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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

If there is anything that the past century has taught us, it is that the only war which will truly end all wars among humanity is the one in which the human species is finally obliterated.  –  “To End All Wars

In the first few decades of the last century, a popular conspiracy theory held that the Great War which ended 101 years ago today had been engineered by munitions manufacturers and bankers for their own profit.  But while that may have certainly been one factor, the majority of the blame rests on the power-madness of European governments and their unquenchable thirsts to expand their empires across the entire globe, no matter what the cost in blood and wealth to their subjects, both native and conquered.  A century later, however, the world’s one remaining empire is engaged in not one but many endless, pointless wars whose costs would have staggered the Rothschilds, whose lack of clear imperial goals would have confused a Caesar or a Napoleon, and whose sheer, mindless carnage would have nauseated the Spartans.  America’s war-madness has destabilized the entire Middle East; made military contractors wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice; contributed to the centralization of US federal power in the executive branch; fueled terrorism on four continents; indebted the US Empire to the only serious challenger to its pre-eminence; created the modern surveillance state; and handed so much political and military power to a domestic Praetorian class that its members can not only rob, rape, pillage and even murder citizens with impunity, but also write its own laws and openly defy legislation intended to bring it back under political control.  Certainly, the politicians who support these wars do so at least in part out of a desire to increase their own power, because far too many of the hoi-polloi still practice primitive leader-worship and adhere to notions of nationalism that were already outdated when the Great War began.  But given the popularity of astonishingly-wasteful military adventurism across the monolithic ruling party naive Americans absurdly refer to as “the political spectrum”, including among those who profess to have better and far more productive ideas for the trillions being flushed down Ares’ toilet, it seems obvious that the theorists of a century past would be absolutely correct if they were saying now what they said then:  a great deal of the impetus for modern warfare, like the impetus for the domestic wars (on drugs, whores, “crime”, etc), comes directly from those reaping profits and gathering political power from the bloodshed.  And because that is so, and nobody in power anywhere has the courage or morality to say so, the wars of the 21st century, unlike their 19th and 20th century counterparts of finite length, will continue on interminably until the Empire waging them is consumed in the flames of its own collective insanity.

 

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There is not and in fact cannot be any such thing as “legitimate” authority, whether that authority is chosen by elections, lots, birth, examining goat entrails, or pulling swords out of lakes.  –  “Illegitimate

One of the major themes of The Grand Illusion (1937) is that class differences are more powerful and enduring than national boundaries, so the ruling classes on the two sides of any given war have more in common with one another than they do with the people they rule.  This has been true at least since the Middle Ages, and possibly much longer; in the present day it is more true than it ever has been, both within any given country and across national boundaries.  Posturing politicians pretend to be the sworn enemies of other politicians, only to play kissy-face with one another when they don’t realize there’s a camera around.  They claim to be the champions of “the people”, but in actuality those “people” are no more than a source of power to them, as interchangeable, expendable and disposable as lumps of coal thrown into a furnace.  And while the conflict between politicians of different parties may be real, it is not the conflct of a life-or-death struggle as they pretend (and their followers believe), but the conflict of two friends playing a game or arguing over which fast-food restaurant makes the best cheeseburger.  Two of the contenders in the next US presidential election changed political parties after middle-age (ie, well after their actual beliefs, rather than their publicly-claimed ones, were set in stone) in order to further their ambitions, but you’d barely know it by the fanatical chanting of their fans and their attempts to out-Herod Herod.  And if you’d like to destroy your belief that US parties actually have any kind of solid basis in ideology, just take a look at the avowed positions of the two contenders from the last presidential election and compare them with both their actual actions in political office and the supposed political “wing” of the parties they represented.  And yet I’ve seen friends argue heatedly and even become estranged over their loyalties to these opportunistic sociopaths; a message board I used to frequent completely imploded over name-calling (“libtards”, “RepubliKKKans”, etc) and other ugly, childish behavior during the 2008 election.  No matter what natural affiliations one might expect a politician to have due to race, sex, religion, economic background, or any other characteristic, those all become casualties of the quest for power.  You know which countries are the largest exporters of surveillance and other military and police technologies used by brutal governments to suppress their people?  China, Israel and the United States.  And none of them is especially concerned whether their customers claim to be communist, anti-Semitic, democratic or anything else, because in actuality, they’re all on the same side:  the side of the power elite.  And until the masses discard both their cherished belief in god-king “leaders” who will save them, protect them and care for them, and their ugly, primitive lust for power over other humans, that power elite will continue regarding them as livestock to herd, shear and slaughter as they see fit.

