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31.12.08

Satanism, Sexism, and Feminism

I have sometimes run across the attitude, even from those who purport (or at least attempt) to understand the Satanic philosophy of life, that Satanism includes a justification for the opressive privelege of a particular segment of society. As a Satanist's primary moral imperative is to exercise their own will and act according to their own interest, so the thinking goes, of course they're going to take advantage of whatever privilege their race, sex or gender, nationality, inherited social class, etc. etc. affords them, and work actively to keep these privileges alive. For instance, I occasionally come across people - self-avowed 'Satanists' as well as women that criticize my avocation of Satanic philosophy - who seem to believe that Satanism justifies a person in treating women according to patriarchal conceptions of woman as an object of male control and ownership.

Such ideas seem to me to discount the core Satanic message about all people being gods unto themselves, ignore the moral imperative of just desert, and to confuse what's good for one's interest with what's best for one's interest. If a Satanist wished simply to maintain their societal privileges, they would avow adherence to the major dominant religion of the region while maintaining a half-assed quasi-Satanic mode of being (as so many 'religious' people actually live their lives). Instead, we avow ourselfves to a spirituality and a code of conduct opposed to the vast majority of these religions, taking on ourselves a name and an icon practically guaranteed to turn the small-minded adherents of these religions against us! Why would we do this if our goal was to maintain some privilege embedded into the social control machinery that we detest? Satanism is about more than just quenching one's animal desires or amassing as much power as possible. It's about creating a personal world in which one is like unto God, in control and at the apex of happiness and self fulfillment, while at the same time integrating this world seamlessly with the reality of nature, competition and evolution that we are born into.

The Satanic female is as beautiful as a bitch-wolf or lioness, and as dangerous to those who fail to respect her strength. She knows what she wants, and is not afraid to pursue her desires and goals even in the face of hostility from the entrenched elite. She is not a sexual 'object' of men, but a sexual force unto herself, taking part in any acts which she may desire and none which she does not. She knows her own power and her own limitations, and is dedicated to increasing the former and destroying the latter. She demands the respect of those around her, and those who disrespect her will recieve her disrespect in equal measure. She has learned the arts of self-defence and retribution, on both a physical and an emotional level. When she is attacked or assaulted she fights, to the death if necessary, to protect herself, and if she cannot prevent harm she will avenge it through whatever means are necessary. She will dress, act, and present herself in whatever manner most suits her desires and goals, not to please the desires or quiet the objections of others. She has no need to conform to the standards and gender roles of a patriarchal society, and those who refuse to engage her on her own terms will find themselves emasculated. For the female practitioner, Satanism and Femenism are essentially the same thing, and she finds a natural solidarity with others fighting for female equality, whatever disagreements she might have with them about other aspects of social control.

The Satanic male does not desire a woman as a sex object, status symbol, living doll, submissive helpmeet, or walking womb. He has little use or respect for anyone, male or female, who remains inculcated in the sheep mentality of social control; he may use and manipulate such creatures in the course of achieving his own ends, but always with a pang of regret that such actions could not be accomplished as an interaction of equals cooperating toward a common goal. Satanists desire love and romantic partnership, no less than anyone else; and they recognize, as many others do not, that such love and partnership can only occur between equals who are able to fully respect one another. He is willing to fight to disentrench the patriarchy, as being part and parcel of the same social control mechanism that pervades all of social life and restricts him from truly exercising his will. He will fight for women's equal rights, if for no other reason than to increase the number of people in the world with whom he can enjoy mutual respect and partnership.

Men who are trapped by the patriarchal attitudes and strictures of their society fail to recognize just how weak and circumscribed they are. Yes, they do have inordinate power and privilege, but it's not going to bring them happiness and self fulfillment. Every moment they must spend keeping women 'in their place' or reinforcing the strictures of patriarchy is a moment of true pleasure they have sacrificed to the necessity of control, a moment that they're not spending in determination and implementation of truly self-directed goals. Every restriction they must observe as to what is and is not 'appropriate' for male behaviour or male-female interaction is another barrier to fulfilling their desires and exercising their will. They cannot fully enjoy the fruits of love, partnership, and family when they must treat the object of their affection as a slave rather than an equal. They may rise to the top of the totem pole, but they can never fly. Their potential for success in any area of life is crippled by the fact that they can never enter into cooperative agreements with half of the human population.

Satanists do not repect patriarchy, and do not respect the people who are still bound and directed by the social control system that creates it. We cannot respect men who take power they have not earned, for these people will be destroyed when faced with true challenges to their self-percieved 'male authority'. Neither can we respect females who restrict themselves and submit to this domination, for those who stray from the spere of domination by their self-appointed masters will become lost and degraded. Again, these people can be used and manipulated when their assistance is required, demolished or brushed aside when they stand in the way, repulsed when they interfere and righteously assaulted when they attack. But until they have educated themselves as to their true power and the true restrictions which bind them, they cannot be seen as equals or treated as such. The wolf does not join the herd of sheep, not even when running with the herd would afford them power and easy meals. They run with the wolves, and live with the wolves, and mate with the wolves; and the sheep are still their prey.

The same ssential logic can be applied to racism, classism, heteronormism, corporatism, religious discrimination, communism, fascism, consumer culture - all are products of the social control machinery which manipulates men and women for its own benefit and self-justification. Whatever power or privilege one might gain by submitting to the system in any of its aspects comes at the expense of true freedom to exercise one's own will. As a God to oneself, the Satanist does not allow themself to be restricted by the rules and regulation imposed on them by society any more than is absolutely necessary to survive. However much we may manipulate these systems when necessary, we recognize that it is not desirable for them to exist and will rise in rebellion against them when such acts can have a lasting effect on the world we live in.

29.12.08

Christophobic?

Well it seems Rick Warren, the disgusting toad whom Barack Obama has chosen to invoke their disgusting toad of a deity at his presidential inauguration, is back-pedaling desperately in an attempt to look like a not-bigot. He has posted a video (12/22/2008, can't permalink apparently) in which he implies, among various other things, that people who vehemently disagree with the positions of extremist, fundementalist Christians are 'Christophobes' - that they have an irrational, implacable fear and hatred of Christ or Christians or Christianity. I don't doubt this will soon be the newest bon mot among the Jesus-Is-Your-Fearless-Leader crowd, and that anyone who speaks out against the increasing influence of their insane ideals in public politics will be labelled as Christophobic, so I'd like to nip any such accusations in the bud.

I am not Christophobic. My fear and hatred of Christianity is entirely rational. The ideals that Christianity teaches are not only irrational and delusional, but are actively poisonous to human progress and happiness. This encompasses the vast majority of religions in the world to some degree or another; Christianity is the most immediately familiar to me, so that's where the bulk of my commentary gets directed. Christianity is an anti-human religion which glorifies death at the expense of life, suffering at the expense of pleasure, sacrifice at the expense of fulfillment, the unreal undetectable at the expense of the real and visible, and submission at the expense of volition. Christianity teaches that individual people are worthless and that their desires and decisions are meaningless. It teaches that deviating from culturally constructed norms or traditions, questioning authority and recieved wisdom, and attempting to live one's life without the constant intercession of a cosmic tyrant are just as sufficient reasons as rape, torture, and genocide to be condemned to eternal pain. It teaches that the worst of history's monsters, should they simply beg forgiveness, would be more worthy of eternal bliss than one who lived the life of a saint but died unsaved, and that anything can be right if God demands it of you. It teaches that people cannot understand morality or make the right choices unless they read a certain book, join a particular group, and submit their moral autonomy to forces outside themselves. These concepts are continually reinforced by mind control techniques like constant repetition, social ostracism, group hypnosis, public humiliation, threats of torture (to occur, conveniently enough, after physical death), and the physical, verbal, and emotional abuse of chiuldren. As a consequence of believing these things, Christians become like living dolls who can only move at the command of outside authority. They do not examine the information or ideals vouchsafed them by the gatekeepers of the ultimate authority of God, whether they're fulminating firebrands like Pat Robertson or mealy-mouthed snakes like Rick Warren. Those who are influenced by kindly-hearted and open-minded peers and authorities tend to be kindly-hearted and open-minded themselves. Those who are otherwise influenced attempt to destroy dissent, censor alternative views, marginalize any other way of life (especially those they have been taught are 'sinful), and write laws which bear no connection to the public good; that's when their God hasn't told them to actively attack people who openly refuse to conform to their bizarre demands and live their own lives.

