Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On Ancient Philosophy, Chronology and Skepticism

If Western Philosophy is anything, it is the distrust of the apparent, conventional opinion and commonly held opinion that exists without critical reflection – this is what one takes away from Socrates if one ignores his more ludicrous aspects which are to be found even in the earlier Platonic works.  This essence exists in the works of the great minds of philosophies both false and verified by modern scientific understanding and data.  But I would contend that the philosophers that we’ve been told are the corner stone of modern European Philosophy simply aren’t.
Rene Descartes is claimed by many to be the beginning figure in Modern Philosophy.  Despite his more ludicrous claims and lines of reasoning, he began a noble philosophic project by (at-least legitimately for a period in his works) by endeavoring to know what he could claim to know with complete certainty, doing so with rigorous scrutiny.  This is not the starting point of either Plato or Aristotle.  Plato has the Allegory of the Cave, but ultimately he uses it not to promote a skeptical mindset but to promote his own views of Platonic Forms; claiming to be able to apprehend and know reality not only through pure reasoning, but that we all have access to this knowledge at the moment of if not before our births.  Aristotle is loosely speaking an Empiricist, but he takes wild leaps of reasoning about the nature and existence of God, about the reproductive mechanics and numerous other things.
From Descartes, other quasi-scientific minded philosophers pursued roughly speaking Descartes’ line of reasoning, but were more wise than he in not claiming that all that is not known or believed in (since any claim of certainty in the absolute is exactly that – a belief held at-least in some regard as an article of faith) must be believed to be so absolutely and without any doubt.  The entire scientific project is based on doubt as much as curiosity, the two complimenting the other like saliva compliments the taste buds.  Some may think otherwise, with an understanding that those who are curious wish to know and will digest material, while doubt is the scrutiny of material and therefore is more of a gag reflex – but this is exactly right.  Curiosity is not the desire to be told what is true; curiosity is the critical faculty yearning to know the truth to the extent that a human being is capable of possessing it.  Doubt makes one gag the sickly stuff one is being subjected to by the unreflective and the ideologically or economically self-interested.  It is that faculty that the Skeptics claim all begin with but becomes satiated through the medication of dogma rather than allow to be fully-functioning and allow the individual to expand both intellectually and psychologically; ideology is the death of the wandering soul, it is the road map that makes one blind to all surrounding possibilities, making the soul not only ignorant of the forest but of himself.
Kant, Hume, Nietzsche and Marx (among others) all function with either a form of Skepticism or Cynicism if not both.  It is this wisdom that the Europeans have token from the Greeks, though there are chunks of Aristotle and even Plato occasionally that deserve appreciation and, yes, did carry-through to the Europeans.  However The Medieval philosophers were indeed greatly influenced by the two Greeks, Aquinas called Aristotle “The Philosopher” and Hippo of lksfdajljksfd attempted to conjoin Platonism and Christianity who in some ways seem ready bed-fellows.  However we all know quite-well that medieval philosophy is a rare matter of focus today and a modern Philosophy course will go straight from Plato and Aristotle to Rene Descartes.  What the Medieval thinkers had in zealousness they lacked in originality and scientific scrutiny. 
The misunderstanding that Plato and Aristotle still ground modern philosophy today comes from a misunderstanding in the essence of chronology.  Simply because the medieval thinkers preceded the thinkers of the Enlightenment, does not mean that they follow in the same vein or one caused the other, much like bread does not cause toast though it was a material that came before it.  This is a poor analogy, because bread is required for toast while Medieval thinking was not necessary for the Enlightenment, and I mean to demonstrate that the Enlightenment was what it was (is defined as it is) because of some unique liveliness of the mind that had nothing to do with what happen to come before it chronologically.  Just as toasts crispness is not a confirmation of but a denial of white bread.  Once again being poetic and loose metaphorically.
