Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Killed for free speech running tab has been updated: it now stands at at least 25 people murdered, possibly 27....the second incident may have killed 15 instead of 13....the new incident is documented Here

Didn't Bush respond to hecklers in Dearborn, Michigan, by saying "Isn't Free Speech great?". Yeah, isn't it? You kill people for it over there, and you think we won't know that you'd do the same over here if you got the chance?

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Killed for Free Speech in Iraq running tab...

Inspired by Iraqbodycount.net I've decided to keep a running tab of how many people who have demonstrated against the U.S. in Iraq have been murdered by U.S. soldiers....

The total, as of now, is 23.

I'm getting my info from Commondreams.org and other such sources, like This article and This article

Macabre as it may seem, outrageous as it may seem, this stuff is actually happening, and I intend to keep on posting links to articles documenting it which I've gleaned from my web searching.....

This is another complementary happening to such things which have been happening in the U.S. like families being forced to give up their children to the State so that they can get psychiatric treatment, damn.....I'm not going to go on with this laundry list, it's too much.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

With sad eyes and a heavy heart......

I'm going to go out on a limb here; instead of talking about dead issues or about analyzing things after the fact I'm going to jump right into the middle of something and give a judgement; maybe what I have to say will come to pass, maybe it won't. Maybe this article will have some sort of an impact on the situation, although I doubt it.

So here it goes: Radicalism is dead. Revolt isn't dead; iconoclasm isn't dead; thinking for yourself isn't dead; non-conformity isn't dead; opposing the system isn't dead; but radicalism has, at least for me, and I suspect for a lot of other young people, gratefully passed away.

It's important to make clear what exactly I mean by this; when it comes to radicalism, you can't get much more extreme than the Bush administration. When it comes to radical social programs, you can't get more extreme than the social darwinist mode of public policy that's currently being enacted----letting people suffering from the recession hang out to dry because of free-market dogmatism.

We've had too much radicalism, we being people of my general age group (<25). In fact, my age group and the people slightly older than us defined ourselves by our not buying into the false radicalism of eighties bullshit cock-rock and the fratboy ethics that came with it, as well as, to a certain extent, the punk philosophy which screamed out "Nooo future" but didn't give a very good alternative.....to a certain extent because punk did have some good ideas......

What was alternative culture formed as an alternative against? Sixties and Seventies liberalism being perverted into the ethics of Motley Crue and Poison, in my humble opinion.

Sixties and seventies ethics include the sort of radicalism that neo-conservatives love to rail against, the sort of thing where people were more than happy to set society on fire and jump on it's burning embers; I'm not against what happened then, it was an immensely positive thing, but it's run it's course.

Camille Paglia gave the opinion that there's no more establishment to revolt against and that the task for radicals today was to come up with something constructive with the freedom that the people in the sixties and seventies established for us. I wholeheartedly agree. But the problem I'm talking about runs deeper than that.....

In the left today we have many different currents, mostly anti-globalization and anarchism. I'll focus on Anarchism since it's where I most locate myself. Within Anarchism, even, there are a whole bunch of different tendencies and beliefs, and simplistic equations, like "it's only the so and so's who break windows, etc..." don't really apply. Nevertheless, the Anarchist movement has been the last bastion of destructive radicalism, whose flame has been kept alive by gutter punks turned political activists, who see nothing wrong with wanting to destroy society even further than it's already been destroyed.

They're loud, and they're influential because of that and because of constantly invoking the "I'm more radical than thou" attitude. But I fear their time has come. They don't have numbers, and I believe that the rest of the radical left which is developing, around people of my age, is leaving them behind in ideology and orientation.

The sixties and seventies flame of radicalism was coopted in the eighties to sell frat boys on partying; and has been limping along as a semi-establishment creedo since then; the gutter punks in the Anarchist movement are only the latest incarnation of a capitalist approved ideology.

What they can never, ever, live down, no matter how hard they invoke the "more radical than you are" card, is the fact that the rebellion that they're advocating is in line with all of the negative things that have been happening to society, and therefore the facts are against it being any sort of rational response to the situation of the world at large.

I'll give you an example; you want to smash society and start over again? Why not go down to a ghetto that's been taken over by drug dealing gangs. Society has been smashed there and a new start has begun, with lex talionis as the law of the land. Maybe it would be better, instead of advocating smashing society even further, to try to work for there to be less lawlessness in ghettos, to work for conditions where families wouldn't be torn apart and communities destroyed by poverty, neglect, and discrimination.

You see where I'm going with this? How many people do you know who grew up with their parents divorced? Maybe instead of smashing the familial structure even more it would be better to invest in strong human relationships which are stable? I'm not talking traditional, I'm just talking not atomized to oblivion.

I believe in civilization; or at least, if that word is too loaded for some people, in Society. Now, within the realm of Society I'm for the most radical change that can take place, in many areas. It's not for nothing that the links page of this blog is chalk full of radical socialist and anarchist organizations. But, all this change is predicated on the idea that there's something which exists which shouldn't be taken down; it's not a total radicalism. It's predicated on the idea that for social change to work there has to be a society to change in the first place and so is implicitly against schemes which would seek to totally take it down in the spirit of sixties and seventies radicalism.

In my eyes, in my heart, the spirit of the sixties is dead. The last remnants of the radical urge for destruction, the anarchist gutter punks, are destined to be out gunned and outnumbered by Anarchists and other radical leftists who want a society that's not anti-intellectual, that's not anti-education, that's not pro-partying away with abandon and fucking your life up permanently with drugs.

What's come to replace the spirit of the sixties could be called the spirit of the nineties, which is a radical spirit tempered by a conservative understanding of society and of the world. If you want an example of this go read some of Douglas Coupland's novels. Although the comparison is widely dispirit, Roger Scruton's picture of the Czechslovakian intelligencia under Communism which he portrays in his article "Why I became a Conservative" is a more accurate picture of how the Left may be starting to see itself than is the picture of the stoned hippy with dreadlocks and a tie-died shirt.

Scruton paints a picture of people in various states of poverty, who have been barred from pursuing their professions in public life, who never the less struggle on in private studying, thinking, trying to keep reason and real ideas alive for themselves, at least, trying to keep history and their own lives and place in it from being erased. "Engaging in a massive exercise of Amaneusis, Plato's term for bringing the implicit memory of things to the surface" I'm paraphrasing, obsessively meditating on the history of their country, history which isn't even acknowledged by the ruling Communist regime....

That's us. That's how I see myself anyways. It fits the sensibilty of the New-New Left much better than does that of a white Rastafarian putting dreads in his hair and smoking down listening to Bob Marley and proclaiming his love of humanity.

So, on that front, I'm saying I quit.

I quit from having to engage in radical posing in order to feel that I'm part of the radical left.

I quit from having to pay lip service to ideas which would break an already fatigued culture because of some unknkown obligation not to rock the boat.

I quit all this goddamn macho posturing.

I quit feeling that I have to immitate Jim Morrison to be taken seriously.

I quit movementism.

I quit having to move with the fashion.

I need a break, and I don't want to fuck my body up with ANY repeat of Arthur Rimbeaud's strategy of gaining wisdom by the derangement of the senses.

I don't need to be ON all the time in order to do good work.

I don't have to act like a speed freak possesed by some sort of Genius spirit in order to come up with clear reasoning.

I quit having to act like a goddamn rebel.

Like an e-mail article that's going around says: frat boys are putting up pictures of Che Guevara up on their walls. The role of the Rebel is dead. It's a dead horse that needed to be shot, and now I'm abandoning it to the jokers who have taken it over.

You can have your blow out revolution if you want, but me and everyone else on the left who has felt the brunt of social decay rather than having just advocated it are going to have our own revolution without you.

Maybe you can all go to a dessert island somewhere where we'll keep you all supplied with weed and booze and condoms so that you'll leave us the fuck alone.

Our revolution will be a return to sanity and human values, not the disgrace of them by excess committed under a misapprehension of what freedom and liberty mean.

Friday, April 25, 2003

My computer ate my long thoughtout essay on Guild Socialism; but that's what I'm now kind of aligning myself with....will write more later. Oh, and check out Colin Falck's "Myth, Truth, and Literature: towards a true post-modernism", it dovetails mightily with what I call Neo-Romanticism, although I don't agree with precisely everything he writes....but, like the lost essay on Guild Socialism, this would take an awful long time to reconstruct, so I'll save it for tommorrow, and will come up with a good essay outlining my change to Guild Socialism by then also....
Two topics for this nites blogging: Colin Falck's book and Guilld socialism.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Looking back on all these links has been a painful experience;

I've been "on the road", associated with counterculture, since I was twelve years old. This means that I'm approaching the boundary where I'll have been involved in the counterculture for the majority of my life pretty damn swiftly......

It's also brought to the surface the realization that people don't get involved in counterculture at such an early age unless there's something profoundly fucked up in their lives; this fits me, won't go into it though....

Of course, this is what conservatives have contended for years motivates people who get involved with such things, political and otherwise; but if that was really all there was too it I wouldn't have discovered politics and political ideas which have since my discovery taken on such mass followings----anti-globalization and anarchism.

