media’s attention when the Anti-Troll Militia uncovered his secret hobby of trolling liberal welfare-reform forums. She had built a career on her defense of civil liberties activists, but in this case she sided with Judge Fillmore in every way conceivable …including is so-called War on Knowledge Bullies.

To put this in some context, the War on Knowledge Bullies was the title of a book written by Fillmore and published for free reading to anyone that signed up for his church’s e-mailed newsletters. It was a typical conservative rant against scientists and academics that he believed had become too abusive in their push against the religious right-wing and its cultural traditions. Anna was an agnostic however, and a fairly open one. She agreed with Fillmore’s sensitivities and prescriptions, but in application to the defense of those who have been bullied for their sexual and gender identities. For as much as she agreed with Fillmore and despised Anchor Nabe’s attacks on defenders of the poor, she took Nabe’s case because his celebrity charity went to one of her most beloved foundations for LGBTQ youth.

But back to the new one-a-day lenses! These things really had it all. Not only did they produce high definition overlays in the visual field, render images faster than any other brand, fare well with field gesture capture, and come equip with a series of killer apps …they were the first one-a-day lenses to sync with BeforeAfter’s prediction software. BeforeAfter’s prediction software could detect lies, detect the likelihood of crimes taking place based on location, give highly accurate variable-based health predictions, and most important for Anna, it could give her up to a 72% prediction on an individual’s moods and emotional shifts until the next time they experienced REM sleep. That 28% chance of shifting the judge’s predicted states could significantly inform Anna about how to negotiate according to his likely ruling.

The package opened easily enough and there was little in there besides the lenses and the wireless charging adapter. One-a-day’s didn’t need to be plugged into anything and they came pre-charged for up to 9 hours of wear; but at this point the technology hadn’t developed yet for a full 24-hours. This was one of the disadvantages compared to harder lenses, although even with those you would still need to take them out every 62-hours so that the resonance charging wouldn’t cause any potential damage. Anna rushed to get them in and walk through the New User Wizard. She was already familiar with most of the basics, so all she needed to do was get her notes into memory and make sure that BeforeAfter’s Human-State Prediction was up and ready to process everything that was happening in the courtroom.

Done, good… and now she could get in her car and let it drive her downtown.

30 years ago…

Everyone knew it was happening, no one knew it was happening so extensively. For decades there had been an escalating war taking place within cyberspace and sometimes targeting its material infrastructure. Its scale was global and its factions were many-sided. The 20th Century superpowers and the rapidly developing, formerly titled “Second World” had entered into a kaleidoscopic arrangement of pacts, treatises, strife, protocol, and institutions that kept each other in a deadlock. Eventually, that all began to change. The failing campaigns against the Middle East lost focus once disruptions from the underbelly effectively destabilized the global relationships between nation states and their off-the-record cyber-thugs.

The uncomfortable, low-level antagonisms from the occasional political power or criminal organization became amplified into large scale initiatives with the introduction of new combatants. Identity theft rings, information leakers, activist hackers, and denial-of-service attacks authored anonymously were everyday news by this point, but unheard of technologies began to filter down from national militaries, through their paid terrorist organizations, and into the hands of the others. Most of those who could afford to get their hands on this stuff were too consumed with pet causes or personal gain to create an impact of any geopolitical consequence. However when rebels from different backgrounds came into possession of the new technologies, some of them had larger agendas.

Slowly the global cyber-wars were exposed through actions from its original participants scrambling to keep the others away from the battlefield. Sloppy attempts to target mostly civilian actors led to public experiences of cyber-warfare and a mass awareness of its agents’ capacity to amass destruction. Systems providing energy and basic resources to neighborhoods would be disabled for weeks. Signal interferences would cause “traffic damns” that lasted long enough for motorists to abandon their vehicles permanently. All the while, federal governments were losing legitimacy to confederate organizations of different creed, better positioned to help victims of these circumstances. All of this was merely the introduction of an upheaval.

The more popular confederate organizations were surprised to find out which of their enemies it was that had a head start in annihilating the federal governments. It was the new capitalists! They had slowly been guided away from reformism and passive strategies, both by their enemies and by their ideological ancestors. Their disconnection from grass-roots struggles and the poor argumentative strategies they often employed had distracted most of those aware of their existence from noticing their power in a few key areas: technological skill, black markets, cynically loyal benefactors, and seniority in many open-source and maker societies.

More importantly, the only thing that separated their overt ideals from the covert plans of the nation states was an enmity created through struggling with those states for control over the new economy. An enmity that was tolerated by the states. Since the capitalists had confused their practical enemy with an enemy in principle, they considered themselves to be amongst the anarchists in a war against government. Even if that government was limited to state government. This association radicalised their notions of viable tactics. When they began active campaigns of aggression — to liberate markets from state influence — they naively struck a core pillar of the old systems.

All considerations of allegiance were thrown into question. Activists on the Left, small states, large states, neo-conservative forces were forced to reconsider these new capitalists. These ones who took down the entire technological infrastructure in a tiny Canadian city while the rest were lucky to break some windows or enact revenge against their opponents. While their goal was to speed along the process of development in the city, they miscalculated the strength of their allies. Without the power grid, water services, communications, transport, and all the rest, what happened instead of a unification of the masses for a free market was the mass slaughter of bosses and others in authority by a fed-up population, sick of being pushed aside…

A Human Face

“Queer Theory has won!” exclaimed Rinse. The Mentor’s Hall was silent, its dim flickering lights on the faces of the audience was exhausting. Dunbar Rinse was arousing enough to keep everyone on the edge of their seats. They were wearing a loose-fitting patchwork coat over a plain white undershirt, beige slacks, heeled dress boots. “Like so many stupid things humanity has transcended, we can thank the warriors of mind, body, and soul who came out and stood up against gender. Against even those who called themselves ‘ally’ and fought in the insurrections, it was necessary to take a stand. Even if at times, it meant that they must submit completely to our justice.”

This wasn’t really accurate. While Queer Theory became a well known and adopted approach to gender, it hadn’t actually displaced LGBT or even hetero-patriarchal conceptions of gender. It had simply become popular and respectable. Rinse was a survivor of numerous battles that emerged from the collapsing nation-states. They had taken a firm position that put them at odds as much as it endeared them to others. A credible thinker, a bona fide queer, and a leading voice in the ever-present discourse on sexuality, Dunbar Rinse was something you didn’t want to miss.

“When you go home tonight to your partners, masters, slaves, and solitudes, I want you to arrive with a sense of pride. Everyone attending tonight, even if the display of pride is forbade by your master, you will feel proud tonight! Pride is what brought us out of cis-gender hetero-normative hegemony, pride is what gave us the strength to fight the cults of womanhood and manhood, we will always on this day take pride in our conquest!”

If you are thinking to yourself, “slavery?” then you clearly haven’t become familiar with Rinse. Queer Theory had “won,” but something else also “won”: BDSM. And not so much the B, the S, and the M (which where of secondary importance), but the D. Dominance and Submission rode along to the fore of mainstream practices along with the deconstruction of gender. Some of this came out of a confusion, maybe a vacuum that was left for those who had previously organized their relationships based on gendered roles, but had given it up. A lot of the new genderless had accepted Queer Theory without entirely understanding it, whom became submissives. Others who understood it but were used to dominating their partners subtly, became overtly domineering and these were the dominants. There were more fluid relationships where these roles switched for one reason or another, but nevertheless dominance and submission became the predominant framework for queer sexual relationships. A framework that one would respond to, but usually accept as the polar spectrum upon which relating was measured.

This was fine for some, but for many others it was a completely arbitrary measure of conduct. Unfortunately for them, it was what those others came to be measured. They could either conform to the norm or resist it, but they couldn’t avoid the new rules. Worst of all, they were usually perceived as submissives. Sometimes you would hear complaints from people in this position that “queer relationships aren’t any better than patriarchy was!” And they were a real amusement for the dominants who fully embraced their role…

“Before we get this party started tonight, I have a joke for you all.” Rinse went on to deride LGBT activists that still accepted gender. “I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY THOUGHT THAT THEY COULD PRETEND TO BE QUEER! HaHAhHA” Everyone laughed with them, some visibly uncomfortable feeling themselves to be in the hot seat. Dunbar Rinse pulled out a bottle of champagne from behind a podium they were standing next to. “There are snacks by the fire exit over there and merchandise by the front door. Happy Pride!” They popped the cork and it disappeared into the dark, vaulted ceiling above. Everyone clapped, cheered, and slowly wandered off towards the the food.

Rinse picked up their cane and was escorted their slaves off of the stage to the prep room. “You there! Where, oh fucking where, is my beer? You were to my left, rule #210 states that the slave to my left will have a beer for me after every presentation. You’re aware of rule #210? Who trained you?” They had a lot of rules, #210 was in the introductory chapter.

 

Antipathy from Fullness

Everything had long ago become an appearance, and I mean… very long ago. There had been religions once: gods, angels, spirits. There had been a love once that forsake the world as much as a religion. There is now nothing of the sort. The validity of feeling is chemical because everything is short-term. The word “conviction” hasn’t been uttered in almost 100 years because now it is supposedly unnecessary. Spilling blood is a rational calculation. Fucking is a scrimmage, practiced until you make it to the big time. This is why the destroyers you meet have been so hated even before they destroy. They’re the only ones left with a secret.

Netropolis: the Advancement of Architectural Controls in a New World

Nabe’s Hearing: the Preliminary Court System

God’s New Flesh: Intellectual Property and Certified Skills

Remote Controls and the Uncontrollable: Shifts in Consensus-Reality and Ideology’s New Terrain

Decentralized Capitalism: Theo, the Open-Source Entrepreneur and his Deal with the School Board

Fame Debt: Non-Violence and the Global Pillory – Lexy and her Ghost Writing firm/Protection Racket

Freedom to Speak at Risk: Civil Cybernetic Justice and the New Police

Isolated Incidents: Revolt’s Last Remaining Configuration

Struggles of the Farmer Neighborhood in Tempe, AZ

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For years I have been writing about subjectivity, long-term goals, cultural struggles, radical ghettos, liberating space, and resisting domination. Yet, I have failed in communication with comrades and friends alike to articulate the importance and originality of the Farmer neighborhood struggle; how it exemplifies an approach to rebellion that has won my approval, and the extent to which its transgressions betray a casual and dismissive perspective from afar. I will  begin my story of the Farmer neighborhood with some background context as to who I am, what I’ve seen and been through, and what the Farmer neighborhood is not.

I was born in Scottsdale, AZ where I lived until around 1992 before moving to Gilbert, AZ. Historically, Gilbert is a place that began in the early 1900‘s with a strong Mormon community. They had fled from the Mormon colonies in Mexico as a result of Pancho Villa’s forces and 1915, they began holding church meetings at the Gilbert Elementary School. In 1918, they were organized into the Gilbert Ward. Incorporated in July 1920, Gilbert was primarily a farming community fueled by the rail line and construction of the Roosevelt Dam and the Eastern and Consolidated Canals. It remained an agricultural town for many years and was known as the “Hay Capital of the World” from 1911 until the late 1920s. Fast forward to 1992 and the town was currently busy covering up a backlash against development from it’s white, often Mormon residents. In 1992, Gilbert was in the midst of intense transformation. It was the fastest growing school district in the state, and the town’s 245% growth rate over 10 years was staggering. Gilbert’s population went gone from 29,000 in 1990 to about 100,000 in the year 2000, much of it because of job growth in the Phoenix area. Part of this resulting backlash was the development of a gang called the Devil Dogs, who were organized out of my high school’s football team and had terrorized minorities in the area until its leadership was busted for their monopolization of ecstasy drug trafficking… shortly before I moved.

