Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I just finished Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and it was sufficient in being mildly entertaining and funny at-times.  It's only two hundred pages so it's no big loss if you don't get a lot out of it - which I did not - and it is fairly easy to read through.  Decent page turner, not much more and the movie adaptation is superior in my mind in that film seems like the preferred medium for the material.

Friday, February 21, 2014

On The Lego Movie and the Importance of Creativity and Individuality

The Lego Movie is a great film and I would recommend anyone to see it.  It’s not only a funny movie but an intelligent one that has clear Existentialist and Left-wing critiques of society, but more importantly than that an examination of humanities potential and the world we live-in in a fresh, imaginative way.  However, some Socialists of various stripes are criticizing – are you really going to imitate FOX News and start bashing the messages given in children’s films? – the film for being a work of Idealism and Liberalism rather than a movie with a legitimate Left-wing message.  These people are wrong, and the shame is that it’s because they lack the creativity and openness that’s the main essence of the film that they fail to understand why the film is an expression of meaningful change and a critique of Capitalism.
Firstly, there is the obvious of criticizing the trash pop music and lamebrain comedies the American people are fed that encourages monotony, apathy and stifles creativity and intellectual growth.  Everyone has instructions for how to interact and be well-liked applying Fordist ideology to behavior in-a-sense as Zamyatin’s We does to all of society’s structures and the individuals’ routine rather than simply the workplace.  Also the true name of President Business being Lord Business implies there’s an anti-democratic and authoritarian essence to Capitalism and the psychology of the businessman.  The worker is your Average Joe who doesn’t think anything special of him and hasn’t really tried to do anything unique or stimulating because society doesn’t value these things on-whole and tacitly discourages them in several ways.
Emmett is the expression of the individual who appears to not be extraordinary, but through a conscious effort to improve himself finds himself capable of doing so – a clear expression of a true understanding of Dialectical Materialism that most Marxists fail to grasp.  It is the vulgar Materialist who says that human beings are merely material things in a materialist Universe, and therefore cannot break free from his nature.  This simplistic mentality of vulgar Materialism and Determinism is seen in the perception of Emmett being proclaimed “The Special,” the entity that was predetermined to be what that which is needed for change.  And although things are to a large degree pre-decided by physical law, we must never forget that we are still the things affecting change.  Seen in Emmett still fulfilling the prophecy due-to his Existential and material nature, not because of some prophecy. 
Dialectical Materialism’s major contribution is a difference in mentality and in action due-to the understanding both intellectually and psychologically or viscerally of the distinction, namely that we human beings are amazing beings with brains that no other creature we know of comes close to.  We become adjusted to the marvelous potential that is our lives so we fail to live everyday as the astounding realm of possibilities that it is, even in a world limited by poor education, lousy wages and class and religious forces that explicitly and implicitly make the world a less awe-inspiring place through limiting creative and intellectual potential among other things.  And that is how this film critiques Capitalism.  This critique is not only important; it is essential.  Yet because it’s not directly analyzing the conditions and critiquing the materialist and political sources behind the working class, unimaginative and frankly overall unintelligent Marxists and other Leftists will fail to comprehend the essence and significance of this message.
Man’s material nature is as a thinking thing.  So as Materialists we must never forget the fantastic fact that is the capacity of the human being to drastically alter his own perception and action from a volition created by chemical stimuli of the brain which has a complexity and elegance that is beyond my comprehension.  We are material beings, but this does not exclude us from the miraculous – quite the contrary; in a Einsteinian sense of the miraculous, the physical laws and consistent interworking of the Physical, Geological, Biological, Evolutionary, Neurochemical, Psychological are what allows amazing things to be done on a fairly regular basis whether we’ve grown numb to them for various reasons or not.  We don’t require burning bushes or Gods instructing us on high to live the lives of intense beauty and countless possibility that is limited by our own minds just as much as by material circumstance.  Small mindedness is a larger enemy to humanity than low wages; and perhaps even more-so, because it is small mindedness that both prevents unified and meaningful action of society on-large, and is the main evil of the Conservative psychology seen in President Business – AKA Mitt Romney – that allows all others to be committed. 
Business’ plan is essentially to freeze everything, being afraid of change – an obvious invocation to the Reactionary forces that want things to go back to the Nuclear family and Leave it to Beaver days of yore – and wanting to “keep all his stuff” – which I shouldn’t need to explain as the endless greed and gluttony of the business class as well-as the paranoia and warped psychology of the “Looter Mentality” seen in Conservatives and Right-wing Libertarians that believe the poor and young are lazy, which I’d agree in the sense that they lack real intellectual vitality and determination to do things grand and unique, but this of course is largely a result of our poor “industrialized” school systems, religion and business interests being synthesized in the psychology of the Christian Right.
The part of the movies that has unimaginative Socialists cry “idealism” and “Liberalism” is perhaps its most ingenious part.  After Emmett falls through what is effectively a Black Hole to allow the writers to draw back the curtain and show the Lego Land for what it is; we see that this world of creativity and wonder is the result of a child playing with the colossal Lego set that his father – hilariously played by Will Farrell – has painstakingly set-up.  This could be seen as a critique of tradition and an invocation for the young and imaginative to lead the way, but more powerful than this is how Emmett “defeats” President Business via the Son expressing a heart wrenchingly beautiful sentiment through Emmett himself, which is an incredibly intelligent “meta” scene construction as well.  He essentially tells his Father, who represents not evil or even endless greed but closed-mindedness and the common need for safety of conviction and regularity that we see in people in virtually all political and philosophical trends to some extent that you don’t have to be as you are, there’s always the human potential for improvement, intellectual and psychological growth and radical change in worldview that goes Light-years beyond petty politics.  We can appreciate and change the world for the better, so everyone – or at-least for more than current existing numbers – can live lives of unique grandeur and individually defined purpose and richness that wasn’t even conceivable before by most.  Instead of being petty and small-minded wanting everything to remain as it is and unthreatened both in the economic and the existential sense by change, even if that change is radical improvement and enhancement of the human condition.
There is a distinction between President Business, the evil Mastermind who wants to freeze all the citizens of the Legoverse and Will Ferrell as Dad, who simply is an average working class Joe who is moderately Conservative but an overall loving and decent person.  And that distinction being one is a real human being with the capacity for change while the other is an archetype of a particular ideology and its psychology.  The film isn’t saying that we can simply ask the Mitt Romneys and Donald Trumps of the world to be nicer, more human and relate to their fellow man decently, but that we can make real political and more importantly existential or perceptual change in people simply by being decent and thoughtful towards them.  We aren’t going to improve people in a realistic or fundamental way by throwing books of Marxist literature at them and arguing with Conservatives or Libertarians; what we can do however is organize politically but do so with the intention of improving human experience in a multifaceted way using a multifaceted approach.
The world is a beautiful and awe inspiring place.  Full of things both natural and made by human beings living and long gone.  It is to be cherished and experienced daringly, openly and not through the filter of systems and ideology – that is what the film is primarily about with the Existential bits added.  Only a children’s film can be so intelligent and wise through the act of play, seen in the film itself with the child talking to the father through Emmett, who embodies his subconscious mind and his essence, still innocent, creative and exploring a world full of unlimited possibilities.  Only children’s films give the backdrops to worlds of wonder and dialogue that is meaningful, intelligent, but discreet.  It is for the viewer to grasp the film’s message, rather than having it ladled for him; just as it is for the child and later adult to make for himself who he truly is, or rather taking Nietzsche’s advice and “Becoming who you are,” through the proper educational and societal help that we can all benefit from.  And to attain a world where we can all share in this material, intellectual and psychological richness and majesty, we must first start treating people not as material or ideological cogs, but complicated and dynamically material human beings living in the world, so that one day they will be to a degree never before actualized and conceived of only by those rare and immaculate minds who create the worlds of fiction; stimulating our conceptual tools through entertainment so that we may change ourselves and our world while enhancing it greatly through the genius expressed in fiction which surpasses all sciences.  And no matter how contrived or predictable it may be, I’m obliged to end this with that wisest of all Einsteinian sentiments:  “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

There have been so many people who possess a cleverness and spark of creativity and craftsmanship that far surpasses mine, and I would like to express my deep gratitude for being able to share this planet with them as result of the random forces which allows us to witness their brilliance, attempt to achieve some fraction of it ourselves and be witnesses and shapers of this world.
On Ayn Rand’s Novels

