21 September 2008

A different kind of Chaos Marxism

The fine folk from the International Marxist Tendency (Ted Grant, founder; Alan Woods, proprietor) take on chaos theory. Try to look past the slightly stilted Trotskyist boilerplate and note the essential ideas which replicate what we're doing here;

1) human society and culture can be studied scientifically.

2) chaos theory confirms dialectical materialism (classical Marxism) at the same time it consigns mechanical materialism (Newtownian physics and Stalinism) to the trash-can.

In contrast, 90% of what passes for "social science" under capitalism (and an increasing percentage of physical science) is on an intellectual par with astrology or mediaeval Scholasticism, in that it primarily consists of "Just So" stories about why whatever happens in the World-As-Is is As It Should Be. Chaos theory is too often misused by corporate memeticians as a shorthand for "we can't possibly scientifically understand human culture or civilisation, so let's just make up some stories about it which make us feel better about the impending cataclysm. Also, anyone who gropes towards a scientific understanding is a gulag-loving totalitarian."

This article serves as a corrective to that brain-death-serving ideal, although perhaps it should be translated into English. Truly, as Comrade Galloway puts it, the biggest failure of Marxists in particular and "the left" in general is that they have lost the ability at least since the 1930s to speak in language that ordinary working people can understand.

I prove my own theory

Further to the suggestion below that consciousness responds to broad socio-cultural-economic-political forces according to predictable laws... is it any coincidence that I got excited about this blog and its ideas right at the time when financial capitalism seems to have finally run out of people to lie to?

Charles Fort of course had pretty much the same thing in mind when he said: "When it's steam-engine time, it's steam-engines." But as George Galloway puts it, too many people who think they're socialists or revolutionaries or anarchists or whatever are too busy "arguing about dead Russians" (or Germans, or Spaniards, or Americans for that matter) to get out there and start spreading memes which will lead to mass illumination around a practical social-political project.

The traditional, elitist occultist argument is that the masses are asleep because that is their natural state. The Chaos Marxist argument is that the masses are asleep because it is a rational survival strategy, given their powerlessness in modern globalised capitalism, and given the vast resources of the powerful devoted to the means of mass hypnosis. We argue that the masses will awaken precisely at that point where they find a reality tunnel which enables them to make their lives physically, practically better. At that point, they will, as Trotsky put it, "storm heaven and earth" and leave the elitist small-businessmen occultists scratching their heads and desperately trying to put their own preferred illusions back together.

X Y is X

Longcat may well be long, and Happy Snake is certainly happy, but individual consciousness is not individual. You only have to look at the evidence compiled in Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger v.1 to understand what I'm talking about here - the same patterns, the same mythic resonances, the same stories crop up over and over again in time and space, among varied individuals who have no prior communication with one another. Now, I'm going to use Occam's razor and eliminate the various explanations (fun as they are) which involve postulating men from Mars or Sirius, parallel universes, etc. What we're left with is:

a) a Jungian universe of archetypes and synchronicity;
b) a Ma'atian universe of backwards time travel from the future;
c) the concept that human consciousness and culture obeys certain laws with a degree of predictability, by its very nature, and that individuals will respond with certain degrees of predictability to changes in their physical or symbolic environment.

Now, certain vulgar "illuminates" will tell that that that's as may be for the common herd (i.e. the people who empty their garbage, not the people who write the books they like to read), but the true homo superior are those who have evolved past such conditioned responses. If you believe that, just say the word "Marxism" to 99% of the Cosmik Consciousness Warriors based in the USA and listen to the drearily predictable responses you'll get.

My basic explanation of this, as I said a few posts down, is that to survive as a "stand-up guru" full-time you have to enter a Small Businessman's Reality Tunnel, from which of course Marxist ideas look like inhuman blasphemy, just as bad as fascist genocidal fantasies (and some of those people even make excuse for fascism, but that's another story). Of course, Crowley started as an aristocrat and thus had money to burn without having to play the market, so he's an exception here. But all these latter day prophets who make their living off book sales and appearance fees... well, good on them. Their True Will was obviously to become a successful small businessman. That's what "freedom" meant. And they succeeded. And that's about all you can say, in most cases.

