21 December 2009

Credo

In a Chaos Marxism special for the holiday season, let me attempt a quick profession of faith ("faith" being defined as "hope backed up with experience)...

I do not believe in a "personal God" - or, to put it another way, I do not believe that the abiding and controlling force in human affairs operates in any way analogous to that of a human ego.

I believe that humanity as a collective being has a potential destiny far more rich, deep and satisfying than that of individual egos and self-interested alliances between them.

I believe that capitalism is a social system which selects for the worst, most self-defeating behaviour in human beings. It also selects for great material wealth, and at least the (illusory?) possibility of abundance for all.

I believe we have to build the future we have with the people we have. We have to build a world where we can all safely transcend our individual egos, with people who have been trained to think of nothing but their little egos.

I believe that individual solutions by their very nature cannot save our collective species-being. In the same way that buying organic vegetables will not do a thing to smash the system of exploitative agribusiness, mediation and purifying your own little ego will not do a thing to destroy the social forces which select for bad behaviour. Only collective struggle can dod that.

I believe that no god or alien or ascended master will save us unless we save ourselves. However, I believe that in some circumstances the idea of "God" or "benevolent Space Brother" or "ascended Master" might represent a source of psychic/cultural energy we can call upon to save ourselves.

I believe in the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse, as something implicit in human nature and therefore in Nature itself.

13 December 2009

Follow me follow, down to the hollow

In an effort to get more of a community feel to this place, I've added the Followers widget. I've complained before about how most of the time I feel like I'm yelling into an empty void - or perhaps a darkened theatre where I can't see whether there's anyone there or not. Occasionally someone yells back, sometimes even encouragingly, and those are good movements. But what I really want is people to come up on the stage with me.

Oh, and for your daily dose of mysticism:

"Mistress, what is enlightenment?"
"Did you ride your bicycle here?"
"Yes."
"Then you should go adjust the brakes and gears."

07 December 2009

Oh crap

When I made the intention to "lose my ego so that God / the current of the new Aeon / the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse could shine through", perhaps I should have thought more clearly about what that would actually mean in practical terms. For a start - giving up all your hopes and dreams of success, achievement, pats on the head, gold stars, groupies; and learning to embrace pain, humiliation, degradation, etc.

The price for seeking a clearer vision of reality is the possession of that vision. "Better to remain asleep", indeed.

27 November 2009

Thinking about perfection will only screw you up

I think now I understand what Christians mean when they talk about being "humble before God". Essentially, it's giving up on dreams of perfectibility and potential omnipotence - it's internalising the bitter axiom that you will never, ever be good enough, but that doesn't excuse you from the continual struggle to get better. This kind of humility is essential for all wannabe teachers and leaders (although I'm not sure what an atheist equivalent would be - "humble before the vast universe"? "humble before the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse"?) - the knowledge that, just because you're the smartest or least fucked-up person in the room, that doesn't mean you're not still dumb and/or fucked up in some ways. No matter how enlightened you are, you will never have the right to throw your weight around like you speak for the Absolute.

You can see how this is necessary in radical politics as well as spirituality. A sure sign of a cult is a leadership which does not have this kind of humility - a leadership which sees their ideas as The Truth (rather than a better-or-worse approximation thereunto), and therefore claims throwing-weight-around rights, and interprets opposition and dissent as ipso facto invalid due to ignorance or even malice. We're supposed to be scientific Marxists, right? So for Uncle Charlie's sake let's start acting like science - where everything we believe is a hypothesis about reality which is continually open to challenge via the test of practice. No infallible programmes, not now, not never - programme fetishism is the Trotskyist equivalent of mediaeval scholasticism (aka "everything we need to know can be looked up in the Classics").

Several seekers after Truths spiritual or political need to internalise the opposite end of this axiom - that they will never but never find a Perfect Master or Uniquely Correct Leadership. You get people out there who will refuse to commit to any cause which isn't run by perfect saintly geniuses who never do anything wrong and don't have any weird personal quirks. Which great leader throughout history hasn't been some kind of weirdo? Karl Marx had an unpleasant personality and picked pointless fights. Lenin, Trotsky, and rumour has it Martin Luther King couldn't keep their hands off of teh ladeez. Hugo Chávez doesn't get enough exercise and has unpleasant habits picked up from being a military commander. Robert Fripp could be described as passive-aggressive and nitpicky. So freakin' what. You have to serve someone, as Bob Dylan put it - or, to put it another way, you have to make a commitment to something to make any change in the World-As-Is. You can always change commitments later, but the ability to make a commitment and stick to it (even if it's a mistaken commitment, as long as you learn from that mistake) is sign one that you are capable of acting as a channel for something better.

So, if you want to be a Chaos Marxist - and I'm not sure anyone does, including me - the first step is find a political party and a spiritual/psychotherapeutic group and make a commitment to them. I find that so difficult myself, of course. Part of the problem is that I hate anyone being critical of me, opposed to me or even disinterested in me, and all of those come with the territory of any serious commitment. For example, handing out leaflets on the street is terrifying because of the voice in my head which tells me that people despise me for doing this and I'd be better to run and hide. It doesn't help that radical political circles in most countries have been trained in a kind of sub-Leninist "hate speech" approach to opponent organisations. But... the question is, do I want to be able to make a difference, or do I want to protect my fragile ego? To ask the question is to answer it.

14 November 2009

Life is so much easier when you realise you're not real

Dion Fortune came up with a line which as most of you know has been misused the hell out of by fluffy-bunny wannabe-pagans since Gerald Gardner was a cowboy; All gods are one God, and all goddesses are one Goddess, and there is only one Initiator. Now from a CM viewpoint I don't think we can agree with that. Gods and goddesses are individual memetic/cultural entities which are all subtly different from one another - even from one group of believers to another. (I doubt that the Christ worshipped by Quakers is the same as that worshipped by the snake-handling churches, for example.) Dion's statement is, I fear, almost the kind of thing that the phrase "monotheism is imperialism in religion" was made for - like when the Romans went around translating "Woden" as "Mercury", etc.

But, on the other hand, I think Chaos Marxism can safely say: All mysticism is one Transpersonal Practice. Let's face facts - if it works, it must be founded on some material principle, reproducible in practice, and therefore all those different words and concept systems must point to the same essential technology. For exactly the same reason that when Edison and Swann both invented the lightbulb, it was not possible that the two bulbs could have worked in fundamentally different ways. The laws of the Universe are the same whereever you stand, thank you Einstein.

We distinguish between, on one hand, scientific study of what actually works in practice, drawing commonalities of technology between all the different ways of "changing consciousness at will"; and religious/sectarian warfare. The latter is nothing but arguing about what words and pictures you use to describe something. It's not science, it's a territorial pissing contest, in which the piss is different pet symbol systems. A prime example of this in leftist political discourse is the people who have rendered the words "fascist" and "socialist" almost inoperative by indiscriminately apply them to Stuff We Don't Like. One of the aims of this blog's practice is to work out a kind of neutral, scientific vocabulary - but also to point out that the place where the rubber hits the road is the place where language breaks down altogether.

The Zen guys know this very well, as does Terry Pratchett (your best wishes for his continued health, please), and of course Uncle Karl. Things are what they are, not symbols for something else. Destroy all words, destroy all symbols, only direct apprehension of material reality irrespective of any abstractions leads to a sustainable practice. "What's real, what's not real, and what's the difference", to quote Esmeralda Weatherwax, is the content of enlightenment.

Oh, and by the way: you are one of those things which is not real. "You" are a series of habits, associations between things, and behavioural patterns. You're probably less real than a computer program, because at least a computer program is designed to have some internal consistency. Sorry, but once you grasp that, you can actually realise how little of "everyday reality" is actually real.

==

PS. Philip K Dick and similar gnostics talk about the Good Divine Principle infiltrating and subverting the material world of the Demiurge. Marx talked about the spread of rational working-class consciousness - Gramsci called it "good sense" - overthrowing the illusory reality of capitalism - Gramsci called it "common sense". Freud said "where id was, ego should be". All the same things.

07 November 2009

I feel I owe you guys an explanation.

The last month or two I've been desperately (and I belive that's the correct adverb here) engaging in the Greater Work, attempting to strip away whole layers of my personality, so as to facilitate the merging with the emerging implicate order of the New Aeon which I keep talking about here.

It's extremely difficult. I am actually trapped, at the moment, by massive feelings of shame and personal inadequacy, based on experiences in my past which will be of no interest to you. Oh, and I've been reading a lot of Phil Dick. That never does wonders for one's grasp of reality.

But, the upshot is that I don't think I have anything to say I ain't said before ("I've bled all I can, I won't bleed no more...") It may well be that my work right here is done. It may well be that this blog now contains all the information which is going to come out of the Chaos Marxist meme - or rather, out of my consciousness on the basis of that meme. I wonder whether any other "social gnostic" activist will pick up the ball and run with it. And I wonder whether I will ever find ways to turn these ideas into action.

I've said previously that all the best stuff on this blog comes from "somewhere else" - that is, it is inspired literature, written in the voice of someone or something far more powerful and wise than Doloras. No, I haven't seen any pink light, and no, my cats haven't died of brain tumours.

