27 November 2009

Thinking about perfection will only screw you up

I think now I understand what Christians mean when they talk about being "humble before God". Essentially, it's giving up on dreams of perfectibility and potential omnipotence - it's internalising the bitter axiom that you will never, ever be good enough, but that doesn't excuse you from the continual struggle to get better. This kind of humility is essential for all wannabe teachers and leaders (although I'm not sure what an atheist equivalent would be - "humble before the vast universe"? "humble before the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse"?) - the knowledge that, just because you're the smartest or least fucked-up person in the room, that doesn't mean you're not still dumb and/or fucked up in some ways. No matter how enlightened you are, you will never have the right to throw your weight around like you speak for the Absolute.

You can see how this is necessary in radical politics as well as spirituality. A sure sign of a cult is a leadership which does not have this kind of humility - a leadership which sees their ideas as The Truth (rather than a better-or-worse approximation thereunto), and therefore claims throwing-weight-around rights, and interprets opposition and dissent as ipso facto invalid due to ignorance or even malice. We're supposed to be scientific Marxists, right? So for Uncle Charlie's sake let's start acting like science - where everything we believe is a hypothesis about reality which is continually open to challenge via the test of practice. No infallible programmes, not now, not never - programme fetishism is the Trotskyist equivalent of mediaeval scholasticism (aka "everything we need to know can be looked up in the Classics").

Several seekers after Truths spiritual or political need to internalise the opposite end of this axiom - that they will never but never find a Perfect Master or Uniquely Correct Leadership. You get people out there who will refuse to commit to any cause which isn't run by perfect saintly geniuses who never do anything wrong and don't have any weird personal quirks. Which great leader throughout history hasn't been some kind of weirdo? Karl Marx had an unpleasant personality and picked pointless fights. Lenin, Trotsky, and rumour has it Martin Luther King couldn't keep their hands off of teh ladeez. Hugo Chávez doesn't get enough exercise and has unpleasant habits picked up from being a military commander. Robert Fripp could be described as passive-aggressive and nitpicky. So freakin' what. You have to serve someone, as Bob Dylan put it - or, to put it another way, you have to make a commitment to something to make any change in the World-As-Is. You can always change commitments later, but the ability to make a commitment and stick to it (even if it's a mistaken commitment, as long as you learn from that mistake) is sign one that you are capable of acting as a channel for something better.

So, if you want to be a Chaos Marxist - and I'm not sure anyone does, including me - the first step is find a political party and a spiritual/psychotherapeutic group and make a commitment to them. I find that so difficult myself, of course. Part of the problem is that I hate anyone being critical of me, opposed to me or even disinterested in me, and all of those come with the territory of any serious commitment. For example, handing out leaflets on the street is terrifying because of the voice in my head which tells me that people despise me for doing this and I'd be better to run and hide. It doesn't help that radical political circles in most countries have been trained in a kind of sub-Leninist "hate speech" approach to opponent organisations. But... the question is, do I want to be able to make a difference, or do I want to protect my fragile ego? To ask the question is to answer it.

14 November 2009

Life is so much easier when you realise you're not real

Dion Fortune came up with a line which as most of you know has been misused the hell out of by fluffy-bunny wannabe-pagans since Gerald Gardner was a cowboy; All gods are one God, and all goddesses are one Goddess, and there is only one Initiator. Now from a CM viewpoint I don't think we can agree with that. Gods and goddesses are individual memetic/cultural entities which are all subtly different from one another - even from one group of believers to another. (I doubt that the Christ worshipped by Quakers is the same as that worshipped by the snake-handling churches, for example.) Dion's statement is, I fear, almost the kind of thing that the phrase "monotheism is imperialism in religion" was made for - like when the Romans went around translating "Woden" as "Mercury", etc.

But, on the other hand, I think Chaos Marxism can safely say: All mysticism is one Transpersonal Practice. Let's face facts - if it works, it must be founded on some material principle, reproducible in practice, and therefore all those different words and concept systems must point to the same essential technology. For exactly the same reason that when Edison and Swann both invented the lightbulb, it was not possible that the two bulbs could have worked in fundamentally different ways. The laws of the Universe are the same whereever you stand, thank you Einstein.

We distinguish between, on one hand, scientific study of what actually works in practice, drawing commonalities of technology between all the different ways of "changing consciousness at will"; and religious/sectarian warfare. The latter is nothing but arguing about what words and pictures you use to describe something. It's not science, it's a territorial pissing contest, in which the piss is different pet symbol systems. A prime example of this in leftist political discourse is the people who have rendered the words "fascist" and "socialist" almost inoperative by indiscriminately apply them to Stuff We Don't Like. One of the aims of this blog's practice is to work out a kind of neutral, scientific vocabulary - but also to point out that the place where the rubber hits the road is the place where language breaks down altogether.

The Zen guys know this very well, as does Terry Pratchett (your best wishes for his continued health, please), and of course Uncle Karl. Things are what they are, not symbols for something else. Destroy all words, destroy all symbols, only direct apprehension of material reality irrespective of any abstractions leads to a sustainable practice. "What's real, what's not real, and what's the difference", to quote Esmeralda Weatherwax, is the content of enlightenment.

Oh, and by the way: you are one of those things which is not real. "You" are a series of habits, associations between things, and behavioural patterns. You're probably less real than a computer program, because at least a computer program is designed to have some internal consistency. Sorry, but once you grasp that, you can actually realise how little of "everyday reality" is actually real.


PS. Philip K Dick and similar gnostics talk about the Good Divine Principle infiltrating and subverting the material world of the Demiurge. Marx talked about the spread of rational working-class consciousness - Gramsci called it "good sense" - overthrowing the illusory reality of capitalism - Gramsci called it "common sense". Freud said "where id was, ego should be". All the same things.

07 November 2009

I feel I owe you guys an explanation.

The last month or two I've been desperately (and I belive that's the correct adverb here) engaging in the Greater Work, attempting to strip away whole layers of my personality, so as to facilitate the merging with the emerging implicate order of the New Aeon which I keep talking about here.

It's extremely difficult. I am actually trapped, at the moment, by massive feelings of shame and personal inadequacy, based on experiences in my past which will be of no interest to you. Oh, and I've been reading a lot of Phil Dick. That never does wonders for one's grasp of reality.

But, the upshot is that I don't think I have anything to say I ain't said before ("I've bled all I can, I won't bleed no more...") It may well be that my work right here is done. It may well be that this blog now contains all the information which is going to come out of the Chaos Marxist meme - or rather, out of my consciousness on the basis of that meme. I wonder whether any other "social gnostic" activist will pick up the ball and run with it. And I wonder whether I will ever find ways to turn these ideas into action.

I've said previously that all the best stuff on this blog comes from "somewhere else" - that is, it is inspired literature, written in the voice of someone or something far more powerful and wise than Doloras. No, I haven't seen any pink light, and no, my cats haven't died of brain tumours.

In a sense, the essential problem (as the Muslims know well) is forgetfulness. Once you're up to your ass in alligators, it's difficult to remember that you were going to drain the swamp. Once you're in the Black Iron Prison, the MACHINE, the inferior creation of the Demiurge, exploitative class society, the Real World of Horrible Jobs, it seems that everything that you've ever experienced which suggests that this is not, in fact, real was just a happy dream of some sort.

06 November 2009


A new aphorism for you:

Any group, religious or political, which puts its internal workings higher in priority than its intervention in the Real World of Horrible Jobs is a sect going-on-cult.