One thing, the thing which connects these two facts, is that I'm pretty sure my fuckeduppedness in terms of family life was indicative of larger trends in society, which have coalesced into some of the problems that I'm dealing with politically now.

I don't think this has been discussed or proposed before. I mean, there has to be a reason why dysfunctionality happens, it can't just all be random. In my case, the dysfunctionality of my early life, or the things which ultimately caused it, have come around again and are embodied in the problems we're having now----and actually were contributing to it in the Clinton era, although I won't get into the minutia of all of that.

It's unexpected. I never thought that I'd be hooked up into a larger political and social movement; it's been a long, hard journey........I'm not sure that people who have hooked into all of this just recently can really understand what it's like to be the only person in your community that has a vague understanding of the ideas you believe in, or what it's like to have the culture at large be totally unaccomodating to any of your values, or to be regarded as crazy because you're the only one who thinks that things are important....

Oh well; this blog isn't a confessional, but you know,

I remember an interview conducted with an NYU person who had just gotten involved with the anti-globalization movement, who said that when he was at NYU and he heard about the protests going on in Seattle, that he thought to himself "This is were it's happening, I have to get involved".

I wonder, you know, if people like that can possibly have any clue about what it's like to have sacrificed an entire decade of your life being an outcast because you've been forced there by the shit going on in your personal life, home life, community life, etc.... with no fashionable NYU style out in sight.

I gambled, and it payed off; but it only payed off because society was fucked up and not just my personal life.

What a victory.

Hell of a lot more links up; what I actually believe in rather than what happened to be on my mind when I started this site....
Here be more free stuff;

The A-Infos Radio Project is bar none the best resource for lefty-political MP3s as well as Alternative media MP3s.....it's all free and fun..
'Nother new link: The InterActivist Info Exchange, hosted by Autonomedia....if you want to find out what's currently going on in the realms of Autonomous Marxism as well as general Ultra-Leftism...go to this site. It's live, it's hooked into the authors of the field, and it get's updated a lot.
Yet More Free Stuff....

Don't let the name fool you....the Liberty Library at Constitution.org is a prime resource for everyone concerned with American political history as well as post-medieval political thought in general....AND IT'S ALL FREE!!!!

Same goes for the McMaster University Archive, based out of Canada....this is especially good because it gives you an extensive collection of economic writings which go waaay beyond Marx and Adam Smith.....if you want to understand economics, radical or otherwise, in a totally new way, then this site is the place to go to to look for inspiration....
More Free Stuff....

On your left you will notice the addition of gdlive.com......acting on the maxim "Knowledge just has to be free" I'm adding to the free net resources available through this blog by..........Gigabytes worth of Live Grateful Dead files available for free at no cost....as well as high quality SHN files....all you have to do is download them, listen to them, burn 'em onto CD, and then listen to them again on whatever CD player you so choose....

No strings attached; just good Grateful Dead music....and I can attest to the fact that the files they have up there are some of the most sought after and good shows that exist in the land of Deaddom.....just check out the 1970 shows around May 1st, I believe, with NRPS, where they were doing the "An evening with the Grateful Dead" shows.....or check out some shows from the '76 tour, or the ones from '94 and '95, or the mid eighties....well you get the picture....

Call it instant Karma and a manifestation of Deadhead goodwill....and enjoy...
Well all....

I know I said I wouldn't mix my personal, er, religious beliefs with the main blog, but this is a special case----I've found something that's free!!!!

Better than just interesting, or consonant with my personal beliefs, something for nothing is something that almost nothing beats, and therefore I'm sharing it with you. Plus, ye old Mystic shop doesn't have the links side bar that the main blog does.

So what is this wonderful, FREE, discovery? Well, it's that Kessinger Publishing, basicly the main source for otherwise unobtainable esoteric books, has put every single one of their books up on the Ebrary system for free. What this means is that if you download the Ebrary software you can read Kessinger's entire catalog for NOTHING from the privacy of your own home.

Let me explain the magnitude of this; Kessinger deals with reprints whose copyrights have run out---it functions by printing them using high quality Xerox machines and binding machines......they are, in fact, a precursor to the current fad of print-on-demand books....but the downside is that all of Kessinger's reprints are tre expensive. Don't believe me? How about $35 dollars for a 350 page book, or $16 for a fifty page book. Or more.

Happily, this isn't because of Kessinger trying to gouge people but because of the expensiveness of their printing and binding process; Kessinger has proved themselves to be out there for the propagation of otherwise unobtainable knowledge by putting every single one of their fucking books up on the Ebrary system.

Want to know the secrets of the Freemasons? Check out Ronayne's book, and then the two volume set of Scottish Rite illustrated handbooks.

Want to know about Alchemy? Step right up for the Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, the works of Ripley, Thomas Vaughan, Elias Ashmole, etc....

Curious about Rosicrucians? Well, check out the first four rituals of a bonafide Rosicrucian organization called the Societas Rosicrucianea in Confederatis Americae.....

Wonder about ancient mystery religions? Step right up and you can find all you want about Orpheism, the Bacchae, the Eleusinian mysteries, etc.....

Curious about Druid Freemasonry(I'm serious, check it out), well....they can acomodate you on that too.

Makes me want to sit out on ye olde veranda with my laptop and a mint julep skimming through the secret mysteries of the ages and appreciating the good life.....

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Hot Damn!

I finally finished reading Generation X by Douglas Coupland. Damn thing has been coming and going in and out of my life for over a year now.....thankfully, apart from the dreadful postscript which I hope was only added in a later printing, Coupland has decided on the same way out of this mess as I discovered for myself----embrace the post-modern!

They go heading off to Mexico, which is appreciated for all it's weirdness and strangeness to try to start a better life....

God,that book has so many wonderful images, themes, vignettes, metaphors, it's scarcely believable....Coupland clearly admires Rilkean exploration of images and perceptions, and executes unique hermeneutic stories which relie for their substance on inner knowledge of the human experience in excellant style and form.

Through deviance lies the door to something new.....
Reaction or Resurgence? Persistance of Tory philosophy in U.S. social thought as evidenced by periodic outbursts of intense patriotic and xenophobic fervor.

This is a thesis and an outline.

America has a strange dual character: on the one hand we've had political democracy longer than almost any country in the world, and on top of that have a strong tradition of civil liberties, at least in the popular conception of things.....but on the other hand America and Americans have an equally strong tradition of falling in line with leaders, persecuting people who don't agree with them, discriminating against people percieved to be part of "the enemy", and executing mob violence against them.

Usually, this pattern happens when the powers that be declare war on another country; in World War I the patriotic fervor was jacked up beyond anything we're seeing now, and the pesecutions against people of German descent and then against Socialists and Anarchists after the Russian Revolution, ran extraordinarily deep and bloody.

One person commented in Clamor magazine about the change of tolerance for civil liberties between now and then by saying that during World War I, if you were an IWW member, the FBI could come into your house, beat you up, and castrate you, and there would be nothing that anyone could do about it. And it would be accepted by the community at large as just.

Historians have tried to explain away things like that, if they don't ignore them completely. One of the most prominent apologists was Richard Hofstadter, author of "The American Political Tradition", a consensus historian who tried to prove that underneath all of the political and philosophical differences which American political leaders have had lied an implicit welfare state liberalism. This was branded the rational position in American politics, with the outbursts of violence and persecution which tended to ruin his thesis branded examples of irrational mob action by the unenlightened people.

But was it really irrational? Is the patriotic fervor that's going on right now really just the product of people who don't have a grasp on politics at large, as followers of Hofstadter might argue?

To put it another way, how many examples of irrationality have to crop up before one starts to question if they're really isolated incidents or whether they're examples of a current in American social and political thought which isn't acknowledged and hasn't been examined too much by historians and sociologists, and political scientists?

Going from personal experience as well as readings regarding the history of such incidents, I believe that they do evidence a pattern which goes well beyond "irrationality". There's an underlying set of principles that serves as the foundation for these outbursts: The president or other leader is completely right in doing what he's doing, we should all do our patriotic duty by obeying him and agreeing with the principles that he's espousing; These principles are integral to "Americanism" or "American identity" and so the violation of them is therefore a negation of American society as a whole; Religious doctrines, specifically those of protestant Christianity, provide a sure framework for interpreting events and so should be acknowledged by people both as an essential part of public life and as another authority which every American should agree with and acknowledge as possesing wisdom.
People who dissent from these principles are not just citizens in a democracy voicing an alternate opinion but are voicing principles and ideas which threaten the integrity of the state/nation/religious life of the country/ as a whole and so shouldn't be afforded the consideration that civil rights in a democracy entail.

I think that's a pretty good summary of what's underlying a great deal of the "irrational" incidents in American history; and examination of these principles proves that far from being random, or being Fascist, as some have suggested, they are instead part and parcel of a political tradition which was thought to have died out or to have never taken root in America: namely, Toryism.

