Saturday, December 31, 2005

Outsiders and the Papa Rays


Socrates says in Plato's Apology: "The unexamined life is not worth living." But is the examined life worth living if one does little else? Below we'll look briefly at two 'outsiders' who examine life and who perhaps come to some conclusions of worth. More importantly, we'll look at those who are insiders on the outs, and we'll see what it means in terms of today's world and our collective future, the future of our modern revolutions, and our lives as revolutionaries.

Many years ago Colin Wilson made a splash writing a book called The Outsider, an unbearably post-adolescent book today, but one then that made the middle classes take notice of the banality of life unexamined by showing the lives of artists and thinkers who worked outside the mainstream of public opinion. Many of those writers and thinkers are today highly valued by our societies. In their times they were generally not highly valued. They were outsiders. We'll look at a couple of short reviews of Wilson's book to get an idea of what he wrote about.

Following Wilson we'll look at another book, translated from the French title L'Etranger, into The Outsider, a person estranged from society and himself, it seems. Or is it not so? Perhaps it's the rest of the world out of sorts. Camus won a Nobel Prize for literature writing this kind of thing.

Finally, our looking at those who write about outsiders brings us to those like our fellow blogger, a west Texan named Papa Ray. On the face of it, Papa Ray is not what one would call an outsider. He doesn't seem to live in a garret, doesn't murder old pawn broker ladies and their nieces with an axe, doesn't repeatedly shoot Arab men for no reason, isn't mooning about reciting poetry. No, Papa Ray seems to be a pretty solid middle class American who worked all of his life after a couple of tours in the army during the Viet Nam War, and now, retired, dotes on his grandchildren. It is our argument here that Papa Ray and those like him are outsiders, not part of the mainstream of Western culture. I tend to think something is wrong when men and women like Papa Ray and his compatriots are outsiders.
****

does not unerstand what he is saying
, April 27, 2005
Reviewer: oinker boinker "anti sellout" (USA) - See all my reviews
obviously colin wishing(but not being) that he was an outsider. he has know idea what he is talking about.

he also thinks he has a right to say what is indifferent in scociety and what isn't. the truth of the matter is that the reason someone is an outsider is that the magority of people think the minority is strange. and it makes the magority mad at the minority because the minority doesn't or likes that the magority is mad at them.

so unless you want a good laugh dont by this assuption built upon assumption.
****

The Outsider is the seminal work on alienation, creativity, and the modern mind-set. First published more than thirty years ago, it made its youthful author England's most controversial intellectual. The Outsider is an individual engaged in an intense self-exploration-a person who lives at the edge, challenges cultural values, and "stands for Truth." Born into a world without perspective, where others simply drift through life, the Outsider creates his own set of rules and lives them in an unsympathetic environment. The relative handful of people who fulfilled Wilson's definition of the Outsider in the 1950s have now become a significant social force, making Wilson's vision more relevant today than ever. Through the works and lives of various artists-including Kafka, Camus, Eliot, Hemingway, Hesse, Lawrence, Van Gogh, Nijinsky, Shaw, Blake, Nietzsche, and Dostoyevski-Wilson explores the psyche of the Outsider, his effect on society, and society's effect on him. Wilson illuminates the struggle of those who seek not only the transformation of Self but also the transformation of society as a whole. The book is essential for everyone who shares Wilson's conviction that "a new religion is needed." http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?endeca=1&isbn=0874772060
****

FIRST published in 1942 and translated into English in 1946, The Outsider (or The Stranger, as it is known in the less felicitous American translation) was a huge success and made a celebrity of its young and previously little known author.
The outsider quickly became a symbolic figure, a representative of all those who feel they do not fit into the mainstream of conventional society. He is at odds with, or in Meursault's case hardly aware of, the outrage he provokes in middle class society. He lives life not by the accepted norms of middle class society but by the truth of his own feelings and is not aware of anything but these. He is one stage before the rebel, Camus' next generic figure, in whom the rejection of society takes much more militant and conscious forms.

The Outsider is a fictional dramatisation of Camus' developing theory of the absurd, the idea that because human existence lacks any ontological (God given) order, and because it ends inevitably in death, it is inherently absurd. But if that absurdity is actively accepted and even embraced, the here and now takes on a new richness and sense of possibility. Meursault discovers not long before his execution that he has been intensely happy.

[....]

What Camus wants to create is a person whose entire existence lies in the present and in the physical. Meursault enjoys swimming, sex, smoking; he evokes sensuous pleasures - ``warm smells of summer, my favourite streets, the sky at evening, Marie's dresses and her laugh''. He is entirely unanalytical, immersed in the immediacy of the moment, and Camus wishes us to see in him a certain kind of innocence, even integrity that the rest of the world finds intolerable.

Camus has written that, ``In our society, any man who doesn't cry at his mother's funeral is liable to be condemned to death'', and also, of Meursault, ``Far from it being true that he lacks all sensibility, a deep tenacious passion animates him, a passion for the absolute and for truth.'' On this reading, he is a kind of hero whose rejection of hypocrisy, contempt for the pieties of religion, and insistence on following his own instincts, make him ``the only Christ we deserve'', according to his creator. This was how he was widely regarded when the book first appeared.

[....]

This passivity, this inability to make any sort of moral choice, seems harmless enough until we realise that life cannot be lived without the exercise of one's will; it simply becomes impossible. When Meursault tells his girlfriend he is willing to marry her but would marry anyone else in a similar situation, it is comic.

[....]

But the actual substance of Meursault's speech is not much more than that death renders all human life unimportant, and his final wish strikes a note of inappropriate bravado: ``For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained was to hope that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.''

Like most of Camus' fiction, The Outsider suffers from the weight imposed on it of Camus' philosophical speculations. But it remains a fascinating book, written in superbly lucid prose and capable of endless reinterpretation.
http://www.education.theage.com.au/ ****

Ray writes:

Retired, raised poor, enlisted in US Army at 18, two tours in Nam, worked for IBM for 29.5 years. knees shot, get to park in handicapped spaces. Worried now about the future for my Grandchildren. My Special Grand Child, Sarah Ann, the light of my life and reason for living. I also have three Grandsons, I worry that they will have to go and fight to destroy the forces in the world that would harm America and others just because they hate everyone who is not a "true believer" of Islam.
****

One thing Papa Ray and I share today is space outside the mainstream of Western thought and public opinion. Why is the West so dysfunctional that men like Papa Ray are outsiders?

Neil Postman writes of technology and information and education. He writes about Socrates. He writes about values. In a sense he writes about men like Ray. All the information on Earth isn't going to improve a man who loves his kids and grandchildren. It won't make him a better man if he has more and faster information from the Internet. Nor will it make the average dhimmi idiot a better person. If we don't have some basic values of worth to start with, more information isn't going to do us any good, not matter how much faster we can get it. When a man like Papa Ray is an outsider, then I question the worth of our society, and I find it wanting. When the mainstream is so polluted with filth and hatred and evil, and can't even bring themselves to listen to those terms without sneering at our unsophistication, then there is something very wrong with our mainstream. When a man like Ray is an outsider, then what kind of society do we have?

I look forward to this new year. I think there will be an increasing number of normal and decent people in the West who find themselves cast out of the mainstream, and I think they'll find themselves in the vast and growing majority, a majority with the power to say they've had enough of Left dhimmi fascism, enough of Presbyterian dhimmi pandering to Islamic murderers, enough shit poured down from on high, from out so-called mainstream; and I hope to be here next year to wish you all a happy New Year again, in a better world than ours is today.

We all here at the fortress wish you a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Governing Progerians

We argue here that everyone has the same inalienable Human rights, universally so, regardless of accidents of birth or class or what have you. Everyman is entitled by birth to live as a free man, free to own his own life as his own private property. All men have that right. But not all men are men: some are children.

Neil Postman argues that though children always exist, the concept of the state of childhood is a recent invention. He argues further that the concept of the state of childhood is disappearing. There is a blurring of the lines between childhood and adulthood, that adults are becoming childish and children are becoming old and cynical.

We have argued here many times that the West is becoming increasingly and more rapidly all the time infantalised by a neo-feudalist ethos of government control, of social activism, of Irrationality as philosophy. We have argued that the West is a giant kindergarten. Palestinians, for example, are the western world's darlings who are tended from birth to death by the U.N and NGOs too numerous to count. All of the P.A. is a playground for those who have nothing better to do than mind the Pal.s around the clock, feeding them, building their homes, supplying them with all their needs, both material and emotional, and creating in the process the world's most psychotic population, an entire nation of people obsessed with suicide, murder, mutilation, and hatred. We argue that it is the intention of the Left dhimmis to infantalise all of the world, to return the world's population to a time prior to the French Revolution of 1789, to a time of feudalism wherein the estates ruled by privilege of divine right. We refer to these creatures as philosopher kings, after Plato's ideas in The Republic. We call this fascism. It is a primitive fascism, but none the less, fascism. It is counter-Modernity, and it is a slavery of Man. No man owns his own life, that is owned by the state. Such is the life of Muslims in Palestine. So it is of the lives of men across the face of the world today, and increasingly so. It's not the fascism of jack-boot, rubber truncheons and vicious dogs; it is the fascism of social micro-management of the man.

