Saturday, August 27, 2011

Meeting Needs

Your mouth is for expressing the extent of your reason. Except it's also a tool for eating. So its purpose is consumption and expression of reason. Just reason? Okay, well you can use it to attack and cow others, to mislead them and batter them with nothing but breath and sound, but let's say that's not its purpose. Let's say that the mouth is intended for eating and speaking truth.

And kissing. And breathing. Eating, reasonable expression, kissing, breathing.... Anything else?

Well no. You're not supposed to put in on that. That's supposed to be used in that part of hers. Oh, and taking a leak. All other uses are unauthorized, no matter how entertaining. You'll void the warranty.

I cannot remember when I stopped looking for purpose around me. Utility is a simple thing; it evokes adoption, improvisation, application of purpose rather than discovery. Means to me are things to be debated. What you use for something may be used differently by someone else.

There is one major caveat to this. My anarchy-leaning friends may jump in and say "But the state cannot be used to satisfy [purpose] when it is not in its nature blah blah blah!"

And I will say to you that the State, or the Government, or Military/Economic/Political Power, is not a thing. It is a dynamic made into a thing. A culture that is more arrogant even than "a People." It is not a tool. It is a social arrangement, a collection of mutually reinforcing individuals, codes, and organizations. We may break it down into constituent pieces, to which I will apply my notion of inessentialism. A man, the ability to deal out violence, the doctrines that one or many may believe in, and so on--these things may be used differently by other individuals or groups. I never say that I know the whole of another human being, even as I know how I must relate to them. I try to never say that I know the endpoint of this idea or that culture, because the story of each may well be taken up and rewritten to suit the purpose of another narrator.

Back to the point. Means are significant and important, but they are changeable, for what is your means to a certain point will be another's path elsewhere. So where, at this moment, do I fix my gaze?

On ends, which are often enough if not usually the satisfaction of needs. For the purpose of this statement, needs can be considered interchangeable with desires. I do not care to get into the debate over which appetites are essential and which are acquired or socialized, at least not right now.

The architects and reformers of the modern state know these needs well, for even the most tyrannical states seek ways to institutionalize these needs. This is not simply about sustenance, shelter, and security. Who can doubt that, in their terrible way, even the totalitarians offered, and made a point of offering, senses of belonging, identity, and purpose? Our stereotype of barbaric and civilized states, serving basal and vaunted needs respectively, is foolish and wrong. Even the most tyrannical society can be sophisticated, and perhaps needs to be sophisticated in its appeals if it wants to survive for long. Consider the despotisms of the old religions; they expanded their appeals to serve so many needs that their psychological resonance long outlived the states among which they emerged and they long existed as ghosts while, in terms of material politics, they were utterly dead.

And so the social reformer also considers needs, for all around her she sees perversion and channeling of urges to serve the needs of the ruler and merely leave the ruled momentarily soothed. Sex is co-opted by commerce. Violence finds furtive expression in war fever, professional sports, and pornography of one sort or another.

And if I might wade into the ongoing KFO/JC feud, I must say I quibble with Mr. Crow's wording. It is true that fascists obsessed over the softness of modern life, but to assert that man has gone soft in some ways is not in itself fascistic. It is objectively true that in the empire, men and women have taken to internalizing their ambitions and urges, if they can so afford. We overeat, we drink too much, we use drink and other substances to give us excuses to say what we otherwise fear voicing, we play violent video games to get our heart rates up. We exercise in air conditioned rooms if we exercise at all.

And yet to say that humanity is going soft is not the same as to say that hardship is ennobling and that pain brings strength, as fascists argued. One can see an ape in captivity, masturbating compulsively, eating to excess, riddled with self-inflicted bites, and wonder if the fat, balding creature would not do better in the wild without necessarily desiring all the hardship that comes from a free life. (And of course, many an anarchist would argue that all pain and suffering comes from the zoological garden and simply cannot exist in the wild, but we will forgive them their hasty enthusiasm.)