I also don't fear or hate Christians as a general class of people; if anything, I feel sorry for them, poor deluded pawns of a memeplex dedicated to self replication through suppression of reason, pleasure, and independance. No, I only fear and hate scum like Rick Warren who encourage them to violate the rights of their fellow citizens, then makes a bunch of high-minded noises about free speech and civil rights. Rick Warren has a great deal to say about 'hate speech'. Now, I've never been comfortable with the extent to which the term 'hate speech' is invoked to quell dissent. In my experience, however, the ones most often trying to classify any sort of disagreement or criticism as 'hate speech' are Christians. Maybe it's an artifact of my socialization and the time I've grown up in, but I don't seem to have encountered the lefty-wing PC-Police boogeyman that these people always conjure up in defence of their right to put about any kind of slanderous talk they think will further their theocratic agenda. I hear Christians talk about Gay Marriage in the same breath as pedophelia and incest, or advocating marital rape, or comparing homosexuality and gender nonconformity to environmental destruction, and then loudly wondering why people hate them so much. Telling people who complain about having to see religious displays they don't endorse on property their taxes pay for that they should shut the fuck up and stop being so disrespectful (if not actively slandering and harassing them), complaining voiferously about paid advertising and forcibly censoring publicly posted messages they find 'offensive', and then having the gall to talk about free speech. The theocrats have sure learned the language of civil rights, but they just don't quite seem to have grasped the concept. Warren claims to believe in the 'free market of ideas', but also contends that no person or church should be condemned for their beliefs. Well, there's a bit of a difference between condemning somebody for their beliefs and condemning their beliefs. Some beliefs deserve to be condemned, and if I do it's not just from hate or fear, it's from a genuine conviction that their beliefs are responsible for immense amounts of human suffering and degradation. There's also quite a bit of difference between condemning somebody's beliefs (say, their belief that it's okay for them to want to marry the person they love), demonizing them (by, say, implying there's a great deal of similarity between them and a baby rapist), and actively campaigning to deny them the civil rights inherent in the legal and societal 'defenition' of marriage. These privileged people have yet to experience real Christophobia, real hate speech. They can talk the talk, but until they've actually been in the position of the people they persecute, they can't quite walk the walk; which is why their protestations seem just a little hollow to the ears of one who has really been condemned and persecuted for their spiritual and cultural affiliation.

The SPCA is BULLSHIT

I just want to take a moment away from philosophizing to express my utter rage at the local Society for the 'prevention' of cruelty to animals. A friend was forced to place her cat there due to moving in to a building that doesn't allow pet occupancy (another bullshit control mechanism that I could go on about). My SO and I had planned to adopt this cat, at least until her owner was in a position to be able to house her in the domicile. This was agreed on a week ago, and they just wanted to wait until the holidays were over to deal with all of the paperwork, vet visits etc. Well today they contacted the SPCA, only to learn that the cat was put down 2 days ago! The story they werte given (after first being told that she had 'signed away the rights' to her beloved companion and thus had no grounds to protest) is that the cat developed a 'respiratory infection' (which I am assured is fairly easily treatable) and had to be murdered before it could spread. Now, I'm fully aware that it is sometimes sadly necessary to end the lives of animals to prevent their further suffering (and should be for people to, but again that's a post for another day). But there are steps that could have been taken first! If they had just called our friend and informed her, we would have been in there like a shot. Well, now it's too late to do anything but grieve. We're getting ready now to go down there and claim the remains, hopefully before they get shipped off to mass cremation without the owner's knowledge or permission! While we're there we'll be trying to find out just who's responsible for this decision.

27.12.08

Blame the Victim

I have recently noticed a disturbing trend of people making excuses for the Holocaust and essentially trying to spin the atrocities of the Nazis to make it seem as if the Jews 'had it coming'. I mention this because I heard it again just today; I was talking to an apparently intelligent and reasonable used book seller who tried to argue, among other odd propositions, that because the 'Jewish people' controlled a lot of the banking, industry, and wealth in Germany, and because these 'Jewish people' treated their employees poorly or disrespectfully, the 'hard-working' German people felt a deserved resentment towards them, and that this deserved resentment towards mean, wealthy Jews was the primary reason they were amenable to participate in Hitler's campaign of genocide, rather than generations' worth of deeply ingrained cultural racism.

Now I'm certain that there were indeed a number of greedy Jewish financiers at the time, many of whom likely mistreated their employees (after all, this was the 30's; treating one's employees disrespectfully was a standard business policy). I find it fascinating that a person describing themselves as a Christian would espouse the view that having a disproportionate amount of wealth, and treating employees in the same way that employees everywhere are treated by their bosses, is a reasonable explanation for the systematic brutalization and murder, not only of these individuals themselves, but of everyone who shared their religion and/or ethnicity. What strikes me about this line of thinking is not so much that it discounts the vast proportion of the sociology of totalitarianism - the scapegoating of target groups as a panacea to real-world problems, the targeting by the Nazis of other groups such as homosexuals, gypsies, intellectuals, liberals, and communists, or the mythology of the Fatherland and racial purity which was intrinsic to the Nazi ideology. What most intrigues me about this bizarre belief is its uncanny resemblance to the arguments and the propaganda tactics that Hitler himself used to fuel the German people's pre-existing resentment and hatred toward Jews (not to mention Marxists and other targets).

Scapegoating is, of course, a common tactic employed during times of turmoil and often manipulated by authoritarians of every stripe, and it can just as easily turn against any group the common gaze might happen to fix on. The Jews deserve it, because they are rich and greedy and mean. The Japs deserve it, because they're spying for our enemies. The Bourgoisie deserve it, because they are exploiting the workers. The Communists deserve it, because they are undermining the legitimate order. The Witches deserve it, because they are in league with the devil. The Muslims deserve it, because they are terrorists who hate our freedom. The Gays deserve it, because they are destroying traditional values. The Christians deserve it, because they are trying to force everyone to convert to their religion. I could go on and on. It always confused me as to why otherwise sane and kindly-hearted people would fall for this crap. Because certain members of this particular subset of people in the world may have committed certain bad acts - providing they actually did, and their supposed 'crime' is anything more than a hysterical invention of propagandists or the collective unconscious, which is something people seem to forget to actually check up on - it follows that the entirety of said group 'deserves' annihilation? And how can it be argued, after decades' worth of research and discussion as to why the Holocaust was allowed to happen, that Hitler might have been right?

But as I thought on it, I saw that scapegoating is really a subset of victim-blaming. This is actually a fairly common lay-person's theodicy, the intuitive answer to the question 'why do bad things happen to good people?' People don't like the idea that 'shit just happens'. They want to believe that all is for the best in the best of all worlds. They like to think - especially if they've been raised with the belief that 'God is good and loves us' or that 'karma will bring what you do back to you' or similar - that bad things only really happen to bad people. Therefore, if something bad happens to you it means you must have done something to invite it, if not now then in another life, if not you then your ancestors or your co-religionists or what have you. Women who get raped deserve it because they act and dress like sluts, or dare to be alone in dangerous locations. People who get robbed deserve it for putting their wealth on display. People who get beaten deserve it because they look like freaks, or they look like fags, or they're the wrong race in the wrong place. People who lived in New Orleans deserved it because America is filled with sin and depravity. People who get rounded up and shot, herded into camps, tortured, bombed, treated as less than humans - they must have done something to deserve it.

It manifests in the most banal of ways. Recently, a young man in my home town was hit and killed by people 'drag-racing' on the public road. Among the comments I overheard regarding this incident were a number to the effect that this boy 'shouldn't have been out walking late at night'. As if a person doesn't have a right to walk anywhere they please at any hour of night or day. As if a person doesn't have a right to cross a public road without being mowed down by idiots in speeding vehicles. As if the drivers weren't responsible for their actions; as if the boy somehow deserved to die. In talking to the same bookseller I mentioned above, the topic of the finacial meltdown came up, and he stated that middle-class people who were looking forward to a comfortable retirement 'thought they had something of a safety net there, and well now I think they've been Humbled'. And it was most certainly Humbled-with-a-capital-H. As in, humbled by God. Yes, that's right; the complete destruction of our economy, rather than being an aggregate consequence of human stupidity, greed and deception, was God's punishment to hard workers and responsible savers for their pride in earthly wealth. This attitude is so ingrained in our culture, some people seem to just need to find a victim to blame.