There is an upcoming federal election in Canada. One issue is the state of childcare. The government here has decided that the people of the nation are too stupid and greedy and impulsive to tend to the needs of their own children. One Liberal went so far as to say that were adults given money to tend to their children, that being tax money they have already paid, they wouldn't spend it on the care of their children but would waste it instead on beer and popcorn. The people of the nation are not to be trusted to tend to the lives of their own children. Only the Liberal government can do that for them. Below we see the clear contempt the government feels for the average citizen. Sowa the average Canadian care? That is extremely doubtful. Until people begin to care about their own lives as private property for which they are responsible there will continue the rule fo the philosopher nannies.
****

Senior Grit staffer apologizes for 'beer' gaffe

Updated Sun. Dec. 11 2005 8:15 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

A senior Liberal staffer uttered his party's first major gaffe of the campaign.

In a television interview Sunday, Scott Reid, Prime Minister Paul Martin's director of communications, criticized the Conservative Party's plan to give parents $1,200 per year for each child under six.

Reid said in part: "Don't give people $25 a day to blow on beer and popcorn."

Later, on CTV's Question Period, Liberal spokesman John Duffy said he stood behind Reid's statement, saying, with the Conservative plan, "there is nothing to stop people from spending it on beer or popcorn or a coat or a car, anything."

Reid later sent an email to reporters apologizing for his remarks. "It was a dumb way to make my point and I apologize because obviously, no responsible parent would make that choice. The point remains that Mr. Harper offers a tax cut, not a child care plan."

He said the context of his remarks were that they occurred during a spirited conversation and that the full remarks were: "We are not trying to take people's time away from their grandparents but working families need care. They need care that is regulated, safe and secure and that's what we're building here. Don't give people $25 a day to blow on beer and popcorn. Give them child care spaces that work."

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20051208/elxn_campaign_stops_051211/20051211?s_name=election2006&no_ads=
****


The phrase "don't give" comes up often in the piece above. Don't give. Well, it turns out the money the politicians don't want to give to the people is tax money, the people's money in the first place. Son't give it to them? It's theirs. And the government doesn't trust people to use their own money to tend to their own children if they keep their own money. This is a staggering statement of contempt that doesn't seem to have registered with the Canadian public.

Neil Postman describes the state of our world in terms of the origins and evolution of the concept of childhood. As childhood disappears in children's lives it reappears in the lives of adults infantalised. Men are reduced to the state of childhood, and children are raised to the state of cynicism and demanding impulsivity. We are in danger of becoming the world over Palestinians. We are in danger of becoming a psychotic culture of out of control brats tended by idiots.
****

The Disappearance of Childhood

By Steve Berg
Star Tribune National Correspondent

Fifteen years after its initial publication, Neil Postman's "The Disappearance of Childhood" remains perhaps the most insightful and provocative commentary on the decline of innocence in American culture.

Postman vividly describes ours as a society overflowing with doubletalk: We adore our children. Yet we insist on embracing a popular culture that is hostfle and damaging to them.

We happily immerse ourselves - children and adults together - in the movies, TV shows, billboards, music, computer games and other pop influences that destroy the enchantment that childhood once held, Postman says. What's happening, he says, is that adults are becoming more childish in these pop pursuits and that children, with all the secrets" of adulthood now revealed to them in prime time, are becoming more adult.

The idea of childhood is disappearing.

Writing a new preface three years ago for the re-released version of the book, Postman, who teaches media and political culture at New York University, confessed that, "sad to say," he saw little to change in his 1982 text. "What was happening then is happening now. Only worse."

In Postman's view, the postmodern culture is propelling us back to a time not altogether different from the Middle Ages, a time before literacy, a time before childhood had taken hold as an idea. Obviously, there were children in medieval times, but no real childhood, he says, because there was no distinction between what adults and children knew.

Postman's book recalls the coarse village festivals depicted in medieval paintings - men and women besotted with drink, groping one another with children all around them. It describes the feculent conditions and manners drawn from the writings of Erasmus and others in which adults and children shared open lives of lust and squalor.

"The absence of literacy, the absence of the idea of education, the absence of the idea of shame - these are the reasons why the idea of childhood did not exist in the medieval world," Postman writes.

Childhood over by 1950

Only after the development of the printing press, and of literacy, did childhood begin to emerge, he says. Despite pressures on children to work in the mines and factories of an industrial age, the need for literacy and education gradually became apparent, first among the elite, then among the masses. Childhood became defined as the time it took to nurture and transform a child into a civilized adult who could read and comprehend complex information. The view American settlers was that only gradually could children attain civility and adulthood through "literacy, education, reason, self-control and shame."

It was during that time, Postman notes, that public education flourished, that children began celebrating birthdays and that a popular culture especially for kids developed around games and songs. Postman places the high-water mark for childhood at between 1850 and 1950.

But the seeds for childhood's demise were sown even before 1850 with the advent of the telegraph. For the first time, electronic messages could be transmitted faster than the human ability to travel.

The most profound meaning of the telegraph (and of its electronic successors) was that the information transmitted on it didn't need real content. The medium itself was the message.

It's an observation that only a few people understood at the time. Henry David Thoreau was among them. When told it was possible for people in Maine and Texas to exchange electric messages, Thoreau remarked, "But what do they have to say to one another?"

Postman sees Thoreau as a prophet. The point is that electronic messages in a free-market society tend to be uncontrollable and banal. News becomes a product. Advertising becomes ubiquitous. Self-restraint and deferred gratification collapse. Celebrity takes over.

Television especially vaporizes the hierarchy that adults once held over children, Postman argues. Pictures dominate. Unlike a child learning gradually to read and to grasp ideas, no one needs to learn how to watch TV. No one gets better at TV watching by doing more of it. Its images are simply there for everyone, adult and child, to absorb.

By its nature, commercial TV feels compelled to take on taboos, nearly always in glib tones, Postman says. "Don't go away," he mimics. "Tomorrow we'll take a quick look at incest."

"Electronic media find it impossible to withhold any secrets," Postman writes, letting the reader's mind drift backward to the Middle Ages. "Without secrets, there can be no such thing as childhood." The electronic media thus pose a challenge both to the authority of adults and to the curiosity of children, he argues. Children's curiosity is replaced by cynicism and arrogance. "We are left with children who are given answers to questions they never asked."

Violence, for example, is offered without the mediation of a mother's voice. It's governed by no theory of child development. Rather, it's there because it makes for interesting TV.

Toys are us

Postman worries less about fiction than news. "To what extent does the depiction of the world as it is undermine a child's belief in adult rationality, in the possibility of an ordered world, in a hopeful future?" he asks.

Postman saves some of his harshest words for advertising. The graphic / electronic revolution has rendered Commercial Man irrational, he says, and has upset some key assumptions of the free market. One such assumption is that a buyer and seller can make a trade based on rational self-interest. Traditionally, children have been excluded from this assumption. Laws protect children because they aren't considered yet capable of making rational transactions.

But the TV commercial makes no appeal to rationality. As any parent can tell you, its message is to be felt, not understood.

I clearly recall my own son's first intelligible complete sentence. It was this: "We'll be right back after these messages." And, when he was older, I remember his explanation for wanting toy after toy that he had seen advertised on TV. "Dad," he would plead, "I feel like it."

This is true, of course, for adults, too, as the line blurs between us and our children. Toys, as it turns out, are us. We display the same desires for instant gratification as our kids. We even play some of their computer games. We ferry them to their ballet lessons and sit for hours watching their exploits on the hockey rink or soccer field. When they score, we score.

For middle-class kids, this meshing of adult and child worlds is surely one of the biggest differences between today's childhoods and those of earlier times, say the 1950s.

Our parents never saw us play ball. They never knew that sometimes we hung out in the rail yards, or stole apples from neighbors' trees. They didn't know the games we played because they were ours. On summer mornings, we disappeared into neighborhood - kid enchantment, emerging only briefly for lunch before plunging back into our conspiracies. We had no play dates. It was assumed we'd return before dinner – safely.