Sickness precedes health and vice-versa, but neither is an essential characteristic in describing the qualities and existence of the other.  One is in-a-sense making a flaw of inductive logic to say that the present is essentially defined by the known past simply because the past precedes the future.  Reality is complicated and full of intertwining factors, and in regards to human nature, there are so many aspects to it that it is foolish to say an aspect of one field of it (e.g. philosophy) is defined exclusively by the past relations of parts of philosophy prior to the present.  The discoveries of science after all, have just as much and likely more influence on a modern philosopher than the works of Plato, Aristotle and the scholastics combined; Newton being that genius and pinnacle thinker who influenced and inspired human existence and thought more-so than all those who came before him.  Though they (that came before him) may have been necessary for his existence materially (we will never know, but in a sense is safe to assume considering how much of our history is constituted in billions of micro and macro material and social of the past.) but not rationally.  Just as the murder of the dinosaurs was essential to our existence in a materialist sense, but it fails to flow from reasoning that reptiles dying means the existence of apes, or though a child’s father being a murderer may be an essential material fact in the child later being a doctor, it no where seems rational to assume or is verified by data that children who have murderers for fathers are likely to take on careers in the medical field.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Individualist Anarchism is Petty and Non-Materialist

Note:  Later on I will add material from both Bakunin and Stirner (and perhaps others) into the work.  This functions as a preliminary draft of my main points.

It was reading segments of Max Stirner’s The Ego and Its Own that got me to commit to Anarchism, when previously I was simply a non-sectarian Socialist and before that a Marxist, so some may find it strange that just several months afterwards I sharply criticize Stirner’s philosophy.  It must be done however, for I have more-and-more begun to see ties between his and Nietzsche’s thought with the Right-wing Libertarians, particularly Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick.  Mainly in having no consideration for the ills of society, and instead complain about a lack of personal freedom in the most extreme way – how quaint.  Nozick and Rand make it quite plain they believe that the idea of moral obligation, that we should help others and create an atmosphere of healthy psychological and intellectual development is secondary if a consideration at-all.  For them, Negative Liberty is all one needs, completely ignoring if not shunning the idea that Man is a material creature and morality must conform to scientific and materialist law.  This type of Moral Nihilism shows itself to the sharpest degree in Stirner, for he explicitly states that not only the Government’s laws and societies current conventions are artificial and not axiomatically rational or worthy of obedience (which is the point of the Ancient Greek Cynics who deserve praise) but instead all standards and considerations of ethics, rights, and things that would attempt to sway the individual outside an utterly Rational Egoist framework (arguing with the individual to act out of his material or psychological self-interest) are “specters” as he calls them (ironic considering his middle name is Kaspar).  
Not only is this irrational for it has no scientific grounding, but it lacks rationality for lacking universalizability – becoming nothing but whim worship.  He claims ethics are artificial, yet numerous psychological studies will show basic ethical norms are hardwired into human beings, not only this, but if ethics were completely behavioral, they would still have their rational and utilitarian grounding in being necessary for safe, just, harmonious and meaningful lives.  The Stirnerist could claim that murders would be “brought to justice” (whatever that would mean in a Egoist society, for there would be no concern for rehabilitation for improving of the guilty's condition, for there would be no consideration of the increase of welfare in any society along the ideology of Stirner, Rand or Nozick – therefore the freedom, psychology and material opportunity of all would be diminished) because they would out of self-interest not want to see themselves be murdered, raped or burglarized.  Much crime however happens out of personal troubles of the soul, and it is completely reasonable to assume that a man who kills out of petty vengeance or jealousy may not kill again for years if ever again.  Therefore unless A) A detective is motivated out of self-interest (a need to feel important or the thrill of the chase and the mental stimulation of the puzzle) or B) there is evidence that crime shall be committed again and with any random person (the Rational Egoist will pursue the murderer regardless of whether or not he is murdering indiscriminately in the first example – though in the first example only if his interest is peaked – while in the second example his own life or those he is concerned about must be potentially affected) will the Stirnerist attempt to protect himself and in doing so the community he lives in.  While even someone like myself or others in the Materialist-Determinist camp that no one is the moral author of their actions, and therefore should never be punished will wish to seek justice for both the good of the community and for attention to be brought to the tortured soul who could commit such a heinous crime – punishment is unacceptable but removal from the community is to clarify, though I argue this point in various other essays of mine so I will abstain from doing so here.
