“…you may be the next scapegoat.”

“Corey Anton: The True Believer (Eric Hoffer)”:

Eric Hoffer’s words remain extremely relevant.

“2015 Personality Lecture 12: Existentialism: Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard”

A very interesting lecture from Dr. Jordan Peterson:

One critique of the Political “Right” and its fascist potential (part 3 of my inquiry into “Leftists” vs. “Rightists”)

In continuing my look into the American Political “Left” vs. “Right” concern, today I’m offering up an excerpt from Chris Hedges’ book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2006), in which at the beginning he includes a segment written by Umberto Eco titled “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt”:

In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.

.    .    .

1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition. Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but it was born in the Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages—in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia.

This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, “the combination of different forms of belief or practice;” such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth.

As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.

If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine, who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge—that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.

2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism. Both Fascists and Nazis worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon blood and earth (Blut under Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.

3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake. Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering’s fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play (“When I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun”) to the frequent use of such expressions as “degenerate intellectuals,” “eggheads,” “effete snobs,” and “universities are nests of reds.” The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.

4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.

5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity. Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.

6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration. That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old “proletarians” are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.

7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is to appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.

8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies. When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.

9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle. Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. Thus, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such “final solutions” implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.

10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak. Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.

11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero. In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la Muerte (“Long Live Death!”). In nonfascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.

12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons—doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.

13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirely have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view—one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of humans can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.

Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against “rotten” parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.

14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.

.    .    .

Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances—every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt’s worlds of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: “If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.” Freedom and liberation are an unending task.

[All emphases his, both the bolding and the italics.]

That was basically included as a forward in this book by Chris Hedges that goes on to critique the Christian Right and how it’s manipulating American citizens, most notably those within the working class since they feel especially disenfranchised at this point in history. And this new Christian Right movement is nowadays being headed and/or funded by major corporate entities and the wealthy families who derive wealth through them and who also tend to be very well politically-connected. That all matters and is a huge concern worthy of examination, no question.

First reading this book by Hedges probably back around 2008 or 2009, but now re-skimming it for blogging purposes, I have to say that the excerpt I transcribed above does give me pause, because I can clearly see how it presents a “Leftist” slant in its attempt to critique those considered supportive of the Political “Right.” So that presentation bias hasn’t escaped me here. Especially #13 where I must wonder what Mr. Eco expects people to do when we are in fact confronting the reality of a corrupted parliament that does not adequately represent the voices of many of us out here. How are we to engage in the public discourse if our concerns in that arena are viewed as evidence of us being “fascists” in our own right?

That right there leads me to question what isn’t fascism by this stage in the game. Because by that man’s estimate, we’re all potential fascists, and then the word winds up losing its meaning. According to that author, the traditionalists and anyone who could be said to belong to some sort of “cultish” group are all fascists, as are those who are critical of the so-called “liberal intelligentsia” and the current state of our political system. Hmm…  I don’t like that. That’s far too ambiguous to do us much good here. Plus, it gives the impression that the “liberal intelligentsia” nor our politicians are truly deserving of serious scrutiny, when surely that can’t be what the author had in mind. It’s almost as if that assumes that fascism is a “Rightist” phenomenon specifically, whereas I see this trend occurring in both the Political “Right” and “Left.” Neither can claim a monopoly on this tendency.

A deeper question is what isn’t fascistic in this day and age. What could counter fascism; what are its real alternatives?

I’d like to eventually provide more excerpts from Chris Hedges’ book when I feel up to it, because he later on does make some good points that help illuminate the “Right’s” version of this phenomenon. My view has become that both the Political “Right” and “Left” actually share a great deal in common, at least in terms of both supporting the rise of Corporatism and in creating a political atmosphere in this country where ongoing warfare is tolerated and deemed necessary to bolster our own economy. Plus, they share in their desire to engage in what we can refer to as our “culture war” where both sides like to believe they will eventually dominate and subdue those who disagree with their own ideals and preferences. It promises to be an ongoing affair due to irreconcilable differences, though neither side seems interested in accepting this is indeed the fate they’re pushing for.