So many people have discredited segment by segment of Ayn Rand’s sentimental, naïve, and hateful philosophy that I feel it would be a waste of time for me to do so.  She already gets at-least ten times the attention deserved of a pop-philosopher whose philosophy has less wisdom than can be found in half-intelligent song lyrics, especially considering the Right has a newfound interest in advertising her to the populous with the PBS – which apparently is considered “Leftist” or “Liberal” just because it gets its money from public donations and was until recent not amiable to the point of subservience to the wills and propagandistic views of the Right.  This is to the extent freedom of thought and expression has been demonized on an industrial level.  Fail to conform to the mindset and narrative of corporations and run instead an independent publically financed institution overall devoid, at-least to my knowledge, of political bias and you’re labeled a Leftist.  Good, perhaps this will surely attract some people to legitimately Left-wing sources, just as people actually researched and found in a friendly manner what Socialism actually is because of its recent increase as a vulgar word due-to the Affordable Health Care Act and the Communist-Maoist Muslim Kenyan zombie Anti-Christ from the fifth dimension who enacted it – “documentary” which will essentially be for Right-wing Libertarians what Triumph of the Will was for Fascism. 
I take that back.  As well-as being memorable and notable (of course for its historical context, but it also is a very well-made film in its own right; despite it being a film displaying the Right in a dimly positive light) when this up-coming documentary will be the definition of forgettable, Triumph of the Will is actually somewhat interesting to watch particularly from a historical perspective both in terms of politics and general world history as well-as from a cinematic viewpoint; considering it is used in both the Clockwork Orange and referenced in Lucas work; specifically the ending ceremony where Lea bequeaths Luke, Han and Chewie medals for their services.  Does that mean that the Rebellion is essentially a Far-Right Reactionary Movement?  I know Lucas’ views are to the Right but I thought there were some boundaries of basic sanity.  The closest thing a modern American equivalent could come to Triumph of the Will (“Triumph of the Swill!  Triumph of the Swill!  Triumph of the Swill!  Triumph of the Swiiihll! And yes, I know that song is about the music industry, but the Christian Right is essentially the only group that actually wants to censor music in America, so it’s apropos.) is Jesus Camp where bat-shit Christians send their unfortunate children to be mentally (and possibly anally) raped by a bunch of Jesus Freaks; or those “Founding Father” Glenn Beck Conservative camps that’s essentially the American equivalent of Fascism.  But I already wrote an essay regarding the Tea Party and considering they have essentially bought our Government and took over via legislative coup progressively from the Reagan Era, they really don’t need to recruit children as the Nazis did.  Because why build camps to brainwash the masses when you have Fox News, Churches and a Jingoistic narrative in the classroom to accomplish the same task?
So since I don’t want to spend time rambling about Ayn Rand’s philosophy (I’d much rather ramble incoherently about far-more cogent authors) at-least not directly, I’m going to do essentially that which I said was a waste of time only filtered through her God-awful novels.
First let me say that all you need to know about Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” you can get from a brief glimpse at her novels.  Further reading than this is done at your own peril.  All of them are little more than nickel romance stories (Romantic both in genre and in literary style) with a poorly constructed philosophy imbibing the binary nature of the cardboard cut-outs she would call “characters.”  Every character is either a laughable iteration of the “stupid Altruist and leech” or the herculean Randian hero who is often blonde or blue-eyed if memory serves and always (fucking always) described as having an angular jaw and sharp beautiful features.  For such a supposedly deep and cutting-edge philosophy, it’s incredibly fitting to its true idealistic and psychological nature that the essential essence of each character being known by traits that are skin-deep.  Each novel has a beautiful shallow self-centered girl who is determined but in-spite of all the moochers and collectivists trying to stand in her way (!).  And each one also has said female character whether she is the main character submitting to the true hero who is always male, and frankly would serve as one of the worse James Bond Villains (or as Bill Maher stated, Batman baddies) in their cartoonish nature and utter indifference to human suffering being showcased as quintessential virtue.  This is seen in her quote about the serial killer Gacy she idolized that I’m sure most of you are aware of.  Now on to We The Living.
I confess I haven’t read the entire thing, only the first chapter or two two or three times.  The Anti-Communism is obvious but expected, what I could not get beyond was the statements of what I would call the “flabby Altruists” or the sniping Mother (or Aunt, I’m not referring to the Mother specifically, though she may very-well be the mother, but the archetype in Any of Ayn Rand’s novel; seen in Henry Rearden’s mother in Atlas Shrugged for example.) character who says things like, “Why can’t you be more like everyone else?  You need to give your life to the whole!  People need you!  Submit to the will of the Borg; resistance is useless!”  This is seen throughout all her other novels perhaps besides Anthem which is by far her best work and the only one worth reading – but I’ll get to it in detail shortly.  We The Living is essentially a book that depicts tragedy, despair and desperation but through the guise of someone only concerned with the Rich.  People were suffering just as much if not more under Czarist rule, and the Bolsheviks especially early on in their reign did make a conscious effort to educate the common citizen and increase their standard of living.  But Rich people are suffering in Rand’s novel.  Gasp!  We can’t let that happen!  And people are being persecuted by their class?  Why, what moral monster could allow such a thing?  Calling an entire group of people something less-than human; like a … parasite?  
Of course I don’t want to paint a picture of the USSR as an ideal place to live, but that’s almost negligible at this point. What isn’t is Rand depicting human suffering amongst sickening romance and only the problems of the rich mean anything.  Also from the description it seems like Leo would need to pay to get medical treatment or stay in the sanitarium.  The Government providing absolutely no financial help to the concerns of its citizens seems like a different kind of system, one that memory recalls Ayn Rand was quite – to put it mildly – in favor of.  I mean really, complete “Government take-over” of the means-of-production and services and they would charge lunatics stay in what I’m sure would be comparable to a four-star hotel at the Ritz?  Ayn Rand having no understanding of Kant or Dialectical Materialism I was aware of for some time, but a Socialist Government forcing the mentally ill to pay for what I’m sure is terrible and in some ways even counterproductive treatment methods and general care – as we see throughout almost the entire globe at the beginning of the twentieth century – is akin to describing Fascism as a movement trying to make Big Businesses accountable for White-collar crime.  At-least that’s the narrative you get from Conservatives when they compare Progressives and Socialists to Brown Shirts.  Oh… National Socialists!  Well why didn’t you tell me that before?  Of course that means that Hitler and the Nazis were Socialist.  I mean, Hitler defines Socialism as a “whites-only” movement but if Hitler said-so it must be true right?  Because Hitler was a mean ol’ Socialist – who backed Big Business and praised Private Property rights – so if he defines Socialism as something then I suppose he’s the Pickard to the meaning of words and “makes it so.” 
Technically I realize it was Number One who “made it so”, Pickard merely gave the order.  Calm the fuck down Trekkies.  Ha, autocorrect wants to replace Trekkies with Trekkers, which if I remember right is the word for a Star Trek enthusiast that they prefer at-least some of the most hard-core ones which is ironic considering they're the biggest Trekkies of all.  Bill Gates must be a huge Trekkie.
As a final remark, it should be noted that this is the only of Rand’s novels where the herculean hero is corrupted (or his true nature is shown considering Irina posited a view of him which I assumed seemed inaccurate of him at the time) and the story as a whole ends in tragedy.  Though I haven’t read it, and it has the simplistic “Communism is bad because sharing sucks” message, as well-as what I assume is an unbearable romance with an added love-triangle and dialogue I know to be atrocious, I confess there are some elements of the plot I found interesting and surpassing her more well-known works.  A final thing that seems insultingly cheap is her being the only “genuine mourner” at Andrei’s funeral.  Was it because he lost his position as Party Member and therefore all worth as a human being to the Altruistic Collectivists?  This is the only one of Rand’s work I know of where a Communist is depicted in anything resembling a positive light – though he does commit suicide in the end which seems like a convenient tie-up and display of weakness – though he only helps the female protagonist when she essentially non-verbally prostitutes herself to him – which is acting on selfish incentives you’d accept from, well… not a Communist truly acting on the notion of class struggle and human solidarity. 
Anthem is the only one of Ayn Rand’s novels – if you can call it that, its typically referred to as a novella with A Clockwork Orange, which is at-least twice the length of this story – that I’ve read in full and is the only one I could or would recommend to anyone.  Despite the simplicity of the story, the general premise being that a second Dark Ages has engulfed the world due-to a “binge of Collectivism” and society has regressed to using candles and believing in a Geo-centric view of the cosmos, the idea of a first-person narrative unable to use the word ‘I’ is quite clever, and is told well despite the instances of “Randing” when she makes Equality 7-2521’s contemporaries either idiot villains or sniveling half-wits who would be able to possess Rand’s ideal virtues of selfishness and other traits if it weren’t for the society they inhabited.  Of course Rand naively believes in free will, so she also would hold that these people chose sometime in their lives to fog their mind or whatever basic generalization she gives to all the people and ideologies she despises. 
It’s been compared to Zamyatin’s We which is much better than this novel in numerous regards.  First-off it isn’t used as propaganda for a naïve view of Hero-worshipping Right-wing Libertarianism, and secondly, though society has gone array in its despotism, utilizing precise time-management similar to Taylor’s time-table, and Bentham’s theory of more efficient prisons were in theory all prisoners could be watched at-all times so all assume they are when in theory none of could be is utilized towards nearly all of society save a few old buildings used for museums among potentially other things.  The logic and ideology expressed in We seems intelligent and something worth arguing against, while in Anthem Rand does what she’s famous for and constructs the most laughable stock and impotent (she herself believes they are utterly impotent and need to convince the “strong man” to relinquish his power, which is an obvious simplification and bastardization of Nietzsche) villains who believe that a street-sweeper creating a light bulb is a heresy and it must be destroyed despite its use-value.  Which is contrary to her argument of the Mystics of Muscle (the ludicrous label she gives to Leftists) exploiting the Men of the Mind for their genius while giving them no reward – which of course is what we see in Capitalist society, but I digress.  Also, society in this world (if what she has described has become a global phenomena like in Atlas Shrugged) is mystical to a point that even the average fundamentalist Christian or Muslim living in the West would find laughable, and these people are supposed to be the logical-end of Communists and Marxists?  Who are arguably the most materialistic in their understanding of Nature, History, and Humanity? 
Also her understanding of Democracy as Mob Rule is so regressive and Reactionary you would have to go back – at-least to my knowledge, obviously many Conservatives and our Government in-general is very anti-democratic, but seldom to the Powers That Be state said views – to Eighteenth Century defendants of the Crown to characterize Democracy as she does.  The tyranny she presents is so childish in its lack of logic and explicit absolutism.  The genius of 1984 is Orwell realizes a fully Totalitarian State could and in-fact does lock up people for drawing things they don’t approve of or the suspicion of Thought Crime, but they are far-more subtle, intelligent and planning in how they achieve their goals and Orwell is a genius in both the expression and explanation of their psychology and ideology.  Comparing Orwell to Rand is like comparing Jello Biafra to a fourteen year-old with a Mohawk screaming into a microphone and complaining about Socialism and Mom telling him to clean his room.
