Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Modern Tragedy

Land flight. Social change. Cultural disintegration. Political upheaval. And reactionary longings for the imagined, romantic past of the 'Golden Age' before everything went wrong, before 'they' came-- to ruin the otherwise perfect life of the otherwise perfect people. The Master Race. Triumphant war. Soil Mysticism. Great men doing great deeds in the lost age of heroes. All these glories replaced by little men who tear up the large and turn everything into the small, the counted, the priced, the banal, the mediocre, the petit-bourgeios privacies of individualism. These concepts all are large features of fascism, worth much discussion at a later date. We'll look here at the movement from "The Land" to the city, in this case the movement from land to city in the development of the Industrial Revolution, and in so seeing the effects of the Industrial Revolution we might see the effects and outcomes of Capitalism on the world of the primitive Islamic world today. The importance of land flight to the cities and of personal ownership of property outside the traditional collective or tribal holdings lays in the emotional effects of this culture-shift from feudalism to industrialism, particularly in regard to the disruption in the minds of the community-at-large going through a change unlike anything before it, more devastating than defeat in war which one can hope to reverse at some later date, more devastaing than natural disaster from which one can recover to rebuild the old anew, a cultural shift not wanted and fiercely resisted by the dispossesed and resisted from the depths of religious passion, ages-old traditional identity, and other dark wells of sullen emotional sustenance. And worse than the effects on the life of the victim of this change is that it is better than anything they had before, better and better by the day, and it precludes any hope of returning to the past except by way of poisoned imaginings and death. To be improved, to have ones past stripped away, to be left humiliated by superior forces beyond ones own abilities, to feel oneself mocked and infantalized in the face of the world is to feel shame and outrage, not gratitude. To resort to violence is obvious, regardless of the outcome. And who really cares?

It is the flaw of the Left that they have sunk into the slough of sentimentality and philobarbarism to the point of fascist collaboration with the reactionariy forces of Islam in its demise. No traditonal culture is worth preserving if it precludes the benefits Modernity brings to those who cannot choose to reject them, i.e. children. There is no sanctity to be found in child mortality due to primitivism. The cult of philobarbarism is a fascist evil cloaked in Red. Exposed, it is a dark and evil force that needs be slain for good. Progress, regardless of the privilege accrued in the oligarchies is worth the life of those kept forom the benefits of Progress and Modernity. Postcard people do not exist. Only real people do, and they have Human rights that are natural to all people, universally, regardless of geographical circumstances of birth, regardless of anything.

To attain the benefits of Modernity people have to accept or not the changes that modern economics demand. Life is tough, and some people die from it. Well, so what? It is only our duty to save thsoe who can be saved, even if we are reluctantly forced to remove from the course of Progress those who resist it.

We have argued here that the changes required to transform the primitive world into the modern world will come from men and women like William Walker, land pirate and small-time psychopathic killer who tried to enslave the populations of Central America in the early 19th century. Had he succeeded Central America today would be little different economically from the majority of the southern United States or western Europe. It's unfortunate that Walker failed-- unfortunate for Central Americans. We shouldn't repeat the mistake our forefathers made in stopping Walker from succeeding.Today we have a chance to transform the Moslem world, to bring them, however reluctant they might be, to the new age of mankind.

Howsbawm writes in The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 that the Industrial Revolution required masses of labourers disciplined to work in factories, men and women who were forced by circumstances to remove themselves from rural areas to cities, and from subsistence farming at best to highly regimented mechanized factory labour, creating social relations unlike anything they'd experienced prior, and leaving in its wake a swath of human destruction unseen before in human history, devastation even unlike defeat in war because in the Industrial Revolution the change was from the cyclical to the linear, from the land to the city, from the community to the individual. The new age of Capitalism brought not only hardship, pain, and death, and it came in the form not merely of evil but of blankness, a souless, grinding destruction that meant nothing in human terms, only in terms of money. The purpose of life became the value one could wring from ones employer, ones personal worth as ones value in the workplace.

The first great revolution in human history was that of agriculture, discounting walking upright, the discovery of fire, and the invention of the wheel; and for 5,000 years common people did little but build up enough surplus to create small cities that housed and supported their tiny elites of priests, kings, warriors. Small and incremental changes in cultures, the rising and falling of predatory empires, and the constant wasting of the human population in repetitive cycles of agriculture and animal husbandry, that was the life of man, its superstructures of religion and tradition forming transparent gloss over the hellishness of living a life for nothing. And then came industrial invention, one atop the other, accelerating and expanding geometrically, exploding the old life and crushing the usual grass under metal monsters spewing smoke and spitting steam, monsters that devoured humans by the industrial tonne, turning life into a nightmare that possessed William Blake to write of the new land "The New Jersualem"

And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic Mills?