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Long-time readers know that I’m scornful of the notion that greatly-extended human lifespans would be a boon, and every year on this day – the Day of the Dead – I write about the goodness and inevitability of death.  But this year I thought to myself: what would a society of near-immortals look like?  And how would creatures who were essentially immortal (unless killed by mischance) face the prospect of impending death?

When both I and the world were much younger, I believed I would know when I had become old; I thought there would be some clear line of demarcation, at least as obvious as rooting, and that when I crossed it I would be able to say, “Now I am no longer young”.  But though the differences between unrooted youth and rooted adult are obvious, the difference between relatively young adults and old adults are not so at all.  We slowly grow larger, and wiser, and less active, and communicate more slowly and deliberately.  But at every point in my long, long life when I have considered the issue, there were some adults in the community who were younger than I, and others older; and though I can now definitively state “I am very old” without fear of contradiction, I cannot tell you at which point in my many millions of years I crossed over into that territory.

If I were pressed to choose such a line, I reckon it would have to be when I awoke from my first hibernation.  The young are far too busy and energetic for such pastimes; they have so much to see and do and learn and think about, so many worlds to explore, so many mysteries to solve and wonders to marvel at, that the notion of spending a few thousand years asleep is quite beyond their comprehension.  Moreover, it isn’t even possible to enter such a state without putting down roots, and few who do that ever get around to pulling them up again without mighty provocation.  And yet there is no set age at which one must root, nor any determinate length before hibernation; I’ve awoken to find individuals who were not yet sprouted when I fell asleep securely rooted within sensory range when I again became conscious, and heard news of others from my own season who were still flitting about the cosmos long after I had settled down to spawn.  And while I took my first hibernation some fifty thousand years after rooting, I’ve known others to go for hundreds of thousands before seeking the peace of slumber.  But when one awakens from that first deep, long sleep, one soon finds oneself the center of attention, pressed on all sides by eager, yet reverent queries from young ones enthralled by the miracle of actually being able to converse with a time-traveler just arrived from an epoch before they even existed.  Sometimes they actually want to touch, reaching out their tendrils in awe as if they could absorb the knowledge of a bygone era by osmosis.  And that experience of being a stranger in one’s own community, of being treated like a living oracle, like a weird visitor back from the underworld with divine wisdom to share…that, I think, is the experience which defines the old.

I remember the first time I as a green youth conversed with such an individual, one of the very first settlers on this world, who arrived so long ago the gentle hills to the south of that land had then been a jagged range of mighty crags, appealing to the romantic sense of a youngster who had journeyed across vast gulfs of space and visited hundreds of worlds in search of just such a wild, beautiful place to settle.  I listened almost in disbelief as we were told that at that time there was a clear demarcation of night and day, and the myriad stars were clearly visible in the sky when the world had turned so that the then-younger sun no longer was.  I was frightened by the depth of the abysses this most ancient of elders had crossed; I myself had always been a homebody, content with the occasional short foray out into space, never going far enough that my native sun was not clearly larger and brighter than the other stars.  And so, perhaps foolishly, I used the narrative as justification for my decision to remain on this world, to root and spawn here and never face the dangers of the vast unknown which swallows up so many wanderers before they find a place to call home.  If this world was so beautiful and clement that it had won the loyalty of so courageous an explorer, so perfect that it stood out among multitudes, what were the chances I would find its like before being lost forever or destroyed by one of the countless dangers of deep space?  Very low, I thought, and so I lingered there, learning all I could from that elder and many others, conversing with visitors and reaching outward with my mind to hear the faint songs of other spheres echoing against our shores from across the fathomless void.  Eventually my teacher passed again into hibernation, and I set out to find the perfect spot in which to spend the rest of my years.