The Fountainhead is the only one of Rand’s novels I haven’t token a half-serious attempt at trying to read.  Which is shame because I’ve heard and am willing to believe it surpasses Atlas Shrugged, and I somehow managed to read slightly more than two-thirds of that novel, which would be approximately reading The Fountainhead in its entirety.  I have seen the 1949 WB film several times however and is in-fact the main inspiration for writing this essay.  Firstly, am I the only one who realized that his vision of a building when he first sees a board of people contemplating hiring him is the very definition and essence of bland?  I know, I’m one of the moochers, and I just cannot conceive the genius, originality and scope of vision having a plain building and refusing to be paid a large commission if only I allow others to essentially do my work for me and add style and individual features to the building.  There are distinctions between the book and film from what I can tell of a plot summary, which may be why Rand stated that she hated the film, “from start to finish” though she at-first said it was the most loyal adaptation of material Hollywood ever produced.  The novel emphasizes Dominique’s Fatalism and surrender far-more than in the film; also, Keating has a love interest in the book that he abandons in the pursuit of money and reputed success in tabloids and accolades.  This is quite different than the soft timid Keating in the film who constantly is talking about compromising but seemingly for philosophical or psychological reasons other than making it big financially by giving the people what they want.  Which last I checked was a large part of this thing called Capitalism, unless it’s more profitable to produce a type of imitation or to mold public interest so they crave what you make or that they become consumeristic beings.
The movie in-general is passable and I don’t have much to say on it asides from I found Dominique’s desire to not desire anything somewhat profound but not in the way Rand describes it.  The self-abnegation of Buddhism and Schopenhauer to see the futility of most desires not only in satisfaction but in achievement and eradication of desire once satisfaction is achieved is full of wisdom, though I disagree with their views in full.  Rand’s characters however are closer to teenagers who say, “Agh!  Everything is so fucking awful!  Why should my genius and greatness benefit these losers who shun my nobility?” and to that I need only quote a great film which ends with the Marxist message, “He’s the city Gotham needs, but not the one it deserves.”
I must confess that the ending speech in The Fountainhead, which I’ve heard Rand insisted was retained as it is in her novel verbatim, is the main reason for me writing this essay.  It’s just so laughable how destroying a building is handled by not only the warped Roark but everyone else involved; the villain says something along the lines of, “it’s time to decide whether we’ll allow this Egoist to live for his own sake!  We are society and we can demand him to do whatever the fuck we say!”  Not:  “The fucking psycho blew up a building!  Put his terroristic ass in jail.  Oooh, boo hoo Mr. Roark, they added a few balconies to your artistic masterpiece of a building?”  Also what’s this devious "Socialist" who wants to enslave everyone doing writing screeds about buildings in some Populist paper?  “Ha ha, yes!  I’ll destroy society and make everyone obey my will and dictates by calling the new private school built on Fourth and Western ugly!  That’ll show those bourgeois dogs!”
In the speech Roark talks about the lofty ideals of Individualism and how it excuses him to blow up buildings he designs.  He says that the Founding Fathers built this country “To achieve; not the plunder.”  A cute way of looking at the treatment of Native Americans which Rand rationalizes by saying that they were a primitive people who had no conception of ownership, so of course the advanced Europeans who did believe in property rights could come in and claim whatever they wanted at their expense.  He says that his designs were “Token by force by breach of contract.”  ; which obviously they weren’t.  He willingly gave his ideas to Keating who essentially allowed “the mob” or Toohey to change Roark’s ideas rather than enforce the contract if the contract was even made were an agreement of no changes to Roark’s Sistine Chapel was included.  And even if they did “steal your idea” does that justify destroying the building?  If an inventor of weapons is expected to give his ideas to the Government (as many scientists ideas are token not exactly voluntarily) does that justify bombing the manufacturing plant where they’re made.  In this instance, if the Government was murdering innocents and no other discourse was necessary, and the discourse I described would be effective (which of course it wouldn’t because they would just build another factory) then in this instance I believe that one would be morally right to bring harm to those who stole an idea which could be used for good.  But because it  was being used for malicious purposes, the fact that it was once your idea is only a flavoring on this dish of crime – damn, I should write Buddy-cop movies – and I wouldn’t want to run into the man with Ron Paul 2012 tattooed onto his who would see affordable housing for the destitute as a moral crime.  I also find amusing how he constantly uses the phrase “I came here to do such and such,” when he’s on trail and he could – and should – spend serious jail time for serious destruction to property (property rights remember Mr. Uber Capitalist?  That building wasn’t yours.) and yet he’s talking as if he just chose to stroll in and rant at everyone about his conception of Individualism and say see-yah-later afterwards.  I wouldn’t want to be any poor schmo who wants to remodel a house or God forbid a gas station built by the great Howard Roark, otherwise he’ll come in with an Uzi and a copy of Atlas Shrugged screaming, “You’re just jealous of my designs!  Try to copy my majestic marvels in Hell fucker!”  Except taking seventy pages to get across.
Which of course has me segway into that most soul-crushing repetitive and perhaps worst of all literary ventures, namely Atlas Shrugged.  It’s almost impossible to convey the experience of reading a book so terribly written and so lacking in style, cleverness or any real structure or story development.  All the characters who are innately good selfish people remain so and just need to realize how fantastic they are and that everyone else can go to Hell.  And all the disgusting parasites – who seem to focus on economics rather than religious or spiritual incentives, which to me tells what she truly despised wasn’t “intellectual” or “ideological” in the idealist expressions of faith in God but rather the actual action and event of systematic aid and benefit to those who need it; showing she has very-much in common with the Christian Right as she realized in-part but still loved to contend that her “philosophy” was so unique.  Expressed in her hatred of Nietzsche when she bastardized much of him, and Libertarianism when she is really just a thuggish Libertarian who believes that those who aren’t exactly like her are inferior beings – remain Altruists incapable of change.  Also there’s this disgusting ass-kissing worker, who in the film was black which I didn’t pick up in the novel, though I was at one-point reading every other line to save myself from total mental collapse.  If the character was black in the novel, then not only do we have the repugnance of the worker kissing the ass and being the mindless toady for the businessman, we have the Uncle Tom Negro Allan West figure, complaining about Communism, Liberalism and equating Blacks getting assistance from the Government to slaves working a plantation.  Yes, getting money from the Government which in-effect is subsidizing Big Business so you can feed your children makes you a slave.  Not the Capitalist oppressing you; never blaming the Capitalist is of course a trend Ayn Rand helped push along with her primitive idealist and reactionary views and psychology.
One incredibly Conservative aspect of her thinking is her insane view that “sexual values” come from virtues, that is we have feelings of affection or lust – if we were “proper beings” – for those who share our perceptions and characteristics.  Now obviously when we encounter someone who we connect with, there will almost inevitably and without exception be a deep and mind-altering feeling of longing because we feel we’ve found someone we can truly connect to.  But not as often as one might expect does that person share our “values” or is essentially a slightly altered version of us. Also anyone’s experience of High School when these feelings are often at their strongest, will tell them that very-often we have strong feelings for someone without even knowing them.  We do not even know them even in that realm of uncertainty that we know our friends and family, were we know part of who they are because they have a role they are playing for us much of the time which we may mistake as either their whole self or even their genuine self which it easily may not be.  Rand’s perception of self and psychology is so rudimentary and naïve that it makes sense that she would fetishize her perception of “Reason” with a capital R without even taking the time to critically reason and argue against the philosophers she laughably groups together and discredits as “relativists” or “subjectivists.”
The Wikipedia summation of The Fountainhead is seven paragraphs long; the synopsis of Atlas Shrugged is only four.  The novel itself doesn’t even function as something interesting or unique to critique.  Taking the view that view that History is nothing but evil convincing good to deny its own innate self-serving and creative instincts, one sees precisely why Rand vehemently denies the conception of Positive Liberty:  she thinks it’s a complete waste of time.  The people who are “rationally self-interested” and see her vision due-so for Psychological reasons and the ones who don’t are just “looters” who are either innately weak or have been poisoned by academia, which she shows more contempt for than organized religion. 
Ayn Rand is laughable and not worth a serious intellectual critique.  I’ve already mentioned her inability to understand other philosophers, but this is seen incredibly well in her defining the History of Philosophy as a history of whims, when Kant as actually giving a more accurate picture of the objective she couldn’t understand.  She herself in some ways is a Kantian, especially in her Ethics, except she alters the notion of Duty to duty to the self as some grand ethical ideal, and keeps the notion of “Goodness” being the main form of ethical conduct in itself.  That is beings who possess these Aristotelian virtues are just intrinsically grand and would naturally find what the nature of ethics and all other fields are, and everyone else who doesn’t have these traits are inherently lesser-beings.  Once again an incredibly simplistic view that has no conception of the complexity of individuals and psychology, and that one may be incredibly brilliant but lacks the psychology and personality to perform certain goals or functions; also of course it lacks the understanding of human beings as biological organism.  Though Rand rants about how we humans are animals and not spirits so we need to have a productive life or die.  How profound.  And as for Plato, it is in the Gorgas I believe where he examines the notion of what is good being so merely because it is what the Gods claim is so, or because it is in itself a Good dependent of them and they are merely wise enough to understand the Good.  Plato decides that the Good is independent of the Gods, taking a stance in direct contradiction to Rand’s perception of the history of Philosophy.  Though Ayn Rand’s understanding of human understanding is similar to Plato, and her John Galt is very similar to the Philosopher King even though Galt claims he wishes to command no one he as many boot-licking supplicants who worship him.  Rand also is similar to Hegel in terrible writing, Idealism (though she continually stresses that reality exists independent of the mind, most points of her philosophy seem to fail to recognize this point.  She seems convinced in her view of free will and human weakness that reality is what it is because – both her view of human nature and its relation to human history – because people took what she considers the wrong ethical action.  For her reality is almost entirely a thing of the propagandistic construction of a idealist creator God, namely her, seen in her bold pronouncement of A=A, and using it as an ad-hoc defense of her entire point of view.), anti-Materialism, and-Democracy, simplistic rationalistic view of consciousness and view that the end of Philosophy was seen in her Philosophy, though Hegel was much kinder and accurate to other philosophers than Rand.
I recommend the Partially Examined Life’s critique – or hilarious bashing might be more accurate – of Rand and her “Epistemology.”  I actually found an original edition of the book in my library and read perhaps the first fourth, but had to stop out of rational self-interest.  Also I think it’s amusing how she calls the work “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology” as a way of saying, oh yeah, this mind-numbing eye-glazing work is just me getting started.  I do find it suspicious and a fine example of the business culture’s perception of Philosophy or Intellectualism that the only known episode of PEL with advertisers is the Rand episode.  Now it could be the guys thinking, well if we have to examine this shit we might as well make some money out of it, when they would treat Plato, Hume, Kant and Marx with more respect by not putting ads in the discussion.  However, it could be that this is the only episode advertisers were friendly to, which shows the major reason why Rand persists today. 