Admittedly, these are extreme cases. The average Tory in Great Britain or Canada wouldn't go around asking for violent persecution of people who did not conform to the norms of the state, but undeniably, the conception of life which the British and Canadian conservatives put forward has much in common with the logic and principles behind the "irrational" outbursts that have taken place in American history.

For example, an idea which has some resonance with Tory thought in Great Britain was put forward by Michael Polanyi, and states that the basis of all freedom and civil rights within a state is social and religious uniformity---multiculturalism or multinationalism, seriously divergent views regarding religion and social attitudes, create a disordered society where a person can't find the true freedom to express his or her views in full and lead a life which exemplifies the values the person holds.

Without that social agreement there can't be social progress manifested as freedoms and civil rights, in this view.

Surely there are paralells between this doctrine and what we're seeing now regarding the ostracism of cultural figures who dare to step out of line with the patriotic consensus, and surely this sort of demand for uniformity is finding popularity with people who are content to do things like rename foods or persecute people which are associated with a country that is currently viewed by the administration as being against us.

Not to mention everyday persecution of people who appear to be of middle eastern descent or who show an interest in Islam.

The hero worship factor is currently in full swing as well, with several books extolling the virtues of George W. Bush becoming instant best sellers, and currently featured at all book stores.

I should interject that all of these facts do not lead up to the fashionable charge of "Fascism". Fascism is known to us because it declared itself to be a new political movement and self consciously took power as such, with the aim of reworking the state and society, and at least putatively presented it's philosophy as a cohesive set of principles new to the world. Black shirts in Italy marched on Rome very visibly and took over; Freikorps and Brown Shirts also very self consciously became active, persecuting people according to a new doctrine; Hitler led an aborted Civil War against the Bavarian state before his movement took power.

All of these actions, and more, mark Fascism as not just an intensification of rightwing doctrine but as a movement which saw itself as something different, as a revolutionary conservatism, if you will.

None of the above is found in the current sorry state of America. And although mobs and gangs may have played parts in previous persecutions, with the possible exception of the KKK none of them either stayed around for long or had a cohesive doctrine like the Fascists and the Nazis did.

They were just people ready and willing to persecute according to the commands of the President and his administration.

And besides, with no doctrine or set of beliefs uniting the mob violence throughout American history there has to be something else within American culture which time and time again is invoked and brought to the surface during these times of persecution.

I suggest that Toryism in action and belief would be a good model from which to inquire about the roots of these persecutions; theoretically, it shouldn't exist here, and according to some of the founders shouldn't have been brought here at all by the good rural citizens populating this land.

But old habits die hard; especially ones that have been ingrained into European society through a thousand years of feudalism and monarchism. The thought of the middle ages which had the Church encompassing all aspects of life with it's doctrine, and which had the ruler as the regent of God who by ability was chosen to lead the people, who were expected to follow his direction in non-spiritual matters, dies hard.

If, as I outlined in a post below, we are to reimagine American history in order to find the continuities between life in continental Europe during the middle ages and the present, taking a look at the ideology behind seemingly irrational events which would seem to invalidate the claim of natural American liberty, would be a good place to start.

Even in America, the conservative historian Forrest McDonald, in "Novus Ordo Seclorum", has put out the thesis that the philosophy of Lord Bolingbroke, a seminal Tory, on the concept of a Patriot King, was influential in forming the attitudes of the Federalists who later created the Constitutional system.

It's an interesting thought; and one that may possibily have had some serious resonances with the population at large;

It should be noted that outside of New England there probably weren't that many people in the colonies who came there fleeing religious oppression; Puritanism was never a pan-American religious attitude and so can't be taken as an indicator for the whole. It's probable that outside of New England there was a large mix of attitudes towards the King and towards the Monarchial system, which, even with the revolution won, didn't neccesarily go away but may have been subsumed under other concepts and attitudes, and then passed on to the present.

Revolutions are never cut and dry affairs; and even considering the flight of Loyalists to Canada, it's extremely probable that there was a good portion of the American population which just limpidly assented to the cries for independence but otherwise kept their ideology, slightly modified by the political events of the day.

What else lies beneath the democratic veneer of the U.S.? I'd like to find out, and I'm sure that a lot of other people would too....
I know I've probably labored on this point before on this blog, but it seems like a good time to review the difference between innocence and virtue. Especially as it relates to the U.S.

Purity has been the watchword of American freedom since the country's inception; but the pursuit of purity isn't the best way to come to wisdom.

We live in a cultivated innocence; 9/11 demonstrated that.

But can you really call a state of innocence "Virtuous"?

Isn't innocence really the same as "not having had an opportunity to do anything bad?"

If so, can you really call someone who hasn't ever had the opportunity to prove that they're good people virtuous?

I don't think so.

Without a dialectic engagement with the world it's impossible to distinguish the truly virtuous from the repressed and fallow.

The absence of Sin shouldn't be taken to be the same as the presence of virtue.

Even though dialectical engagement neccesitates a fall from this primeval purity, the product of said engagement regarding a person's overall conduct and attitudes is a much better indication of the true moral state of their charachter than is relying on sheltering and risk-avoidance as a guide.......

Through engagement with the world the implicit facets of a person's character and personality are made explicit, through the give and take between reality and mind.

Freedom coming through dialectical engagement is superior to freedom coming from purity. It's achieved freedom rather than implicit freedom.

What does this have to do with the U.S.?

Well......the only way to get to a better America is for people to engage instead of running away from the world and from the facts. A primeval state of purity can't be maintained nor should it be. If we succeed in doing that as a nation, maybe we'll get an understanding of freedom through dialectic instead of just having an understanding of freedom through purity.
This is how bad it's gotten in the U.S.

The link above is to a Commondreams story which outlines how thousands of families in the U.S. have been forced to turn their kids over to foster homes, juvenile detention centers, and other state organs in order to get treatment for mental illness. Whoops! Did I say compell? Of course, no one is holding a gun to these people's heads and saying "Give your kids over", but for these low income families the lack of either health insurance which properly covers treatment for mental illness or a comprehensive public insurance program to help children with mental and emotional problems means that in order for their kids to have something like a halfway decent chance at a normal life they have to give them over to the State.

Once that's done, THEN the State is able to give them treatment.

So, let's recap here: Families who are poor are forced to sign over their children to the State, giving up all legal claims to them, having them disappear into the foster care system---where they'll be adopted by another family---or put into Juvenile Detention (Prison) for minor crimes, or otherwise do things which obliterate any normal sense of family life and any normal type of childhood for these children because our fucking government won't pay for medication and therapy.

Merry Christmas Kids! Arms production is going full steam ahead, as is Iraq reconstruction through Pentagon pork, but we can't pay for you to be sane and lead productive lives.

Welcome to American values, kiddo.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

We need, in other words, to cap the whig experience in America by codification of our colloquial ideas and then reintroduce America to Continental European political thought. America can be a long lost brother from the outer fringes of civilization.
Continental Europe yes, the fringes, No.
A momentous occasion; or, a change in direction regarding historical research involving political theory and philosophy.

What I use when analyzing politics and society is the historical method; I reason from the actual political movements and issues that have existed in the world and define the essential issues of politics from the text of the issues and principles that said historical experience conveys.

That is to say instead of reasoning from deduction based on a philosophical theory which comes from absolute premises I instead feel that the meat of what politics is about is revealed through what the actual playing out of political and social life brings up as relevant issues and controversies. So politics fits into the history of ideas as they relate to material life; they're assuredly determined in some respects by material life, but that's just part of the natural interplay which gives rise to political ideologies and movements in the first place.

Unlike the pure philosophical school of thought, where you can see the main authors and some of the main ideas on any syllabus from a 101 class on politics and political philosophy, my method is intensely dependent on understanding history, specifically understanding European and New World, and American, history, and suffers or is benefitted by the general level of comprehension of the same that I, as a researcher, posses.

So it's not clearly marked out like it would be in a 101 course; the job is harder because not only do I have to be aware of political history in Europe in detail that most people don't need to go into, but because I have to extract the basic principles of Western and European history from said events and use that to structure my overall view.

Ideally, as a researcher, my understanding should be so good that my personal knowledge of the subject in general
becomes transparent---it should facillitate transparently without becoming part of the object of my research and standing in it's way.

My own personal lens should be refined enough so that I can look properly without seeing the scratches and without having to refocuss.

Unfortunately, dear readers, I'm the product of the American educational crisis; and so it's a wee bit harder to get a fix on things than it would be if this were someplace else.....So refocuss I must do.

In particular I must refocuss my ground that I base my political understandings on from. Ground, in this case, is a German term that means something like foundation, but lacks the implications of construction that foundation has; a Ground would be the base by which a foundation and a house would be built. So it's a more general, but important term.

My Ground with regards to political philosophy has changed.

After looking into the origins of the American, and the Anglo, political understandings and the movements and parties which have flowed from them I've decided that the American, and the Enlightenment era English, model for political discourse is insufficient.

The Whig version of history, which looms large on this webpage (if you look in the archives you'll see an awful lot related to it) is just not representative or typical of European political thought at large; it's an extreme outgrowth, but it's one that leads to a dead end. It's not, as some people would have it, a system that's better or more representative because it comes from the extreme fringe.

