Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rebels With Too Many Causes

One has to be, on some level, a pacifist, in order to justify to oneself the idea that mass pathological study is itself sufficient. Christian martyrs might go to the lions, apparently losing the day, but their arguments were, at least, internally consistent:

"This is all a test, demonstrating how you are bound for Hell, while I will win forever in Heaven."

...ergo it didn't matter how many Christians were thrown to lions, or how many provinces went under Legion boots, because the triumph of evil in the real world was a proof to the supernatural aspects of the theory itself.

So, if you are all possessed of a belief in some kind of transcendent justice based upon faith, kudos!

If you're not--if you're atheists who tell people aloud that you're agnostic, weighted by a heavy awareness of the exploitative nature of a thousand years of organized human religion--then what do you have left? You can write another screed on the wrongness of throwing religious dissidents to lions. You can organize a mob to protest outside the Coliseum. You can spend decades raising awareness in the most influential residential neighborhoods of the imperial seat...and yet, the Legions will triumph in spite of all of our living-room discussions. Rotting crosses will continue to line the roads, and Senators will continue to rape Aquarii. Even if lusty, courageous barbarian heroes should someday pillage the provinces, it will not be because of any of our chatting; any of our theories; any of our indignation.

But seriously, we're losing, and none of our talking is saving any lives. It's not getting the prisoners released or stopping the bombing of children. And we know it.

Rebels With Too Many Causes

That's why we must apply a grain of salt to any of these intellectuals (ourselves included) who offer cool new analyses of the latest tyrannical act. No matter how much we like them; no matter how "right" they are: there exists a gigantic unspoken truth behind everything they say, namely, "How worthwhile is it to talk about all this?" And most of them don't answer that question. They leave it open to interpretation, and yet, even as they do all their talking and article-writing, for which they are often being paid by the very forces they condemn, they adopt the mantle of "rebel."

Here are the dissidents:

(1) The Evangelical. The Evangelical Dissident promises the eventual victory of goodness at the hands of a supernatural force. E.g., "God will make things right. Therefore, it is sufficient for us to merely hang out, discuss how stinky our rulers are, and not offer effective resistance to atrocity happening here, because this isn't the real game." The Evangelical may be wrong, but at least she is not a hypocrite. The Evangelical's genuine belief in the supernatural force means that it is consistent for the Evangelical to do her best inside an evil system, draw a paycheck from Imperial Suboffice #17-B, and resist only by posting blog articles discussing how evil the Empire is. However erroneous the supernatural claim, the claim would, if correct, vindicate the Evangelical's inaction. The Evangelical may be completely, flagrantly wrong, but at least her equations balance out.

The Evangelical Dissident's downfall is the requirement of proof: the Evangelical's promises can never, by their nature, be proven in the natural world, so her arguments are not taken seriously until people have time to contemplate being near the end and see something new. The Evangelical is highly vulnerable to a hypocrisy only she knows: if she doesn't actually believe herself, she isn't really an Evangelical, but a lying Bourgeois.

(2) The Bourgeois. The Bourgeois Dissident admits up front that the dissident's theories have no hope of stopping another thousand years of war. E.g., "It is hopeless. We are powerless to stop these people, but at least we're among the lucky few that can obtain intellectual stimulation from discussing how horrified we are at their actions, before we die." The Bourgeois Dissident is not a hypocrite because he has admitted that his theories are discussion fodder only, and that they will never better the world. While the Bourgeois talks, whole peoples will continue to be tortured and murdered. Genocide will run rampant. All these things are regrettable, to the Bourgeois, but in a catch-as-catch-can world, the Bourgeois Dissident sees no alternative but to propagate his disgust among those who share his views.

The Bourgeois Dissident's downfall is his association with Empire. Because the Bourgeois admits that he will never change the system, he is a part of the system...but at least he's not a hypocrite, nor a Fool. He knows his arguments are verbal masturbation, which he finds far more pleasurable than standing in front of an imperial tank.



(3) The Fool. The Fool Dissident genuinely believes that more detailed discussions of elite wrongs will eventually sway the people to make changes. The Fool thinks that elites are merely ignorant of the badness of killing people, and that, if confronted with visceral descriptions of warfare, or detailed charts proving corruption, elites will be shocked to their senses and start behaving well.