Now, middle-class parents feel the need to be all over their kids' lives. Rarely do you see middle-class kids playing unattended in city parks. Kids are tightly scheduled: ballet, swim team, computer camp. Postman writes about a scuffle that broke out among parents at a massive kids' soccer tournament, and then, afterward, about how parents congratulated one another for a wonderful event.

But Postman's question was this: What were 4.000 kids doing at a soccer tournament? Surely they couldn't have organized such an event themselves, for their own enjoyment. He concludes that kids' sports have less to do with children's fun than parents' gratification. Play has become serious business. As childhood disappears, so does a child's idea of play. And of innocence.

Were he to write a 1997 version, it might conclude with the tragic case of Jon Benet Ramies, Postman said this week. It's not the killing that interests him but that her parents were so intent on making her up to be something other than a child.

"They tried to make this small child into a sexy woman, and at the time I first wrote the book I wouldn't have believed that anyone would do that - but I'm told that thousands of children are made to do these things.

Wherever one looks, one sees more evidence that childhood is disappearing."


http://www.luminet.net/~wenonah/new/childhod.htm
****

I'm going back to bed where it's nice and warm. I have the world's coolest music toy to play. Islam is a religion of peace. The government will take care of things. It's Bush's fault my rent is over-due. I'm a victim of society. Waaaah! I might look ancient but I'm merely the child of the government.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Islamic Flat Earth News Bulletin!


Burton Lamb
by Ali Yayah
Islamic Flat Earth News

The Burton family of England, kidnapped recently by poor suffering Palestinian! People!, it is now known, have been eaten. Muslims, driven to madness by the constant bombardment of Zionist propaganda commercials advertising fast food take-aways, have plunged into a volcano of hatred and eaten the Burton family. The International Red Cross is shipping in Tums and Rolaids as part of an emergency airlift to relieve the further suffering of the Palestinian! People!, the only people on Earth who suffer. The U.N. is supervising the distribution of the medical supplies, and will grant further aid in the form of "bitters" for stomach ailments.

"It's a fuckin' tragedy," stormed one U.N. aid worker. "After all the suffering the Palestinian! People! have had to suffer, now they have to suffer this too. No one else suffers. It makes me want to kill the Jooooos."

We interviewed one of the cooks at the Feast of al-Bur tun and found this amazing story of Palestinian! People! suffering.

"First we cut their throats," said Haj Wadi Jebel, "to purify the infidel flesh; then we sauteed the chunks in a deep layer of olive oil seasoned with garlic and fennil. We used two whole cloves per kilogram for the light meat and four for the dark meat. Once we'd finished the saute, which seals in the juices, we spitted the meat and roasted the pieces over a low charcoal fire on the brazier until it was nicely cooked, a bit crusty on the outside, and tender at the bones. The eyes, brains, and unclean parts we fed to our women, but the better parts we had with rice and fuul, tomatoes, onions, and pita."

Then we rested for a while with our habibi's heads on our laps, stroking their fine faces and singing songs of paradise, until suddenly we felt ill, our bowels cramping, our suffering becoming intolerable. We cried out to Allah: 'Allah, have mercy on our bowels.' But Allah is all merciful, and our pain continued."

The problem, Haj Wadi Jebil explained, was the Zionist death rays beamed into the city of Gaza.

"We will defeat the Zionist plague and drive them into the sea," he said. We will ride giant spiders like those we saw on the television in Iraq, and the Zionists will all die, even if they hide behind rocks and trees. All we must do is rid ourselves of these terrible shits first, Allah willing."

France condemned the Zionist occupiers in the U.N. when word reached them. Said Guy Mange-Merd, head chef of the Sorbonne Academie du Bouffe: "The poor Palestinians! Peoples! have suffered enough. From now on, only the finest Burtons will be sent to Gaza to be prepared by our very own highest class graduands. In memories of the suffering Palestinians! Peoples! I have made this recipe I call Burton le Merd, in honour of myself and the suffering gourmands of Gaza."

The hated Zionists had no comment.

Palstinian! liberation fighters vowed to unleash a further stinking volcano of hatred in the direction of the Zionist entity in retaliation.

Woman Kidnapped; Please Return Her.


Kate Burton, the 25-year-old dhimmi terrorist bitch kidnapped in the Gaza Strip. Picture: Getty

Medusa Burton, the 25-year-old woman minding her own business kidnapped in the Gaza Strip.

Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Medusa is urged to contact this blog. We want Medusa back.

Sisyphus

In Into Thin Air : A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer one character is stranded and abandoned by his mates in a storm as they all try to descend the mountain. The character they leave behind is abrasive and obnoxious, one many of us would be happy to see the end of. But, as the larger group stops at one point to rest and get their bearings, the man they left to die comes out of nowhere and sits with them, frozen and speechless. The group decide to leave again because the man they deserted is too close to death to worry about. They continue on. When they stop, he reappears. The man will not die. And they keep leaving him even as those who run fall off along the way. Eight climbers died. The loud guy survived. He survived only because he had the will to live. He is my hero.
****


(Angus Reid Global Scan) – The number of French adults who express sympathy with the views of Jean-Marie Le Pen remains stable, according to a poll by TNS-Sofres released by Le Monde and RTL. 24 per cent of respondents say they agree with the ideas of the National Front (FN) leader.

Current French president Jacques Chirac won the 1995 election, and earned a second term in a run-off over Le Pen in May 2002. Le Pen's political organization—deemed as extreme right—has been severely criticized for its stance on immigration.

On Oct. 27, riots broke out in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois after the death of two teenagers who allegedly were being pursued by police officers. On Nov. 17, French authorities declared a "return to normalcy" in the whole country. Over 20 nights of violence—which spread to 19 French provinces—at least 8,973 vehicles were torched, 2,888 people were arrested, 126 police officers were injured, and one person died.

Le Pen declared last month, "In the past 15 days, our party has acquired several thousand new members. We've received thousands of e-mails, faxes and letters from people who say, 'At last we have understood. You were right, Monsieur Le Pen. They said you were an extremist, but you were a visionary.'"

Earlier this month, FN member and European Parliament lawmaker Bruno Gollnisch was stripped of his immunity after casting doubts on the Holocaust. The European legislative body decided to allow for the prosecution of Gollnisch, claiming his remarks were made in a personal capacity.

Polling Data

Would you say that you agree or disagree with the ideas defended by Jean-Marie Le Pen?


Dec. 2005

Mar. 2004

Nov. 2003

Agree

24%

24%

22%

Disagree

73%

73%

75%

No opinion

3%

3%

1%

Source: TNS-Sofres / Le Monde / RTL
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,000 French adults, conducted on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, 2005. No margin of error was provided.

http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/10271
****

While France remains distracted, Jean Marie Le Pen lies in wait, still hoping to catch it in his net. At 77, the xenophobic leader of the National Front has still not lost hope of subduing France and gaining control of it. In the past few years he has remained static, but the state is constantly moving toward him. By gradual, hesitant steps, perhaps, but with a chilling constancy.

Now, as well, a few weeks after the immigrant revolt, the French have been turning to him to save them. Le Pen is at his best when the French are panicking. The scenes of public buildings going up in flames, of thousands of cars going up in flames, of schools and kindergartens going up in flames, have shattered their equanimity.

A poll that appeared Wednesday in Le Monde showed that the xenophobic ideas of the National Front are seeping in and finding an attentive audience. The poll demonstrated dramatic changes among the French due to the riots and due to the central government's helplessness and silence.

Some 33 percent of respondents said they believe Le Pen will get through to the second round of the presidential elections in the spring of 2007. If that happens, it would be the second time Le Pen beat the candidate of one of the large parties and entered the decisive round. In 2002, Le Pen astonished Europe when he beat the prime minister, Lionel Jospin, and made it through to the second round, against the president. He received extraordinary levels of support in outlying settlements, in "French" cities, in mixed cities with large immigrant populations, and in areas with high unemployment rates. Marseilles, Nice and other southern cities that have absorbed many immigrants from North Africa, gave Le Pen 25-30 percent of the vote.

Only 39 percent of the French feel Le Pen's opinions are unacceptable. In other words, most French consider him an absolutely legitimate candidate. Some 73 percent responded that the traditional values of France are not adequately protected. Sixty-three percent feel there are too many immigrants in France, and 44 percent said they do not feel at home in their own country.

From the first, it was clear that the combination of dangerous violence by the immigrants and the paralysis of the government institutions would generate more extremist views in the public. This was the case in 2002, when the state was negligent in its protection of the Jews and was reticent to deal with the violence. In the past few years, Le Pen has warned that the day is not far when the Muslims will arise against France to Islamize it. Now he is reaping the yields.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/658649.html
****

It's hard to care at all about people who don't care about themselves. God knows I have my faults, which is as good a reason for atheism as any I can think of, but faults or no, I don't recall hearing myself complain about my life. But if ever I do I'm pretty sure I won't blame anything I do on the worthless French. No, I'll find someone worthy to blame my faults on.

