16 April 2010

It seems like ages since I quoted Mad Larry

... there's a difference between "left-wing" and "liberal". To be a liberal means to believe that tolerance is good and global warming is bad, but also to believe that you can save the world simply by not using the word "poof". S/he may have good intentions, but doesn't seem to appreciate that all the things s/he considers to be civilised - democracy, universal suffrage, the right to exist without having the shit kicked out of you for having long hair or skin that's a bit on the dark side - were achieved through the effort of rather more pro-active people, who fought and occasionally died in order to create a less appalling version of humanity. To be a liberal means to shield yourself from the full horror of your society, to have a veneer of civic responsibility while still approving of a system that's wholly founded on exploitation.

And this is why political activism is still necessary - because what freedoms the vast majority have were only ever won by active rebellion. I fear that an increasing proportion of liberals - among which I count most of the people who read blogs like this - are all for a global system of slave-labour and oppression, as long as they're part of the 15% privileged slaves who live in fancy cages with internet access and don't get physically whipped.

14 April 2010

Oh.

In a dream last night, I suddenly understood what is meant by the saying "The Kingdom of God is within you". For our atheist readers: a better reality is right here, right now, wherever and whenever you are only waiting for you to realise and pay attention to it. Sadly, the last part is so very difficult - the elevator is waiting to take you to the penthouse for a visit, but it doesn't come all the way to the basement, and if you have lived all your life in the basement and you don't even realise that there's a way out, you'll find it difficult to get there.

The civilisation we live in is determined to keep all of us in the basement, because at least in that way we're predictable. This is a civilisation which prioritises the collection of imaginary "points" in a trading system (aka $$$) over all else. Some would tell you that power and oppression of a tiny elite are the reason for the warped system, but money is more powerful than any elite whims. Military force, oppression and control tactics are in the service of money in an advanced capitalist economy, not the other way around.

This is why magic and narrative thinking are so important in the modern era, because we are already in a trans-personal era. This is what conspiracy theorists don't get - "anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools", because it assumes that money itself doesn't have a will of its own, that its evil doings must be traced to an evil group of people, i.e. tha j00s. Of course people and how they live their lives are the final, fundamental reality. But if people act as if they are forced to by some evil idol, then the evil idol is a real thing that can't be banished just by pointing out that it doesn't exist. Things that don't exist often have more power than things that do.

Our social system is deeply devoted to a hideous idol / egregore / false God / master meme, which unlike previous Gods doesn't demand blood and grovelling, it just demands that you devote every single part of your life to its needs.

11 April 2010

Gets you jumping like a real live wire

"[T]his revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew."
- Marx, The German Ideology

"So, you see, the whole key to liberation is magic. Anarchism remains tied to politics, and remains a form of death like all other politics, until it breaks free from the defined 'reality' of a capitalist society and creates its own reality....Reality is thermoplastic, not thermosetting you know: I mean you can reprogram it much more than people realize."
- Wilson and Shea, Illuminatus!

"[P]ractitioners of the shock doctrine tend to seek a blank slate on which to create their ideal free market economies, which inevitably requires a usually violent destruction of the existing economic order."
- Wikipedia on Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine

"[A]ssuming daily life provides us with sufficient opportunities for appropriate & necessary learning, daily life does not provide the conditions for us to amplify & intensify educative arising-incidents, enabling us to better refine who & what we are. This refining only takes place intentionally and, usually, in carefully-designed environments. [...]
But, even were enough educative-opportunities to accidentally occur, ordinary life does not provide suitable environments for amplifying & intensifying our process, necessary & sufficient to cook us to the required degree. Different traditions & ways refer to this cooking & refining in various ways, one of which is transformation, whatever we may understand by that."
- Robert Fripp, diary of 2009/7/21.

You know something's true when not only do people keep saying it over and over again, but the ruling class manage to use it for their own effort. Simply put: when people's realities and identities are put under pressure, the impossible becomes possible. Real change only happens in transformative "leaps", which only happen under great strain and stress, or at least under artifically-induced "crucible" environments. I know, this is terrifying, heartless and illiberal. It also happens to be true.

ETA: But never let us forget the distinction that Sufis make between a state and a station. Robert Fripp's metaphor is: it is possible to take the elevator from the ground floor to the penthouse; but you probably can't afford the rent to live there. Making a change is one thing, making that change permanent is another thing altogether. My feeling is that shock and trauma and other "initiatory" experiences play a part in turning a state into a station.

09 April 2010

Come on the beach with the nouveau-riche!