But a basic Marxian insight - which I feel is backed up by available data - is that the small businessman is an endangered species tending towards extinction. The big corporates are getting bigger, as are the dispossessed proletarian and sub-proletarian masses, and they're at continual low-intensity (at least) war. To quote one of my favourite wordsmiths, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." You can't opt out of this battle unless you really do have a space city, and the reason that the Wilson/Leary fantasies about SMI(2)LE never happened is that (as Ken MacLeod put it) there's no profit in space. The only reason America went to the moon was as a fuck you to the Russians. To have the kind of money that you'd need to put into Space Migration etc., you'd have to be in the kind of reality tunnel where such fantasies would seem pointless and laughable. To quote J. P. Gross: "Call you? What for? There's no money in hog calling."

Anyway, back to the point: Corporate Memetics have worked out the basic rules of "predictable human behaviour" and use them daily to keep the poor shuffling proles working like dogs 8 hours or more a day and consuming like Hungry Hungry Hippos for the remainder of their waking hours. You will never illuminate humanity as a whole until you shut down the dark satanic mills which befoul the infosphere, and that will only happen when the masses start taking up practical activities which act as a countervirus to corporate ideology, at the same time the people who power the mills of cultural pollution go on strike. Seeking individual illumination in 21st century capitalism is like trying to live a healthy lifestyle living on a toxic waste dump which is sinking into the ground. Your only possible usefulness is as being the yeast that makes the bread rise, and please note that the yeast gets no special privileges or leadership roles for this.

The goal of Chaos Marxism is to use the insights into mass hypnosis and cultural theory which have been brought to a high level of pragmatic perfection by the management and marketing gurus, and turn them around to create techniques which can be used for mass-market from-below political activism, cultural illumination, and just plain lulz. Our theory is that Crowley/Wilson modern occultism contains some hints towards how this might be done, but it needs to be generalised from the individual to the social. Our aim is social revolution in the real sense, in the sense of the world turned upside down, of the corporate Kings kneeling as their kingdoms rise, like the French, American and Russian revolutions before the elitists, reactionaries and bureaucrats took control of the new states. The "second French revolutionaries" of 1968 said "Humanity will be free only when the last capitalist is hanged with the guts of the last bureaucrat". I would replace "bureaucrat" with "management/marketing executive", but same thing, really.

15 September 2008

I just can't get enough

In a game of Association Football (soccer), the player who has the best, most unobstructed view of the field of play is the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper, of course, has only a very limited ability to affect the actual course of the game, and has to rely on his ability to yell his insights as loud as possible to the rest of the team.

So it is for the organic intellectual or Mage in the modern era. Note that we're not talking about the coach or the manager - the goalie is actually on the field and playing.

Further to the below...

R. A. Wilson distinguished emic reality (what is really REALLY REALLY real under everything) and etic reality (what we can know through language), and pointed out that they don't really have much to do with each other. Chaos Marxism further subdivides the latter into social etic (or "consensus") reality, and personal etic reality, and furthermore insists that the closest we can get to emic reality is the need for biological survival of the primate which has these concepts. (We are of course agnostic on non-corporeal intelligence.)

Given that primate survival is primarily social, biological survival in all primate civilisations entails conforming to consensus, social reality in some sense. Starhawk's gym teacher said: "Reality is when you jump off a roof, you break your leg." Chaos Marxism adds: "... and also that, when you don't have an income and no-one feeds you, you starve and die."

Given that, I'm pretty sure one of the Aphorisms points out that your individual consciousness evolved to enable you to survive in primate social reality, not to be able to see how it really works. This is why the ruling class pay truckloads of money to gurus and shysters of all kinds to make up ideologies meant to justify their wealth and privilege - if they allowed themselves to see outside these specially constructed reality tunnels, they'd probably go mad and/or kill themselves. Conversely, we need to see how things really work if we are to change the rules of the game.

RAW suggested that primate social reality was mainly based on simian territorial/dominance games. Chaos Marxism thinks that's a bit simplistic. For the last 200 years, the laws of market forces have taken more and more of a primary role, and we think that the cash nexus works on a different logic than primate dominance rules - which is why capitalism is much more progressive than any previous socio-economic system, and also much more destructive.