It becomes more frightening and flirts with moral chaos far-faster than one could suppose.  Stirner argues that a “Union of Egoists” that is not a society of socially-invested individuals (Social Anarchism) but instead a conflagration of self-interested individuals who would in theory protect another man’s rights not out of the Golden Rule, but out of the self-interest I referred to earlier in the murder-and-detective example.  This however would easily deteriorate into another class-based society, if not race and sex-based as well.  In fact it is the real expression of this Moral Nihilism that connects Stirner to Nietzsche, who despite his better elements such as criticizing religion and authority loves the very essence and utmost appearance of the hierarchical system, which is domination and annihilation of human potential for the short-term gains of few.  
People could and would, giving a complete lack of consideration for the rights and health of others, unionize to do whatever is necessary to maintain power and influence over other people’s lives, including creating constructs of ideologies and lies that pass for the world religions, political theory and economic practices – and such has been the history of our species.  The Stirnerists would say that most human beings would not be willing to go through the effort to control others; a “willing egoist” is someone who would do anything to secure his or her own desires and a “unwilling egoist” is someone with a notion of morality or higher purpose and value in life and would need to be given ideological and cultural rationalizations to steady his or her hand lest it shake through conscious – but both are clearly capable of defiling and destroying his brother and in the process himself given the proper motivation exterior or personal.  However, the fact that most are as Stirner calls them unwilling or involuntary egoists confirms that morality is either something that is innate in birth or is something that people are unwilling to abandon for various reasons but one of them being that it is something that has served them and our species.
Bakunin’s Collectivist Anarchism is the counter-point to Stirner and the most rational expression of both political ideology and sociological and ethical questions of human development and expression of moral obligation that I have seen.  He points out that no man is an island upon himself.  That we cannot function without others and we are indebted to them for their sacrifices as they are in some way or another indebted to us.  Be this servitude to others is not a burden when it is done out of love either out of the thing-in-itself or that which benefits from one’s services.  Parenthood is not considered indentured service to a loving parent, despite moments of frustration and perhaps even doubt.  His ethics are not only sound in-regards to reason, but to the growth and happiness of our species.  The Capitalist and the Statesmen are those who steal and burden humanity, in-fact damn humanity collectively rather than giving and allowing human beings to use their natural skills and intelligence to grow and aid others in growth and flourishing.  
We are material beings, and this is not a curse but a blessing; it is this nature of communal necessity of our brothers and sisters that the Right-wing Libertarians lack an understanding of or a visceral realization or expression of utterly.  It is a rare soul who is Stirner’s “Willing Egoist” one who sees his brother cold and hungry in the street and turns his shoulder to him solely out of lack of desire to help him.  Most of us still feel some moral pangs, and need to rationalize either personally (“I’ll help him some other time,” “I already do so much for someone else” etc) or politically or ideologically (“lazy bum should just get a job, and stop mooching my tax-payer dollars,” “probably a drug-addict, he knew what he was doing; it’s his fault he is where he is” etc) and this is both a sign we are still in some way good people, but also exposes how we have either internalized the selfishness of Right-wing Capitalist culture, or (more-likely, though the other is a factor as well) are willing to take on a small amount of guilt to spare us from helping others, either out of miserliness or a fear of the rawness that comes through helping another human being in a time of need; we often fear to experience this “rawness” because we have been burned in the past, or have been conditioned to follow the directives of a Liberal Democracy (not getting involved in society, instead simply buying cheap products, voting and returning to one’s private domicile to be protected from the realities of the world both foreign and domestic).
The argument that everything is a matter of Ego (though I take his point that in a sense much is, though that does nothing to invalidate acts of altruism) is made only by those who have never experienced a form of compassion for others so profound, that to do good for their sake seems so simply and clearly the only important thing one could do in this life.  Ego does play into much of what is claimed to be acts of selflessness, and is the motivation in all-likelihood by the most self-righteous, but there is a quiet yet powerful form of love and caring for others that transcends all forms of Egoism.  The view that all actions, even self-sacrifice while experiencing this kind of compassion I describe, is at its core a type of Psychological Egoism is absurd both due-to a lack of evidence and from becoming utterly meaningless.  Stirner would want us to believe that because all actions are inherently selfish that there is no moral difference between hoarding food and feeding the poor; this cheap rationalization to save the conscious of those who are petty, miserly, and suffer from various psychological problems if not being mentally ill (in the case of Ayn Rand who is the by-the-book definition of a Narcissist).
