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.

===

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.