In a sense, the essential problem (as the Muslims know well) is forgetfulness. Once you're up to your ass in alligators, it's difficult to remember that you were going to drain the swamp. Once you're in the Black Iron Prison, the MACHINE, the inferior creation of the Demiurge, exploitative class society, the Real World of Horrible Jobs, it seems that everything that you've ever experienced which suggests that this is not, in fact, real was just a happy dream of some sort.

06 November 2009

I STILL ATEN'T DEAD

A new aphorism for you:

Any group, religious or political, which puts its internal workings higher in priority than its intervention in the Real World of Horrible Jobs is a sect going-on-cult.

05 October 2009

Predecessors

And there I was thinking I was all unique and cool because I realised that the "activist lifestyle" was the enemy. Some French libcoms got there already 40 years ago:

One cannot help being struck by the innumerable resemblance's which bring together militancy and religious activity. The same psychological attitudes can be found : the spirit of sacrifice but also the intransigence, the will to convert yet also the spirit of submissiveness. These resemblance's extend to the domain of rituals and ceremonies : sermons on unemployment, processions for Vietnam, references to the sacred texts of marxism-leninism, the cult of emblems (red flags). Don't the political churches also have their prophets, their great priests, their converts, their heresies, their schisms, their practising militants and their non- practising sympathisers! But revolutionary militancy is only a parody of religion. The richness, the insanity, the excesses of religious projects are beyond it; militancy aspires to seriousness, it wants to be reasonable, it believes that in exchange for this it can win a paradise here below. It doesn't even achieve this much. Jesus Christ is resurrected and ascends into heaven. Lenin decomposes in Red Square.

Although the authors hilariously demolish the pomoposities of the activist culture of the time, both Leninist and anarchist, the problem was that their organisation (the OJTR) never actually managed to perpetuate itself or play a role in the class struggle. So let that be a warning - here's an aphorism for you, the only valid criticism is constructive criticism. Anyone who offers criticism without offering a practical alternative is working for the forces of inertia and despair.

Here's some other anarchists talking about the problem with the "activist lifestyle". I am particularly intrigued by an argument that "radical activist" is an identity produced by capitalist society, just like being a cop or a priest or a teacher. I suppose "Magus" or "witch" is as well - the counter-culture is always-already implicated in the dominant culture, which of course could be seen as a source of strength and connected, if "activists" and "magickians" weren't too busy trying to persuade everyone that they were speshul li'l snowflakes.

25 September 2009

Video killed the socialist movement?

The Marxist critique of capitalism would not have been able to spread, it seems, had industrial capitalism already annexed the sphere of symbolic goods. Marx profited from the backwardness of cultural circuits in relation to those of market production. A hundred years later, he would have missed his chance. All things being equal on other fronts, within the logic of image and markets (literary talkshows, weekly top-tens), Das Kapital would have remained what it was when it first appeared: a scholarly extravagance for book-lovers, not the source of a mass political current.

Old-school Guevarist Régis Debray argues that the shift from print culture to audiovisual culture has pretty much wrecked the way in which socialist memes used to grow and be reproduced. He seems pessimistic about whether socialism has a future in digital-Internet culture, for that reason. Your thoughts?

23 September 2009

Chanology: the state of play

Chanology may turn out to be the sort of thing that can't be duplicated. It's unlikely that Anonymous will ever face an opponent more exquisitely matched than Scientology—a strictly disciplined, hierarchical organization founded on the exact reproduction of relentlessly earnest, fiercely copyright-protected words. Here the assclowns of Anonymous found the perfect antithesis of their own radically authorless, furiously remixed, compulsively unserious culture. Scientology was a target so ideal that there is now almost no point in looking for another. Perhaps this, then, is how Project Chanology will be remembered: not as the first of a new breed of online protest movements, but as the last of the epic trolls.

(source)

19 September 2009

A Marxism - Memetics glossary, first few entries

Ideology: memetic entity
Personal consciousness: ego
Class consciousness: group mind
"Common sense": memes which shield the consciousness from reality
"Good sense": memes which enable the consciousness to change reality

17 September 2009

O wad some power the giftie gi'e us...

I think I've mentioned before that, in late period consumer capitalists, the cultural technician class functionally act in the same regard as the priesthood did in feudal Europe (manufacturing consent among the oppressed for their own oppression, creating narratives for the ruling class which justify that oppression, and being rewarded with quasi-autonomy and a slice of the pie). But of course, that's not how the "creatives" see themselves. They pretty much see themselves as wizards, as if this were some kind of fantasy novel. And of course some of them cast their "magic spells" for their own self interest, some for what they think might be the interests of the world as a whole (filtered through their own perception), and some simply for hire. The common thought is that they are the s00per-special elite who will decide the battle for one side or another.

Deluding yourself is probably a good survival trait if your aim is to get the most goodies out of the World-As-Is. However, rigorous honesty with what you really are is necessary if you actually want to act as an outlet of goodness into the world. And you might have the power to shape people's consciousness with your magick spells, and thus gain for yourself $$$ and other class privileges, but really, that's nothing that a mediaeval priest or a tribal witchdoctor can't do. And both those professions found themselves historically obsolete when a stronger class or national force appeared on the scene - unless of course they shifted their allegiance to the new boss, same as the old boss.

The cultural technicians and creatives have to be an important part of a new historical bloc to overthrow the system, of course, or the planet's screwed. If for no other reason that they probably have as much economic "weight" to throw about in the advanced capitalist countries as the industrial proletariat. However, the problem happens because they always assume that they're going to run the show and teach the idiot proles what's what.

Stalinism, and its mirror image McCarthyism, are both essentially middle-class ideologies because they include this basic assumption - that proles are dumb machines who need to be programmed by an enlightened class, and that the real battle is a Wizard's Duel between competing value systems and media networks. So it's White Wizards vs. Dark Wizards for the soul of the nation, and the proles will just have to sit back and wait to be told which side won. This of course lends to all manner of elitist claptrap such as conspiracy and terrorism, both of which might mean a new class of entitled jackasses taking over, but will never mean a change in the actual way the world works.

In contrast, Chaos Marxism promotes the concept of the "organic intellectual". Can you actually unify yourself with a real class force, and help it to come to self-awareness - which does not mean teaching them to see themselves the way you think they should be seen, but to clarify their own semi-conscious grasp of reality? To put it in concrete terms - the response to the Fox Newses and Globovisions of this world is not to set up competing and opposing propaganda channels. You can't beat the bastards on their own terms because it's based on mobilising within current market forces, and we're supposed to be opposing market forces. On the contrary - how can we create media in which people tell their own truth, rather than waiting for clever wizards to tell them what reality is?

13 September 2009

Not your grandfather's Marx

As far as the natural-scientific materialism of his contemporaries was concerned, Marx felt only scorn for it. The realization that we are, both mind and body, spirit and flesh, is a basic assumption of Marxian naturalism. While Marx did not differ from the materialists in their belief that body is more fundamental than mind, he also clearly put the spirit high above the flesh. Marx cherished the spiritual aspirations and the spiritual world of man as much as the most determined idealist and showed little appreciation for the material in the everyday use of this term. Although he was close to materialists, Marx was so emphatic about the worth of man’s spiritual life that he was rightly described- in the sense in which a paradox might state an important truth- as a thinker who leaned, so to speak, towards a practical dualism of body and mind and wished to liberate men from the bondage of their material nature.

This book is fascinating. It mainly consists in arguing that Marx was not a dialectical materialist, but an anthropological naturalist, and that dialectical materialism bases itself on Engels' misunderstandings of Marx and then Lenin's misunderstandings of Engels. Interesting and plausible - the paragraph above totally confirms the basic ideas that this blog is founded on (that spirituality and culture can be understood using Marxism, not abolished), and the book's description of "anthropological naturalism" reads like simple common sense to yours truly.

12 September 2009

Oh noes!

Some meddling libertarian kids have uncovered this blog's secret control of planet Earth!

I think the form of the dialectic that we are overwhelmed with today is probably more accurately "dialectic materialism." It is a tool to "manipulate us into a frenzied circular pattern of thought and action to advance humanity into an international dictatorship of the proletariat." It is often referred to as "chaos Marxism" because chaos must be created in order to inject the conclusion/goal.

Seriously, though - my habitual googlestalking of myself seems to have shown that the meme is actually spreading, in that people who don't get what we're on about at all are talking about us. That's kind of cool.

11 September 2009

There is a war between the rich and poor, a war between the man and the woman

Look, guys, this might be the most important thing I've written here in a long time. Are you listening closely? Right.

Forget all your labels. Forget all your words. Forget all your ideas and your images and your godforms and your shorthand and your colour-codes for the pieces on the global chessboard. It's all just froth on the surface. "The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao," and the true "tide in men's affairs" that is really shifting things around in this world is far, far deeper than any abstraction that you can come up with.

This is not about two teams of human egos, the Illuminati vs the Discordians, the liberals vs the conservatives, the pure vs the infidels. That's because human egos are not real. The world changes and shifts because of real forces - real physical forces, which express themselves in ideologies and consciousness.

This is why the Muslims will say "there is no power or strength but in God". Or a Marxist might put it: "the history of currently existing society is the history of class struggle". It is really, REALLY not about good guys and bad guys, of nice vs nasty, of a clash of ideologies, because all of that is a tiny, tiny tip on an iceberg, and the real things that moves are forces far more fundamental to reality than the individual human ego.