Her arguments are terrible, just as is her writing and just as is her personality, psychology and temperament.  However she must always be passingly rebuked whenever she is mentioned because as the Age of Religion dies poorly educated Atheists who have never been properly given access to Nietzsche, Hume, Schopenhauer or Marx might find this Pop-philosopher a figure worth respecting, as I did to some extent in my youth; thankfully my Leftism, psychology and sanity prevented me from drinking the Kool-aid of this occultist.  Some may criticize me for analyzing Rand’s novels when I myself haven’t read them.  But clearly Rand hasn’t read significant amounts of Wittgenstein, Kant, Marx, Plato or essentially any of the other philosophers she makes sweeping generalizations of as relativists and subjectivists.  Her criticism of Feminism is Conservative and Reactionary – as well is her view on women overall – rather than Materialist.  She believed that the Capitalists should hold all the cards and make all the choices, and this is what we see in the world today.  Before we can have effective change in this country, we must cancel-out through education, introduction of proper ideas and increase in material welfare and environment the effects which have the people dissatisfied by our system run towards the idealists, reactionaries, Nationalists and Capitalists which caused the problem in the first place – which of course is the major narrative for and psychology of Fascism, and one of the major reasons why Socialism has failed to take route in America or the world.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

On Fear Loathing and Pump Wearing Monsters

Recently I watched a film entitled Party Monster, – which from now on will be referred to as PM – and overall I found the film was tedious, disturbing and yet not as graphic or immoral as I expected.  Based off a book by James St. James, it’s the Biofilm of him and Michael X starting the Club Kid trend of narcissism, douchebaggery and overall contemptuousness.  At the end of this unpleasant experience, I thought of a film I quite enjoy, and is based off a novel I am currently reading, namely Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas – from here on referred to as FaL.  This too is a quote-unquote “drug movie” and is about the end and failure of a movement rather than the beginning of one; yet they both share a type of moral depravity.  And while the film both exhibits two drug addicts who are demented and inconsiderate of all others, I find Raul Duke and Dr. Gonzo a likable bunch, while James and Michael are two people who have irritated me more than any other two people in quite some time.
Is it because they’re homosexuals?  I have nothing against gays, but I confess I did find their “fagginess” something that left me irked.  Doug Stanhope is a comedian who does material on this that’s worth looking up, though he has far better material in my estimation.  But I don’t think it’s solely or even mostly due to this preference in taste or becoming slightly irritated at men wearing short shorts and talking like bad caricatures of fourteen year old girls.  First let me say that I don’t think that it’s exactly a form of subconscious homophobia, rather that when these two characters act “faggy” I realize right away that they present an air of pomposity and insincerity that irritates the Existentialist in me to my very core.  These are the type of people who claim they’re – though the main characters are usually fairly direct with their intentions and motivations – merely trying to express themselves when they have no unique self to express and little-more than attention whores whose currency is stares and who provide their customer – though this relationship isn’t always voluntary as it is with prostitutes – with nothing asides from the occasional hysterical fit.  Everything about these people is fake and is a thin veil to cover up deep psychological problems.  Unable to take anything seriously – as James says almost explicitly – they instead want to live in a froofy anti-intellectual world of drugs and meaningless frivolities that also arouses deep contempt in the Socialist and Philosopher aspects of my person. 
Raul Duke and Gonzo are clearly comic constructs of two fun-loving drug addicts who still take life seriously, are paranoid and worried about being caught in humorous ways and who are overall likable people despite them being in some ways immoral and Hedonistic; while as I’ve stated the characters of PM are self-absorbed, egotistical and more annoying than Jar Jar Binks – yes I’m willing to go that far.  Also Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas, while being no Catcher in the Rye or 1984, is about something; namely the failure of the Hippy counterculture movement of the 60’s in its naïve view that the forces of Goodness, Freedom and Love could vanquish Evil, Tradition and Hate simply because it was ethically superior and without the use of not only any force but any real tactics, possessing a religious and mystical psychology and mindset that ultimately was a major aspect of its downfall and discrediting into comedy. 
And in this defeat, many lost youth surrendered to the drugs they were told by fools like Aldous Huxley were “consciousness expanding” but now were taking out of Nihilism and illness rather than naiveté and a desire to grow.  Though I personally don’t find how anyone could honestly belief these drugs which disorientate the mind could sharpen or expand it.  I’ve heard that Cocaine is a substance which quickens the mind, and is a drug that clearly gives one more energy, but such is not one of the “reality-altering substances” that the Hippy movement was advocating.  As a quick side-note, we should be glad that narcotics are not necessary or overall beneficial in intelligence or perception enhancement or improvement.  If such were the case, it would mean that intelligence, cleverness and depth could be bought, rather than merely the perception of such which I’ve gathered alcohol and other drugs can have said effect for some. 
Overall Fear and Loathing while a comedy is a movie of some depth and substance interjected sporadically while being entertaining throughout.  Party Monster on the other hand is about a very niche and minor sub-group in America, if about anything larger than two drug addicts one of which murders his drug dealer.  One could try to make it an argument for the vanity, shallowness, callowness and selfishness of the Capitalist system, but then a Left-wing critique could be made of half the movies produced by Hollywood.  Such a critique makes sense for a move along the lines of American Psycho, though Brett Easton Ellis claims he did not intend the novel to be work of political allegory in any way, and is simply a personal reflection piece and work of art, but even if that were true that does not mean that the material for a critique of the Reagan-Era and its hypocritical values is not blatant and plentiful.
There are of course other distinctions of the characters and their respective films.  FaL depicts two junkies of slightly above-average intelligence (though Duke essentially being Hunter S Thompson would be somewhat above, rather than slightly; I never considered Thompson to be a genius or person of considerable regard as some drug users do, but I do consider him to be a funny intelligent person that deserves to be commended but not adored) who both do something of at-least some worth though do drugs and create some minor mayhem along the way like put hunting knives against photographers throats (throats in the singular) and skimp out on paying bills.  Things which would be and should be real serious crimes in our society, but aren’t awful enough that they can’t be used as material for a comedy and fun-loving hyjinx.  PM however shows two detestable degenerates who do nothing but “party” (codeword for get wasted) and try to find new and more extravagant ways to exploit others for cash.  If you’re a genius like Karl Marx and you spend your life writing and participating in revolutionary activity, I can easily look past doing a little begging when necessary, especially when you don’t get paid the sum for your works that you deserve; but if all you do is Heroin and try to advertise a lifestyle of drug use and superficial minded worthlessness, describing it as “glamour” and “fabulousness” than in any ideal society you would either be essentially be forced to get a real job and be mocked for looking and acting like such a little shit.  This is something that Marxism and Conservatism is actually in agreement on.  Who knew?
The music is clearly better in FaL than in PM, but since it’s only reasonable to want any “Club Kid” who likes strobe seizure-inducing “music” to be shot on sight, I don’t think that this needs to be stated.  Both films’ music compliment the film effectively, FaL has hits of Classic Rock that accentuate the film like a hit of audible acid mixed in the film which is something of a “drug experience” itself.  While PM has music that’s forgettable to the fortunate and lingering in the damned; those poor souls who will have “Everything good is bad, everything bad is good” repeat in their minds like a fucking alien transmission.  The lyrics resemble to those who don’t pay attention to semantics a piece of Cynical wisdom, that is, much of what societies deems is a value or noble is immoral or petty, and much of what it deems immoral and perverse is actually the standard of virtue and dignity.  However, the song – and the film in its nihilism and vanity – is stating that which is objectively good is in-fact bad, and that which is in-fact is a vice is actually something to be admired. 
This is the psychology of Hedonism and drug use in a nut shell, usually anti-intellectual and willing to do anything to get a fix, next to religion, drug use was clearly the original sin of the Hippy movement, and overall is what prevented it from going adequately to the Left.  Advocacy of drugs is something we see in Liberals and Hindu Spiritualists, but Marxists and most Socialists have always known subconsciously and stated explicitly that drugs are a last refuge for the poor and a vice of decadent Hedonism for the rich, much like Alcohol which is of course is a drug – those who say it is not are simpletons.  There is somewhat of a unfortunate trend of drug use among Anarchists, as well-as in the Punk movement, both of which I feel have value – Sex Pistols and the Dead Kennedys blasting Hippies and Democrats for example for being pseudo-Leftists both politically and psychologically – but need to get their proverbial shit together if they are going to represent a legitimate ideology or be a legitimate movement.  Revolutionaries have to be against more kinds of parties than the political kind.
Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas is in-part about the death of the American Dream through the logical end of one of its ideals, namely the realization of middle-class decadence and Negative Liberty.  Raul Duke and his partner do all drugs known to Man – though they are worried of-course about the law and cops living in the 1970’s – they essentially are without any kind of financial or political restraint, and in the end we see at-best the meaninglessness and insanity of drug use, ignoring much of its latent horrors to keep the movie lively and enjoyable.  Party Monster however is about nothing besides perhaps the perversions of the Hedonist psychology.  It is a movie that is ugly and about ugly people.  Fear and Loathing takes us into Bat Country, while seeing Party Monster would make me glad to be a Bat-out-of-Hell, as long-as when I departed Hell I wouldn’t be flying into a theater with this travesty playing especially considering it was most-likely playing in Hell as my seemingly eternal punishment.