The Whig understanding of things, which says that tribes in England enjoyed primitive Utopia before the Norman invasion, and that the country folk of England still preserve that memory, and that that memory was transplanted to America where it finally was able to flourish and create a land endowed with the primeval freedoms of before---a new Utopia, as many of the founders believed America to be---is totally insufficient when trying to understand the whole of European history past present and future.

The Whig understanding of politics and history cannot even account for it's own origin; for in researching English history it becomes clear that the idea of a primitive Utopia before the invaders came has been an idea which every group which settled England and then became the victims of new invaders, or of new Royal Houses taking over, pines over. First you have the Celtic Brithons having their legend of King Arthur, who will one day rise up and overthrow the Anglo-Saxons, then you have the Whig version of history, which coming later nevertheless romanticizes the Anglo-Saxon past, then you have people who yearn after the days of the Houses of York and Lancaster, then the Tudors, then the Stuarts, and then even people who see the period after Elizabeth I as a great time for the Protestant cause in Europe and who then welcome William of Orange as king after the Civil War and the Hannover claims that go with it. After all, Frederick the Great of Prussia was the Grandson of a King of England, and that's not chopped liver.

So with the dynastic and cultural battles that have beseiged England for the past two thousand years you don't see a wonderful little Utopia which was eliminated but a bunch of people and groups who are all partisans for their particular little cause trying to get power etc....

And this is what America, what the U.S.A., came out of.

Obviously taking a non-political route in evaluating European political ideologies by saying that the Whig version of history is a shortcut to something pure and true is totally wrong.

For America to undestand itself, and for it to understand the rest of the world, and for me to understand it, it has to get out of it's habit of looking at itself as a pure land which doesn't owe anything to any political movements which came before it.

So the Ground on which understanding is based has to change. For me at least, definitely.
The Whig version of history is and end, not a beginning.

So what is the beginning?

There's a word and a philosophy which isn't heard much around the U.S., which, even when it is heard isn't understood that well, but which represents the missing half of the American Revolution and of European political ideologies.

Can you guess what that word is?

It's "Tories".

The Tory party and the monarchist ideology which opposed the American Revolution is representative of a great frontier of understanding of European political history which we've totally missed out on and don't know about or understand.

Briefly, I believe that to understand Western political thought, action, and ideology, it's neccesary to go to Continental Europe and understand the interplay between Catholicism, the Holy Roman Empire as a social structure, the continental Protestant Reformation, and the city states and dynastic maneuverings of various politcal entities.

Actually, since this is a Ground and not an elaboration, the Reformation and the city states can be thrown out for now.

The basic understanding of European political ideas and political structures has to be based on the social and religious attitudes which resurrected Europe as a seperate entity from the Classical world after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Pure and simple.

This is what everything developed out of; it took some Classical ideas and blended it with the ideologies of the new rulers, and previous things, and whatnot, but it's what started it all.

Europe as we understand it today and the West as we understand it today originated from that hodgpodge of ideas and principles, religious attitudes and social customs, which the reformation of a united Europe under the Holy Roman Empire brought together.

Emporer and Pope. Church and State. Aquinas. That's where it all began, and to fully understand Western political culture of today, of the modern age, we have to trace all of those threads through the stage on which the full manifestation of them was played out and where the current definitions of Liberal, Conservative, Socialist, Revolutionary Socialist, what have you, were fleshed out through struggle.

This disqualifies England as the foci since it's always been on the periphery of Europe, even when it owned the world through the British Empire.

If we are to understand a rich political science and history, if we are to come to an understanding of political ideology which is not simply sufficient or functional but which is exemplary and wealthy in terms of richness of content and quality of content, and relevance of content, we have to examine the thought of the heart of Europe and not of the odd branches.

The Heart of Europe, where liberalism faced off against total Feudalism and Catholic absolutism and was defined by it's fight with the same, is what's the driving force underlying American poltical ideology and American political life.

We may not know it openly, and there surely has been a wide drifting of understanding as there has been in all New World countries, but if the Whig version of history is wrong then this version of history must be RIGHT.

Because nothing else accounts for all of the machinations within dynasties and between invaders and people which make up what the English people themselves know as their history.

And I think that the English understand of themselves trumps the schematic, boiled down, innaccurate, renderings of people eager to portray an English paradise before the monarchy really set in. Don't you think?

History is messy; if you want to understand history you have to go to the heart of the mess and try to sort things out instead of denying that there's a mess there in the first place.

I came to all of this as a result of studying New World countries; In the process of looking up the history of my fellow residents on these continents I found that there's an unbroken line between Brazillian political ideas and continental European political ideas. This is because of Brazil's unique history, in that it never suffered a revolution for independence but was only gradually emancipated from the monarchy. An interesting topic; but for me the importance of it lie in the fact that it afforded a view of the evolution of New World politics which presented an inroad into understanding Continental European political ideas.

Once I was there it was very hard to think in other terms. A heuristic exercise; I'm not sure what exactly this means for Brazil itself, but it facilliated my understanding of things greatly.

The Luso-Brazillian experience was fascinating because Portugal lacks the authoritarian history which has caused Hispanic countries to be marked with acute understandings of themselves as New World Countries and therefore as something different from everything else where new rules apply. This does not help research into the origins of things. It's sort of a parallel to the Anglo-American denial; With Americans the cry is that we populated a land that was empty totally independent of old Europe---and so we don't have to think about it----; with Hispanic countries the theme seems to be "We took this country from the natives and civilized it according to harsh standards that the situation required---we did things that Europe can't understand because it wasn't here and because the New World Experience is so different---so butt out of our lives. And don't Judge".

Portugal was much more accomodating. It probably goes back to the differences between the Spanish experience of the Reconquisto and the Portugese experience; Spain hardened itself as Xenophobic by going on a crusade against the Saracens and wiping out their culture. Portugal was a lot more tolerant and less crazed in liberating itself from Arab rule.

One commentator, was it Charles V? remarked of Spain that "You've wiped out everything that was unique in your country and left what could be found anyplace".

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz has fingered the Spanish experience of the Reconquisto as the formative event establishing the pattern of white supremacy and racism which came to define the colonial experience in the New World---both in the Hispanic and non-Hispanic colonies and areas. But that's neither here nor there. It's up on the web if you want to look for it.

The point is that trying to understand the heart of Western politics from a New World perspective is somewhat difficult in that the Hispanic experience isn't amenable to the type of backtracking that researching this type of thing requires.

So thank God for Portugal!

Anyways, a real political theory based on historical experience has to take into account Tory and Catholic conservatism along with feudal history; it can't be an English field trip which doesn't account for half of the political experience of the continent.

For instance---here's something interesting---Catholicism and attendant philosophies are thought to be authoritarian from the whig, english, point of view, but where does that leave Irish rebels in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to maintain a loose political system and freedom of religion against the authoritarian English and Protestant encroachments, and who were willing to help France overthrow Protestant England and put a Catholic on the throne since it would have meant MORE civil liberties and political self control, not less, than what they were getting from Protestant, politically independent, England?

Certainly Cromwell and the people who conquered Ireland before him did extreme harm to Catholic Ireland in the name of enlightened and reformed religion.......so who's the good guy and who's the bad guy here?

Is it possible for a Catholic country to have Civil Rights? Sure. Of course. Look at France; and Italy; and Austria.

Austria is probably freer than most European states on the whole.

So the idea that the English Revolution, where Radical Protestantism took over briefly and generated the somewhat absolutist philosophical doctrines which were to set the stage for English Civil Rights, and the presence of some sort of mythical la la land of free people yearning under the yoke of monarchism, or something equivalent to it, is neccesary for a modern political system is totally false.

Totally.

So we have to account for what real factors have lead to civil liberties and political democracy on the whole instead of looking at a historically and culturally closer part and abstracting everything in our political understandings from that tradition.

We cannot speak of "The West" in contrast to whatever lies beyond it if we do not understand ourselves rightly first.

True multiculturalism starts with self clarification; maybe America needs more self-clarification right now than it does multiculturalism, but it's still a side issue...........

We have to understand where we're coming from if we want to understand where we're going, and recontextualizing ourselves in the context of Continental Europe would be a good start for doing so.

So que up to learn about Tories and Monarchism and Aquinas, because it just might be what starts you on a path to understanding liberalism and socialism in a way which will be truly relevant to the future of our country and of our civilization.
Thanks for Tom Tommorrow for recommending this guy Hesiod on his weblog today in leiu of blogging, 'cause he appears to be a cynical bastard like myself who has an interesting take on things; I appreciate this. Actually, I like this. The more the merrier; this world is mighty fucked up and their ain't nothing called too much cynicism. So he's now on my links page. May victory come soon.
The Right Wing's modus operandi.

Recently, Blinded By The Right by David Brock has come out in paperback; Brock, although not associated with the right wing smear journalists anymore, is still a quintessential conservative.

A little known passage where he compares Grover Norquist to Antonio Gramsci, who Norquist is said to admire, sheds some light on how neo-con thinking operates.

