The age of benightedness

When Neal Gabler, in his essay published on December 13, 2017 on billmoyers.com, foresaw a second civil war in the US, he used the phrase in a rather metaphorical way. Myself, I was, and I am still, more confident that either the US or its controversial president may not survive this presidential term. But predictions are idle, and so are political analyses. I won’t discuss them here. The reason why I am picking up a topic from politics of the day is the huge public outrage about Donald Trump’s visit to Russia and the alleged meddling of Vladimir Putin in Trump’s election.

Once again, I am not interested in who makes a better case, and if you intend to discuss any of the details with me I’m going to delete your comment as it is wasting my time. As a matter of fact, it is wasting everybody’s time – which is already the core of the matter.

James Gillray: The pinnacle of liberty
Like probably tens of thousands of other people I spent most of yesterday’s day following the news and the screeching, cursing and shouting on Facebook. Since a few months ago I’ve unfollowed most of my “friends” channels and all but two groups; still, the noise was deafening. So much fucking and frigging and bloodying and fooling and idiotizing going on… hell, where is this rage coming from? Unlike many others, I hadn’t invested in one side or the other; it was just immensely amusing to see people losing their minds over something that, had it occurred in “my country”, I would have found it laughable. Actually, “my” government and people took it quite cool when Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA’s wiretapping Frau Merkel’s phone: not much of a public tantrum, no media outcry, no Snowden hearing, no consequences for the perpetrators, no “traitor” shouting at Angie for shrugging it off; just a quick return to realpolitik.

What happened yesterday, July 17 2018, as opposed to back then in Germany’s chancery, is best explained by quoting Derrick Jensen:
Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.
Obviously, the public in the US does not perceive Russia as a legitimate violator, while the public in Germany does so with regard to the US.

The hierarchy is obvious to anybody who would look, and it is thoroughly internalized by those who wouldn’t. Empire, as needs re-emphasizing over and over again, is not just tanks and prisons and government buildings and barbed wire and tributes paid; empire is first and foremost a state of mind. By imagining empire it becomes a force; those who are able to unthink empire are able to take coercion-free decisions. They may get imprisoned or tortured or killed, but one cannot force them into compliance. Therefore Empire’s very existence depends on schools and academia, mass media and think tanks, to hammer-in the one idea which civilization permits: You are a distinct and separate human being who is selfishly competing against other separate beings for survival, and your society is the hierarchical structure that curbs the fight within civil limits.

Believing any of the excretions of these or other civilized institutions is a crime against your own freedom. And this is what transpired from yesterday’s disproportionate reactions to the happy news that we’ve been gifted with another day on which we haven’t been nuked over the petty squibbles of a bunch of governing psychopaths.

So who are the psychopaths, just Trump and Putin? No.
Rulers are psychopaths, politicians are psychopaths, CEO's are psychopaths, military folks are psychopaths, secret agents are psychopaths, leading mainstream journalists are psychopaths, and anybody who wants to take their place is one as well. Indeed, many among us ordinary folks are, too, and even me, I cannot vouch for my own sanity.

Yesterday, people have collectively abdicated their freedom in a footstomping kneewobbling headbanging handwringing religious frenzy of mass surrender to Empire’s hierarchy, and even some who could know better wasted their breath on rationalizing the significance of the Helsinki meeting. May they be forgiven, may I be forgiven for having been amused, may the psychopaths be forgiven as well, for we knew not what we’ve been doing. As far as the rising consciousness on this planet is concerned we missed our moment of glory by some inch or another. What Gabler wrote about the Trump camp some months ago is true for his vociferous opponents as well, as it is applicable to ANY side in ANY mental division:
Through a process of simplification, [the demagogues] purport to tell their followers what happened and who is responsible. In short, they provide cosmology, not for the purpose of enlightenment, but for the opposite — benightedness.
When we define humanity’s nature and place in the Universe as one of Interbeing, what is our natural response to the kind of crises we’ve seen during the Trump administration, or, in fact, since the moment when civilization made time begin? A shootout???


Frozen in movement

Do you believe in numbers? Do you believe in the power of the collective?
Me, I don't. Not any more.
There is no collective; there never was; certainly not with global industrial, nor with any other civilization, for a civilization, by definition, is based on the story of separation, and the individual becomes the constituent building block of society, just like the atom becomes the constituent particle of matter. A collective in a civilized society is nothing but an illusory container full of particles in Brownian motion, confined by the jar's walls which prevent the mass from moving outside. You may float up, you may sink down, but what does it matter? You don't become one true collective by swimming in the same pool. What's worse, as long as there's no free influx of fresh water it is and it stays a pool full of excretions by the imprisoned particles. It's suffocating eventually.
Immersing oneself in such a social container is an effective way of totally getting the notion – the culture medium – that drives a society or one of its subcultures, and drives it crazy. Up and down you float, left, right and center, until you're sick and tired of the homogenous view and get the yellow blues. Unless you truly believe in the premises that make up the culture medium, that is. Try nation states; try music genres; try street gangs; try corporations, try professional milieus; try academia; try political parties; try activism, for a change (that never comes).
The reason for incest and infighting, for bad breath and dirty deeds, is people's confinement in separate containers, and the reason for exploding on contact with any of the other containers, again, is their long-standing isolation from fresh influx, so that their chemistries have become incompatible.
Let's stop the metaphor here, as long as it's somehow coherent. There are other forces at work as well, I know, and I don't want to play down the benefits to be gained from interactions within a milieu, but in the end it just doesn't satisfy my hunger for truth or community. Those are not to be had in groups produced from separation, within societies split and shattered along the personal interests of its constituent people-particles. The very notion of interest requires the exclusion of differently-interested others and the denial of inconvenient aspects of truth.
img by Piotr Siedlecki (pd)
When you are part of the atmosphere that circumvents the jars you cannot help but get drawn in and spat out somewhere sometimes, or react violently in other places. It's what has to take place, to allow for a minimum of social glue that the incubator, the larger encompassing container, is too rigid to provide. Government and ideology, science and religion are partial themselves; they cannot do the job that each and every single one of the people-particles better did themselves.
There, the metaphor breaks down, just in time for pointing out that the responsibility for making sense of truth, for social coherence, and, last not least, everybody's well-being and happiness cannot be outsourced to the greasy film on top. We better understand that if we try to fight our way out of the jar, each on our own, just like how we've been taught, we are never going to make it. What it takes is true community, a state in which people act from a place which is much stronger than self-interest: love and compassion for the other; in fact, the end of othering our not-quite-so-separate neighbour.
It cannot be done by force; it cannot be done by law; it cannot be done through reasoning; it cannot be done on large scale. International accords and nation states, even cities are too big for this. It has to be done one by one, face to face, right in the place where we are and nowhere else. The fact that I write this on a solitary blog hosted on an (anti-) social platform is kind of hilarious. Yet I got to work from what I have. I'm a writer, I'm an activist, among many other things. I live in a commune (does that make me a communist?), yet community is a state that sometimes has a hard time becoming realized; it's because our minds, over decades, have been brainwashed into competing with each other. We have no other choice but to try again and again, day after day. So do I, in thinking, in living, and in writing about living and thinking. Words are but a medium; more often than not they fail to transport what's meant But if you attempt to live a life both outside and inside the various jars you will know what I refer to. You are the one I am writing for.


Getting the goat (3)

Speediness is a way
of not relating
to the world.