To summarize, though Individualist Anarchism has had a fair standing in-regards to support of Free Love and homosexual rights, it is the intellectual and political manifestation of some of the most childish aspects of our nature.  Social Anarchists understand the basic and simple truth that one has the right to do with their body and mind as they wish (the Non-Aggression Principle) but further their attack on Government, Liberal society and religion by exposing the material conditions that create people who will submit and allow the freedoms that Individual Anarchists care about to be taken from them, along with more important freedoms, like the right to work within a economic democratic framework.  Ennobling selfishness as some grand ideal, and failing to both understand Man’s material nature and be an outlet of any type of warmth or psychological health, Egoist Anarchy and its counterpart Right-wing Libertarianism in some ways are far darker than even Conservatism and the Christian-Right, while in some ways have been embraced by them either out of agreement or to further their own causes.  For no matter how different they may appear or are, those who would have us in chains, those who would commit the ultimate sin of reducing the material and social conditions of society and reducing much of us and our potential experiences and phenomenogical states of being (which is the ultimate indicator in ethics both in terms of motivations and results) to either miserable wretches or cheap and cowardly knock-offs of what they could be are always good bed-fellows for evil.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On Anarcho-Pacifism

Sweet whistling Christ (yes I stole that from Tusk, and for those of you lost souls who didn’t get the reference, venture forth and watch that shit now; close the fucking tab this is on – instead of just typing the new web address in the same tab because you have a peculiar form of OCD like me – go to your preferred pirating site, and watch human disfigurement at its finest) I’m actually writing an essay at eight o’ clock in the morning on my birthday.  Fuck.  Well, I can’t promise any of you this will be finished, or that you’ll see this, but if you do I suppose you can’t say I never kept any of my promises.
Pacifism, is that what we’re doing?  Checks ominous To Do List created by omniscient omnivores.  Yeah, that’s what we’re doing.  Okay.  Pacifism.  I’m in favor of it.  Here’s why. You can’t claim to be an Anarchist and realize the State, Capitalism and religious force is fucked and say that your own political ends justify violent ends.  The Means create the Ends, who fights with the sword dies by the sword and all of that.  The main reason I’m writing this, asides from a lack of alcohol in my system and all the psychological motives you can eschew (eschew?) to why I write, stick my fingers in my ass, and make up sexually obscene examples of things that aren’t at all true – ha ha – is I want to list the main stances one can take to Pacifism, and to tell you guys (and guy whose in a dress write now) what mine is – because of its of ultimate significance not only to your life but the ultimate destiny of our species and our universe.  You know what?  Maybe I’ll write this another time.
Okay. Okay.  The fist kind.  Complete Pacifists who deny even the right (or moral or methodological value) to defend yourself.  Quakers from what I hear are in this category.  This is clearly irrational.  You cannot when if you don’t strike back when stricken upon.  You’ll all be killed before hearts and mind can change which is of course the main point of Civil Disobedience – and looking like an existentially rebellious livin’-life-by-his-own-rules James Dean-esque bad ass.  Martin Luther King Jr. advocating blacks allowing themselves to be arrested in their protests and resisting segregation are a part of this – and it is not productive.  Prison kills the soul and the instinct to revolt; it disconnects the revolutionary from the worker, even more so then they already are separate.  The type of Civil Disobedience to be advocated is Pacifism, but not tolerating direct violence.  This includes the forfeiture of one’s life in-terms of lengthy jail sentences when one has the means of defending one’s self.  However, though one has the natural liberty to do as one pleases, it is unbecoming of the revolutionary and intellectual to do drugs, or perform in other pursuits where one could be placed in jail for long stents of time.
