31 August 2011

For everyone who's given up hope

If “tomorrow” is the first lie of the Devil, perhaps the second lie might be that our own contribution has no value; that we are powerless to make a difference in the world. It is very easy to believe that this is so, seeing clearly our frailties & weaknesses. But this is a lie, nevertheless.

- Thanks, Vicious Bob. I post this in response to the overwhelming negativity, bitterness and nihilism which have become the common sense of the liberal-leftist Internet in this day and age, this era of accelerating capitalist crisis, ecological collapse, the collapse of hopes that an imperialist war machine led by an intelligent black lawyer/academic would somehow be qualitatively different from one led by a borderline imbecile white fratboy, etc., etc...

But of course the ruling ideas of our epoch, like any other, are those of the ruling class. The ruling class want us to believe that "the war is over and the good guys lost" (L. Cohen), that their rule might be an obvious disaster but There Is No Alternative. But let's put it this way - okay, let's just assume for the sake of argument that we live at the beginning of a civilisational Dark Age like, I dunno, the European Middle Ages or the Chinese Warring States period. There's nothing that any individual can do about it, not even Noam Chomsky, John Lennon and Black Dynamite all put together. So what is your motivation for remaining alive?

Should we all load stones in our pockets and go down to the local river like Virginia Woolf? Or get drunk all the time, which is the slow-motion version of the same thing? Or give up and join the rat race to get our piece of the pie before it's too late? (Don't worry if that means selling our soul - it's not as if our soul was worth anything, and if the world is fucked whatever we do, we might as well be actively evil as long as it feels good, right?!?)

Credo quid absurdum. The only noble thing that it is still possible to do is to act as if what you did actually mattered. That is, act according to principle, as opposed to automatic ideas based on what you picked up from the TV or social chatter. Even if you're wrong, you make it possible for others to do so.

22 August 2011

Barbarians at the gate

I've quoted approvingly from Jordan Stratford, the Gnostic Monsignor and author, a couple of times which you might remember. I finally got around to buying his exposition of his modern faith-culture, Living Gnosticism. Now I've criticised Msgr. Stratford once before as being a representative of "the occultism of small businessmen" ("unorthodox faith" movements which don't break with the underlying material base of the secular and/or institutionalised faith culture they live in). In that regard I was particularly struck by parts of the closing essay of his small and worthy book, in which he foresees a quasi-apocalyptic clash between the Apollonian (rationalist and liberal) culture of the metropolis and the Dionysian (irrational, ecstatic, fundamentalist) culture of the periphery. Although I don't think that's really the clash he's talking about:

The barefoot glossolalians are emerging from the desert once again. Only whereas in the second century, these cultures met one another on a fairly equal footing, this time the North is vastly outnumbered... What happens when a generation of hip, aware, tattooed, multilingual, educated, environmentally-responsible Episcopalian urbanites who stopped at one child (if any) is overcome by a majority of dozen-siblinged fundamentalists who think being gay is caused by demonic possession? The North has been outbred by the South, and the fundamentalists are basically just waiting for us - and our egalitarian, feminist, green, tolerant, "reasonable" Apollonian culture - to die out.

The ignorant unwashed masses are outbreeding our liberal aristocracy?!? Holy crap, stop right there, Pim Fortuyn. This is how quickly urban, tolerant liberalism can flip into out sheer imperialism, close to racism. Because they are the left wing of globalised imperialism, of course they're going to be terrified by the end of globalised imperialism and therefore their privileges as the systems' internal, polite, critics.

But seriously, in the immortal words of Tonto, "what do you mean our culture, paleface"? Is the dominant culture of the West really feminist and green and egalitarian? You know, with all the rape and sexual objectification and extractive industry and consumeristic waste and people begging on the streets? No it bloody isn't. A very small privileged layer - among whom Msgr. Stratford lives and for whom he speaks - gets to live that way, because they're the middle class professionals and skilled workers who benefit from the real underpinning of "their culture" - the continued pillaging of natural resources and super-exploitation of the global proletariat in the name of glorious profit. You are not more environmentally aware because you breed less, especially if you on your own have a bigger environmental footprint than Reverend Kiswahili or Mullah Omar and their dozen kids whom you're having paranoid dreams about.