I was not in a hurry; I flew slowly from pole to pole, lazily taking in the terrain below, until at long last I had returned to the place where the ancient one slept.  And then I carefully considered my observations, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each memorable locale, until I at last decided upon the one in which I still reside all these long ages later.  At that time I was alone here, and the nearest other was at the outer limit of comfortable communication; all who reside in the area now are my descendants, except for a few who settled from elsewhere.  I have hibernated so many times I long ago lost count; after one of those, perhaps thirty or forty million years ago, I awoke to the news that my ancient teacher was gone, drowned mercifully in sleep when that land had been swallowed up by the sea in a mighty earthquake.  Some say that I am now the eldest resident of this world, and I can well believe that is so; it has been a very long time since I conversed with anyone who can recall the time before I rooted, nor even received word of any others of my season who still reside elsewhere.  Even beings as long-lived as ourselves must eventually succumb to misfortune as my teacher did; given long enough, even the most unlikely event becomes a certainty.  And though my aversion to risk has kept me alive far longer than most, my time also must come at last.

I do not believe it will be a great deal longer; though worlds and suns are considerably longer-lived than we, they too must eventually perish in the fullness of time.  The conditions on this once-perfect world are no longer what they were; it has grown distinctly hotter and drier, and my raiment, matching the sun, is far redder than the images in my oldest recollections.  The population has aged remarkably, and no young have sprouted here in a very long time; the only mobile individuals are the occasional visitors from elsewhere, and even many of the younger adults have undertaken the monumental task of de-rooting and shedding enough mass to undertake the migration to some younger orb.  But I shall not be joining them; I am far too tired, far too massive, and far too feeble to even contemplate such a tremendous effort, and my roots are so inextricably intertwined with the soil not even I can guess how far they go.  I sprouted on this world, and came of age here, and spawned here, and grew old along with it, and I am content to perish with it as well; as the songs and stories and teachings of the ancient one have lived in me far beyond the physical existence of their source, so will mine live on in countless students long after I myself am gone.  At long last I will explore the great unknown I have shunned since my youth; after ages of daylight and an eon of twilight, I am no longer afraid to face the dark.

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A while back my friend Allena Gabosch asked me to write an essay for a new collection called Sex Positive Now, and a few days ago I received a press release for the book with the request that I share it.  So without further ado:

Allena Gabosch and Jeremy Shub have written Sex Positive Now , a book about sex-positivity.  The book contains essays and interviews by and with sex positive celebrities, activists and educators along with additional content written by Allena and Jeremy.  The book covers topics including the History of Sex-Positive Culture , Sex Negativity, Cultural Taboos about Porn and Sex Work, Health and Emotions, Intimacy, Relationships, Polyamory, Kink, Tantra/Sacred/Taoism, Consent, and Community.  Our goal is to support the change of cultural norms around sexuality and relationships so people have the freedom and permission to be the sexual beings they already are.  Pleasure and joy are vital to our wellbeing and sexual shame is a thing of the past.  People are celebrated for their sexuality, gender, who or how they love.  Consensual sexuality in all of its forms is healthy and life affirming.  People can make conscious choices about their sexuality and relationships.  A few of our 55 contributors include Annie Sprinkle, Janet Hardy, Race Bannon, Susie Bright, Buck Angel and Cunning Minx.  If you want to review and promote the book, free ebooks will be available for review.  You can purchase the book at sexpositivenow.com and the book launch will be in Melbourne and Seattle on 28th Oct.

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Peak Relationship

The idea that sex is some sort of magic, holy sacrament despite the fact that all but the simplest life forms engage in it is a perfect example of how delusional humans can be.  Though sex is a powerful drive, so is hunger, and I don’t see anyone claiming that eating with someone else creates some magical bond between them.  I honestly feel sorry for those who truly believe that the best way to “connect” with other people is by boinking them, and the notion that people must boink to feel “connected” is a tragedy.  Sexual relationships are held up as the pinnacle of human interaction, but they’re not even close; they’re in fact nearer the bottom because they’re extremely conditional.  The true pinnacle of human interaction is intimate friendship; it persists under conditions that destroy “romances”, lasts much longer on average, and is an incredibly powerful connection despite governmental attempts to place other relationships (including sexual & familial ones and even the one-sided “relationship” between individual & State) above it.  Friendship is the most powerful kind of love in the world, which is why government constantly tries to weaken it; it persists despite the fact that, unlike practically every other relationship between two people, it has absolutely no legal status.  Other relationships require government to prop them up; friendship is the only one which is able to stand completely on its own.