I climbed Mount Olympus once. I saw a fat guy my age pick up his fat ugly twelve year old kid and carry him down the mountain because the kid had sore feet. If it came to it I would have carried the father. To hell with the kid.

Our Social Narrative

The moral of the story? That would be the moral of your story. The question is about your life. Forget what you do for a living or how (whatever) you might be; the question is :What is the moral of your story? Why are you alive? What is it about your life, not about you as a figure but as a person, that makes your life important to us who don't even know you? What is it that makes us willing to give up our lives to save yours? It's not because of what you do, not because of who you are. It's something different: it's because you are. And what is that? There is something about you that makes you important almost regardless of who you are and what you do. You have an innate value as you, even to an atheist like myself who doesn't refer to your worth in terms of God. Something makes you worthwhile, even if you piss me off.

In another place and another time I might not feel the way I do toward my fellow men. If I were a Muslim, for example, your life wouldn't mean anything to me, nor would my own. If I were a Spartan I might chuck babies off a cliff if I didn't like the look of them. I will say that I might have done evil deeds if I were the same man in different circumstances. I won't claim that I'd be a good man doing ordinary things if I did things I know now are evil. Call me old fashioned, if you must, but I argue that killing babies is a bad thing, regardless of the social utility. Bad then, bad now, bad forever. A bad thing isn't good just because everyone else is doing it. It's a bad thing.

Some people claim to be moral relativists, which is another way of confessing to be moral idiots and idiots. However, our lovely world is full of idiots, and unfortunately we have to live with them. If many people are tossing babies, they too will toss. There are those who have no moral foundation. those people require a societal foundation based on law to keep them from the worst idiocies they might otherwise indulge in, and still do in spite of it all. Some do not have an innate sense of your right to be, regardless of your being. Those who have no sense of you are those the rest of us rely on the police to protect us from. To have police to enforce the laws against murder and mayhem we have to have laws against it they can enforce, and courts to try those who didn't get it. To have those systems we have to have a society that does get it, and we have to have a society that gets it right, at least mostly.

If we live in a society that is morally psychotic, such as one Islamic, we are more or less lost from the get-go. Rather than morals, they obsess over the minutest trivia of appearances. We who live in the modern West do not forego morality in favor of orthopraxy, the proper practice of ritual behaviour. We do not obsess over the way you shave your heinie. We tend to consider it more important that you don't kill people at random. That could well be different. Without a moral foundation we could instantly change our minds about random murder and find many good things to claim for it. It might still be illegal, though, and rather than go to prison or be sentenced to months of anger management counselling we behave ourselves. But we could, if we wanted to, change the laws so it's OK to kill people who are goofy or creepy. then killing people would be OK and perhaps even good. We don't change our laws to allow for killing creepy people. Something stops us. Something about creepy people still speaks to us, telling us that even they have a right to live. Something speaks to us, and what is that something if we are neither religious nor insane? What is the voice of authority? Where does the authority come from? How do we know? How do we know that we can't ignore that voice or change our minds about what we thought we heard then but don't hear now? If it was OK to kill babies before, maybe it'll be OK to do so later. How would we know? how can we convince others that if it's wrong now it'll still be wrong then? And if it's possible that it's not going to be wrong later, then maybe we're all full of shit today and we should kill babies and creepy people.

If what is true today isn't true for tomorrow, then what is true today isn't worth much now. Facts can change, but not the truth. Our opinions can change but the truth must be true always as it is or it's not the truth to start with, it is a falsity. How do we know the difference if we're not convinced by reasons religious? I might think your life is worthwhile simply because you are Human. But that's today, and I'm checking my watch. If I change my mind about your innate worth, what's to show me I'm immoral? I could become a Muslim in the time it takes to type this line. Then what's the worth of you? Sorry, friend, but you'd become worthless on the spot. Or would you? If your life is worth life in itself right now, then that cannot change. If it can, then I was mistaken and you are counting the minutes.

I got the coolest music toy for Christmas. I also got an electric blanket and a slinky blanket that I use to entice girls to sleep with me. Those things make me a nicer person to be around, but they don't make me moral. Maybe I stole them. Our stuff doesn't make us moral. What does? What makes a person worth living? How do we know? What is so certain that even an atheist like me cannot rightly change his mind about that? Cool stuff helps but it's not quite enough.

Either there is something innately valuable about you as a single person or I am sorely mistaken and soon to be embarrassed. If I can change my mind about the value of your life, I can do that with anyone's life, mine included. So, it's important to understand the worth of Human life if only to keep me from sitting down and starving to death from depression.


Two hundred and fifty years ago Humanity opened a new door into the world of life. No, not everyone, and not even many, really, but the door opened onto a new world of life. Some of us are the children of those who passed through. Some of us who live now in our mental world are unhappy with it and wish to return to the old places of the mind. They don't like our Modernity. They don't like our revolutions. They prefer the old world of Muslims and savages of all sorts. Some of our friends int he modern world want us all to return to the old places and forget about this brave new world of ours. And those in the old place are so flummoxed they're committing suicide in their rages against us. Still, some of us go on into further Modernity. But what are we getting ourselves into? Are we getting anything more than the old stuff with new and better toys? Is our morality getting any better? Our lives might become better from our adventures into Modernity, but are we better? Are we even worth living? Do we have a moral to our story any more? Maybe we are no better than the savages of Islam except that our toys are so much cooler. If that's the case, then I must take back all I wrote above about your life being worth something to me.

Neil Postman wonders about our social values. He argues that we are so obsessed by our toys that we've sometimes lost sight of the worth of Man. I'm going to take time off to finish his book, and I'll leave you with a couple of short reviews culled from amason.com.

Yes, I still feel and believe, in spite of the evidence, that your life is inherently valuable. No, do not try to change my mind.
****

Building a Bridge to the 18th Century : How the Past Can Improve Our Future (Vintage)

Amazon.com

The problem with the world today, says Neil Postman, is that we've become so caught up in hurtling towards the future that we've lost our societal "narrative," a humane cultural tradition that creates "a sense of purpose and continuity"--in other words, something to believe in. "In order to have an agreeable encounter with the twenty-first century," he asserts, "we will have to take into it some good ideas. And in order to do that, we need to look back to take stock of the good ideas available to us." He finds rich source material in the Enlightenment, the salad days for philosophers such as Goethe, Voltaire, Diderot, Paine, and Jefferson, "the beginnings of much that is worthwhile about the modern world." Yet Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century is a call for cultural progress, not regression: "I am not suggesting that we become the eighteenth century," Postman notes, "only that we use it for what it is worth and all it is worth." Chief among the values Postman cites is the development of the intellect; it plays a part in many of his recommendations, from the cultivation of a healthy skepticism towards overhyped technology to sweeping educational reforms that include replacing grammar instruction with logic and rhetoric and introducing courses on comparative religion and the history of science. He also lashes out at postmodernists who start with the premise that language "is a major factor in producing our perceptions, judgments, knowledge, and institutions" and conclude that language is therefore tenuously connected to reality at best. Enlightenment thinkers knew that language molded perception, he notes, but they also believed that "it is possible to use language to say things about the world that are true" and "to communicate ideas to oneself and to others." Postman is excessively curmudgeonly at times, as in his reference to philosopher Jean Baudrillard as "a Frenchman, of all things," or his remarks on the ancient Athenians: "I know they are the classic example of Dead White Males, but we should probably listen to them anyway." But for anybody with a stake in the culture wars, or who wants to apply the lessons of philosophy to the modern world, Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century will make for provocative reading.

