26 February 2012

A fallow period

Quite often in my daily meditative practice I suddenly have a "cognition" or a "bright idea" and I think "HOLY CRAP must remember to post this to CM when I'm done", but then afterwards I either can't remember it or it just seems silly. It is possible that "less is more" at this stage in my publication - or, at least, an aspect of quality control enters in.

It makes sense, I suppose, to reformulate the aim and mission of this blog: to harmonise the languages of transpersonal psychology and revolutionary socialism, with non-dualist spirituality thrown in there for anyone who might be interested in such a thing. As I said to Sage Kiesel what seems an aeon ago, Chaos Marxism is interested in practicality above all else, and we want to develop practical insights and techniques that YOU the occupier or stirrer or picketer or NGO volunteer or political candidate or author out there at the coalface can apply to your own practice, and that of your group, to attempt to shed light on previously insoluble problems.

In many previous periods, I have suggested "audience participation" for readers of this blog, none of which have been taken up, but how about this? Go through The Aphorisms on the sidebar (or any other sufficiently wacky thing from this blog) and ask me to expand on it in depth. I'll start with the following aphorism which just came to me:
Yearning is healthy; despair is unhealthy.
This assumes that we know how to tell the difference. The Sufis have the famous tale of Layla and Majnun, where hopeless, unfulfillable love is celebrated as the love of God. I suppose we can call that love of "the unknown ideal", "the Unborn Goddess" (to resurrect a stillborn meme from my back pages), or "the unfolding future of creativity". We are motivated by the drive to utopia, not by the defence of what we already have. The latter turns into the siege mentality found in all good totalitarian dictatorships and mind-control cults. It is in fact the "lesser of two evils" logic - justifying Obama's warmongering or Castro's heavy-handed suppression of dissidents because "they're not as bad as THE OTHER GUYS". Acts of suppression are always forgivable; quite often excusable; never acceptable.

 On the contrary, a certain bigoted strand of atheism/skepticism/rationalism seeks to pathologise yearning for anything more than creature comforts and seeking status within the World-As-Is, the Black Iron Prison. On the contrary, the Sufis call on the disciple to "reject both worlds", i.e. both here and the Hereafter. The answer is to "seek pain" as Rumi puts it - learn to be content with the yearning, with the knowledge that reality is imperfect and always will be because it is our human nature that makes it so.

But to accept that perfection will never be ours is not an excuse to give up, but an injunction to serve perfection by trying to get there. Who knows? When we give up what Crowley called "lust of result" and abandon ourselves to the process, perhaps the Inexpressible Benevolence of the Creative Impulse will have mercy on us.

 Anyway, some hilarious recent links:


  1. I still don't understand the necessity for something like magick in tandem with revolutionary politics. It seems intellectually fancier, but explain to me in terms of revolution why these occult concepts are necessary.

  2. These are some partially outdated thoughts I had on the subject five years ago. I express the "Greater Work" (transpersonal psychology) more in cognitive behavioural and non-dualist spiritual terms these days than occultist ones, but I think my answer to the question you're asking is as follows...

    Revolutionaries in a non-revolutionary period are outsiders. In fact, the mentally ill and the socially maladjusted gravitate towards revolutionary politics because it's one place ostensibly free of judgement. However, actually existing small-group Marxism is NOT a psychologically healthy place, given the levels of burnout and the distressing drift towards dogmatism and the attendant cult forms of organisation.

    Chaos Marxism posits that the problem here is that the revolutionary group becomes a sect, a substitute for a better world rather than a means to struggle towards it. This leads to the psychological "trapping" of its members and the complete wasting of their time and effort. Just like "chaos magick" and CBT are supposed to lever an individual's consciousness out of unexamined identities and cognitive patterns, Chaos Marxism is a standpoint by which revolutionary groups and individuals can see themselves for what they really are, and struggle against the Dogma/Guru/Sect model which is the real death of the revolutionary spirit.

    Does that help?

  3. It does help. I suppose I just understand why magick/CBT actually solve that. I now understand why this sectionalism is a problem, but I don't understand why spiritual concepts stop that from happening. Is it that they allow these ideologies to adapt? Is the act of combining these things just a way of saying that we should conceive of ideologies as more malleable?

  4. Also, I wonder if you've ever considered using platforms like Tumblr. I feel like you might be able to reach an even wider audience and still preserve the format of writing you use. I understand if you're attached to Blogger though Tumblr can sometimes seem like just the next flashy site (it's just that a lot of people go on it).

  5. The assumption is that identities (i.e. a place in the world as it is) are addictive, and that's a problem if you want to change the world.

    Groups adopt these kind of counterproductive and self-destructive behaviours for similar reasons that individuals adopt self-destructive behaviours - alienation from capitalist reality, despair, a preference for being rulers of a fantasy realm than having a hard time in the real world of horrible jobs and class struggle. And the psychological pressure to turn away from reality in favour of fantasy is MASSIVE under capitalist alienation.

    Our argument is that an intellectual adherence to Marxism does not defend against these tendencies because it can easily become a dogma and therefore facilitate rather than prevent the flight from reality. The psychological/spiritual techniques that CM proposes are a kind of "inoculation" against these very strong tendencies to give up on the struggle in favour of a comfortable lifestyle.

    We also think that chaos magick, non-dualist spiritual and CBT theories of cognition and epistemology are very, very akin to Marxist theories of ideology, and therefore CM is not just a personal practice for revolutionaries and groups, but a tool for radical media/cultural analysis.

    Have you read any of the media-commentary articles on this blog? One thing that we're proud of is that we saw the political potential of Anonymous before they'd even started going after Scientology.

  6. I know absolutely nothing about Tumblr, btw. I'm kind of 5 years behind the cutting edge of intarwebz communication. I would be grateful for a basic primer.

  7. Okay, the way you just conceptualized it makes total sense to me. As I go through that post on Occult for Marxists, I think I'll better be able to understand exactly how psychological/spiritual techniques inoculate against those tendencies, but I really do understand the need now. What I find realy exciting about CM is that it feels almost like ou guys are creating new ideas here, combining intellectual territory that really ought to be is really exciting stuff.

    Also, if you're looking for a nice primer on Tumblr, this is a pretty good tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTRGPKU8SlQ

    If you're interested in posting on both sites, migrating, or testing out some new posts on Tumblr I suggest you give it a try.