To summarize humbly, it was an extremely repressive town to live in on every level. Fortunately, I found cultural acceptance in the local hardcore and punk scenes. Then, my life there ended around 2001 when I dropped out of school and moved with my mother to Phoenix’s college town, Tempe, AZ. Outside of Gilbert there was Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, and other suburbs of Phoenix that were mostly going through similar boom periods. Of them all, Tempe and Phoenix were just about the only two places where someone could move in the Valley that had given a home to counter-cultural and creative types. It was already a place that I had been going to for its music venues and the lively bar-lined strip, Mill Ave. Although I wasn’t in the Farmer neighborhood (don’t worry I’m getting there), I was close enough to easily get there…

Now, the Farmer neighborhood is a place that is closely connected with the more general context of Phoenix and its repressive suburbs, ASU and its party school notoriety, and local counter-culture. It’s one of those Phoenix neighborhoods that is still full of foliage and architecture dating back to the early 1900‘s and it is where regular house parties, house shows, couch surfing, and other such things would happen most often. If you wanted to have a 24/7 party lifestyle and be around weirdos and freaks all the time, it’s one of the main places you’d move, crash, or beg for spare change. It’s where you would go to buy underground records and CD’s, get tattoos, find the best comic books, and meet people you liked who were all fed up and resistant to the conservative nature of Phoenix. Not that Tempe didn’t have its own sordid history with the KKK and segregation, but it had become what I had just described above.

As of a few years ago, Tempe (like many other places similar to it) has embarked on massive redevelopment projects meant to rebrand the city –and specificially the neighborhoods surrounding Mill Ave.– as an environment for sophisticated liberal consumption: gastro pubs, sleek imagery, luxury condos and apartments, attempts at an astroturfed arts district, attempts to change its colloquial name to “the DT” (downtown or downtown Tempe), and other bullshit much to the dismay of locals. While this is a national trend in many ways, what is unique about the situation in the Farmer neighborhood is that it inherited as a part of its hedonistic residents a number of anarchists and other more radical types whom also found a place there to call home. What will become apparent as I continue to discuss this anarchist/radical presence is the extent to which anarchist/radical action can take a form that is different from punk shows, from Occupy!, from workplace organizing, from street protest, from collective projects, and from subcultural insulation.

For a moment, I’d like to comment on the relevant context for anarchists in the United States. In overview, anarchists have gone through some marked phases of visibility and activity: from the anti or alter-globalization movement, to animal and earth liberation, to the anti-war movement, to fighting border militarization (especially in AZ), to the Occupy! movement, to surveillance and anti-Police fights around the country. Noted, I’ve spared a shit load of what anarchist have and continue to do; but, only because of the situation I’m about to mention. Anarchists today seem to have become pessimistic and defeated. Somewhat from latching onto past notions of what anarchists ought to do with themselves, somewhat from the ways in which past interactions with the Left have turned sour (how couldn’t they?), and somewhat from ineffectual lifestyle-as-activism becoming more difficult and more problematized. What continues to come in conversations discussing this situation is confusion about what can be done at this point, what other forms of activity may look like, and what it even means to be an anarchist anymore.

Comparing this anarchist/radical slump with the Farmer neighborhood struggle will be the focus from hereon. To expand on the repression of the Farmer neighborhood; in addition to the rebranding and development projects driving up rent, the food taxes, police capacity to issue noise complaints themselves, the shitty frat houses being moved off campus into the neighborhoods, and the failure of longtime businesses valued by counter-cultural types, the City of Tempe has spent a fortune at the beginning of each school year for the past couple of years, rallying together 10+ separate police departments to entirely lock down Mill Ave. and the neighborhoods that surround it. More details as to the extent of this repression can be found elsewhere; however it is these actions collectively by the City of Tempe in a metropolis that offers hardly anywhere else for ‘us types’ to go which has given birth to a real, everyday struggle. The police repression and anarchist/radical swift to act against it, as well as the long-term residency of anarchist/radicals in the neighborhood and the neighborhood’s general rowdyism have all boiled over into an open atmosphere of hostility to police, anarchists/radicals and locals crashing city meetings, a comforting pride in counter-cultural lifestyle, and a generalized attitude of resistance towards anything which might throw a wet towel on the neighborhood fires.

At a time when anarchists where I live now are disappointed with a lack of direction, anarchists in Tempe are busy with an ongoing project to invigorate and defend the historically anarchic neighborhood(s) they live in. The aspects of this struggle which stand out and against what anarchists seem to be up to in the rest of the country is that these anarchists are not something separate from the neighborhood(s) they live in. This is not a participation in Left-dominated reform movements. They are not isolating themselves or merely practicing a lifestyle of their choice. It is a struggle that is open to at least a couple-thousand people invited both to partake in the fighting and in the enjoyment of new and/or longtime pleasures. If only in the imagination of Farmer neighborhood residents, this is now a place where the police are not welcome, where everyone is free to come and eat and drink and fuck in the streets and do whatever, where people take responsibility for themselves and their neighbor/friends about the town, where the landlords should be thrown into the gutters, where the character of the neighborhoods is already and should continue to be the character chosen by its residents. And why not beyond the imagination?

It’s not perfect, it’s not an insurrection, the police still repress, there’s still a lot of bullshit… but, it’s also not the Left, ideological, lifestyle-as-activism, insular, estranged, and another anarchist social space full of interpersonal drama. To the extent that this is something reproducible elsewhere, I am uncertain. The context is very specific, yet not dissimilar from contexts elsewhere in the US and beyond. The characters were positioned naturally to act in their own interests from the social history of Phoenix and the obvious, limited choices of living there in any satisfying way. I see it as a legitimate beginning and hope for the resistance there to sustain.

As a final note, something that I’m attempting to do with this writing is take a lesson from the events I have been to recently: to look at specific (historical) contexts, outside of the activity of anarchists, yet in a round-about way laying out paths of least resistance that become opportunities for anarchist activity. There’s historical reasons why shit in Phoenix proper is different from shit in Tempe …and I imagine that in every major city (with its suburbs, college towns, leftover ghettos from segregation, etc.) there are details there that point towards the greater determinants of cultural life …at least greater limits on it.

The Future and Rebellion

question-mark-clock-2127118The themes of time, context, and rebellion have run through a variety of anarchist events that I have attended lately. This has taken the form of discussions about lifestylism (with crimethinc often cited), leftist ideals of the Revolution, the notion of prefiguration, and ideologies. The conversations usually go something like this:

– Leftist revolutionary movements construct the image of an ideal, future society; one without capitalism, class, the State, and various systemic prejudices. Some of the developments which come out of this sort of revolutionary ideal are: organizing in a manner that takes a form similar to that of organizations in the future society (prefiguration), developing strategies for taking over the means of production (syndicalism), trying to inspire the correct subjects to insurrection (general strikes, occupations, riots), and generally orientating towards the future as a time of salvation, liberation, and peace.

– However, anarchists don’t necessarily have a blueprint or an ideal, future society. Anarchists who have focused on the present moment and sought to immediately deal with the ways that they are limited and smothered by the social structures governing them appear throughout modern history. This sometimes leads to drop-out cultures, the creation of self-sustaining communes, illegal methods of sustaining themselves, attack as an expression of personal and practical desires, as well as dietary, racial, sexual, and gender-oriented considerations.

– Leftist revolutionary ideals are an absurd waste of time in the 21st Century and they put one on well bloodied path of monotheistic idealism, ideology, and politics. The problem then becomes the global scope of the systems that subjugate us and how granular their focus becomes when they attack. Even when ignoring or opposing a leftist, revolutionary orientation, attempting to fight one’s way out of the mess of their individual life makes one an enemy of these systems. There is no clear strategy for winning at the individual or collective level.

– When dropping out, illegal subsistence, collective living, free love, and attacking from the shadows isn’t enough to gain autonomy or requires more than a reasonable amount of risk, it becomes clear that not only are the Left’s myths absurd, but imagining a future that is not bleak (or one even worth living in) is difficult. This provides further motivation to focus on the present, immediate alleviation of one’s suffering; but, in doing so it traps rebellion between conformity (total failure) and activities that have little to no impact on the order of things …even if they are the least compromising of methods available for survival. Without any future orientation whatsoever, rebellion is limited to dodging blows without effectively striking back. So, to carry out a rebellion that grows and accumulates power instead of one that consistently crumbles back into the ruins from which it emerged, some sort of future-orientation becomes necessary …if only to respond with consideration to the patience of our enemies.

To start answering the questions above, let’s start by remember that even if we are not all dispossessed and recently proletarianized, we are at least not in possession of any means to sustain or own lives, nor methods for using acquired means that would create a foundation upon which sustained attacks against our enemies can become more effective. At this point, even as a superficially self-sustaining intentional community, we would not have the means to preventing shit like the pollution of atmosphere we depend on (or global warming), surveillance/infiltration/attacks from the State, energy resources we’d need (hence, the market), etc. Even if we somehow did manage to carve out a more permanent autonomous zone, chances are that it would not sustain generationally: even with the best forms of indoctrination (which would require the sort of ideology we’re rejecting here) kids will want into the grandeur of the metropolis… whether for sex, for fun, or because it does a better job of creating cheap, entertaining shit. So to the extent that lacking space, means, and autonomy could be alleviated, that lack already puts us a long way from having places for ourselves that are not a compromise with our enemies.

For anarchists, whose rebellion has broadened to all that which may subjugate them, there are far fewer packages to buy and issues to think of as singularly important than there are for those rebels who oppose one form of domination, but not all. Anarchist rebellion is so broad that it takes as its enemy almost the entirety of established institutional society. This means that beyond the lack of possession discussed above, for an anarchist to survive there is additional and inevitable compromise with one’s enemies. This compromise can range for a variety of jobs, to the desperations of poverty, to the risks of being caught carrying out illegal actions to simply live another day, to giving up a rebellion against all forms of domination. Anarchist rebellion begins and often ekes out an existence in the terrifying, lonely corner of near-complete rejection of and enmity for the world. This means that even for an anarchist to simply survive as an anarchist, they are already in a perpetual state of rebellion.

Survival and compromise, which can never be satisfying, creates an individual interest in …making shit better. To do this without entirely losing whatever it was that one thought was worth fighting the whole entire social order for, it becomes desirable and maybe necessary to meet other rebels. Meeting others and even devising some methods to alleviate each other of some pains which rebellion brings can also and often does become insulating: a life in a sometimes less painful bubble midst a society one was already alienated from. Here enters the lovely world of group dynamics, with its problems of group-think, status jockeying, power plays, personality clashes, and in-group mentality. This can happen in a collective living situation, a cooperative businesses, a syndicalist union, a social clique, a street gang, an gaggle of squatters, whatever …it happens with groups generally. Out of individual and collective interest in surviving with as little compromise as possible, anarchists come together to try and figure it out and yet still, only more problems!