From Publishers Weekly
"I am not suggesting that we become the eighteenth century, only that we use it for what it is worth and for all it is worth," Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death; Technopoly) argues in this penetrating, extended essay. Though other periods are rich with learning and wisdom, Postman believes the 18th-century Enlightenment is uniquely valuable and relevant to today's world. It gave us the rationalist notion of human progress expressed and supported by science and technology and the romantic critique, with its idea of inward progress and its suspicion of the machine. It gave us discursive narrative prose as the prototypical model of thought, along with more subtle, less hysterical critiques of language than postmodernists offer today. It gave us floods of new information, yet ridiculed information as an end in itself, urging a healthy respect for context and purpose. It gave us the idea of childhood as a distinct life stage linked to education and nurturance, illuminated by two contrasting visions, Locke's blank slate to be written on and Rousseau's plant to be cultivated. And it gave us representative democracy. All these were expressions of a world in which the dominant media, unlike today, was the printed word. As that environment fades, the complex tensions Postman illuminates are replaced by shallow sloganeering by those who present themselves as the embodiment of novelty and daring. Postman forcefully argues that we can use the complex legacy of the past to resist being swept into a shiny, simpleminded new dark age. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
****

We are the inheritors of the Age of Enlightenment. It is our privilege to be alive in our time. We have the luxury of being able to think and judge and search for the worth of Man. Who knows what we'll discover when we look. We might not find anything, and Man will be worth no more than the life of a chicken after all. Call me silly, but I still have hope that you are worth while-- if only because you're Human.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

William Walker (2)


This is a reprint of one of the first articles at this site. I'm reproducing it due to the impending wars we face with Islam in Iran. We must see clearly our future and its goals. If we wage war we should have some reason for it and some goal in mind. Beyond simple self-defence, I argue that we should assimilate our enemies rather than merely beating them to the ground and hoping they stay there. I suggest we follow my very distant and unpleasant relative's course, William Walker's filibustering adventure of the mid 19th century. If war is an evil necessity, let's do more than win it, let's make it good.
****

Ours is a revisionist interpretation of the utility of Walker's filibustering activities in Mexico and Central America. Regardless of Walker's personal, political, and historical failings his approach to the solution to today's conflicts between Modernity and reaction is correct in essence, and we must follow in his footsteps to achieve the triumph of Modernity and the universal predominance of the ethos our revolutions over the slavery of tradition and privilege, of the encroachment of fascism and dhimmitude, of the of the barbarism of the pre-modern and retrogressive forces in our world today. In short, to ensure the continued expansion of the universal ideals of Liberal Progress we must face the reality that all such progress grows from the barrel of a gun, and as such, none of us can shirk from our duty to impose modernity upon the entrenched slave-systems of the pre-modern world regardless of how unwilling they might be to accept it. As inheritors of the great revolutions of the 18th century, and as enlightened, progressive moderns it is our duty to impose, paraphrasing Blanqui's coining, "the dictatorship of the dialectic," preserved by a committee of public safety, as it were, and with Stalinesque resolve to extirpate the neo-kulak fascist wreckers who try to stand in our way of bringing the peace and security of Modernity to the universal masses. It is thus that we come to William Walker, American filibuster.

Walker, originally from Tennessee, having lost the love of his life to disease, studied medicine and law at universities in Nashville, Edinburgh, Gottengen, Heidelberg, Paris, and New Orleans. He witnessed the activities of the revolutions of 1848 and the effects of the Paris Commune. He returned to America and practiced law and medicine before finally moving to San Fransisco in 1850 where he found himself amidst the Goldrush 49ers.

Manifest Destiny was in the air at the time, 1853, and with a collection of ex-goldminers and assorted lumpen-proletarians Walker ventured into Sonora, Mexico to establish a state that he envisioned would eventually become a part of the American Union.. Rebuffed, he set sail for Baja with a force of 250 men, announced the formation of the "Republic of Lower California," and, though the project was supported by the populace of America and sent Walker further recruits, he promptly lost the later announced "Republic of Sonora." He survived court proceedings against him for violating U.S. neutrality laws, and in 1855 to 1857 he tried again to filibuster in Nicaragua. His third attempt at conquest of non-U.S. territory, again in Nicaragua in 1857, failed due to U.S. naval interference.

Walker's last foray into Central America ended near Truxillo, Honduras where he surrendered to the British navy. The captain of the British ship Walker surrendered to, having promised him and Walker's men amnesty, had Walker tied up on the beach and shot to death, Sept. 12, 1860.

It was Walker's intention to conquer and rule Central America, eventually incorporating it into the United States as a vote-bloc in support of Southern Negro slavery. As disagreeable as that position is today we should look at it in terms of what the outcome would have been had Walker's plan succeeded: today, all of Central America would have been part of the United States of America, as American as the state of Tennessee, as modern and progressive as any state in the Union, and equally as culturally diverse as any state in the nation. In the same way that the South, having lost the Civil War to the North has assimilated into the unified political entity, so too would the Central regions have become mainstream America with all its benefits and disadvantages at large. And that is so because of Walker's psychopathic personality, his disregard for the sensitivities of others, and his complete lack of empathy regarding local sensitivities, and his penchant for summary execution of those who upset him. All of the negative aspects of Walker's agenda would be easily passed over in light of the genuine advantages of the withering away of the empire of slavery in conflict with superior Northern Liberal force. If Walker had succeeded in capturing Central America as part of the greater state, we would today have a nation that included free citizens from Panama to Alaska, all American, all with the rights and duties of Americans. Compare that possibility to the states of Central America as they are. Walker's failures are an indictment against the morality of today's America. Where Walker failed it is up to the present generations of Americans and the inheritors of the revolutions of America and France to impose modernity and Liberalism on a reactionary world at large.

How does this relate to dhimmitude and jihad? It is our position that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the center of fascist Islam, should be our focus for the private enterprise of modern filibustering, the Dutch word for freebooting. i.e. land piracy. Far from being a racist or fascist agenda, ours is simple human endeavour to expand ones horizons combined with the enlightened project of bringing freedom, liberty, and democracy to the world masses who cannot, for whatever reasons, make it themselves. Those laboring under the illusions of false consciousness, of the idiocies of rural living, of the darkness of fascism, they are not essential in the project of emancipation. Saudi Arabia, its collective native population, as dedicated to the furtherance of Islam and primitivism as they might be, have only a contingent right to existence on their current lands, as Eduord Bernstein points out, which they forfeit in their attempts to prevent progress and human freedom genrally and especially in Arabia itself. The Saudi royals and their supporters and natives of the land have no legitimate right to continue their existence thereon if it means they continue to impede the telos of Humanity, i.e. progress and liberalism.

The heart of Islam must be destroyed by all freedom loving peoples, and those who would rebel against the future of Human progress must necessarily be removed from power and from the lands themselves. This is not an important legal issue to puzzle over but an issue for modern men with arms and determination to prevail in conquest. To win where Walker failed, to impose freedom through the transitional empire of slavery, that is our goal. Those who object are irrelevant, dhimmis and philobarbarist romantics who are not worth the refutation.

It is our position that the fascist Islamic hegemony must surrender in accord with our Melian Dialogue, that we must organize our political and ideological programme on sound Leninist principles of professional revolutionary organization, and that our enemies, dhimmis and Moslems, must be destroyed and enslaved for the further benefit of the future of the human race universally as per the failed attempts of William Walker which we must re-enact-- this time with success. Our enlightened despotism, essential for the survival of the primitive world's population, is a moral imperative, and it is in the hands of men with the will to use their power to achieve it. This time more successfully than Walker's attempts in our past.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Melian Dialogue (2)


This is a reprint of an earlier post that becomes more interesting to me the closer we come to war with Iran. Pastorius at CUANAS brings this to mind in his postings on Vlad the Impaler and Papa Ray's reply regarding the nature of war, of which I have also written in great detail. Here is what might be for some a companion piece to Victor Davis Hanson. For more on this, please search for William Walker until such tie as I figure out how to make a proper link. Due to time constraints this evening I can't do more. Thanks for your patience.


Thucydides: Melian Dialogue

The following excerpts from Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, "The Melian Dialogue," concerning the events of a war between Athens and Sparta from 431 to 404, are relevant to this discussion not only because of the modern relevance of the Athenian thesis but because of the counter-points raised in our modern times in the West against the Athenian thesis.

The bare position of the Athenian generals in their dialogue with the neutral allies of the Spartans, the Melians, is that might is right. From Book V, chapter vii we read in this truncated version the dialogue between Athenean generals Cleodes and Tisias and the otherwise unidentified Melian oligarchs. The Athenean generals put it to the Melians that they must surrender to superior force.

The Council of the Melians replied as follows: We see that you have come prepared to judge the argument yourselves, and the likely end of it all will be either war, if we prove that we are in the right, and so refuse to surrender, or else slavery.

Atheneans: If you are going to spend the time in enumerating your suspicians about the future, or if you have met here for any other reason except to lood the facts in the face and on the basis of these facts to consider how you can save your city from destruction, there is no point in our going on with this discussion. If however, you wil do as we suggest, then we will speak on.

Then we will on our side use no fine phrases saying, for example, that we have a right to our empire because we defeated the Persians, or that we have come against you now because of the injuries you have done us--a great mass of words that nobody would believe. And we ask you on your side not to imagine that you will influence us by saying that you, though a colony of Sparta, have not joined Sparta in the war, or that you have never done us any harm. Instead we recommend that you should try to get what is possible for you to get, taking into consideration what we both really do think; since you know as well as we do that, when these matters are discussed by practical people, the standard of justice depends on the equality of power to compel and that in fact the strong do what thay have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.

