Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Harmonious Interests of Mad Max

Adhering to bourgeois values is what has created and is what sustains Modern culture. Boiled down, I call it all "Privacy." One owns ones own life as ones own private property, and from there, one can and may own things other, given the restriction that one cannot violate another's privacy. We co-operate. We have exchanges that more or less mutually benefit. We don't rob and rape and murder for gain, as a rule. We try to live harmoniously. We aren't mad in the head. We have rules to live by, and they allow us to prosper. Some people really hate that.

Bourgeois values are "mediocre." There is little or nothing aristocratic in shaving a penny. It's not noble to save ones pennies and build them into dollars. Such is greedy, grubby, and mean. It's a mean nation, as we hear from those who know. Who could be proud of such smallness? Only a bourgeois would like putting off for now in order to have more later. Where is the Grand Gesture? Where the heroism of Life? Muddling along and saving and working for tomorrow is petty. Who can love it? It's not only petty and greedy and myopic, it's anti-social to isolate ones gains from others. Why not share and be at one with others? Individuals are solitary. Like beasts. We should all be one. We don't really need all this stuff we gain from counting and saving and hiding away and amassing. Small, man, real small.

Look around at the world and you'll see The People are exploited and starving and enslaved by bourgeois values, i.e. by those who adhere to bourgeois values. If not for the selfishness of the few, then all of everyone could have enough, and the world would live as one. Muslims lived as one till America and Israel destroyed their culture through imperialism and phony borders creating nations that don't reflect the authentic boundaries of the natural groupings. The world's people used to live in a Golden Age of enough, a pleasant time of free fruit hanging from the trees for anyone to take, in harmony with animals and snail darter fish. Then along came a man with a tape measure who declared that the land was his alone, and now, thanks to bourgeois values, most people are starving and enslaved by him, the Capitalist. Driven by poverty, they have to use their very bodies as bombs to try to rectify the evils of the imposition of bourgeois values on The People. And ya ya....

Are those with bourgeois values really any better? Bourgeois values come from an understanding of power: that one has the power to live ones own life according to ones own best lights, in "pursuit of ones happiness." The gods might wreck the pursuit, but maybe not. And if they do, then one tries again, and again, and maybe in time, with luck and a good wind, one succeeds over-all. But regardless, one might try, and there is the power of the bourgeois, that he feels free to try at all. His attempts to control his own life might be mean and petty and silly, but they are his. So long as he doesn't outrage his neighbours, he is free, more or less, to do as he will. If he can do so and make a profit, well, next thing we know, we have flush toilets where before we had ankle deep sewage everywhere. It's not heroic. It's small. It's bourgeois, not aristocratic. It's not villainous; not the mind of a Romantic peasant at work. It's just getting along as well as one may. One is a "boor," as in bourgeois. Petty.

There are those with the aristocratic mind, those who feel entitled to the riches of the world, whose titles provide them with what it is to be a Big Man in the world of peasants. Appointments, sinecures, positions. They amass, however it's done, great fortunes, which they use to arrange appanage for the peasants, bread-payment for the docile and grateful. The court toadies, the bohemian intelligentsia lavish praise on their betters, and all is right with the world. Except for those petty bourgeois who have too much money for their stations. They are a mockery of aristocratic privilege. Their success in the world is an insult to the grandness of the aristocrats, an affront to the peasants, of whom the middle are but for the resented elevation within the bourgeois vision. What right do petty peasants have to succeed? Maddening.

They should, at least, be happy working class contributors to the whole, to the just price economy, to the moral economy in which most are poor but happy, and tended by Philosopher Kings. At best, they would be savages living in harmony with nature, dancing and smiling and performing native rituals for the amusement of the enlightened classes. Muslims will do. Angry and violent savages yearning to breathe slavery-- perfection in its authenticity. The well-to-do and undeservedly so middle class peasant must step aside and allow pride of authentic place to the savage, the truly noble being.

The middle muddle. They quietly pay off all whom they must. They pay off the Philosopher Kings and the peasants and the savages and they keep what there is left to keep. It's a penny-shaving life. It has value. Compromise, give in, sell out, back out and shame themselves, anything for a part of a penny. The bourgeois are rightly despised for their pettiness. Especially when it is grand. When it is America.

Those with bourgeois values have little grasp of the other sides of life, being involved in their own lives and aware otherwise only of the need to pay for peace. Rampaging Muslim savages committing murder by the hour around the world? Pay them off. Give them what they ask for, and we'll say we feel their pain, that in the hope they will feel better about us in time, if not now. Just don't rock any boats or burn any bridges or cross any streets without looking up and down. It's in everyone's interest to remain harmonious, trading a bit of this for a bit of that to everyone's mutual advantage.

