Tuesday, December 31, 2002

In support of unpopular causes and other meditations.

OK, here's something guaranteed to piss people off: while I think that Trent Lott's statement that if Strom Thurmond had been elected president that "all of these problems" wouldn't have happened was really offensive, I think that perhaps the media has gone too far in castigating Lott for his remark.

After all, Trent Lott is a Senator from Mississippi. And also, there's the little fact that the fight over segregation happened within living memory and that the people who were for it weren't suddenly teleported to another planet once it was outlawed. And he's from Mississippi.

Not enough attention was paid, in my opinion, to the warm response that Lott got with the first comment, something along the lines of "I've always supported you". The fact that that comment was well recieved while the next one shocked is a recognition of the moral complexity that has attended Southern politics in the last hundred years.

Segregation is gone. Now, it's virtually impossible to get elected to national office from the South spouting overtly racist rhetoric. That's a feat, because it wasn't always that way (as Thurmond's use of the word "Nigger" in his presidential campaign followed by his win as a write in candidate for Senate presumably showed). Eugene Genovese in "the Southern Tradition" puts the name Warren Bilbo out there as another example of this, but I've never heard of him. Say what you will about code words, this is a solid feat.

Southern politics saw the rise of George Wallace, first as pro-civil rights, then as the anti-civil rights poster boy, then in later years as the concilliating moderate; so history has made strange bedfellows of many a person.

However, the media's treatment of Lott brings to mind a left-wing version of the right's moral littmus testing for candidates: instead of questions about drug use and marital fidelity judged according to strict fundamentalist standards you have questions about political pureness judged by standards which would play fine in Boston or Chicago.

Which is disturbing, because it indicates that the establishment Left is as willing to be provincial as the right is when it comes to a topic that they're concerned with. It's old hat, but, the South is still the South and there has to be sensitivity to the fact that it's had a different history and a different political experience during the last century than the North has, and so differing standards are in order.

What do I mean by differing standards? Well, it would be good for the U.S. if Lott's first statement about Thurmond could be accepted as legitimate while the second one was condemned.

Russ Feingold supported Herr Ashcroft's nomination because he felt that if the left started to reject candidates based on political preference that it would shut out any possibility of left wing candidates being approved in the future. I think that Ashcroft's nomination and approval was a horrible mistake, but you know---the principle that Feingold put forward is probably a good one.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Ha!

Not without some satisfaction, I've checked in at ye' old reactionary webpage http://www.counterrevolution.net to find that the webmaster has moved from being a radical Tory to an outright fascist.

It's a little schadenfeude, I must admit, but you've got to hand it to the guy: he starts off offering resources to far-right European style conservatism, including "politically incorrect" links to racists and miltias (just to show he's not one of these censoring crazy liberals), and now lo and behold he's giving good reviews to books by the head of the Romanian Nazis (Iron Guards).

So I guess there was a little more to those links than just showing up politically correct liberals, eh?

Fine with me. Just shows that that sort of monolithic, state worshipping, authoritarian, conservatism is bankrupt anyways. It's a mean pleasure to see someone slip from Toryism to Fascism without missing a beat.

I guess the censorship of politically correct liberals doesn't hold a torch to the fascist restructuring of society undertaken by Mussolini and Hitler, eh mr. Counterrevolution?

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Hey, fellow members of Blogistan.

A change in the weather, is known to be extreme, but what's the point of changing horses, in midstream?--"You're a big girl now".

Well folks, I've had one of those changes. But it's not a retreat, oh no. Confounding all expectations I've now started to locate my political thought within that strange realm known as Southern Agrarianism.

Yep, I have my copy of "I'll take my Stand" with me, actually in my living room.

Southern Agrarianism is for small r republicanism: it's anti-state, anti-capitalist, and for a wide distribution of property, a sense of community, and a focus on the quality of life rather than on the quantity of things produced.

It's consonent with my values more than any pure left-wing doctrine has been. I stated a while ago that whatever new truth was out there was probably, to me, a synthesis of Anarcho-Communism, Primitivism, and Anarcho-Syndicalism. Well, amazingly enough Southern Agrarianism fit's the bill.

Someday, hopefully when I'm old and gray, someone will write a history about the movements that grew up parallel to and sometimes overlapping with Anarchism during the nineties.

Totally underground, paralleling marginal culture, a movement existed which was based in the new age and the occult--in paganism and in libertarian variants of occult philosophy such as that espoused by Aleister Crowley.
Bleeding over to other esoterica it formed a new and somewhat extreme movement.

Some features of this culture came dangerously close---and in some formulations went over the edge entirely--to endorsing far right European movements like fascism and mystical Nazism.

Certainly the occult aspect and the pagan aspect made conservatism more appealing because of the unfortunate retreat from true libertarian values that the left has experienced in recent decades (think PC).

