12 May 2014
To paraphrase Ben Elton's excellent 1980s ecosocialist novel Stark, to start a new political party, religion, or any kind of activist group, even a small and stupid one, takes some brains, gumption... and creativity. That's the essential thing. You have to be able to make something new up. Even if it's idiotic. In Chaos Marxism, we call this "the juice".
So the cycle of degeneration of any organisation (no matter the value of the original creed) is this: Creative leader starts the organisation -> creative leader imposes mechanisms of control to keep the followers from straying off the reservation -> creative leader dies/quits/leaves -> uncreative epigones take over, use the mechanisms of controls to impose stasis and status quo -> the system inevitably degenerates.
Neither Joseph Stalin nor David Miscavige (or comrades Alex C and John R???) were capable of creating anything new, so they simply mindlessly repeated the mantras of their predecessors, and thus had to exponentially increase the cruelty of the mechanisms of control to get anything out of them. At least the Mormons, with their doctrine of "continuous revelation", have avoided this to some extent. You can actually imagine - barely - an LDS president announcing "People! The Lord GOD spake unto me and he said we're allowed to drink beer! Woo-hoo!"
But of course this is why I don't like the "rationalistic" schools of religion, like Protestantism, Sunni Islam or "scholastic" Catholicism. All this reason is based on interpretations of "divine revelations" which of course don't make sense out of their original context - so "garbage in, garbage out" as they say in the computer biz. If we can't have actual science, then at least something based on visions and revelations can adapt to new situations.
11 May 2014
Your body is programmed for biological survival; your mind for social survival. Sometimes the two contradict. Sometimes the programming goes haywire when too many conflicting pieces of "software" are installed. But generally the social programming that really motivates your everyday behaviour, the automatic solutions which may still be working even though the problems are long gone - the Bottom Line and Rules for Behaviour of which Cognitive Behavioural Therapy talks, which are called service computations in "clearing tech" - are generally so deep that you don't even recognize them. This is called "the ego".
Revolutionary practice - changing the system - only becomes pro-survival when the old order simply cannot stand any more. Up until then, it is a luxury rather than a necessity. Therefore "normal" people will not become revolutionaries until they have to. Which is why, this side of the revolution, the revolutionaries are not only a minority, but in general the "human debris" of the system - crazies, creative types (but I repeat myself), people looking for family, looking for tribe, looking for identity, looking for a new religion or a new daddy or an infallible Prophet - to scratch a psychic itch that is buried far too deep in their minds to even be seen, let alone be directly addressed.
The ego which enables you to survive under capitalism will, if its compulsions are not examined from a point of view outside itself based on objective observation of self and others - science and meditative practice - destroy any attempts to build revolutionary praxis. It will turn your "parties" or "affinity groups" into clubs, cults, sects and circle-jerks. And that is why revolutionaries need transpersonal psychology / mysticism, and that's what Chaos Marxism is.
06 May 2014
A narrative that you hear often in the stories of people who spent 30 years in some cult is "How terrible. They wasted X years of their life working to bring about this ridiculous or delusory goal, or fulfilling the schemes of Great Leader Y who was obviously a psychopath, a cynical money-grubber, a troll, or come combination of the three."
Wasted it doing that because... what else could they have done? Earned big money? Found something to do in life that was useful and fulfilling? Hate to break it to you, but it's a tiny tiny minority under global capitalism who get to do that. Note that this narrative is particularly marked when the ex-cultist is white and middle class. You were privileged, ya schmuck. Don't you wish you hadn't thrown that privilege away? Why, you're no better than a prole now!
This is of course one of the arguments that cults use to keep people in - you don't have any skills that the Real World of Horrible Jobs wants. You'll be a burger-flipper! The irony being that a burger-flipper has some democratic rights even under globalised capitalism, which a cult member doesn't have. But a cult member has a reason to exist, which is generally something a burger-flipper lacks, except in rare circumstances.
The point is that, in a cult or in the "real world", usually what you do has no meaning or value in real terms, and you only get material rewards if you're either very lucky or know how to brown-nose. Or, to put it another way - you can only sacrifice if you had something to start with; or, more cynically, you can only sell out if there's a willing buyer.
For most of us life is an endless, drastic, alienated failure. There's a reason why, on leftist blogs, most of the comments are indications of doom, despair, and the glories of recreational drugs to numb the terrible pain. So why not join a cult? Unless you can find something to do in the here-and-now that means something, not just makes you feel good or scratches an itch which was implanted by ideology?
To the right, you will notice I've got a feed to a Tumblr account. That's where I'll be posting links, brief thoughts (or Aphorisms), etc, from now on. The blog proper will be reserved for essays or other lengthy original documents.