Also:  Who was in charge of the camera work in PM?  There are so many close shots it looks like they’re filming a documentary about acme.  Which would be an unfunny joke that would be valid if the actors actually did have skin blemishes.  That’s me, telling unfunny jokes that aren’t even accurate or functional.  And there might be material for a fan theory where Michael in PM is Kevin from Home Alone, but is sexually warped through interactions with his uncle (“Get out of here you noisy little pervert!”) and his deviancy has transformed into decadence and depravity through being forgotten and left to fend for himself fifteen times every Christmas, Halloween and Arbor Day.  Because if it sells, sell-out.  
Last thing:  Sell is one of those words that were if you think it repeatedly it loses all meaning and seems very odd.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

On John Locke

Though a figure of indisputable historic importance, I feel in the approaching age of Social Liberalism it will serve as beneficial to discount Locke’s Conservatism, Classical Liberalism and Social Liberalism itself in its aims.  Though I am not thoroughly read in his own writings, I have explored the concepts that he furthers and find almost all of them to be outdated in their usefulness or harmful – essentially the same with Social Liberalism and Classical Liberalism now known as Right-wing Libertarianism.
His conception of rights being derivative of reason is an overall functional but incorrect and naïve view of the subject.  Clearly a being must possess some degree of strength and functionality in his faculties to possess the reason to discover that individuals have rights, but that is not equivocal to rights being derived from reason.  Reason and cognitive prowess is necessary to deduce the interworking of the atom and the speed of light, but that does not mean of course that these things are derived from reason, only our knowledge and understanding of them is in-part.  Now, one could make the argument that rights do not exist until us humans “discover” or invent them.  But not only does this statement essentially damn millions on the planet who have lived in a Pre-Civil Rights Era – Also due-to a war or some epidemic of mass amnesia if everyone forgot that rights existed and were implemented on occasion would they still exist? – it is a subjectivist argument that says that we human beings become something the moment we think or do it, and there’s no other criteria rather than unscientific arbitrary decision of rights along the lines of Sartre in his “radical freedom” only in a political direction.  An intellectual invalid possesses no reason, nor do the species on the endangered watch list and yet we give them not only average rights in the case of the invalid, but particular rights in the case of both.  Therefore, I would like to make the Aristotelian – and later add Nietzsche and Marx to add depth to this perception of rights – argument that rights function in relation the functionative qualities of an organism or individual in relation to itself, its species and the planet.
Everything in existence has a causal reason why it is what it is and not something else – Leibnitz and perhaps the most elementary point of philosophy besides A=A which Objectivists use as a laughable card to trump all schools of philosophy when in actuality the only schools of thought that it serves any purpose mentioning is perhaps Buddhism – as well as a material reason; our conception of not only existence but rights should precede from this understanding.  A right is not only a protective law and ethical concept protecting an agency from harm or unwanted involvement – Negative Liberty – but also that which allows us to do material nature and causality one better from what things are without human governing affairs – namely Positive Liberty.  That is, we also understand that organisms are creatures that can prosper and flourish as well-as suffer and be malnourished depending on what fate grants them.  Because good surpasses evil, and pleasure and prosperity always being superior to pain and poor conditions – unless we accept as we should to an extent the Nietzschean wisdom of mistreatment and malady of the body and mind in certain amounts and forms being beneficial to the soul of the artist or Human in fully existential sense, the carving out of the human soul through suffering being what makes humans interesting.  A somewhat naïve view if taken as definitive but nonetheless useful and accurate on-large – it is beneficial to not only the entity or entities in question, but all those who are in-contact with said being in the present or future potentially.  Man’s moral imperative not only to himself but to existence itself to colonize space and grow not only quantitatively – in relation to the resources that can be effectively managed at any given time given the circumstances of the moment – but qualitatively is a fine example of this.  Rights are an expression of the realizations of values, speech is something of value, and is an essential trait of the human character and intellect, so we protect it.  We even protect wrongful or absurd speech for it would be more hazardous to censor freedom of expression than the harm the hateful and unjust could perpetuate.  However corporate media censoring speech through consciously ignoring certain voices and world events is certainly something to be deemed as the limitation of Rights in a Capitalist Society even if it were completely Liberal.
Nietzsche and Marx become crucial to this nuanced view of rights for they both implicitly understand that rights are not an abstract concept, but something that either is or is derived from the complexity and functioning of a thing.  Marx with understanding what Locke did not, namely that the nature of a product, particularly in industrial society, is social by very nature.  To the Capitalist, his workers are labor that he uses to extract revenue from his bought resources and to exact as high a profit as humanly possible.  He himself puts very little labor into the product, especially in relation to his earnings compared to his worker, and yet he makes essentially all of the profit defying Locke’s own conception of property and value through allowing the rich to play the role of Master in this financial relation, let alone the ways in which he manipulates and exploits the poor in regards to political and economic policy.  And of course there will always be the advantage of the rich receiving the best of everything in their development in Capitalist society; a modern development of this being the poor being fed food that stultifies and harms the mind, remolds the body and burns the spirit rather than starving.
Nietzsche’s addition to this is more nuanced and by the nature of his thought non-systematic or very difficult to apply to any system. Namely that he realizes that different kinds of people need different rights, benefits and restrictions placed upon them for both their and societies benefit – of course Nietzsche focuses on whatever allows the great man to achieve his greatest heights, or whatever hinders him the least, but most recognize I hope that that which emboldens the great man also aids society in emulating him and wishing and striving in a meaningful way to have in them traits worthy of emulation.  A scene between Kirk and his superior in the second Star Trek film directed by JJ Abrams displays this quite well.  There are rules that should very well exist, but they shouldn’t apply to all people at all times, they should be a guide to how society should function, and be in place as parameters to deter crime, dangerous, or unbecoming behavior when necessary.  Another example of this is disallowing violent criminals who can’t handle their drink from drinking or imbibing drugs which should otherwise be his own free choice to consume or not.  Just as some should not be allowed to spawn because they are not fit parents.  The Conservative, Liberal and Libertarian response of course is, “Where does the Government get the right to say whether or not I can have kids?” but we must always remember that parents do not own their children, that they raise them out of a sense of love most-likely (this is being optimistic in-a-sense), but that if an individual isn’t capable in one of several main factors (financial, intellectual, psychological, ethical, etc.) to raise offspring, said offspring will inevitably suffer and become an individual that is damaged in some moderate to severe way and will bring down the overall potential and value of society; therefore to be compassionate to both him or her and society on-large, we spare these poor souls the burden of existence in being the people they would almost inevitably become.  A society that gives everyone the right to produce offspring when they are unfit might as well be a culture that allows dogs to be beaten by owners or buildings to be made improperly because it is the wish of the parent due to their religious beliefs that God dislikes and sternly forbids ninety degree angles.  Nietzsche’s understanding of rights is functional rather than purely Liberal, because he understands that different individuals have different natures that need varying but in some ways similar structure and freedom to flourish – something that anyone who has raised more than one child will acknowledge.
A quick note, though it overall isn’t worth mentioning, earlier I stated that we give rights to invalids and endangered species; particular rights based on their needs.  The two have similar but also different attributes that perhaps should be illuminated.  Mental and physical invalids are of course still members of the human family and therefore retain their basic human rights unless their actions betray them of such rights, while endangered species are simply any kind of mammal, bird, reptile and so on whose only identifying remark is approaching extinction at-least to some degree.  We give invalids special rights, or benefits, because they require such not only to survive but to reduce the extent their handicap reduces their intelligence or brings about suffering.  We give children who have problem speaking speech coaches because they need them, as well as extra or special kinds of attention to anyone, children in particular for obvious reasons, who are in need of this.  In regards to education as well-as life in general, this should be applied to every individual whenever possible for true growth and flourish to foster.  Unifying standards and rigid regulations are a trait of a lackluster society that is either overly religious or bureaucratic in their approach and wholly failing in their understanding of humanity.  Education is in the poor state that it is in due-to lack of financing, external variables of societies major flaws and ills, lack of emphasis on critical thinking and analysis as well as teaching a unified curriculum to young minds who have the potential and stirrings of soulfulness and creativity but who are reduced to unified prints of bland waste and almost sheer worthlessness that is our American workforce.