===

We talk about "scientific" testing. "Science" pretty much means being able to create predictable, reproducible results. This is distinct from "religion" or "ideology", which pretty much means giving comforting justifications for what people had decided to do anyway. Ever since the Western philosophical world turned away in horror from the implications of Marx's scientific research into political economy, Western economics - and by extension all the other social sciences - have become religions, meant to justify the current social order rather than to understand it (see above). With the increasing emphasis on climate change denial by the ruling class, the physical sciences are going that way too. If capitalism isn't stopped, we're going all the way towards a mediaeval-style Inquisition and the scholasticism and mental stasis that goes with it.

T S Eliot (or H P Lovecraft? Some guy with two initials, anyway. Or two guys with one initial?) said "Humankind cannot bear very much reality". Chaos Marxism insists that that only goes for those who benefit from current capitalist social reality. For those who want a new and better game to play, we need all the reality we can get.

Four more aphorisms

  • The socio-political-territorial-economic games of those higher primates called humans are predictable enough that, given proper scientific examination, the rules can be worked out. It is the contention of Marxism that the necessity of following those rules to survive overrides all considerations in the human consciousness, and thus nothing can fundamentally change on the planetary scale until those rules change at the macro-social level. We aim to work out strategies to do that and to promote them to a mass audience, which will be the only real testing ground.
  • Small groups can't do shit except to the extent that they influence large groups.

  • On all issues of the macrostructures of nature and the cosmos, Chaos Marxism is totally agnostic. All issues of contention should be appeals to scientific experiment - that is, if you do this, do predictable consequences ensue? That is our only yardstick for the usefulness or otherwise of particular reality models.

  • Just because you're Illuminated doesn't mean you're right about anything in particular.

14 September 2008

Individualism - it stinks

Overwhelmingly, the people you've heard of writing in the field of metaprogramming, consciousness change, etc, are successful small businessmen* - that is, they've managed to "sell" their books to a publisher, or perhaps started their own publishing house, and are able to live well enough off the proceeds not to work a horrible day job.

What are the social characteristics of a successful small businessman? They are determined, comrades and friends, by what they need to do to survive - sell their goods successfully in a monopolistically competitive market. Generally, this means they end up with a severe animus towards (in no particular order) thieving taxing governments; monopolistic big corporations; lazy, greedy workers and their unions; and other competing small businessmen.

Just look at the works of Frank Zappa and R. A. Wilson to see where this leads you. We are talking about a couple of towering geniuses here. Towering geniuses who tended to have an animus against anyone who wasn't like them, to the point where FZ pretty much had no friends outside his family, and Pope Bob wanted to go live in a space station populated only by other people who liked to listen to Beethoven while stoned out their gourds. And that was just because of how they had to live to survive in order to do their art the way they wanted - the compromise with the market economy.

It's funny that the people who will advise you that all human reality is a chemically-induced illusion tend to take the question of $$$ extremely seriously... as if it were real. Well, they've got no choice - that, or starve. But in what way are they "freer" than if they were doing the same job for wage labour?

In fact, a Marxist would say that the wage labourer is only more obviously a slave to the boss - the small businessman is a slave to the almighty dollar and "market forces". Pope Bob used to say that he didn't believe in anything that didn't have a fore name, a hind name and an address (he stole that one from the fascist poet Ezra Pound, fact fans), but doesn't that contradict the essential insight that individual personalities themselves are socially determined by their need to survive in primate troops with their quaint social customs, in particular in the modern era "money"?

A Marxist would argue that, as a wage labourer, you have an interest in getting together with other wage labourers to improve your condition. For small businessmen, collective action is ridiculous and counterproductive. Which is why the occultism of small businessmen lends itself to individualism, solipsism, fragmentation and powerless, with all the significance in the Real World of Horrible Jobs as a good hand-job. That's the "freedom" of the small businessman - freedom to be an isolated individual, playing your own preferred game in the little enclosure that you can buy with all that glorious money. Congratulations, you managed to paint the walls of your prison cell in psychedelic colours.

All that experimenting with different reality tunnels should surely have taught you all by now that the "individual" (as a consciousness, rather than a physical body) is a socially-induced illusion, or more precisely, that individuality only makes any sense within a collective context. Pick the world you want to create - a world of isolation and solipsism, or a world of shared, collectively-created reality? Chaos Marxism opts for the latter.