If Chaos Marxism has any point, and perhaps the jury is still out on that one, it's that your ego is not only unimportant in the grander scheme of things, it is lying to you. Your ego developed to help you play the game of personalities and ideologies and images. Your ego grew to help you navigate the Matrix. But the Matrix cannot tell you who you really are.

The whole point of everything we do on this blog has been attempting to cut through all the words in the world and bring us face to face with messy reality, a reality far, far deeper than the Real World of Horrible Jobs. Everything that happens to you might as well not be real if you only look at it with the eyes you've developed to play "the Game" of our current consumerist-capitalist society. You have to lean to look under the surface. It is possible for an individual to do this, with a lot of extremely hard and painful work. Easier to do it in a group, magickal order, political party, whatever, but you'll have to find a good one.

All human culture and ideology and language is simply a manifestation of deeper tides within Humanity as a collective entity, and at this point in history, that means the Class Struggle. Class struggle is how Humanity as an entity is coming to manifest itself - or kill itself off, if everything goes wrong. The forces of Waking Up as a planet or - well, not just staying asleep forever, but possibly even choking on our own vomit in our sleep, like John Bonham.

Things only REALLY change in the real world because a class - i.e. a current of humanity united by its place in the system of material production - makes things happen. Those foolish hippies in 1967 thought things were going to change because they took a bunch of acid, had more sex than was considered seemly and wore weird clothes. But of course the system took all that and commodified it and sold it back to them.

No, things really changed in the 1960s and 1970s because a new class - the middle-class managers and cultural technicians - became aware of themselves as a class and started agitating for the things important to it - consumption freedoms, for the most part, but among them important freedoms such as abortion, birth control, non-traditional sexuality, the breakdown of the classical family unit, and removal of censorship over expression. And they got all that, eventually, after fighting the Thatchers and Reagans who wanted to roll it back, simply because they were important to capitalism, and the system could grow much better and more efficiently if they got what they want.

A similar revolution is brewing around things like the Pirate Party and open-source. A new generation of cultural and infotech professionals simply want zero-priced digital content. And it will happen because if the corporate world doesn't give this new class force what it wants, that force will take what it wants. The whole question is: can corporate capitalism actually give the Intarwebz its liberty and still make profit? Because if not, we are coming up against a socio-economic convulsion that will dwarf the late 60's in importance.

But truly, truly, all this is for nothing if the majority class doesn't get into action and change things. Because up until that point, this is just the elite squabbling with the next bunch down the totem pole of history. A new chapter in history, but not a new volume. We really do need a class force which will crush corporate capitalism altogether - and that has to be a force which rallies the majority of the currently powerless, not just a small middle layer.

Anyway. *ahem* Nothing happens because of great men or women, their great egos, their abilities to manipulate memes, etc. That's just an ideology which reflects the cultural-techician class masturbating to its own cooklness. No, to use religious language again - if it looks like you just kicked a door down, God already opened the door for you and you happened to be in the right place at the right time. This kind of humility isn't popular, though, because it goes against the reward structure of the Matrix - viz., if great individuals aren't the ones who cause change, if they are actually only expressions of broader forces within human society as a whole, then the whole basis of intellectual property and authoritarian leadership goes down the drain.

Polish your mirror. You can't individually change the world. But you can perhaps see where change is coming, and be in the right place at the right time at the right frame of mind so that the positive currents within humanity - the forces of Waking Up rather than Choking In Our Sleep - can use you as their gateway into the world. This means really realising that you don't own anything, you don't have any rights, that your ego is an artefact of the Matrix, that you are froth on the surface of crashing waves, but that if you know all this you can surrender yourself to the real forces which move everything, and make yourself a useful part of evolving, awakening Humanity.

This is perhaps easier for those of you who don't have advanced egos which are admirably placed to earn privileges in the "Real" World of Horrible Jobs - those who have nothing to lose but their chains, in other words. But the industrial proletariat of Marx's time weren't just revolutionary because they had nothing to lose, it was because "without their strength and labour, not a single wheel would turn". The industrial proletariat are still the most vitally important class on the planet, but we cultural technicians in the advanced West also have our part to play. Will you play it, or will you play around in the Matrix until the whole thing shorts out?

I think I'm starting to understand the Hidden Mystery.

09 September 2009

Good advice

... spiritual life is exactly like everything in nature. It's subject to the law of nature. There is a tide like the tide in the sea, like the day and night. There is tremendous nearness to the Beloved, and the soul is happy, and we are walking on clouds, and then suddenly there is nothing there. You are suspended naked over a chasm or an abyss, you can't pray and God doesn't exist and everything is cold and everything is horrible... This is the path of the mystics.

- Irina Tweedie. Substitute "the Revolution" for "God" and this paragraph should look familiar to our secular Marxist readers as well. The test is whether you give up when it looks like everything's turned to shit. But there's a subtler trap - the trap of "well, maybe what I've been doing hasn't worked, so let's do something else." That way lies spiritual and/or political dilettantism, jumping on whichever bandwagon seems interesting at the time.

The important question is: regardless of success in the real world, is your group as a group working? If you've got a good political party, or tariqa, or affinity group, stick with it because groups can do things individuals can't. You might waste a lot of time and energy trying to affiliate yourself to a new guru, only to find out that you actually brought the problem with you.

08 September 2009

...your future you often have asked me...

There's an important scene in the beautiful film Goodbye Lenin! (which you all should watch), in which our East Berlin hero goes to some kind of West Berlin underground-fetish nightclub and is totally blown away. Now, that's something that always struck me - the idea that Eastern Bloc "socialism" ended up being so grey, boring, aping the most cheesy and unthreatening parts of Western mass culture but criminalising its own interesting dissidents. You would have never predicted that back in the 20's and 30's - Picasso was a socialist, the Surrealists were Trotskyites for God's sake, and generally all the best artists were actual anti-capitalists, rather than posturing "lifestyle anarchists" or insipid Greenie-liberals like they are today.

Obviously, part of the problem was the establishment of "socialist realism" (i.e. bland, feelgood pap) as the official art of Stalinism. But there's also a problem with a rigid centralised political/social structure of any sort, and that's that Stalinists don't really understand the dialectic. Because they think that a bureaucratic police-state structure is pretty much as good as it gets for humanity, they think it's their job to repress all social contradictions. Hence bullshit elections where the "good guys" get 99% of the vote, and all the other nonsense of social unanimity.

I once read an old Soviet propaganda brochure called "What do people talk about in the Soviet Union?" It gave "real-life" examples of random Soviet people having heated arguments on all manner of things, but the last chapter said: "One thing that we never discuss is whether socialism works. That's settled forever and ever and ever." And the Catholic Church is really democratic because you can discuss anything apart from the central dogma. What did Marx say? "All criticism starts with the criticism of religion" - the idea that there is any dogma, anything which can be off-limits for debate, is brain-death and a block on the evolution of humanity. (Note: yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre, or "Islam out of Britain" in Brick Lane, does not count as debate and should be rightly suppressed.)

Learn your Marx, guys! The whole freakin' universe is in contradiction, and always will be, because without contraries, without tension and conflict, there can be no progress. The promise of socialism is that social-economic contradictions (class and inequalities) will be overcome, so that we can learn all-new forms of conflict and contradiction! All the great art comes out of struggle. All bland, boring nonsense comes out of official propaganda trying to pretend that struggle and conflict doesn't really happen in our glorious utopia. The point of the end of the history of class society is that we can start a new history, not a boring "happily ever after" - aka "death", or a kind of C S Lewis afterlife.

This is why the socialist future cannot be a bureaucracy, or a central bank (sorry Lenin), but a network, with interdependent but autonomous nodes of production, of thought, of culture, of art, and yes they must not get on with each other. The main difference from capitalism as it stands is of course that these different centres will have different ways of relating to each other than markets, money, oppression and violence. There's only the vaguest idea from this point what that might look like.

The Holy Qur'an quotes the central intelligence of the Universe as saying something like: "If I wanted you all to be the same religion, I would have made it so. Instead, I gave you several different faiths, so you could vie among yourselves in holiness". If it doesn't have a counter-culture and heated arguments on every subject under the sun, it's not my revolution.

04 September 2009

And when Hugo Chávez says things like this, they call him a communist dictator

We live in a meme pool. We should start fining those companies that are peeing in the pool.

Ben Mack's Poker Without Cards is frustrating me. The author talks about the glories of capitalism on one page, and on the next explains how everything which actually characterises modern capitalism - memetic terrorism by an ever narrowing clique of corporate oligarchs, alienation and exploitation of creative labour, the cancerous ideology of perpetual growth - is a disaster that needs to be dealt with. Indeed, I think the author has the problem which many Americans have - no idea of what "capitalism" actually means.

Capitalism is not "the free market". There have been markets in every single social set-up since we got out of hunter-gathering, and there will probably be markets in a classless society. What characterises capitalism is:
a) the ubiquity of the wage- or salary-labour relationship (i.e. someone owns resources, hires labour to turn them into saleable products at less than that labour produces, and pockets the difference);
b) the ubiquity of commodities - increasingly everything, not just goods and services but entire areas of human existence, is produced as a tradeable, for-profit commodity.