On top of those group dynamic problems, the particular attitudes and values of anarchists can compound the isolation, hopelessness, and angst many anarchists experience. Anarchists groups can often be a downright miserable series of relationships that may seem like they were created from a false premise, even if they weren’t. More to the point, such a context itself can hallow out the future of anything desirable. Any belief in eventual individual satisfaction, fulfillment, joy and/or collective well being, sustainability, care and god forbid a successful attack or autonomous space. The misery of living with miserable people can completely rip the future as a creative, imaginal space from the psyche and throw it into oblivion with the rest of this damned world. But ought we to oppose an orientation towards the future? I do not think so.

Futures aren’t solely a realm specific to ideologues and theologians. The persistence of subjectivity through time and in orientation towards a future existence is the framework for rebellion. Rebellious activity already assumes that there is something worth protecting and preserving, something that is worth defending in its existence against whatever forces attempt to oppress, dominate, subjugate, or exterminate it. Without that something, it’s not rebellion. Some anarchists are more egoistic and their rebellion takes the form of first being an attempt at realizing an immediate desire. But at the moment when the realization is opposed by force, it again puts action in the realm of rebellion. Even for the orientation of maximizing one’s potential to realize their desires generally, there is already within the relationship between the subject and its context an orientation towards a future. There is a future for the something: the uniqueness of the individual, the skills or space to act upon immediate desires, or the qualities of one’s identity which can not be changed and are nevertheless condemned in the social order.

To first emphasize what is disgusting about ideology with a special consideration to Leftist revolutionary thinking; these forms of thought insert poison into the imaginal spaces of our futures. They don’t themselves invent the entire framework for future; the phenomenological scaffolding which is substantiated with goals, dreams, visions, and aspirations. Furthermore, what ideological garbage does is replace that something which one is protecting and preserving in the rebellious act with an Other: State, Soul, Man, Singularity, Reason, Rights. The reason for the act is controlled by ideology for these Others. Ideology additionally benefits from disguising these Others as something objective …something with more reality, weight, and value than individual subjects and their finite, mortal, and muddled existences. These Others that are supposedly more important and more valuable than the individual agent have futures that will persist, that will be worthy of a rebel’s anguished existence, that will be the Future of all futures …says the ideologue.

That said, there is still a future orientation presumed in the act of rebellion and this includes the anarchists’ rebellions …even after rejecting the Left. The difference is that this future orientation would depend upon the individuals involved as the something protected and preserved and would aim at what anarchists already aim at in their togetherness, even if feebly: places to live, play, and plot that require as little compromise as possible with the existing order. Methods of surviving and attacking that attempt to expand the space and means by which to further survive and attack. A better squat, maybe next week. A new arrangement for free food. A more accurate understanding of how to eliminate that which subjugates us to it. Whatever that future orientation is, in whatever distance… it is there. To not focus on it, to confuse it with ideology, or to attempt to cut oneself off from a future orientation entirely conflicts with one of the fundamental properties of rebellion itself.

There’s additional reasons why attempting to cut oneself off from a future orientation is a bad idea which are tied into the ontological question, the ways in which time plays into subjectivity, and other shit beyond the scope of this piece. As a teaser, one of those reasons is because it forces you into a past orientation, which is what a present-tense context is constructed from: past traumas, conditions, meanings, relationships, habits, diseases, financial situations, legal statuses, etc. There are practices related to the present-tense that are meditative and attempt to break with the past, but those are difficult and impractical mental states to maintain …even if valuable from time to time. Anyway, it’s what I have mentioned above that ties into resolving issues of time and context in anarchist theory. A future orientation itself doesn’t provided any particular practices worth promoting to improve everyday life and our individual life stories, but it keeps the door open for practices that require more long term thinking and it maintains coherence with rebellious activity in general.

Magic

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Occult philosophers and mystics have played an important role in my life and thinking. Although not often my primary focus, their theories, techniques, and stories have rode alongside my interests in psychology, Western philosophy, anarchism, and hyperspace. I’ve definitely done my dabbling, mostly with doubt and suspicion. However, I have consistently found some of it to be uniquely rewarding. There is a range of literature that I throw into the magic pile: Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Cold Reading, Mentalism, Binaural Beats, Bio-Feedback, Kundalini Meditation, Kuji-kiri, Qigong, Automatic Writing, Tarot Cards, Aroma Therapy …a long list. Some of the literature is more-or-less cherry picking from psychotherapeutic theory and techniques, particle physics, anthropology, and other things tested using the scientific method. Though that hasn’t ever been the draw or the most interesting thing about it all.

What I love about my magic pile is the mixture of psychodrama, symbolism, and methods for altering one’s mental states into unending experimental attempts to pull one over on the way myself. If playing a fantasy RPG is immersive and fascinating, ritual magic is totally surreal: entertainment value is very high. What’s more exciting though is that for everything one would suggest for psychotherapy is enhanced when it is mystified in the supernatural narratives, intense sensory experiences, and suspension of disbelief that comes from the magic pile. At the same time, actually reading the texts from medieval occultists, witches, gurus, theosophists, and parapsychologists grants so much more to the reality of their worlds than considering it from the works of a Dawkins or some other opponent to lies. There’s a reason why I find that important…

Most people believe in some shit that is completely unverifiable if not proven false when subject to scientific studies. Since I’m also very interested in phenomenology and the proceeding (existential) psychological theories which have been influenced by its study, I’m interested in the phenomenal experiences of others. For as good or bad as my imagination may be, it’s very difficult to get close to phenomena that I fundamentally doubt the religious, mystical, and/or naïve interpretations of. At an even more personal level, I’ve found people in my life to be so enigmatic to me in the extent to which they embrace and defend these mystical interpretations of phenomena… and I’d rather not find them quite so enigmatic. Underlying that urge is an almost humanistic recognition that for as much as I assert the value of the Individual, the Ich, the Unique, I also believe there’s more basic commonalities that most human beings share. Of course when I say most, I mean that other individual’s biology and subjectivity is close enough to my own, most of the time, to initially identify with them.

Beyond any of this though, what this magic shit has taught me is that the scaffolding for belief systems tends to be in one of only a handful of shapes. I can get the same lessons reading Western philosophy, but as I pointed out …the distance from which Western philosophers talk about the structure of knowledge and such has an entirely different affect on me than having my own experiences which I can compare and contrast myself. It’s something like knowing the chemical composition and effects of a drink and actually drinking it. If some people are foodies for similar reasons, I’m digesting and shitting out belief systems …experiencing them to the extent I feel the desire to.

To note as well, approaching magic/etc. in this way has not prevented me from experiencing some weird, crazy shit. It wouldn’t be worth it if I didn’t get a few sweet hallucinations and difficult to explain successes out of the deal. A lot of the phenomena isn’t entirely contingent upon the bullshit parts of magic (or believing in it). Afterall, it is a lot of experimentation with self-inflicted trauma, heightened stresses, novel illusions, and quarks of biology. To think then that the weird, crazy shit I’ve tasted has been an everyday part of entire cultures… normalized! I guess that’s been my best chance at feeling culture shock.

I guess at this point in my life, my only real interaction with the magic pile is introducing some of its snippets into my thoughts and writing to spice them up. There’s also been some more-or-less permanent consequences that I’m happy about: relaxation techniques, being able to zone out really well, knowing a hundred and one ways to control my own moods and emotions if I care to …which also comes with a bit of detachment from said moods and emotions. It’s also been a boon to my aesthetic sensibilities (though, film, video games and art classes would probably have been more of one). Basically though, I’m done with the magic pile and have been. Its periodicity-limits have disinterested me. There have been attempts to create cyber-magick and other period-based forms but the future and the present are mostly materialist worlds in the imaginary sense. That’s why my next pile is going to be the time traveller pile!

Protected: Notes after ASG (Family background and Social Cohesion)

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The Idealist-Criminal/Duped-Activist Trope

11070769_964314106921222_9197896974015966717_nfrom a facebook post…

Lately I’ve been watching the Blacklist on Netflix. One of its episodes shares a theme that I have a hard time thinking of a show I’ve watched the past couple of years that doesn’t. Those shows are somewhere in the genre-pool of mystery, detective, and sci-fi; and, there’s a lot of them. At least one episode in each show tells the story of a criminal mastermind intent on destroying “the system” leading some sort of group that resembles an Animal Liberation, Earth Liberation, Occupy!, or Anarchist organization …BUT (dun-dun-duuuunnn), the mastermind has ulterior motives. I can remember episodes like this going back to the days of the X-Files…

This sort of episode tends to fall into a type of dilemma that is more general: the hero(s) don’t know if protecting law-and-order is the right thing to be doing; but, they eventually justify their actions by discovering something the episode’s character is doing that is ‘unquestionably’ wrong. Examples of this would be the criminal searching for a cure to their child’s illness, the revenge murderer that kills domestic abusers (or …the entire basis for Dexter), or the character in duress that has trouble choosing between prison and the revenge of the criminals that are using them. Any one of these tropes becomes a commentary on the justifications for strict adherence to the law …and depending on the show, it can go in a variety of directions.

The specific narrative that includes the activists and riots is a bit more interesting. With the idealist criminal and their activist following, you introduce political, economic, environmental, and other contemporary concerns about the organization of social life into the dilemma. In the context of these shows, the audience has already formed bonds with the main characters and their struggles. At the same time, the audience can usually identify with the struggles of the activists. The other dilemmas mentioned above do not offer such a broad range of applicability to the everyday moral questions the audience encounters concerning the organization of their own lives. The dilemma is also more complicated. It not only asks the audience to consider the extent to which they are willing to act for this or that social cause; but also, to consider in an Alex Jonesian way …who they are /really/ working for if they take to direct action.

There is also another aspect to the trope in question that ties into the format of these shows and the world which its characters exist in. All of these shows present a world that is too complicated for the layman to comprehend. Maybe it’s aliens, or a vast network of secret organizations, or technologies traded on black markets that could destroy everything. Whatever the case may be, a world such as this is the precondition for the main characters to exist as such: the keepers of society’s secrets who are protecting society against enemies that also know these secrets. In other words …shit is more fucked up than the audience can even imagine and the story-teller is going to reveal that world episode-by-episode through characters that are out there to heroically protect them. Protection in the case of this trope includes and is even sometimes substantially protection from the morons that think they understand the world enough to take direct action: the activist/anarchist/etc.

The moral of the story is always that while in the mediocre world of civilian life these issues seem important enough to act outside legal constraints for, it turns out that the actual dynamics of society are so far beyond civilian comprehension that there is a deeper purpose law-and-order is serving. Sometimes that purpose is usurped by some arch nemesis that seems to be behind all sorts of catastrophe. Sometimes that purpose is strictly the Jonesian /everyone is working for someone/ or /all direct action must be a false flag operation/ type of scenario. While that’s the overt message, the more subtle message of the activist episodes is really …these people are delusional fucking idiots that are only going to hurt people or at best, annoy the public to function as decoy for others who will hurt people.

For how long these particular episodes have been around, they only seem like they’re becoming more standard. I have trouble estimating the extent to which this trope alone serves to reinforce the suspicion of various activists, revolutionaries, or whathaveyou; but, I feel my own responses to these episodes and their psychodrama …and, I know that if people participating in direct action were an Other for me it would be easy for me to write off the entire lot of them as absolutely fucking bonkers.

What all of this allows me to contemplate is my own context; but, not from the angle this trope suggests. I contemplate how affected the individuals are by this trope whom people my context and what it would mean to consider that affectedness in my own struggles and adventures. For instance, I’m not convinced that journalists are painting anarchists in a similar light from their own moral convictions. I also contemplate the extent to which some communiques seem so out-of-touch to me, given the terrain of the public’s imagination when influenced by this and similar tropes. There’s lots of things …to consider.

