29 November 2010

Chaos Marxism is non-dualist

A brief look at our ontology:

1. CM is materialist. Matter led to biological life which led to awareness which led to consciousness which led to spirituality.

2. Spirit / God is a potential in humanity's relationship with itself, the rest of nature and the physical universe, rather than some pre-existing being. That, however, does not make it any less real. Anything which produces real effects in the material world is real, which means that if some conceptual entity in people's heads makes them do something, that entity is real and a force to be reckoned with. This is the sense in which "magick" works.

3. "The World-As-Is" does not refer to the physical world of quantum physics, rocks and bunny rabbits. It refers to what Gnostics call the kosmos - i.e. the system of language and social reality in which humans live and by which they make sense of the physical world. At the moment, the kosmos for a vast majority of the planet is a capitalist or state-capitalist one of wage labour and commodity production.

4. The individual ego is an integral part of the kosmos - the means by which you, as a biological Homo sapiens sapiens, interact with the kosmos. It has several different levels, which vaguely fit into the Freudian scheme of Superego/Ego/Id, or TA's Parent/Adult/Child. A crucial insight - and one of our main intellectual weapons against capitalist individualist/rationalist ideology - is that people very, very rarely act from the rational part of their being, and are generally driven by social pressure or unexamined psychological undercurrents (Parent or Child rather than Adult). In contrast, we use "Spirit" to mean those levels of the human personality which are not part of the kosmos, but come from an essential reality beneath that of language. (Nothing you can put into words is "essential reality".)

5. As materialists, we derive the "Should Be" from the "Is". The World-As-Should-Be is the kosmos as it could be if we made a conscious collective choice to act as if we were free, to maximise the ability of all to exercise their vital powers (which would mean, at the very least, a reorganisation of how we decide what stuff is made, and the very notion of "work for wages" as the fundament of the economy). The big issue is that most people are simply incapable of exercising "will" - i.e. to do something which is "right" even though it contradicts social or psychological taboos. This probably goes back to primitive ape days, when to go against the tribe pretty much meant being eaten by a leopard. But the essence of being human is: we are apes who have the capacity to not act like apes.

6. Therefore, Chaos Marxism promotes - on the rational, "Adult" level - a sophisticated dialectical materialist analysis of how human culture has evolved and where it might go from there, i.e. the best way to plan a map between World-As-Is and World-As-Should-Be. However, we realise that any scheme for changing the kosmos which works only on a rationalistic basis is doomed to self-destructive failure. The "human factor" means Parent and Child levels as well, and even beyond that, a "Spirit" level which is not part of the daily consciousness of the World-As-Is at all. (Schemes for changing the world based only on intellect are shown in the wonderful outcomes of neoliberalism and Stalinism in the 20th century.) One great thing about Lenin, as opposed to useless "Leninists", is that he understood the importance of will, of insurrection as an art, that in the heat of struggle resources are available to you that simply don't exist in normal everyday reality. This is an important psychological insight.

7. So-called "spiritual" groups which don't question the commodity/cash nexus are simply part of the problem. So are so-called "political" groups which are simply the same thing as the above "spiritual" groups only with secular rather than spiritual idols to which the individual is supposed to sacrifice themselves. In Chaos Marxism, the ego is limited and supposed to be prepared to sacrifice itself, but to the Spirit within, a zillion times more trustworthy than any Enlightened Leader. (There are such things as enlightened leaders, but they won't be the ones trying to get you to be cheap labour.)

8. Mindfulness/mind-calming techniques and other forms of "technology of ecstacy" are ways to access the Spirit. The more the Spirit is accessed, the less the ego's tyranny holds - the more that one proves to oneself by experiment that one is not simply a helpless pawn of subconscious or social impulses, the more "will" (see note 5 above) can be exercised. Therefore, real revolutionaries need a trustworthy psychologist and some kind of meditative practice if they want to avoid being wrapped up in the limits of the kosmos.

9. If political activism isn't making you a more loving, happy, creative person, you're doing it wrong. If your spiritual development isn't doing anything to actively spread loving-kindness in your space-time zone, you're doing it wrong.

10. Art is a means of communicating non-verbal, non-rational truths to a wider audience. As Trotsky says, it works by its own rules and should never be put to the service of expressing either political or religious agit-prop.