Jordan Stratford goes on about Athenian culture, and the later culture of the Roman Empire, being swamped by primitive backwards Christianity, and within "two generations... the plumbing stopped working". Uh-huh. Now this is where middle-class idealism gets you. Athenian society was based on slavery (and oppression of women of a Saudi Arabia level, or perhaps worse). The Roman Empire was based on slavery and conquering as much of the known world as they could hold. And Christianity was the overwhelmingly popular religion of those slaves by the time of the fourth century CE. The social system had run out of steam. The Lombards, Goths, Vandals and other barbarian hordes were relatively more vigorous than decadent, senile Rome, no matter whether they were sacrificing to Zeus or celebrating the Eucharist.

Yes, it's true. Neoliberal, globalised, financialised capitalism makes a very sweet lifestyle possible for a middle-class layer who - precisely because they're not struggling for a crust, and because they don't have to directly exploit anyone - can make consumer choices which they interpret as a life of virtue. That's not the culture I have any interest in protecting. To paraphrase Catharine MacKinnon, and that's something I thought I'd never do: "if your genteel culture requires having a global slave class, you have no right to your genteel culture."

To be fair, though, Msgr. Stratford isn't precisely defending the Empire against the barbarians at the gates. What he's suggesting is that Gnosticism is an example of a compromise. But the real compromise can't be a new faith or an old faith or a culture or a creed, it has to be a material way of existing. The fundamentalist hordes don't have a solution - when the kind of people he's worried about took over in Iran in 1979, nothing really changed except some industry got nationalised and the regime stopped grovelling to American foreign policy.

If your culture of "Lulu Lemon yoga gear and $200 Nikes... "Tradition" starbucks cups... [and] Bang & Olufsen speakers" has nothing to say to people who live in grinding poverty and whose faith is all they have and do not really take kindly to being told not to reproduce themselves by corpulent, privileged white folks, then you need to think a bit more clearly. The only people who can change the world and create a new culture on a new material base are the globalised proletariat - the people who actually make all those things that Jordan Stratford's people consume. Isn't it such a pity that the United States spent so long wiping out communist movements among that class of people in the 70's and 80's and instead building the credentials of the religious fundamentalists that are now the Great Satan?

(As an aside, by "global proletariat" we have to include the information workers, and this is where those of us with plenty of Western cultural capital can intervene. I more and more think that Anonymous has become the modern equivalent of 1870's Russian Narodnik terrorists. I wonder what form a "Cyber-Bolshevik" party might take. Just as the tiny but vital industrial proletariat in Russia had to make an alliance with the peasant masses to win power, the vanguard of modern information workers who keep globalised capitalism and consumerism functioning have to line up with the inhabitants of the sweatshops of China and the coffee plantations of Colombia.)

Chaos Marxism stands against both fundamentalist obscurantism, and a defence of "liberalism and Western culture" which is nothing more but an appeal for the perpetuation of the privileges of the middle class.

20 August 2011

Once again on commodification

In March I wrote:

Mass production means that nothing gets lost forever. Everything can be replaced - and, in the era of the Internet, if it can be digitised, these days nothing need be lost at all. [...] So that's what's behind "vintage culture", steampunk, Goth, SCA, whatever - the attempt to create a culture of objects which are totally individual and therefore meaningful, even sacred.

But someone else got there before me:

Hence steampunk, for what is steam punk if not a romanticized do-over, a setting of the clock back, a time of craftsmanship and real (fetishized) objects, remaking the world, not in the mode of the ceaseless slow sprawl of cheap oil but in the Victorian self-aware world making spirit?

So maybe Chaos Marxism is salvagepunk. And taqwacore.

18 August 2011

(Doloras entered nirvana, parenthetically.)

Holy crap, for about five minutes there I didn't exist. It was COOL.

And when I came back to existing I found myself at the centre of a synchronicity storm which proved to my satisfaction that I'm doing something right.


All the great works of mystical literature (eg. Irina Tweedie) say that the path to ego-loss is rapid-cycling-bipolar to the Nth degree. One minute God doesn't exist and you're full of crap, the next moment you're in Paradise eating from the fruits of the tree of Knowledge of Good And Evil and Endless Free Sex, and then God doesn't exist any more, and so on. Probably enlightenment comes when you realise that both are illusions, or as Hazrat-e-Pir Dr. Nurbakhsh would say, you give up on both this world and the Hereafter.