The Fool may also cherish this belief about ordinary people. Perhaps she thinks that, if presented with corruption charts, ordinary people will suddenly demand change. The Fool can wile away decades of being mocked and marginalized, never losing her belief that, if she just gets another thirty seconds on a local radio program, she can make people "wake up" and take back "their" government.

Although the Fool Dissident is lamentably in error, she is not a hypocrite. Her staggering historical ignorance and blazingly wishful thinking make her more naive than even the most delusional Evangelical, yet because of that delusion, she is able to be internally consistent. She is wrong, but she is not a liar--provided that, like the Evangelical, she actually believes in her heart of hearts that people will be able to process her knowledge and effect change if only she has educated them.

The Fool's downfall is experience. An experienced Fool knows that the masses have ever either loved their rulers' corruption, or hated it yet been too cowardly to change it, both for a number of psychological, sociological, and political reasons that will forever stymie her attempts at elucidation until control systems are broken through violence. An educated fool knows that the masses, and the elites, have already seen all the "bomb victim" photos, already know that the government is on the take, and simply don't give a shit. Maybe the Fool is right--if children were birthed well, raised well, and taught well, they would respond to her knowledge. In the face of the Empire's control at each level, however, one has to be a true Fool to think that the system will be changed by "spreading awareness."

(4) The Lily. The Lily Dissident genuinely believes in pacifism. He would never raise a fist to defend himself, and believes that no one else should, either--ergo, even though he does not suffer from the Fool's delusions, or the Bourgeois' hideous honesty, the Lily Dissident cannot advocate effective action. The Lily truly believes that inert civil disobedience is what makes empires fall and redresses grievances. He ignores the violent crushing of the Black Panther Party and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., while celebrating the American Democratic Party's stillborn Civil Rights movement as a triumph for shifting so many millions of black people into integrated urban poverty, street starvation, and federal detention facilities. The Lily celebrates what little he knows of India's history, and attributes the withdrawal of the British Empire to Gandhi's activism, rather than to budgetary issues and geopolitics. Hundreds of years of civil disobedience to the United Kingdom, bringing only a violent response against the natives, are ignored because, in one country, Britain happened to be pulling out around the time one particular movement got started: proof positive, to the Lily, that his method changes the world.

The Lily's downfall, like that of the Fool and the Evangelical, is the question of whether he really thinks it's true--if he thinks that, by lying down in front of Dick Cheney's Bentley, he could convince Cheney to stop and not run him over. Or, he could acknowledge that Dick Cheney would run him over, but cling to pacifism anyway, believing that it is morally right regardless of its real-world failures. True Lily Dissidents are exceedingly rare, because Lilies must believe that it would be wrong for police to use violence to stop a man from raping a woman: as soon as a "Lily" claims violence is okay in certain circumstances, he becomes a hypocrite for disavowing violence as a tool to stop the rape and murder of tens of thousands of Arab women.

(5) The Hypocrite. The Hypocrite Dissident is the most common by far. The Hypocrite enjoys the comforts of empire, yet laments the price necessary to maintain them (but laments not enough to change them). The Hypocrite is aware of the police state nationalism, educational boundaries, and chemical pollution that affect each new citizen's ability to analyze dissidence, and the Hypocrite is often intimately familiar with the impossible nuances and power-plays of making policy changes, small to large--yet, the Hypocrite manifests a firm belief in peaceful activist changes. This dissident can discuss a hundred years of media message control, political stifling, and open corruption, while simultaneously claiming that making inspiring Youtube videos or writing articles filled with archaic revolutionary jargon might effect large-scale change.

What differentiates the Hypocrite from the Fool is the question of belief: the Fool, through ignorance or fantasy, believes that education will prompt the common masses to vote or revolt, while the Hypocrite knows the details of how thoroughly the common masses are controlled, and knows, often word-for-word, how his message will be dismissed by the pre-loaded corporate dismissals provided the masses via popular culture.

The Hypocrite knows that the power of old capital and entrenched MIC interests would be sufficient to cleanly remove even a radical president who was suddenly elected, and to correspondingly soothe the masses afterward--so even if an impossibly fantastical, 0.00001% chance, viral internet campaign swept in some Green Senators and a Green President, the Hypocrite knows that the deep government could remove them as easily as JFK and Wellington, and nothing would change.

Flirting with pacifism, wishful thinking, and bitter fantasy, the Hypocrite realizes that he is only another talking head on late night cable, reaching only those who already understand and utterly powerless to change anything by talking. His downfall is complete before it can begin, for he knows the failure of his non-quest, yet pretends to be questing anyway.