Here we are with the occultism of small businessmen again - the middle-class spoilt rich kids who write these psychonautic books understand that capitalism in the big sphere is wrecking the planet, but because they have the social skills necessary to operate as small capitalists and make a profit, then somehow that is all right. The comparison is a middle-class citizen of the Roman Empire deploring the barbaric state of the massive agricultural slave plantations, but considering it only right and proper that they should own a maid, a cook and possibly a tutor for the kids as their personal property. Oh, and that the legions should go on fighting barbarians who might want to take those things away.

Yeah, I don't have those middle-class entrepreneurial skills. I was brought up on what Americans would call "welfare" from a upwardly-mobile working class family background. I only learned these l33t memetic skills because I live in a country socialist enough that even proles can afford advanced university education. But I never learned how to operate in the market as anything other than a wage slave, and when I tried I was abused and brutally slapped down. Perhaps because I don't have the skills to be able to make the system work for me, I can see that the system as a whole is cancerous, not just the parts which don't enable a cruisy lifestyle for confident bullshit artists. And I really, REALLY don't get how people working in a craft which is supposed to harness and control the ego can possibly support a social system which rewards the most success to those who are All Ego All The Time.

Anyway, perhaps more later.

ETA: Oh, here we go:

The way I see it, cultural elites are defending their power and position against a less moneyed mass. The elites resentthe mass for not respecting their place, as dictated by The Law. The lessers accuse the elites of creating the law. Bothhave morality on their side. Both manipulate the law to their own agendas; the elites are just better at it. This is a war
for power that will be played out primarily on television. Those of us who oppose changing the foundation of our government to favor either group will have an additional burden placed on us. We have to find ways to influence public opinion that don't rely on the forms of manipulation we’re trying to stop.

As I suspected - another proud warrior for the Middle who despises the elites and the unwashed masses equally, and wants to work out a way we can all live happily together, the lion lying down with the lamb and not biting it too hard. This is, sadly, once again the grey area where libertarianism and fascism come together, in the shared delusion that society is a unity. It ain't. It's a contradictory unity and if you don't choose a side you're choosing a life of parasitism. Chaos Marxism is on the side of the "less moneyed mass" because that's the side that's going to create a properly human world. And in that world all those middle-class circle-jerks of marketing gurus, designer drugs, fashionable clubs and cosy internet cliques will suddenly become obsolete. It'll be like being a Freemason, two hundred years after that particular meme came to the end of its usefulness.

24 August 2009

Art and politics

True art, said Gramsci, is about depicting life as it is now - whereas politics is always about some great future that is going to be. For that reason, he explained, the politician would always be at loggerheads with the artist.


(source)

Cleavage

Thinking some more about the basic division in radical gnosis, which can be summed up in the question: "Destroy the Matrix, or take control of it?" Overwhelmingly, the consensus among the bad-ass consciousness warriors out there is the latter. This is backed up with a mix of postmodernist ideas (any radical change is totalitarianism, only gradual spontaneous change is compatible with human freedom) and elitist ones (the vast majority of people couldn't handle reality and true agency if you gave it to them). Which is not surprising, given the middle-class basis of the currently existing psychonaut movement - as Orwell would put it, these are members of the Middle who hate the High because they're not doing it right, and fear and despise the Low who don't really count as human beings, and yearn for the day when they can either (a) take control of the system, for the Greater Good; (b) opt out of the system altogether to avoid both the idiocy of the Archons and the stench of the unwashed plebs.

To argue against this - as Chaos Marxism does - means relying on what you might call ontological arguments - the argument that there is a real, fundamental, physical (or even metaphysical) human nature which is warped, crushed, twisted and mutated by the overlay of consumer-capitalist-statist-individualist culture. The obvious refutation to this is: "All we can ever know about anything is the Matrix - we all live in a dream world which we can never wake up from, so best to make the most of it while we can. Whoever dies with the most toys - or the most cultists - wins." And that's great, for those of us who have learned the social and cultural skills which they can leverage into a position of class privilege as a "creative" in the global capitalist economy. Good for them. Until the damn thing collapses.

Chaos Marxism presupposes faith in humanity, and skepticism towards humans. It presupposes that the true nature of humanity is a collective identity, slowly groping towards self-fulfilment in some kind of Omega Point / God / N'Aton of perfect reconciliation between the individual and the collective. But it also presupposes that virtually no-one today acts like a real human being - their identity is interpellated from the necessity of having to survive in class society. Sufism speaks of the conflict between the divine nature and the nafs, the fallen ego - Gramsci spoke of the clash between "common sense" (based on ideology and culture) and "good sense" (based on actual interaction with ontological reality) in similar terms.

Marx and Engels' attitude to class society is very similar to that of many Christian and Islamic thinkers regarding the Garden of Eden narrative - a felix culpa, a fortunate fall, in that if we had never departed from divine grace / classless society, we would never have been able to grow and develop enough to return with the wisdom we need to truly fulfil our nature. Similarly, Chaos Marxism suggests that our destiny as a species is to form a collective consciousness which is no longer in conflict with the physical universe around us, and thus has power-with that universe (to use Starhawk's distinction from "power-over"). I'm sure you can have a great time in your dreamworld. But absolutely nothing counts for everything until you WAKE UP. And when you've woken up, you can't hope to stay awake unless you wake other people up, and then you can collectively decide how to stay awake so you can wake EVERYONE up.

18 August 2009

An excellent aphorism

Despair is a black leather jacket that everyone looks good in. Hope is a frilly pink dress that exposes your knees.


- Rebecca Solnit. As all Catholics know, despair is a mortal sin, and as all vegans know, so are leather jackets. Don't read the rest of the article, though, it's too depressing.

13 August 2009

12 August 2009

Links in the tradition

[I]n the early fourth century, the christian Church began to change the way it did business. More and more, the encounter with Jesus came not through that deep, timeless opening of the heart but mediated by what might be called "doctrinal mantras" - saying the right things and knowing the right things about Jesus. The fourth century became the era of the great creeds (and the great credal controversies), as Christians attempted to hammer out and precisely nail down (pun intended? -DlaP) their understanding of the Jesus event... Underlying [the Nicene Creed] is [a] troubling message that the correct way to relate to Jesus is to believe and know the right things about him. But this is not how relating to Jesus was done in those earliest days, nor is it ever how it is done when a person actually comes face to face with Wisdom.


Cynthia Bourgeault lays it on the line. Shift "the early fourth century" to "the 1930s", "the Christian Church" to "the Marxist movement", and "Jesus" to "the Russian Revolution", and the story becomes familiar. Practice gives way to theory which gives way to scholasticism which gives way to rank superstition and the sectarian and downright meanness that goes along with it. This is how any tradition with real life and "juice" in it turns into a shambling, withered zombie.

Rev. Cynthia goes on to suggest that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was tapped on the shoulder by Universe Central at the point where mainstream Christianity had definitively turned a corner (marked St Augustine) where it could no longer carry the "juice". Is it too crazy to suggest that Karl Marx was tapped on the shoulder when religion in its totality, as it was known in the 19th century, had reached the same impasse? Is it too crazy to suggest that, in revolutionary situations around the world, real ones where ordinary people break free of the Matrix and begin to reshape their own world, we are seeing the same kind of phenomenon as we did in Galilee under Pontius Pilate, or Arabia in the early seventh century of the common era - the "underground stream" surfacing?

Wisdom is liberation is power for the people and music for the masses. It is the goal of Chaos Marxists to discipline ourselves to the point where we might be fit to be tapped on the shoulder ourselves - and, in the meantime, to at least learn to act as if we actually did hear the Voice of God or the Call of History. But if Marxism means anything at all, it means that the new era is virtually nothing like the old era, and old forms will not suffice.

05 August 2009

We get criticism

Thanks to Episkopos Cain for spreading the good word on the Principia Discordia forums. Here is a friendly fellow suggesting why he doesn't think CM is a goer.

Brief reactions:

1) Yes, of course the very title "Chaos Marxism" confuses, discombobulates, and puts off people who have prejudices about both those concepts. As Cain rightly points out, the poster goes to great lengths to critique Marxism in general rather than anything we discuss here. Good! That's what we need at this stage - a kind of "filter" to make sure we don't get popular for the wrong reasons. Perhaps if I hadn't used the word "Marxism" in the title, we'd be as popular as Tim Boucher by now, but the last thing we want is to become a fan club. As our new colleague Komakino rightly says, though, actual public outreach to the masses will probably have to use different words for mass traction.

2) The poster is a huge fan of intellectual property. CM suggests that, while of course artists and memetic engineers have a right to earn a crust by any means necessary, intellectual property is an outmoded relic of a 17th century concept of "authorship" which has virtually no meaning in the modern era, and worse, encourages the sins of egotism and commodity fetishism. If you have intellectual property, as with any other kind of capital, you suddenly have something to lose apart from your chains, which ties you to THE MACHINE and if you're not careful puts you on the wrong side of the barricades. This is why monks take a vow of poverty. What is worse, digital technology has already smashed huge holes in IP's actual practical feasibility, so it's going the way of the Zeppelin and gas streetlighting already. I'm deserting that particular sinking ship as soon as we can find a new sustainable social model to replace it.

3) The poster says:

I see an objective reality where a huge amount of illusion is both necessary and sufficient to get earth to a place where everyone is fed watered high on good drugs and content. I see the goal as a matter of tweaking the illusions so they produce more happiness and less misery, rather than to dispel illusions.