The endangered species list however is a construct that should exist – asides from the pure knowledge and monitoring of affairs on our globe – purely as a environmentally and humanist functionative.  That is, unless it is a being that seems to possess some essence of a consciousness, and should be deemed closer to humanity in its list of protections in this regard, a species should only be given environmental protections if its existence is essential to humanity in some facet or to the environment in which it inhabits.  Extinction is not only an absolutely natural but necessary aspect of Natural Selection and the creation of new and cleverer species that can function better – at-least to the point of reproduction – in its given ecosystem.  Therefore of course we must be overall more rigorous in our preservation of the environment, the Capitalist has been almost seemingly trying to destroy our planet and already ruining billions’ standards of living with their greed stupidity and apathy in proper and efficient management of resources, and yet we must not view all life as sacred and something to be cherished or valued. 
Returning back to Locke, his understanding of Ecology is justifiably primitive at-best.  Both inaccurate and dangerous, he understands that due-to agriculture and animal husbandry, many of life’s natural processes and systems flourish more-so-than-otherwise when under knowledgeable and attentive human care, and yet he is totally ignorant of the natural life processes that happen daily that is necessary to have natural wilderness and various kinds of plants and animals for specific life processes like cleaning the air, providing nutrients to the soil and various other services I know only scarcely of.  If we took his advice, and deemed all land not cultivated by Man as waste – yes he uses the word – we humans would scarcely last a century most-likely.  Being totally ignorant of Environmental affairs, he is an apropos representative of Liberalism and the view that the Free Market can act responsibly and properly in such affairs, or that the all Governments of nations with growing or already establishing massive centers of industry will force the Capitalists to think of the common interest over their own for once in their lives.  America, China, as well-as growing nations like India who are eager to pump more Carbon Monoxide into the atmosphere are the most immediate examples of this to my knowledge, but of course with the growing population and standard of living in much of the world there are many more.
Staying on the political, his view of taxation is also something much to be desired – in-that it needs much improvement, or rather no rational entity would actually desire it.  A use-based theory of taxation, it provides essentially no benefit to the poor or disabled and will very-likely effectively benefit the Rich.  For if taxes were all use-based like consuming a commodity, than rich parents would be exempted from the taxes for education in deciding to send their children to private schools, and only the poor would fund the services they require due-to lack of financial funds!  Thomas Paine, being an adequate Social Liberal at-least acknowledges and understands the unjust nature of Capitalism before his time.  And while not being precisely a Socialist, he nonetheless believes that the Government should compensate all those who work on a field and do not own it, for the Capitalist will inevitably keep the profits himself and give the average worker a subsistence wage.  Something that he actually now fails to do since the Government does compensate the worker, though not in the fashion Paine had in mind.  If Capitalism is to persist – which it clearly should not – than what is required rather than the Government paying for the Capitalist’s greed is the Capitalist giving every man and woman their proper dues.  The tax system that Locke proposes is the kind that we would see in a Right-wing Libertarian society of complete selfishness and horrid idealistic logic.  Also his naiveté in believing that the common folk will now a just from unjust ruler is something that history on-large has shown his foolishness on.  And this naïve and ridiculously simple-minded belief in Representation of the Common Will while effectively helping the rich and powerful – while forgetting that lands full of ignorant and poor people have common wills that are perturbed and self-destructive due-to religion among other forces – is something that also is characteristically Liberal that Rousseau and Marx spot centuries away.
Overall, his philosophical constructions is almost entirely idealist and supportive of the status-quo. It’s no surprise that he quarreled with notions of Dualism and Monism throughout his life, but to my sources the Dualist in him won out, most-likely due-to his spiritual psychology.  This psychology is of course something he would be almost entirely ignorant of, being a Dualist and having no understanding of the subconscious mind, believing our identity, or rather “who we are” is simply our stream of consciousness, something Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Freud all would have seen the simplicity and inaccurateness of.  Also being akin to Sartre in a way in his posit of Tabula Rasa, or rather that we are born blank slates who are made who we are by impressions, possessing no knowledge of genetics or basic human conceptions which is in-grained to our brains make-up.  Perhaps Locke doesn’t possess the degree of unscientific and in some ways anti-scientific mentality present in Sartre’s views present in Being and Nothingness; positing that consciousness is “nothing” or that which doesn’t follow basic laws of Determinism or Scientific Law, allowing for some “radical freedom” that we are in Bad Faith for rejecting.  Sartre is one of my least favorite Existentialists and should be ignored almost entirely and replaced by Nietzsche and Camus if one wants figures who speak with clarity and profundity.  The Tabula Rasa is another aspect of Liberalism, saying that we human beings are simply rationalistic or idealistic constructs, implicitly stating that racism for example, is completely due to one’s environment and upbringing and not by economic, material, genetic, and psychological forces that can make one racist or perpetuate racism subconsciously or otherwise.
To say a brief word on the Social Contract Theorist as-a-whole, overall the notion of their thought experiment seems ludicrous.  To give both a hypothetical beginning point of Man where he is without law or order – which most Anthropologists would argue against, having evidence that the earliest of hunter-gatherer collectives had some notion of Law and Order before they invented the writing to transcribe their laws even if they weren’t consistent and almost certainly weren’t universal the way they are in a Judicially Egalitarian society – and a circumstance where it is just for the individual to sacrifice his sovereignty to that of either the King, Magistrate, or County Senate (or whatever the actors in Rousseau’s Direct Democracy would be called) based on the notion that he or she has tacitly forfeited said sovereignty and submitted to their laws by simple act of proximity.  The nature of the Social Contract is what does always with all the notions of Individualism in a Liberal Democratic society.  We might believe that we are free to do as we please unless our actions are likely to harm another, but then laws against drug use or homosexuality are passed, and the opaque fog of Liberal Democratic ideals clears to the bleak and gray horizon of religiosity and legislation to support the rich and powerful seen in Locke, rather than the freedom loving wisdom, Utilitarian ethic and secular nature of Mill to prevail in a Socialist Democracy.  And now onto his theory of Government as a whole, and its fundamental flaws. 
I’ve already illustrated that and how – though there are at least several ways which I haven’t mentioned – a Government with a Libertarian tax system, economic system priding in individual riches and unlimited wealth accumulation – okay I haven’t mentioned that yet but I was planning on it – and property being derived from Labor in a manner that becomes a betrayal of its own logic when implemented in the Capitalist system becomes something that supports the Status Quo.  However, what needs to be stated as well is that a Government claiming its only function is to protect the lives and property of its citizen is that which is allowing the greatest egregious approaches to the life, prosperity and personhood of the common and collective to take place.  Environmental issues alone will validate me on this issue, but issues of education, housing, food, health care, the press and many more do so as well.  The proper function of the Government is identical to the nature of rights, namely being functionative to support all individuals in their own unique natures, supplying on their numerous needs when necessary, and giving the resources and outlet for cooperation, individual flourishing and societal prosperity. 

His only still meaningful advancement, the Labor Theory of Value, being surpassed by Marx, Locke like Liberalism passes into obsolescence centuries intellectually before such would – if it ever does – become the case historically; such being common as Schopenhauer stated, “History passes into three stages, first indifference, than hatred, than universal acceptance.”  Though Social Liberals surpass Locke’s Conservative values and Libertarian conception of Government, they still possess his idealistic and naïve views about causality, effecting change, and on controlling corporate influence and harm among other things.  With the Age of Liberalism replacing the Age of Religion and Conservatism in the zeitgeist of Americans, yet our electing body voting as Right-wing and pro-business as ever, as well-as our schools passing rigid “zero-tolerance” policies that are as laughable as they are cruel, you’d think the voting body would see the flaws in Liberalism and Representative Government.  But society typically passes from one form of illness quickly into another, and it’s our task as Scientific Socialists and Marxists to use all means necessary and available to us to change the zeitgeist to one where the Will and functioning of all – or at-least most – is the freedom and flourishing of all based on their individual natures.  Rather than all of us becoming more and more equal and uniform in our degree and forms of poverty and slavery whether material or of the soul.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