Basicly, Brock takes down Gramsci by pointing out that he was short and walked with a hunch due to illness, and extrapolates from this and a few other things that Gramsci was brought into Marxism and into support of Lenin and the Russian Revolution because it made him feel good to be part of a group. Supposedly his hunch was so character shattering that he needed the support which identifying with Lenin may have given.

Then, he goes on to say that Norquist shares in at least some of the same sorts of psychological rationalizing.

But, Mr. Brock, and this goes to the heart of what's wrong with these neoconservatives, can you write treatises on playwright Luigi Pirandello? Can you speak intelligently about the aesthetics of Bennedetto Croce, or are you familiar with the French sociologists that Gramsci was? Or can you wright intelligently, again, about Machiavelli in a non-stereotyped way?

Can Grover Norquist, for that matter?

You see, these are all things that the supposedly importance seeking Gramsci was able to do. Political hacks don't write intelligently about philosophy.

Obviously Brock doesn't know anything about Gramsci's actual writings and thought beyond a version of his concept of Hegemony.

Yet he takes the superficial aspects of Gramsci's life as being all that a person needs to know about him in order to see that his writings are worthless.

Don't need to actually have read them, mind you, just need to know that Gramsci was somewhat deformed and--bling! everything else falls into place.

The neoconservative movement is essentially composed of intelligent sounding phillistines who, although they've perfected the art of Burkeian character assasination, could never come up with intellectual and cultural achievements on par with those that the people they're trashing produce.

I think that if you look closely at their philosophy you'll see that it's much the same as Hegel's view on Kant's concept of the-thing-in-itself, which is supposedly beyond reproach because of being unknowable----there's nothing there.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Friends, enemies, there's something really imporant going on which we all should be aware of and should all try to stop; people from Middle Eastern countries have dissappeared into the INS and Federal Prison system, taken without explanation, with no contact with the outside world, and haven't been heard from since.

A group called the Blue Triangle Network has been formed to act for them and try to get them released, to try to stop these illegal abductions. They take their name from the tradition which Nazi germany had of assigning various triangles for enemies of the state to wear, to make it easier for discrimination to occur and easier for shipping to concentration camps to happen.

Now we have Muslims subject to some of the same forces. And we have the Blue Triangles. Go to the web site, support these people; hopefully we can stop this before it becomes even worse.

Monday, April 14, 2003

About that little old war we had..........

The observations at "This Modern World" which Tom Tommorow posted are pretty good; my own take on it is that the anti-war movement, myself included, misjudged how strongly the Iraqi people would fight against an outside agressor just for the sake of opposing an outside aggressor; in other words, how strong they would oppose the US while being under Saddam Hussein.

I thought that they would go all the way with it, not because of a love for Hussein but because of hatred of the sanctions and of the thought of losing their sovereignity.

But what happened looks like the nationalistic impulse proved to be not enough to keep the infrastructure of the country from falling to the Americans. Probably fatigued by Hussein, the governmental structure fell easily enough through a probable lack of the all out nationalistic impulse that the Vietnamese people had in regular Iraqis. And a vaccuum opened up, and now that people don't have either a dictator to resist or an invading force to resist, since we control the place, they're rioting.

Let me clarify that point about the government and the people; my feeling was that Hussein wasn't important as more than a figurehead in the resistance to the U.S.; I felt that, implicitly, the resistance could easily go on without the Iraqi government, at least the top levels controlled by Hussein, being there. In otherwords, I failed to take into account that, yes, Saddam Hussein and his crew were really an important part of the resistance to the U.S., and that they were responsable for coordinating a great deal of the defense infrastructure against the U.S., and that with them gone, or the governmental structure defeated, the resistance would not be able to go on and the country would fall.

It's sort of like not seeing the forest for the trees; in thinking about nationalistic motivations that Iraqis might have I forgot that, yes, despite all of that, this still is a dictatorship which depends on Hussein's crew for political stability, and that with them out of the way there wouldn't be able to be this coordinated nationalistic resistance.

Hussein didn't appear as a real figure, certainly he wasn't one that I supported. The whole concept of dictatorship, that passed me by.

It wasn't as if there was a decades long resistance group under Ho Chi Minh against the French colonialists; what we had here, instead, was a group of people under a dictator who, despite their feelings for self defense, still, when it came right down to it, didn't like the fact that they had no control of their own government, and because of that maybe didn't have any reason to have the sort of Iron will that the vietnamese had for resisting outside invaders. It was strong, and probably still is on a personal level, but, hey, how much can you really expect people to fight for a person that despite all the propaganda they hate.

The comment on This Modern World that the anti-war movement thought that this was Switzerland when it looks more like Yugoslavia when you take off the repressive governmental equipment is very good; Switzerland is composed of a lot of little democracies which, without a strong central Swiss government still manage to be proudly Swiss and ready to defend local autonomy and neutrality; Yugoslavia, of course, was another multinational, heterogeneous, nation, which when the central government collapsed didn't seem to believe that much in the idea of "Yugoslavia" as a unifying factor, to say the least.

So it hits home as true.

My little scenario about not being able to defeat Iraq because there was nothing to extort failed to take into consideration that there was still a central command with real people, in hoc to a real dictator, coordinating it, and that despite the invulnerability from a "politics by other means" standpoint, that with that central coordination gone, it didn't matter what everyone else did ('cause they weren't organized into cells or something along those lines), the country would collapse and fall to the U.S.

Like I've been reiterating, there was no reason for Iraqis to go to that sort of hard core measure for self defence, so it didn't happen.

Instead, now, they're expressing their resistance by running wild and tearing the place down. They're venting their frustrations against Saddam, the U.S., and each other; how this will impact the U.S. control of the region is uncertain.

Look at me, saying things like "How this will impact U.S. control of the region is uncertain" I don't know; I'm just sitting here at a computer, I don't have inside info on this stuff. How easily a person gets into the habit of doing things like that...anyways....

I have no clue how this is going to all end up, but the rioting and the looting---well---resistance might turn to self destruction, if it hasn't already, with the social structure of Iraq going down in flames because of the new resistance to everything channeled against itself.

Great work guys! Keep it up! Maybe we can destablize a few more places while we're at it.


If you live in an area where there is, an, em, er, good college or university library that is publicly accesable I extremely urge you to go in and track down an essay by Hans-George Gadamer called "The possibility of a philosophy of ethics", it's in a volume which is entitled something like "Gadamer on Philosophy and Religion"; in it Gadamer savages Kant, who I'm somewhat inclined to like, in a way which is nothing short of a tour de force; he expresses in about ten pages what I'm only seeing unfold very s-l-o-w-l-y in the selections of "Truth and Method" that I'm reading....it's extremely impressive. He basicly argues that ethics can't be divorced from the overall way of life that a person lives, and so Kantian abstractions about right and wrong via categorical imperatives just miss the point entirely and sort of ossify a particular philosophical position. Of course, this is what Gadamer's overall philosophy is about in the first place: finding a post-enlightenment conception of self, society, and philosophy, which incororates a historical and hermeneutic view of all of that.

But, well, he unfolds it in ten pages which give armchair philosophers like me pause in considering the validity of abstract expressions divorced from the living of life. I'm all for living life, by the way. It's similar, I think to George Santayana's critique of Puritanism and the idealist tradition in the United States coming from that as opposed to the pragmatic engagement of a great section of the population......but I'll leave that to you to decide about....

I hate to be graphic, but, reading Gadamer's essay is like being conceptually fist-fucked. Truly. Makes your mind feel loose and sloppy afterwords. But now I'm going overboard. Like losing your conceptual virginity to Long Dong Silver? possibly. Not that I'm a virgin in that respect. But now I've been banned by Net Nanny for my graphic comments, if I wasn't already. So kiddies, log onto one of those free sites that doesn't filter if you want to get this site in the future.....

Surrealism. Surrealism is good too.
I should add that Magical Realism, the literary style from South America, as well as the Magical Urbanism described in an interesting book about Hispanic culture in America, are both kindred spirits to the Beat, the Post-Modern, and the Neo-Romantic........much in the way that Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters were kindred spirits, exploring the psychedelic space just as they had explored the space of low-lifes and subterranean culture, to the Beatniks.....We are Family, you and all my sisters and me....

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Kitsch, Neo-Romanticism, and the Beats...

To illuminate the principles of Neo-Romanticism further, and to show which side we're on, it's neccesary to examine the phenomenon known as Kitsch, as well as the truly Post-Modern.

The Post-Modern to me, is precisely what comes after the break up of the cultural force in American society which dominated from roughly the end of the civil war to the end of the second World War. Modernism, as a cultural force, was not something abstract and debatable. That after the Second World War it disappeared is a fact.