Anyhow – I’ll be putting this in the “rambles” section of the Eternal Wretch when I can. Maybe I’ll resurrect Indigestion… Who knows! Maybe I’m working for General Ludd.

The War of Reality

The War of Reality

 

Forward

I am writing this document to those who I consider my comrades. It is intended to serve as an elaboration on subject matter that we have all expressed an interest in contemplating. The priority is to offer a perspective towards the grounds upon which we fight; grounds that could make for useful weaponry. Yet, it is also a document that I hope can demonstrate a path to joy and fulfillment, unassuming that we don’t have enough of that already. For all others who I am including and positioning due to the universalizing nature of this perspective, I expect for there to be some value in this despite our potential relationship of enmity. As we are already on the battlefield, I would prefer that this convinces you to mutiny.

Introduction: A Never-ending War

 

Reality and Beyond

Summary:

This first chapter is meant to lay the metaphysical and epistemological fundamentals that will form the grounds for arguments throughout the rest of the document. It will pursue an agnostic position based on existentialist and evolutionary theory about the concept of reality as it evidently exists for human beings and limitations on attempts to transcend that reality demonstrated by contemporary psychological studies in human perception.

Subjectivity and Selves

Summary:

This chapter will expand upon the previous conclusions about reality and form the bridge from metaphysics and epistemology to the psychology of human subjectivity. Basic concepts about perception, cognition, personality, and social identity will be outlined to demonstrate the discordant qualities inherent to suppositions about reality in mass society.

Preconditions

Illusions

Contingencies of Powers

Summary:

Power is contingent upon a variety of conditions spread throughout the personal and interpersonal dimensions of social life and the institutions that depend upon those conditions. This chapter will draw from earlier conclusions to outline the qualities of human psychology as they relate to the development of both informal and established institutions: power. There will be an emphasis on the creation and maintenance of ideological systems to demonstrate the centrality that concepts of reality play in social organization. This centrality will be the focus of proceeding conclusions that aim to influence concepts of reality as forms of resistance and attack in the war.

The Limits of Allegiances

Summary:

Sociological patterns of mostly political conflicts will be used in this chapter to demonstrate the tendencies of both activist and parliamentary organizations to defeat the intended results from their rank-and-file participants. This political focus will be an argument for an interpersonal approach towards social struggle, drawing inspiration from individualist anarchists and apolitical social networks.

Stories from the War

Summary:

Selected examples that exemplify the centrality of reality to the dynamics of past and present conflicts will be told with an emphasis on themes developed in this document.

Peace

Summary:

This final chapter will shift focus from an emphasis on social antagonism to a focus on the psychology of human pleasure and happiness. The focus will be on practices that depart with conventional notions of reality and potentially offer rewarding and fulfilling affects to individuals that pursue them. These practices will be compared with ideas of pleasure and happiness grounded in concepts of reality argued against previously.

Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers:

Q: How do I want to articulate the limits of sense-perception and rational thought?

A: To make it interesting, I would like to relate the preconditions which make it possible for the Illusionist to manipulate sense-perception and the Mentalist to manipulate common logical fallacies. This can be done with supporting physics and psychology studies. This would require a caveat concerning the cultural structures that play into both art-forms and would unfortunately require anthropological and sociological categories (and god-forbid economic ones) to universalize. Since this is only to define the fuzzy boundaries of perception, it is not the absolute limits of desire or a definitive map of general human perception. The point would be to demonstrate the common spheres where values and desires operate; and, how easily values and desires can escape the common spheres to operate otherwise.

Q: How do I want to articulate the notion of reality and the way in which it exists as a middle-ground (battle-ground) between the personal and the ideological?

A: I’d like to use a critique of monotheism, of the State, and of Marx to demonstrate the conceptual technique of placing an idea on the other side of reality that becomes an axial point in the definition of reality. This will depend on the question above which articulates the limits of sense-perception and rational thought to create one pole, let’s say to the left of reality. The pole to the right of reality will be defined through this critique: situating reality between these two poles as the conceptual space politics aims to control.

Q: How does an analysis of desire and interest influence the trajectory of this project?

A: An analysis of desire here (which must be defined with clarity in the piece) is meant to dislocate human decision-making from either pole of the personal-ideological spectrum and express desire’s vulnerabilities. An analysis of interest is to similarly express its vulnerabilities. This is meant as a critical approach to base-egoist individualism. Since there are so many resources to borrow from to articulate the bumbling way which human longing and perception of stake in matters (desire and interest, respectively), I’m not sure what work I’d like to use. Perhaps Foucault, but that may mystify more than it illuminates. Another important aspect of these analyses is to also affirm a fuzzy extent to which desires and interests can found the basis of tactics used in this war to define reality: defensively or otherwise.

Q: Why a general attack on “institution” and a preference for the interpersonal?

A: This is where someone like Ludwig Binswanger would be useful. There are critiques which come out of existentialist psychology that explain the importance of maintaining the analysand’s unique individuality. The basic notion of what an institution is that I am working with is an established structure for perception and choice at the cultural/social/political level of operation, and operates normatively. Attack just one or a few institutions doesn’t emphasize enough the effects of existing in a world with hundreds of institutions that collectively function to define the political limits of one’s desires and interests. When it comes to developing a personal approach to making rational decisions in the world, at the personal level it is easy to pick-and-choose which institutions maintain one’s interests. Accepting the legitimacy of any one institution though is to affirm a general principal of acceptable normativity in the world one wants to live in… and at that the affirmation of institutional logic builds the political party …it legitimizes the State and other forms of tyranny so long as it is beneficial personally to those involved. The interpersonal sphere does not depend on (but is shaped by) institutionalization for better or worse. It is from the grounds of the interpersonal sphere that cooperative projects can be taken up without affirming the need for a social order composed of established, institutional apparatuses. This is a criticism of humanism as much as it is an affirmation of individual desire and mutual creativity/production. With obvious contradiction implied by a total rejection of institutions but an affirmation of interpersonal grounds as a starting point (this would thus be an institution), it isn’t exactly the same thing. Normative values function socially at the level of controlling the relationships between impersonal groups. That is what I reject: that is law, civility, domestication. Social life without this defaults to the level of the interpersonal and it is only there that I am affirming the interpersonal. Not as a rule or an extant norm, but as an inevitable consequence. Summarily, the war for control of our own realities both rejects the ideological (which is institutional) and affirms the ability for individuals to cooperatively develop their own consensus-reality in their own interests.

Q: And Science?

A: Science plays an important role here; its conclusions can be used as axial-points “to the right of reality” as much as it can be used to deconstruct individual desires, impulses, emotions, moods, determinations, and other influences that contribute to a personal relationship with reality. The point for me is that reality only exists for perception through a variety of mediations: language, culture, ideology, myths, facts, sense-experience. So for as inaccessible as reality can be to one’s immediate behaviors, it is however the world of cause-and-effect that behavior expects results from (despite the interpretation of those results). Science can then be used as a utility for exacting the results one desires as much as it can mystify the options which exist for an individual to behave “rationally”. This is something that could be illustrated with arguments from occultists who may rely on concepts of reality that are not scientifically verifiable, yet transgress against some definitions of reality rooted in facts gleamed from scientific inquiry. The danger here with this defining of reality is the way in which it codifies some behaviors as rational (or sane) and others as irrational (insane) …which has historically lead to some unfortunate circumstances (asylums and such). This sort of ideology based on presuming science will not contradict the facts codifying reality isn’t science as such, but rather a noted inappropriate use of scientific fact to develop political foundations. That is the stuff of social darwinism or eugenics or anthroposophy or ecology …all things that irritate me. I suppose the recommendation then is tied in with my anti-institutional outlook: don’t enshrine the facts to define social norms, don’t establish an official reality and butcher individuals that transgress against it.

Q: Ok, so that’s a lot of nice ways to count how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. What are some of the everyday implications of my thoughts here?

A: The first thing that this implies for me in an everyday sense is that it ultimately relieves me of accepting the burden of other people’s claims to an objectively-grounded moral evaluation. I don’t need to dramatically blow off the next version of the Inquisition implied by the expressed moral principles of others to feel the relief of undermining them. So there is an immediate psychological affect, it is personally satisfying. Beyond this, there are certain things that I’m not so willing to do that perhaps I otherwise may be …joining up with some organization or other that defines its grounds through any of the above methods of appropriating reality, usually vicariously through a humanistic logic, a god, some historical imperative, the interests of a social institution (class, race, nationality), or some identity I just don’t find any desire for (longing to be this or that identity) or interest in (personal stake in the social status of that identity). The approach to “institution” and “the interpersonal” orientates my everyday interests towards cooperative projects where I realize desires not entirely caught-up in the social order I’m in revolt against. More-so, in cooperative projects where the desires we realize point towards a world I want to live in with others I get along with: not some fucking global revolution of unified workers or an attitude towards “the Earth” that debases individual goals …a world in the sense of self-world and not in the humanistic sense of the human world writ large (and largely biased). In an everyday sense then, it simplifies my decision-making tree by allowing me to focus on desires with tangible results, achieved through techniques developed with an awareness to the contested space that is reality. It’s a foundation for acting creatively in a world of illusion and meaninglessness peopled with a lot of conflicting ideas and strife.

Q: And what of “the Earth”?

A: The Earth is a planet, in my opinion. It’s filled with a lot of different elements, chemical interactions, and organisms relating to each other in a complicated arrangement of (self)reproductive systems… many of which I would like to see destroyed, especially of those organisms that survive to my detriment. It is also the terrain upon which human beings have developed their own systems of (self)reproduction, many of which are configured to distance the individual from accessing the means to creating their own autonomous groups. Those systems also tend to make many of the things I enjoy about the Earth shitty. Ultimately there isn’t a sort of rational eco-centrist system of thought though which is honestly accounting for some kind of Earth-health above the value of individual human health. So along with other ideologies I reject are those which pretend at defining reality based on the facts produced by ecology. That isn’t to say that my relationships with other organisms and their systems of (self)reproduction are unimportant. It is to say though that I affirm my own choice in which organisms those are and evaluate them in relationship to myself and others I care about.

Escape?

black-dress-sword-devil-abstract-

God is dead… he wrote.

The fundamental conundrum of contemporary man’s condition: nihilism. Nihilism becomes the inescapable spirit of the times. The Modern Man could merely respond to it, manage it, and perhaps with an active approach, create for himself a way of being in the world that could bid nihilism good riddance. The foundations of religions, ideologies, and philosophies past reveal the preconditions existing within, preconditions that could ultimately lead to or were inherently nihilistic. The world of man, of meaning …exploding in every corner from an inability to find affirmation in the former, could only lead to the death of Man: the total annihilation of every concept whatsoever capable of raising what the Individual is to himself. Raising it beyond the result of determined processes, of powers outside itself, of the irrational forces within itself …ego death. From this complete mess, perhaps the Individual could find some new foundation there and again live an intentional life. Perhaps the principal of Power and the Individual’s own power could be this new foundation. It could not be the Will to Truth, the Will to Beauty, the Will to Meaning. Only affirmation of the Will to Power could save the Individual from modern nihilism. Socialism, Buddhism, Scientism …anything that responded to nihilism by only reinforcing the lack of an individual’s power, by accepting only that power which stands on the shoulders of giants, or is collected from the masses, or indebted to a renunciation of ego: this was Pessimism, or worse. But, who can demonstrate that individuals do have their own powers, terrible though they may be, somewhere hidden in the mess of their existence?