On The Wolf of Wall Street

Before I get to anything else, there is something I must stress above anything else about this film:  it is not a film you wish to see with your mother.  If you see it with your mother – regardless of how “Liberal” and raunchy in her taste of humor she is, unless you are the sibling or half-sibling to Doug Stanhope by his mother – it will be nearly impossible to enjoy what is a thoroughly entertaining and well-made feature.  Take that warning for what it’s worth and let’s move on.
There really isn’t much to say on this film save a few key points.  The first and one I find to be the main essence of the movie, asides from representing Capitalism and its true colors, is that it shows both that many Capitalists are deprived from both the standpoint of the Puritan and the Consequentialist – as Marx points out the hypocrisy of “Bourgeois morality” in The Communist Manifesto – and that because most people have not had their critical thinking faculties exercised, they are psychologically stunted from living in an environment of Capitalism and religiosity and because they have internalized the cultural propaganda of their time the majority will inevitably see this film as a depiction of moral monstrosity for the wrong reasons. Not because of the lives the main character and his employees potentially ruin, as well-as other evils of the Capitalist system, but rather as something that is horrendous because of the debauchery of the sex and drugs portrayed, which is one of the best parts of the film.
This shows not only the glaring errors in Puritanism, but of Capitalism being a defender of it while violating it with rampant consumerism, and relaying on the same logic in-parts as Puritanism’s main ideological perpetuator namely religion while Capitalism of course is what manifests it materially.  Drugs are of course a rampant problem in America, but this is so largely for an economic reason, as well-as a cultural and psychological one that Capitalism produces by encouraging Consumerism to increase the sales of the material items it produces.  Also while drugs may ruin a individuals life, it doesn’t compare to the horrors of living in a society of Free-market Capitalism that gives no consideration for the worker, and the stark apathy that results from a combination of Consumerism and Fatalism or Nihilistic surrender.
Not only does the film showcase the archetype Capitalist, but it generates a reaction that may seem to the simple to be an anti-capitalist response through Puritanism but really is a vanguard of it by enforcing the prevailing conditions of ignorance and stupidity among other things.  Puritans don’t need to defend every element of the Capitalist system and in fact can’t; but instead, because they are against the Secularism, Consequentialism and Intellectualism required to actually improve society they are in-effect Reactionaries who always pine for a time that will never be again and in doing so keeps the bright potential of the future from melting the frozen stagnation that is our dank present.  To summarize, the film is a representation of Capitalism, the Conservative reaction is a representation of what Capitalism does to the average person.
Towards the end of the film the song, “Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson” is playing while FBI agents are arresting employees of Stratton Oakmont.  One of the lines of the song is, “we’d like to help you to help yourself,” which both illustrates the façade of individuals “pulling themselves up by their bootstraps” when they really are just selling out what integrity and ethic they had by buying into a get rich quick scheme that actually bared fruit.  It also reminds me of that insipid line that passes for wisdom in Christian circles, “God helps those who helps themselves” which is essentially identical to the adage, “God works in mysterious ways,” essentially saying God exists and is beneficent even though the interworking of the cosmos and the fate of billions on the planet attest to the contrary.  This is crucial because it highlights the similarity between Capitalism proclaiming that all poor people are in the conditions they are in because they didn’t work hard enough (Or because the rich were taxed too high so they weren’t allowed to properly spread their pixie dust to the poor.  And by pixie dust I mean cocaine, instead the poor are left with crack.) and that Man is essentially in the mess he is in because of his own doing, either him himself or Man in general because two people bit into an apple when God said it wasn’t kosher.  Both ideologies totally lack materialism or even the most basic understanding of cause-and-effect and blame the victim for his burdens for defense of malevolent tyrants whether they are a Totalitarian corrupt despot or his saccharine demonic Reaganite spawn.
It’s interesting comparing the film to Oliver Stone’s Wall Street which is now approx. thirty years old.  Jordan Belfort seems to be a more honest and lifelike portrayal of an archetype Capitalist.  Gordon Gecko is too dignified and composed, while Belfort is similar to the woman who he helped by giving her a job and twenty-five thousand dollar advance.  She may wear hundred dollar suits, vacation to luxurious places, own numerous pieces of realty with exorbitant prices and eat at places of fine dining with French sounding names but she’s still essentially an uncultured half-wit.  Just as Belfort responds with indignation and obvious signs of pettiness and low self-esteem when the FBI agent doesn’t fall sway to his bribe and rather ambiguously identifies his immoral existence for what it is.  Also his simplistic talk about people who are contemptuous of the rich being essentially losers who’s proper place is working at McDonald’s is more realistic for the average rich person most-likely, as is his defense of accumulation of capital by saying “you could donate it to a church or save the spotted owls” forgetting of course if it weren’t for Capitalism and Christians advocating “Capitalist wealth creation” and charity rather than real solutions, as well-as making the problems in the first place, charity and financing small-scale environmental action wouldn’t be necessary. Also he mentions donating to political parties, which everyone but the most ardent “pro-establishment” drones realize is a major problem and antithetical to the nature and functioning of a legitimate and effective Democracy.  The average rich person thinks more like Jordan, and argues for Capitalism when he is honest with himself more like Jordan, not using the language and mentality that Gordon does in his “Greed is good” speech.
Jordan however is a relatively bright man who found a loophole in the system and exploited.  This is an element of him along with his thrill-seeking behavior that I rather like; though I begin to hold contempt for him when it goes to the degree of his worship of money and simple pleasures, or rather I find contempt in the essence of Hedonism and materialism in his actions.  This may in-fact be in-part a contradiction, but I’ll simply state that I like the creative quirky person who would think of throwing midgets at dart boards, or who doesn’t care about living to others moral standards, but then not the person who has almost no moral standards of his own and destroys that lively interesting person with drugs. 

A film whose protagonist is a likable villain and whose antagonist is a by-the-rules FBI Agent – who I think overall the American people have a reason to dislike if they’re anything like many police officers – The Wolf of Wall Street is a film that shows the realization of American Dream, and allows the audience to come to the realization – if intelligent and virtuous enough – that it’s not only a sickly fabrication but a nightmarish reality of constant craving and emptiness which is the bankruptcy of the American culture.  And not for – or at-least not initially and primarily – the reason that Puritans and Christians would give, but because it produces both the sickly psychology and perception of the “holier than though” Puritans and the Consumerists who are its vapid superficial (superficial both in their being and in them being only a surface confliction with Christian Conservatives) anti-thesis forever chained to it in juvenile rebellion.  Instead, it is far more conducive to be intellectual materialists and scientific socialists who can break away from Puritanism by not only laughing it off and not playing the role of its stereotypical nemesis, but of producing the mentality and means of truly breaking free from humanities oldest sickness.  Which is something we must understand and embody, for in various parts of the world, we see the epochs of Spiritualism and Puritanism come to a close, and with the death of the Republican Party we Socialists will rather have to contend with the Age of Liberalism, more subtle Capitalism and the seemingly new seemingly conflicting archetypes, namely the apathetic consumer and the ineffectual social justice warrior.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

On the Superiority of DC to Marvel.  Or:  On a Healthy Form and Beneficial Function of Sectarianism