The Post-Modern is most visible in writing and poetry, mostly that generated by the Beats. If you compare Ginsburg's poetry with that of William Carlos Williams, or Kerouac's writings with Faulkner's, you'll see a great deal of continuity. Indeed, these were the guys they were all reading, as was everyone at that time. Take Ginsburg's later statements that he got it all from Whitman as just so much bullshit, please. But, there is an essential difference between Ginsburg and Williams, or Ginsburg and T.S. Elliot, or Kerouac and Faulkner, which can be stated thusly: although all authors explore consciousness and the experiential material of life, the modernists always subsume their explorations under an overarching theme; whether it be the decay of Southern life in Faulkner, or the polemics of Socialism in William Carlos Williams, or the more subtle observations about society which T.S. Elliot generated.

Even Henry Miller has a subtext, that of the struggle of the working class.

The Beats, on the other hand, kept the experiential information but never put a cap on it. Instead, they were satisfied to just keep on exploring the experience in depth without ever really coming to a summation.

The difference between the Modernist need for a summation and the Beat comfortableness with a lack of it is what distinguishes the Modern from the Post-Modern in literature.

William S. Burroughs creates Interzone in Naked Lunch, where everything comes together in one huge market bazaar, while Paul Bowles subsumes similar experiences under a dreary North African subtext.

After the war, and the breakup of the idea that the technocratic faith of the previous generation was really a viable alternative to religious culture---as evidenced by the Atomic Bomb as well as the scientific Racism of the Nazis, not to mention Stalinist reductionism----American culture took off in a multiplicity of directions, with more openness to new ideas than had been present before. The Beats were clearly a catalyst for this. By not subsuming everything under a greater theme, Americans were able to see the East on it's own terms, as well as examine the experience of Native Americans on theirs, among other notable enlightening experiences, for example seeing the experience of Blacks in the South on it's own terms....but anyways....

This, I would argue is the truly post-modern.....and it's connected to the current pop-culture movement which emphasizes Kitsch and things like Tiki culture and Lounge culture and Rockabilly music, and the interest with gaudy popular representations of Christ, etc....satirical lunchboxes with Soviet posters of Lenin on it, you get the picture.

The origins of this cultural movement, while obscure, clearly reflect the urge of people to explore deviate paths from establishment culture, as manifested in the fifties and early sixties. Through deviance comes knowledge and the establishment of ones own path out of the current culture and into something more viable and interesting.

This fits directly into the conceptions of Kitsch which Susan Sontag defined as being at the heart of American culture, I believe, and it also fits in with the architectural praise heaped on Las Vegas as being a quintessential American city because of it's gaudiness. This is post-modern architecture, by the way.

We're seeing a movement of young people towards culturally sanctioned deviance which stems from low culture as opposed to high, and this movement will probably yield some very interesting fruit as time goes by.

You could conceptualize the movement towards the post-modern as taking place on two levels: on the level of High Culture you have the Post-Modernism of the Beats, especially the extraordinarily literate Beats on the west coast associated with Reed College; on the level of Low Culture you have the Post-Modern as it's manifesting itself in interest with deviant Kitsch and cultural forms related to that. After all, Las Vegas might typify something about American Culture, but it surely isn't the accepted, mainstream, culture which we would like to see all around us. It's the very definition of deviance, after all.

The movement to the post-modern amongst youth culture comes as a competitor to the post-structuralist idea of culture, which has claimed it's own towns and adherents, and has generated it's own sort of counter-culture. As opposed to dour post-structuralists who dress in black, think of themselves as Avant-Garde, and intone that everything is a text and that all texts are false, and that nothing is true, the Post-Modernists show their colours by embracing the camp and the deviant, and explore those very texts that Post-Structuralists say have no value, sort of getting meaning out of them and saying, at the same time, to the dour post-structuralists "Yeah, so what's your point?".

The most sublime form of modernist oppression is that which says that since modernism doesn't work anymore, that nothing works. This, when you strip Post-Structuralism of it's garb, is what it's saying. It's why they're such a boring group of people. Post-Modernists, on the other hand, accept from the outset that there probably is no overarching meta-theme to life, but rather a whole lot of interesting side roads that a person can take and get some meaning out of, and then they take it, get the meaning, and thumb their nose at the Post-Toasties.

Post-Modernism is also a lot more congenial to Social Welfare programs than is Modernism. Ironically, the laissez-faire attitude to exploration which characterizes the Post-Modernists also leads to a realization that even if Socialism, in big neon letters, doesn't provide the answers to every problem in society, that that's no big deal; it's still been proven to really help out with SOME things, like health care etc.... and that's all that really matters...not whether Socialism is in the grand cosmic design for the next phase of all human civilization.

So Socialism in the realistic sense is OK.

The interaction between Post-Modernism, the Beat experience, and the Neo-Romantic is very deep. The Neo-Romantic seeks to liberate the experience in a Beat way through the Post-Modern. The Post-Modern is a door through which the Neo-Romantic practitioner can exit out of established society in order to eventually find his or her own way towards a reflexive, high culture, Beatnik-esque pursuit of value and true human interaction.

It opposes Post-Structuralism as life killing and obsolete.

The author himself entered into the Lost Highway which led to the Neo-Romantic through the Post-Modern, although he did not think of it like that at that time. For him, Conspiracy theory and Pop-UFO books, along with some of the weirder aspects of Drug Culture, led out of established society and into that realm of cultural freedom where one can then reflect on the world in a more intelligent, high culture, way. All of those things mentioned above could be considered Post-Modern artifacts of late 20th century culture.

Not that I'm advocating you to pursue that way, please, don't; culture has changed severly, people need to find their own Post-Modern escape hatch out of the Dominant Positivistic society---preferably one that does not destroy brain cells along the way.

The Neo-Romantic Movement situates itself along the cultural space opened up by the Post-Modern and the Beat pursuit of individualistic cultural knowledge, which exists in a sort of limbo apart from the established society as a whole. The Neo-Romantic is distinguished from the purely Post-Modern and experience seeking part of this culture in that it is not content to just sit in a small alternative it's whole existence but wants instead to take the values of this counter culture and apply them to society as a whole, to change society so that the production of strange little subcultures, the need to seperate, becomes less. The policy of Seperate but Equal is inherently unfair. This region does not exist autonomously, but is the product of the damage that a positivistic, science oriented society, based on industrial capitalism, has done to people. No matter how hard we try to forget it, the enemy is always out there.

The current ghettoization of Post-Modern culture, or more precisely of people professing to be neo-beat, or neo-romantic, is not a victimless act. Existing within our little subcultures is a nice illusion for a while, but eventually time and experience prove that society as a whole has to change for balance and sanity to be restored.

The Neo-Romantic, then, is the activist wing of Post-Modern culture, the evangelist wing, which says "You know, we're here for a reason, and eventually society willl have to change because of us; we're not here because of individual problems or inadequacies, we're here because the system has put us here, and it's the system that's going to have to change, not us."

If we choose after the revolution to stay in our little post-modern subcultures, that's our business; but at least it'll be a decision based on free will and not on compelled resistance to a corrupt system and society.

Go forth, ye apolostles of the weird, the valuable but rejected, the high and low paths of knowledge and deviance, and multiply ye-selves within the greater culture; travel under the veil of secrecy if you must, but assert the true culture, the culture of the 19th centuries in Europe and of the early 20th, and make this place more like the rest of the world....

In the words of Guizot, Enrichez Vous! Enrich Yourselves, and your culture.

Whew.....

Saturday, April 12, 2003

My philosophy.

Here ye, Here ye, all doyens of countercultural and youth trends, for I have declared what exactly my philosophy and the philosophy of a whole lot of young people my age (early twenties, y'all), is.

I call it Neo-Romanticism.

How much is this just my own BS and how much of it is really a cultural movement is for you to judge.

The Neo-Romanticist movement is based on the rejection of the prevailing Positivistic and Scientistic worldview, and the substitution of a worldview based on the idea that things which go on in the mental and social spheres obey totally seperate rules than do the physical sciences.

Therefore, the humanities and quality of life things are valued over slick tech toys and mechanistic explanations about how the world works. They don't apply, pure and simple, no matter what the conventional wisdom says.

Why now? You may ask.... where did it come from, where's it going? Well, Neo-Romanticism is an outgrowth of the vaunted Generation X movement, one which is the product of the factors which caused Generation X, (or individuals thereof) to drop out and create an alternative society being brought to a fever pitch.

Neo-Romanticism is more aggressive than Generation X because the opponent is stronger now, or was stronger during my "generation's" formative years. It's positively monstrous now, for those unfortunate enough to be undergoing adolescence at this historical juncture. Generation X was saved from becoming an activist group because they had a tangable memory of how things were before the Reagan Revolution; consequently, they didn't HAVE to react strongly in order to save their sanity; they had the firm memory that things had been different, and probably would be different in the future.

Instead of Generation X's view of the world as a culture slowly decaying, Neo-Romanticists have grown up in a world where the decay has advanced so far due to conservative control of institutions that they believe there's nothing to save and latch onto via nostalgia, but that new cultural productions are required to revivify America and American culture. Again, this isn't a matter of choice, it's a reflection of a culture where if we want anything satisfying we're going to have to make it ourselves.

Sad, but true.

This is why the Romanticist viewpoint is emphasized, as the Romanticists were people reacting consciously against a decayed conception of Enlightenment liberalism which stifled any and all human instincts not explainable by 'reason'.