And then there are the mad. They don't have so much love of the bourgeois values today as perhaps yesterday they did. Maybe it was one terror attack too many, one person brutalised too badly, one city destroyed by primitives, and then in the smoke and the flames and the scorching heat of battle the primitives don't look like they are worth paying in money for a worthless peace at all. One moves on, abandoning the mediocre middle to those who live it quietly. Is it good, friend?
Pappagallo: "You’re happy out there, are you? Eh? Wandering? One day blurring into another? You’re a scavenger, Max. You’re a maggot. Did you know that? You’re living off the corpse of the old world. Tell me your story, Max. C’mon. Tell me your story. What burned you out, huh? Kill one man too many? See too many people die? Lose some family? Oh, so that’s it, you lost your family? That makes you something special, does it?” George Miller, The Road Warrior. (1982)
If the general system of bourgeois values is to succeed, then most will have to give up to get, in the interest of all, particularly oneself. Mad men are not part of a delicate system of harmonies.

Harmony of Interests

With a proper understanding of one's interests, it can be seen that there is a harmony of interests between rational men. That we benefit enormously from positive interactions with others. This benefit comes in the form of the abundance of wealth made possible by a Capitalism, to the continuing increase of knowledge available to mankind. It comes in the form of friendships, romantic love, and the support of one's family. The harmony of interests bring men together in peaceful cooperation to benefit their lives. This is the bedrock of society. It is why people choose to live in a society.

Although the desires of men may be opposed, their interests are not. Living in a peaceful society is of incalculable benefit to man. Any possible advantage gain from living outside of a peaceful society is insignificant compared to the loss. For instance, living in a wilderness may bring you more peace and quiet, but it is at the expense of friendships and the enormous material wealth possible in a society.

The harmony of interests only exists between rational men. Irrational men and the use of force are not in the interests of other men. Men's interests are only in harmony with peaceful, voluntary interactions. Only when men live by the Trader Principle do their interests unite. Only when men accept persuasion and trade do they become a benefit to other men. Accessed 5 March 2011.

Our Modern world is rational, and our rational people know it is cheaper to pay off the primitives than to wage war against them. We know, too, that we cannot always buy them off, and that we must have a rational military force to defend us against the primitives who would otherwise attack and devour such a fat and tasty beast as the Modern world. But we mostly use our militaries today to do the paying off. Organised, efficient, petty in its aims and methods, not heroic, not grand, not interesting. Our military is petty and bourgeois. It is a multitude of penny parts accumulated into one massive machine that more or less works most often in an imperfect world. There are few warriors among the soldiers of our Modern world. Most soldiers want to get along by going along. It is a harmony of interests at work. "Living in a peaceful society is of incalculable benefit to man. Any possible advantage gain from living outside of a peaceful society is insignificant compared to the loss."

It is a fundamental bourgeois value, methinks, to leave political power to the aristocrats and the peasants of the Modern world. The bourgeois is satisfied with paying the bills and plodding along as best he can, pinched and harassed as he might be by each other side. It's the price of doing business. It is an act of rational harmony to interact.

But there are those few who don't have the same bourgeois values. Post-bourgeois, we might say. Road Warriors, to push the point. Those who are as savage as the savage; as pitiless as the aristocratic; as mad as Max. What possible advantage is there in such madness? The bourgeois shakes his head and offers money and a place to count it within the sphere of normal. Rejecting bourgeois values for those post, one is seen as "Just as bad as they are!" The bourgeois is angered and incensed by the betrayal of the rational man who rejects the bourgeois value of passivity in the face of violence. The man post-bourgeois is a a traitor, "No better than they are!" Not a man to build and lay up and save and store, the mad man is alone. One cannot deal with him as a moral being. He is a betrayer of bourgeois values. Where is the harmony of interests? Reject. We cannot trade with such a man. What does he want? Nothing.
Max: "I'm just here for the gasoline."

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Had we but world enough and crack

I was buying fruit and veggies at the market in Chinatown a while ago, the sidewalk crowded with shoppers, the cement slick with stuff fallen and trampled, making the way a chore in itself, making it a matter of caution just passing. I wasn't paying attention till I spotted a young woman and her decrepit mother. The young one was attractive, so I looked. Cabbage, even red and on sale, only goes so far, even at my age. I checked her out, and I saw her mother, looking much less attractive than cabbage on a bad day. The babe asked her mom what she would like. When I heard I kind of lost interest in the whole day. Old lady said: "I want a dick."

It was then, in a flash, that I saw that the old lady was the young woman's younger sister.