Tuesday, November 29, 2011

History Starts at Home

Good God. From Spengler to Niall Ferguson, white men have been predicting the fall of their race almost as well as they have predicted that the children of half-dead old racists need ideas on what to get their dads for Christmas.

Were I IOZ, I might go for the bull's eye and explode the entire fucking illusion. What West? Who--or rather what--is dying? I see babies being born, I see buildings still standing, except when the Western market wisely calls for their maintenance funding to be cut. And what history? People know the history that makes enough sense for them. They know myths and just-so stories and they know NFL campaigns year-to-year. If that's not Zinn, it's Zinnian. It's the people's history, all they care to recall.

Of course, I flip through these books at the store and I've come to be able to predict the plot. Did Rome--I mean real Rome--tell itself it was Carthage all the fucking time? In any case, we're like late Rome, and the 1950s were like the Marian Republic, only we're like Carthage, too, weak inside and out! What a twist! (Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, only white, head of a faculty department, and even clumsier.)

What weirds me out is--my brain pulling Nietzsche's statement from the air... "Where races are mixed, there is the source of great cultures..." --and elsewhere, his discussion of the identity conflicts this engenders, writing this a century before most social reformers caught up!

Anyway, I read about "the West" falling and I don't know if that's something to mourn or fear. Perhaps there is nothing more Occidental than clinging to my Eastern roots.

But if white men are, as many of them have done for the last, oh, forever, seeking literary and philosophical Viagra to boost their tired, vigorless lives, then I can't help but be comforted by history. What is white in my family is predominantly barbaric, and guess what? Germans and Berbers and island Celts survived the fall of Rome. Civilization got traded around and retained in many places. And though I look at the politics of my Oriental homelands with revulsion and embarrassment, fuck it. I'm part of a millennia-old civilization there too. If the West falls, the West will be reborn, I'm sure of it. And the fact is that civilization, with all its evil and also its libraries and roads and shit, has been grown world-fucking-wide, and only an autist or celebrated public intellectual could be confused by that.

Fuck, the rest of the world could tell the West was on its knees as of World War Two. Some of us just got so wrapped up in the victory and the triumphal retelling that we forgot to observe that entire "civilized" nations went fucking bone-gnawing insane (though they'd been crazy all along, had one cared to notice). How is that not as telling about the Western soul as storming Omaha Beach and heroically raping Korean women?

And as far as whether we're going to miss our history, like I said--the would-be rememberers have a right to their ignorance, should they choose it. And I've met enough poor people to know that they will know or they will not. And when they know, they're usually pretty wrong, too. But the telling is the thing. And whether you're a southern black matriarch telling your children about things you remember*, or reading to them out of some fucking awful book by someone you read about in National Review, or if you're just looking on Wikipedia with the kids for information about where their ancestors and the ancestors of their friends came from, then you're doing some work at least. My kids get told about Ireland and Scotland and Denmark and how Mommy's peoples came over and how Daddy's came over and who the hell the Turks are and the Germans and why the Vikings in The Secret of Kells aren't like the real Vikings, but close enough for your poor little dark age Irish ancestors, and so on and so on.

* Which is the alternate name for History, of course.

It doesn't feel like saving a civilization, because it isn't. It's making one up day after day, which is what civilization is. You don't see slime molds bitching about how cells were so much stronger a couple of weeks ago, and that is because they are inferior and haven't really developed the ability to watch their lives tick away while bitching about subsequent generations' failure to know what they have failed, multiple times, to teach.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Just found out that a big, no--fucking huge--monied interest may be suing a person dear to me.

We're talking many, many figures.

I don't like to overgeneralize. It's the rush to intellectuality. It's a defense mechanism. It's a way for me to avoid pain and real feeling. But I can't help it. Won't get too personal here. I'll stay theoretical, because there's a place for that too.

This is where I depart from the money minarchists, the Randians, the right libertarians, all that shit. Because they say that they just want the state to defend against invaders or determine what's fair deception (like advertisement) and what's fraud, or they want a night watchman state to go after the thieves and the thugs.

Well, that's all principle-talk for the same old practice: powerful people are going to use civil means to protect their interests. When I talk to a right libertarian, he wants the state shrunk so it serves his purposes and nothing more. If he calls himself a liberator or a radical, he's fucking wrong and I want to sock him in his goddamn mouth.

I'm fucking scared right now. All the understanding in the world won't give you any solace when a stronger person holds you to the floor and puts a knee on your throat.

Named in a fucking article. This is big. He was like a little brother, hell--like a son at times. And I can't do a goddamned thing. I can't do a goddamned thing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Matter of Scale

I see the Turkish and Arab closing in on Syria as a multilateral war effort, nothing more. Its purposes are not about saving the Syrian people (which people, exactly, we are not told) so much as fulfilling the desires of the state cliques involved.

