23 November 2014

CHAOS MARXISM: Final Communique?

Remember the Faction Paradox mythos? A bunch of renegades in masks, causing havoc for the Masters of Reality, by their very existence thumbing their nose at what gives those Lords of Time and Space their power? Whatever happened to Lawrence Miles' glorious dream?

What's that you say, Eddie Blake?

"It came true. You're looking at it."

Let's just adjust the picture slightly:

There. Now we're looking at it.
Alan Moore knows the score, and he knows exactly how the Masked (Wo)Man is such an ambiguous figure. And certainly, mass-produced stylized Guy Fawkes masks aren't nearly as cool as the Faction's bad-ass "time-travelling space goth" get-up.

My very best friend in the world used to dream about actually having a Paradox caucus - in full get-up, mind you - in our country's parliament. But I pointed out to her: in their mythos, the reason that the Faction's masks terrify the rulers of reality is that they are made from the skulls of creatures who never existed. The power of these Time Lords Great Houses is based on the fact that they own history and nothing changes in it without their say-so, that cause always follows effect. Those masks strike at everything they hold dear.

Obviously that's not going to terrify members of the actually existing ruling classes of Earth. What will? Used to be the Red Flag or the Circle-A of course - back in the 20s, when bosses would keep worker uniforms in their closet in case the revolution came and they had to sneak out undetected. But that's pretty much kitsch these days. How many workers in advanced capitalist countries use either hammers or sickles these days?

But you know what actually-existing late globalised postmodern consumerist capitalism needs, beyond everything else? Two things that increasingly it becomes clear that it can't live with out. The obvious one: secrecy. Government secrecy, trade secrecy, the walls of secrecy (enforced and culturally appropriate) which prevents us comparing our lots, raising our consciousness, getting organised, etc.

The less obvious one, and here's where the psychological/spiritual side of CM comes in: identity. The Conspiracy (to use SubGenius lingo) needs you to be you. It needs you to have a forename, a hindname, and an address - an individuality - by which it "interpellates" you into the system (to use Althusser's great word). It needs you to be predictable. It needs you to have a place within the system.

Buddhists and Sufis have long said that identity - or ego - is the main barrier to enlightenment. Not, we hasten to add, having an "I" - but being attached to it, and the social rights and responsibilities which it maintains, and all the pleasures of participating in culture. It's said that a true Master would be equally happy as a king or a CEO, or begging for spare change outside a convenience store. Of course, those are tricks for advanced players.

The Anonymous mask - and this is what's beautiful - was totally historically contingent. Firstly, we had to have the otherwise disappoint Wachowski film of V for Vendetta, with its final scene of - rather than Evey taking on V's mask herself - a massed army of V's converging on Parliament. Secondly, we had the fact that Anonymous' first campaign was against Scientology - known to track down and harrass its critics. Wearing interchangeable masks was simply self defence.

(Speaking of which, dumbasses like to point out that every time someone buys a V mask, someone at DC Comics / Warner Bros makes money. This is a dumb point because there is no outside to commodity culture. You cannot live outside the cash-nexus any more, and anyone who tries is a moralist hippie or otherwise irrelevant to the struggle. You can only hope to transform it by conscious action - by using the rope the capitalist sells you to hang him with. Plus, some schmuck in Shenzhen or wherever has a steady job making those masks.)

The proletariat - the working class - isn't part of the system. That's why workers have no place in late capitalist culture - they want you to define yourself by the cultural goods you buy or the prefab subculture (with or without its own economy) you get into in your spare time. It's the Lacanian Real, the Horror Behind Door #3, the Face behind the Mask which is in fact just another Mask, it is the shit of the System which is the only thing which can transform the System. Barring total civilisational collapse, hostile UFOs or the Second Coming, of course.

The trap is of course that "revolutionary", in the dried-up remnants of 1968, has become just another identity-based subculture that capitalism sells back to you. Some clever Frenchmen worked this out in 1974, so why has it taken so long for anyone to notice? For the same reason that Maurice Brinton predicted the degeneration and collapse of the British SWP 30 years before it happened.

AND... because most people like it that way. It's most common in anarchism - or at least was, when I read some Alexander Berkman in the mid-90s and started going to meetings of my local anarcho group. I didn't wear patched clothing, wasn't a vegan, and didn't (then) like hardcore punk. So what was the point? It was a nice subculture and not a cult, but it wasn't revolutionary politics. Thank you once again, Out To Lunch, for showing me a glimpse of what revolutionary politics means for artists and other mad people.

