Saturday, July 25, 2015

False Dichotomies Again: the Obvious Surprise

It's boringly predictable, as well as interestingly shocking, how both of the stupid-ass philosophical extremes of individualism and collectivism come from the same material source: e.g., Marxism and Objectivism. The large-scale social engineering produced by those movements was designed expressly to make respect for single-human individualism and respect for all-human collectivism seem to be contradictory, when in fact, the greatest respect for both individualism and collectivism comes simultaneously. Neither through Marx nor Rand can a commune, or a heroic individual, thrive, or even survive. The contradictions involved in either stealing one person's work product for a collective, or stealing a lot of people's work products for an individual, are too ridiculous to be believed as philosophies, let alone competing ones...and yet, there they are. There they are, staring you in the face like Jeb and Hillary, as though we're supposed to believe that they're fierce enemies to the end, and not just a pair of marionettes drawing bribes from Goldman Sachs Disease.

What a cunning plan indeed, spanning centuries, to make people think that human individuals are pitted against human groups! What groundwork laid! What foresight possessed! How truly villainous; how dastardly to the highest degree! Think of the subtlety involved in publishing Marx and Engels across the entire world; think of the narrative support structure necessary to turn the words of that hideously sallow, peevish little faux-Russian into a movement for designated archenemy capitalism, inspirer of so many battles against OSHA and USSR. Think of the camps and the genocides, the overlapping bureaucracies, and the weapons sales and the central banks and the endless invasions and re-invasions of North Africa and South Asia. It's like chess with a billion lives, and they're good at it even when the chess pieces are themselves possessed of agency. Now, that is manipulation. That's skill.

Of course, the race realism that arises now, as massively wealth-transferred racial groups burn down western cities, has the same irony built into it: now, the foulest of racists are beginning to embrace the openly segregated state for expressly racial purposes. Ergo Israel has come full circle yet again, becoming not only the financial beneficiary of Civil Rights, but also of Anti Civil Rights! In 1965, liberal, anti-racist Americans pray for Israel to commit genocide against Arabs, and to steal money from American taxpayers, because it is the progressive, non-bigoted thing to, since Jews are oppressed underdog minorities. In 2015, conservative, openly-racist Americans pray for Israel to commit genocide against Arabs, and to steal money from American taxpayers, because it is the traditional, bigoted thing to do, since Jews are heroic high-achieving organizers.

Rotting bodies, people. Rotting bodies beneath a blanket of concrete dust.

Importing slaves, then fighting a war to free them; storming the Bastille, then fighting off the Emperor who foolishly invades Russia to storm other similar prisons...Christ, how many times are they going to use the "fails while attempting to invade Russia despite the obvious insanity of such a plan" angle? Future Emperors, will you please avoid falling into that one again? Oh, wait; that was your plan from the beginning. What's that they say, here? Oh yeah. *sigh*. That's it.

While we're here, there is/was nothing extremely new about Objectivism or Marxism. The ideas of "care for self" and "care for others" had always been there. What Rand and Marx did so well is to patent versions of those ideas based around selfish power, rather than decency and the meeting of human needs. They adapted philosophies, like so many homogeneously-Japanese manga copied into "innovative" Hollywood masterpieces; into crude, dismembered versions of themselves. "Everyone gets food and shelter" gets perverted into "Workers seize power," and "Individual privacy, labor, and reward is respected and protected by society" gets mangled into "Fuck all y'all."

Dig beneath the Jenomic fables you've embraced or rejected, and find your cultural inheritance in something that came before. Look for the good parts of Jesus in the Essene Gospel; look for the squeamish parts in a savage desert tribe of racist murderers; and then, claim your right to the hidden older story that better suits you, rather than the one that a collection of inbred Nazi scholars threw together for you. Find the representative choice of pleasure or pain in Zoroaster, rather than in Milton or Constantine. If you want economic justice and a lack of wealthy landlords and managers, don't look to a connected rentier who wanted to establish even bigger bureaucracies in order to prohibit private social arrangements. And lastly, it should go without saying, but if you want to reduce the death rate of Semitic strains, don't pay one variety of them to massacre another.


  1. Oh please, how can you possibly put on the same plane high school ramblings and one of the only three ideologies in Modernity (+ liberalism , +conservatism). I suppose you could argue that all three serve elite interests some how (though none as much as liberalism) - and Hitler would have never attacked Russia if he did not believe, with good reason, that he had the tacit consent of UK and USA (who would merely go to war against whoever attacked first, hoping that would be russia...).

