13 May 2013
May every friend and reader of Chaos Marxism be recognized for who they are and what they can do, and may they be given work which embodies that recognition.
In other words: may you all be delivered from alienation. Or rather, may we all deliver ourselves.
28 April 2013
written at the low point of a vicious depressive episode
There is no heaven, no hell, no afterlife... at least of the kind which traditional religion teaches us to expect. You (i.e. your ego) will not survive this body, for exactly the same reason that your clock radio starts blinking 12:00 after being unplugged, or you have to back-up your hard drive. Data gets lost. Your body might be resurrected at the End of Time, but it might be like those heads in a jar in Futurama. The great Prophets weren't lying, as such, as much as trying to terrorise the simple folk into being good.
But you don't exist in this world, either. You - as an individual - are interpellated (as Althusser would have it) - called into existence - by the structures of this world. The twin traps of You are getting all wound up as to whether you win and lose the game of Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins; or the equal and opposite one, Who Dies With The Most Brownie Points Lives Forever In A Nice Place (And Whoever Gets A Negative Score Gets Fried Alive).
There's not much in Scientology that's worth it, but one exception is the concept of Eight Dynamics of the Self. That is: "self-interest" as defined by your personal biological unit is the smallest and lowest level of consciousness and responsibility. The next step up from that is your family and your domestic unit; up from that, the group (nation, class) you belong to; then humanity; then Life On Earth; then the physical universe; then as a Viewpoint detached from the physical universe (meta-consciousness, or as the vulgar would have it "the soul" or "spirit"); and past that, al-Haqq, the Absolute. The point being that anyone who puts their own personal identity at the top of their list of priorities is a really, really small creature, and due to be among the losers as everything they care about will cease to exist in less than 100 years.
The famous woman Sufi Rabi'a was seen running through the streets with a bucket of water to quench Hell, and a torch to burn down Heaven. Anyone who was motivated by Heaven or Hell, according to her, was as deluded and lost as anyone motivated by the riches of the Real World of Horrible Jobs (or, in her day, Goat Farming). The Absolute - the God's-eye view, or the view of the hardest of hard science - is the only thing worth worshipping. But all eight dynamics of the Self are worth living and dying for... in balance and moderation.
Whatever is really worth it about "you" is part of the Absolute, and is therefore eternal and immortal. Sadly, that doesn't mean what you call "yourself".
18 March 2013
Apologies for the break in service. All of a sudden, to our amazement, people have started taking CM seriously, and so I've been talking about this issues with people actually in political movements and making some excellent contacts. And some of them are with us now.
So, anyway: the goal of CM is still the marriage of Marxism and mysticism/magick, and another way into this is the problem of subjectivity. Changing consciousness at will, Starhawk's definition of magick, is one way to look at it - but why would you want to do that anyway? Answer: because your normal everyday self (i.e. the ego) can simply not see certain things. You have a blind spot, because of where you are and what you are doing and more importantly who you are.
Upton Sinclair said: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" More recently, Richard Seymour (he of the Sino-Seymourite Deviationists) has had this to say on intersectionality and the status of black female domestic workers in feminism:
Being insider-outsiders, they could perceive the routines and patterns, the assumptions, of an existing body of social theory that had been largely dominated by white men. Importantly, this meant that their challenge would be aimed not just at inclusion in the sense of expanding the existing paradigms to 'include black women in', but at fundamentally subverting the existing paradigms by virtue of the particular forms of knowledge they were able to contribute. But if that's true, it also has implications for intersectionality. Insofar as postcolonial feminisms have sought to challenge a blindspot in existing feminisms, they have sought to qualitatively transform them.
To spell it out, one's ego, or nafs, or class consciousness, or Bourdieuan habitus, means you simply don't, can't, won't look in a particular direction. The point of both revolutionary socialism and mysticism is to attempt to assume a universal viewpoint: the viewpoint of the proletariat as the "subject-object" of future history, or the viewpoint of God. Traditionally described, the point of magick is to be able to cast off one ego and put on another, which amounts to the same thing. The danger of course is that if you simply cast off your ego that's what ordinary people call "going insane", and they tend to lock you up and not give you the good pills.
The difference between revolutionary socialism and Stalinism/social democracy, as the difference between mysticism and religion, is the emphasis on agency and the subjective factor. If it's just a matter of doing the right things to achieve salvation, that leads to authoritarian conclusions, if there's only One Way and, as the traditionalist Catholics put it, "error has no rights". But if the point is to unite the objective with the subjective, then the question of will (defined in Gurdjieffian terms as the ability to do things that "you" don't like and don't want to do) is the question of the ability to create a revolutionary rupture with existing reality.