A good paralell, and indeed a formative influence in this counterculture is the fact that the Situationists from the sixties and seventies, who advocated radical solutions in order to produce a new culture, have been adopted by many people as an admiral movement the time of whose ideas has come. Crimethinc advocates producing your own new culture instead of just pawing over old things that might provide some satisfaction.

We are Neo-Romanticists not only culturally but politically; the Romanticists were the first people who seriously suggested a Socialist alternative to pure Enlightenment liberalism, who put forward the view that people had collective rights on top of individual rights. Politically, we are like this because the United States has refused to honor or take notice of any trend to expand the reach of rights and social programs to areas such as health care and universal pensions, not to mention hostility to the labor movement.

In this aspect we are true heirs of the Romanticists, because, on topic after topic, the things that they dissented against have not been dealt with in this country, even though continental Europe has been familiar with these ideas for approaching 200 years.

We praise the individual advocating learning and critical thought against a technocratic state, and look forward to the restoration of the individual freedom present in the '70s, and to taking that farther than the seventies ever did.

The monolith, however, is not Ginsburg's Moloch, or precisely the thing that anti-positivistic people were dissenting against in the sixties and seventies. In those cases the machine was still on the outside of society; it had grown up in the preceding decades, and alarmed people, but it did not own society lock stock and barrel. It does now.

Dissent against the educational, cultural, capitalistic, scientific, militaristic, monolith these days isn't just a protest against a troubling trend but a fight for the very life of our society, and for our personal quality of life.

It's a choice between honoring the individual and developing cultural uniqueness and submitting to a grind of anonymous McDonalds-esque work and life which becomes a black hole with nothing at the end of the tunnel.

Technocratic society has progressed to the point where it aims to deprive people of their individual will and make them dependent on the machine and the machine culture for everything.

Anton Szandor LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, in one of his later writings, called this the "Invisible War" against individual freedom, caused by people wanting to control, drug, and manipulate the populace into submission.

The aim of Neo-Romanticism is to reverse this process. If you buy into a machine culture, don't be surprised if all you get at the end of your life is a dead imitation of satisfaction, which has been brought to you by all the right companies.

Positivism has even given rise to a particular strand of neo-conservatism, which, even as Rome is burning outside it's windows, laughs at everyone who would be so stupid as to think that the "Conventional Wisdom" brought to you by science indoctrinated elites is a fraud. It laughs while it endorses more and more senseless wasting of lives, caused by the cultural vaccuum of nothingness we live in, to drugs, alchohol, and sex used not as a fulfilling act but as an attempt to dull the pain of nothingness for a little while.

People are drugging themselves on prescribed medications, on CNN, on sex, on porn, on hero worship, on alchohol, on anything that can convince them for a little while that they have a decent stake in this life, anything that can avoid the alienation of the present and the hard truth that they've missed the boat, as we all have.

Neo-Romanticism seeks to reverse this by revivifying normal life, by taking ourselves out of the machine and creating a viable alternative, which is not just a stopgap function but the beginning of a construction of a new, viable, humane, type of society, which will eventually make it's way into the mainstream and effect it.

Bring back what's important in life, give up your toys, your little cell phones, your pursuit of bigger and bigger machines, and greater integration into the machine hive, through video games etc... and discover the human in life; discover the connection between a living being and a living being, pursuing goals which come out of the human experience and not out of a factory. Practice being, and doing, instead of having, and existing.

Cultural stagnation can't end by itself. We've moved into a decadent phase where it becomes clear daily that the machine can't produce anything truly new or original. Culture has stopped; the musicians and stars of the past have not been superceded by anyone or anything new in a long time.

Time to drop out and forge something new. Not founded on ideology, but founded on humanity.

Before Castro became a dictator, he famously declared that he didn't stand for Communism but for Revolutionary Humanism; I think that's a good summary of what Neo-Romanticism is after.

Will this declaration be heralded by nothing at all but silence and irrelevance? Will it resonate with people and inform them of trends in their own lives? I can't say; but I do know that I'm not the only freak out there, and that there are a great many others who agree with my rough philosophy and roughly live the same type of life that I'm living.

Whether we constitute a real social movement, or will someday, is another matter.

Again, History will decide.

Friday, April 11, 2003

I believe in the Organic Society....more to come...
OK, I'm going to go back on something I said.....

Amazing! How about that?

Well, shortly after the war started I aired my view that Bush was basicly stepping on uncharted waters that could lead to very destructive and unpredictable consequences for both domestic U.S. politics and for the situation of the world at large.

My mistake was in thinking that Bush was, like Nixon wanted to portray himself, a "madman" who would really be stupid enough to do something like this without having any sort of a grand strategy in mind; certainly this is how the liberal and left press, what's left of it that is, would like to portray it.

However, for some reason---hey, maybe motivated by the revelation that that guy used leased intelligence from a private firm on his blog and claimed it as his----lately I've been doing a little research.....reading some of the only journals out there that have something mildly objective and interesting to say these days.

What is it? The Progressive Labor Party news? The Revolutionary Worker? The Workers' Vanguard? No, silly, it's not a stupid partisan rag; it's the Janes family of magazines and newsletters, available at all good universities and colleges.

Specifically, Janes' Intelligence Review, a monthly magazine put out by and for the intelligence community, which is perfectly legal to obtain; contains no classified documents, kind of; and has the news as the people who really have to make the decisions see it.

Why isn't this great magazine available in more places? Well.....it costs about $400 dollars a year to subscribe to, and combined with Janes' Defence Weekly would cost around $1000 yearly to get Janes' goods. Hence the University route.

Well, what's been discovered in these forrays into the worlds of spies and drug dealers and private armies---the main topics of debate, so it seems. Easy. The Bush camp has indeed issued some real policy directives---particularly one aimed at Africa concerning the Bush administrations' views about the current continent-wide wars that are going on.

Janes makes it plain what orientation the Bush administration has adopted----Bush now supports a series of strong states with authoritarian rulers in Africa, as opposed to the Clinton administration's stress of economic unity and free trade. The Bushies have largely given up those two goals---which weaken central control by the state even if they increase the power of corporations---and have decided to support strong men claiming direct power over disputed territory in Africa as the solution to the social crisis going on their.

Africa had previously been moving towards an EU style confederation of central African states---it appears that this proposal isn't going to go far as long as the Bush administration holds power over Africa.

What does this mean for the U.S.? Well, you know when the dust settles it's going to be apparant that Bush isn't that crazy and that his policies aren't the result of a severe error in judgement but are instead carefully crafted by outside conservative policy planners and are only disguised as millenarian and apocolyptic in order to woo the populace as a whole. Eventually, in due time, that effect will wear off----but we'll still be stuck with Bush and his policies. So what will the United States look like when the curtain is lifted and the rational Bush programs are revealed?

I'm thinking massive statist capitalism in the style of Prussia----where Nationalism and Patriotism were used as a prod to get people to support an extensive state even though the prevailing philosophy at the time was anti-statist and pro-democracy.

When everything is said and done I wouldn't be surprised to see the administration try to formally institutionalize the patriotic fervor that's now gripping the nation as a sort of Hegelian form of Statism combining respect for the patriarchical family with a nominal respect for free operations of businesses----circumscribed by state initiatives and laws albeit.

This would mean a melding of ideology and society as a whole---which has been a conservative aim for a long time---but not in the style of the Nazis and the Fascists but rather in the weaker form of the right wing continental conservative governments which existed prior to World War One.

Along with this would be an institutionalization of oligarchical control over government offices----possibly through a patriotism test which would limit candidates for executive office.

When the time comes for Bush to formally give up power we could very well see a coeterie of accepted patriotic civil servants just assume that they are the pool from which future governments would be formed and thereby preserve their stake in office for a very long time.

Over and over again, well before I came across Janes Intelligence Review, a statement by Paul Tillich, the protestant theologian, in his book "Tillich in Dialogue", has haunted me. Tillich was a Christian Socialist and an opponent of the Nazis, as well as being a representative of the "neo-orthodox" school of Protestant Theology, which was called "neo-orthodox" because it heretically believed that god still existed in light of modern philosophy and science.

But anyways, Tillich in the book talks about how life was in Prussia before the first world war; he said that yes, it was an authoritarian state, where people couldn't actually influence policy effecting their daily lives---but that if you didn't rock the boat in that way that it was possibly the freest society in the world at that time. He meant that if, by not buying into the constant Prussian nationalism about the destiny of the German State you thereby marginalized yourself from any position in public life---or in corporate life---then yes, you in your marginalization were pretty darn free to do anything you wanted, presumably if you were successful in avoiding patriotic mobs intent on persecuting those who didn't agree with the governing philosophy, but anyways.....I've thought again and again that that's where we're going.

It's not a good place; but at least it's something to hold onto and to oppose beyond assertions that Bush and his crew are somehow insane and are leading us over the precipice---but are somehow also conniving to get the oil.