Now I'm of the opinion that, in an ideal world, people would get what they deserve; and that this is good evidence that we are not living in an ideal world. True justice is too often corrupted by the notion that the victim deserved it, and therefore the guilty are somehow less responsible for their actions. True understanding of the problems we see in society is hindered by the notion that some group or other is collectively 'responsible' for turmoil and injustice, and that they deserve to be sacrificed for the good of the whole. A genuinely thoughtful study of the real reasons that people act to cause harm and that nature or society collectively causes harm is precluded when we begin to inject the notion that the victim is 'to blame' and that the ill that has befallen them was a deserved punishment. We can't even begin to see to it that people get what they deserve until we can root out this notion that people already deserve what they get.

24.12.08

Homo Homini Lupus

Evolutionary theory has, in the years since its postulation by Charles Darwin, mutated and crossbred into a number of pernicious ideas. Though we don't like to acknowledge it, a perverted view of evolution infused with racism was the basis of the pseudo-science of Eugenics which was perpetrated by Nazi Germany (among other places). Evolution was also used by 'social darwinists' to justify the class barriers inherited from Victorian society, claiming that the rich (who primarily did not become so through their own effort) deserved their wealth and power and that poor people and criminals were in the position they were by virtue of being lazy and stupid. The title of this post, translating as 'man is a wolf to man', was written by Thomas Hobbes; he postulated a 'state of nature', a brutal anarchy in which every man fought every other for survival, as justification for the legitimate authority of the centralized state.

These ideas are all, of course, based on a shallow and misguided understanding of nature, ecology, and evolution. The phrase 'survival of the fittest' conjures up our visions of nature, red in tooth and claw; of the strongest, the swiftest, and the smartest surviving and prospering while their laggard cousins fall by the wayside. There certainly is an aspect of this; life, after all, feeds on life. But the 'red in tooth and claw' theory cannot explain the vast biodiversity of nature, for such a metric of fitness would lead to an ecology where every animal is a 'wolf', and man, the wolfiest wolf of all. Nature is a web of different relationships, with thousands on thousands of species adapted to fill distinct niches. In competing with other sheep, the strongest, fastest, cleverest sheep is the fittest; in competing with wolves, the sheep is almost inevitably lunch.

Humans living in the 'state of nature' did not, in fact, live a life that was 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short'. They were social creatures who lived communally and interacted closely with nature, much like wolves. They worked less, on a day-to-day basis, than we do, and their violence was crude and ritualistic at best. The story of human civilization - the rise of agriculture, monarchies, armies, theocracies, nations, empires, capitalism, totalitarianism, industrial lifestyles, consumer culture, and ubiquitous surveillance - has been a story of increasing control, increasing inequality, and increasing violence. Only in recent centuries have there been a few movements which have pushed back against the urge of men to dominate others, and almost all of them have been co-opted by the authoritarians to one degree or another. We live in a world of plentiful food and continual entertainment, 'protected' from the barely-restrained violence of our neighbours by corps of men with guns, and we yearn for the simplicity and straightforwardness of life in the state of nature. Man has become the 'fittest' animal of all, powerful enough to threaten our own existence with pollution and ever more powerful weapons; and we became this way not by being the strongest, nor the fastest, nor necessarily even the 'smartest' (how smart is it for us to be living the way we do, really?) We came to be the way we are by being the best liars. We became the best at control, the best at order, the best at stamping ot dissent. We are not a race of wolves, but a race of ants.

A somewhat more useful measure of evolutionary 'fitness' is the ability to cooperate, to interdepend, to organize. The eukaryote was created when mitochondria and prokaryotes began working together; sexual selection sped up evolution when disparate proto-sperm and proto-ova began depending on each other to reproduce. Individual cells combine to form advanced life; ants combine to form a colony, bees to make a hive. Wolves hunt in packs. Prey which reproduce beyond their predators' ability to contain their numbers suffer drastic crashes in population. Individual neurones organize into the patterns of thought and instinct; individual memes combine to form ideons; individual humans cooperating form into societies. Yet we must never forget the variance of ability that leads to this interdependance, or the fact that nature is indeed red in tooth and claw. Evolution is revolution, and destruction is renewal. Forms which fail to adapt to changing conditions, no matter how strong, how fast, how smart, or how organized, stagnate and die. Life feeds on life.

The great project of the new millennium is to find a way to build a human society which recalls the virtues of the wolf, a new technological 'state of nature' which embraces evolution - both its capacity to self-organize, and its capacity to destroy what is useless and stagnant. If this idea seems brutal and callous, look at the world around you, at all the suffering caused by irrational ideals, vainglorious decievers, well-meaning fools, and ant-like conformity; and ask yourself if it could really be worse than the way we live today.

Signals of Impending Doom: Get On Your Knees

It seems that our economic troubles are leading to a sudden spike in foreclosures on churches, especially mega-churches which borrowed heavily to finance expansion in expectation of heavy donations from wealthy benefactors. This makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. Mega-churches take the worst aspects of the church and the mall, and fuse them into an unholy mass of vileness. Now just think if churches were to be taxed on their income and property, there would certainly be a spurt of cash to take care of government economic stimulus, and the last of these monstrous symbols of theocratic corporatism would collapse under their own weight.

People is promoting me?

Hey, I been stumbled upon!  And it wasn't even me that put it there either!

Shout out to MichaelJN.  Much appreciated.

Heh heh heh, my dastardly plan is coming to fruition....

23.12.08

Bemused Nirvana

Apparently my last post is currently on the front page of American Buddhist Net.  I am not certain how this came to be, but I welcome the attention and commend whomever is responsible.  Welcome, American Buddhists!  Not sure how much you'll find my bizarre and disjointed ramblings on society and morality to be useful in your pursuit of Enlightenment, but feel free to stick around.

22.12.08

The Right of Selfhood

I am the only person who has to live my life. I am the only one who lives in my body and thinks with my mind. I am the only one who can make my decisions. I am the only one who enjoys my pleasures and suffers my pain.

The right to control over my own body, mind, and life - the right of Selfhood - is the ultimate inalienable right. All other human rights ultimately devolve from the right of Selfhood. The right to defend the self from termination, violation, pain, and suffering. The right to sustain the self with the essential necessities of life. The right to control over the body and the mind, what does and does not go into it, the right to modify and educate and intoxicate oneself as one sees fit. The right of liberty to make one's own decisions and take the actions predicate thereon. The right to express the self through free speech and creative expression. The right to join freely in association with other selves and take what collective actions all selves in such an association see fit to execute. The right to control one's property, the material extensions of the self. The right to be properly associated with one's ideas and creations, the informational extensions of the self. The right to control one's labour and to recieve fair recompense. The right to avenge wrongs done to oneself. The right to at least influence the leaders, the laws, and the social control mechanisms which exert their pressure on the self. The right, if desired or necessary, to pervert, cripple, ruin, submit, and destroy oneself.

Often these second-order human rights are neither absolute nor inalienable. Rights can be violated, and rights can be limited, and rights can give way before the rights of others. This is part of why I have never trusted the language of rights. Without an ultimate rationale as to why rights exist, anyone can claim or deny any right without rhyme or reason. There are some who advocate that rights are 'given' by some external agency - by God, by government, by the community or society as a whole. This, of course, implies that the same agency can take rights away whenever it is convenient - for instance, to trade 'freedom' for 'security'. More useful is the naturalistic explanation that rights arise from the nature of being a 'person' - a moral agent with desires that can be frustrated, needs that can go unmet, dignity that can be affronted, and decisions that one can be barred from acting on. Personhood is a very vague concept that can be interpereted different ways by different people - for instance, is a blastocyst a 'person' simply for the potential it embodies to become a functional human being? Is an animal a person, despite its inability to reason or make plans or articulate its rights - and if not, then what about a newborn infant? I would define a person as 'that which has a subjective experience of its own reality and of control over its actions' - in other words, a self. This clears up certain ambiguities while, unfortunately, leaving others intact or perhaps even creating more, but it can at least afford a basis on which to build a consistent idea of rights.

