As he's spent most of the last two years doing, Arthur Silber is begging for donations again. Send them if you will; what better use for your time and money than giving Paypal and Visa each their transaction fees, in order to shift the Federal Reserve ledger slightly in Arthur's favor, permitting him to purchase life-extension drugs and canned ash/tuna blends for aging, reproductively-mutilated domestic zoo exhibits.
Silber is something of a Forrest Gump, though without the noble spirit of Groom's character. Gump, if you haven't read the actual book, is the kind-hearted American idiot who personifies the latter half of the twentieth century. He's raised by a single mother, he goes to school, he goes to war, he goes to space, he goes to capitalism--he's like Homer Simpson, but without any of the badness. In the choices, struggles, and outcome of Gump's life, we see the major formal topics of 1950s-1990s U.S. history spelled out. In the process, we feel a little bit bad for Forrest, because he really was an idiot. He went to Vietnam, played pro football, and wasted his life pursuing Jenna, because he actually was too dim to understand what he was doing. As for the rest of us, who did those things without Forrest's handicap, well--so the worse for our own morals. Forrest's fate is to grow old the eternal optimist, watch Jenna die of AIDS, watch all his home's traditions melt into plastic hell, and then conclude that it was random, simply because he's too stupid to do otherwise. He's the penultimate American, or at least, the American we wish we were. Unlike Forrest, we had the processing power to know that murdering a few million southeast Asian villagers was morally wrong. Gary Sinise may be a genuinely evil man hooting at his third screening of American Sniper, but the actual character Forrest Gump can claim, in his defense, the plausible stupidity of the misled.
Like Gump, Arthur Silber has had a chance to live out a certain set of American ideals. His path was not so star-studded, but it comes with the veneer of rational choice--a choice generally unavailable to Gump. In it, we can see a number of the terrible contradictions and failures inherent in a certain set of American philosophies, along with their sad terminus, and their subsumption by their presumed worst enemies.
From Arthur's board, which is regularly highly personal, and which has been avowedly public for years and years, we observe the following architecture:
1) Arthur was an unusual child who quarreled with his parents, and who grew up to hate them always;
2) Arthur self-identified as gay to his parents at an early age, and when they sent him to therapy, he underwent electroshock therapy as a treatment;
3) At maturity, Arthur cast off on his own to be a concert pianist and have a lotta lotta unprotected sex with as many male partners as he could;
4) Arthur failed to be a concert pianist, and attempted to be a professional art appreciator and a professional social critic, activities at which he also failed;
5) Arthur got very sick and very poor;
6) Arthur applied for government disability benefits and moved into a small apartment in a State with a high cost of living;
7) Arthur purchased two domestic animals, had them surgically altered, and keeps them thoroughly fed and medicated;
8) Arthur started a blog angrily critiquing American society.
Arthur's angry critiques of American society, like many (many, many, many~) such critiques, are often accurate, even pointed. Like the plurality of the world's public given access to the internet, Silber recognizes that there are problems with the world, and he can correctly depict and analyse several of them, often connecting them into patterns. Yes, it's sad that Arthur is poor and sick, like many people, but instead of letting his cats go and making do on State assistance meant for a single person, Arthur not only feeds, but medicates his very aged cats, in a land where twenty percent of young children go hungry--and asks for others to tithe the financial system in order to abet him in such acts.
The quandary of withdrawal finds its place here: if we're so noble and good that we withdraw from society, how do we survive? Well, simply put, we die. Enough of that righteous withdrawal would indeed stop the elite parasites. Begging, though, does not accomplish that. And certainly not non-frugal begging (e.g., begging in order to house animals which could survive on their own, if you weren't using them as companionship fetishes).
When we "withdraw" from society by refusing to contribute but being willing to extract, we've become little different than the crony capitalists. Arthur's late-life withdrawal is built on the back of those in all stages of life who haven't withdrawn. Arthur is such a noble slave that he refuses to work in the mines--but he subsists on charity taken from those who have bitten their tongues and continued to toil under the whip.
I Hate You, Mommy
Many other children in the world, for example--even in America--were angry with their parents. Many were beaten, mutilated, or emotionally tormented at various states of their development. Many suffered their entire childhoods away, constantly bullied by a sick society that didn't like anything about them. Their sexuality, their looks, their choices, their socioeconomic status--whatever. Many were subjected to cruel medical treatment without the capacity to refuse, or to respond to it as an adult.
And yet, they fought to survive. Many children grew up in worlds like this, and were able to move beyond it. Some of them were able to forgive their peers, and find friendships there. Others were able to forgive their parents, and find misguided humanity there. In so doing--in fostering networks among even people who hurt them for the longest time--they gained at least a modicum of society where there had been none before.
Some of them even looked upon their lives as a precious gift, and wanted to pass it on to others. Others whom, incidentally, are now leaving their families at home and working their asses off to pay Arthur's monthly SSI checks, so that Arthur can use the internet and listen to opera and make sure his cats have the latest feline pills.