Though in general I view feuds over which brand of something is superior to its alternatives and competitors is idiotic and unhealthy when argued with the zeal of a zealot I think that it is not only healthy but beneficial to argue which surpasses the other, not simply to display which one is better, but to have a debate over which aspects and attributes are to be valued as opposed to others and to practice bringing forth sufficient evidence of the claims one is making.  If anything, brand wars are practice for lively debate in more important matters.  But what is almost as if not perhaps just as important than intellectual debate in philosophy and politics, is to once and for all conclude that DC surpasses Marvel. 
Firstly, DC has far more complex villains who represent certain ideologies and psychologies.  Each Batman villain represents a form of mental illness for example (more-or-less) while most Spider-man villains are mostly criminals who all have animal getups.  How cute.  X-men is a great series representing ostracism and Exceptionalism of those who are isolated from the lowest common denominator rather due-to meaningless things like race and sexuality, or virtues such-as intelligence.  X-men have Magneto and a few other interesting antagonists, but let me just run-off a few Superman villains and we’ll see how they compare:  Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Brainiac, Darkseid, and Mr. Mxyzptlk.  All of these characters have something fundamentally unique and interesting about them.  Of course most comics from both companies aren’t worth reading, but DC also has the flagship of Vertigo which has literary masterpieces such as V for Vendetta and Watchmen under its belt.  Marvel has works like Spider-man: Back-in-Black, which while a very well made and intelligent study isn’t exactly the introduction to Philosophy course that Watchmen is.  I confess I have only read a dozen or two stories from each company, so perhaps I’m not in the place to scrutinize either in-regards to comics, though I notice that Marvel is quicker to jump on the gimmick bandwagon of Marvel Apes and Marvel Zombies (which I loved the first two, the third however was terrible and I stopped reading after that) while DC has works like Forever Evil coming out which expresses the alternative universe of Nietzschean doppelgangers of our selfless heroes – I don’t think there’s a Marvel equivalent of that, and if there is they haven’t made it nearly as well or intellectual to be worth knowing.
It goes without any argument that DC is superior to Marvel in regards to animation.  Batman the Animated Series, the revamped version of it, Justice League, the reintroduction of that through Unlimited, Static Shock and Batman Beyond neither of which were as noteworthy as the prior two but were still pretty damn good.  Marvel had Saturday morning animations of nearly all of their main flagship heroes but the only one that I recall having the slightest attraction to was The Amazing Spider-man; the others just looked like, well, kids’ shows.  Not content meant for people of all ages with witty jokes, adult references that I always love to see in kid’s shows to see that someone still has a spine in the TV biz, and at-least somewhat in-depth moral, philosophical and intellectual issues that show that someone at DC also has a brain.  The Justice League in particular was a piece of genius and clarity, having issues that range from war, patriotism, Deontology vs. Consequentialism. 
One episode where we see this at-least somewhat is the episode where Batman may have to murder an innocent psychic named Ace or allow the alternative of hundreds of people being killed in a telekinetic blast.  In the end however he never needs to make the choice of whether he would break his one rule if it was absolutely necessary, but it was still a very deep episode that was in-effect more a final episode of Batman Beyond (which seemed ok but I never got into) having Terry deal with the realization that the man who raised him isn’t his father genetically, instead Bruce Wayne’s genetic material was manifested into Terry’s father (obligatory anal penetration joke) through nanobots.  If Batman was in this position, something tells me that he would be unyielding to his code, one which not only puts his own life more-so at-risk than otherwise (and if he dies in combat, that’s however many years that he could’ve dedicated to improving the lives of Gothamites and saving the world, so it’s not a matter of pure rational self-interest) and more importantly risking the lives of others when to stop a criminal from murdering someone he would need to use lethal force.  He and the others have always found convenient ways around killing their villains, at-least almost always there is villains like Darkseid who are nonhuman and their degree of inhumanity warrants death by anyone’s standards.  But ignoring the “it would be ethical to kill The Joker and Lex Luthor because they will inevitably break out of Federal Prison or Arkham only to endanger more lives” which seems like a reasonable argument for the worst of the worst, there will be situations where at-the-moment Batman should’ve killed the Joker and by not doing so he’s endangering people who are held hostage.  Police Officers should – though many forget this to put it kindly – only remove their guns from their holsters in the presence of a lethal threat, but once that threat has presented itself hesitating to shoot especially when dealing with mass-murdering psychopaths and Billionaires with plots of world domination would be a egregious error.
In the film department, Marvel clearly makes more movies and displays more heroes than DC, who has only recently broken out of their Batman/Superman paradigm; however, most of Marvel’s movies aren’t exactly cinematic masterpieces.  Being mediocre at-best the only great Marvel movies are Kickass, its sequel (despite what most reviewers said), the X-men franchise save the Wolverine series, Iron Man 3, Thor 2 and The Amazing Spider-man.  The Avengers was an adequate popcorn movie, but I personally didn’t find it as riveting as most.  Now I did mention quite a few movies, so I would accept the argument that Marvel surpasses DC for the time being, though when it comes to not only worthwhile films, but hallmarks in story and content I still hold that DC has more to provide.  The Dark Knight is a masterpiece, I don’t think I need to spend much time arguing this, and actually has an ending which essentially promotes a quasi-Marxist ethic.  Which makes it all the more strange that the conclusion to the Nolan trilogy would be so terrible, not only in its ideology but basic plot.  Man of Steel was an astounding movie as well, one I plan to write an examination piece on so I won’t go far into that one either.  And then of course there’s Watchmen, which isn’t as great as the graphic novel, but functions as an adequate cinematic adaptation.
I think it’s necessary to emphasize how profound the Justice League can be.  Mentioning Global Warming, religion, the Government’s interaction with “potential threats” which it deemed the Justice League after the Justice Lords entered our “dimension”, as well-as Patriotism, pacifism and redemption (when it is rational and when it is ill-deserved) and many other topics.  If you haven’t seen it I can’t think of a children’s TV show I could recommend more for the intellectual at-heart – I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic in that advertisement either.  Also I love the episode where a Glenn Beck figure criticizes the Justice League for allowing divorce and being beloved by children who don’t “eat their vegetables.”  And also, did Superman ever deny being a Marxist?  In another reality he’s a filthy – probably Jewish – Communist who turns nearly the entire world into a Soviet satellite, and though our Superman seems to be as American as apple pie, has he outright denied any affiliations with Communists, Muslims or witches?  I think not. 
Let’s look at the notion of redemption for example and further what the show doesn’t state directly but gives us the material for us to discern on our own – a sign of material encouraging critical thinking and Skepticism rather than propaganda for a particular point of view.  What the show doesn’t state – what they leave to the viewer to decide for himself on – is that a person may do an action that seems contrary to their nature, but that doesn’t change the fact that people’s fundamental nature seldom changes.  Hawkgirl was at-worst a virtuous person who did a horrible thing, while Lex Luthor is a sociopathic greedy narcissist who occasionally does virtuous things, usually when it suits him and his goals.  A good person may and inevitably will do unjust and unjustifiable things, but that alone – at-least a single action outside the norm – does not define them unless the severity of the crime is malicious in magnitude.  And heinous people will occasionally do things that serve the greater good, though it will either be a step towards immoral deeds, or is an act that is in itself and is not a step for greater evil, but was based on warped psychology.  Like the forced sterilization of blacks may have positive sociological applications – at-least for a relatively short period of time until the same conditions and prejudices are placed on another group of people (probably Muslims only they aren’t enough in this country to be what the Conservatives would like them to be) consequently of the necessity for hatred and ignorance in Capitalist society as well-as to have the material conditions that produce stupidity and poor psychology particular on some groups more-so than others – only because statistically they suffer the material conditions of hardship ignorance and the environments of routine drug use and crime, but that does not change the fact that a racist who forces a particularly group whether it’s something as meaningless as race or not to disallow them to have children indefinitely – rather than what I support which is every citizen receiving a license to have children after having proven they are of sound mind and have the finances to support a child.
Also there’s the episode where Green Arrow (who actually is a Marxist in some interpretations, and actually states Leftist positions with legitimacy and credulity, rather than being a “Fox News Liberal” or even worse Democrat who either is right-wing and is absurdly believed to be Left, or who is just a puppet or caricature who is paid to be akin to a Catholic’s interpretation of what Atheists think and are, or even worse betraying the few real values or merits you have to your worst ones, whether they be illogical convictions or petty vices like greed, seen in Conservative pundit SE Cupp in her getting paid doing Right-wing idiocy from a “free-thinker” claiming to be an Atheist and then pandering to the most stupid Christian Conservatives selling books saying religion is under attack in America.) actually makes his political stance (at-lest his loose or relative stance) clear by saying, “I’m an old Leftie” but then gives an inaccurate description of what it means to be Leftist.  “The Government is there to do for people what they can’t do for themselves.”  This is actually more-or-less a Classical Liberal position of being there as a safeguard protecting innocent people from crime or other injustices.  But of course it’s a foolish statement if for no other reason than that the Government is a body made up of people and is nothing more.  The Government is not a metaphysical entity that exists in this universe independent of those who control and manage it.  In our country which is a mixed-economy, we have the USPO and we have Fed Ex, obviously the Leftist position is that Fed Ex makes a profit unfairly and it would be for the best interest of the majority to have either workers’ control of all mail, or to have the Government control all of it and have them all be federal employees and earn a fair wage.  Having people do what they “can do for themselves” and with the assistance of intelligent organization which the Government can be in potential without corrupting political or corporate influence.  Really his statement has nothing to do with Leftist mentality or ideology, and if anything is a vacuous and almost meaningless statement I’d expect Ayn Rand or some other Right-wing Libertarian to espouse.
Now of course having brand wars as an analogy for a healthy form of sectarianism can’t be complete, for where one is non-ideological and non-intellectual in the sense of not being a construct of consciousness (at-least not in make-up but of consequence) but of course can be intellectual in the sense of having intellectual elements or being superior as to have intellectuals support it en masse, the other is a construct of one’s mind with serious goals to achieve or a comprehensive view of the world and humanity or an aspect of them.  For example, one could argue that the Gamecube was superior to the PS2, and make an intellectual case for it, but there’s no such thing as “the Nintendo position” for how to handle the Conservative attack on violent videogames as the main source for actual violence.  One could make a very well made argument over the superiority of 2-D Sonic to 2-D Mario (now that Nintendo has made a Mario game where if you get a game over you can get a “rape the game” cheat and become invincible throughout the entire level, even though the last great 3-D Sonic game that came out was Sonic Heroes – Sonic DX and Sonic Adventure 2 in particular were phenomenal games as-well – which came out a decade ago I don’t believe a defensible or respectable argument of three-dimensional Mario games surpassing their Sonic counterparts can be made.  The last worthwhile Mario game in my opinion was Super Mario Sunshine despite it being disliked by a large group of people – who from this moment on will be known as complete morons and the first on my list for extermination!  Love the addition of the Fludd or die. – though perhaps I should add I never played Super Mario Galaxy 2 though didn’t have high hopes for it if the only improvement to the first was the addition of Yoshi.  Which would be more of a complimentary benefit or plus, rather than an actual improvement from the mechanics and game play as a whole.) but that doesn’t amount to a “Sonicist” position on anything besides which franchise surpasses the other.

In general sectarianism is an evil that Socialists should avoid, however, that does not mean we should discontinue all intellectual discussion and debate between fractioning ideologies as-long as it is functional and does not make cooperation amongst the Socialist spectrum impossible or impaired.  As Materialists and Intellectuals we must never say that nothing is beyond reproach or scrutiny, but petty criticisms of Anarchism or ignorant and juvenile insults of Marxists or Marxism is neither helpful nor intellectual.  If we must further our cause, we must first further our own understanding of when and perhaps more importantly how to debate and cooperate as to create an ideal society where lively debate and cooperation is a common phenomenon – something that Capitalism and religion are both explicitly and tacitly against.