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we bave built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

Hobsbawm writes:

The rapid growth of towns and non-agricultural settlements in Britain had naturally long stimulated agriculture, which is fortunately so inefficient in its pre-industrial forms that quite small improvements-- a little rational attention to animal husbandry, crop-rotation, fertilization and the lay-out of farms, or the adoption of new crops-- can produce disproportionately large results.
[It is in] the 1840s, the period when agricultural science and engineering may be said to have come of age. The vast increase in output which enabled British farming in the 1830s to supply 98% of the grain for a population between two and three times the mid 18th century size, was achieved by general adoption of methods pioneered in the early 18th century, by rationalization and by expansion of the cultivated area.
All these in turn were achieved by social rather than technological transformation, by the liquidation of medieval communal cultivation with its open field and common pasture, (the 'enclosure movement,') of self-sufficient peasant farming, and of old-fashioned uncommercial attitudes towards the land. (Hobsbawm: p.64.)

When agriculture no longer required masses of labourers to cultivate and harvest crops, and when with a mere fraction of the labour force able to produce huge crops there was no purpose for labourers on the land; and if not for cities to escape to, as in the case of the Scottish during the "Clearances", there was famine on the land for those who places were taken over by sheep.

The Corn Laws with which the agrarian interst sought to protect farming...against the tendency to treat agriculture as an industry like any other, to be judged by the criteria of profitablity alone...were rearguard actions against the final introduction of capitalism into the countryside...the Corn Law [abolished] in 1846.
[A]n industrial economy needs labour, and where else but from the former non-industrial sector was it to come from? (Hobsbawm: p. 65.)

Rationalization of land rather than sentimentalization of land, or worse, mystification of land as irrationalist esse and volkgeist, that is the problem of cultural atomism, of individuality after a human history of communitarian life. Industry needed labourers, and cities took them in. The transitition from what Marx calls the idiocy of rural living to the souless and brutal edxistence of modern industrial cities was unbearably harsh for most, but the advantage of wage-slavery over land-slavery is, once the hurdle is cleared, more beneficial than anything before it. But what happens to those primitives who leap from the rural idiocy to the city and find nothing but an empty city full of people? a city without work or industry or reason for being? Where are the advantages for displaced man? Man, alienated from the land, from his family, tribe, tradition, and usual condition; and man thrown naked into a souless city is left without the worhtless cover of religion and shallow meanings therefrom. Who and what is responsible? Why is the lost perfection of the past gone from his life? Blame 'them.'

When all that was usual is past and not returning, then it is obviously the end of the world. The chiliastic interpretation of the state of lost man is too normal. Of course the world is at an end, and if one is of the chosen or perfect religion, if one submits properly to the will of Allah, if one restores the caliphate and imposes sharia on the masses, then Allah will have mercy on the believer, and he will go to paradise, that which is lost to him in the flight from the land and from the traditions of the past now destroyed and humiliated by Modernity and Progress, of which there is nothing to show for it but money. For the primitive man who finds himslef in the city without the benefits of work even in factories, then there is only the intense loss of the rural and the lost religious to compensate for that loss. To be more religious is to cling to the hope in the grip of hopelessness. And since religion fails obviously, the lost man must recreate the lie interminably rather than create life within the new social and economic matix of Modernity. Or kill as many others as possible in blowing himself up for Allah.

The conflict between the past of rural idiocy and Modernity comes to this:

[B]oth Britain and the world knew that the Industrial Revolution launched in these islands by and through the traders and entrepeneurs, whose only law was to buy int the cheapest markets and seell whithout restriction in the dearest, was transforming the world. Nothing could stand in its way. The gods and kings of the past were powerless before the businessmen and steam-engins of the present. (Hobsbawm: p. 68-69.)

Fascist Islam, like it or not, is doomed. We witness in our day its demise, and it is a terrible thing of madness and suicide. Those who cling to the imagined glories of the past are doomed, and those who pretend to care about those same people are little better than criminals who make the death of millions inevitable in the conflict between those who will make the transition to modernity and progress and those who will cling to Islam as they sink into the history of failed peoples.

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