Contributing to this as well was the explicit link to fascism and conservatism which came out of the integral traditionalism of thinkers like Julius Evola, who influenced many, myself included, with his books on the western occult tradition (which didn't contain his fascism directly).

Then there were people seeking out the extreme in life from such radical gnostic thinkers as Charles Manson and the people at the Process Church of the Final Judgement, who believed in a four part god made out of Christ, Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan.

Before I ever became a leftist I was a Thelemite--a follower of the doctrines of Aleister Crowley, and a Pagan. I wasn't ever a part of Norse paganism though, I didn't realize at the time that there was more to it than people looking for Nazis everywhere made it look like, but I definitely connected to the Roman current. In otherwords I was a Pagan in everysense of the word.

Crowley was a good bridge from where I had come from--a millieux of criminality, drugs, and celebration of both the gangsta lifestyle and, paradoxically in my case, the libertarian currents of the sixties and seventies---and where I was going. I eventually gave up all the stuff about magic because I decided that 90% of it was self brainwashing, and that nothing positive was coming out of it for me.

So I eventually moved into a more political---and atheistic---stance which unbenknownst to me paralelled the movement and background of some of the people who became the first new Anarchists. But I never really found my home there. I guess I came along too late---I missed the formative years of the Anarchist movement and spent more time than most in the Pagan/semi-fascist scene.

I never was a fascist. I settled my accounts with Fascism and Nazism about six months ago after reading "The Beast Reawakens" by Christopher Simpson and later "Black Sun" by Nicholas Clarke-Goodrich---the first dealing with the survival of Nazi doctrine after WWII, the second dealing with current mystical Fascist and Nazi movements, sometimes having more to do with the 3rd way fascists--but hey. I saw in both of those books the greater context for a movement that I self-consciously kept myself aloof from; but I considered the arguments and much to my delight found that they weren't what I believed. Well, almost.

You see reading Black Sun reminded me of the value of the things I learned during my occult years. There seemed to be a void.

Well, Southern Agrarianism is a good compromise between the mystic/conservative counter-culture and the Anarchist/Libertarian counter-culture. It's not fascist, thank god, and it's not a big apology for Slavery either.

I keep emphasizing the non-fascistness of all of this, and with good reason: participating in the occult world was often a balancing act between where certain ideas were leading and my sense of what was right and decent. I made it though, and I'm grateful for it. In retrospect, looking at the scene now, it's clear that many people didn't, and that their adoption of fascism was often the end of their productivity in the libertarian world.

No, I wouldn't have been able to find Southern Agrarianism if I was a fascist, because it's something rare in this world: a doctrine that doesn't have much of an ulterior motive. There would be no incentive to move to it if fascism was already in my heart.

Well, so much for the apology. I'm still on the left, much as Liberation Theology is still on the left although it too is also radically conservative. But this column is going to get a little different.

I invite people to check out the work of Eugene Genovese in "The Southern Tradition", as well as the people in "I'll Take my Stand". I'm just a beginner in these matters, I haven't even finished my first Wendell Berry novel, but the beginning has been very auspicious.

Good luck to you all, because I've already found my luck.

I'm reminded of an Onion article where Bob Dole was interviewed as saying that he wants to build a tunnel back to the nineteenth century. (Clinton wanted to build a bridge to the 21st, remembet?)When asked if the tunnel would be big enough for all of America, he said no, it's only for me, everyone else is on their own.

While I have not a lot of malice for individuals in the modern world, I have to agree with 'Bob Dole': I've found my own tunnel out of the rapidly decaying mess we call modern society, everyone else has to find their own solution.

If it turns out to be Southern Agrarianism, so much the better.

But either way I'll be in Croaton oblivious to what all y'all are doing.

---From a tunnel to the 12th Century---,
Your BlogMaster

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Why can't Johnny read?

That was a title of a popular education book in the nineties, and it's a good way of starting off a discussion of the broader phenomenon of people my age, who grew up in the eighties and nineties, not knowing very much about history, culture, or the world around them in general.

In the book, the reason Johnny can't read is because those damn hippies infiltrated the educational system and taught him according to devilish "progressive" techniques.

The reality is much different.

I, as one of those "Johnnies", would offer up the explanation that my generation has such shocking holes in our knowledge because the Reagan Revolution intimidated people from speaking frankly about the recent past.

Pure and simple. If you want to pin down the reason for such angst and nihilism coming from people in my generation, it might be useful to think about what options growing up without a history and without any insight into the world around you leave a person.

There's a broad parallel with this phenomenon that can be drawn with the German student rebellions of the sixties and seventies: like us the German kids of the postwar generation were taught almost nothing about the Hitler years. Some have speculated that this was because many of the teachers employed at that time were involved with the Nazi state, and so didn't want to open themselves up for criticism by telling the truth. The result was two fold: first, it led a sizable number of German youth to ignorance about all but the most broad facts about the Nazi state. Second, when the kids found out about it they went berserk. The German student movement was rabidly radical, a delayed explosion, as it were, of tensions from the Hitler years which had been suppressed.