Melians: Since you force us to leave justice out of account and to confine ourselves to self-interest, in our view it is at any rate useful that you should not destroy a priciple that is to the general good of all men--namely, that in the case of all who fall into danger there should be such a thing as fair play and just dealing, and that such people should be allowed to us and to profit by arguments that fall short of a mathematical accuracy. And this principle affects you as much as anybody, since your own fall would be visited by the most terrible vengence and would be an example to the world.

Atheneans: As for you, even assuming that our empire does come to an end, we are not despondent about what would happen next. One is not so much frightened of being conquered by a power which rules over others, as Sparta does, as of what would happen if a ruling power is attacked and defeated by its own subjects. So far as this point is concerned, you can leave it to us to face the risks involved. What we shall do now is to show you that it is for the good of our own empire that we are here and that it is for the preservation of your city that we shall say what we are going to say. We do not want any trouble in bringing you into our empire, and we want you to be spared for both the good of yourselves and of ourselves.Melians: And how could it be just as good for us to be the slaves as for you to be the masters?

Atheneans: You, by giving in, would save yourselves from disaster; we, by not destroying you, would profit from you.

Melians: So you would not agree to our being neutral?

Atheneans: No, because it is not so much you hostility that injures us; it is rather that if we were on friendly terms with you, our subjects would regard that as a sing of weakness in us, whereas your hatred is evidence of our power...

So far as right and wrong are concerned they think that there is no difference between the two, that those who still preserve their independence do so because they are strong, and that if we fail to attack them it is because we are afraid. So that by conquering you we shall increase not only the size bt the security of our empire. We rule the sea and you are islanders, and weaker islanders too than the others; it it stherefore particularly important that you should not escape.

Melians: Is it not certain that you will make enemies of all states who are at present neutral, when they see what is happening here and naturally conclude that in course of time you will attack them too. Does this not mean that you are strengthening the enemies even against their intentions and their inclinations?

Atheneans: As a matter of fact we are not so much firightened of states on the continent. they have their liberty, and this means that it will be a long time before they begin to take precautions against us. We are more concerned about islanders like yourselves, who are still unsubdued or subjects who have already become embittered. These the most likely to act in a reckless manner and to bring themselves and us, too, into the most obvious danger.

Melians: We who are still free would show ourselves great cowards and weaklings if we failed to face everything that comes rather than submit to slavery.

Atheneans: No, not if you are sensible. This is no fair fight, with honour on one side and shame on the other. It is rather a questionof saving your lives and not resisting those who are far too strong for you.

Melians: If we surrender, then all our hope is lost at once, whreas, so long as we remain in action, there is still a hope that we may yet stand upright.

Atheneans: Hope, that comforter in danger! If one already has solid advantages to fall back upon, one can indulge in hope.... Do not let this happen to you, you who are weak and whose fate depends on a single movement of the scale. And do not be like those people who, as so commonly happens, miss the chance of saving themselves in a human and practical way, and, even when every clear and distinct hope has left them in their adversity, turn to what is blind and vague, to prophecies and oracles and such things which by encouraging hope leads men to ruin.

Melians: Nevertheless, we trust that the gods will give us fortune as good as your, because we are standing for what is right against what is wrong; and what we lack in power will be made up for by our alliance with the Spartans. Our confidence, therefore, is not so entirely irrational as you think.

Atheneans: So far as the favour of the gods is concerned, we think we have as much right to that as you have..... Our opinion of the gods and our knowledge of men lead us to conclude that it is a general and necessary law of nature to rule whatever one can. This is not a law that we made ourselves, nor were we the first to act upon it when it was made. We found it already in existence, and we shall leave it to exist forever among those who come after us. We are merely acting in accordance with it, and we know that your or anybody else with the same power as ours would be acting in precisley the same way.....With regard to your views about Sparta, we congratulate you on your simplicity but do not envy you your folly.

Melians: But we think they would even endanger themsleves for our sake...since we ae of the same race and share the same feelings.

Atheneans: We are somewhat shocked to find that, though you announced your intention of discussing how you could preserve yourselves, in all this talk you have said absolutely nothing which could justify a man in thinking that he could be preserved. Your chief points are conmcerned with what you hope may happen in the future, while your actual resources are too scanty to give you a chance of survival against the forces that are opposed to you at this moment. You will therefore be showing an extraordinary lack of common sense if, after you have asked us to retire from this meeting, you still fail to reach a conclusion wiser than anything you have mentioned so far. Do not be led astray by a false sense of honour--a thing which often brings men to ruin when they are faced with an obvious danger that somehow affects their pride. For in many cases men have still been able to see the dangers ahead of them, but this thing called dishonour, this word, by its force of seduction, has drawn them into a state where they have surrendered to an idea, while in fact they have fallen voluntarily into irrevocable disaster, in dishonour that is all the more dishonourable because it has come to them from their own folly rather than from their misfourtune. You will see that there is nothing disgraceful in giving way to the greatest city in Hellas when she is offering you such reasonable terms....This is the safe rule--to stand up to ones equals, to behave with deference towward ones superiors, and to treat ones inferiors with moderation. Let this be a point that constantly recurs to your minds--that you are discussing the fate of your country, that you have only one country, and that its future for good or ill depends on this one single decision which you are going to make.

Melians: We put our trust in the fortune that the gods will send and which has saved us up till now, and in the help of men. But we invite you to allow us to be friends of yurs and enemies to neither side, to make a treaty whihc shall be agreeable to both you and us, and so to leave our country.

Atheneans: You seem to us quite unique in you ability to consider that future as something more certain than what is before your eyes, and to see uncertainties as realities, simply because you would like them to be so.

The Melians, trusting to luck and the Spartans, refused to surrender to the superior force of the Atheneans.

The Melians surrendered unconditionally to the Atheneans, who put to death all the men of military age whom they took, and sole the women and children as slaves. Melos itself they took for themselves, sending out later a colony of 500 men.

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War. Trans. Rex Warner. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972. pp 400-408.

The conflict today between fascist Islam and Western Modernity is little different than war 2,400 years ago. Passing by those who are professionally commited to relativism, anti-imperialism, and those self-satisfied classes of anti-war sentimentalists we are left with the hard reality that those who have power will use it; that the West having power, the West must, as a moral imperative, use it to further the Revolutions of Modernity for the greater benefit of general Humanity.

The analagous nations today in this case are the United States of America and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the latter being a colony of greater Islam, an island in the sand sea. Whether it is moral to conquer and enslave the people of the desert kindom is irrevlevant to the urgent task of bringing freedom and modernity to the whole world, whether the entrenched forces of reaction and privlege like it or not. We have the power, such as we found it in the world, and we will leave that power to othersw when we have left the scene, just as the defeated Atheneans did when their time was up and the Romans took their place in history.

Gunboat diplomacy in the struggle to free the world from the slavery of fascist Islam is perhaps not moral in itself but is necessary and essential for the good of the people regardless. It is on the basis of the Melian Dialogue that we will proceed in our next installment to discuss the fillibustering activities of Wiliam Walker.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Concept of Comfort



"This is the best in the best of all possible worlds."
Carl Leibniz.

"What? Me worry?"
Alfred E. Neuman.

Those who don't have a concept of comfort won't likely attend to the needs of others. Another's discomfort is just so much "So what?" If your own discomfort is normal and unexamined, then the discomfort of others will not register meaningfully with you. Comfort as a concept is new to people. Very few people understand it, fewer still live it. What kind of world do they inhabit? They share the world with you. Should you be concerned?

Those who lack a concept of comfort still have a concept, some of them, of cruelty. Ah, but not all, and not many, over-all. The concept of cruelty is a rationalist concept, and most of the world is beyond that, for good or ill. All of the Islamic world is Irrationalist. All Islamic culture is primitive. It then varies between the psychopathic and the psychotic. How do we deal with that as members of the Modern West? What do, we do short of killing them, to restrain the primitive Irrationalists who haven't even a sense of comfort, let alone a concept of cruelty?

Must we, in self-defence, kill them all?

We begin this installment with pieces of a short review of a history of the concept of comfort. We who live in comfort must assume that all have always lived in comfort to the best of their means, but below we'll see that such is not the case. Comfort is a new concept in Human life. Few actually share it with the majority.