Room For Argument

There's room for argument in all those. Is the Lily correct? Does lying down in front of Dick Cheney's Bentley really make his heart grow three sizes in one day? Will explaining things in clear terms to Bill Gates make him stop destroying childhood education? Those are ridiculous arguments, but they're not hypocritical, so they can be rationally made.

Is the Fool correct? If we all saved up and took out a week straight of full-page New York Times ads, would people suddenly realize that the past twenty presidents have been corporate puppets, and demand a rewrite of the Constitution and the jailing of every living politician? Ridiculous, of course; people would immediately identify it as stupid leftist propaganda, and skip to the next page. (Ted Kaczynski tried to get a message out, anyway, got one out, got a lot of readers, and thereby already proved that argument partly wrong, but maybe Fools think they could make a better case than he did, and they're probably right.)

The Bourgeois isn't going to lose any political arguments, either. His rallying cry is "Nature, red in tooth and claw," and if he's honest, an argument with him goes to the level of spirituality. The Bourgeois is completely internally consistent, and even though he's only a Hypocrite in disguise, he's really intelligent and fun to read.

15 comments:

  1. Nice, and a nice title. Although, I must say that I can identify one real family who is a Bourgeois Fool Hypocrite (it is painful to watch).

    I'm down with the evangelist. If you subtract the preaching, and add understanding, you get a philosopher, and obviously you can do much worse than that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The philosopher has to actually believe to shed the hypocrisy, though. And that's hard to achieve without cheating.

      Delete
    2. At a minimum, a philosopher's internal states will be entirely unaffected by the horrors around him, belief or no belief. Of course, it seems that most of those who complete the full knowledge journey end up with belief. (and that's also why Christianity really was a step ahead, not back, compared to the ancients - they did all they could do, hit a dead end, and the only thing that could resolve the problem was revelation). Science had a potential, but it is now so far removed from the contemplation of the beautiful, that I am beginning to wonder if we wouldn't be better off without it.

      Delete
  2. 1) Evangelical -- Chris Hedges
    2) Bourgeois -- Chris Floyd
    3) Fool -- Naomi Klein
    4) Lily -- Dave Lindorff
    5) Hypocrite -- SMBIVA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's based on the initial descriptions. The final sentence in the entry I'd challenge, it's not fun to read someone constantly tell 85% of the story and omit the essential 15% that's uncomfortable to the Bourgeois person's happy existence. And it's not intelligent to run a long con on people while you are pretending to empathize with them, unless your cynicism runs very deep, and if that's the case, you're outside the Top Five Types and into the overt lovers of the death urge.

      Delete
    2. You placed Chris Floyd accurately. He's had his own flirtations with pacifism, though; he posted a number of years back about how he "hoped" he would be able to be a pacifist if empire took his own family. Given his writing, I suspect he would be, but more out of fear than out of a genuine belief in the wrongness of change by violence. He does, after all, occasionally praise those who resist empire in sub-Saharan Africa, so he's not an actual pacifist.

      Delete
    3. Naomi Klein's public face is Fool, but she's way past the point of being able to claim an honest belief in that. Her message is massive, she has bestsellers, and she gets TED invitations and screen-time. This far into her immensely profitable career, though, and given the histories she's reviewed, I don't think she can still claim Fool status. She knows that she's using the same elite promoters to get her message out that she supposedly blasts. I'd place her, instead, in the realm of Greenwald--a long term deep operative meant to set a peaceful, "educational activist" boundary to those looking for a celebrity to voice some of their own insecurities. She ensnares those people in the rightness of her critiques (easy for those ops to detail their critiques, since the powerful know how their own systems work), then uses that to steer them toward passive, complaining acceptance, thereby lessening the risk of anyone refreshing the tree of liberty.

      Delete
    4. Klein shrewdly plays the Fool, her sharp practice betrayed by her CDN citizenship & residence while acting as though she knows USA better than her US-based fanbase, and by omission pretending Canada isn't as bad as the USA where capitalism is concerned. Of course CDN cap is image/style/progress cap, no pretense at Global Policeman, but the consumerism is stronger in Canada than in most of the USA, and anyone who's paid attention to Vancouver real estate and other buying habits gone batfuck madness knows that Canada does greedy materialism way better than America.