You see, those two ideas don't gel well together; either Bush is just putting on an act with this apocalyptic talk and following the script that his very rational handlers have concocted or he's threatening to destabilize the world and with it U.S. access to the very raw materials he's putatively pursuing. The two ideas don't go together; either he's irrational, or he's a cynical planner---or a knowing and willing participant in cynical planning. He can't be both. And the administration can't be both either.

I'm putting my money on the idea that Bush is just putting on all of this religous and apocalyptic garb and rhetoric for show and to mislead people about the way this war is really being conducted and what the Bush administration's foreign policy plans really are.

So sue me.

History, as Castro said, will either prove me right or wrong.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

The question of human development:

The way I see it, the prime contributions of the West are the facts that through a series of successive revolutions and popular struggles people in the West progressively gained control and restrained governmental and economic power over their lives. This has led to situation where people are substantially freer to develop as individuals---regardless, to a degree, of what place in society they were born into.

The question of freedom and liberty devolves, in practical terms, into whether a full human life where a person get's to develop their capacities and use them in the world is possesed by the many or by the few. Because, lest we think that development is a product of the modern world alone, there have always been the few at the top who have had the opportunity to live fully realized lives, no matter how wretched the status of the many was.

History up until the 16th century in Europe was largely a history of the goings on of princes and kings----the people who had the resources and could live like real people---acting on behalf of people that they supposedly represented. So you, as a peasant, could till your soil for a subsistence living while following the news of the King's exploits, or the latest gossip about the prince that you were enjoined to when he went away to Court, and derive a spectator's satisfaction while your own life was ground down into the mud.

The wars of religion, which were about restraining undo religious power over people and NOT about destroying religion, then the civil wars against the state, and then the rise of the labor movement and socialism acting against the economic powers of the land, changed that---offered an opportunity for advancement and participation by a substantially large number of people. Universal education was established, and serf's bonds were broken.

But, I think, the model of liberty described above is not set in stone, not even in America. It's like there's two countries, or even two universes out there----in one the model of liberty predominates and people adjust to it and thereby pursue their own interests regardless of what the community says---in the other a person's status is set in stone, and the objective of life is just to shut up and follow orders.

The United States represents the universe of liberty to the world because the other model---the spectator's model---is all too familiar to people. But the libertarian ideal either exists or it does not. Power has a fulcrum which, if it's turned over, changes the whole thing more drastically than any evolutionary development would. This revolutionary change is what has produced the land of liberty within the United States--and is what people around the world want for their own lives and country's. However, there's a concerted effort to overturn this development in the United States---and to substitute instead of liberty supplication for a more tolerant form of authoritarianism.


People don't seem to understand that the form of government where one presses for the heels of the oppressors boots to loosen up a little bit and the one where government is controlled by the people and it's policies are dictated by the people are qualitatively different things. Not just a matter of degree---a matter of kind.

If we give up to Bush's view of America we won't just have lost a few decades progress to democracy we'll have lost the gains that four hundred years of struggle have brought us. To let this pass without a whimper is unconscionable in the extreme.

The realization of this fear would mean that the neo-conservatives are right, that society, for whatever reason, has lost the basic understanding of the world which led to the liberty we now enjoy and is then bound to decay back to a state of sophisticated authoritarianism, or dictatorship + technology.

That would be too much; because rights lost to a qualitative change in the system of government are not going to come back easily, to say the least. If the lights go out on America we'll soon find that there aren't many places out there that can truly offer us help in getting ourselves out of this; instead, we'll find a constellation of states headed by dictators similar to our own, and we'll finally realize what boat we're in.

Fight for democracy. If the center of the Empire looses it's ability to stop the actions of it's lieutenants then the rest of the world is in serious trouble. We're not just talking about the rights of a few already priveleged people here---yes, we have greater freedom than others, but the loss of it has much wider ramifications than one would think. Again, the qualitative difference. The difference between an empire commanded by a state which has a somewhat democratic political system reigning it in---or trying to---and that of one which has no democratic limits put on it's activity is serious in the extreme.

We shouldn't think that the battle is over already---to do that would be to forfeit everything the West has won, as I said before.We have a duty to stand up for our rights and use them to control our government so that rights can be enjoyed by people around the globe. So self-determination can happen, and so that there can be more societies where the mass of the people enjoy a chance instead of just the princes and the well connected.
No Joke: to the question of "Are we liberators or invaders?" I have an observation----a few days ago I spotted a car driven by a short haired young man which bore two bumperstickers; the first was an Army bumper sticker "An Army of One", the second one was a bumper sticker which said "Let's Nuke their ass and take their Gas". You figure it out. I couldn't make something like this up.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

George W. Bush after the inauguration (with apologies to William S. Burroughs)

Well it was just after the inauguration; George Bush was reclining in the oval office with a few of his choice cronies, Donald Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Cheney, and the justices who assured him his office, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.......Ashcroft is supplicating Bush by giving him a ceremonial foot bath and annointing, in the manner of the apostles to Christ in the gospels. "Ah, Ashcroft buddy, that feels so good, where'd you learn to do that?" our commander in chief says, petting the red assed baboon which he has beckoned to his side for this occasion....

"Fellas" George Bush says, "There's gonna be a new appointee in town, heading up the office of homeland security", "I want you to meet Wilbur" he says, gesturing to the red assed baboon who is by this time masturbating heavily in a corner.

"Wilbur may not look like much, and he might lack, er, some of the finer social qualities, but with him at the head of the new department our security will be tighter than ever"... he says, turning his head and nodding at Wilbur, who is screeching in ecstacy.

"But Boss...." starts out Donald Rumsfeld. Interrupting him, Bush declares "Now Donny, you and the rest of the crew are going to have to get used to Wilbur being on top, er, I mean, Wilbur, as head of the new department, has authority over all of you----he only reports back to me, see? And so you'll going to have to squelch your objection." "Your position, Donny, is in Wilbur's hands now, and I wouldn't want to make the little guy mad if I were you."

"I, I" Rumsfeld manages to blurt out of his constricted throat.....Wlibur takes a look at the spectacle before him. It seems that Rumsfeld has stopped Wilbur from finishing his business.

Wilbur takes two steps and then leaps at Rumsfeld, grabbing him by his shoulders and taking him to the ground. He stands on his back and pounds Rumsfeld's ribcage, while the Secretary yelps in horror. Ripping Rumsfeld's shirt to shreds, Wilbur then moves south, smelling the congealed semen and fecal stains in Rumsfeld's pants....Snapping his belt and ripping his trousers Wlibur decides to finish what he started internally with Rumsfeld, and proceeds to viciously sodomize him with his foot long bone hard penis.

Unlubricated and commanded by an animal who knows no bounds to cruelty Rumsfeld's sensitive anal tissue is lacerated by Wilbur's thrusting, with blood now visibly coating the simian's large, red, member.

"See Donny my boy" Bush says, "The office of homeland security has decided to take your objection and shove it up your ass!" "Good boy Wilbur", he adds.

Shrieking with delight Wilbur steps up the pace and soon falls strangely quiet, having obviously deposited his primate semen into Rumsfeld's lacerated anal canal.....

Rumsfeld is semi-conscious...the primate rape was more than he was expecting from Bush.

The site of the gurgling figure of Rumsfeld on the floor makes the remaining members of the group stand back. Even Clarence Thomas, who, at the height of the Simian's sexual act could be seen stroking his own member through the cloth of his pants. He knew what could happen next.

Wilbur, by now dislodged from Rumsfeld, now retires flaccidly to a velvet backed chair which Bush has sent out for; Bush hands him a cigar and lights it for the ape.

"Was it as good for you as it was for me?" Bush asks. He looks at the simian, divining an answer, then turning to the rest of the crew in the office says "Boys, there's a new Sheriff in town. We have work to do; I think that me and you all, with Wilbur at my side, are gonna do some good things for this country."

--finis--- (for now).

HEADLINE!!!!

New widows whose children have been killed by cluster bombs may not welcome American control of their country...

Imagine that. Those durn Iraqis,can't understand them. Never thought of that one.

HEADLINE!!!!!

Killing civilians and taking their oil MIGHT be bad, I think, or maybe something like that if you know what I mean, I mean, you know, they might not, or maybe, I don't know, my head may not be far enough into my ass to grasp such basic ideas like people don't like to see their community massacred and then have the guilty parties take control of the country and say their liberating it, but then again, you know, that might be some of the extreme leftist rhetoric generated by the ANSWER crowd and that Ramsey Clark, and you know that he likes some really bad regimes, so maybe, I don't know, you know, maybe that little boy with all his limbs blown off in the hospital is silently giving us a thumbs up with his "Ghost Limb", you know, that sensation that people who've just lost limbs feel where they think they still have 'em and try to use them.....I don't know, I might be getting on too extreme territory here, I mean, how can people think that the Iraqis won't welcome us and that the Shi'ite women WON'T throw off their Hijab garb, knee down, and felate young American soldiers 'cause we liberated them?

I don't know. Candy. I like Candy. She plays with me. She throws me the Ball. Where is the Ball? I think the Ball is by the fence, where candy is, with that colored gentleman, doing the bad thing, I hope my father doesn't find out....