It can be said, fairly, that this is also a coalition supported or enjoyed, at least, by the US clique. Some might think it a proxy action, though I might note that the Turks are in the doghouse, their hostility no longer pointed exclusively at those we consider disposable and hated.

In any case, to make this brief: I know that multipolarity will not end sorrow or tyranny or injustice. It may, however, bring it closer to our reach. Foederati appear at empire's close.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

And as far as the elephant...

Other people are remarking about the police crackdown on the Occupy bunch.

I wish I had something to say.

I wish I had something to say about violence here, violence abroad. God, if I wanted to say something about Iraq right now, I don't really think I could. It'd be a scream. I can barely type about that shit.

Maybe when it comes to this kind of thing, which really saddens me, even as it is no surprise, I can summon nothing new to say.

We work for a nation that has no borders, which claims all of us as our subjects and none of us as citizens. You can be sitting in a hut somewhere, minding your own business, and the powers will fucking destroy you if it pleases them, let alone if it serves them. And so yeah, some people making noise and trying to communicate in a handful of parks and squares around the country are getting treated like strikers and suffragists and God knows how many others. They should acknowledge their privilege; they could be treated like Injuns and Others and A-rabs. But the truncheon isn't falling on me, so that kind of perspective is meaningless. The fact is that it's not humanitarianism that makes live fire slightly less likely; it's PR.

You work for murderers. So do I. Thugs and murderers and cheats and liars. If you live by proving your worth to others, they live on making us prove our worth. It's exactly as fucked up as that. It's exactly as fair as that.

That's all I have to say. Everything else is noise.

Square One

An anon very helpfully told me where I've gone wrong.

If you (and the bloggers on your blog roll) ever attempted to read any political philosophy before "fixing" it, you would save a whole lot of time spent reinventing the wheel.

I got a little bit of a chuckle out of this, because I've heard that I've read too much, taken too much of a theoretical approach, and come off as too bookish and not nearly as practical, experiential, and worldly as I should be. It's interesting, how we appear to others.

The fact is that I've read quite a bit of political philosophy. Printed out Marx from the middle school library, actually, and went from there. I have a lot of the liberal reading list, I know more about Rand than I care to, and I'm fairly adequate in historical and international movements, too. So why don't I hash that out here? Why do I reinvent the wheel?

Why, for the same reason I don't build my understanding of metaphysics using the Bible or Koran or the Vedas. Political philosophy is not only about received wisdom, and in fact, sometimes received wisdom is nothing of the sort. Political philosophy, like spiritual understanding, can be something developed on one's own.

Even if I agree with political philosophy that has already been written, I must know why I agree. I must do my own work, my own proofs, and come to my own results. I can do this, and have done this, while reading manifestos and essays. I'm rather good at working alongside a thinker as I read. But there is only so far this can go. Sometimes I need my own place of repose, my own meandering gibberish where I figure out where I stand.

This is why this weblog exists. I can quibble about "the greats" if I like, but I don't. It's tiresome and priestly and boring. So here, I talk about what I think. And I respond to what other people think. All are equal, all are welcome, all speak for themselves. I don't need to pass along the "for the Constitution tells me so" shit or go back through my undergraduate reading list unless there is something particularly pertinent or pithy.

And, to be nasty, I look at capitalism and I see the Congo. I look at Marxism and I see despots. I look at liberal democracy and I see raped Vietnamese women. I look at conservatism and I see lebensraum and Manifest Destiny. I look at anarchism and I see futility. I look at libertarianism and I see privilege confused for principle. I see the world's ideologies, like its faiths, and I see ugliness, ruin, waste, and error. I pick from their corpses and I go back to work.

I am tired of looking for the right book, Anon, just like I'm tired of waiting for a banner under which to march or a god for whom to preach. I am tired of inferior intermediaries and disappointing entertainments. In my fiction, in my beliefs, in my philosophy, and in so many other places in my life, I reclaim my right to build my own. If Mr. Rawls has had the same idea as me, that is lovely. Maybe I'll pick him up again sometime. In the meantime, I am not defeated because I share my path with a million others. In basics, it is pleasant to have company.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thinking While I Come

Beer can taste sweet to me, and no sweeter than when it is dark. Earthy black beer is marvelous.

The rich green scent of cannabis filling a pipe; that used to drive me wild, too. Is there anything as fine?

The crackle of a cigarette. The snapping of elastic. The clack of clasps on the side of a beloved DVD. In chemical and visual and auditory and physical anticipation, appreciation, reflection upon gaining my fix, there is bliss. There is oblivion. There is forgetting. There is poison.