I emphasized direct violence because the State and the Capitalist wage war on the individual in far-more non-immediate and systematized manners.  Profiting off the labor of others, taxes on the poor (taxes on the rich are justified for the rich steal from the poor and any compensation the lower-classes can get in having some standard of living that create the material conditions for better living, enhanced intelligence and increased political activism and demand for change is justified and essential) and various other means are obvious, as well as the less corrupt (lascivious) cultural aspects of Government and Capitalism that are by-products and then factors sustaining the economic conditions.  The Anarchist can never achieve meaningful and lasting Social Revolution by bombing factories or various other things that are under the term Propaganda of the Deed.  Instead, the General Strike and Unionization, more-so the separation of the worker from Capitalist society and Government by banding to have a new society alongside the current one as advocated by Bakunin is the proper course to the degree it can be implemented.
To finish this off as to then move on to quick commentary on related topics the five stances of Pacifism (for the Leftist, though it is overall the same regardless of political position, though the vernacular and framing would be altered) are:
1.  Complete Pacifism, even to violent attack.  Quakers are an example of this.
2.  Pacifism, but will respond to direct violence with violence.  Malcolm X is an embodiment of this.
3.  Loose Pacifism but will respond to the deprivation of freedom and direct violence with violence.  My stance.
4.  Targeted violence – will assault those who have harmed others immediately or generally.  More intelligent and underground resistance groups killing either specific individuals or locations of violence and subjugation upon the people.
5.  Revolt/Revolution in the Marxist sense.  Or “Propaganda of the Deed” as some Anarchists call their methodology; far-more general violence that isn’t very if at-all targeted and instead calls for “open revolution.”
The positions of those who support Parliamentary Politics are in-a-sense somewhere between or within the first two and also in a way in neither.  For Parliamentary Politics is the status-quo of “change” that of course will never bring about radical change and enlightenment in society.  It is the tool of the bourgeois to further subjugate them and have them submit to their ideology.  That does not mean one can use the framework of Liberal Democracy to fight against its main components (Capitalism and the State).  Only that one must form an independent party (not nearly as much of a problem in Western European countries) that isn’t beholden to corporate interests and can instead fight for laws and policies that will aid the working class financially, biologically and most importantly intellectually.  Political parties can be an instrument of change, but must never be seen as the main instrument for change; such would be falling into the trap of Liberalism that is the undoing of the political radical.  In general, Liberals (including Conservatives here) tend to believe loosely in a “live-and-let-live” philosophy, and yet believe in Rule of Law and believe that someone should be punished for breaking an idiotic rule and furthermore should submit to such idiocy as MLK Jr. pronounced.
Just as I’ve expressed varying stances on Pacifism, I would like to express my own positions of tactics regarding the atmosphere and specific political environment one finds themselves in.  I would like to emphasize that though I am a relative Pacifist, I believe in violent struggle when met with violence.  I’ve said this, but this can be generalized to general states of direct violence.  Pacifism is absurd and ineffectual in certain times, and it was rather easy for someone like Gandhi or MLK Jr. to implement Civil Disobedience in a country like America or British controlled India rather than Nazi Germany or certain periods of the USSR.  Sometimes blood must be met with blood:
1.       Liberal Democracy of a more Progressive kind.  Civil Disobedience.
2.       Conservative form of LD.  Civil Disobedience with emphasis of living one’s life and resisting laws that refuses freedom.
3.       Soft theocracy or monarchy.  Selected acts and forms of armed revolt.
4.       Hard tyranny.  More general and hard-hitting acts of violent revolt.
The main difference between one and two and between three and four are only matters of degree relative to the degree of barbarity and un-freedom in society.  America can be described as the second, and therefore I would of course endorse all effective forms of Civil Obedience as well as active resistance of cooperation with laws that betray one’s fundamental freedom such as to find love and sexual fulfillment and to achieve happiness however one may find it, the sole exception being actions violating the Non-Aggression Principle.
A soft theocracy or monarchy (I realize European nations are at-times monarchies on paper, but they largely aren’t in-effect so are excluded despite their continued irrationality) is one where there is no effective parliamentary process of social reform and improvement in any regard.  America would almost fit this category and in some ways does.  The violence that is morally permissible of course includes self-defense but is not limited to it, for one is under a regime of God or King where one has no legal repercussions, and the laws are likely more obstructive of free living and the environment detrimental and unwelcoming to intellectual development.  Though the selected murder or bombings of certain individuals and buildings is morally permissible, it is in the modern age largely ineffective.  Instead, some type of infiltration within the military, and other forms of synthesizing espionage and sabotage are necessary in the twenty-first century where the government’s military can out-weigh the civilian population drastically.  Armed revolt is still an option in certain parts of the world however – to seemingly contradict a previous sentence.