And so we have an order that has insinuated itself between us and what we want. Where does that leave us? If we are moral nihilists (and I happen to be, in the sense that I believe there is no morality but what we create), that means that we must find some way to differentiate the means of satisfaction currently indulged by millions and the way we would prefer they feed their needs. Because this isn't a trap that one, or a handful, can escape. It is a prison of human bodies and the only way I suspect we may break out is to liberate the walls themselves.


  1. Is it fascistic to say that hardship is ennobling? Just curious. I'm glad you weighed in on the topic (KFO v JC). It sort of froze me for a bit. My recent thoughts on physical vs mental pain are somehow entangled in this discussion, though I'm not sure yet exactly how.

    Lots of things to ponder here. Good post.

  2. Think of every polity that insisted on masculinization (and remember, Karl's big argument is with "feminized men;" it's his only consistent gripe) and the hardness of citizenry: Sparta, Roma Mater, Russia, the British Empire, the Japanese Empire, the US prior to the Civil War, the US during WW2, Bismarckian Germany, Prussia, Nazi Germany, the Teutonic Order, the Turkish Jannisariat - all fascist, proto-fascist and/or expansionist and brutal. All.

  3. And before Karl pipes in on the American yeoman, wilderness survival, the small farmer, frontier life, bootstrapping pioneers, or Teap mythologies of the early Republic: what kept those allegedly hard men alive and on the cusp of American expansionism was the property treatment, second classing, suppression, and religiously justified subjugation of women, their uncompensated labor, and the general drudgery of "women's work."

  4. Yes, abonilox, it is fascistic to claim that hardship is ennobling. Because, it's not. Hardship's actual results can be see all around you: broken people. What makes someone "noble" is wealth and influence. The noble are those who set themselves above.

    Also, there is no KFO/JC dispute. There is a KFO, ranting. I have no fight with him.

    Scratch the surface of any argument about the "softness" of men, and you won't have to peer too deep to see a fear of men behaving like women.

  5. Abonilox, I may slip here, but I'm trying to be very careful in my wording (part of my ongoing, self-directed reprogramming).

    I would not say that it is essentially and exclusively fascistic to argue that hardship ennobles. I would say that self-described fascists often glorified pain and suffering and often argued that suffering made one not only stronger but better. A lot of this stems from a sentiment that both inspired and was inspired by a reading of Nietzsche's dictum that it is not the cause that justifies the war, but the war that justifies the cause.

    Fascism, as I understand it historically and in the modern hard-nationalist movements, is first and foremost a philosophy of actionism, action for its own sake. And for whatever reason, self-abuse was present in it historically, and it's still present in a lot of neo-Nazi groups and the like. (I can hear Crow about to bring up hazing--not unfairly.)

    But there are different kinds of hardship, and we should be careful not to conflate them. I recall Jack talking a few weeks ago about endurance training with his son, I believe, under the heat wave. That's a wholesome sort of hardship that we might want to rename so as not to associate it with hunger, fear, and want, and yet it is a difficulty that ennobles us. Where the line is drawn is not always clear.

    All this is to muddy the waters, of course. I'm not looking for clarity just yet. I'm looking for accurate perception of something that may still be messy and wild. More thoughts as I think them.

    And of course, Crow continues to know his history, though I would remind that the lines between men and women have shifted over time. The Meiji oligarchy found the homosexual dalliances of the samurai feminine, whereas the shogunate saw such behavior as irrelevant to one's sex. Likewise, the brutality and violent gang-style roving of janissaries in Ottoman Istanbul would be quite fitting to a Turkish fascist, but their internationalism would not necessarily make the Grey Wolves happy with their idiotic belief in the magic of blood. (Central Asians were almost all exogamous anyway, making Turkic fascism even more absurd.)

    Anyway, there is a lot more to say, but I should catch my breath.

    And thank you, Abonilox. Your recent post was percolating in my head as I wrote.