How does a “culture war” like what we have in the U.S. ever come to an end? What would it take? Would one side have to criminalize and possibly even eradicate the other for it to claim to have won? That presses us eerily closer to the notion of genocide if either side gained enough political power, though I do not think what’s on the horizon will simply be a repeat of what came before back in the WWII era. I doubt this will devolve into trench warfare or even a bonafide civil war — no, I get the impression that this time around technologies will be employed in much more subtle ways that allows for plausible deniability on the part of the offending political camp in question. That might sound odd to some, but that’s where my imagination has been taking me over the last few years. And I personally assume that it will likely be the Political “Left” that winds up “winning out” in this domestic battle, because they hold claim to being more “progressive” than their “traditional” foes, the former holding a great deal more appeal to people of today.

But I’ll keep unraveling my thoughts on this as time goes on.

“There is NO HONOR in this shit!” . . .

“Let Your Life Be a Friction to Stop the Machine”:

A very worthwhile video I recommend to all, most especially my fellow Americans.

A comment was left on the video’s comment section if anyone cares for my elaboration on the topic.

Thanks to Janet (known on YT as Janet OntheSpot) for bringing this channel to my attention through her feed.

On why we create enemies and victims — an excerpt from the book “Escape From Evil”

Tonight I decided to read a portion of Ernest Becker’s book Escape From Evil (1975), and I will now transcribe that portion (since the audio quality didn’t turn out too good and I won’t claim to be great at reading aloud). Beginning on page 114 under the section titled “The Science of Man after Hitler”:

Burke recognized that guilt and expiation were fundamental categories of sociological explanation, and he proposed a simple formula: guilt must be canceled in society, and it is absolved by “victimage.” So universal and regular is the dynamic that Burke wondered “whether human society could possibly cohere without symbolic victims which the individual members of the group share in common.” He saw “the civic enactment of redemption through the sacrificial victim” as the center of man’s social motivation.32

Burke was led to the central idea of victimage and redemption through Greek tragedy and Christianity; he saw that this fundamentally religious notion is a basic characteristic of any social order. Again we are brought back to our initial point that all culture is in essence sacred—supernatural, as Rank put it. The miraculousness of creation is after all magnified in social life; it is contained in persons and given color, form, drama. The natural mystery of birth, growth, consciousness, and death is taken over by society; and as Duncan so well says, this interweaving of social form and natural terror becomes an inextricable mystification; the individual can only gape in awe and guilt.33 The religious guilt, then, is also a characteristic of so-called secular societies; and anyone who would lead a society must provide for some form of sacred absolution, regardless of the particular historical disguise that this absolution may wear. Otherwise society is not possible. In Burke’s generation it was above all Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini who understood this and acted on it.

If there is one thing that the tragic wars of our time have taught us, it is that the enemy has a ritual role to play, by means of which evil is redeemed. All “wars are conducted as ‘holy’ wars”34 in a double sense then—as a revelation of fate, a testing of divine favor, and as a means of purging evil from the world at the same time. This explains why we are dedicated to war precisely in its most horrifying aspects: it is a passion of human purgation. Nietzsche observed that “whoever is dissatisfied with himself is always ready to revenge himself therefore; we others will be his victims. . . .”35  But the irony is that men are always dissatisfied and guilty in small and large ways, and this is what drives them to a search for purity where all dissatisfaction can come to a head and be wiped away. Men try to qualify for eternalization by being clean and by cleansing the world around them of the evil, the dirty; in this way they show that they are on the side of purity, even if they themselves are impure. The striving for perfection reflects man’s effort to get some human grip on his eligibility for immortality. And he can only know if he is good if the authorities tell him so; this is why it is so vital for him emotionally to know whether he is liked or disliked, why he will do anything the group wants in order to meet its standards of “good”: his eternal life depends on it.36 Good and bad relate to strength and weakness, to self-perpetuation, to indefinite duration. And so we can understand that all ideology, as Rank said, is about one’s qualification for eternity; and so are all disputes about who really is dirty. The target of one’s righteous hatred is always called “dirt”; in our day the short-hairs call the long-hairs “filthy” and are called in turn “pigs.” Since everyone feels dissatisfied with himself (dirty), victimage is a universal human need. And the highest heroism is the stamping out of those who are tainted. The logic is terrifying. The psychoanalytic grouping of guilt, anality, and sadism is translatable in this way to the highest levels of human striving and to the age-old problem of good and evil.