I have been accused of being no fun, mostly by idiots. I love, love, love going too far. I have indulged perhaps not as much as some, but enough for me, and more than enough. I can talk for hours about fantasy and grow intoxicated until I am either staring into the distance or clinging to a toilet or sleeping where I fall. I am not bragging, for there are millions of sots more impressive than me. I am merely explaining what I am and saying that I have a good capacity for abandon.

But I can look into bottle and bowl and see waste as surely as enlightenment, see regret as surely as laughter. I can look at what I love, if it's fleshy or emotional or medicinal or recreational, and I can take it apart, doubt it. I've sometimes doubted too much. But I've been willing to test it all.

Some men can't do this. Too many, in my experience. I've met too many men who can't see the sexual leering in their sports or their fiction, who can't see the diseased hypocrisy in their drink halls and drug commercials, who can't see a quid pro quo in the Pentagon advertisement that is your average action film, who will not see racism if there is no noose, who will not see injury if there is entertainment.

Fucking idiots. Pain in society is always enjoyed by someone. Even Hitler sought to make his teachings palatable. If you are unable to test the delights around you, you are no connoisseur, no enlightened indulgent, no refined palate, no ironic observer.

You're one more pig at the trough. Whatever they pour is whatever you'll guzzle.

I don't care what a woman or man likes. I'll respect you if you eat slop and drink Steel Reserve. So long as you fucking think about what you put into you. So long as you don't delude yourself that it can't be poison if you like its taste.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Least of My Brothers

Consistency does not always harass me in my political thought. I do not need to be Kantian any longer, either borrowing my ethics from others or, God forbid, positing that my behaviors should be taken as precedent. Moral nihilism is freeing, in this sense. Things can simply be. I do not need to say that I am justified. I do not need to pretend that I am right.

But I do like to unleash the demon of consistency on the should-ers, the fucks who have--in the form of priests and scribes and kings and lawyers and fathers and matriarchs and orangutan doctors--said that certain things should be and certain things should not.

Political should-ers are particularly annoying to me. I have a simple rule for them. I think that they should design worlds in which they inhabit the weakest roles and lowest positions. That, simply and elegantly, fixes all of political philosophy.

Hammurabi would have to consider which senses he would like to abandon.
Moses might ask if war prisoners' genitals should be taken for trophies.
Mohammad might settle for being first husband of his wealthy wife.
Marx would have to listen to other people (this might constitute a living hell for him).

And most amusingly, I imagine an adolescent Thomas Jefferson struggling to deal with the advances of his 41-year-old owner. How romantic.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


You know, keeping an ever vigilant eye on hypocrisy is not altogether a bad thing. You can look around at so many in our world and find it. It sometimes pays to call it out. There is a lot of life-styler rebellion in our world, from Fight Club playing on Blu-Ray to tax-evading Bono selling phones along with world-peace or African starvation or something, to the R/C killers and private jets of Nobel laureates and senators' sons. It's not rebellion, and we do well to remember it.

An earnest attempt to search for hypocrisy, however, will eventually expand to cover our own, and from there we can either resign ourselves to living in sin and accept our powerlessness, or we can renounce our old ways and change, or we can take a look at what our involvement with mass culture means and, I don't know, maybe be a little more humble and a little less rigid.

For a very long time I did the flight-to-class thing. I grew up among rural whites. I was mistrusted by rural whites. I passed, but I talked about my race-mixture and my immigrant ancestry. I was very clever and brought pride to our community, in newspaper articles and elementary school academic competitions, but I challenged my teachers to the point of animal rage and for those I felt were beneath me, I was contemptuous and vain. I despised the truck-fetishists and the honkeys. I loved growing up on a farm but I thought the neighbors were amusing imbeciles. I told my mother of what our babysitters had told us, the faux-sociology and political ignorance and superstitions and the inane just-so stories that people use to impose structure on a chaotic world. And she was kinder than me, but she couldn't tell me that what I heard was true, and I was affirmed. I was smarter than them, and one day I'd find a place where I belonged.

I came close. Through divorce and moves and mistakes and what-not, I found myself coming close to public intellectual status. My picture was in the paper again, no longer a smiling, slightly Asiatic youngster playing catch with a globe along with his grade-school teacher. Now my face showed a slight smirk and I stared straight at the camera. It was a headshot I was happy to see but once in print. The article it accompanied was on the escalation--I refused to use the word "surge." I got done with my long-delayed bachelor's degree, I talked to a mentor, and pondered graduate school. But the degrees recommended to me sounded boring. I was growing depressed, I was economically dependent on my wife, and toilet-training was coming up. I saw who was getting kept on for internships and fellowships and paid positions and I was filled with loathing, for myself and for others.