  6. Jack sure does like attacking scareCrows.

    Every time he rambles on this picture of life that he ascribes to my view -- or to John Michael Greer's view, or the view of anyone who would prefer to avoid as much technology as possible -- it just smells like shit.

    I guess that's because he worries about the lack of institutionalized plumbing and having to shit in a cathole or compost pit.

    And suddenly I'm a fascist because I think people would benefit from leaving behind a lot of their technotoys.

    That's all they are, the ones I would suggest giving up. Toys.

    Maybe if he ever discussed this with me, instead of assigning his fucked-up Teap Artier psychotic projection to me, he might get a clue as to where it's coming from and what it includes... and therefore what it means.

    It's easier to imagine the craziest Aryan Nations outpost in the Idaho panhandle, and assume that's what I'm aiming for.

    What an asshole. What a pseudo-intellectual. What a false pedant.

    He sure can cite some 4C BC history though. Impressive, that is.

    But irrelevant to what I'm talking about or thinking.


    Maybe some day we can discuss what I'm talking about, without him interjecting his greatest paranoias on the subject.

    Odd stuff, for someone who says he lived rough to not have a wider imagination on what I'm aiming toward.

  7. Cuneyt,

    At the risk of confessing, again, to an ambiguity about Lacedaemonia (historical, not theatrical), it would do inquiring minds well to remember that their own attitudes towards (Spartan) women were somewhat advanced of their contemporaries. Of all the Greeks and pan-Hellenes, they alone celebrated women as women, and as more than mere breeders. The attitude, I suspect, was largely religious, and not surprisingly also part of their endemic ritual pederasty (see, Paul Cartledge).

    Their agogic system was produced a ruling class, but it was unique for their time, and ours; the ruling class of Sparta was also its entire citizenry. Spartan agogic training produced an equality of betters, yes - but it was at odds with the rest of the Mediterranean world, because those betters were only so by comparison to the Helots and Messenians. Had the Spartans not evolved, as a society, towards the Crypteia, the strengthening of the Gerousia and the enslavement of the Helots, who knows how that egalitarian "ennoblement" might have developed.

    Still, the agogic system, as one which produces equals by way of training and shared exercise, is far superior to the hierarchic ennoblement which has reproduced itself throughout Western history.


    It is entirely fitting that you mention the Grey Wolves, who for all their ferocity and organization, were ultimately failures. That communicates more about my use of the term "fascistic" to describe the anti-femininity which underlies most complaints about "softness" than the original quip ever could. I'm not suggesting that the urge to criticize modern "softness" will succeed in enervating the traditionalism which informs it (even, and perhaps especially, in so-called radicals). Only that it plainly draws on those well-springs, whatever its prospects for wider cultural success.


    Returning to the trouble with the terms "noble" and "hardship," both of those words convey a necessary disparity, and one which conforms to the deformations or triumphs of character.

    It is within the notion of character, especially a Persona which is assumed to be ritualized through suffering, that we perhaps can best see the too-traditional assumptions which adhere to those terms.

    For the mass of people, throughout history, suffering is at best a pathway to the anonymous eternity of a god's sanctuary, and more usually, a truncation of existence. It is only among those who claim nobility, and separation, that we really discover the urge to prove equality to the heavens, or perfection, by way of detachment, the aristocracy of monasticism and/or asceticism (in Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, it is the highborn who debase themselves in order to achieve new spiritual heights: Siddhartha, Jesus, Muhammad, Ali, Athanasius, Bodhidharma, Augustine - all born to the upper ranks).

    The fruit of hardship, for the blood ennobled, is spiritual ennoblement. That is what their doctrines teach, and that is what has filtered by way of Church, dharma, University, teaching and sunna, into the larger population of the masses: ennoblement is separation.

    To become spiritually pure, or to have a god-worthy character, seek out a moral aristocracy.

    The idea that hardship ennobles is a ruling class one, absorbed by the ruled, and always to their detriment.

  8. Never, ever said you were fascist, Karl. Said the sentiment was. And it still is. Please, though, continue jousting with windmills. A fondness for the Don Quixote ought be rewarded...