Oh dear. This guy sounds a lot like Neo.

People working to 'dispel illusions' are fighting for a world where everyone is clinically depressed.


Funny, this is probably the first time in my life I haven't been depressed.

It really makes me nervous when people who don't get this last point play with advanced concepts in transpersonal psychology, particularly with other people's psychology.


My ego is flattered by the idea that CM is not useless (as almost all other critics suggest) but dangerous. I fully encourage anyone who thinks this poster makes a good point to stick around to watch what happens when we all go nuts.

Suffering

"It is impossible to achieve the aim without suffering" is pretty much the same statement as "all history is the history of class struggle". Simply put - the clash of opposites creates energy for transformation, as I'm pretty sure William Blake says somewhere. In the Lesser Jihad (political and social action), this is the struggle of the exploiters against the exploited; in the Greater Jihad (psychological transformation), this is the struggle of the animal/automatic/ego self against spiritual consciousness, of common sense against good sense. The ego is, then, like bodily fat - a source of energy for action. But it must be burned to be useful, like any fuel.

In other words, spiritual exercise (and political action) works on the same principle as physical exercise. No pain, no gain - although not all pain is gain. We must distinguish between "false suffering", where the ego turns on itself and attempts to bite itself to death, producing no useful energy (otherwise known as neurosis), and "real suffering", where the ego is transformed, softened, melted by a source of energy from somewhere outside itself, and consumes itself in a controlled chain reaction, producing useful energy. (Call the exterior source the submerged 9/10 of the brain, or God-However-Defined, or your Holy Guardian Angel, or the 12 Step Higher Power, whichever works for you.) The ego can not only be burned for energy, but it is softened, becomes malleable, in the process. Jill Bolte Taylor talked about how her experience of pure right-brain consciousness meant she saw herself as "a liquid, rather than a solid" - so perhaps the personality can even melt altogether. (Or perhaps vaporize, under exceptional temperature and pressure?)

And I just realised that the creation of Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen - the light is taking me to pieces - is, in fact, a depiction of a hyper-accelerated version of this process. (Yeah, big surprise considering the author.) The Thelemites call the final melting or vaporisation of the personality "the crossing of the abyss" - Sufis call it "dying before you die". But then you put yourself back together again on the other side, after your encounter with spiritual death and The Absolute. Will you have kick-ass superpowers at that stage? I honestly can't say. Probably the tradition of alchemy is talking about this, but those who know those texts better than I do can comment further.

A final word for warning, though - the process of "melting the ego through suffering" produces energy, but the energy can of course be used for good and evil. Anyone who went through an old-fashioned Catholic education can probably testify that living an ascetic life of devotion and prayer doesn't necessarily make you a channel for good into the world. Which is why the intellect must rigorously examine the source and outcome of the "spiritual energy" involved in this process. And that applies to political action, too. "Social revolution" = "crossing the abyss", but what awaits you on the other side? Not something necessarily better, if the process is aborted, or the consciousness leading the process is too attached to its own existence and privileges. Which is why the Greater and Lesser Jihads must MUST MUST go together, and a revolutionary party should probably disband itself in the process of the revolution.

(Is the revolutionary party or magickal order then the "ego" or "store of memetic fuel" of a social revolution, which must burn itself to be useful? That puts into perspective recent debates among Marxists about whether it's best to stay in small groups and "keep one's powder dry", or to gamble the future of your group on the chance of spreading revolutionary memes in a broader pool. I suppose the essential point is that if your ideas aren't "starting a prairie fire", then ditch them and get some new ones which work.)

29 July 2009

The cult of No-God

The British Marxist tradition in which I received my political training has historically had a sneering attitude to religious belief (which goes along with the cultural philistinism which Ben Watson complained of, where all art is judged by its utility as agitprop and agreement with the Marxist worldview). I am reminded of Rick from The Young Ones: "There's no ghosts, there's no God! There's a perfectly rational explanation for any phenomenon you might encounter!"

And then the British SWP found itself on the same side of the barricades as the British Muslim community, when liberal secularists decided that the Church of England wasn't as tempting a target as immigrant women in hijab to indulge in a little Voltaire or Galileo-before-the-Inquisition roleplay. I don't need to argue on this blog that Western secularism is increasingly used to rally support around an imperialist and racist project - and that, behind the Enlightenment verbiage, the content is "worship of consumer goods and lifestylism". It is the enemy of what Chaos Marxism stands for.

Anyway, good to see that the British SWP has come from this to having a serious debate on religion in their theoretical journal, based on the principle that you have to interpret all religious belief (like everything else) not by the words or concepts it uses, but by "its fruits" as the Prophet Jesus would have said - its actual social contents. John Molyneux is responded to by Roland Boer. Comments?

Seriously, the more serious arguments against the cold sterility of the "unreconstructed" Marxist tradition, the better. Read the comments on this post in a Marxist blog from a slightly different tradition, and decide whether you really think the self-declared defenders of fundamentalist secularism are on our side or not. I've pointed out in the past the same sterility in a traditional Marxist attitude to psychotherapy - that apparently it's cheating and copping out to try to be happy under capitalism, and the only real fulfilment possible to anyone is hard political work in a Leninist cadre party.

Fundamentalist materialism not only leaves no room for religion, but art, culture and psychotherapy are all devalued, or relegated to some irrelevant realm called "the personal". It splits the life and consciousness of the revolutionary cadre into (a) regimented political activism; (b) "leisure time" which is based on personal preferences and worldview which have nothing to do with column (a). That is precisely the same split which you find in everyday life, between the world of the office and the world of the hedonistic consumer. This is a travesty of the Marxist world view, which like the Sufi and Buddhist worldviews, is essentially non-dualistic.

A real revolutionary political practice must include Greater as well as Lesser Jihad - if you're not changing yourself and your immediate environment, you're not changing the world. At best you're just jerking off - at worst, you're well on the way to becoming the pigs who overthrow the farmer just to wear his old clothes. Fundamentalist materialism is non-dialectical, in that it does not understand that the spiritual world is real because it is based on the material world and there is no real distinction. To simply assume that once we've got the politics and economics right, human freedom will flower, is the same repulsive seed of determinism, mechanical materialism and "ends justify the means" from which Stalinism grew.

Nature abhors a vacuum in the spiritual half of the consciousness - "fundamentalist Marxism", much like liberal secularism, has an idealist undertone which often blossoms into some pretty nasty crypto-religious worship of idols and corresponding cult behaviour. When you have state power, you end up worshipping at Lenin's tomb, or Mao's, or Kim Il Sung's - short of that, you just bully and act like an asshole to "heretics" in your own movement. And then you wonder why you're irrelevant.

28 July 2009

On peut pas arrêter le signal

Not only did Operation Chanology [sic] get some of the more serious /b/tards organized, it got their minds more organized as well... [and] gave them the idea that they could do stuff that doesn't involve spamming the Fox News forums with "DESU DESU DESU".


- darksumomo and seiberwing@journalfen, in response to a post on Anon's successful facedown of AT&T. Whole communities of people can learn through practice what they would have never been interested in in a billion years in theory. As I have been predicting here for years now, "the self-organization of intarwebz nerds" is capable of more and more as the years go by.

This happens regardless of the success or otherwise of various individual projects - and it seems at least that Chanology gave heart to some pretty senior Clams to break with their cult. Many commentators correctly predicted that 4chan et al. would quickly lose interest in the "moralfaggotry" of trying to do good in the struggle against Scientology. What I think they didn't predict is what the consequences would be for the evolution of consciousness of the people who did learn the right lessons from their Chanological experiences. Was Project Chanology for the Intarwebz what May 1968 was for French students?

27 July 2009

Reiteration, or: Back to politics

Principle number one of Chaos Marxism is that, when understood properly, revolutionary Marxism proposes a reform of consciousness on a collective, social and planetary scale that transpersonal psychology / mysticism / magick proposes on the individual or small-group scale; and that a way of understanding that makes these two horses run as a team is a vital step in the struggle for the liberation of this species. But don't take my word for it; read a couple of recent articles by people on the cutting end of Marxist thought:

Instead of putting emphasis on introducing theory into the workers’ movement, in worrying especially about theoretical formation, we ought to be very creative in taking advantage of or creating situations that allow people to learn through practice. - Marta Harnecker


Real, liberatory reform of consciousness can't happen on an intellectual, book-learning level alone - generations of Gnostics and Sufis would agree with Rosa Luxemburg, who said "You cannot learn everything from pamphlets, it is necessary to carry out a process of learning through practice." The reason Marxism has been slowly dying for seventy years or more is that the cutting intellectual wave was Trotskyism, a tradition which made up for practical impotence by building ever more elaborate fantasy theoretical structures. (Absolutely no disrespect to Lev Davidovitch intended, only to his idiotic acolytes.)