Same thing is happening here, or will soon be happening. I'm lucky because I'm old enough that I can vaguely remember the time before the Reagan Revolution squashed dissent. This is the lot of Generation X'ers as opposed to whatever you want to call the group of kids who don't even have a sense of what life was like before the conservatives took power.

Generation X'ers were angry and pissy because they experienced one long mediocre set of years in this nation's history. But to even be aware that the eighties and nineties were mediocre you would have to have known that how those decades were was not the norm. Hence, you had to have been born before some crucial cut off point in the very early eighties.

In Douglas Coupland's, the author of ther book Generation X, books it's always the lone protagonist aware of how shitty things are facing off with people his own age that are totally absorbed with materialism and superficiality. Hence the presence of Johnnies that couldn't read amidst a general awareness of malaise.

But get ready for a crisis that'll put all of that to shame! Yes, when Millenials, or Gen Y, or whatever the fuck you want to call the little pricks, get to be teenagers and college students they're going to really tear shit up. Already are starting to....

The point is, though, that you can't intimidate the immediate past out of people's minds without there being serious social consequences. For the people in power to spin it so that the victim is to blame doesn't matter. Consequences happen nonetheless. Consequences including suicide, Columbine style shootings, widespread depression, high drug use, low commitment to school or studying, youth violence, gang violence, other mental problems......you get the picture. It's not those damn liberals sabotaging America's moral fiber, it's conservative reactionaries fucking up kids minds in order to advance their social agenda.

But pigs don't fly.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Hey, this is a strange post, since I'm addressing people not in the leftist loop with this one, but here it goes: Why do they hate us? It's not us that they hate it's what our government has been doing in our name that they hate. If the question stands at "why do they hate us?" then there will never be an answer and never be a solution---because 'us' is such a large, broad, existential term that even if we could pinpoint it we couldn't do much to change it. You can change the government's foreign policy, though. That's not nearly as hard.

This really hit me when I visited Washington D.C. recently. If you ever want a sterling example of how the government is totally disconnected from the people, visit D.C. The place is unlike any other city in the U.S.: it's practically paved with gold it's so built up; the downtown sparkles, the subway probably rivals the famed subways of Moscow. All the government buildings are built in Roman imperial style, which exudes a constant message of 'Power'. Power, not democracy, power.

Imagine a city in which there are all the resources for any amount of beurocratic scheming available, where the Pentagon is a few minutes drive from the Capital, which is a short walk from the White House and where all the federal beurocracies are housed in buildings that you'll pass along the way.

Best part about D.C. is that it's far from any city which has some sort of mix of industry and commerce which would counteract it. D.C. was built for government by government, and so, as opposed to a place like New York City, there aren't any natural checks on it in the form of industries pumping money into the economy. Richmond is pretty near, true, but it's a regional city which, to my understanding, is pretty much limited to transacting the business of the Tobacco companies. But D.C. is isolated both geographically and psychicly. As was Versaille. It's instructive to note the kind of politics that went down at Versaille.

It's also instructive to note that the other capitals that have been constructed from scratch have served authoritarian governments: Saint Petersburg was constructed for a modernized autocracy in Russia, Brazillia was constructed by the Brazillian dictatorship for much the same reason--streamlining administration, keeping it out of the hands of the people.

Even though commerce and industry dominate the large cities, the idea of a seperate city devoted purely to government, which can act independently of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, is a very scary thought. If government were decentralized there would be much less of a chance of an imperial America hitting the scene.

A prime example of this is the new Homeland Security Department: the idea put forward by the Pentagon that it should be able to monitor every purchase a person makes is insane everywhere except DC. In NYC it would be laughed at, because everyone knows there that you can't even comprehend the volume and flows of money and decisionmaking that go into making America run, much less chart every single purchase. But the Pentagon is a monument to such concentrated power, as is the State Department and the FBI, along with the usual suspect of the CIA, not to mention the NSA--which has it's own city in Virginia.

People who live in DC and environs know that such idiocy is possible because they come into contact with it every day.

Compare it to the Soviet Union: in the GOSPLAN, the central economic planning agency, centered in Moscow, I'm sure the idea of administrating an entire economy was very plausable, while for people living in tiny towns in the provinces the government for them probably meant stupidity and inefficieny.

Interestingly enough, I've trashed DC to the ground without ever saying something against the U.S. as people commonly understand it. Think about that. We don't need Rome, we need localized government. Decentralized. If it was harder for beurocrats to think that totalitarian schemes were workable they'd try less. And hey, maybe if government was actually in the hands of the people when citizens of foreign countries looked to the U.S. government maybe they'd see an image of the U.S. closer to what we see ourselves as.