23 March 2009

Games and economic behaviour

"Cognitive-behavioural therapy" is, at core, the idea that you can exorcise a demon by arguing with it. Funnily enough, it seems to get results. In that sense, how much of "mass magick" (aka politics, marketing and advertising) is simply CBT aimed at an entire demographic/population/society/planet? INVOKE OFTEN is the core of magick, and our enemies certainly have the big battalions of memetic artillery lined up at their own citizens to do just that. In contrast, we can only win if our memes are more useful for everyday life.

We should be aware that our enemies know all this stuff and are putting it into practice already. The Israeli army, for example, trains in the works of Foucault and Deleuze to think up strategies to not only defeat the Palestinian nation militarily, but to disrupt it on the memetic/social level and render its members docile and obedient. The main problem with "radical" politics, as we know it today in the West (i.e. small cliques of middle-class dropouts playing toy Bolshevik or pretend Emma Goldman), is that all the strategies in it stem from the Situationists at best, and the early 20th century at worst. Science has marched on here, guys. We need to be applying the most modern memetic theory - including CBT - to our political work.

And that's why I haven't been posting much recently - certain political projects in the Real World of Horrible Jobs have fallen into my laps, and I've been struggling with the task of making the Chaos Marxist approach useful for practical action. The Aphorisms as they stand are about as much use as "the Thoughts of Chairman Mao" - they're inspirational and fun, but can be interpreted in so many alternative ways. But here are some more ideas to be going on with.

We need to do more work on the idea that the "individual" is interpellated by consumer-capitalist society. To put it in CM lingo, the corporate infosphere is in the business of selling an identity. And having an identity is like having a job - if you don't have one you drop out of society altogether. Losing one's identity is even more terrible a prospect than losing one's job, and of course for many working people they're virtually the same thing. The problem is that for the middle-class cliques that call themselves "the left", their identity is "vanguard of the proles / future cognitive elite of the planet". Even though in theory they want to liberate the planet, in practice what they end up doing is building the walls higher around their private universe. Someone on a very good blog elsewhere suggested that the typical sect leader has exactly the same mentality as that of a sweetshop owner - they know they can't actually expand their little empire, but they can dominate what they have and build a higher wall around it every day.

Becoming aware of how your favourite identity is pieced together from bits sold to you by the capitalist infosphere is much like a fish becoming aware of water. But is that fish able to crawl onto dry land, having that knowledge? No, it will instantly drown in the air, unless it has a reverse scuba suit (and we'll assume he doesn't). But what if it can spur the process of evolution, so that your children's children might have lungs?

In any case, I give you the Ideology Tropes wiki - the beginnings of a noble attempt at a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Actually Existing Infosphere. It's part of the solution, and I'm guilty that I haven't participated in building it much yet because of the aforementioned projects. But a Chaos Marxist has to be ruthless about deconstructing their own identity as part of their mission to understand the memetic miasma which surrounds us. So maybe "psychology tropes" is next, who can tell - I know that the CBT people have done some work on this, but there are also Jungian archetypes and Freudian complexes, so the question can only be which map gets us somewhere useful.


  1. Demons are friends. The banishing of ideas which hurt, disfigure, from minds is an incitement for us to dwell in a fantasy realm rather than in the World. Demons compel a choice- seat consciousness in fierce intellectual torments or nagging bodily pains. CBT is apposite for peoples who have chosen comfort and ease as their supreme values.

  2. That's certainly an interesting identity / lifestyle you've chosen there, Matt. I would of course argue that ideas that hurt and disfigure actually lead to apathy, hopelessness and being trapped in fantasy realms, so I suppose the question is - whose realm is the fantasy?

  3. Either. I believe- ideas which inflict bodily pains on their bearers are of a greater importance than their defanged brethren. I admit- we may often need to be rescued from these, via C.B.T., exorcisms, or other kinds of (shudders) magic. Nevertheless, they have a high value, which they earn by patrolling and guarding a special place, and delivering torments to those with stray consciousnesses, they who would forget what they are, sensate lumps of flesh. Sadly, our precious demons are being intentionally driven to extinction. I may need to establish a demon-forging workshop to keep this from happening. Wait, I just slipped over into self-parody, sorry.

  4. But surely the corporate-military meme machine forges demons by the truckload every day of the week. Buddhist prayer wheels ain't got nothing on that mass production line of vampire ideas. I'm not sure what you think you could add. Or are you causing about a different kind of "bodily pains"?

  5. I have witnessed two kinds of social control, one quaint- via agony-inducing idea-plants, another currently-favoured- through seductive self-importance-raising ideas. Kind one incentives rebellion, we flee from ideas, have an incessantly-changing model of an incessantly-changing World instead of an identity or beliefs. Kind two prevents escape, totally absorbs our consciousnesses, bars social changes, causes our World to crumble unnoticed about us. This is GAME OVER.