Marxists have to learn that a rationalist, scientific thought structure cannot understand, let alone resolve, deep psychological barriers based on a lifetime of living in the heart of the MACHINE. Sure, people change for the better during revolutions, but Petrograd 1917 didn't make the entire working class enlightened overnight - and it would be even worse now that corporate propaganda is so much more efficient and persuasive, as Michael Löwy understands:

How to distinguish the authentic from the artificial, false and makeshift needs? The last ones are induced by mental manipulation, i.e. advertisement. The advertisement system has invaded all spheres of human life in modern capitalist societies : not only nourishment and clothing, but sports, culture, religion and politics are shaped according to its rules. It has invaded our streets, mail boxes, TV-screens, newspapers, landscapes, in a permanent, aggressive and insidious way, and it decisively contributes to habits of conspicuous and compulsive consumption. Moreover, it wastes an astronomic amount of oil, electricity, labor time, paper, chemicals, and other raw materials - all paid by the consumers - in a branch of "production" which is not only useless, from a human viewpoint, but directly in contradiction with real social needs. While advertisement is an indispensable dimension of the capitalist market economy, it would have no place in a society in transition to socialism, where it would be replaced by information on goods and services provided by consumer associations.


Again - any Sufi could tell you the difference between the needs, wants and compulsive desires of the false self, the Ego, the "special and unique snowflake" which is in fact an extension of THE MACHINE, of the memetic apparatus of control and manipulation; and the real longings of the body and soul, which are an extension of God-However-Defined. Imagine what might be possible in a world where the social forces of culture and persuasion were under the democratic control of enlightened beings, as the spiritual master brings his/her ego under the control of the more holy parts of the personal. Imagine if the Demiurge repented and learned to serve Sophia. As below, so above, in spades.

But conversely, the faithful and the psychonauts have to understand that capitalism as a concrete set of social relations, and the ideology/mythology/culture/meme complex associated therewith, pretty much ensures that most of the planet will remain in ignorance, squalor and self-hatred when they don't have to. Elitism is dead. In previous eras there might have been an argument that only a minority could achieve enlightenment or altered states. And that was because there was a limit to how many people could have that much leisure time and freedom from the needs of biological existence. Spiritual elitism is no longer needed for exactly the same reason that poverty, disease and lack of education are no longer needed. Anyone who tells you that "the True Path" is only open to a special minority of people, and most people can only hope for being happy, well-fed animals or slaves at best, is not your friend, or the friend of humanity, no matter how much else they might have going for them.

The great paradox, or contradiction of modern capitalism, is that it has memetically enslaved us at precisely the same time that it has created all the physical requirements for our total liberation as a species, or even as a biosphere. There is really nothing holding us back now but "the subjective factor" - our mental chains. One huge problem is that existing radical groups, at least in the Western quasi-democracies, are treating their politics as a religion or a lifestyle. The absolute last thing they would want was to leave their identity as "rebels and outcasts" behind, and join hands with a victorious mass movement.

I am not sure that I have anything original to add to this theoretical mix. My job is probably just to point out the connections, and then see what people (including me) can make of them in practice. Is there even anything that CM can offer to actual political practice? Or is it just "transpersonal psychology and spirituality for dialectical materialists", or an argument for gnostics to take Marxism seriously?

24 July 2009

All of my words are secondhand, and useless in the face of this

An absolute torrent of posts on this blog came to an end earlier this week. Basically, what happened was that I was going through a particular set of spiritual exercises, and my verbal circuits were going nuts trying to keep up with the flood of sudden insight. And then I realised that that was probably getting in the way. As the author of "Punk Rock Vedanta" put it - anything that adds words to your world is making things worse. So, perhaps a short break from writing, to leave more time for doing. Feel free to ask me questions if you get bored with waiting for updates.

17 July 2009

Revising the manifesto

We may have been under a misapprehension about Chaos Marxism all the way back to the beginning. This is not, I think, really about "magick" or "memetics" in the way we previously thought - of "word viruses", or even something like Phillip K Dick's logos plasmate, spreading from a single point of revelation to set off the entire world. That's not gnosis as I understand it. It's left-brain thinking, it's religious thinking, and elitist to boot. It's behind all the nasty, smug, we-are-the-illuminati bullshit you get from virtually every socialist or anarchist group out there.

No, let's go back to the basics of the Marxist tradition, in which it makes clear that consciousness begins in matter and biological life and is not in any way separate from it. Everyone already has the gnosis, Gramsci's "good sense", some little seed at the bottom of their consciousness which sees this world for what it really is. To use a religious metaphor - God talks to everyone, all the time. The Prophets are those who not only listen, but tell people about it and try to put it into practice. Our job is not to slavishly follow the Prophets, but to learn from their example.

What distinguishes the revolutionary class is the combination of a) consciousness; b) the power to transform reality in the light of that consciousness. The two must go together - power without consciousness is the very essence of capitalist society as it stands, while consciousness without power descends directly into "religion" and "academia" considered in the pejorative senses. Middle-class radicals are allowed to develop critical thinking skills through which they can discover what's really going on, because they will have a huge built-in blind spot around the question of preserving their own class privileges and thus will be prone to "dreaming that they're awake". The workers, traditionally, have nothing to lose but their chains, and the whole system relies on their consent to even exist.

The consciousness that will change the world is defined as critical thinking skills coupled with an immunity to the illusions (identity, material privileges, other forms of ideology), that THE MACHINE uses to keep us docile. One big problem is that the working class in the advanced capitalist countries has been incorporated far more into THE MACHINE than it was back in Marx's day, by (paradoxically) the universal education and universal suffrage that previous generations thought for. When we began to become aware, the Prince of This World offered us a deal - subservience in return for material gifts and Not Being Responsible.

You can't teach someone else "the truth". If they don't work it out for themselves, it's not actually true for them. Middle-class radicals and outlaws see the nature of the enemy but they don't see in detail how the enemy works, because if they were close enough to see it, they'd be too close to even know it existed. That's the essential paradox. We can't wake the global proletariat up. They have to do it for themselves - and when they wake up they'll wake everybody up. Hell, we can't even be sure that we're awake. So best to do that first, because you know what happens when the sleepwalker leads the sleepwalker.

16 July 2009

Peace be upon them

Moses, Muhammad and V. I. Lenin. What did they all have in common? They were leaders of a movement of the oppressed and downtrodden that actually won - if only for a little time, before the new state became corrupt or civil war broke out or whatever. We contrast that with the historical tradition of Jesus, whose story (I simplify for the sake of argument) is about losing as totally and completely as possible, and getting up again.

Slavoj Zizek discusses the "Beautiful Soul" tendencies of middle-class liberals, whose preoccupation is winning moral victories rather than real ones. This leads directly to sectarianism, to lifestylism, to politics which isn't really politics, it's just gesturing to make yourself feel warm and fuzzy. Contrast that to the tradition voiced by New Model Army in "The Charge" - no-one needs morality when there isn't enough to eat. This latter tradition is the one that Chaos Marxism stands with.

The fact is, to win anything in the World-As-Is, you have to compromise, make deals with the Prince of This World (the Great Deceiver, the System, etc). So anyone who wins by necessity will be morally impure. The only question in the end is was it worth it to bring something new into the world. Was it worth wiping out the entire Banu Qurayzah to make sure the Muslim community would be safe, or backpedalling on the equality of men and women to ensure the unity of that community? Were all the horrors of the Russian Civil War justified to prove that it was at least possible that every cook could govern? Is Hugo Chávez justified in congratulating the awful troll in Tehran on his most probably fraudulent election victory, to keep diplomatic and economic ties with Iran strong? Did three fifteen million people need to die so that Adrian Veidt could stop World War III?

Perhaps there are no answers to any of the above questions. The fact is, to do anything in this world means going up against all the forces which want us to remain quiet. It means doing bad things, it means sinning. A sin is always forgiveable, never acceptable... sometimes excusable.

15 July 2009

Multiple bodies

Just quickly - I think it's quite interesting to compare occultist doctrines of the various subtle bodies with the now-universally recognized idea of the body image. One possible starting point would be to say that Chaos Marxism recognizes three bodies: the physical body, the left-brain body image (how the individual sees their body in interactions with the physical world, society and the mediasphere), and the right-brain body image (how the "inner voice" sees itself embodied, and the "astral body" or jism asli haqiqi that the Fourth Way and Sufi are doing exercises to bulk up ). The latter two have an existence only in the sense that we act as if they exist, which I suppose is the only sensible way to talk about ideology and/or the astral plane.

Now, how can we make that useful? Does a community, a nation, a class, a species, have one or more "subtle bodies"? Here's some dude discussing things a bit more, although not materialist enough for my liking.

Non sola scriptura

The hallmark of braindead fundamentalism is literalism. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of both sides of the story, arguing with braindead Marxists is very similar to arguing with braindead Christians - only the name of the scripture has changed. Epistle to the Hebrews on one side, What is to be done? on the other. Argument by quotation is especially stupid when the source matter contradicts itself - Lenin, as I think I've said elsewhere, was a very good politician and changed his mind on a regular basis when a more convincing hypothesis came past, so anything you find him saying you can find him saying the opposite elsewhere.

You can learn neither magick nor revolutionary politics from a book, any more than you can learn to play violin or do aikido. Only by personal experience - gnosis. And the only book you can get gnosis from is a book of poetry, or other literary art - that is, something that conveys an extra message behind its surface meaning, in its very words, shape, and method of transition, that can only be experienced by the subtle and animal sense rather than the logical brain.