From which we have to conclude that men have been the midwives of horror on this planet because this horror alone gave them peace of mind, made them “right” with the world. No wonder Nietzsche would talk about “the disease called man.”37 It seems perverse when we put it so blatantly, yet here is an animal who needs the spectacle of death in order to open himself to love. As Duncan put it:

. . . as we wound and kill our enemy in the field and slaughter his women and children in their homes, our love for each other deepens. We become comrades in arms; our hatred of each other is being purged in the sufferings of our enemy.38

And even more relentlessly:

We need to socialize in hate and death, as well as in joy and love. We do not know how to have friends without, at the same time, creating victims whom we must wound, torture, and kill. Our love rests on hate.39

If we talk again and shockingly about human baseness, it is not out of cynicism; it is only to better get some kind of factual purchase on our fate. We follow Freud in the belief that it is only illusions that we have to fear; and we follow Hardy—in our epigraph to this book—in holding that we have to take a full look at the worst in order to begin to get rid of illusion. Realism, even brutal, is not cynicism. As Duncan so passionately concluded his Nietzschean and Dostoevskian exposition of the terrifying dynamics of purity and love “. . . we cannot become humane until we understand our need to visit suffering and death on others . . . The sociology of our time must begin in [such an] anguished awareness . . .”40  It has already begun in the work of Burke, Duncan, Mumford, and Lifton; but its theoretical formulations were already plentifully contained in the neglected work of Rank. From the point of view of such a sociology, the great scientific problems of our time have been the successful and grand social cohesions, especially of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Burke and Duncan have amply described the religious horror drama of Germany under Hitler, where the dirty and evil Jews were purged from the world of Aryan purity by the Nazi priesthood.41  […]

Leaving off there and then picking back up on page 118:

It took Stalin’s purge trials to show us that the highest humanistic ideals of socialist revolutionaries also have to be played out in a religious drama of victimage and redemption—if one is to have a pure and cohesive socialist society at all.42 The Russians exiled religious expiation but could not exile their own human nature, and so they had to conjure up a secular caricature of religious expiation. And they are still doing it: the magician-priests who give absolution to the clean communist masses now wear the white coats of hospital psychiatrists who transform dirty dissident victims with the latest techniques of “secular” science. It is grotesque, but Burke had warned us to always watch for the “secular equivalents” of the theological formula of victimage and redemption; the scapegoat is not a ” ‘necessary illusion’ of savages, children, and the masses,”43 but now an achievement of the “most advanced” socialist society.

[Italicized emphases his. Bold mine.]

That’s what I decided to read aloud today, though I don’t know how well it will be understood without first reading his arguments and explanations leading up to that portion, but I thought it could stand alone on its own and at least perhaps entice others to consider reading the entire book for themselves. Click to read another excerpt posted from this book.

Thanks to the books of Ernest Becker and his frequent mentioning of the Austrian psychoanalyst Otto Rank, I recently decided to purchase one of the latter’s books titled Beyond Psychology and look forward to delving into it in due time.

For further reading on these and related subjects, you may want to look into Ernest Becker’s book The Denial of Death (considered a companion book to this one — see excerpts 1, 2, 3 and 4) and works produced by the psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (which I’ve also transcribed bits of on here and intend to do more in the future).

Videos from StormCloudsGathering on the American (and global) future

When Will The Economy Collapse?”:

“The Road to World War 3”:

“World War 3 Has Already Begun”:

Revolution: An Instruction Manual”:

So You Want to Topple the U.S. Government?”:

That last one was especially important, because the government is poised and ready for anyone who wants to flip off and get froggy. And this man’s right, most of the public will back the government and will have the impression that you’re a danger to the rest. In fact, violent revolts at this point in time will be spun to further suit the government’s purposes by fear-mongering the public into thinking they’re under siege by radicals and need to be protected by the government. That amounts to offering yourself up to be used and scapegoated by the State to further its own corrupt agenda.

Police & Military – Time to Choose”:

“The Declaration of Natural Rights”:

The REAL Purpose of the 2nd Amendment – The Ultimate Critique of Gun Control”:

America, Flirting with the Dark Side of History”:

The Death Throes of the United States”:

After America Collapses – Part II – The Constitution in Perspective”:

Those are some of the videos I’ve watched from that channel thus far, and I greatly respect the message he’s putting across there. Haven’t watched all of his videos and so can’t comment on the content in others. But these I particularly found valuable and wanted to share.

“Where is the world heading?”