Thus, every right and every law can be ultimately judged based on the degree to which it furthers or frustrates the right of Selfhood for those selves that it affects. Those who would restrict or curtail the rights of others give plenty of reasons for doing so. They would require us to complete compulsory education or restrict that which we can be educated about, control what we do or do not put into our bodies and what medical procedures or modifications are performed thereon, regulate what types of property we can and cannot own and what types of information we can and cannot transmit, whether by force of law or force of custom or plain physical force. They would restrict us from putting drugs into our bodies and minds 'for your own good' or for 'the good of society'. They would bar homosexuals from joining in the legal association known as Marriage because it's 'against nature' or 'against God' or 'against tradition'. They would bar women from controlling whether their wombs must play host to a parasitic organism which one day could well have a self of its own, but at the present time does not, under the excuse that they are 'protecting human life' or the blastocyst's 'human rights'. They would deny the homeless from sleeping and the hungry from feeding themselves and the thirsty from drinking, under the heading of enforcing the right of states and corporations - memetic structures which display no evidence of being complex enough to have selves - to own 'private property'. Should air become a scarce and valuable commodity, no doubt the right of corporate or sovreign 'persons' to own it would supersede the right to breathe.


Season's Greetings

Joyous Solstice, Blessed Yule, Bene Saturnalia, Happy Chanukkah, and what the hell - Merry Xmas too.

20.12.08

Give them an inch, and they'll take your existence

Religious totalitarians have this lovely tactic they call the 'wedge' strategy. It involves inserting their agents into the slightest chink in the defenses of rational thought and practise, and wedging it wide open. This is different from trying to find a reasonable compromise. Compromise is when people listen to each others' positions, and try to find a reasonable middle ground. It's also different from fighting for your democratically guaranteed rights, or trying to convince others that your way is the best way. The wedge strategy means to start with the things that people of good conscience can be persuaded to accept and overlook, and use every point of pressure as leverage to make more and more extreme demands seem decent and reasonable.

I was recently asked the question, what's wrong with just letting people say a nice prayer? I could go into what's wrong with it, in my personal opinion, but that's beside the point. The point is, maybe you don't want to cause a scene or offend people, and so you just sit quietly through a prayer you don't agree with. Nice and reasonable, right? Next you're being asked to close your eyes, bow your head, hold hands in a circle. If you don't do it you're 'disrespectful', you're 'arrogant', you're 'ruining things for everybody'. You're expected not just to keep your peace, but to participate. Well, you don't want to make a stir, and after all, it's only holding hands. So next you have to sit there and listen as people say things you think are factually incorrect and ethically abominable. Well, you know that if you speak up you'll be shouted down. That's how free speech works, right? If you don't want to hear it, you can leave; if they don't want to hear it, they can tell you to shut up until you do. But then, even speaking up is 'disrespectful' and 'offensive', so they'll do whatever they can to censor this 'offensive' speech. They'll feel entirely free to disrespect you, to offend you, to spit on your most cherished beliefs. But eventually there's nowhere you can go and speak your mind without offending someone, nobody you can associate with who won't just shout you down when you want to speak up. So you learn to hold your peace, and nevermind that they're out there saying you don't deserve the right to speak your mind because you're worse than a Nazi pedophile.

Then they want their incorrect and evil ideas taught in school, to your children or the children of people you love. Then they want to make laws that reflect their incorrect, evil beliefs. Then they want to compel you, not only to keep quiet about your beliefs, but to publicly subscribe to the ones they deem worthy. It never ends.

The fun thing about the wedge strategy, though, is that anyone can use it, as long as they're willing to get loud enough and shrill enough and threatening enough. Xians can use it, Muslims can use it, Hindus can use it. Even Satanists could use it, though I doubt we would have quite the leverage. But hey, in 500 years, maybe Satanism will be the dominant religion, and maybe it'll be oppressed Xians who are being told to sit down, shut up and endure blasphemous rituals. Maybe if that were the case, they'd like to have the right to speak up about their values. Maybe if that were the case, they'd be the one cheering on rational compromise and civil liberties.

And if you believe that, I just recieved the most fascinating e-mail from a gentleman in Nigeria.....

BTW, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman agrees with me that the economy is a scam.

Pro Family

Now, there's one thing the 'Family Values' crowd and I agree on. I too think strong families are important. I also see families as a fundamental institution of society. Healthy families help to protect and support and nurture healthy human beings, and if families were to somehow disappear the fabric of human society would crumble.

What I just don't understand is how these 'pro family' people can hate families so much.

If they're pro family, why do they fight so hard to stop gay partners from having families?

If they're pro family, why are they trying to force people who don't want children to birth and rear them?

If they're pro family, where is their support for people who, for whatever reason, are in the circumstance of raising their children alone?

If they're pro family, how can they oppose reproductive medicine that allows people to have more and healthier babies, or genetic research that could lead to children being smarter and stronger?

If they're pro family, why try to restrict education that could help young people avoid becoming mothers before they're ready?

If they're pro family, don't they understand that birth control not only prevents the spread of disease, it also helps families choose to have children when they're best able to support and nurture them?

If they're pro family, why would they want children kept in ignorance of science, history, and rational thought?

If they're pro family, shouldn't they be encouraging men and women to form equal partnerships based on mutual respect and empowerment instead of playing out stereotypical gender roles?

I'm lying. I understand perfectly well why these agendas are perpetuated under the aegis of 'family values'. It's because people who want to make others' decisions for them would like to weaken families and make them more amenable to social control and manipulation. It's because they want women, who control the reproductive process by virtue of having it inside their bodies, kept submissive and docile. It's because they want children, who control the shape of the future after they die, made malleable and taught to accept waht they're told. It's because they want fathers to line up like good soldiers and toe the party line. It's because they want to keep the young dependant on their elders, their church, and the korporat state. It's because they want dominion over the immediate and intimate social networks where people recieve the majority of their support and guidance, their shared values and sense of community; and those networks begin and end with families. Anything which strengthens families by promoting independance, equality, or education is a deadly threat to the 'family values' agenda.

18.12.08

On the reconciliation of opposites

Now I'm the kind of person who naturally tries to see both sides of an issue, and more often than not ends up agreeing with both sides too. I don't feel uncomfortable in calling myself a 'Socialist Libertarian' (some would see this as a contradiction in terms; I just think both sides need to adjust their assumptions a bit, and I'm working on some articles that would describe how). I see myself as an Anarchist, yet am also in favour of One World Government. I see scientific rationalism as the only thing that can save humanity from its own retardedness, yet also acknowledge the spiritual and mystical experience as being essential to self-development. I advocate humans' recognition and embrace of ourselves as animals subject to the constraints of our genetics and environment, yet also support the transhumanist initiative to evolve deliberately beyond the constraint of our nature.

Others sometimes accuse me of being unable to clearly state what I believe, being confused or wishy-washy. Apparently if I don't subscribe to one extreme belief I must by default subscribe to the other. If I'm not willing to commit to disbelief in God, that automatically makes me a 'theist' (and yet my definitions, which allow for more options than just 'theist' or 'atheist', are somehow the more narrow ones). If I see social justice or workers' rights or collective action are desirable, I am de facto against individual freedom. If I don't think that all of our problems can be solved by eliminating laws and government, I'm a coercive statist who wishes to crush the human spirit beneath the iron heel of tyranny. If I'm willing to acknowledge that there are things about reality that limited material humans do not and perhaps cannot know, and that these things may be important and worth paying attention to, well that's just irrational magical thinking; I'm confused, deluded, I have a problem with my logic.

We live in a complicated world. Being the limited bio-machines that we are, we feel a deep need to simplify it; we see contradictions, ambiguities, fuzzy grey areas as a potential threat to our survival. A tiger is either eating you, or it isn't; there's no real room there for debate. The world of ideals, political policies, and metaphysics is a little bit different. In the natural world, evolution is all about life or death. In the informational world, evolution is more often about synthesis. People feel the need to defend their beliefs unto the death; because their beliefs are a part of them, and when those beliefs die a part of them dies too. I, no less than anyone, is subject to this essential human flaw; but I also feel driven to examine the opposite point of view, because I instinctually feel that, given any two opposing viewpoints, the 'truth' is somewhere in the middle.

17.12.08

Signals of Impending Doom: the 50 Billion Dollar Pyramid Scheme

Bernard Madoff Investment Securities: giant Ponzi scam. This was a well-respected, highly rated security trading company which generated good, consistent returns to its clients for decades - by giving them the money being paid by new clients.

Ave Satanis, finally - confirmation of what I've always secretly suspected. The economy is a scam. I've never been quite so happy to be so poor that even minor mutual-fund or RRSP investments are completely beyond me. And with my creditors getting antsy, I'm practically praying for hyperinflation to hit (not actually praying, of course, since it's a waste of time - whether God exists or not). Even still, I keep getting robocalls from credit card companies that want to offer me low, low rates!!!111! Isn't that what got us in this fucking mess in the first place?