Because God doesn't exist in the world of blind matter and inescapable natural law. In contrast, the world of Love and Meaning and Compassion and really really good orgasms and cuddles and niceness and warm milk is nothing but God. We live in the hologram caused by the overlapping of the two worlds, to use Grant Morrison's terminology which I think he took from Philip K Dick.

Aphorism time:

He who tries to defend or describe or dismiss God with Logic is committing a foul sin against Logic as well as one against God.

I notice this in the similarity of the style of arguments made by both Catholic and Salafist theologians. Religion is just rules, which is a form of cause and effect and therefore of the hard, nasty world not the sweet, gentle world. I read a website by some heretical Muslims who argue that God has actually set Satan up as temporary ruler of the planet. That might be a pretty good metaphor for describing what happens in revolutionary events... when the Black Iron Prison springs a leak and suddenly the impossible becomes possible (almost a definition of the presence of God).

Because that never lasts, and what happens afterwards is that the sweet spring of flowing nectar which existed for maybe a year or two maximum gets damned and polluted and set to drive the waterwheels of the dark satanic mills. The ekklesia, majlis or soviets of workers and soldiers' deputies become new engines of oppression. The institutions founded to guard the message end up destroying the message. And that's the price of success - having to cut a deal with the Prince of This World. Compare the umma after the death of the Prophet to the Soviet Union after the Civil War and see what I mean.

(A Persian fellow once said to me: "I'm a Muslim, but that means I submit to God, not to Muhammad." Similarly, the only real revolutionaries are the ones who refuse to argue in terms of the hadiths of Lenin and Trotsky, instead trying to emulate their spirit and daring and avoid their dumb mistakes, and whose only wish for that mausoleum on Red Square is that they should give Vlad a decent burial and stop propping him up like a grinning scarecrow.)

To be true to the spirit of the Revolution, which is precisely identical to the Holy Spirit and to what makes cats scream in the night and poets howl at the moon, we have to refuse rules, schemas, hierarchies and brain death - while at the same time refusing the opposite trap, of going back to worshipping our own egos. As Ayn Rand put it (and screw her, by the way) - "in the name of the best within all of us".

We don't need any more Prophets or idols, but we will always need idolsmashers and the Enlightened Masters who come to wake us up. But they get taken from us too early, so let's appreciate them while we have them.

16 August 2011

Rumi Was A Homo

Progressive Islam is purely an academic exercise. It’s not creating a culture. It’s professors talking to each other.

Thank you, Michael Muhammad Knight. You can only create a culture out of practice, not out of ideology or ideas. If you try to create a culture out of ideas, then the culture will be based on what practice you're actually doing and trying not to think about.

Brother Michael is referring to "Progressive Islam" meaning smug liberal upper-middle-class Westernised academics who happen to be from a Muslim background or culture trying to package upper-middle-class liberalism (the lifestyle they actually follow, being the consumer lifestyle plus libertarian sexual/gender ethics) in a pseudo-Islamic flavouring. Funnily enough, it has exactly the same content as the "socialism" or "Marxism" which comes out of academia or out of the lumpen-academia known as "the activist communities" - nothing but pieties, symbols and rituals over the top of a content of the privileged behaviour of those who have cultural capital recognized by the Black Iron Prison. Nothing more than native informants, or the left-wing of Empire.

"Progressive Islam" of this sort, and "socialism" which means nothing more than the ritualised behaviour of a lumpen-intelligensia subculture, offers absolutely nothing to your average person living in an Islamabad slum or under a pile of rubble in Gaza, or even in the working-class area of London or Paris or [FILL IN WHERE YOU LIVE RIGHT NOW]. The people are already creating the New World on the ashes of the old, and the honest intellectuals are those who can be like Orwell in Barcelona in 1936, and realise that just because you don't really like what is happening doesn't mean it's not something worth fighting for. If you don't like it the answer is to create your own new culture where you are right now, and then seek to become allies.

Actually, I think Brother Michael might have something in common with Chaos Marxism, since he certainly takes a historical-materialist approach to faith:

Once you recognize how much of your tradition is a product of historical forces, it empowers you to be an historical force yourself.

Too many Marxists, for example, seem to believe that they are the Chosen Ones on account of the unblemished ideology passed down to them from the Holy Prophet Karl and His Noble Imams Fred, Vlad, and (Josef and Mao if you're a Sunni, Leon if you're a Shi'ite). They don't look at the historical reality of where they are, where they came from and where they might go, they only act as if they had abstracted their egos from reality and were nothing less than the living incarnation of The Most Holy Tradition. And of course in that situation the ego is left free to run rampant and ruin everything in support of its own continued existence.

