24 August 2009


Thinking some more about the basic division in radical gnosis, which can be summed up in the question: "Destroy the Matrix, or take control of it?" Overwhelmingly, the consensus among the bad-ass consciousness warriors out there is the latter. This is backed up with a mix of postmodernist ideas (any radical change is totalitarianism, only gradual spontaneous change is compatible with human freedom) and elitist ones (the vast majority of people couldn't handle reality and true agency if you gave it to them). Which is not surprising, given the middle-class basis of the currently existing psychonaut movement - as Orwell would put it, these are members of the Middle who hate the High because they're not doing it right, and fear and despise the Low who don't really count as human beings, and yearn for the day when they can either (a) take control of the system, for the Greater Good; (b) opt out of the system altogether to avoid both the idiocy of the Archons and the stench of the unwashed plebs.

To argue against this - as Chaos Marxism does - means relying on what you might call ontological arguments - the argument that there is a real, fundamental, physical (or even metaphysical) human nature which is warped, crushed, twisted and mutated by the overlay of consumer-capitalist-statist-individualist culture. The obvious refutation to this is: "All we can ever know about anything is the Matrix - we all live in a dream world which we can never wake up from, so best to make the most of it while we can. Whoever dies with the most toys - or the most cultists - wins." And that's great, for those of us who have learned the social and cultural skills which they can leverage into a position of class privilege as a "creative" in the global capitalist economy. Good for them. Until the damn thing collapses.

Chaos Marxism presupposes faith in humanity, and skepticism towards humans. It presupposes that the true nature of humanity is a collective identity, slowly groping towards self-fulfilment in some kind of Omega Point / God / N'Aton of perfect reconciliation between the individual and the collective. But it also presupposes that virtually no-one today acts like a real human being - their identity is interpellated from the necessity of having to survive in class society. Sufism speaks of the conflict between the divine nature and the nafs, the fallen ego - Gramsci spoke of the clash between "common sense" (based on ideology and culture) and "good sense" (based on actual interaction with ontological reality) in similar terms.

Marx and Engels' attitude to class society is very similar to that of many Christian and Islamic thinkers regarding the Garden of Eden narrative - a felix culpa, a fortunate fall, in that if we had never departed from divine grace / classless society, we would never have been able to grow and develop enough to return with the wisdom we need to truly fulfil our nature. Similarly, Chaos Marxism suggests that our destiny as a species is to form a collective consciousness which is no longer in conflict with the physical universe around us, and thus has power-with that universe (to use Starhawk's distinction from "power-over"). I'm sure you can have a great time in your dreamworld. But absolutely nothing counts for everything until you WAKE UP. And when you've woken up, you can't hope to stay awake unless you wake other people up, and then you can collectively decide how to stay awake so you can wake EVERYONE up.