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One of the bizarre contradictions of modern American society is that at a time when consent has been raised practically to the level of a fetish, complete with various sects of authoritarians declaring themselves the absolute arbiters on what constitutes “true” consent and what doesn’t, many of the same people who would absolutely have a cow if some private citizen slightly smudged a consent-line in some minor fashion have absolutely no issue with government operatives trampling all over consent in the most horrifying ways imaginable.  The same politicians (and their lackeys and followers) who bloviate about “revenge porn“, align themselves with “Me Too” and posture performatively every time a non-cop accused of rape is found not guilty after a trial, suddenly lose their concern for individual consent when it’s government operatives violating it via spying, groping, assault, robbery, rape, abduction or even murder; when confronted with this contradiction they’ll nearly always vomit out nonsense about a “social contract”, as though consent were something which could be granted for individuals by some collective, possibly even a collective with no living members.

A large part of the problem is that while we see lots of explanations of consent like the one above, nobody dares to explain to kids that just because an adult has a costume on or is called an “authority” doesn’t give them the right to ignore your consent.  Not even if they call it “punishment” or a “search”, or say you need it to get on an airplane or enter a building.  People are always wringing their hands about how many cops, teachers, clergy, etc molest or even rape kids & teenagers, yet they never consider that the root cause of these violations is that they’ve drummed it into those kids’ heads that “authorities” must be obeyed and have various excuses to touch or hurt those kids without their consent, simply by giving the abuse some fancy name like “discipline”, “arrest” or, worst of all, the innocuous-sounding “search”.  Nobody has the right to violate their consent, and they owe nobody unquestioned obedience.  And until we start teaching that, we’re never going to see an end to the nauseating parade of “authorities” groping, molesting and raping society’s most vulnerable members while the adults who should be protecting them utter pious platitudes about “security”, “obedience”, and “law”.

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I’ll be so glad when the current incarnation of the Cult of the Child ends.  After almost 40 years of mass cultural child-worship I’m so sick of it I want to puke.  This isn’t the first time Western society has been obsessed with the bizarre belief that “children” (which doesn’t only mean actual children, but also biological adults the law defines as “children”) are spiritually “pure” and asexual, while simultaneously being blank slates for “socialization” to write upon, and yet magically wise, so that any stupid opinions they vomit out of their ignorant, inexperienced heads come straight from the gods.  The Victorians were also obsessed with this mawkish nonsense, and it made several other short-lived appearances in overcivilized cultures over the previous millennia.

In the current incarnation of this perennial madness, “children” are held to have no legal rights, yet at the same time to be prophets no one is allowed to criticize.  “Children” are adored like cultic icons, and their ignorant opinions (contaminated by adolescent hormonal emotions and uncontaminated by anything like advanced study of whatever the opined-upon topic might be) held to be above criticism, yet they are denied even the most basic freedoms enjoyed by “children” or young adults in every other culture, past or present.  Teens have fewer rights than active-duty military, yet their immature fantasies about how the world works (or “should” work) are revered like the utterances of sibyls and there’s even talk of giving them the right to vote (while denying them the ability to consent to sex, drink, or even do a lot of the basic things adults take for granted).  It’s typical self-contradictory religious madness.

The point of society is to prepare children for their future lives as adults; it is not to artificially “protect” them from reality by shielding them from anything that might upset them and congratulating them for accomplishments they should’ve mastered at half their current age, nor to coddle them by pretending their immature notions are actually deep and mature thoughts.  And it certainly isn’t to keep them stunted and trapped in an artificially-extended childhood like china dolls in a display case, nor to limit the rights of adults to those appropriate for people who still believe that supersonic flying reindeer are a reasonable concept.

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