So - all "religious scripture", in the real sense of the term, has to include poetry. A reasonably pure example of this is the Qur'an, based on the refusal of authority to any translation, which means that there's something special about the language of the original classical Arabic. It could just be that it's excellent poetry in the sense that Robert Graves would understand, and recitation in the original brings about specific and predictable psychic events. Some Muslim scholars - operating of course on the belief that it's a direct transmission from Universe Central - have even suggested that it's like the art of the Great Houses in the fiction of Lawrence Miles, in that it is designed to change its meaning and its effect a couple of millennia down the track. Some people make similar claims for the King James version of the bible, even though its translation is crap, its poetry is pretty damn impressive - to the point where people think it's a distinct and superior revelation to the Greek and Hebrew originals. And let me put it right here that all the great Marxists were great writers in the artistic sense of the term.

If art is intimately related to gnosis, one way you can tell who the monsters are is the quality of their art, presuming of course that art is objective. Someone once suggested that the difference between Trotsky and Stalin's writings is the difference between a clear mountain stream and a sewage outfall. You can say similar things about Mein Kampf, or anything by L. Ron Hubbard. Crowley was by some regards a great poet, although your mileage might vary. And the poetry of Ezra Pound retains its power despite the fact that the author was a fascist scumbag. Trust the tale, not the teller - truth is truth whether it comes from the mouth of a saintly prophet, a drunken bum, Michael Jackson, or someone disingenously hiding behind a pseudonym. All real, useful, bone-level truth comes from the same Source, common to all of us.

13 July 2009

Philosophy!

1. The world is a contradictory unity, which evolves under the pressure of its own contradictions. [ETA: That is, that's how we perceive the world, since our consciousness is a contradictory unity. We refuse to speculate about any ontological reality.]

2. Life evolves from matter, and consciousness evolves from life.

3. Consciousness in its basic form is based on the struggle for survival. "Higher" states of consciousness are simply meta-consciousness, and meta-meta-consciousness, and possibly more "meta" above that.

4. The sphere of consciousness is "relatively autonomous" from the field of matter, and thus plays by its own rules within limits.

5. Consciousness in humans can be divided roughly into "left-brain" (logos) and "right brain" (gnosis).

6. Logos is logical, verbal, analytical, sees patterns, and communicates. It is the seat of the ego. Gnosis works in images, themes, and gut reactions. It is intimately tied in with "the Real" - physical reality and underlying themes in the world around us. It is the closest thing you are ever going to get to "God" in a concrete sense.

7. Gnosis "speaks" in emotions, psychosomatic symptoms, the hair standing up on the back of your neck, "religious experience", psychosis, etc. Freud started the modern science of trying to understand it, but much like Marx, bourgeois social science fled in panic from the implications of his research, and come to think of it, so did Freud.

8. Gnosis generally has a much better idea of what's really going on than logos, but becoming a responsible adult in modern culture means learning to live almost entirely from logos rather than gnosis. Since logos can't understand the language of gnosis without special training, gnosis is either repressed, ignored or put into a kind of "apartheid of consciousness". Gnosis is like the proletariat - it makes things happen even though the ruling part of consciousness makes itself deliberately unaware.

9. Creativity, in the concrete sense, is logos getting a hint from gnosis and acting accordingly. In that sense, creativity comes from "above" or "somewhere else".

10. Logos can be taught - gnosis can only be experienced. For this reason, once humans had invented speech, written communication, media etc, logos-based ideas and patterns spread much further and faster than those based on gnosis. Also, logical patterns are far more useful for day-to-day survival, which is of course what left-brain consciousness evolved for. However, it's not only pro-survival logical patterns that stick - it's also patterns which don't contribute to individual survival, perhaps even work against it, but find some kind of echo in gnosis - i.e. in subconscious perception of actual reality. This is what successful art and ideology have in common.

11. Gramsci's "common sense" is logical patterns which contribute to daily survival in the world-as-is, but which contradict objective reality, personal experience, and gnosis. Gramsci's "good sense" can be defined as logos based on gnosis, and most importantly, on shared gnosis from common activity and real situation. (This is the way in which we can understand Gnostic ideas, without having to literally believe in literal archons who are screwing humanity over for the lulz. If there are archons, we invented them subconsciously in order to sustain class society, which was - let us never forget - a good idea at the time.)

12. The fact that there are so many archetypes and common themes in human culture suggests that certain experiences are common in essential form among large groups, or even universally. In that sense you can talk about a "group gnosis", or "collective unconscious", of any group which has a common reality and experience. A class in the Marxist sense, by definition, will have the strongest group gnosis short of that of humanity itself. (Probably you could say the same for traditional tribal cultures.)

13. Chomsky pointed out that intellectuals fall far harder for propaganda than anyone else. Not surprising that if your left-brain consciousness is ruthlessly advanced, you'll fall for any plausible-sounding crap that comes through the logosphere (shall we use that word for the sum total of cultural/memetic patterns, or noosphere? Both are good.) In contrast, the lower orders of society are prone to act in "irrational" ways - crime, social deviance, riots - which are simply forseeable reactions to their real situation of alienation. Gnosis has an outlet in violence to self and/or others, lacking any logos-approved ones.

14. As long as Marxism remains only in the sphere of logos - i.e. a kind of "counter-academia", working on the same principles as existing academia and media, only with good guys changed for bad guys - it will continue to be irrelevant.

15. The enemy is philistinism. Without a real understanding of gnosis, and its outgrowths - religion, individual and group psychology, art, culture and memetics - any project for changing reality is doomed to fail. "Revolutionary art" does not mean art with revolutionary themes or slogans. It means art that revolutionises the soul - art which is appropriate for the next aeon of human consciousness, and points the way there to right-brain consciousness.

16. We can train ourselves to understand the promptings of our own gnosis, in logical terms (psychology) or in narrative, symbolic terms (religion). We can engage in communication with other humans on a gnosis-to-gnosis level (art). We can learn to change our own personal gnosis through symbolic and practical action (magick). We can learn to change collective reality through a combination of logical planning and gnosis-to-gnosis communication, and to spread "good sense" at the expense of "common sense" (politics). However, this last presupposes that we have any idea what "good sense" is ourselves. Let us test our ideas in practice before we proselytise.

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POSTSCRIPT: As a suggestion for practice - Marxism suggests that the central reality of human experience under modern capitalism is the workplace. Your closest colleagues-in-gnosis are the people doing the same boring, retarded thing as you do every day of the week. If you're not able to do magick and political activism at your workplace, we humbly suggest that you're not really going to be able to do it anywhere else, except in the privacy of your own basement.

10 July 2009

Our friends

Chaos Marxism is comprised of a "Greater Work" of reform of the individual personality to subjugate the ego (or "bourgeois subjectivity"), to enable the expression in the Real World of Horrible Jobs of current of human/planetary transformation. The practical work of this social transformation - political, cultural, artistic - is the "Lesser Work". Of course, it's not just us. Chaos Marxism is part of a broader current which we could call Social Gnosis - the esoteric answer to the "Social Gospel", or liberation theology.

The Alexandrian Gnostic Church specifically declares itself in favour of "social gnosis", as does the Reclaiming Collective. The Center for Tactical Magick was there way before us, and some Sufi organisations (example) are also clearly in favour of social justice activism. And if there aren't similar Buddhist groups I'll eat my mystical witch's hat.

I think we should all start talking to one another, with a view to expanding our horizons and encouraging practical action. Blogrolling? A Social Gnosis open webforum? Any ideas? Remember that I'm a total shut-in and I don't like talking to people, so this might be difficult, but it does need to be done.

A shout-out to Bishop Langley

I've been reading some good Gnostic-Christian material recently, which seems to complement the insights of my recent work in the Sufi tradition quite well. Especially good is this thing from a Gnostic Monsignor in Canada, which replicates the CM insight that if people don't believe in Gods, they might believe in anything:

1) The God you grew up with doesn't exist. 2) God exists. Duh. You just need to think bigger. 3) If you don't have stories with God in them, you go crazy.


I should note that the author also makes his living from coaching creatives, and if you have $1500 to throw around perhaps you should try it. However, I must say that one of my usual rants about "the occultism of small businessmen" is on the tip of my tongue - especially since, if you look at the material with knowledge of the author's vocation, you can see that this coaching is very like a mystical initiation into the Greater Work as we have defined it here. Does "The Work" automatically lose its value when you try to make a living from it? The work of Robert Fripp would suggest the answer is "no, but suddenly 99.9% of your time and energy gets tied up with bullshit, so best to be an amateur unless you have no choice". (As the Threshold Society says: "give freely".)

08 July 2009

The "Juice"

One of the insights that is the real beginning of wisdom is that rewards do not go to the deserving, in this world at least. The Hollywood megastar is quite possibly a shit actor, and of course the big bands are probably not nearly as good as, say, your own band. Once you realise that the universe does not work that way, you can stop gnashing your teeth about it.

But more pertinently, why do certain creatives get swept along on the path to fame and fortune? Marxist economics is superior to bourgeois economics because the former treats value as a real, tangible thing, intimately related to labour, rather than a totally subjective phenomenon which you can track with superstitious nonsense like "marginal utility functions". One of the basics of Chaos Marxism is that we want a real Marxist cultural/psychological/memetic science, not the obscurantism of po-mo cultural studies or the black alchemy of PR/advertising. So we need to discuss - is artistic value a real thing, like use-value and exchange value are?