The traditional Marxist attitude to occult movements is that they're petty-bourgeois self-delusion, desperately searching for individual solutions to the accelerating collapse of individualist subjectivity brought on by the inexorable growth of corporate capitalism (and the forces of commodification and reification that go along with it). I, being young and impulsive, demurred, believing that perhaps art, cultural studies and psychology might be a missing link between the social liberation promised by Marxist revolutionary practice, and the personal liberation sought by the occultists and psychonauts.

This attitude is a little difficult to keep up, however, when I realise that so many of the authors of the mystical texts I've dug over the last few years make their living by being very efficient servants of the "corporate egregore" - the Globalised Free Market. One is a copywriter, whose website brags of (to put it in occultist terms) his efficient use of verbal and graphic "spells" to garner more attention and financial energy for the biggest, most bloated, most dehumanized corporate entities on the planet. Another is a "creative coach" - someone who will teach you how to get yourself noticed by corporate scumbags, and how to get them to make you an offer of big buck$$$ on your immortal soul. Another is... oh, hang on, this guy's website is not nearly as offensive as I remember it being, so forget I mentioned him (and read Join My Cult!, it's funny.)

But is that all it is? Is that their True Will? Is the end point of consciousness warrioring to be able to peddle your metaphorical ass to corporate pimps for the biggest $$$? And then do what with those $$$? Engage in leisure pursuits to build up your market-based ego, of course, because then how else will you get more $$$? Money, as conceived in the capitalist marketplace, is an addictive drug, and is getting a sustainable supply the best we can hope for?

The Sufis teach that the nafs (aka ego, aka "false self") is the trickiest little bugger, and will continually disguise itself as something else (God, the Greater Good, ascended Space Brothers, the Muse) in order to continue your slavery and addiction to it. Actually - connect the two paragraphs above. The individual ego is very, very much like money, in that (a) neither of them have any objective reality; (b) the capitalist system is defined by its elevation of both to the fundamental principle of life.

Karl Marx defined the glorious future day of communism as that day when "the condition for the free development of all is the free development of each"; or, to put it another way, when there is no more contradiction between the personal, the social, and the global. Is it just coincidence that this is how Aleister Crowley described the consequences of every man and woman following their True Will?

I'm going to spend, er, the next year and a day (how's about that?) attempting to cut meaningless bullshit out of my life so I have more time and energy to dismantle my ego and find my True Will. I gamble that this will go along 100% with being a more effective political activist, cultural theorist/propagandist, and artist. If this proves not to be true, it proves that Chaos Marxism is pretty useless and you should ignore it. Stick around.

ETA: ...what was I doing a year ago? Oh, that's the time when I first discovered the Islamic/Sufi traditions... and started talking big about writing a CM book. Huh. Every time I think I've got it All Sorted Out and I can start preaching to the masses, it's drawn to my attention that my personal practice doesn't really back up the Big Ideas I'm peddling. Perhaps there's an important lesson in that.

The mysteries of the organism

This perception is 100% in accord with my own experience:

I'd like to look at a model of Reich's which I find has much explanatory power. He broke out character down into three "layers". The first of these is a "social" layer, a veneer of good behaviour and politeness with which we interact in the social world. If we see this layer as partially a product of armouring and learnt restraint, we can see that underneath it might lie a second layer — of frustration, anti-social impulses, rage and so on. Where Reich really showed his insight was that he posited another layer beneath this, a part of us which is open, loving and vulnerable. Reich argued that this "core" is naturally decent and moral. It is the suppression and suffocation of this layer, through the events of our birth and childhood that produces armouring. I only have to think about which emotions I have easiest "access" to, to see the validity of these ideas - real openness and tenderness seem much more affecting and come from a much more guarded place.

The rest of the article is well worth reading, keeping in mind at all times that Wilhelm Reich was a revolutionary socialist until the Stalinized Comintern hung him out to dry.

===

The central conceit of this blog is that revolutionary politics, psychology, occultism, cultural studies and artistic endeavour are all going to fail as long as they are isolated from each other. But I fear I may have ignored Rule One of the mystical mindset - as above, so below - in that I have elevated abstract theorising on these issues above actual practice in my daily life. (Which in itself violates one of CM's basic ground rules, viz. you are what you do - or as Karl Marx himself put it, "it's not sensible to evaluate someone based on their self-opinion".)

There will never be enough books for me to read or articles to write to create a Silver Bullet Theory, and it has been a species of intellectual arrogance for me to believe that it could be - and also a species of intellectual cowardice to decide that "nothing could be done" to test the theories in the here and now. (Which is of course precisely what I castigate the sectarian Marxists and anarchists for, opening me to the charge of hypocrisy.)