Food for thought:

“In the age of Snowden, humanity is now redefined. We are not citizens, we are subjects to be monitored. We are not humans beings, we are resources…”

CHistrue’s video “Remaining Human in the Age of Snowden Part I”:

“Remaining Human in the Age of Snowden Part 2”:

“Remaining Human in the Age of Snowden Part 3”:

“Cover-ups in Modern History”:

Love this man’s channel. CHistrue is also on Google+. (Looks like his videos currently have embedding disabled, so click on the links to watch them on YT.)

Getting rid of government will not make us free

This video irritates me. Already commented a bunch on its comment thread, but will post the rest of my thoughts here in my own sandbox.

Now 23 minutes in, and I gotta say, while I do appreciate Stefan’s critique of the State, his love of capitalism is blinding him to the truth about corporate power. Politicians are heavily influenced by big industries, especially those companies that financially contribute to their campaigns or who employ them once their terms end. To state that it is politicians responsible for what’s going on and though plenty of businesses benefit and deliberately influence politicians to sway them more in their favor, corporations deserve no real blame because they are only behaving as any of us would — that logic is fucking me up. Politicians are behaving in their own greedy interests and corporate swindlers behave in the financial interests of themselves and the corporations they belong to, yet one is a travesty and the other is deemed perfectly rational and to be expected. Huh.

Well, here on the ground it looks an awful lot like the same damn thing. That’s how it winds up affecting people anyway. Are we then to assume if no corporations were there to buy politicians’ favors that politicians would then behave more cooperatively and cater more to their constituents’ interests? What has history shown us? The answer is “not likely” or at least not for long.  The problem here ultimately doesn’t boil down to the government or corporations but rather to power. POWER. It corrupts, and it’s centralizing all over the place. Meaning average people are losing it and those already claiming a great deal of power are consolidating it and grabbing for more. It doesn’t make much of a difference whether those individuals are directly paid by the government or some mammoth organization hobnobbing with major players within the government — the results wind up sucking.

What gets me about Stefan’s argument is that he seems to think corporations will play by some fairer guidelines if the government were removed from the equation. I’ve listened to him talk in other videos about how instead of courts, people and corporations they do business with could settle disputes through some sort of arbiter or mediator. Okay, now tell me how that differs tremendously from what law enforcement and the courts are supposed to be responsible for already, then explain how we think:

  1. the people will be able to maintain equal power in such an arbitration scenario, especially if the people lack money and arbitration services are provided by the very corporation involved in the dispute (because otherwise it would have to come from some outside entity with binding power to enforce the ruling, which again sounds an awful lot like government — if it were perhaps some sort of non-profit or committee what would keep it too from being influenced and swayed by corporations just as they currently are manipulating politicians?);
  2. any rulings against the corporation in question might be enforced if sanctions are no longer possible (thanks to doing away with the State) and forceful rebuts are disallowed;
  3. people will be able to stop corporations from purchasing up countless other companies and forming oligopolies that undermine and destroy free market values;
  4. people will be able to stop corporations from forming alliances and purchasing what essentially amounts to private security forces that may prove violent in protecting and upholding the interests of major corporations (presumably only a small faction of the general population would be able to buy in for such protection themselves, leaving many without protection—that’s what privatizing these services will amount to—and who or what could stop them?).

If corporations wind up being the only game in town, I imagine the situation will remain just as corrupt as it is already, if not more so. To admit that big-dog businessmen tend to be scoundrels and to acknowledge they are employed within amoral organizations driven mostly by relatively short-term profit motives, and to ALSO note that some of these corporations have grown to mammoth scale and gone global to where they no longer are shackled to what any one populace wants or needs (nor do they have an incentive to provide real value or quality, only what will sell), how the hell do we think that setup by itself will amount to anything better than our defunct government has managed?

Why would we choose to put on blinders when it comes to corporations and the active rise of the Corporate State? If government was out of the picture that would mean complete deregulation for them and virtually no protections in place for the rest of us. I just don’t see how that isn’t the 2.0 version of what’s wrong already. We’ll be at their mercy even more than we are already, especially in a society where ALL forms of violence is disallowed (however that would be enforced). Do people really think they wouldn’t hire out security to protect their businesses from protestors? And do you really think those people will follow the non-aggression principle in doing so? Yeah right. That doesn’t sound like any human society we’ve ever witnessed. Ever.