Let's toss that "eye of the beholder" stuff out the window immediately. Of course, G. I. Gurdjieff also talked about the concept of "objective art", so that's a clue that we're onto something here. T. S. Eliot - whose stuff I love even though he was an awful reactionary - said that "all great art is impersonal". Let us put it into the language of Chaos Marxism this - "objective art", for us, is art which enables a real psychosocial/memetic current to reveal itself in the Real World of Horrible Jobs. This is totally distinct from "self-expression". Who the hell cares about whatever your emotions are? Unless your emotions are shared by everyone and you've just found a way to put it into words, sounds, images, whatever. Then you're cooking with gas, as they say.

That's not as mystical as it sounds. It's a commonplace that great art and great social movements go together. Beethoven's Fifth and Ninth sum up everything that was grand about the world in which the French Revolution could happen. Similarly, why do you think rock music reached perfection in 1975 (or 1969 if you're an awful hippie?) Because after the mid-70's the social current which it embodied - the radicalised middle-class youth of North America and Europe - ran out of steam, or got bought out. Same with US hip-hop in the early 90's.

It's time we got serious and precise about what we mean by "current". This isn't some kind of metaphor we're working with. It is essential to Chaos Marxism that a "current" in the Crowleyan sense corresponds to real social forces in the real world. And one current (at least) is the version which, if we grab hold on it, leads to the better world to come in which humanity fulfils its destiny and brings itself to an end properly, rather than killing everyone or just bumbling along doing the same crap forever. Humanity is a process that can either finish (when something is lost), conclude (in which nothing will be lost or won), or complete (which will mean a new beginning). Chaos Marxism wants to surf that last mentioned wave.

That triad of terms up there is, like a lot of stuff on this blog, swiped from Robert Fripp and Guitar Craft (aka the Fourth Way applied to the acoustic guitar). Fripp brought about GC because he felt it necessary to combine the Greater Work of evolving the individual personality with a Lesser Work of bringing music into the world. He has made the point repeatedly that, when a huge heavy Current like we've been talking about above hits the world, it will find people to express itself through, and if those people aren't ready for it, tough. They will get burnt the fuck out. Why did all those rock stars die or go massively crazy 1966-71? Fripp says, because their human personalities just couldn't handle it when something big started speaking through them. It is up to the reader to decide whether this is what happened to Aleister Crowley. (Something similar has of course always happened to poets and artists through history - especially the really good ones.)

So - Chaos Marxism's pretensions to a cultural science will be fulfilled when we learn to predict exactly where and when the Current of the Next Era will hit, in not only political but cultural, artistic and even sexual forms. Our Lesser Work is to be able to express it in this world and to help others to express it - our Greater Work is to prepare ourselves so it won't fuck us totally up. This is not idealism. "Currents" do not exist separately from actual physical human consciousness expressed in actions, words and cultural activity. But Marxists who talk about "reformism" (for example) as if it were an actual real thing that needs to have battle done against it should have no problem, in theory, with the concept that the post-capitalist future begins to reveal itself in embryo every time a crack in the system appears, and that we can begin to predict how it will take shape in not only political and economic but cultural form.

The big problem we have to fight against, sadly, is Marxist philistinism - the idea that art and music only matter when making agitprop for whatever the revolutionary cause of the day is. By those standards, Beethoven's Ninth sucked because you couldn't chant it while marching in the Napoleonic Wars.

06 July 2009

Back to the beginning again

The foundation of this whole blog / embryonic thought current, Liber MCMXVII, says plainly: "We declare that a cadre party of the Leninist type, properly understood, is a magical order." I think I'm getting a clearer idea of what that might mean.

The founder of the Jesuits, Iñigo Montoya Loyola, set out a truckload of Spiritual Exercises to give his order "a greater degree of freedom from his or her own likes, dislikes, comforts, wants, needs, drives, appetites and passions that they may choose based solely on what they discern God's will is for them." This is of course very close to what the Sufi orders claim for their own practice - only the name of God has changed - and, for that matter, the broad outlines of Buddhist practice as far as I can understand it. (Interestingly, there's a good article by a Jesuit priest pointing out that "oh, them Muslims ain't so bad, it's the same God after all" - and of course, the Jesuits were one of the main initiators of liberation theology, which should make our readers perk their ears up.) And of course most of you out there are familiar with the various psychic exercises used to strengthen the will in the OTO, traditional Wicca, and probably every other school of magick.

To some degree, where traditional Bolshevik organising has let itself down is that all the training formally given to cadres is either (a) practical political activism, or (b) academic-style learning of Marxist political economy and philosophy. That's the head and hands sorted out. Where is the heart? Where is the training for those who change the world to carry out the Greater Work of simultaneously changing themselves? All the current evidence suggests that this doesn't spontaneously happen, at least in the far-left sect milieu of Westernised countries. Probably in places like the Philippines or Nepal, where the rubber hits the road and if you don't do it right the death squads will whack you, and they'll probably whack you even if you do do it right, the cadres are shocked out of the bad habits of their personalities. But not around these parts.

Egotism = intellect + desire, and of course that's why capitalism is the most egotistical social system out there, because it really is all about a rational intellect which makes things happen and unbridled libidinal energy channelled towards for-profit entertainment systems (including, increasingly, sexuality). The Sufis and the Jesuits know that the part of humanity which taps into a more fundamental current - our own essential nature, or that part of our essential nature which may flower into a new improved humanity sometime in the future - has nothing to do with intellect or desire.

I suppose that, when I return to hard-core on the ground political activism, it will behoove me to start writing my own version of Psychic Exercises for Materialist Revolutionaries, and test it in practice. And that will be the point where my writings here start to mean something.

05 July 2009

Self-sabotage

There was a weird plastic cyborg whose CPU finally gave out last week who had a song whose chorus declared: "If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change". I always considered that a repulsive sentiment - the height of smug middle-class Beautiful Soul-ism, the idea that all actual struggle to change the planet was worth less than some clown Visualising World Peace while pushing buttons at their middle-management position.

The opposite to this contention would be the idea that one's personality is irrelevant to The Struggle to bring something better into actual concrete existence. Tony Cliff said that "you don't need a beautiful chisel to carve Michaelangelo's David" - that is, if you make yourself the instrument of a great struggle, it really doesn't matter what kind of an unpleasant person you are. Robert Fripp would heartily agree, making it clear that everything good he's ever done musically came despite his personality, rather than because of it.

However, the essential question in that case is: what current are you actually tapped into? To put it another way - what quality is manifested in your actions - all of them? Are they actually "Building It Now", bringing the spirit of a better way into conscious existence with every conscious act you perform? Or are things going wrong despite your best intentions? Truly, as I think another commenter here noted, there isn't just one Higher Reality / Source of Popular Energy / Magickal Current / Class Interest - to put it another way, I think Robert Fripp is wrong to say that any act based on principle makes the world a better place. (What if that principle is "no negros?")

There was a Jewish carpenter who said something like "by their fruits shall ye know them". Chaos Marxism would agree that it really doesn't matter whether an organisation or current's propaganda or theory sounds good. What kind of practical activity does that current manifest? What does it bring into reality? What do we do when - and I have sad practical experience of this - you see a group of people who you agree with 100% on paper, bringing about destruction and division by what they actually do in the struggle?

Such a contradiction is surely the result of a massive "blind spot". A blind spot is an area of activity, which your conscious mind is determined to be unaware of, which is actually tapped into some kind of negative current. People with a big enough blind spot will be aware that everything they're touching turns to shit, but have no clue why. Probably, we end up blaming some horrible people who are obviously trying to destroy us out of sheer meanness. Hmmm.

So, in that sense, the Greater and Lesser Works have to go together. Our political and cultural activism - our attempts to bring something from a better reality into the Real World of Horrible Jobs - has to be combined with enough introspection to make sure that we're not just automatically dragging up something horrible from the Qlippothic realms, just because we never checked ourselves closely enough to see where all our psychic/energy connections are leading.

So - if you want to make the world a better place, best to take a look at yourself/ves if you find that what you're creating in the world is actually contrary to your conscious intention. It is in this sense that the personal is political - i.e. personal change must go together with political activity (or some kind of outwards focussed activity, artistic, cultural, social, whatever), otherwise the two spheres will foul each other up.

30 June 2009

I hate being right all the time.

I got in hot water for suggesting that - while of course the Iranian people's struggle for democracy deserves 100% support - the "Twitter Revolution" was in fact mainly middle-class Westerners jerking themselves off for TEH DEMOCRAZIES, combined with CIA/Mossad psyops. I think I've been proved right by the military coup in Honduras. No Twitter frenzy about that, except from the leftie usual suspects. Why? Because President Zelaya is a horrible leftist and ally of Hugo Chávez. Therefore, the Western mainstream media won't support him (and they make up arrant lies about what the non-binding referendum was supposed to be asking).

Therefore, there is no massive memetic push to drive the intarwebz into moralistic frenzy. The ensuing lack of anyone giving a damn about Honduras truly indicates how much the outpouring of showy grief over Iran was simply an artifact of a very sophisticated public relations campaign, by forces allied to the current global ruling class.

Hat tip in particular to BoRev, who points out that the protestors in Tegucigalpa are currently dodging bullets on the street, "which is like Twittering for poor people".