Those strict Anarcho-Pacifists who would disagree with these tactics must remember the American, French and Russian revolutionaries.  Such were those brave men who fought for their freedom and autonomy, and despite many disastrous aspects of all three (particularly the American and Russian, for though there as much savagery after the French, it was rather short-lived compared to the injustice the other two sustained and created in some ways) produced at-least in some regards an at-least temporarily better system than what was previously before it.  Armed revolt can be necessary, but it is never enough.  Without the right culture and philosophy backing it, it can easily fall into a type of Bourgeois Liberalism or violence-endorsing Marxism, which we have seen the disastrous results of.  And more-so than the importance of the four categories in their actuality, is the atmosphere and material possibility that the four typically create in their own right, but can at-times embody aspects of the others.
That’s the gist of what I wanted to say this morning, besides a quick critique of Thoreau.  Though his introduction of many to Civil Disobedience and ascetic living wavers (abdicates) him of his sins to industry and human progress, the sheer stupidity and backwardness of Anarcho-Primitivism (which he and Rousseau are in their own ways pioneers of) must be mentioned.  As material creatures, we are slaves to causality and our own nature.  If we were to remain primitive creatures without industry or advanced science, much medicine and tools that increase our quality of life in innumerable ways would be lost.  Such tools (e.g. Facebook, internet, polluting automobiles and industry etc) can have their detrimental effects as-well, but this is largely due-to both cultural aspects of Capitalism and the weaker elements of human nature that it encourages.  Such attributes would exist regardless, but within an Industrial Anarchist society (such as Bakunin advocates) we truly can have harmonious progress (which is the only stable and authentic kind), the honey without the bee’s sting and live meaningful lives both natural and advanced, both rich and ascetic.

On Breaking the Set

I’m a big fan of Breaking the Set, it’s more or less my replacement of The Young Turks, which I no longer watch due-to both their constant apologies for Islamic violence, and because Cenk is a Capitalist-apologist who says that the Chinese people should be patient and wait for small reforms in their utterly miserable conditions.  I would like to see how you would respond if it was your kid doing twelve hour shifts Cenk, or if they were being exploited by a foreign government (like Israel) rather than the business class.  The Young Turks are basically Social Liberals, and I get that point-of-view once a week with Real Time, which is more-than enough.  And yes, I know that Abby Martin overall gives a “it’s not Islam’s fault” narrative for Muslim violence as-well, but she makes the point one-hundred times better than Cenk, and I actually fall somewhere between Hitchens and Chomsky on this debate (as a materialist I of course hold there’s a converging of numerous factors) so I don’t mind particularly pointing out the other side of the equation, as long as you do it in a intellectually honest and well-reasoned way, instead of just mentioning that the Nazis were Christians.
Anyway, I wanted to write this brief not-even-an-essay to quickly make a small critique of BtS, namely Abby’s leading questions.  It’s a show that’s very explicit with its Left-wing narrative which I’m fine with; and I understand that Martin has her guests on for particular reasons, namely they agree with her views (and they’re well-informed and at-least half-way articulate people) but does she need to make it so obvious that she wants them to say this-or-that point in-terms of minimum wage or climate change?  She’ll say something along the lines of, “tell me about how Israel is a fascist police state,” and I’m sitting on my couch thinking, “damn, I mean, yes, Israel is fucked-up in twelve and a half ways, but way to be an interviewer and keep yourself out of the question.”  Instead, she could easily say something along the lines of, “you say in your book ‘You Don’t Bring Me Sunshine:  Why Sunny D is unhealthier than rat piss’ that Sunny D is unhealthier than rat piss, could you please elaborate?” but instead she just words it terribly and makes the political bias show glaringly and unappealingly, making the show seem more like propaganda (even if the exact same facts are being stated) than investigative journalism.  Like I said, an overall small complaint, but one that I think matters both in-terms of how people perceive the show and to retain a higher degree of journalistic and intellectual integrity.  And I should know, I took a journalism class in community college.