Is it ironic, I wonder? All of the queers who shut the fuck up and did what they were "supposed to" might now be enjoying the company of their parents, instead of being left penniless outcasts from the family. (The family might be a bunch of jerks, but so is the USG, so from whom are you willing to accept charity?) They might be sharing in an inheritance in their elder years, or living with children who are able to care for them in the twilight of their lives. How many of those people are out there, right now? People who had Arthur's artistic and/or homosexual tendencies, and/or who rebelled against their parents in youth, but who were able to become adults who put aside their own pleasures for the sake of not being a burden? For the sake of thanking their parents for giving them life, even an abused one, or in order to pass on the gift to others without the abuse; for the sake of being able to offer others shelter, instead of only to take it; for the sake of the past and the future: many people made these choices, and we will never hear about them, because they are understood by those who make the choices, rather than trumpeted in great detail by those who did not.
All of the fun Arthur had during his party years was denied to those people. Sure, they got beaten down and humiliated, too, but they also didn't get to cruise the Bay Area for fifteen years, swapping blowjobs. They were busy settling for something less than an ideal; they were busy thinking about lives to come after theirs; they were busy thinking about what they could do to make things better for others, instead of how to grab as many positive sensations as they could for themselves before the end. Silber's life is an intensely-concentrated doomsday fantasy, where you rush to have another margarita before the asteroid strikes.
This isn't being written exclusively for Arthur's benefit, or to critique him--he can and will do whatever the hell he wants. Rather, we're looking at his path for purposes of comparison to isolationist philosophies. Arthur chose to blaze the hypocritical, rather than the honest, trail--he rejected society while demanding to extract from it all he could. He fantasized over imperial opera, and the sellout scions of a certain subset of pop culture, while decrying all modern sellouts for their ties to big business (you kids get off my grass!). He slept around the corporate clubs and Hilton hostels of California, enjoying all the culture of being a middle-class young white gay runaway, until the credit ran out and it was time to consider living as others had been.
And all of a sudden, it was doubly unfair. All of the queers who'd bitten the bullet, gotten jobs, and made lives for themselves, were doing better than he was. They had places to go home to. They sighed and wondered what it would've been like to have more sex when they were younger. To hell with them, Silber says--now give me some pet cremation money, you conformist bastards!
No woodsman, he; no seasteader attempting to grow an organic garden using mulch he got from Iceland in exchange for golden trinkets. Silber prefers to dwell in the heart of the concrete jungle, hating it while begging it to care for him. More power to him--that's what we're all doing, too--but the black pit into which he's long since fallen is an instructive one.
More importantly, and far more instructive, is the unspoken suffering of all of those whom Silber tumbled across on his race to the bottom. Silber isn't a survivalist, but neither is he a revolutionary. The same with all of us hypocrites, but then, we're all slaving away at survival, here. Silber rejects everything we do to survive, calling it ignoble and wrong, yet he wants us to do it for him, so that he can enjoy the Empire's vile fruits. Timothy McVeigh can claim the mantle of an internally-consistent moral code, but not any of us left here.
I Refuse To Work For Big Money!
Surviving in this hell is a burden, to be sure. We can't hate Silber for hating it, or being broken on it. The problem with Silber lies in his veneration by much of the non-mainstream political community that has arisen in these early years of the network. By building up this crumbling wreck of a selfish hypocrite to be an icon of social criticism, the American "left" (or progressive-ness, or radical-ness, or anarchistic, or whatever you want to think of whatever "it" is) is building on as shoddy a foundation as Washington. This is how well-meaning narratives go bad: by idealizing people like Silber. Silber had a few good things to say, but really, he's mildly famous now only because he had a larger vocabulary, and a more pro-homosexual attitude, than other people willing to use the f-word about politicians at the time of his ascendance.
Silber takes Paypal. He's too honorable to put ads on his site, or to condescend to work for Walmart, but he'll take Paypal, funneling Visa funds from the Federal Reserve, and deposit it into his American financial account, to spend at corporate food & drug branches? Yes, that's the same Paypal that joined in on the war on Wikileaks, and the same JP Morgan Chase offshoot that's spent over a century financing imperial war, and the same Federal Reserve that--yada yada. And what do you think about the property management company that owns his apartment? The government agency that cuts him his monthly check?
What about the children of all the other 1970s faggots who kept their sexuality hidden from disapproving parents, worked hard for soul-crushing corporations, and raised their own children differently--maybe nurturing independent sexuality in people who, down Silber's bloodline, will never exist? Well, those kids, as they struggle to raise their own children, are now financing Silber's retirement after twenty years of cocktails and cocksucking. Not that twenty years of cocktails and cocksucking is bad, but there just seems to be something a little unfair about it, doesn't it?
It's all part of the system, baby. Who do you think you're fooling, asking me to carry your load? Of course, we need to distinguish between charity toward those who need it, and giving presents to those who want them. How many kittens in Kansas could live long and productive (snark) lives for what it costs Silber in pharmaceuticals to keep a couple diseased, geriatric cats straggling on for another few months? Considering that cats can survive outdoors on their own when they're not moved to hot climates, surgically sterilized, and stuffed inside a little apartment to please a desperately needy master, probably hundreds of them. You could also feed some human children, but forget that. Think about the kittens. For the price of keeping Silbers' aged eunuchs alive, you could prevent hundreds of other cats from being killed to free up shelter space, and allow them to have some time on this planet. It's rather eerie, vis-à-vis both cats and people, how loathe Silber is to consider the benefits of family over self.