At my brother's graduation from law school, I met a lot of ethnic white overachievers. Mostly community and alumni, there to see little scions initiated into the inherited wealth and prestige of their social class. I talked about anarchism and revolutionary socialism with a teacher from... Not Connecticut? New Hampshire? No--Vermont? One of those little places from the Northeast. I might as well be talking about Arab tribes. In any case, she was self-confident and friendly enough, but there was something cold in her demeanor, something very established. It might have been paranoia--self-contempt has always sharpened that trait of mine--but I thought, for a moment, that maybe I came off as a bumpkin.

In counseling school, I mixed alright with the upper-middle-class. A friend of mine, another working class white with too much Celt and German in him for some people, noted the way I spoke in class. He's always gotten on me for my court language. Keeps me honest, to some extent. An interesting counterpoint to my brother by birth, who eschews emotional language as imprecise and would have me speak more economically, more concretely, more lawyer-friendly. But after running from the commoners to some elusive and illusory ivory tower clique, and after discovering that the tower cliques are full of assholes and boring solipsistic Last Men and Women, I find myself refusing to totally run from the establishment's ways. No slave morality and rejection of others' ways for me. Now I mix well with the hourlies. "Y'all," consciously avoided throughout my entire youth, has entered my speech. Still, I hold myself stiffly, a petty Prussian, a bey walking the unit. It sets me apart as unusual, but not special, because I do the dirty work along with everyone else. I grab sodas and do favors. And I still talk the professional talk with the professionals, like I talk mild jargon with the nurses. I feel like a polyglot. Anybody who doesn't know me might think that I'm fake. And I heavily resemble myself during periods when I was really and truly a sham.

I'm not sure how I moved to this subject, but that's how the essay moved. I guess all I can take from my odd little wandering is that I am filled with artifacts. As a being I show many of my pretensions and quirks. Few of them make sense except in a context I alone know completely. So when I look at others, I can see some rank hypocrisy--such as when we justify our actions that, in others, we take for fatal faults. But I can also see a man wearing a necktie and not assume that he is a socially-controlled slave to outdated fashion. A man can speak like he's college educated and I don't have to assume he's shallowly learned. A child can listen to Justin Bieber without losing some basic humanity in my eyes (though I admit, this has taken me a while).

I know that there are some things that a revolutionary will not be, and cannot be, in my definition of the role. But what I'm looking for--and, as I am not as wise as IOZ, I am still looking for a Big Historical Something--I'm not sure, and I don't feel too safe ruling too many people out. I've yet to meet someone without the appearance of hypocrisy or who, were conditions right, would not be my bitter enemy. My best friends have started out, often enough, on the other side of but a momentary truce.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Freedom From

Whether you're leaving Egypt or holding off Persians or going Galt, we students of "the West" have plenty of stories of freedom-as-distance. Secession, removal, abandonment, these can bring freedom from certain forces.

It also leaves me wondering where things go next. The followers of Moses, the helots, the blonds with a tennis-player's physique--there were indeed free from Pharaoh and Xerxes and moochers, but what does that truly mean?

Is the ultimate freedom solitude? Or is there a freedom to be found with others?

If there's any freedom that matters, I think, there's got to be a way to be free with company.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nature and Nurture

Ponder a dog fight, or a bear baiting, or a football game, or a cockfight.

Sure, the participants could very well do exactly the same in nature. Dogs in a world without rings, in a world without Michael Vicks and baying hicks and betting and breeding and dying for sport, will very well fight to the death. I'm not one of those dumb fucks who thinks that lawlessness and wilds will result in some Jehovah's Witness pamphlet, hazily drawn lion sitting next to Hallmark-ready lamb.

But maybe they'll do something else, too. At least, I think, they'll have the option.

See, bears and hounds without torture and enforced starvation may very well leave each other alone. They could even exist amicably. Sure, nature ain't a Disney flick, but strange bedfellows are hardly exclusively human. But in the coercion of the ring, they have only so many options. The incentives are rigged, the outcomes fixed. They don't even have the comfort of the prisoner's dilemma. I imagine that, were dogs capable of going on strike, they'd be drowned, as all strikers are drowned when their owners wield ultimate power.

Anyway, ponder the difference between simulation and reality. How much difference in options can be found between the two? Where has humanity improved upon nature? Surely, there are examples. And surely, there are examples in which we have codified the worst, and the forced nature of our entertainments--particularly where we lust for the dangerous and unpredictable--is where I find my deepest loathing for my species. We are a race that has managed to fuck up even rough sex and violence.