The camel becomes the lion, and the lion becomes the child….

There is no greater pervert than the child: polymorphous perversity. Erogenous zones everywhere, with everything. Not a single sensation fixed and defined, nor a single object of desire bound in obsession. Without individuality and a conscience to negate and defend any sort of dignity. Without any meaning to cohere with. Growing up is not the development of the pervert, but the most iron fisted attempt to crush it and strain its parts into appealing forms, choices, and attachments. Smash the child with a language, with a realistic idea of its separation and guilt, with a firm ideology that organizes its urges as Desire and directs its desires to serve the interests of a greater good …or at least a common one. Give it a haircut and a teddy suit to wear, give it cuteness. Let’s be social and destroy the child!

But the future is an illusion.

Desires escape linear trajectories and coded zones of acceptable expression. Language comes with its own lines of flight. Come underground with us and explore this forest’s roots. Let’s watch them entangle. Let’s watch them talk. Desire founds the Will, even the Will to Power. Let us not even bother at the playing with this farce of identity any longer. We can be something that is not a Subject. Nomadic and different.

We are machines. Let us be war machines!

Technology is speed. Technology subjects us. Technology is known to us only because Power has permitted it. We are their machines, but we can be beautiful machines. We can take up again the quest for the Good Life. We can become aesthetic, intentional!

We can subvert and we can seduce: the Order of Things be damned.

>I Order My Things<

Absurdist Anarchy

The below is just the combination of 3 earlier pieces that all build on top of each other, but will eventually be the basis for a longer piece that works it all out more coherently and stylishly.

 

Absurdism: In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (a) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (b) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”.[1] The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously. Absurdism, therefore, is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make certainty impossible. And yet, some absurdists state that one should embrace the absurd condition of humankind while conversely continuing to explore and search for meaning.[2] As a philosophy, absurdism thus also explores the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the Absurd, should respond to it.

Like a lot of what I post, this isn’t going to be conclusive. It is a place-holder where I mark a moment of contemplation or epiphany that I want to come back to, reflect upon, and leave open-ended for those reasons. Absurdist is one of the many available labels that I have a good deal of affinity for. Among those identified with it, Albert Camus is by far one of my most favorite philosophers. As the above description explains as the fundamental assumptions of absurdism, Camus is the champion of that embrace of meaninglessness …absurdity, as well as the continual rebellion against it. This position is outlined in his book, the Rebel.  I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to review that book even in summary; so, my hope is that the reader has read or will read it. Yet it is beside the main point, which I don’t think the Rebel’s expansive exploration of is necessary to make here. That point is to outline the situation and relate to it personally…

I have become very comfortable with the assumptions outlined above, that ultimately existence is meaningless and that it is a personal and existentially significant task to rebel against that in the search for or creation of meaning. This sort of discourse usually carries me on to people like Nietzsche or Foucault, who arrive at some method or another for dealing with that project. In this case, the aesthetic approach to life, to meaning, to choice. That method (to whatever extent I have been faithful to it) has brought me to an interesting place in life… many of them. It has been liberating and it has also brought many psychological burdens to the fore for analysis. Yet, it has often been of less guidance when dealing with relationships to other people. It has been plenty for contemplating relationships, but the aesthetic approach (and some may call it an egoist one) loses its strength with interpersonal or small group dynamics. Not because it has nothing to say, but because the project of negotiating those conversations which thematize, characterize, and define relationships …THE conversation which is each relationship… is often enough less the result of individual wills discussing a mode of being with each 0ther and more the result of individuals being with each other in contexts beyond their power.

It is one thing to navigate the world alone, mapping it out and sorting through opportunities, struggling with it individually. It is quite another thing to do this and at the same time place a heavy emphasis on how the circumstances themselves, or the consequences of your individual activity effect not only the circumstances of another(s), but are inconsequential entirely. The proximity and amount of time spent with someone, the way which institutions/society/privileges/etc. shape paths of least resistance and oppressions, the extent to which delusions and compulsions influence lives, and much more is constantly acting against the will of the individual, and especially moreso for individuals relating to each other. But perhaps in no relation, or in connection in a way that I can’t think of right now, the framing of the problem of other people as an approach to conversation invites something that seems to cut through this. The ability to collaborate on the story of lives together, to mythologize relationships, to create meaning and rituals and games with each other, to play out, play act, and create something.

The problem is Others’ minds…   Everything changes with your ideas. You give to time an arbitrary deadline. You give to places a historical meaning. You give to me the impossible task of communicating the meaning of my actions to you.  Without your ideas I have to myself the wind, the trees, the fog, the pain, the thirst, the wandering. I have their meaning to myself without contest. I have the facts of consequence to fit however I want into my own fantasy. The same for you, without my own.

So we enter into conversation.

    The bottom-line is our biology, physiology, and life-history. What I sense is limited, and limited in a different way than what you sense. For as much as we can agree on the facts of a reality that both founds and surpasses our perception, it is perception that we respond to: our own perceptions. Yet we are stuck with each other – without exit – by existential necessity. And we not only need each other …we want each other. Our desires are tied up with biological urges to sense another’s blanketing warmth, their uncanny touch, the nutrition of their breast, the affirmation of our own theories about the reality beyond our perceptions. Yet your warmth can disgust, your touch can unsettle, your breast can poison, your judgements can debase. No one is actually here for anyone else, everyone is different: one from the other.

    We enter into conversation the moment we must navigate the corners of our differences. Polite or not, it is usually a negotiation. We speak to debate the meaning of this flower, the coherence of that rule. We speak to question and then to affirm; the obvious be damned to obscurity. Out of our processes of creating arrangements together, we create myths, customs, cannons, platforms, and other forms of discourse which may or may not threaten our lives eventually. And what we are willing to kill for and to die for, our institutions that pretend to make all of these former things more real …attempt to move them into that space and time beyond our own perceptions. It has been common enough for us to even pretend there is something else to perceive our institutions with the same amount of reality as everything else obvious to us: someone else even more beyond our perceptions to verify the fact of our institutions. Little else makes for worse conversation than these institutions; and bad conversation is terrible.

    The Institution is terrible. It is the worst interruption between us. Midst our negotiations a mediator has already before we were born, appointed itself to regulate the terms, the quality, the meaning of our conversation. It is the advertisement which makes shit smell delicious and the custom which the lowest forms of attack will adopt to gain entrance. We hate the Institution and we can never, with any integrity, take the side of the Institution. If we can not destroy the Institution, at the very least we can circumnavigate the Institution; and, often by accident we are compelled to: by love, by starvation, by drunkenness. For all of the time we waste speaking of the Institution, we come back around to our negotiations and we carry on with our conversation. And when I can be alone to contemplate the transgressions of our conversation, I can finally contemplate whether it has been transgressive enough.          I want to annihilate the Institution.

    At least with you, there is a challenge which can not be thrown off into the outer-limits of an otherworld. With you our conversation still has a body, a biology, a difference, a target, and with all of this you are a labyrinth which can only be explored together …a labyrinth particular to everyone you choose to navigate with. The Institution only has prosthetics. Alone I only have my own tongue tasting itself. At least with you we can uncover together a reality that is especially in favor of our negotiated experiences, meanings, and past-times. As we have all of this only together, we also invent our own language for this conversation… down to the accented syllable of a made-up word. The interpersonal world is the most interesting world (and the Social only an obstacle to it).

    Between here and there and then and now and until the days to come: our conversation. It isn’t so much that our lives together can be reduced to the use of language as it is that the last barrier between negotiation and the confluence of our activity together is the medium of our languages. Conversation is the mark of our differences. It is something which can be cut at and broke up into segments however we’d like in this time between our birth and death. It is ultimately the last definitive activity of a relationship between human beings, between egoists transgressing against fixed and imposed ideas. It is the way you looked when my eyes first told my brain to notice you and it is the words inscribed on your tomb stone that you requested in your will be written. It is what happens when one thing isn’t quite like the other and we both notice.

An Individual’s Interests

Existence for a self-conscious individual may not offer any sort of rational basis for meaning and values, but it at least offers a biochemistry to help get the process going. Good and bad may not transcend the somewhat haphazard associations brains form which tie into emotional responses, but there are at least those immediate and personal goods and bads. This isn’t the most troubling situation until immediate desires come into conflict with some form of opposition, until they are scrutinized. It is at this point of conflict and its aftermath that the lack of having a rational basis for the choices one is making becomes problematic. Interpersonally and more broadly, socially …we can only resort to the rational for who is permitted the fulfilment of what desires. In the courtroom of our lives together, we judge each other’s desires and try to interrogate these desires to figure out whose interests they would be serving. Some will favor those desires which serve the interests of an abstraction (society, the common good, humanity, grace, the nation, the company), others will favor those desires which serve the interests of other individuals (kings, friends, comrades, employers). Still others, such as my egoist comrades, will at least note that someone has integrity if their interests serve themselves. It seems through an analysis of our society’s institutions, many people do not know and/or do not care what interests their desires serve …so long as they are met. As for how someone can tolerate not knowing and/or not caring what interests their desires serve, I will continue on to illustrate.

For the majority, their interests become bound up with the institutions that they entrust to think on their behalf: their church, their political party, their school, the Founding Fathers. The list would be exhausting to complete for how many options there are, for every desire, to refer to if someone questions them for this majority. Any social networking website can demonstrate clearly how common it is for someone’s “interests” to consist entirely of references to such institutions, brands, parties. God forbid anyone ever be reminded that these resumes of references are political, and how much political ignorance they demonstrate. To forget that interests (and “interests”) are political is important for this inquiry. It is the separation of interests from their political nature in the world of appearances that both mystifies the interests which the majority’s choices serve and clarifies the nature of the majority’s politics.

Another angle from which to understand what happens here is to summarize other ways in which individuals come to understand their desires as interests, and those interests as political in nature. The man who owns his land, works his land, sells the product of his labor: his desire to protect this land, to control his work, to engage in a free exchange are also at the same time his interests. Those interests, when up against a challenge, are immediately recognizable as also being his political interests. Those interests also cohere with his other political positions. This is not an individual who required an education about economics or the history of his country’s government to identify exactly what his positions would be in order to serve his own interests.

Contrast this man with the average specimen from the city who pays rent and works for a corporation. They have a variety of desires (survival, social, moral, aesthetic) that they must fulfil as end-users of complicated institutions. The desire of shelter is met with by a rental company, with whom they sign a lease. Their desire for companions is met through a variety of subcultures, which are mostly maintained by the industries which produce the products that symbolize those subcultures. Their desire for money (necessary for the former) is fulfilled with a job for a corporation. That is to say, these individuals do not have a coherence in their lives between their desires and the interests which are served to meet their desires. They do not rent because they have a specific interest in the rental company. They do not meet companions in this way because they have an interest in the companies that produce the products their subcultures symbolize themselves by. They do not take a job for this or that corporation because they have a deep interest in the survival of that corporation. In their situation, to recognize their own interests being served through the way their desires are met would be insane; that can not be their path towards a politics. So what becomes their “political” interests comes from another world that is abstract and can make some sort of claim, through the State, of dealing with these institutions for them. Their Democrats and Republicans deal with the rights they are allowed to use at their job, with their landlord, in the way that culture is regulated, in the way which their relationships are recognized, in the quality of the streets they tour, and the cost of the bills they pay. And throughout the whole process, these people are lied to and tricked to such an extent that it does take much energy and investigation if one was to know precisely where to rent, work, and consume that in some way matches their interests, even marginally.