And yet this scheme will all somehow magically be maintained by the very people who’ve dropped the ball at this sort of shit all up through history: us. Ha!  Yeah, right. Most people today don’t even care to vote, yet we think we’ll all come around and take our responsibilities seriously and carry out our civic duties and become wiser consumers and work with banks and corporations to create a truly equitable situation? Sounds like a pipe dream to me. Rather, as keeps happening, people will get lazy and will seek out shortcuts and conveniences, and corporations will offer them, and we’ll collectively wind up sucked into something stupid to the point of being tragic in short order.

First off, what ground do we common people think we have to stand on? We don’t produce nearly anything for ourselves anymore. We’re completely dependent on corporate goods and services, without which our lives would look very different and most would scream in horror and beg for a return to comfortable living. That genie’s out of the bottle, folks. And even if we wished to return to more productive lifestyles where we grow much of our own food and utilize the land to provide for our own needs as individuals, families, and small communities, how would people go about it when most of the land is owned by banks or corporations? We average people don’t own much, not outright, no we don’t.

So it looks like we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Dissolve the government and this will likely only yield a longer leash to major corporations. Try placing corporations back under charters and they’ll likely high-tail it overseas, leaving millions job-less. People won’t settle for that. The truth is we depend an incredible amount of these major corporations, whether we want to or not, yet it’s been proving nearly impossible to restrict them through the use of government regulations since corporate cronies have infiltrated the government. Take away the government and you’ve just made it easier on major corporations (probably a mixed blessing for smaller corporations though). We haven’t exercised our power as consumers so far in a way that’s reined in corporate power and bent it to our will, and that trend doesn’t appear to be changing much. They provide and we buy what’s available. To live in modern times, we must. Look at our lifestyles, look around our own homes and take note of the countless corporations involved in creating our environments. It’s what we’ve grown up with and it’s all we know. We have become domesticated, spoiled on air-conditioning, fast food, and any number of conveniences.

This is where we stand, whether we like it or not. Call me a pessimist, but I’m not convinced anything short of a return to smaller communities that largely provide for themselves and are able to claim ownership of their land and property and defend it as they need to will result in real progress. All else appears to be an avenue to bullshit 2.0. And yet I acknowledge my own dream remains a pipe dream too.

But positions like that taken by Stefan are what has turned me off to what’s calling itself libertarianism these days. They might not realize it, but they’re catering to neoconservative ideology, because that’s who they’re plowing the way for primarily. They’re following nearly the same gameplan: to deregulate corporations, to privatize everything under the sun, and to paint for the public this illusion that such actions will open us up to some capitalistic, “free market” paradise.

Don’t buy into illusions, examine the realities. Read back on capitalism in its earliest stages and observe how incredibly human-unfriendly the system was. Improvements came about through what? That’s right, government intervention. To learn more about the enormous power corporations can and do wield in our nation and most especially in less powerful nations, read Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. It’s a very informative book that’s very carefully sourced (further info available on her website) for those interested in doing further research.

I’m not here to defend our government, ’cause lord knows it’s become a giant mess that needs to be overhauled in a serious way (beginning with impeaching at least 75% of Congress, IMHO), but I’m also not here to pretend corporations offer a better way, certainly not as they stand now. No, I’m critical of both ends in this equation and can’t bring myself to feel chummy with either one. Because both are about centralizing power, concentrated in their hands and not ours. The truth seems to be that neither give much of a damn about most of us — the government is supposed to give a shit and oftentimes doesn’t, but corporations are expressly in the business of giving a shit only when and where they stand to profit, period. Giving either side full rein is a mistake, and letting them fuse together to reign in an increasingly fascistic manner is a bad idea too. Looks like we’re faced with two crappy scenarios, and one is pretty much guaranteed to win out.

And perhaps after people are crushed under this next phase in the history of civilization we’ll snap out of it and realize where our docility and love of comfortable living is allowing us to be led once again. Or maybe not. My gut says probably not.

[Edited for typos 11/10/2013]

People vs. the State vs. Major Corporations — What might the future hold in store for Americans?

“Is Government Inherently Immoral? Stefan Molyneux debates Tom Willcutts”:

Having watched this clip once already with plans to run through it a 2nd time, I have a number of thoughts to share at this time. While I’ve enjoyed several of Stefan’s videos on topics pertaining to childhood development, in this conversation I lean closer to Tom Willcutts’ views and will try to explain why.