So: being a revolutionary is much, much harder than joining a revolutionary group and being an active member. Panagiotis Sotiris asks the absolutely vital question: how can we change the world if we can't change ourselves? To be a true revolutionary, Chaos Marxism suggests, is very similar to being a Buddhist monk on the road to enlightenment. You have to be prepared to throw everything overboard, including "you". And including your "street cred" within "the movement". Including that precious Party/League/Group/Org you spent 30 years building!!!

Hazrat-e-Pir Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh said that the true sign of a Master is that 1000 truthful witnesses can be found to declare him a charlatan, a heretic, a corrupt bullshit artist, and a turkey (or similar phrases). If you're not being cast out by polite society, you're not doing it right. Assuming that what you wanted to be was the instrument through which change can come from within to this $2.99 Material World-As-Is.

I am not sure I can sum up any better than the above what I've learned in 27 years exploring my psyche, 12 years as a Marxist revolutionary, and probably a couple of months as an actual human being, so I may end there.

04 October 2014

weev was always a neo-nazi

"Remember when /b/ was good?"

"/b/ was never good."

So Andrew "weev" Aurenheimer, Encyclopedia Dramatica co-founder and troll legend imprisoned for hacking, is writing articles for White Nationalist blogs and apparently has a snazzy swastika tatto (as a commenter rightly says, "no way was that done in prison"). But he was spouting neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic garbage years ago in interviews. If you'll read ED, the "house style" is casually racist and anti-Semitic, except in the article on "White people", where they start sounding like the Nation of Islam.

This all ties back to a point that I've made several times on this blog - neo-Nazism (of the swastika fetishist type, not the serious business modern fascist movements who're smarter than that) is to politics what Satanism is to religion; trolling elevated to the level of a lifestyle choice. You in particular have the Nazi-Satanist subculture which sees itself as the "sinister dialectic", deliberately making themselves a threat, a villain, an ENEMY because there's power in that role. So anyone who was surprised by this wasn't paying attention.

CRISWELL PREDICTS: weev's next step will be to join Da'esh and be filmed cutting the head off something.

19 June 2014

The briefest of brief notes on ideology

Ruling-class ideas
a society where adopting ruling-class ideas is the best way to survive
"successful" members of society adopt ruling-class ideas as their ego-state
the ego fights tooth and nail to defend itself against the internal/external Other
a psychological "blind spot" which means that the gap between "common sense" and "good sense" becomes a source of terror like the Lacanian Real which can't be acknowledged let alone confronted by the ego under normal circumstances.
ideology transmitted by narrative as "just so" stories justifying "common sense".

Terry Eagleton and Frederic Jameson both thus came to the conclusion that literary / narrative studies have a privileged insight into ideology (in particular, how we justify things to ourselves which don't have any real material backing); however, perhaps that's just their own ideology justifying being lit-crit specialists?

I attended a lecture by FJ once. I asked him: "I agree with everything you said, but what do we do?" If I remember right, he muttered something like "Well, Hardt and Negri seem to have some good ideas..."

(Photo chosen deliberately to annoy Out To Lunch.)

12 May 2014

Creativity and Control

To paraphrase Ben Elton's excellent 1980s ecosocialist novel Stark, to start a new political party, religion, or any kind of activist group, even a small and stupid one, takes some brains, gumption... and creativity. That's the essential thing. You have to be able to make something new up. Even if it's idiotic. In Chaos Marxism, we call this "the juice".

So the cycle of degeneration of any organisation (no matter the value of the original creed) is this: Creative leader starts the organisation -> creative leader imposes mechanisms of control to keep the followers from straying off the reservation -> creative leader dies/quits/leaves -> uncreative epigones take over, use the mechanisms of controls to impose stasis and status quo -> the system inevitably degenerates.

Neither Joseph Stalin nor David Miscavige (or comrades Alex C and John R???) were capable of creating anything new, so they simply mindlessly repeated the mantras of their predecessors, and thus had to exponentially increase the cruelty of the mechanisms of control to get anything out of them. At least the Mormons, with their doctrine of "continuous revelation", have avoided this to some extent. You can actually imagine - barely - an LDS president announcing "People! The Lord GOD spake unto me and he said we're allowed to drink beer! Woo-hoo!"