11. "God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient and created the world" is true - if you translate it to mean "the Spirit level of your individual consciousness continually creates your own personal section of the kosmos, and is many times smarter, powerful and nicer than your day-to-day self". In that sense, if we were to get in touch with the Spirit, by the ego sacrificing itself, then we could all be "fully human and fully divine", co-creators of everyday reality instead of just actors in its drama.

12. The main problem with so many "magickians" is a lack of ambition. So many of them just seem to want to get the best deal they can for themselves out of the kosmos, which means descending to grubby stage tricks and dominance rituals to improve their market value, or "cred" within some tiny clique. Chaos Marxism, like the original Surrealists, aim at nothing less than the total transformation of everyday life.

Negativity is a buzz

Adrenaline/endorphins are a buzz. You can get that buzz from exercising your animal spirits (exercise, sex, good food, fighting, BDSM, deliberate exposure to danger). You can get it in a less stable sense from trendy chemical amusement; in a more stable sense from mindfulness/mind-calming practices, both which shut down the "Circuit III" babbling that runs around and around your head on a continuous loop for a little while. The thing about the healthier ways of getting the buzz is that they also put you into The Zone - i.e. enable a brief moment of unfiltered awareness, of just being and therefore being able to do according to the needs of the moment, not according to your automatic reflexes/"monkey mind".

On the other hand, a cheap and nasty way to get the buzz is to be negative about everything. Because if you live in a world full of mean and nasty people who are out to get you and everything's shitty and everyone's doing it wrong except for you and we're all doomed, then you get a nasty, low-grade boost of adrenaline. And it's easier than doing it the good way, which takes effort. Which is enough for many of us to develop an addiction to it. I know I have. Negativity is a habit-forming drug just like booze or smokes or white powders, and everyone is in danger of succumbing to it.

This is of course supremely applicable to politics. Addiction to conspiracy theory is one example of compulsive negativity. A brief tangent: by "conspiracy theory" I don't mean the belief that our rulers are lying to us, which isn't a theory, it's a pretty safe assumption. By "conspiracy theory" I mean a moralistic/idealistic discourse which puts the blame for the way the world is in the deliberate machinations of a hidden clique who made it all shitty like this on purpose. That's not politics, it's religion in the bad sense, because it's a good-evil narrative - the narrative that the only problem with the Machine of domination and oppression is that "lizard people" are in control of it. It also suggests that, in RAW's terms, "everything is under control" - control by the bad guys, but that's still more comforting than suggesting that the bad guys are not in control, that the more they try to exert control the worst it gets for them as for the rest of us, that things are getting worse because people make continuous choices to carry out the logic of the insane system because it's easier / it's of short-term benefit / it's what they've always done.

A materialistic explanation, which suggests that the system of generalised community production and capital accumulation itself creates incentives and externalities which inevitably create evil, conflict, waste, etc. not only avoids moralism, but also avoids determinism. I've always found ridiculous, for example, the idea that the Lizard People have a systematic programme to rape children to brainwash them into being mindless zombies. Just living in a capitalist system and being exposed to capitalist incentives does that already. It also encourages the kind of world in which we can tell ourselves that it's acceptable to rape children. The Machine doesn't require conscious evil as fuel - it feeds on its own waste products of alienation, reification and egotism.

Another way that politics becomes an addiction to negativity is simply the luxury of permanent opposition. Picking fights with The Man is a fun lifestyle, but it's not politics. Leisure activities are very rarely disruptive to the system. (Riot! the unbeatable high! tomorrow you're homeless, tonight it's a blast! - Dead Kennedys) The only sustainable disruption to the system is at the point of production. Smashing the windows of a Starbucks is just fucking up some other worker's day. Now organising a sit-down strike in your own workplace, that shows a little of what we need. It's also more difficult and places your precious self at risk.

A true revolutionary, like a true mystic, is motivated by great feelings of love, as Ché Guevara and the Sufis agree. Love which transcends the individual, that you are prepared to give up all the nice things that you have for your precious self (that you've found under the rocks and stones of the Fallen World-As-Is) as a sacrifice to the great Love for the World-As-Should Be. If you're motivated by negativity, you've drawn a line between yourself and the rest of the Universe which can only end in a selfish determination to screw the other guy and get what's yours, even though you might couch it in terms of communistic altruism.