* The masculine pronoun is used for poetic effect. Women are just as bad.

13 September 2008

We get feedback

Further to the post below about the best-intentioned Western mystics criticising an urban legend about what Marx said and thought, rather than the evidence... I finally got around to finding the thread on theAbrahadabra Forums about this blog. Generally I'm very happy to see you guys are more accepting of the ideas - and of the links between dialectical materialism and metaprogramming - than the Discordians generally were. Just the last post in that thread kind of irked me:

http://forums.abrahadabra.com/showpost.php?p=37912&postcount=27

Marx did NOT mention any such thing as "ownership of production and distribution by the Party" anywhere in his writings. In fact, the goddamned Communist Manifesto its own self said the following:

The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties.

They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.


Lenin conceived the need for a tightly-organised, centralised, quasi-clandestine Marxist party in the conditions of Tsarist autocratic repression. This party ended up assuming the dictatorship of Russia/the USSR in the aftermath of the traumatic Civil War, total economic collapse and the consequent collapse of the working-class democracy of October 1917. It is the fault of idiots (and to some degree even some brilliant people like Trotsky) that some people think now that that's the only way Marxists should organise themselves, ever.

Whether Marxists should have their own party, and how it should be organised, depend on the concrete conditions in which they face themselves. To say that we should always organise as "toy Bolsheviks" is like saying that all Thelemites must get together a hierarchically structured Order like the OTO or the A.A. Mistaking the map for the territory in a big way.

Also, the rigid "stages theory" ascribed to Marx is Stalinist orthodoxy, rather than living Marxism. Check out the idea of the "Asiatic mode of production" to understand that the theory as presented is a caricature of Marx's rich, complex and ever-evolving though. Stages theories don't work.

Poor dear dead old Pope Bob

How could the guy have written a book - a whole series of books - about not taking the map for the territory, about E-Prime, about the importance of the scientific method, defending sheer loonies like Velikovsky and the freak who wrote The Bell Curve, about being skeptical about everything, including skepticism... and then turn around and blithely say that "Karl Marx's theories have failed", without naming a single theory of Marx's or how it had been shown to have failed? Is historical materialism at fault? The labour theory of value? The belief that the industrial workers are the revolutionary class? Which one?

The followers of Marx have often been Stalinist fucktards, certainly, but so (RAW noted) are the followers of Wilhelm Reich, and I didn't read "Reich's theories have failed". But I suppose the prejudices which underly our own treasured place in the world are the hardest to see through, even if you think you've progressed mostly past Cosmic Schmuckhood - virtually every American heterodox thinker got wet and gooey when Stalinism fell over because "their side" had won in the Cold War. Fish can't really help feeling horny when the water temperature goes up.

Not that I want to speak ill of the dead - and I still credit Pope Bob with a major part of my psychic evolution - but little blindspots are often more infuriating in the brilliant than in the mythical average Jo(e).

Addendum to the Aphorisms

(based on reading all three volumes of Cosmic Trigger, Crowley's Magick without Tears and Overcoming Low Self-Esteem Through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

  • Because humans are higher primates and therefore troop animals, socio-economics are fundamental to our ability to survive. As Marx pointed out long ago, the "Robinson Crusoe" story is simple nonsense. We are not cats, capable of surviving all on our own - how resources and labour are distributed within our primate troop networks is primary to our survival as "individuals".

  • Anyone who claims that they're so enlightened as to be "above politics" - who sneers at mere questions of who has to work for whom and who gets the rewards thereof, in favour of talk about spiritual, genetic or subatomic reality - clearly doesn't have to worry about their own biological survival in a capitalist economy and thus is speaking from a position of privilege.

  • Conversely, the Belief-Systems that will enable the changing of the rules of the social game - a revolution, in other words - will have to deal with issues of socio-political economy as fundamental to issues of personal enlightenment and/or planetary survival and/or the future of the human species. Individual enlightenment takes too long, and read the climate news to know that the clock is ticking here. We are splashing psychic liberation right across the planet - and we'd die to do it.