That's capitalism for you. The workers get their $7 an hour for making and selling real products. The bosses get $50 000 a year for telling them what to do and how to do it. The CEO gets billions and billions for telling his company how to make a profit (whether it, you know, actually makes one or not). Shareholders buy stocks to get their piece of the profit pie, then make even more money selling that peice of pie back and forth to each other. Security traders make yet more money figuring out how to sell ever thinner pieces of poison pie at ever higher prices. Except when there's really no pie at all; and for the life of me, I can't figure out how the fuck these people think they can tell when there's pie and when there's not. I mean, if the whole subprime-CDO thing didn't tell us that, we have a perfect example in Bernard Madoff Investment Securities! Then, of course, the Government gets into the act, giving away free money taken from tax-payers to the same people whose monumental pyramid scheme just collapsed. Not to mention the fact that our entire fiat-currency system is built on fairy gold.....

Seriously, how's this for a radical idea? How about the workers decide what they want to produce and sell? How about the workers get a share of the profits and 'put their money to work' improving their own lives and communities? How about we get rid of these all these leeches who think they are so clever-clever that they can become Masters of the Universe without personally creating a single thing that real people actually want or need? Plow the whole fucking system under. Let it collapse and burn. Destruction is renewal. We can build something better in the ashes.

A final thought: as the crash approaches, and the vestiges of the quintillion-dollar pyramid scheme collapse around us, some people are still trying valiantly to profit on human greed and gullibility. I'm really not sure whether I should be aghast or awestruck.

16.12.08

Fuck Da Police

Canada's institutions of social control have been developing a big hard-on for the terrorist tactics of the fascisti down south, from our 'unitary executive' refusing to allow parliament to do any work this last year to our very own 'security certificates' and 'extraordinary renditions' placing terror suspects beyond the rule of law. And the cops are really starting to feel their oats, whether they're shocking confused immigrants to death and inventing a new medical condition to explain it, or curbing young women and then threatening and lying to witnesses. Here's what struck me about the cop in the latter story's statements to concerned onlookers - not the repeated lies and the bullying tone, which have become standard police procedure, but this little gem:
“You own property? Eh? You own property? Cause I own property. That means I pay police tax. If you don’t own property, you don’t pay police tax!”
And there it is in a nutshell. If you're compelled to pay for the Police by virtue of owning property (or, as this jackboot seems to fail to recognize, by renting it), you're entitled to the 'protection' of the police. Presumably, the more property you own, the more taxes you pay, the more 'protection' you're entitled to. Renters get the bare minimum; homeless people and welfare recipients deserve nothing but abuse. A protection racket, run by the state and paid for by the rich. Exactly how do my 'rights', or the 'impartial rule of law', figure into this picture again?

Of course it's an eternally repeated truism that we need semi-retarded thugs with deadly weapons and a blanket exemption from the usual rules of respect and decency. First off, we need them to protect us from all those thieves and murderers out there. Everyone hates thieves and rapists and murderers, right? There's no way we could possibly protect ourselves from criminals, catch our own criminals or punish them. They're criminals; they're vicious and violent and have no respect! If one of them confronts you, better not try to defend yourself; if one of them violates your rights, you better not try and go after them and get revenge; that only leads to blood and chaos. Obviously we need special tradesmen who are well-versed in the best techniques for catching criminals, whether they've already commited a crime or were just thinking about it. And sure, if they're going to be going after the criminals they're going to need weapons, right? But you can't have those weapons now, because it's the prerogative of the police to carry them, and anyone who's not police but wants a weapon must be a criminal. And they'll need special cars, and special uniforms, to make sure you know they're the police (except when they don't want you to know, so you'd better not take their picture). And they most definitely will need to be able to stop you on the street or break into your house if they think you're a criminal, and if they happen to make a mistake, well, they'll need to be protected from people who are just out for petty vengeance because they're The Police. They enforce the law and maintain the order. Because, you know, the rest of us just can't.

Of course, they'll follow The Rules. You have their word on it; there's no need to question whether they really do, or ask somebody to look into it. They promise, they'll only break into your house or take you away in handcuffs or gun you down if they're really really sure you're a criminal, and they can prove it too; because they're Here for Your Protection. Unless you're a criminal, in which case they're here to protect good, honest property owners from you.

Then, we need them to protect us from our own immorality, to protect us from paying for sex or being homosexual or using the bad kind of drugs. And of course, since people who do these things are criminals, dirty rotten vicious violent criminals, they definitely need to be treated as such. They need to be taken away and locked up, locked away from society so us good hard-working upstanding property-owning citizens won't be tainted by their criminality. But since no reasonable person is going to report a fellow citizen for a 'crime' that doesn't hurt them personally in the least, we need to be convinced that these horrible beady-eyed criminals are after their children and their money. We need to be convinced to just pass calmly by if we see someone being harassed the The Police, because that person must be some kind of thieving raping drug-smoking society-destroying criminal. And suddenly there needs to be more and more Police, because there are just so many criminals out there, and they need to be able to search you because you might be carrying drugs, and to go into your home or your car because you might be hiding guns, and to lie to you and entrap you because they can't just go after the criminals that people report to the any more. They need to go after all the criminals, and hell, you never know which seemingly upstanding, law abiding, productive property owners might secretly want to smoke some hash or get a blow job from a poor oppressed woman. They're tricky, those criminals are - sometimes they even pretend to be real people!

And slowly it seems like The Police are taking longer and longer to come by your house when you call them and report that someone busted in and held a gun on you and took your DVD player; that they're making less and less effort to find the guy who beat you up for looking like a fag (and you couldn't defend your self, you never bothered to learn how since that's what you pay the Police Tax for); that they're paying less and less attention to the women who are violated every day by men who know they'll probably get away with it. And it seems like they spend so much time on the easy crimes, especially the ones that pay good money, the traffic stops and the drug busts and the prostitution stings. And it seems like the vast majority of them are not too bright, that they don't really understand the laws they enforce, and can't follow an obvious chain of reasoning; almost as if people of high intelligence are systematically barred from becoming police. Which is odd, since you might have thought that people would need to be smarter than average to catch those devious, dastardly criminals, that they might need special skills and quick wits in order to catch law-breakers while obeying the law themselves. After all, that's what TV shows like Law & Order or CSI always made it look like! You start to realize that The Police are not quite the paragons of justice that you maybe thought they were. You feel it when you start to get nervous every time The Police are around, because you don't have any weed on you today but you sure do look like the kind of guy who might; when you're walking home late at night and someone suddenly shines a light in your face and demands to know where you're coming from and where you're going; when you hear about people dying in police custody and you realize you're not even that outraged anymore, because it just happens so damn often that you can't get angry every single time. You start to realize that no disorganized mob of stupid, desperate, mentally unbalanced criminals could ever be as much of a threat to you as a cadre of well-trained, well-armed thugs with the most dangerous weapon of all: the respect of society.

And now there's these terrorists, right? They're out there, terrorizing. And so The Police, and all those petty bureaucrats who suddenly seem to have powers that even The Police don't have, need to be able to go even further if they think that a criminal is also a terrorist. They need to be able to hold you without trial. They need to be able to beat you up or repeatedly shock you, whether or not you're actively resisting them. They need to be able to disperse peaceful protesters with mace and rubber bullets. They need to be able to send you off to someplace where even God doesn't know what's going to happen to them, because God doesn't have a high enough security clearance. And they need to be able to read your personal mail, and listen to your private phone calls, and videotape what's going on inside your house. And when someone busts into your house at 5 in the morning, you'd better hope it's criminals and not The Police. Because if it's criminals, and you try to defend yourself from them, you probably won't be jailed for it. Because if it's criminals, they can't kill your dog, shoot your wife, make you strip and chain you up for hours, make the whole neighbourhood think you're some kind of criminal, and expect to get away with it.

Do I think we could do without police? Not really. I think their role should be amputated, cut down to finding and establishing the guilt of those who transgress against other people so that those so violated can exercise their deserved right of vengeance. But no matter what form society takes in the future, there's going to be some form of law and there are going to be professionals dedicated to enforcing it; else it will be nothing but autarchy, and the rich and the mighty shall rule over the poor and weak by brute strength of arms. But there's always a choice. The system we live under today is little better than a criminal cartel, extorting money from responsible citizens while doing the minimum necessary to pacify those who demand the rule of law, a protection racket where the wealthy get at least the assurance that unsightly vagrants won't clutter up their nice view. Anyone who claims that The Police are servants of The People is living in a world of delusion.

So what do you call it when you don't really care whether God exists?