    But other than that you are stretching it even by the standards of this place. Marxism is simply the most obvious illustration of a modern radical ideology (fuck the system), which is a pretty healthy instinct.

    Also: even the perverted Eastern Block seems to have delivered far more net happiness, individual and collective, than the current western liberal mess. So there's that too.

    1. Fuck the group of individuals by destroying the individual, fuck the individual by destroying the group of individuals...there's a problem in either case. Critiquing finance capital and selfish bourgeois behavior is useful, but such a critique does not have to be bound to a critique of individual freedoms. Those concepts are not mutually exclusive.

      Millions of people were happy in America during the Cold War, but that doesn't excuse even one of the many small genocides committed by America; similarly, any number of happy people in Russia doesn't excuse, say, shooting a thousand Cossack women in the back of a head and kicking their corpses into a ditch.

      Stalin and the Khmer Rouge are great poster children for Marxism, just as Truman and the Algerian Colonial Army are great poster children for Objectivism. If you want to say fuck a system, fuck both those systems.

      Marx shouldn't be permitted to own the idea of "a society with no finance capital, in which workers own their own produce." That's like saying that Def Jam Recordings (actually, Universal Music Group, actually, a tiny set of inbred media families) owns hip hop--there is a vast difference between the original notions and the bought-out ones.

      Ayn Rand, like Karl Marx, was scathingly correct in much of what she had to say about stifling collectivism stealing from the individual--but that didn't change the fact that her greater philosophy was toxic. Moreover, without Marx to play off of, her philosophy would've seemed both horribly obvious and just horrible.

      Marx, too, would have had nothing to criticize unless previous generations of moneylenders and middlemen hadn't already built up a capitalist empire for him to pointedly criticize. As they say on the court, alley-oop.

  2. Eh, it is almost like you did not read Marx, which I assume is not true. He has said barely anything at all about the socialism and the socialist "system" - after all, Marxism is anti-systemic movement. All he has said on the topic of what comes "after" is vaguely metaphysical, perhaps with a flavoring of some Christian notions of justice. What he does say is that is is just for people to determine the terms of their work and the terms of distribution of the surplus they produce. Nothing about "fuck the individual".

    You are forgiven to think that the individual was somehow "fucked" under stalinism or the more liberal post-stalinist versions of socialism. The full development of the person, in all its facets was the official state ideology, and put in practice.

    ==> I have see incomensurably more conformists HERE IN THE WEST, than back in the east. Here, I can predict the personality of most people i meet, down to uncomfortably intimate details, simply based on their address. Back home, everybody lived in the same neighborhood, yet I remember far more idiosyncratic and more interesting personalities.

    When speaking of "net happiness", your analogy is similarly inappropriate: the body count accompanying the Eastern Block modernization is vanishingly small in comparison with the mountains of corpses left behind as a result of Western modernization.

    You will say yeah wall, maybe, but you are rationalizing the lesser evil again. Yes, m'aam.

    Furthermore, Marx even decried the idea of complete equality as stupid - if for no other reason that it costs different amounts to reproduce different kinds of workers.

    1. <3

      I agree with you that the record has surely shown that the late U.S.S.R. had a much lower body count and lower net hypocrisy levels than the corresponding U.S. But how many bodies did Lenin through Stalin put away, versus how many bodies, say, Coolidge through Truman put away? Did twentieth century Britain, for all its horrors, really pile up the corpses as high as Mao Zedong? Did the CIA's targeted assassinations equal the KGB's?

      Governments who claimed to have been inspired by Marx (whether they truly were or not) seem to have a higher 20th century body count than those who claim to have been inspired by "the free market" (again, whether they truly were or not). Of course, mixing these things together raises the questions: would Stalin, Mao, or the Khmer Rouge have been able to commit their purges without the help of capitalists first arming them and laying the groundwork? Lacking various Anglo-American occupations, probably not--so you can blame the resulting purges as much on "capitalism" as you can on "communism."

    2. Well, there is no question that the leftist projects failed, just like classical liberalism failed. The main reason I still prefer them is simply the lack of hypocrisy (and for the same reason i will always prefer the conservatives over liberals). In other words, they did not wince from declaring you an enemy of the state and disposing of you if your precious gentle liberal longings looked like they would stay in the way of building up the next society. Harsh, but effective, and at least temporarily resulted in a half-decent society.

      In the meantime, the liberals had continued to wallow in the self-satisfied delusion that under their enlightened guidance we are all unstoppably (though gradually) moving towards a better society.