If they’re middle-class, the path from desire, to interest, to political interest may be a little bit more intuitive and coherent; but, it is nevertheless labyrinthine. The home/business owners and their families have family values, but they enter into a more recognizable political world when regarding their relationship to their properties. Less in the world of government aid and more in the world of government tax, less in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to managers and more in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to market conditions, the interests of the middle-class are much different. Yet for as much as they are different, the interests of the middle class are still removed from a thorough political interest as they do not own the land, they often mortgage the house, their businesses may be franchises or not yet profitable, and their capital is still too small for much of an international political interest. Their political allegiances are divided up by the industries they own businesses within (or, the sectors they are professional workers within) and appeals to their moral values concerning marriage, drugs, sexuality, religion, and the rest. The middle-class individual, just as the city dweller examined earlier, is an individual whose desires and interests are mediated by institutions much larger and more complicated than they can keep track of …and just as well, must refer to those institutions for political representation.

So upon deeper inspection, it is not that we live among a majority of fools, of idiots, of people who ignorantly act against their own self-interests. We live in a society where the question of desires and interests is itself botched by a political and economic order that only superficially does the middle-class conscious voter seem to be any more or less rational. What has happened is that the rational pursuit of ones interests (of ones politics) is dangerous and exceptionally difficult, even when the mechanics are demystified and what choices serve whose interests are laid bare. When the rational pursuit of ones interests most coherently aligns with a revolt against the whole order of things, the questions of strategy make the situation only more difficult. And chances are, this rational pursuit itself is only as fulfilling as the extent to which ones desires are not being met by irrationally serving the interests of others. That is the story of our fringe existence and the cautious gaze of our peers, the suspicions and indignities to which we’re given in this society. To not have ones desires fulfilled in this society is itself a mark of an individuals crimes against it because it is these institutions which provide rational meaning in life.

An Individual’s Interests

Existence for a self-conscious individual may not offer any sort of rational basis for meaning and values, but it at least offers a biochemistry to help get the process going. Good and bad may not transcend the somewhat haphazard associations brains form which tie into emotional responses, but there are at least those immediate and personal goods and bads. This isn’t the most troubling situation until immediate desires come into conflict with some form of opposition, until they are scrutinized. It is at this point of conflict and its aftermath that the lack of having a rational basis for the choices one is making becomes problematic. Interpersonally and more broadly, socially …we can only resort to the rational for who is permitted the fulfilment of what desires. In the courtroom of our lives together, we judge each other’s desires and try to interrogate these desires to figure out whose interests they would be serving. Some will favor those desires which serve the interests of an abstraction (society, the common good, humanity, grace, the nation, the company), others will favor those desires which serve the interests of other individuals (kings, friends, comrades, employers). Still others, such as my egoist comrades, will at least note that someone has integrity if their interests serve themselves. It seems through an analysis of our society’s institutions, many people do not know and/or do not care what interests their desires serve …so long as they are met. As for how someone can tolerate not knowing and/or not caring what interests their desires serve, I will continue on to illustrate.

For the majority, their interests become bound up with the institutions that they entrust to think on their behalf: their church, their political party, their school, the Founding Fathers. The list would be exhausting to complete for how many options there are, for every desire, to refer to if someone questions them for this majority. Any social networking website can demonstrate clearly how common it is for someone’s “interests” to consist entirely of references to such institutions, brands, parties. God forbid anyone ever be reminded that these resumes of references are political, and how much political ignorance they demonstrate. To forget that interests (and “interests”) are political is important for this inquiry. It is the separation of interests from their political nature in the world of appearances that both mystifies the interests which the majority’s choices serve and clarifies the nature of the majority’s politics.

Another angle from which to understand what happens here is to summarize other ways in which individuals come to understand their desires as interests, and those interests as political in nature. The man who owns his land, works his land, sells the product of his labor: his desire to protect this land, to control his work, to engage in a free exchange are also at the same time his interests. Those interests, when up against a challenge, are immediately recognizable as also being his political interests. Those interests also cohere with his other political positions. This is not an individual who required an education about economics or the history of his country’s government to identify exactly what his positions would be in order to serve his own interests.

Contrast this man with the average specimen from the city who pays rent and works for a corporation. They have a variety of desires (survival, social, moral, aesthetic) that they must fulfil as end-users of complicated institutions. The desire of shelter is met with by a rental company, with whom they sign a lease. Their desire for companions is met through a variety of subcultures, which are mostly maintained by the industries which produce the products that symbolize those subcultures. Their desire for money (necessary for the former) is fulfilled with a job for a corporation. That is to say, these individuals do not have a coherence in their lives between their desires and the interests which are served to meet their desires. They do not rent because they have a specific interest in the rental company. They do not meet companions in this way because they have an interest in the companies that produce the products their subcultures symbolize themselves by. They do not take a job for this or that corporation because they have a deep interest in the survival of that corporation. In their situation, to recognize their own interests being served through the way their desires are met would be insane; that can not be their path towards a politics. So what becomes their “political” interests comes from another world that is abstract and can make some sort of claim, through the State, of dealing with these institutions for them. Their Democrats and Republicans deal with the rights they are allowed to use at their job, with their landlord, in the way that culture is regulated, in the way which their relationships are recognized, in the quality of the streets they tour, and the cost of the bills they pay. And throughout the whole process, these people are lied to and tricked to such an extent that it does take much energy and investigation if one was to know precisely where to rent, work, and consume that in some way matches their interests, even marginally.

If they’re middle-class, the path from desire, to interest, to political interest may be a little bit more intuitive and coherent; but, it is nevertheless labyrinthine. The home/business owners and their families have family values, but they enter into a more recognizable political world when regarding their relationship to their properties. Less in the world of government aid and more in the world of government tax, less in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to managers and more in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to market conditions, the interests of the middle-class are much different. Yet for as much as they are different, the interests of the middle class are still removed from a thorough political interest as they do not own the land, they often mortgage the house, their businesses may be franchises or not yet profitable, and their capital is still too small for much of an international political interest. Their political allegiances are divided up by the industries they own businesses within (or, the sectors they are professional workers within) and appeals to their moral values concerning marriage, drugs, sexuality, religion, and the rest. The middle-class individual, just as the city dweller examined earlier, is an individual whose desires and interests are mediated by institutions much larger and more complicated than they can keep track of …and just as well, must refer to those institutions for political representation.

So upon deeper inspection, it is not that we live among a majority of fools, of idiots, of people who ignorantly act against their own self-interests. We live in a society where the question of desires and interests is itself botched by a political and economic order that only superficially does the middle-class conscious voter seem to be any more or less rational. What has happened is that the rational pursuit of ones interests (of ones politics) is dangerous and exceptionally difficult, even when the mechanics are demystified and what choices serve whose interests are laid bare. When the rational pursuit of ones interests most coherently aligns with a revolt against the whole order of things, the questions of strategy make the situation only more difficult. And chances are, this rational pursuit itself is only as fulfilling as the extent to which ones desires are not being met by irrationally serving the interests of others. That is the story of our fringe existence and the cautious gaze of our peers, the suspicions and indignities to which we’re given in this society. To not have ones desires fulfilled in this society is itself a mark of an individuals crimes against it because it is these institutions which provide rational meaning in life.

Camus’ the Rebel: Quotes (some Notes)

The Rebel – Notes

Metaphysical, Historical, and Aesthetic

I The Rebel

II Metaphysical Rebellion

THE SONS OF CAIN

ABSOLUTE NEGATION

THE REJECTION OF SALVATION

ABSOLUTE AFFIRMATION

*THE POETS’ REBELLION

NIHILISM AND HISTORY

III Historical Rebellion

THE REGICIDES

THE DEICIDES

INDIVIDUAL TERRORISM

RATIONAL TERROR

STATE TERRORISM AND RATIONAL TERROR

REBELLION AND REVOLUTION

IV Rebellion and Art

REBELLION AND THE NOVEL

REBELLION AND STYLE

CREATION AND REVOLUTION

REBELLION AND MURDER

MODERATION AND EXCESS

V Thought at the Meridian

BEYOND NIHILISM

 

 

 

 

Part 2 – Metaphysical Rebellion

“the metaphysical rebel protests against the condition in which he finds himself as a man.”

*“If men cannot refer to a common value, recognized by all as existing in each one, then man is incomprehensible to man.” ← The Unitarian Reign of Justice

“At the same time that he rejects his mortality, the rebel refuses to recognize the power that compels him to live in this condition. The metaphysical rebel is therefore not definitely an atheist, as one might think him, but he is inevitably a blasphemer. Quite simply, he blasphemes primarily in the name of order, denouncing God as the father of death and as the supreme outrage.”

“Originally, at least, he does not suppress God; he merely talks to Him as an equal. But it is not a polite dialogue. It is a polemic animated by the desire to conquer. The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn. His insurrection against his condition becomes an unlimited campaign against the heavens for the purpose of bringing back a captive king who will first be dethroned and finally condemned to death. Human rebellion ends in metaphysical revolution.”

The Sons of Cain

“The only thing that gives meaning to human protest is the idea of a personal god who has created, and is therefore responsible for, everything. And so we can say, without being paradoxical, that in the Western World the history of rebellion is inseparable from the history of Christianity. We have to wait, in fact, until the very last moments of Greek thought to see rebellion begin to find expression among transitional thinkers—nowhere more profoundly than in the works of Epicurus and Lucretius.”

“With Cain, the first act of rebellion coincides with the first crime. The history of rebellion, as we are experiencing it today, has far more to do with the children of Cain than with the disciples of Prometheus. In this sense it is the God of the Old Testament who is primarily responsible for mobilizing the forces of rebellion.”

“From this point of view, the New Testament can be considered as an attempt to answer, in advance, every Cain in the world, by painting the figure of God in softer colors and by creating an intercessor between God and man. Christ came to solve two major problems, evil and death, which are precisely the problemsthat preoccupy the rebel. His solution consisted, first, in experiencing them. The man-god suffers, too— with patience. Evil and death can no longer be entirely imputed to Him since He suffers and dies. The night on Golgotha is so important in the history of man only because, in its shadow, the divinity abandoned its traditional privileges and drank to the last drop, despair included, the agony of death. This is the explanation of the Lama sabactani and the heartrending doubt of Christ in agony. The agony would have been mild if it had been alleviated by hopes of eternity. For God to be a man, he must despair.”

“Until Dostoievsky and Nietzsche, rebellion is directed only against a cruel and capricious divinity—a divinity who prefers, without any convincing motive, Abel’s sacrifice to Cain’s and, by so doing, provokes the first murder. Dostoievsky, in the realm of imagination, and Nietzsche, in the realm of fact, enormously increase the field of rebellious thought and demand an accounting from the God of love Himself. Nietzsche believes that God is dead in the souls of his contemporaries. Therefore he attacks, like his predecessor Stirner, the illusion of God that lingers, under the guise of morality, in the thought of his times. But until they appear upon the scene, the freethinkers, for example, were content to deny the truth of the history of Christ (“that dull story,” in Sade’s words) and to maintain, by their denials, the tradition of an avenging god.”