  9. It is objectively true that in the empire, men and women have taken to internalizing their ambitions and urges, if they can so afford. We overeat, we drink too much, we use drink and other substances to give us excuses to say what we otherwise fear voicing, we play violent video games to get our heart rates up. We exercise in air conditioned rooms if we exercise at all.

    And it would seem you understand what I'm talking about, Cuneyt.

    Take this theme and expand it to places where it shows humanity preferring what's easy to what takes a bit of work.

    I think of it the same way I thought of kids who used study guides instead of reading cases when in law school. It saved them time and in some cases got them a better grade. It was easier.

    But if they ever were to practice law on that background, their practice would be nothing but conceptual -- and hopefully never would require reading or interpreting cases. If it did, they'd be ill-prepared.

    Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I'd assume they planned to go into business or politics with their JD, and not law practice.

    If you were scheduled to have surgery to remove an obstruction in your heart, would you want someone who had done that 1,000 times? Or someone who simply had watched a video on it, cut up a sole human cadaver, and said "shit, I can do that!" ??

    Modern medical diagnosis has become a matter of deferring to "tests" rather than understanding the workings of the body and deducing causes. I assume this is because a big number of MDs don't have deductive skills -- and therefore many of them would be better off not practicing medicine, a thing that requires inductive reasoning in many of its sub-disciplines ...if not most.

    But those machines sure do look fancy and sure do bring in some fine revenue for many, many parties -- giving the always-vaunted, never-questioned "jobs growth" that apparently is more important to humans than eating, drinking, or figuring out what one wants in this world for one's self.

  10. Jack, you danced around me pointing fingers at everything I was discussing, calling them fascist.

    Same fucking thing, you bogus con-artist.

  11. Karl,

    I still don't have a fight with you. I don't think about you, and I don't dance around you. I don't call "everything [you were] discussing" fascist. I labeled a single sentiment as such. That's a matter of record.

    You can return to your misreading, your pet theory that I'm a Democratic operative, and your silly refrain that I'm a "preppy," whatever the hell that means, alongside calling my wife a baby-killer whenever you want. And it will mean exactly this to me: {0}.

    Because you are what you are, and I've no dispute with that. I didn't have a dispute with you five weeks ago, and I knew you were a misogynist reactionary, then. You make a number of good points, a bunch of bad ones, and a regular allotment of silly ones; it's not my place or job to police all the ones I don't or didn't disagree with.

    On the other hand, I imagine my wife would give you the full arm slap across your angry mouth if ever she had the chance. And with cause.

    I'd wager there are few people who would stop her...



    Thanks for the forum and the discussion. I'm going to bug out, because there's no way that Karl will stop himself from making it personal.

  12. I'll take a different direction here.

    Hardship in and of itself is not ennobling, agreed. But, the only way I have ever gotten better at anything is by pushing myself into the pain, however that is defined in whatever context. It would be nice if it wasn't, but it is.

    There are different kinds of pain though, I am speaking to one type. Obviously, the pain of hunger, starvation, the pain of uncertainty or pain of physical illness, yeah, nothing good comes from that. It just sucks.

    It can be physical, emotional or intellectual pains, but those pains, or failures, are where you hit your boundaries. Pushing those boundaries out is growth, and it can hurt and feel hopeless. I wouldn't advise anyone to seek it out for its own sake, but pain is a side effect of the process.

  13. Jack just can't stop being highly personal, even if through implication or, in the post above, through referencing his wife.


    It's not news to anyone who reads my blog that I hate abortion and people engaged in it, Jackie Crowbar... and since you said Mizz Jackie Crowbar enjoys reading my blog, it can't possibly be news to HER.

    Unless you were lying, of course.

    Oh that's right... you're not being personal. You're just being passive-aggressive, which is impersonally personal.

    Holy fuck, what a coward this drug kingpin head-kicker GOP brainboy money handler turns out to be.