Never completely understood the anarchist position despite trying many times in the past. They basically wish to abolish or somehow completely undermine and make obsolete any form of government, starting with the present one. And what seems to confuse people who do not identify as anarchists is that the message put forward typically says little about what will happen next. As in doing away with government being one step in a process, but then what? In the above debate, Stefan does attempt to address what he believes will occur, arguing that the “free market” could run and provide much of what’s currently being controlled by Government. The common Libertarian stance, or, more accurately, what I’ve come to plainly refer to as the neoconservative stance.

I’ve explored the Libertarian Party and libertarian political ideology for more than a decade now, giving up on the LP when Bob Barr was nominated as its presidential candidate in 2008. What I saw clearly happening throughout the G.W. Bush administration was that “Libertarianism” became all the rage, associated with everyone from Ron Paul to this country’s founding fathers to members of Bush’s Cabinet. Suddenly everyone wanted to identify as a libertarian of some sort. That’s all fine and good, except that the message being loudly promoted became one of “neoclassical” economic theory popularized by the teachers within the University of Chicago’s School of Economics (e.g., Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, etc.), which originally was informed by positions put forth by the Austrian School of Economics. My familiarity with Austrian School economics isn’t extensive, but I remain relatively open-minded to the debated ideas stemming from that camp.

It’s the Chicago School of Economics that I take greatest issue with, having learned enough about it to smell the rats involved. Milton Friedman was an egoist possessing little empathy, and his teachings reflected that in their calculating manner. He was part of the social engineering project, whether he clearly understood that or not (though I believe he did, as evidenced by his involvement in helping shape U.S. foreign policy in ways detrimental to countless persons living in countries in South and Central America — read Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism to learn more). What I personally witnessed around me was a growing number of people coming to parrot that neoconservative language taught by people like Friedman that political insiders and prominent businessmen in the 1980s onward repeatedly appealed to.

(Quickly, let me also say this: call it “neoliberal” or “neoconservative,” it doesn’t really matter much since both labels point to what essentially amounts to the same movement, confusing as that is. Apparently we in the U.S. refer to it mostly as “neoconservative” because of its militaristic approach, whereas outside of our borders “neoliberal” is the term used when the IMF and World Bank impose their new-age form of economic colonization. Language confusion certainly doesn’t help when people are first aiming to learn about these topics, but for whatever reasons that’s how it currently stands. To see a more detailed breakdown, check out this link.)

So taking this whole trend into consideration, which has been moving in this direction for several decades already within academe and political circles, now expanding into the American mainstream, we see a number of Friedmanite utopians running about today preaching the gospel of this version of the “free market.” The problem with this is the naivete involved, as if the corporate world were some sort of godsend intended to replace all forms of government for the betterment of humankind. But that is a fantasy narrative being peddled to members of the public severely disenchanted with our government’s shenanigans. Please make no mistake: I too am extremely disenchanted with my government and what it has devolved into throughout the 20th century. Americans have lost the reins and have a monster now in our midst that aims to control so much of what we do and how we do it, to the point of diminishing our quality of life. But the thing is that major corporate players have been involved and intermingled from day one in what’s become of the U.S. Government. Politicians apparently tend to be be very weak-minded and status-driven individuals who respond when money talks. Major corporations have played within markets and political spheres all across the globe for as long as they’ve been in existence.

The United States declared its independence the very same year that Adam Smith published his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Adam Smith was considered one of the key pioneers of political economy, which for him spun off from his studies of moral philosophy, so we need to understand that economics as we think of it today was in its fledgling phase when our country was being formally founded. Or, more accurately, being wrestled out from under the control of Great Britain through engaging in the Revolutionary War, which lasted until 1783. While corporations technically have a lengthy history dating way back, what we think of as modern corporations got their start beginning in the late 1700s as well. While the United States was expanding its territories and figuring out how to manage this brand-new form of government, corporations continued ‘evolving’ over in Europe (as well as in the U.S., though stricter regulation existed in the 19th century to limit how corporations could be used, taking into consideration the ‘public good’). So we see our government coming into being alongside this evolving notion of corporations, and that’s very important because it wasn’t long before these entities came to increasingly intermingle and dramatically affect one another.