But of course this is why I don't like the "rationalistic" schools of religion, like Protestantism, Sunni Islam or "scholastic" Catholicism. All this reason is based on interpretations of "divine revelations" which of course don't make sense out of their original context - so "garbage in, garbage out" as they say in the computer biz. If we can't have actual science, then at least something based on visions and revelations can adapt to new situations.

11 May 2014

One more time for the world!

Your body is programmed for biological survival; your mind for social survival. Sometimes the two contradict. Sometimes the programming goes haywire when too many conflicting pieces of "software" are installed. But generally the social programming that really motivates your everyday behaviour, the automatic solutions which may still be working even though the problems are long gone - the Bottom Line and Rules for Behaviour of which Cognitive Behavioural Therapy talks, which are called service computations in "clearing tech" - are generally so deep that you don't even recognize them. This is called "the ego".

Revolutionary practice - changing the system - only becomes pro-survival when the old order simply cannot stand any more. Up until then, it is a luxury rather than a necessity. Therefore "normal" people will not become revolutionaries until they have to. Which is why, this side of the revolution, the revolutionaries are not only a minority, but in general the "human debris" of the system - crazies, creative types (but I repeat myself), people looking for family, looking for tribe, looking for identity, looking for a new religion or a new daddy or an infallible Prophet - to scratch a psychic itch that is buried far too deep in their minds to even be seen, let alone be directly addressed.

The ego which enables you to survive under capitalism will, if its compulsions are not examined from a point of view outside itself based on objective observation of self and others - science and meditative practice - destroy any attempts to build revolutionary praxis. It will turn your "parties" or "affinity groups" into clubs, cults, sects and circle-jerks. And that is why revolutionaries need transpersonal psychology / mysticism, and that's what Chaos Marxism is.

06 May 2014

Is it just a waste of time?

A narrative that you hear often in the stories of people who spent 30 years in some cult is "How terrible. They wasted X years of their life working to bring about this ridiculous or delusory goal, or fulfilling the schemes of Great Leader Y who was obviously a psychopath, a cynical money-grubber, a troll, or come combination of the three."

Wasted it doing that because... what else could they have done? Earned big money? Found something to do in life that was useful and fulfilling? Hate to break it to you, but it's a tiny tiny minority under global capitalism who get to do that. Note that this narrative is particularly marked when the ex-cultist is white and middle class. You were privileged, ya schmuck. Don't you wish you hadn't thrown that privilege away? Why, you're no better than a prole now!

This is of course one of the arguments that cults use to keep people in - you don't have any skills that the Real World of Horrible Jobs wants. You'll be a burger-flipper! The irony being that a burger-flipper has some democratic rights even under globalised capitalism, which a cult member doesn't have. But a cult member has a reason to exist, which is generally something a burger-flipper lacks, except in rare circumstances.

The point is that, in a cult or in the "real world", usually what you do has no meaning or value in real terms, and you only get material rewards if you're either very lucky or know how to brown-nose. Or, to put it another way - you can only sacrifice if you had something to start with; or, more cynically, you can only sell out if there's a willing buyer.

For most of us life is an endless, drastic, alienated failure. There's a reason why, on leftist blogs, most of the comments are indications of doom, despair, and the glories of recreational drugs to numb the terrible pain. So why not join a cult? Unless you can find something to do in the here-and-now that means something, not just makes you feel good or scratches an itch which was implanted by ideology?

I'll Tumblr for ya

To the right, you will notice I've got a feed to a Tumblr account. That's where I'll be posting links, brief thoughts (or Aphorisms), etc, from now on. The blog proper will be reserved for essays or other lengthy original documents.

15 April 2014

Sectarianism: the unbeatable high!

...I see vividly
that I depend on your being down for my being up. I would never be
able to know that I belong to the in-group of "nice" or "saved" people
without the assistance of an out-group of "nasty" or "damned" people.
How can any in-group maintain its collective ego without relishing dinnertable discussions about the ghastly conduct of outsiders? The very identity of racist Southerners depends upon contrasting themselves with those dirty black "nigras." But, conversely, the out-groups feel that they are really and truly "in," and nourish their collective ego with relishingly indignant conversation about squares, Ofays, Wasps, Philistines, and the blasted bourgeoisie. [...]
What, for example, is more quarrelsome—in practical politics—than the project for a truly classless and democratic society?

- Alan Watts, The Book on the Taboo against Knowing Who You Really Are