I am the ultimate moral authority, at least in terms of my own existence. If 'free will' is a reality as opposed to a meaningless nonconcept (and I have always suspected the latter), no other can make my decisions for me. I must take the world as I see and experience it, derive proper moral principles and responses to those situations which I encounter, and choose to act accordingly.

The primary principal of monotheistic religions is submission to the will of (their particular) God. If you don't submit to the will of God, they claim, you are a slave of Satan. A choice between two kinds of slavery isn't much of a choice; it might seem rational to at least pick the kind that gets you never-ending bliss instead of never-ending torture. But I don't see it as that simple.

Imagine for a moment that you were visited by super-intelligent aliens from another dimention. These aliens provide you with irrefutable proof that they are the ones responsible for the creation of the universe, the formation of the Earth, the beginning of life, and the evolution of human consciousness. They then inform you that, since you exist at their convenience, and since they're so super-smart that they always know exactly what's best for you, you have to do everything they say. It's hard to understand what they're telling you, but some of their pronouncements are just plain obvious, while others seem blatantly wrong and even evil. Of course, they tell you, you are entirely free to disobey them; although you should know that if you do, you will be punished with a severity that makes the worst torments of the worst totalitarian regimes of history seem like mere inconveniences. Sure you might obey, out of fear; but would it be right that you do so? And in precisely what way is God different, beyond having never provided any such proof?

Depending on outside authority for moral guidance a losing proposition. Even in trying to abdicate your personal moral agency, you can't give it up. You yourself must constantly make the decision to trust what 'the authority' conveys to you. You must trust them, even though they create and allow intense suffering on Earth. You must trust them even though they just can't seem to communicate clearly (if it's so simple to know what God wants, why are there so many different religions and denominations, competing for the title of the One True Voice of God?) You must trust them to be absolutely right, absolutely all the time, even when their (reported) actions are those of a sadistic tyrant. And in the absence of immediate personal guidance, you must trust something - ancient scripture, modern theology, church hierocrats, or the consensus of the community as to what is and is not right - because over and over you have chosen not to trust in yourself. Your personal moral agency has withered away to the point that the moment you are faced with a situation in which you can no longer trust in something beyond yourself, you will be frozen with indecision. 'Faith' and rote repetition of recieved wisdom, after all, can carry you only so far.

If God is all powerful, he would logically have the ability to allow us our free will, our freedom to love him, but still remove suffering and evil from the world. If God is all powerful, he could make it explicitly clear what his intentions are instead of putting them in self-contradictory books filled with anachronisms and pretty metaphors and outright brutality. Theists must convince themselves that God has a perfect plan which he needs to hide from us in order that it be executed; that we are required to love him when he shown no evidence of loving us and obey him when he refuses to even provide us with reliable instructions. I fail to see the attraction of obeying a plan and a master which for all you know might as well not exist. But even these things would not be sufficient to convince me that I could trust such a God, especially above and beyond my own reason and mind.

God, if he does exist, is not the ultimate arbiter of reality. This is simple logic. Parts create wholes. If God the Creator is seperate from Creation; if God the all-good is seperate from all that is evil; if God the infinite being is seperate from nothingness; then there must be a higher unity which encompasses all of these disparate parts. Theists have placed an impenetrable box around the mystery of the unknown; every defenition or limitation they ascribe to God makes him smaller, weaker, less worthy of praise and awe. If God has desires like a human, loves as a human loves, and creates human morality with his word, then God is merely a bigger, better human. He's a cosmic mechanic, a toymaker playing games with the lives of human beings. There is no reason to treat him any differently than one might treat any other creature who attempted to bully you into doing their will instead of your own.

I am a Satanist; I embrace the reality I see around me and the moral agency of my own will, without regard for the desires of an absentee God. He may have 'created' me, but that doesn't mean he owns me. I'm not an atheist, because I think it's entirely plausible that God might exist, though what I see in the world around me leads me generally to other conclusions. I'm not even sure I could be properly called agnostic; it seems to imply that, if you did know whether God exists or not, it would change something about your life. If I knew where God lived I might well try to strike him down, but I'm already fighting the tyranny of God's infuence on my life and humanity, in whatever small ways I can. So ultimately, it makes little difference to me whether God exists or not. I am the ruler of my own existence; I am the God of myself. Not even the threat of infinite pain, nor the promise of the perfect heroin trip, can convince me to abandon my own moral agency to serve the whims of a cosmic bully.

13.12.08

Back to Basics - The Art of War (Sun Tzu)

I have been feeling the need recently to expand my philosophical and intellectual breadth by reading some classic works that I never quite got around to, or re-reading others that I read only partially or read long ago and never got around to. Some pieces and authors that I have on the list I'm developing include Teilhard de Chardin, Marshall MacLuhan, Karl Marx (Das Kapital at least), Macchiavelli's The Prince, Plato, and if I'm feeling particularly masochistic, a bit of Rand and Hitler's Mein Kampf. Since I need content for this blog, and whoever might have acidentally stumbled on it is probably not overly interested in my random ramblings on whatever subjects catch my fancy of the moment, I'll post some reactions as I work through these foundational documents of some of my personal philosophies. (just to be clear: Mein Kampf is included only insofar as I've always been fascinated by the depth of depravity to which people can stoop, and trying to understand it a bit better.) I'll also be devoting some time to studying classic religious texts such as the Holy Bibles, Quran, Rig Vedas, Tao Te Ching, Analects of Confuscious, Principia Discordia, and the Book of the Dead; and at some point I want to do a thorough reading of the Satanic Bible and some other of LaVey's writings, especially a point-by-point analysis and commentary on the Satanic Statements, the Laws of the Earth, and the Satanic Sins.

However, I recently had a chance to swap for an absolutely beautiful illustrated and annotated copy of the classic of military strategy and philosophy, The Art of War (Sun Tzu). I once read this book along with commentary attempting to 'apply the wisdon of Sun Tzu to modern life'; I don't precisely recall most of it, but had an impression of it as clear, concise, simple, and poetic wisdom that could easily be applied to most situations in life - after all, life is war. Therefore, this seems like a good place to start. Over the coming weeks, in addition to the various topics I have queued up to meditate on, I'll be getting Back to Basics with Sun Tzu.

12.12.08

Everyone can go to Hell

Now I'm no big fan of letting people kill babies. But whenever I see stories like this my honest first reaction is, "well that's one less kid who'll be raised to be an idiot."

Harsh, I know. All things being equal, we generally frown on people letting their idiot beliefs get in the way of their children's health and welfare. Unfortunately, children die every day. It's a sad fact. And all things being equal, if I could trade the life of a starving baby in Africa for the life of the child of an idiot in rich-whiteyville who's too stupid blind stubborn to give their child basic medical care, I would do it in a heartbeat. Neither child deserves their fate. But the parents of a starving child in Africa, who most likely are starving themselves, don't deserve to lose a child. Because that child could plausibly grow up one day and be the person who saves Africa from the plagues that afflict it, whereas the child of idiots will more than likely grow up to be an idiot itself after decades of imbibing its parents' factually and morally bankrupt beliefs.

Note that I'm not saying we should kill the babies of anyone who disagrees with us. The vital force of children is sacred and in better circumstances would be protected. These claim that letting their child die - excuse me, 'relying on the power of prayer' to save their child and 'submitting to God's will' when it became obvious that God didn't want their child to live - is a matter of religious freedom. Fine and dandy. I think it can be safely assumed that these are the same people who would use force of law to turn women into walking incubators rather than have even one single solitary blastocyst 'murdered' by abortion doctors. I wonder how they can stand the cognitive diossonance. Maybe if pro-choicers all just converted to Satanism and claimed abortion as part of their 'religious freedom' the anti-choicers would back off. But I digress....

For people who claim to believe in a code of 'absolute morality', Xians have remarkable flexibility in their ethics. Just another illustration of the bizarre moral relativism at the heart of their faith. Anything is justifiable when God and his absolute righteousness are on your side. Anything is forgivable when Jesus died to magically take your sins away. Absolute Right is miraculously transubstantiated into I Am Absolutely Right. It somehow becomes possible to condemn others who only want to control their own bodies as 'baby murderers' while simultaneously murdering your own baby.