****
Home: A Short History of an Idea
by Witold Rybczynski


Exploration, June 6, 2004

Reviewer:Erika Mitchell (E. Calais, VT USA)

This book is an exploration into the meaning of the word "comfort" and its place in the home. Rybczynski begins the volume with an examination of the Sixteenth Century painting by Durer "Saint Jerome in His Study". He describes each of the objects and furnishings visible in the paining in turn, noting that they are not particularly conducive to comfort or reflective of individuality. Rybczynski goes on to describe how this painting may be representative of the era in which it was painted, how houses at the time had many occupants and were spaces where people lived communally, but not necessarily as a family in the present sense of the term. He argues that in the Sixteenth Century, the nuclear family as a residential unit was non-existent, since children were sent away to live and work with others at a young age, and households always included many unrelated servants or apprentices. It was only later, as the concept of the nuclear family became more established that the need for privacy came to the fore, and private and public spaces began to be differentiated within the house. Later developments in technology, especially plumbing, ventilation, and lighting also came to influence housing design. One of the themes of the book is how the field of interior design has often been faced with the conflict between what looks good and what feels good. Rybcynski stresses that often the style of a design wins out, leaving the residents with the very least in comfort (to the point of having to carry their toothbrushes to and from the bathroom for lack of proper storage there, for instance).

[....]

The book is academic in style, although quite accessible and engaging for the general reader. Sources are listed in the extensive endnotes, and there is an index. ****

Rybczynski, if I recall rightly nearly 20 years later, offers evidence that the Dutch were the first to consider the concept of personal comfort, it being part of the newly rich merchant class pose to have objets d'art and things useless in the home, keeping in mind the Roman sumptuary laws of roughly 1,000 years before. Most people lived lives that were literally hard. As a concept, comfort was lacking. Today in the Modern West the concept of comfort is so deeply ingrained in the culture and the mind of the average man that the idea of it being a recent custom, one that few grasp, is alien and alienating. We assume too much when we assume that everyone wishes for comfort. Most have no idea of what comfort is. If they don't understand that, and if we don't understand them, then we will have no understanding of our battle with Islam and our own dhimmi fascist Left.

We can dismiss the Utilitarian view that people act to increase pleasure and to decrease pain simply by looking at women's shoes. Comfort is not the big issue we might like to think it is. Knowing what comfort is we might opt for it, but that is not a universal assumption we can make. Muslims do not, as a rule, care about comfort. It is not part of their culture and world-view. Given that, you can be sure they do not care about your comfort.

Comfort, to a certain extent, is a social good. Those who concern themselves with their own comfort will often have a sense of empathy, and they will tend to your comfort if they can. A society of comfort won't as likely turn to torturing you. It won't be a culture of cruelty. But there is a problem with comfort. When comfort becomes a fetish it turns to self-indulgence and apathy. Some will not give up their comfort for anything, not even for their own comfort. Not even to save their own lives.

There are comforts of all sorts, ideologies being one. There is the comfort of terrible certainty, such as dhimmitude. There is the comfort of hatred. There is the comfort of self-annihilation.

We in the affluent West might find that once we are comfortable in our own lives that we suffer from pangs of guilt at the discomfort of others. We might feel the need to tend to their comfort by attending to their unmet needs. Some might tend to the needs of a friend, others might tend to the needs of their communities, and yet others still might tend to the needs of the whole of the world's populations. Some tend to the homeless, or animals, or birds, or forests, or the Earth Some tend to the needs of their families, some adopt, and some tend to the needs of the entire world and its people. Tending to the comfort of others turns to tending to the needs of others. The needs of others requires that the tender infantalize the tendee. Folks, welcome to the world as kindergarten. "We are the world; we are the children."

We become so sophisticated and comfortable in our lives that we extend our power to give comfort to all, whether they want it or not. Those who would say no are discomforting not only to the suffering of the Earth's peoples but to those who would save and comfort. They say no because they are: bigots, racists, homophobes, Islamophobes, Right wing religious bigots, American Republicans, evil people who care not for the comfort lacking in the lives of Others. The need of the one to comfort devolves into the need too punish those who would make suffer the children.

It's comforting to know in ones heart and mind that one is good, that one is not an evil person, unlike them, those who are indifferent to the suffering of others. And to know that one is good means one must be right and superior to the bigots. One cannot deal with them other than to hate them. The latter cause the suffering of the world's peoples. It's comforting to know that the good people of the West do what they can to extend comfort to the rest of the people. They do so by consuming less, by sharing, by caring. The more one cares and shares and comforts the less others do so. And since one can identify those who are evil and uncaring, one can sort them into a set one is against. One can even go so far as to say those are the people who are the cause of the suffering of others, and one would rightly hate them. Hatred is a lovely addition to the rooms of the the mind of the righteous. Hatred becomes a comfort in itself. But it must be organized, it must be aesthetically pleasing, it must be intelligent: it must be societal.

To help one homeless man is good, but to save all homeless men requires the understanding of homelessness itself, its causes, its cures. One must find those who cause homelessness, combat them, and make new homes for those who have none. One must hate homelessness and those who cause it. And the cause of so many homeless men is the very system of housing that excludes some from homes. One must hate the system itself for being as it is. It's quite comforting to know that greedy landlords in a capitalist system are the cause of homelessness. One can hate the landlord and the system itself. One can give comfort tot he homeless too, if not in ones own home, then in a group shelter where the homeless can be tended, can be comforted, can be medicated.

If one can be found who is oppressed for reasons of accident, through no personal flaw, only by virtue of birth or circumstance, then one must rightly tend to that victim. One must stop the oppression of a person tormented for nothing. And if one is of a group of victims, identifiable as a group member, then one finds comfort in the group, finds the power to increase ones physical comfort and ones societal value by being more than one but one of many. Comes then the comfort of belonging. One group of victims with another group is a movement with power to comfort them.

To comfort a group is better than to comfort merely the one. And from the confines of ones office writing reports is a comfort too. Comfort in hatred of discomfort of other, comfort in doing good for the many, comfort in knowing the causes of evil, these are major comforts. Comfort in the certainty. No more disturbing ambiguity. Now there is certainty that soothes.

Not all care to comfort others, nor do they care. Life is comfortable, and that it becomes circumscribed by the encroachments of others is something one accepts rather than discomfiture oneself by moving against its source. More pot, more beer, more television. That this will all come crashing down is a comfort to the mind too. Utter passivity is a comfort few could hope to achieve. Those who do are possibly blessed. Who'd know? They themselves likely do not know.

Those who do know, and who know with total certainty, they are comfortable. Those who have certainty are beyond all definition of comfort, and if they suffer the tortures of the damned, that is comfort from Heaven. There is no greater. That they will annihilate themselves with volition is a beauty of certainty that makes all other comforts weak and pale.

Those who would comfort the suffering meet the suffering in their glory. The West yawns and rolls over. Everybody's happy and comfortable.

Well, not all of us. Some of us are right nervous about the state of comfort around us. We're not happy with the comfort of others, it being a source of discomfort to us. Some of us recognise that comfort is a lost concept in much of the world, that comfort is not a thing of cushions and velvet. Some of us recognize comfort as a madness. Some even see comforting those who would kill us as wrong. Some even go so far as to argue that making the many uncomfortable is a good thing, even if their discomfort is hard.

Cushioning the circumstances of the psychotic does nothing for the good of the people at large. In fact, it brings on catastrophe. We might consider examining our approach to comforting others, those who have no modern sense of comfort to begin with. We might look at the world as something more than an upgradable homeless shelter. We might profitably give up our comfortable assumptions about the needs of others and examine their needs objectively. They might not require our comforts but our wrath.

To assume that all require material comfort is to dismiss the lives of the many who have no such immediate concern. Perhaps our better course of action in the tending to the comforts of others is to make them suffer. Perhaps we must relearn the concept of discomfort. In the process we might relearn the concept of the value of others as they are rather than as they should be were they like us. We might discover in the process that we hate them. We might even find that we will kill them. We might find that if we kill some they will come to realize that they must conform to us and our notions of Modernity and well-being, at which point we might live comfortably together.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas


United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959)

Principle 3: The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name….

Mary and I entered the shopping mall, comfortable like a couple who've been together for many years but timid like those who've spent very little time in this unfamiliar city, we being tired and haggard, bitten by the wind and the rain and the years. We've been on the road too long, it seems, and those around us, young, happy, and affluent, brushed by without noticing us, as beautiful as we are. Inside the mall I unzipped all three of my leather jackets so those around us would see the beautiful new Chinese silk shirt Mary got me for the holiday, a shirt that makes me more beautiful. No one noticed, I'm sure. Except Mary. Mary says I don't need the shirt, that I'm beautiful already. I gaze lovingly at her, she being beautiful beyond measure.