I’m not a historian and won’t pretend to be one, but these are thoughts that run through my mind when pondering what’s happened to peoples in the U.S. and abroad in modern times. Understand that history is absolutely relevant when any economic theory’s merits are being discussed. I personally need to ponder from the historical vantage point, to the best I’m able to understand times so long ago, because otherwise it’s too easy to take things for granted, as if it couldn’t be another way. People express that attitude all the time, as if nothing that came before matters today. We seem to think modern times sprang from a vacuum, as if the social realm is inconsequential compared against anything that can be measured and empirically observed and calculated. And that right there is a big part of the problem I take with neoconservative economics — dubbed as the “rationalist” approach.

“Rational.” I’m growing to dislike that word because of how it’s used to dismiss that which can’t so easily be broken down into technical language and then quantified, which is what various schools of economics aim to do today, economics no longer being viewed as a social discipline (which it is). Anything predicated on human behavior and choices will be fickle business — unless, I guess, if it were possible to determine human behavior and shape people’s choices. Sound familiar? It should, because that’s what advertising and marketing has aimed for for nearly a century.

This issue is so much bigger than corporate power on its own precisely because our government has gone along with the schemes hatched by the business world. They’ve been attached at the hip for a long time already (though government has dropped the ball in regulating businesses in the 20th century, a task our government wasn’t originally set up to do and that few Americans can agree on how or if it’s even proper for lawmakers to attempt to do), and what this has done is it’s allowed select corporations to grow to never-before-seen size and scope and for the few largest to corner markets in the most important and popular sectors. What we eat comes from major corporations. How we farm today is decided by major corporations. As is where we shop and what is available for us to buy, and to a sad extent what we’ve come to value (as well as devalue). Heck, not even water is off-limits when it comes to corporate control. Government has allowed this to occur, but that genie is out of the bottle today and flexing its power across the globe, especially in poorer countries where governments easily cave to financial incentives.

People sometimes argue that if government were removed from the equation, we could contend with corporations directly. Well, we could contend with corporations right now, yet so few of us seem interested in doing so. Many (if not most) people are relatively content so long as they have a job and a home and tasty foods to eat and several creature comforts and toys. This topic goes back to my thoughts on human domestication, which I haven’t fully laid out a position on (not even sure that I’m capable of doing so just yet), though a couple of my videos broached a couple angles to that topic. So when talk begins about how we’ll simply do away with government, which is intended to be an organization controlled by the people, and on our own confront corporate power (that few people seem interested in taking on in a serious way, especially if it will result in them having to make major sacrifices, and it will), I have to wonder how we think we might accomplish this.

The libertarian, anarchist position put forth by a few people I’ve watched debate argue in favor of some sort of corporate utopia where we the people vote with our dollars and boycott companies that violate what we deem sacred. In theory I love the idea, but when burdened by practical concerns I become very wary. What might’ve been a decent idea back a hundred years ago or before might not translate so well into this new age where we the people have become utterly dependent on the Corporate State to provide us with what we need and want, younger generations not having been taught the skills necessary to produce our own food or clothing or shelter. A further obstacle is in place now because corporations own most of the materials we’d even need to get started, meaning they ultimately determine the price we wind up paying for anything and everything (nevermind their “free market” big talk — if it came down to the citizenry seriously challenging the Corporate State, we’ll find out how shallow that lip service really is). Then there’s the issue of Americans working for these corporations, dependent on them for income. Then we have to look at the property rights problem, because undoubtedly corporations claim more land than we realize and will likely buy up whatever is abandoned by government (another concern is foreign citizens and companies buying up American agricultural land and houses at a substantially increasing rate in recent years).

In a nutshell, there’s a lot here to consider, so assuming that corporations will be easier managed (and hopefully dominated) once government is out of the picture doesn’t delve into the complexities of this situation. Government, at least theoretically, is intended to be bent to the will of the people. Corporations are intended to be bent to the will of the market, but once a few dominate the market and have already successfully done away with most small business competition, how are people now effectively planning to go up against them? Dollars are their currency, not necessarily ours, because they do the price setting and they also determine people’s wages. We may possess the labor and skills they seek, but corporations can also rather easily draw from labor pools all throughout the world, effectively undermining rebellion in any one particular country. This is what we’re up against. We lack an infrastructure that isn’t corporate-dependent, and their executives are well-aware of that. We the people lack a means of feeding ourselves, doctoring ourselves, and thanks to so many citizens’ passivity we probably no longer have access to the weaponry needed to stand a fair chance at defending ourselves.