Absolute Negation (Sade)

“Historically speaking, the first coherent offensive is that of Sade, who musters into one vast war machine the arguments of the freethinkers up to Father Meslier and Voltaire. His negation is also, of course, the most extreme.”

“If the mind is strong enough to construct in a prison cell a moral philosophy that is not one of submission, it will generally be one of domination.”

“Every ethic based on solitude implies the exercise of power.”

“Is Sade an atheist? He says so, and we believe him, before going to prison, in his Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man; and from then on we are dumbfounded by his passion for sacrilege. “

“The idea of God which Sade conceives for himself is, therefore, of a criminal divinity who oppresses and denies mankind.”

For Sade, Nature is Sex and Nature is a power bent on destruction.

“his logic leads him to a lawless universe where the only master is the inordinate energy of desire.” “the freedom he demands is not one of principles, but of instincts.”

“Nothing is more revealing in this respect than the famous lampoon, read by Dolmance in the Philosophie du Boudoir, which has the curious title: People of France, one more effort if you want to be republicans. Pierre Klossowski2 is right in attaching so much importance to it, for this lampoon demonstrates to the revolutionaries that their republic is founded on the murder of the King —who was King by divine right—and that by guillotining God on January 21, 1793 they deprived themselves forever of the right tooutlaw crime or to censure malevolent instincts. The monarchy supported the concept of a God who, in conjunction with itself, created all laws. As for the Republic, it stands alone, and morality was supposed to exist without benefit of the Commandments.”

‘This man who never preached anything but contradictions only achieves coherence—and of a most complete kind— when he talks of capital punishment. An addict of refined ways of execution, a theoretician of sexual crime, he was never able to tolerate legal crime.”A few years later Nodier summed up, perhaps without knowing it, the position obstinately defended by Sade: “To kill a man in a paroxysm of passion is understandable. To have him killed by someone else after calm and serious meditation and on the pretext of duty honorably discharged is incomprehensible.”‘

*“You cannot simultaneously choose crime for yourself and punishment for others. You must open the prison gates or give an impossible proof of your own innocence. From the moment you accept murder, even if only once, you must allow it universally. The criminal who acts according to nature cannot, without betraying his office, range himself on the side of the law.”

*”But to desire without limit is the equivalent of being desired without limit. License to destroy supposes that you yourself can be destroyed. Therefore you must struggle and dominate. The law of this world is nothing but the law of force; its driving force, the will to power.”

“For Sade, the law of power implies barred gates, castles with seven circumvallations from which it is impossible to escape, and where a society founded on desire and crime functions unimpeded, according to the rules of an implacable system. The most unbridled rebellion, insistence on complete freedom, lead to the total subjection of the majority. For Sade, man’s emancipation is consummated in these strongholds of debauchery where a kind of bureaucracy of vice rules over the life and death of the men and women who have committed themselves forever to the hell of their desires. His works abound with descriptions of these privileged places where feudal libertines, to demonstrate to their assembled victims their absolute impotence and servitude, always repeat the Duc de Blangis’s speech to the common people of the One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom: “You are already dead to the world.””

The rest of this chapter on Sade is mostly concerned with elaborating on the authoritarian conclusions which logically follow from the Libertine premise of ultimate freedom for the desires.

The Dandie’s Rebellion (the Romantics)

“Like Sade, romanticism is separated from earlier forms of rebellion by its preference for evil and the individual. By putting emphasis on its powers of defiance and refusal, rebellion, at this stage, forgets its positive content. Since God claims all that is good in man, it is necessary to deride what is good and choose what is evil. Hatred of death and of injustice will lead, therefore, if not to the exercise, at least to the vindication, of evil and murder.”

“The poet, the genius,man himself in his most exalted image, therefore cry out simultaneously with Satan: “So farewell hope,and with hope farewell fear, farewell remorse. . . . Evil, be thou my good.” It is the cry of outraged innocence. The romantic hero, therefore, considers himself compelled to do evil by his nostalgia for an unrealizable good.”

“he rebel therefore allows himself certain advantages. Murder, of course, is not recommended for its own sake. But it is implicit in the value— supreme for the romantic—attached to frenzy. Frenzy is the reverse of boredom”

“Without exactly advocating crime, the romantics insist on paying homage to a basic system of privileges which they illustrate with the conventional images of the outlaw, the criminal with the heart of gold, and the kind brigand. Their works are bathed in blood and shrouded in mystery. The soul is delivered, at a minimum expenditure, of its most hideous desires— desires that a later generation will assuage in extermination camps.”

“romanticism, at the source of its inspiration, is chiefly concerned with defying moral and divine law. That is why its most original creation is not, primarily, the revolutionary, but, logically enough, the dandy.”

“Much more than the cult of the individual, romanticism inaugurates the cult of the ‘character’”

*“”The dandy creates his own unity by aesthetic means. But it is an aesthetic of singularity and of negation. “To live and die before a mirror”: that, according to Baudelaire, was the dandy’s slogan. It is indeed a coherent slogan. The dandy is, by occupation, always in opposition. He can only exist by defiance. Up to now man derived his coherence from his Creator. But from the moment that he consecrates his rupture with Him, he finds himself delivered over to the fleeting moment, to the passing days, and to wasted sensibility. Therefore he must take himself in hand. The dandy rallies his forces and creates a unity for himself by the very violence of his refusal. Profligate, like all people without a rule of life, he is coherent as an actor. But an actor implies a public; the dandy can only play a part by setting himself up in opposition. He can only be sure of his own existence by finding it in the expression of others’ faces. Other people are his mirror. A mirror that quickly becomes clouded, it is true, since human capacity for attention is limited. It must be ceaselessly stimulated, spurred on by provocation. The dandy, therefore, is always compelled to astonish. Singularity is his vocation, excess his way to perfection. Perpetually incomplete, always on the fringe of things, he compels others to create him, while denying their values. He plays at life because he is unable to live it. He plays at it until he dies, except for the moments when he is alone and without a mirror. For the dandy,to be alone is not to exist.””

*“Romanticism demonstrates, in fact, that rebellion is part and parcel of dandyism: one of its objectives is appearances. In its conventional forms, dandyism admits a nostalgia for ethics. It is only honor degraded as a point of honor. But at the same time it inaugurates an aesthetic which is still valid in our world, an aesthetic of solitary creators, who are obstinate rivals of a God they condemn. From romanticism onward, the artist’s task will not only be to create a world, or to exalt beauty for its own sake, but also to define an attitude. Thus the artist becomes a model and offers himself as an example: art is his ethic. With him begins the age of the directors of conscience. When the dandies fail to commit suicide or do not go mad, they make a career and pursue prosperity. Even when, like Vigny, they exclaim that they are going to retire into silence, their silence is piercing.”

“But at the very heart of romanticism, the sterility of this attitude becomes apparent to a few rebels who provide a transitional type between the eccentrics (or the Incredible) and our revolutionary adventurers. Between the times of the eighteenth-century eccentric and the “conquerors” of the twentieth century, Byron and Shelley are already fighting, though only ostensibly, for freedom. They also expose themselves, but in another way. Rebellion gradually leaves the world of appearances for the world of action, where it will completely commit itself. The French students in 1830 and the Russian Decembrists will then appear as the purest incarnations of a rebellion which is at first solitary and which then tries, through sacrifice, to find the path to solidarity. But, inversely, the taste for the apocalypse and a life of frenzy will reappear among present-day revolutionaries. “

The Rejection of Salvation (Dostoevsky) – Contemporary Nihilism Begins

“Ivan (Karamozov) is the incarnation of the refusal to be the only one saved. He throws in his lot with the damned and, for their sake, rejects eternity. If he had faith, he could, in fact, be saved, but others would be damned and suffering would continue. There is no possible salvation for the man who feels real compassion. Ivan will continue to put God in the wrong by doubly rejecting faith as he would reject injustice and privilege. One step more and from All or Nothing we arrive at Everyone or No One.”

“When the meaning of life has been suppressed, there still remains life. “I live,” says Ivan, “in spite of logic.” And again: “If I no longer had any faith in life, if I doubted a woman I loved, or the universal order of things, if I were persuaded, on the contrary, that everything was only an infernal and accursed chaos—even then I would want to live.” Ivan will live, then, and will love as well “without knowing why.” But to live is also to act. To act in the name of what? If there is no immortality, then there is neither reward nor punishment. “I believe that there is no virtue without immortality.” And also: “I only know that suffering exists, that no one is guilty, that everything is connected, that everything passes away and equals out.” But if there is no virtue, there is no law: “Everything is permitted.” With this “everything is permitted” the history of contemporary nihilism really begins.”

* “He consciously accepts his dilemma; to be virtuous and illogical, or logical and criminal. His prototype, the devil, is right when he whispers: “You are going to commit a virtuous act and yet you do not believe in virtue; that is what angers and torments you.” The question that Ivan finally poses, the question that constitutes the real progress achieved by Dostoievsky in the history of rebellion, is the only one in which we are interested here: can one live and stand one’s ground in a state of rebellion?”

“Ivan allows us to guess his answer: one can live in a state of rebellion only by pursuing it to the bitter end. What is the bitter end of metaphysical rebellion? Metaphysical revolution.”

Absolute Affirmation (Stirner, Nietzsche, Surrealism, etc.) – pg 34 – 54

“Even before Nietzsche, Stirner wanted to eradicate the very idea of God from man’s mind, after he had destroyed God Himself. But, unlike Nietzsche, his nihilism was gratified. Stirner laughs in his blind alley; Nietzsche beats his head against the wall.”

“Stirner, and with him all the nihilist rebels, rush to the utmost limits, drunk with destruction. After which, when the desert has been disclosed, the next step is to learn how to live there. Nietzsche’s exhaustive search then begins.”

Nietzsche: “He diagnosed in himself, and in others, the inability to believe and the disappearance of the primitive foundation of all faith—namely, the belief in life. The “can one live as a rebel?” became with him “can one live believing in nothing?” His reply is affirmative. Yes, if one creates a system out of absence of faith, if one accepts the final consequences of nihilism, and if, on emerging into the desert and putting one’s confidence in what is going to come, one feels, with the same primitive instinct, both pain and joy.”

“If nihilism is the inability to believe, then its most serious symptom is not found in atheism, but in the inability to believe in what is, to see what is happening, and to live life as it is offered.”

“Christianity believes that it is fighting against nihilism because it gives the world a sense of direction, while it is really nihilist itself in so far as, by imposing an imaginary meaning on life, it prevents the discovery of its real meaning: “Every Church is a stone rolled onto the tomb of the man-god; it tries to prevent the resurrection, by force.” Nietzsche’s paradoxical but significant conclusion is that God has been killed by Christianity, in that Christianity has secularized the sacred. Here we must understand historical Christianity and “its profound and contemptible duplicity.”

“The same process of reasoning leads to Nietzsche’s attitude toward socialism and all forms of humanitarian-ism. Socialism is only a degenerate form of Christianity. In fact, it preserves a belief in the finality of history which betrays life and nature, which substitutes ideal ends for real ends, and contributes to enervating both the will and the imagination. Socialism is nihilistic, in the henceforth precise sense that Nietzsche confers on the word. A nihilist is not one who believes in nothing, but one who does not believe in what exists. In this sense, all forms of socialism are manifestations, degraded once again, of Christian decadence. For Christianity, reward and punishment implied the existence of history. But, by inescapable logic, all history ends by implying punishment and reward; and, from this day on, collectivist Messianism is born.”