All parties, labels, dogmas, religions, and fixed identities get in the way of this, except insofar as they are supposed to be means to an end and to be burned as fuel in the struggle. Because if the workers don't burn the party as fuel, the party will burn the workers as fuel. That's what we call Stalinism, or fundamentalism. You have to be a soul and a class for yourself.
04 January 2013
Language is a virus. The ego is a meme*. "The world flows through us." Most of what we do starts long before the left-brain language centres decided to make up a good excuse for it. The "unconscious" is that left-brain inventing someone else to blame for actions which don't fit within its own self-image, which have their sources in the Real World of Horrible Jobs. When the left-brain shuts down or is bypassed (stroke, dreams, drugs, spiritual/psychic practices, brainwashing, art), then you begin to see how "thermoplastic" your personal reality is. But corporate psychotherapy / self-help is all about you paying to adjust your reality so it's closer to theirs.
David Smail got there first. Hello, comrade.
* I picked this up from a book on post-Kantian philosophy, and it was so obvious and confounding that I was amazed to find out that only those wacky Grant Morrison fanboys at Barbelith had got there first. But it is here that social-materialist psychology agrees 100% with non-dualist spirituality. "YOU ARE NOT REAL". You cannot fix your world from a position of "I". In Truth and Love, there is no I and thou.
08 December 2012
The radical therapist David Smail argues that Margaret Thatcher’s view that there’s no such thing as society, only individuals and their families, finds `an unacknowledged echo in almost all approaches to therapy’. Therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy combine a focus on early life (a kind of psychoanalysis-lite) with the self-help doctrine that individuals can become masters of their own destiny. Smail gives the immensely suggestive name magical voluntarism to the view that `with the expert help of your therapist or counsellor, you can change the world you are in the last analysis responsible for, so that it no longer cause you distress’. (source)
This is vital to the point of being a "missing link" in the Chaos Marxist argument. We are against magical voluntarism (related to "magical thinking" in the negative sense of the term) and for magick in the sense of "creating change in accordance with will" (or Intention, to use our preferred nomenclature). The latter encourages responsibility - the former encourages victim-blaming, a "just so" attitude to the status quo (the people in charge made the right wishes), and quietism on behalf of the oppressed (if you fail it's because you deserved it, you thought bad thoughts etc.)
Interesting that Buddhist meditation is vulgarly described as a mechanism of thought control, when the point is that one does quite the opposite - abdicates the attempt to control thought, but also prevents thought from controlling action.
The neoliberal abolition of the public sphere and its replacement with privatised exclusive fora - shopping malls, gated communities, internet forums where you can talk only with people who share your prejudices or fixed ideas - is in itself the abolition of scientific objectivity and its replacement with "buy your own insane delusionary reality on the Free Market place of Opiates of the Masses". We have watched with hilarity as the Republican Party in the US have crashed on the electoral rocks after making a collective decision over the last thirty years that "perception = reality". They really thought they could make themselves beat Obama by telling themselves over and over again that they were going to. It's not just a cynical lie they tell to control the people - this is what our ruling classes actually believe.
Of course, this is another argument for exogamy, in that You Can't Hide From Reality if you have any interest in affecting it, but I think OtL has covered that nicely in his recent radio show.
07 December 2012
Love and Anger are both forms of Intention - preserving and destroying, respectively, whereas Creativity is a third form. If you have to believe in a Trinity, believe in that one. Blessed St Ernesto said that revolutionaries were motivated by love, but surely we can all see that the good ones are motivated by anger and creativity as well.
Intention is sovereign, in that it burns through Habit (automatic action, without intention, alienation, reification, Unreality). If we can speak of God as something which is not real but makes reality possible, then God is Intention, and a "divine" or "perfected" human being is one who acts entirely in accordance with Intention, rather than in accordance with habit or reaction.
25 November 2012
If theology can be described as "the understanding of the stories that really matter in a particular culture", then perhaps what Chaos Marxism is attempting is materialist theology. (God / The Other World exist to the extent that we behave as if they exist.) This goes beyond "literary criticism", "film studies" or "cultural studies" in that we want to examine how ideology is produced and reproduced at all levels of our society, what factors in society contribute to the acceptance and thriving of various memes/ideologemes... and thus how to create a countermovement to the current productive system through the unity of workers and art / psychology / practical spirituality (to supplement the unity of workers and science which Rosa Luxemburg defined as the purpose of a revolutionary party).
Perhaps what I really want is a discipline of ideology in the sense of psychology, sociology, etc. And memetics, then, becomes to ideology what genetics is to evolutionary biology.