Once again, and with feeling: your right to religious freedom ends where your baby's right to life begins. I think it can generally be safely agreed by all parties involved (except these whackos) that once your baby is out of your womb, it deserves a right to life. Since it does not have the ability to seek its own medical care, it really behooves you the parents to do that for it. If you fail in this responsibility, the state can probably feel itself justified in condemning and punishing you. After all, killing babies deprives the future productive labour force and thus is injurious to the state. To me, however much I might feel for the death of yet another helpless innocent, I see it as just another instance of evolution in action. Better for that poor child to be dead than to spend the next couple of decades soaking up its parents' anti-moral, anti-life ideology.

In case it's not clear, I am absolutely and unequivocally pro-abortion rights.

9.12.08

Stupid, Stupid People

There has been somewhat of a stir caused by the recent publication in Nature of a commentary supporting the use of cognitive enhancement drugs. Prescribed for a variety of psychiatric conditions from ADHD to narcolepsy, certain drugs have the potential to significantly increase various mental functions such as concentration, memory retention, and willpower in people who are otherwise 'healthy' and 'normal'. Cognitive enhancement drugs may thus be the quickest, easiest, and cheapest method of raising the bar of average human intelligence.

A number of common ethical-moral ideals held by the general public stand in the way of the widespread acceptance of such cognitive enhancement drugs, as well as the concepts of cognitive enhancement and cognitive liberty in general. Such attitudes include the following:
  • Drugs are bad, only losers do drugs
  • Medicine should only be used to treat illness as prescribed by doctors
  • It's not fair for people to 'cheat' by using drugs to get one up on the competition
  • You should be content with the abilities god/nature gave you
I won't argue directly in this post against such ideals; I could write volumes, and others already have. I'll just set out the basic counterargument that I think easily trumps them all:
  • People are so fucking stupid.
We're jumped-up apes adapted to live in nomadic tribal units, hunting meat and gathering berries. Cultural evolution has changed more about our species in the last 6000 years (give or take) than biological evolution has changed in the last 6 million; the genetics that program our brains has been outpaced by our technology. The smartest among us are psychologically unstable; the most creative are the most depressive, the most logical are the least socially adept, the most charismatic are the most ethically blind. The vast majority of humans are like sheep, grazing at the trough of consumer culture, hypnotized by information overload, easily manipulated by the demagogues and ideologues and moralists and propagandists. Our thinking is shaped by the biases and prejudices learned at our parents' knee. We choose what we agree with before seeing the evidence, then reject any evidence that disagrees. Any kind of prolonged and serious consideration of basic beliefs and ideals is painful to us, so the majority shy away and let their chosen 'authorities' tell them how to act and react. We can't absorb or comprehend more than a fraction of the vast and growing pool of information. Our entire society is a vast mechanism of social control institutions designed to herd us into accomplishing some sort of collective action, because without the machines of church and state and family grinding us under we dissolve once again into a vicious mass of warring tribes. Thus, the greedy and the egomaniacal form an oligarchy-by-default, using the creative and intellectual classes as their tools for the manipulation of the common herd. We're just so. Fucking. Stupid.

Every generation has had a 'drug culture' which experimented with the newest 'forbidden' substances, exploring the extremes of ecstasis and degredation, passing their knowledge on to future cadres of cognitive libertarians. It amuses me intensely to think that today's drug culture includes the corporate bosses and performance-obsessed workaholics along with the junkies, the dropouts, and the freaks. Of course there will be victims on the way to understanding the nature of these drugs, addicts and burnouts and untoward side effects, blasted minds and ruined lives. Well, these people choose their own fate and the risks they take. There needs to be more extensive scientific testing and more effective public education on the effects of cognitive enhancement drugs, but most of our understanding is for better or worse going to come from the experiences of people who choose, of their own free will, to try better living through chemistry. If the concept of cognitive enhancement drugs catches on it could well lead to a massive enhancement in our collective ability to understand and think rationally about our world and our society, and by Satan do we ever need it.

As for myself, I'd love to get my hands on some Modafinil, just to see what it's like. Maybe it would help me get more and better writing done.

The Creation Story - A Viewpoint

God. The all-powerful, the all-knowing, the all-loving, the eternal and infinite.

First, he made a giant monument to himself.
Then, he made a race of perfect slaves to serve his every whim.
When one of his slaves dared to question his dictates, eventually inciting others to rebellion, he built a giant gulag in which to imprison his political enemies.

He made an intrinsically corrupted material realm of continual hunger, suffering, and death. He made humans to be lords and masters of this corrupted realm, yet still subservient to him, and expects us to love him for our 'gift' of suffering and bondage. He made the first humans and placed them in a perfect garden where there was no suffering nor death. He gave them the free will to choose their own destiny, yet made them innocent - incapable of sin, without knowledge of right and wrong; and when they did wrong (unable to know it) by disobeying him and seeking out this knowledge, he cast them out into the world to toil and starve and suffer and die. He blames his political enemy, the 'great Satan', for everything that's wrong in the world he created and utterly controls.

He also claims to be perfect and good, the source of all that is good and right. If you don't submit yourself to the will of God, if you even dare to question or doubt, you are a slave of Satan, condemned to suffer not only through this miserable life he has forced you to live, but also for the rest of eternity. But if you somehow manage to walk that narrow line of perfect divine command, and die in a state of grace, you shall be rewarded with an eternity perfect bliss - the junkie's ultimate heroin trip! In neither case can you expect surcease of the continual burden of your pathetic, corrupted existence. Never can you look forward to the sweet embrace of oblivion. You will be forced to keep existing for all of eternity. Even suicide can't save you.

But don't you know he loves you. He only hurts you because he loves you so much.

It's a damn good thing I don't believe in this God. He is the most vicious totalitarian dictator that ever existed, the ultimate abusive parent and jealous incestuous lover, and whenever I imagine for even an instant that such a being might exist, I feel compelled by every moral principle I have ever followed to fight against his tyranny with every ounce of my strength.

6.12.08

Universal Evolution

The more I consider it, the more I believe that the theory of evolution has far broader explanatory power than just the narrow case of biological life. Meme theory is the most obvious extension of evolution, but ultimately the case could be made for extending evolutionary theory into every aspect of order observable in the universe. This could be thought of as the General Theory of Evolution, of which Darwin's Special Theory of Evolution is a particular case.

In any situation in which qualities may give rise to order which can both change and persist over time, evolution not only can occur but must occur. Consider the opening 'moments' of the universe. Potentially, every possible configuration of natural forces may have occurred. The vast majority of them, however, would be unstable and incapable of 'surviving' the ruthless 'selection' of the cosmic firmament. However, some configurations would persist longer than others; some would be capable of influencing the universe around them in such a way as to make conditions more congenial to the formation and propagation of configurations similar to their own. Eventually, the 'particles' and 'forces' we know today form and go on to combine into more complex structures. Interaction of these particles and forces vast time scales creates layer upon layer of complexity: atoms, molecules, quasars, stellar and planetary systems. Various structures compete for the resources created by the big bang, diversifying and forming an 'astrophysical ecosystem'. Hydrogen atoms come together to form stars; stars create heavy elements, which then form more quickly into hotter stars and the cool, solic planets which orbit them. Combinations of these complex conditions eventually lead to the formation of complicated molecules which can more quickly and consistently create copies of themselves in a way which leads to yet more intense competition for even scarcer resources: replicating organic chemistry. For billions of years, organic molecules slowly develop in complexity and begin to form stable systems that enhance the viability and replication of their component parts: organisms. Prokaryotes beget eukaryotes, which beget multicellular life, which begets plants and animals, which beget proto-humans, which beget self-replication mental information constructs: memes. At every stage, a slow buildup of complexity and diversity leads to a moment of transition in which an association of disparate parts yields a vast dividend in stability and replication power, all from the basic premise of variation, selection, replication: given any situation in which order can both change and persist over time, any structures which persist longer, and influence other structures in such a way as to assist the formation of order similar to themselves, will tend to create conditions of increasing diversity and complexity.

4.12.08

Signals of Impending Doom: Today Housing, Tomorrow the Mall?

Seems the financial turmoil and the crunch on consumer spending are leading to an increase in business property mortgage default. More businesses closing means more unemployment, means more decrease in spending, means more price deflation, means more businesses closing.....

Dmitry Orlov and the Five Stages of Collapse

I recently came once again across this excellent presentation by Russian engineer and professional doom-sayer Dmitry Orlov which lays out, in clear an well-argued terms, why the collapse is immanent and what it's going to look like. Orlov draws on his first-hand experiences during the collapse of the USSR to create a blueprint for the impending downfall of the American Empire and the shockwaves it will send throughout the developed world. This is excellent reading for anyone who might still be under the impression that the fiscal 'bailout' or Obamamania is somehow going to save them from debt denial, hyperinflation, and the long roller coaster down.