  • You don't have to believe in Marxism to be a Chaos Marxist. In fact, it's better that you don't. People who "believe" in Marxism are not Marxist or even political, they are religious dogmatists with all the emotional damage, political uselessness and inability to deal with life outside a small group that that entails.

  • Properly understood, Marxism (as in the reality-tunnel elaborated by Karl Marx, not his dodgy "acolytes" and "followers") is a cure for all forms of dogmatism and regimentation. The essence and the genius of the materialist dialectic is that at the same time it points out that all forms and concepts and words and labels are provisional and inessential; and insists on the primacy of our nature as higher primates seeking to survive on this small Spaceship Earth. Both New Age claptrap and mechanical materialism - both ideologies common among the corporate culture and the various subcultures which have sprung up as an "opiate" to it - are designed to render you powerless.

  • A Stalinist is someone who has turned Marxism into a dogma and used it as an excuse for acting just like the more ruthless variety of capitalist.

  • Some of the worst Stalinists are in fact Trotskyists. To put it another way - having a more correct abstract theory in no way insulates yourself from dogmatism and small-group psychosis.

  • Conversely, Chaos Marxists hold that holding a Belief-System based on Marxism enables the elaboration of plans for changing the rules of the social game - which is, we hold, the only way to enable enlightenment on a planetary scale. (We may be wrong.) Fuck Ayn Rand - a starving man is not free, and neither is a woman up to her arse in muddy water because the Arctic just melted.

  • Marx said "Capital is a social relation" - R. A. Wilson would have said "Capitalism is a reality-tunnel". Same difference - capital and capitalism are not real, are constructs in a particular game. But inherent to this game is that the game must continually expand - to take in more and more players and resources.

  • Thus, it is increasingly impossible for an individual to maintain biological integrity (be able to feed oneselves and family) without playing the capitalist game. I don't care how "enlightened" you are - in 99% and growing of the world today, either you participate successfully in the market economy or you're subsidised by people who do so. In the latter case you're probably going to be in the position of "guru" or "court jester" - giving the succesful marketeers a Belief-System which justifies their own privilege. On your deathbed you will say "Oh, how I have wasted my life."

  • Given the existence of a single globalised capitalist economy, Individualism - the belief that you can survive comfortably on your own, abstracted from any social network - is a lie, a Tar-Baby, something sold to you by the capitalist egregore to buy your allegiance. Subculturalism - the belief that you and your buddies (or people who share your reality tunnel) can survive comfortably on your own, abstracted from the social network of people you don't get on with - is the same thing. The irony is that capitalism (which sells you these elitist dreams of social fragmentation, to keep you docile) has created a single, networked global economy which means that everyone on the planet (more or less) is now interconnected, and has essentially made it impossible for you to "escape the planet of the apes".

  • Whether you like it or not, the unwashed, reality-TV watching, football-loving masses do the work which make it possible for you to eat. Unless you want a life of monastic poverty on a self-sufficient allotment, your only choices are to live off the proceeds of a system which requires that the vast majority of humanity be psychically and socially oppressed - or join with them on a mission of mutual enlightenment.

  • O ye Illuminated Ones, make ye a choice right now - are you going to hypnotise yourself into being happy living on a quickly collapsing toxic waste dump, or are you going to hypnotise yourself into waking everyone up so we can clean the dump up together? Are you going to visualise yourself levitating over the bars of the prison, or are you going to lead a prison riot, take the place over and then figure out how to get everyone out?

  • "Every politician knows how to induce hypnosis, and very damned few people on the whole planet know how to de-hypnotize themselves." - RAW. Chaos Marxism is about mass dehypnotisation, much like mass immunization. Remember that bit in Illuminatus! where our heroes covertly dose the unwashed masses with a drug that turns them from neophobes into neophiles? Yeah, sort of like that, on the cultural-political-psychological-magickal level.

  • You can, in fact, change others. It's called brainwashing and hypnotism. On the other hand, you can persuade others that changing themselves - via becoming part of a mass movement to change the world - is a good idea. But you have to get close enough to the unwashed reality-TV watching masses that you can actually learn what a realistic first step towards this might be.


A new compendium of CM Aphorisms will be posted here in a couple of weeks on the second anniversary of this blog.