      This is the core of her "disaster capitalism" schtick: CDN = non-disaster, benevolent, humanity-progressing capitalism. We should all aspire to drive nice luxurious vehicles, live in modern spacious living spaces, work in better-tech-than-NASA offices, own cooler toys and trinkets, drink finer imbibibles, eat swankier foods prepared more pleasantly. And the comedy, there's the real high point: never offending anyone, but earnest in its tries at poking fun, however tepidly. Clearly better than the USA's jokesters, down here people actually curse and swear and fuel their comedy with vitriol: an unheard-of practice up north.

      My biggest Q for Klein would be about No Logo and why Logo is so bad, why does she have so many expensive clothes and gadgets and multiple living spaces herself? Plus isn't Canada logo-obsessed? Doesn't she even look around when she's back home in Canadiadia?

      She's a really slick sort. She reminds me of William Kristol or maybe Paul Wolfowitz.

      Delete
    5. I'd place her, instead, in the realm of Greenwald--a long term deep operative meant to set a peaceful, "educational activist" boundary to those looking for a celebrity to voice some of their own insecurities.

      She's a white screen for their projections.

      She's also an expert who knows more and is thus more trustworthy.

      Greenwald is like the squishy-sorta-civil-liberties-oriented-but-actually-more-shooshy-librarian version of what is Paul Krugman's wise-Jewish-bearded-professor-explaining-dark-arts economist. A clear marketing niche creation and manipulation to great advantage. I believe I read somewhere about 7 years ago that Greenwald was aiming to be this era's Alan Dershowitz, and I think that was close, but you'd have to take Dershowitz when he was at his peak, not as the sad Zionist angryman he is today.

      She ensnares those people in the rightness of her critiques (easy for those ops to detail their critiques, since the powerful know how their own systems work), then uses that to steer them toward passive, complaining acceptance, thereby lessening the risk of anyone refreshing the tree of liberty.

      Complaining acceptance is easier than actually doing anything. It's sort of doing something: when you explain your reasons for resignation to victim status, you show how informed you are, which gets you social credibility among others who aspire to passive complaining acceptance in polished forms. (for example Klein Greenwald or the other 4 from the 5 examples I gave upthread)

      Delete
  3. I'd have to add a possible 6th category: The Realist. The realist knows that internet debates, blog posts, and verbal masturbation aren't going to change anything, but she also knows that standing in front of imperial tanks isn't going to change anything either. Rachel Corrie may have been brave, but another interpretation is that she was just a fool on a grander scale. The Realist is aware that no sociopolitical change (in the US) is ever going to happen until a large enough percentage of the population becomes motivated to risk injury or death in order to really change things and that this isn't going to happen because of abstract discussions about morality but only if and when enough people face material deprivation and/or oppression from the state akin to what the residents of Gaza are experiencing. The downfall of the Realist is that she’s open to the charge of “hypocrite” or “coward” for acknowledging atrocity but doing nothing to stop it, but it’s not really her downfall because these criticisms themselves are meaningless since there is nothing *she* can do to stop it anyway.

    And while I’m at it, I have to give you props for this line:
    "…while celebrating the American Democratic Party's stillborn Civil Rights movement as a triumph for shifting so many millions of black people into integrated urban poverty, street starvation, and federal detention facilities."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A gradual enough decline into formal serfdom reduces the possibility of backlash. Gaza represents a situation where the genocide has been constant, and the sides are clearly defined. That's why Israel sees backlash. In the case of America, they're doing it so slowly and gently that people are able to accept each new stage with only a little internet muttering. We could well reach serfdom in another 60-70 years, with all the then-young people not even realizing that there's any difference.

      ...and at the same time, feeling "included" in the publicized triumphs of their betters. The American model is really kicking ass as far as sustainable horror goes.

      Delete
    2. Post-9/11 pressures, eyes everywhere, TSA, fealty to the Liegemaster have yielded great rewards in serfdom numbers' steady increase, with recent years bringing a noticeable improvement in public statements of loyal trust in the Lord's benevolence.

      Friends who never said a word about politics 4 years ago are proud loyalists in random conversations now.

      Spines rejected in favor of limbo contortion fun while apologizing for the Lord's latest drunken rape of a village maiden.

      Delete
    3. Also, Joe -- P Krassner.

      Delete
  4. So, the best course of action is to STFU, and keep it all to one's self (no sarcasm).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If true, that's at least a course this one seems unable to follow. ;-)

      Delete