Orlov's five stages in brief are as follows:

1: Financial collapse is what we're all going through right now. Massive banks and fiscal enterprises are failing because they leveraged themselves to the point of pain and took massive, stupid risks with borrowed money. Prices, consumer spending, business investment, and credit are all going down the tube. The US Federal Reserve Bank and the federal government are idiotically inflating the US$ supply by shovelling more and more money at these same idiots that wrecked their economy. Once foreign entities are no longer available to lend money to the US government it's hyperinflation and bye bye economy. Of course globalization has ensured that the implosion of the US domestic financial services sector is spreading through the economies of every industrial nation in the world at lightning speed.

2: Commercial collapse comes next. When our faith in the 'free market fairy' to solve all our problems is demolished by hyperinflation, every part of the market economy will will melt away. Essential commodities like food, water, medicine, and bullets will be hoarded by people unsure of where or when the next supply will arrive. Unemployment will skyrocket as corporations unable to get one more loan or bailout collapse. People will have to get used to the idea of doing for yourself and making do with what they have; ad-hoc local markets and collective networks will never be able to placate the vast demands of the consumer class.

3: Political collapse sets in as the government becomes incapable of effectively delivering services or enforcing regulations. Loosely held territories will begin seceding from larger states as they realize the government can't help them. Law and order will be replaced by martial law, then by the state of nature. The government will slow and then stop delivery of everything from health care to utilities to trash collection. It's not until the water and the power stops that people will begin to understand how much trouble they're really in. Official corruption will run rampant, and authority will eventually devolve on criminal syndicates and gangs, local fascista paramilitaries, more or less anyone who can take it.

4: Social collapse is the great reversion to the mean in the state of nature. People begin to lose their faith in progressive and democratic ideals. They begin to rely on families, churches or other close-knit groups for protection and turn on their neighbours, co-workers, and casual acquaintances. Charitable organizations are overwhelmed by demands for handouts, and any organization not directly dedicated to providing for the basic survival and security needs of its members will essentially cease to exist. This will be the worst time for everyone, as well as the best opportunity to advance any ideological cause that encourages people to band together against outsiders and the interference of the state, such as Communism, Anarchism, or Fascism.

5: Finally there is Cultural Collapse, as the basic moral foundations of our society are ground under. People will become willing to lie, cheat, steal, loot, assault, maim, rape, torture, and kill in pursuit of their physical and psychological needs. We revert to feral, tribal, animalistic versions of the literate, sophisticated semi-divinities we believe we are. This would be an intensely painful process that would more or less erase thousands of years of cultural evolution. Mr. Orlov thinks it can and should be avoided. I know I wouldn't enjoy such a world and will do everything in my power to help prevent it coming to pass, but the cynical side of me feels like humanity needs something of a cleansing enema before we can rebuild our culture. In any case I will more than likely be dead by phase 2 or 3.

Orlov's message is ultimately hopeful. He feels we can take power into our own hands by accepting the reality of the collapse and following certain prescription to mitigate the effects at each phase: Reduce your dependance on the money economy and the globalized free market, self-organize on a local scale to provide for basic needs and services, create cohesive and interdependant communities, and emphasize mutual responsability and the most basic fundamental moral values. Unfortunately Orlov's analysis fails to take into account the ongoing catastrophic environmental collapse, which we might call Stage X. Easy-access fossil fuels are being used up at a monstrous rate, ecological poisoning and spiking temperatures are depleting viable food sources and farmland, and many densely inhabited places are becoming unlivable. Global climate shift will lead to widespread fuel, food, and electricity shortages, tides of refugees placing further burdens on strained communities, and acce;lerate both the pace and the magnitude of every part of the collapse as the effects snowball into each other. Furthermore, people are still going along as if the precise right carbon tax and financial 'stimulus' plan will fix everything. If local self-organization and reduced dependance on the global markets are the answer, the present stunned malaise of the consumer class watching as the revolution is televised is not an encouraging sign.

2.12.08

Retribution

The notion of 'justice' that is practiced in our societies is based on some very contradictory foundations. One, a progressive element stemming from the enlightenment and the advance of liberalism and democracy, is found in much bandied phrases like 'law and order' and the 'rule of law', the 'public interest' and 'public safety'; it is the principle of the state protecting citizens from harm and protecting their intrinsic rights from violation. The other is a much older and more basic urge and is seen in phrases like 'paying one's debt to society', 'getting your just deserts', and 'putting criminals in jail where they belong'. It is the principle of retribution.

Retribution has gotten a bad rep in this day and age, when we're supposed to be more civilized, beyond such notions as an 'eye for an eye'. It's associated with 'vigilante justice' and 'taking the law into your own hands', with petty feuds and vendettas, lynching and mob rule. We are told that it is neither our right nor our duty to seek retribution, that the mechanism of the state hands down impartial, ideal, 'blind' justice to which we as citizens simply acquiesce. And yet there is a visceral joy in hearing that a man who threw acid in the face of an innocent woman was sentenced to be blinded by having acid dripped in his eyes by a sharia court. Rare indeed is the occasion which makes me feel that Islamic religious law is in any respect more just than western jurisprudence.

How fair is a system which hands down the same, standardized punishment for every crime from serial rape and mass murder to petty theft and vandalism? Questions of the public interest aside, is it just that smoking marijuana or soliciting a prostitute is cause for loss of liberty and the constant threat of rape and bodily harm? Of course there are kinder, gentler 'rehabilitation' options available: fines, community service, re-education programs. Sometimes these work, sometimes they don't; and they could be made immensely more effective if they were divorced from the constant need of criminal justice to exact punishment. Politicians impose more stringent laws and more draconian penalties to make themselves look 'tough on crime', with nary a care as to whether any crime is in fact being prevented. The two entwined motives behind criminal justice fight constantly against each other. There are even different names for these different ideals of justice: the 'correctional' system on one hand and the 'penal' system on the other, their duties and their outcomes at the same time shared and opposed. The consequence is that neither is effective or efficient in carrying out its purpose.

Our human need for 'justice' is intrinsic to our psyche. Actions have consequences, and we long to see those in those consequences some kind of harmony, some accord with our principles of right and wrong. But more than that, we have a psychological need to strike back against those who violate our rights. I would go so far as to say that lex talionis, the law of just retribution, is a right in itself; an individual right which the state has usurped. If I am attacked, robbed, sexually assaulted, my home invaded, it is widely seen as 'right' and 'just' that I be able to forcibly defend myself my attacker and even slay them if need be; yet if I were to find that person after they have fled, and extract my rightful vengeance upon them, I am the one seen as a criminal. Does not the subject of robbery have a right to reclaim their property or its equivalent with their own hands, the victim of rape to see their rapist degraded as they have been, the family and friends of a murdered person to exact blood price?

The state has become the interlocutor between victims of harm and the ones who have harmed them, effectively protecting the guilty from just retribution. The state reserves the right to prosecute and imprison them, an act which is simultaneously an ineffectual attempt to alter their future behaviour and a faceless, unsatisfying arrogation of the right to mete out punishment that does not even involve the victim save as a 'witness', that accords them the same standing as an uninvolved bystander. It is an attitude that leads to absurdities like good, upstanding citizens being told that they should 'just hand over their valuables' when threatened, and 'let the police deal with it' (should they happen have the time and the inclination); to the majority of rape victims who prefer to suffer in silence rather than expose the details of their personal degradation to an impersonal system which more than likely will accomplish nothing beyond forcing them to relive the heinous memory of being sexually violated; to prisons which take in petty vandals and drug addicts and turn out thoroughly educated thieves. The state is not a person to be harmed by crimes; it does not have rights to violate, does not suffer wrongs to be redressed. It does not have a body that bleeds, a dignity to be degraded, or a life to lose, and what property it might have is not personal but is held in common trust of its citizens. It is a mindless machine which exists to serve us, the people.

Any form of 'correction' that fails at altering and preventing harmful behaviour is not only unjust, but also a waste of resources; and any form of 'justice' that violates the lex talionis and deprives the victim of their right of retribution is not justice at all but mere authoritarianism. Maybe it's time we disentangled these ideas from each other, into seperate systems. For the supporters of the paternalistic state, there could be a 'correction' system which identifies behaviours likely to cause harm and gently steers people away from them; and there could also be a 'retribution' system supporting the individual right of the victim of crime to find their abuser and carry out righteous vengeance.