      Well, guess what motherfuckers - this shit abruptly ended in 1968. In a clear illustration of how "educated" liberals are, many of them continue to have missed the news of the death of liberalism half a century later.

      I get it, the truth can be too painful, but still...

    3. Permit me to pick your nits by contending that the leftist projects were not really "leftist projects," but rather, different ways of rearranging Eastern Europe and Asia in order to produce profitable social discord and war, and to establish crippled, incoherent societies that would make sustainable prey for bankers.

      There are good leftists, and good Marxists, and good Objectivists, but those people were not in control of the movements that built the twentieth century.

      There's no doubt that some (maybe many) good things came about as a result of, say, FDR or the Bolsheviks, but most of those involved the solving of problems created by earlier generations of bankers. The people who caused those problems, then "rescued" us by solving tiny bits of them (while making up new ones at the same time), should not receive any credit for having made a positive contribution. It's like beating someone up and then offering free plastic surgery.

    4. Rights...
      And this is precisely why it is wrong to say that USSR and the Eastern Block "collapsed". They did not collapse - they were given away (sic.) when the time came (i.e. when the next round of expansion and integration in the capitalist economy became absolutely necessary).

      I was old enough to remember the transition - a scenario that played out in most EE: no protests, no upheavals, and everybody was incredibly surprised when the chairman of the central committee announced that "he" is resigning.

      The irony is that the elite communists started to try to build capitalism just when it is about to leave the historical stage and usher in some more old-fashioned form of opression.

  3. ** I meant - being someone clearly born and raised i nthe west - "you are forgiven to think that the individual was somehow "fucked" in the Eastern block". (I'm sure you did well in school...)

    1. There was scarcely time to spend learning about conditions in the Eastern Bloc, given all the Holocaust essays that had to be written, and all the Holocaust movies that had to be re-watched each year. Plus, there were critical reviews of The Merchant of Venice to write, and multiple choice math tests to prepare for. Who has time for Stalin??


      (Btw, feel free to quote Marx if you want to.)

  4. Well,the Merchant of Venice is solid, at least. I can't discern your age, but if you are under 40 you must be an uppity middle class brat, if your high school had you write (!) essays (!) about these things (!) :D

  5. PS Uppity middle class brats are bad in bed, so i hope this is not true.

    1. Sadly true.

      But wait, do you mean that in the Eastern Bloc you didn't have to go to special assemblies to hear nonagenarian Holocaust survivors speak every year? You didn't have to build mini concentration camps out of macaroni and pipe cleaners? You didn't get to watch Fiddler on the Roof and Life is Beautiful every time there was a substitute teacher?

      ...what the Hell could you possibly have learned over there?!

    2. Nope, the indoctrination program was reasonably light, actually. It involved:
      - singing the right songs about the party leaders/heroes etc., more in depth reading of hagiographies for some selected soviet and homegrown leaders
      - going through the ranks of all the youth organizations, until you eventually graduate to be a party member (believe it or not, that was optional). Aside from the slogans, I mostly remember run of the mill technical clubs and fairly uncontroversial age-appropriate moralizing (e.g. always help your friends when they are in trouble, respect old people) etc.
      - we certainly did not hear much about the holocaust (except within the generic narrative about fascism), we did hear quite a bit how awesome the Red Army and the russians were. Also fairly uncontroversial. At this point in history, with the ongoing help of hollywood, most of the world no longer realizes that it is the russians, not the allies, who kicked Hitler's ass.
      - once a year, and not every year (too many schools...), we would march on one of the national hollidays - not optional, but typically welcomed by all the kids (day off school, after all, being out and about)
      - while careful not to go too far, most people were pretty comfortable indulging in folklore jokes about the regime (check Radio Yerevan Q&A jokes for a good soviet example)
      - summer camps (for school children) and summer labor camps (for university students - NOT to be confused with prison labor camps!) were winding down in my time, but they were universally beloved). They were not optional for university students (so they would engage in some requisite moaning before gloating about how much they drunk or got laid), and even the poorest families could easily afford them for school children.

      Other than this shit, perfectly regular school curriculum, sufficient to produce multiple winners of international mathematics competitions well into the 1990s when it was already disintegrating...

      My parents, perfectly bourgeois strivers subscribed to, and instilled in me, slightly more cynicism towards the system than it deserved, and raised me - with an apparent success - with the intention that I would immigrate. It took them about 10 years to acknowledge their mistake.

      As one of my mom's friends quipped "I feel so stupid for cheering the changes in the 1990s. It turned out that everything they were telling us about communism was a lie, but everything they told us about capitalism is true, goddammit"