Mary and I entered the shopping mall and made our way to the stationery store for me to buy new journals for the coming year to record the mileage of our time. We entered the mall, and I was proud of myself in my beautiful new shirt, and Mary held my arm like an old wife used to the foibles of her man; and I, tired from these long days of our journey here, looked lovingly at her as she held the little bundle that gives her so much joy, a bag of stuff she clutches tightly to her bosom as she goes from here to there, smiling, sometimes delighted, sometimes overcome by the flashing lights at Radio Shack, the electronic video games capturing her heart in a soulful way till her aeroplane crashes into the tarmac upon landing, and until the store clerk states: "Is there something here you'd like to bu-uy?" He stands unsmiling, frowning at an empty space on a shelf as Mary asks for a different game to play since the last one really sucked. I puff up my chest and show off my new silk shirt protectively. I turn discretely to display my plastic bag of store bought stuff, our parking validation bag, our cue to the world that we belong in the mall as legitimate folks. But, hey: off we go to get samples of ice-cream, off we go so Mary can increase the volume in her bag with shopping brochures and old lottery ticket stubs. Off we go. I show off my purchase to good effect, I think, until I see that my fingers have sweated so badly that the ink has smeared all over the bag, and my fingers are black. I put my hands in my pockets and pull open my jackets to show off the beautiful shirt Mary gave me. We shall be all watched over.

"They act like we're dead," Mary says. "They don't even look at us. When I want to ask about something, they turn away and talk to someone else." Maybe we don't look just right. Maybe we look like we've been on the road too long. Maybe we look like a couple of weathered fence posts.

But we're not dead. Just look at my shirt. I'm beautiful, and especially so is the beautiful girl I'm with. "They don't seem to want to sell us anything," Mary says.

What is there to say to man playing "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child" on a guitar, a man who responds: "It's a tune by Ritchie Havens from the movie Woodstock."

Mary's hat is falling from the grace and style it might once have had when in its younger years its velvet was full and shiny brown; when the crown rose up with inner dignity, before it fell down to look more like the worn beret of a World War Two resistance fighter. Yes, the threads are loose. It is unraveled at the seams. My queen's crown is tarnished. Man, we've been on the road so long that longer than this we'll look like pavement.

I look ahead, beyond the mall, and I say to Mary: Listen to this, beautiful girl, this poem by Rimbaud, this poem called "Childhood," this poem that comes to my mind as I gaze at you with the bundled treasures at your breast:

The paths are bitter

And the broom flowers cover the hills.

The air is still…

How far are the birds and the fountains!

To go on can only lead to the end of the world.


We should go there, you and I, I say, and I mean it truly.

"You're taking up a good stall in the barn, buster," Mary says, though not to me but to a picture of a kitten on a postcard, though she could be speaking to me, I don't know, not being myself a psychologist of any repute.

We stand, side by side in the mall, and for once I'm happy, happy because I look like a king, and my beautiful girl is my queen. We slowly shuffle off to the department store to play air hockey, which I thought I'd won but that Mary says we tied, which probably means I lost. We look at black refrigerators and black stoves and black furniture. Black.

Mary's bundle grows as we walk through the mall. She finds things to add to her bag. Mary finds wonderful things that make her bundle of stuff better than it was. I don't understand female things like that, but I stand by smiling at those who stop to not look at us.

Beyond the road: the mall at Christmas. We have arrived.

Our gods: I recall a bit from Conrad's Lord Jim and I want very much to tell Mary:

Some, very few and seen there but seldom, lead mysterious lives, had preserved an undefaced energy with the temper of dreamers. They appeared to live in a crazy maze of plans, hopes, dangers, enterprises, ahead of civilization, in the dark places of the sea, and their death was the only event of their fantastic existence that seemed to have a reasonable certitude of achievement.

I'd meant to cheer us up. Hope? Yes; but if times get any harder, we could drift into the sea, I think, or some tranquil place. They really don't see us. They don't see us at all.

My mind is calm. Mary rubs her hand against my beautiful shirt. We are beautiful together. I stand close and protective as Mary gently bounces her bag up and down in her arms to disconnect the battery inside the rooster alarm clock buried deep inside her bundle. Still, the bag makes a choking noise like that of a child locked in the root cellar. People stare. I look down to avoid their gaze, and I see I've dripped ice-cream on my beautiful shirt, and when I tell Mary how sorry I am that I've made a such a mess of myself. Mary just smiles and says it doesn't matter because she got a huge sack of such shirts; and even though the Chinese lady stole most of them as Mary was going for more, Mary still has some left for me and the really big guy and the little fat guy.

Mary's warm smile. I still have the strength to go to the end of the world. I have a name, though I'm not certain Mary can remember it.

People swirl throughout the mall buying up even those things they don't much want to buy but must because there's time and things left yet. Mary asks me if I'd like a refill at Mc Donald's, it being a good deal because she's got some cups stashed. And I want very much to get away from those people who look at us and don't look at us because we look like we're dead. Maybe we show up on the video surveillance.

When I lived in a commune and sold candles at the mall in Berkley, California back in 1970 I didn't grasp the significance of Richard Brautigan's poem "All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace." I read it then, and I didn't understand. The poem was old even then, but I wasn't. Telegraph Ave. was old then, but I was just a lad.

I like to think (and

the sooner the better!)

of a cybernetic meadow

where mammals and computers

live together in mutually

programming harmony

like pure water

touching clear sky.

I like to think

……...(right now, please!)

of a cybernetic forest

filled with pines and electronics

where deer stroll peacefully

past computers

as if they were flowers

with spinning blossoms.

I like to think

……..(it has to be!)

of a cybernetic ecology

where we are free of our labours

and joined back to nature,

returned to our mammal

brothers and sisters,

and all watched over

by the machines of loving grace.

Mary smiles at me shyly sometimes, not knowing quite why I stop in mid-step and gaze off into space. She looks up at me from under the brim of her floppy velvet hat, and she waits gently like a warm breeze wafting around me. She holds her bag and smiles.

Our coffee gone, our evening long, we wonder where to find a place to stay for the night, given that all the rooms at the hostels are taken. We huddle in a doorway for a while. Three folks dressed up like they must have traveled from a Las Vegas Magic Show come by the doorway of the Starlight Diner and see us shivering in the damp. They give us a can of beer and a half pack of cigarettes. Mary sees a tea box in their bags, and she wants it because it's got a colorful label, the very thing Mary likes so much. One of the trio wisely passes it over, and Mary sticks it in her bag. The rooster clock starts making noises again, "erk er erk erooo," and Mary shakes it till it's quiet. The Magic Show girl cries out: "Be careful, you'll hurt him." I'll take that bitter path, I say to Mary, but I'll bet she's already forgotten about it.

"One of the defining characteristics of human beings is that their adaptation to the world depends," writes Anthony Storr in his book, Feet of Clay, "principally upon learning rather than upon those built-in behavioral patterns which govern the lives of creatures lower down the evolutionary scale. Man's infancy and childhood, relative to historical life-span, has been prolonged by evolution, with the consequence that there is additional time for learning to take place. Learning does not cease with the end of childhood. Many of us continue to learn all our lives, and enjoy doing so…. Our predisposition to go on learning is adaptive, but remaining teachable into adult life demands the retention of some characteristics of childhood…. One might add that man's adaptation is by means of maladaptation…. If we were perfectly adapted to the environment and the environment remained constant we might live in a state of blissful ignorance, unaware of any problems, but we should not be inventive because there should be no incentive to be so."

Outside, it's raining and cold, and no one smiles at us because I have my jackets done up to the chin, and no one can see my beautiful silk shirt. People don't look at Mary because they think she's a bag lady or something. Rain drips off her nose. She's very pretty. This is a bitter path, indeed. Mary has a bus pass. I tell her to get on the bus, warm up, dry out. Mary won't leave me. Instead she pecks at the discarded tickets in front of the subway station till she finds one she thinks I can use. It's really no good, I have to walk; and so-- Mary walks with me. It's a long way to some place to go. We go together. I feel beautiful again for some reason. It's not my beautiful shirt. It's because Mary is beside me. What was I thinking?

I was thinking of Rilke. I was thinking of an "Autumn Day." I was thinking of you.

Lord, it is time. The summer was so short.

Impose upon the sundials now your shadows

And round the meadows let the winds rotate.

He'll not build now, who has no house awaiting.

Who's alone now, for long will so remain.

Sit late, read, write long letters, and again

Return to restless perambulating

The avenues of parks when leaves down rain.

So on we go, we three: Mary holding close her nameless bag, grinning as she looks up at me with her beautiful green eyes. The paths are so bitter, and we are so far away from home. For dreamers it could only mean the end of the world.