If more Marxist groups honestly socially looked at themselves, they might see how their own actions continually sabotage what they claim to want. Hell, substitute "Marxist groups" with "human beings". The only people who really think ideology matters in and of itself are those trained to be ideological technicians under capitalism, and that's why they either sell out or create little "toy" versions of the churches and universities which they would be running if they'd made it in the big wide world.

15 August 2011

I love historical analogies

If, as previously discussed, the relationship between the ruling class and the media today is analogous to that between the feudal aristocracy and the priesthood in Europe of 1000 years ago, then Rupert Murdoch would be a Borgia pope. Alexander VI?

09 August 2011

Riot! The unbeatable high!

Tomorrow you're homeless... tonight it's a blast. Still, sometimes it has to be done.

The energy has been released - now is it going to be a firework or a laser beam? Only the people on the ground in [England] can tell, and so far we're only hearing all the voices yelling "SIT BACK DOWN AND SHUT THE HELL UP".

Of course implacable opposition, rioting, etc are fun and all. But what does it accomplish, if not tempered with a positive?

We commented on riots in Tonga in 2006, and in Greece last year, and the same rules still apply. My favourite Trot gives a good analysis - interesting how the American media are far enough away from the action that they can actually see what it's about, as opposed to the British media demanding troops on the streets, mass floggings, etc.

The forest fire burns everything down. Then possibly new growth can happen.

08 August 2011

Rule #1 of Cult Leadership

Try to talk in the same voice as the super-ego of your gullible stooges. Generally people are so used to doing what the programmed voices in their head tell them, that if you can work out what that programmed voice is telling them and make it come out of your own mouth, they will become your devoted zombies and you can exploit them to live quite comfortably without actually contributing any value to the real world.

No lie. Mediocre cult leaders like Deepak Chopra or whoever tell people what they want to hear about themselves. Hard-core cult leaders like L. Ron Hubbard, Gary Chicoine or Jim Robertson will abuse the hell out of their followers, triggering all their class society-implanted self-abasement circuits.

In contrast, real Masters are distinguished by their loving-kindness.

premature emaculation

...as T.H.Meyer has suggested in relation to the channelling of `messages from the
Masters‘ by Madame Blavatsky and other members of the Theosophical Society, it is possible for a `transmission‘ of genuine Higher Wisdom to be distorted by the psyche of an `underdeveloped receiver‘. Translated into Gurdjieffian terms this would refer to someone who had achieved a degree of premature connection to the higher centres.

(source: Thompson, W. J. J. G. Bennett's Interpretations of the Teachings of Gurdjieff, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Lancaster, 1995.)

Hmmm. As a former "gifted child" (*shudder*) that seems very plausible to me. I was certainly having "spiritual experiences" left and right from the ages of about 13-15 (puberty, according to tradition, being closely associated with the opening of the more complicated bits of the brain), but due to very difficult psychological circumstances in my upbringing and being born very far from anyone who could have actually helped, it took me two decades or so of repeated head/brick-wall interface, bad choices, wild goose chases, following half-baked ideologies made up by dodgy people, and following my own half-baked ideologies, before I actually got in a position where it made any sense.

This fits in with Robert Fripp's analysis of Music as an expression of something which comes from somewhere "more real than life itself" (i.e. from the parts of consciousness beyond language), and that's why all those great musicians just get burned out, like a 2 amp fuse trying to contain a lightning strike. Just because someone's got a particular skill, or is really smart, or has spooky powers, doesn't mean that they are egoless Perfect Masters and you should let them take your life, is the take-away message from this.

...individuals who search after greater meaning are especially vulnerable to abuse because they feel themselves to be ‘unworthy’. ‘Seekers’ are greatly at risk. They look towards unseen worlds without having the confidence of gaining access to them, so that they come to look towards personalities who claim such access to guide them and interpret reality for them. This is of course exactly the same structure which is found in religions, the only difference being one of scale. All the remarkable men I have met who are truly remarkable embody a willingness to speak ‘on the level’ with others and not as authorities.