People want to talk about militaries and private security forces, believing we the people will somehow be able to afford that as well, nevermind that corporations stand in a much better position to be able to afford such defense. And again, they can draw from foreign paramilitary pools that we Americans cannot access, which then could potentially gain a united front of corporations access to sophisticated weaponry. (Think: Israel.) People don’t want to hear this, and I’m sorry, but I am trying to be realistic. That doesn’t mean I favor the government, especially not as it stands now, but I happen to know that corporations aren’t in any way by their design intended to be concerned with what is actually in the public’s interest. They are profit-driven, first and foremost, and shareholders of publicly-traded companies have also lost control of the reins, leaving so much up to the whims and desires of the executives and fat cats hidden behind these legal fictions. Corporations are an economic vehicle, and without any regulations in place to limit them they will grow, expand, dominate, and suppress competition whenever able. Kings of the concrete jungle, you might say.

People like Stefan speak of arbitrators as if that will prove an effective alternative to the courts and juries of today. Much as our courts are screwed up and in serious need of an overhaul, hiring arbitration services won’t likely produce fairer results, especially not when corporations have the money to spend and we the people do not. They will form alliances with arbitrators and likely will come to decide for us, printed somewhere in their mountains of small print, which arbitrator will be used in the event of a dispute. You don’t want that, but how will you refuse if you remain in the situation as we do now where we are dependent on corporations for so much? Most people won’t be willing to accept unemployment as a condition of rebellion — keep that in mind, because they will become your snitching enemies, your competitors, they and various foreigners driven by desperation and/or blind desire for the “good life,” the so-called “American Dream.” Because of their support, the system will go on and will grow outside of the bounds of what we can imagine today (as scarily alluded to in the recording played back of Stefan’s vision of corporations cutting off people’s credit and bank access after being accused of a crime).  Don’t expect much pity from these people.

So what then is the solution? That’s a damn fine question. I do not know. How do we take on the corporate setup and bring it down to where it is manageable and answerable to the will of the public and its consumers? I believe this is where government can be worthwhile, depending on how diligently we manage it, which Americans have proven poor at thus far.

The question of whether government is inherently immoral troubles me. It nearly seems irrelevant when the bigger question is how to manage civilization. Because that’s apparently what people want, right, civilization? If so, a form of governance, however limited in scope and power, will prove necessary in order to allow this many people to all inhabit one geographical area in relative peace. Whether we like it or not, laws must be established, though I personally believe we have way too goddamn many and not enough that are clearly worded and of actual value to common persons. The rise of civilizations hasn’t wound us up to where we humans in general are rising up so much as a relative few have risen to extraordinary power that allows them (and the corporations they hide within) to exploit the many. The major difference between civilization today versus centuries ago is the incredible advancement in technological innovation and sophistication. That too is largely cornered and controlled by major corporations where not under the domain of universities and our government. In the absence of a government I believe it is naive to assume the government’s and universities’ share would be relinquished to the people. It would help to hear how people think they’d go about ensuring that did occur, because simply assuming and wishing and praying isn’t enough, not when major corporations wield as much power as they currently do.

This is an interesting topic, partly because it forces me to see the potential benefit in the role of government despite our failure at maintaining the project that’s been underway for over two centuries in this chunk of land staked off and named the U.S.A. It was a new idea and we did lose control over it, largely due to people being kept busy working and being easily seduced by the promise of easier living and being dazzled by the assorted offerings that have sprung into existence over the last 150 years (not to mention the propaganda generations have been raised up on via education curricula and media outlets), culminating in so many today being blinded by science to where they can’t see anything but technologies and petri dishes and mathematical concepts and statistics and other sorts of abstractions. We’re losing touch with reality, yet eagerly are chomping at the bit to refashion current reality into fitting some vague ideal claimed as capable of maximizing the “good” for the greatest number of people. A utilitarian’s paradise. Long on banter about technical in details, while short on appreciation for our social and psychological needs. This is what anarchism is showing me, and it disturbs me, because whether people like Stefan are able to understand this or not, they will play right into the hands of corporate power if they endeavor to go that direction without any institutional backing of their own.

There’s so much more that can be said on this topic, and I’d love to continue on, but I’ve tuckered myself out typing this at the moment and will have to leave it to be picked up another day.