“He knew that in wanting to consider oneself above the law, there is a great risk of finding oneself beneath the law. That is why he understood that only the mind found its real emancipation in the acceptance of new obligations. The essence of his discovery consists in saying that if the eternal law is not freedom, the absence of law is still less so. If nothing is true, if the world is without order, then nothing is forbidden; to prohibit an action, there must, in fact, be a standard of values and an aim. But, at the same time, nothing is authorized; there must also be values and aims in order to choose another course of action. Absolute domination by the law does not represent liberty, but no more does absolute anarchy. The sum total of every possibility does not amount to liberty, but to attempt the impossible amounts to slavery. Chaos is also a form of servitude. Freedom exists only in a world where what is possible is defined at the same time as what is not possible.”

*”to be free is, precisely, to abolish ends. The innocence of the ceaseless change of things, as soon as one consents to it, represents the maximum liberty”

“This magnificent consent, born of abundance and fullness of spirit, is the unreserved affirmation of human imperfection and suffering, of evil and murder, of all that is problematic and strange in our existence. It is born of an arrested wish to be what one is in a world that is what it is. “To consider oneself a fatality, not to wish to be other than one is . . .” Nietzschean asceticism, which begins with the recognition of fatality, ends in a deification of fate.”

“”Is it not laughable that we believe in a sacred, infrangible law—thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not kill—in an existence characterized by perpetual lying and perpetual murder?” Actually metaphysical rebellion, in its initial stages, was only a protest against the lie and the crime of existence. The Nietzschean affirmative, forgetful of the original negative, disavows rebellion at the same time that it disavows the ethic that refuses to accept the world as it is. Nietzsche clamored for a Roman Caesar with the soul of Christ. To his mind, this was to say yes to both slave and master. But, in the last analysis, to say yes to both was to give one’s blessing to the stronger of the two—namely, the master.”

“He himself, however, had conceived of a system in which crime could no longer serve as an argument and in which the only value resided in the divinity of man. This grandiose initiative also had to be put to use. National Socialism in this respect was only a transitory heir, only the speculative and rabid outcome of nihilism. In all other respects those who, in correcting Nietzsche with the help of Marx, will choose to assent only to history, and no longer to all of creation, will be perfectly logical. The rebel whom Nietzsche set on his kness before the cosmos will, from now on, kneel before history. What is surprising about that? Nietzsche, at least in his theory of super-humanity, and Marx before him, with his classless society, both replace the Beyond by the Later On. “

– Enter Marx –

“For Marx, nature is to be subjugated in order to obey history; for Nietzsche, nature is to be obeyed in order to subjugate history.”

“The absolute negative had driven Stirner to deify crime simultaneously with the individual. But the absolute affirmative leads to universalizing murder and mankind simultaneously. Marxism-Leninism has really accepted the burden of Nietzsche’s freewill by means of ignoring several Nietzschean virtues. The great rebel thus creates with his own hands, and for his own imprisonment, the implacable reign of necessity. Once he had escaped from God’s prison, his first care was to construct the prison of history and of reason, thus putting the finishing touch to the camouflage and consecration of the nihilism whose conquest he claimed.”

The Poet’s Rebellion

Surrealism

“The essential enemy of surrealism is rationalism. Breton’s method, moreover, presents the peculiar spectacle of a form of Occidental thought in which the principle of analogy is continually favored to the detriment of the principles of identity and contradiction. More precisely, it is a question of dissolving contradictions in the fires of love and desire and of demolishing the walls of death. Magic rites, primitive or naive civilizations, alchemy, the language of flowers, fire, or sleepless nights, are so many miraculous stages on the way to unity and the philosophers’ stone. If surrealism did not change the world, it furnished it with a few strange myths which partly justified Nietzsche’s announcement of the return of the Greeks. Only partly, becausehe was referring to unenlightened Greece, the Greece of mysteries and dark gods. Finally, just as Nietzsche’s experience culminated in the acceptance of the light of day, surrealist experience culminates in the exaltation of the darkness of night, the agonized and obstinate cult of the tempest. Breton, according to his own statements, understood that, despite everything, life was a gift. But his compliance could never shed the full light of day, the light that all of us need. “There is too much of the north in me,” he said, “for me to be a man who complies entirely.””

Nihilism and History

“One hundred and fifty years of metaphysical rebellion and of nihilism have witnessed the persistent reappearance, under different guises, of the same ravaged countenance: the face of human protest. All of them, decrying the human condition and its creator, have affirmed the solitude of man and the nonexistence of any kind of morality. But at the same time they have all tried to construct a purely terrestrial kingdom where their chosen principles will hold sway. As rivals of the Creator, they have inescapably been led to the point of reconstructing creation according to their own concepts. Those who rejected, for the sake of the world they had just created, all other principles but desire and power, have rushed to suicide or madness and have proclaimed the apocalypse. As for the rest, who wanted to create their own principles, they have chosen pomp and ceremony, the world of appearances, or banality, or again murder and destruction. But Sade and the romantics, Karamazov or Nietzsche only entered the world of death because they wanted to discover the true life. So that by a process of  inversion, it is the desperate appeal for order that rings through this insane universe. Their conclusions have only proved disastrous or destructive to freedom from the moment they laid aside the burden of rebellion, fled the tension that it implies, and chose the comfort of tyranny or of servitude.

Human insurrection, in its exalted and tragic forms, is only, and can only be, a prolonged protest against death, a violent accusation against the universal death penalty. In every case that we have come across, the protest is always directed at everything in creation which is dissonant, opaque, or promises the solution of continuity. Essentially, then, we are dealing with a perpetual demand for unity. The rejection of death, the desire for immortality and for clarity, are the mainsprings of all these extravagances,whether sublime or puerile. Is it only a cowardly and personal refusal to die? No, for many of these rebels have paid the ultimate price in order to live up to their own demands. The rebel does not ask for life, but for reasons for living. He rejects the consequences implied by death. If nothing lasts, then nothing is justified; everything that dies is deprived of meaning. To fight against death amounts to claiming that life has a meaning, to fighting for order and for unity.”

“The rebel obstinately confronts a world condemned to death and the impenetrable obscurity of the human condition with his demand for life and absolute clarity. He is seeking, without knowing it, a moral philosophy or a religion. Rebellion, even though it is blind, is a form of asceticism.”

“We have arrived at the moment when rebellion, rejecting every aspect of servitude, attempts to annex all creation. Every time it experiences a setback, we have already seen that the political solution, the solution of conquest, is formulated. Henceforth, with the introduction of moral nihilism, it will retain, of all its acquisitions, only the will to power. In principle, the rebel only wanted to conquer his own existence and to maintain it in the face of God. But he forgets his origins and, by the law of spiritual imperialism, he sets out in search of world conquest by way of an infinitely multiplied series of murders. He drove God from His heaven, but now that the spirit of metaphysical rebellion openly joins forces with revolutionary movements, the irrational claim for freedom paradoxically adopts reason as a weapon, and as the only means of conquest which appears entirely human. With the death of God, mankind remains; and by this we mean the history that we must understand and shape. Nihilism, which, in the very midst of rebellion, smothers the force of creation, only adds that one is justified in using every means at one’s disposal. Man, on an earth that he knows is henceforth solitary, is going to add, to irrational crimes, the crimes of reason that are bent on the triumph of man. To the “I rebel, therefore we exist,” he adds, with prodigious plans in mind which even include the death of rebellion: “And we are alone.””

Part Three

Historical Rebellion (54 of 152 in pdf)

“Freedom, “that terrible word inscribed on the chariot of the storm,” 1 is the motivating principle of all revolutions. Without it, justice seems inconceivable to the rebel’s mind. There comes a time, however, when justice demands the suspension of freedom. Then terror, on a grand or small scale, makes its appearance to consummate the revolution. Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. But one day nostalgia takes up arms and assumes the responsibility of total guilt; in other words, adopts murder and violence. The servile rebellions, the regicide revolutions, and those of the twentieth century have thus, consciously, accepted a burden of guilt which  increased in proportion to the degree of liberation they proposed to introduce.”

“Actually, revolution is only the logical consequence of metaphysical rebellion, and we shall discover, in our analysis of the revolutionary movement, the same desperate and bloody effort to affirm the dignity of man in defiance of the things that deny its existence. The revolutionary spirit thus undertakes the defense of that part of man which refuses to submit. In other words, it tries to assure him his crown in the realm of time, and, rejecting God, it chooses history with an apparently inevitable logic.”

“Rebellion is, by nature, limited in scope. It is no more than an incoherent pronouncement. Revolution, on the contrary, originates in the realm of ideas. Specifically, it is the injection of ideas into historical experience, while rebellion is only the movement that leads from individual experience into the realm of ideas.”

“A superficial examination seems to imply, rather than any real emancipation, an affirmation of mankind by man, an affirmation increasingly broad in scope, but always incomplete. In fact, if there had ever been one real revolution, there would be no more history. Unity would have been achieved, and death would have been satiated. That is why all revolutionaries finally aspire to world unity and act as though they believed that history was concluded. The originality of twentieth-century revolution lies in the fact that, for the first time, it openly claims to realize the ancient dream of Anarchasis Cloots of unity of the human race and, at the same time, the definitive consummation of history. Just as the movement of rebellion led to the point of “All or Nothing” and just as metaphysical rebellion demanded the unity of the world, the twentieth-century revolutionary movement, when it arrived at the most obvious conclusions of its logic, insisted with threats of force on arrogating to itself the whole of history.“

“Even revolution, particularly revolution, which claims to be materialist, is only a limitless metaphysical crusade. But can totality claim to be unity? That is the question which this book must answer. So far we can only say that the purpose of this analysis is not to give, for the hundredth time, a description of the revolutionary phenomenon, nor once more to examine the historic or economic causes of great revolutions. Its purpose is to discover in certain revolutionary data the logical sequence, the explanations, and the invariable themes of metaphysical rebellion.”

 

 

The Regicides

“Kings were put to death long before January 21, 1793, and before the regicides of the nineteenth century. But Ravaillac, Damiens, and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king and that was all. It never occurred to them that the throne could remain empty forever. 1789 is the starting-point of modern times, because the men of that period wished, among other things, to overthrow the principle of divine right and to introduce to the historical scene the forces of negation and rebellion which had become the essence of intellectual discussion in the previous centuries. Thus they added to traditional tyrannicide the concept of calculated deicide. The so-called freethinkers, the philosophers and jurists, served as levers for this revolution.”

The New Gospel

“The Social Contract amplifies and dogmatically explains the new religion whose god is reason, confused with nature, and whose representative on earth, in place of the king, is the people considered as an expression of the general will.”

“The attack on the traditional order is so evident that, from the very first chapter, Rousseau is determined to demonstrate the precedence of the citizens’ pact, which established the people, over the pact between the people and the king, which founded royalty. Until Rousseau’s time, God created kings, who, in their turn, created peoples. After The Social Contract, peoples create themselves before creating kings. As for God, there is nothing more to be said, for the time being. Here we have, in the political field, the equivalent of Newton’s revolution. Power, therefore, is no longer arbitrary, but derives its existence from general consent. In other words, power is no longer what is, but what should be.”

-taking break on pg 59 of .PDF-

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