Thank you, Anthony Blake; it only remains to me to point out that seekers can be political as well as spiritual ones. Whether your guru spouts bullshit with a vague family relationship to Marxist political economy or to the Rig Veda, cult dynamics are cult dynamics. True Perfect Masters (by which we mean people who have gotten out of the way of their own ego and are capable of actually behaving like all humans will in the Better World To Come) are known by their massive humility, wicked sense of humour, and willingness to get their hands dirty in the Real World of Horrible Jobs.

I would certainly put myself in the position of "imperfect receiver", and this is why this blog should be taken as the efforts of a mind trying to work out what the hell happened to it and suggestions for your own experimentation, much like Philip K. Dick's Exegesis.

05 August 2011

So simple it probably doesn't need to be said, but...

We don't need any more Prophets, any more religions, or any more rules. The ones we have right now will do nicely, thank you. What we want is more praxis; theory put to at the service of Love, and at the service of Right Action.

03 August 2011

Anon v Monsanto, IN A STEEL CAGE

02 August 2011

Words like violence break the silence

... yeah, so I'm coming very close to understanding that, as far as understanding goes, Cramulus is probably right and I wrote everything I needed to write on these subjects a couple of years ago, when I first found the books which provide the "missing link" to my ideas. But the issue was that I have spent the last almost-five years on this blog attempting to give a rational justification for the embrace of the irrational. A worthwhile project, but one which I realised with a jolt yesterday I have not actually been practicing in my own life.

I've talked about, if you are serious about introducing "light from the Better World" into the closed system of entropy which is the Real World of Horrible Jobs, the need to "give up your identity" to the Higher Power that you've devoted yourself to. I suppose I underestimated how difficult that is because giving up your identity means giving up your mind, and giving up your little world. (Or at least be prepared to give those things up... if you do it right you will get them back later, all cleaned and tuned up. As Crowley put it, you put yourself together again on the other side of the Abyss.)

The last one is a concept which has just congealed for me. Just as one of those insects that lives on the bottom of ponds glues rocks and shells and sticks to itself to defend itself, your nafs / mind / ego / identity creates a little world around itself. This world is made out of possessions, habits and social relations - but only the most very important ones, the ones which shield you from the vertiginous abyss. You know - your drinking buddies, your favourite intarwebz sites, your favourite albums and books, your family, your loved ones, your local sports team. All the things that "tell you who you are" (at least in terms of the Matrix, which as we know, cannot really do such a thing).

But it also makes you blind to the real world. It's a hermetic seal, if you'll pardon the pun. You can't know Reality, and therefore what you are really supposed to be doing in order to bring Light into the world, unless you are prepared to step out of your little world and leave it behind, like a hermit crab does when it grows too big.

And the only thing that can induce you to do that - as the 12-Step programmers know perfectly well - is an act of faith, the mind / ego / nafs / identity just giving up and letting a Higher Power (call it God, an Angel, a praeternatural intelligence, the Spirit of the Age, your own right brain / Higher Self / atman) do it. To get back to politics, one of the reason the Leninist sects (possibly the anarchists as well) have put themselves into a dead end is that they built a party to change the world, but the party has become the extended ego of the participants - they have all the fuel they need but they refuse to burn it, and if anyone else burns their own fuel they're mocked for "liquidationism".

The Sufis say that this is generally not possible without a Master - as a focus for the great power of Love that you need to be able to make this happen. I have one of those now, so we'll see what happens.

I realise now that my pride is my shame - I really did think my mind could do everything itself. "What a sucker I had been. What a fool. The answer was there all the time," to quote Dr Frank'n'Furter. Everything I've really achieved, I haven't achieved myself - Higher Self did so acting through me. (You can tell that because I didn't think about it, it just "came to me", and I could barely remember it afterwards.)

So, that's my job next - building the faith to leave the mind behind. In politics, building the intellectual and activist strength to leave organisational forms behind. And hopefully in music I can leave a few holes in my solos so maybe some Music will fall through.


A very important warning: because books work on the level of the mind, they can't really teach you jack-shit about anything important in the real world. They can help your mind make sense of your experiences in the real world, but you need those real world experiences first. I've certainly had experiences reading books which seemed impenetrable garbage the first time, and the second time (after a few years doing it hard), they answer all my questions in retrospect. Probably the same goes for blogs, hint hint.

01 August 2011

A nice syllogism

We help beyond any help ever available anywhere. We are a near ultimate in help.

- L. Ron Hubbard

Helpful people are a nuisance.

- Guitar Craft aphorism