Discipline, freedom and pure fucking blind obedience

One of the main reasons I have often despised conservatism in my life is the perception I’ve always had that conservatives were the enemies of freedom, as was often demonstrated by how often they would line up in support of cultural authoritarian throughout the 20th century as well as the current century. However, ever since my transition to socialist political thought, I now realize that one of the most insidious things about conservatism is, in fact, the way that they pretend to be in support of freedom, they way they bastardize the meaning of freedom in a very Orwellian fashion (which is ironic, considering how much conservatives love to quote Orwell on freedom). A good example of this that I stumbled onto recently is a video by the popular conservative YouTube channel known as Prager University, which is just  organization that is not actually an accredited university but nonetheless calls itself one for some reason. The video in question was titled “Discipline = Freedom” and was narrated by a man named Jocko Willink, a retired Navy SEAL officer who hosts a self-help podcast dealing with topics about leadership, discipline and willpower.

The video is littered all manner of fairly bog-standard standard, self-help tropes but from a conservative and disciplinarian perspective, the funny thing being that the speaker rejects motivation as fickle and unreliable while also basically employing the rhetoric of motivational self-help. What sticks out for me though is the premise laid out in the video as pertains to “extreme ownership”, which is basically just your bog standard pop spiel about self-motivation with a subtle dash of Social-Darwinism, Nietzschean master morality, and the conservative worship of authority. Let me illustrate this with a quote from the video:

Let other people blame their parents, their boss, or the system. Let weaker people complain that the world isn’t fair. You are the leader of your life: take ownership of everything in it.

The level of trickery and deception being employed here should not be lost on you. Simultaneously he is teaching you that you are the master of your life and that you have no right to question the system around you. If you entertain the idea that the system is an impedient to your freedom or your well-being in any way whatsoever, that’s supposed to be taken as weakness. If we think about it for even a minute we would consider that psychologically training ourselves to obey the status quo because we have to do so isn’t really freedom, or self-mastery, or self-ownership, you’re just letting the system take ownership of you and your mind while tricking yourself into thinking that you’re just taking in charge of your life as a free and independent agent. “Freedom” in conservative parlance only means, as one young communist remarked, the freedom to conform to society and do what you’re told when you’re told to do it. This to me becomes all the more ironic when you take into account the fact that conservatives, since about 2015 or so, have been constantly pushing themselves as the victims of a system characterized by supposed liberal or left-wing domination of the institutions, some even still trying to bill themselves as the new counterculture. If we were to apply the pseudo-Stoic logic we’re presented here to conservatives, why are they in any position to be whining about the very system that they support suddenly turning against them in the way that fickle, almost anarchic market forces tend to do under capitalism? Shouldn’t they be taking responsibility for everything, even if it’s not their fault? Aren’t they the masters of their own lives at all times and in all circumstances? It’s here that much of the self-help rhetoric employed here can be exposed as self-serving woo whose only purpose is to berate people for being sick of a system that is actively hindering their prosperity and freedom.

The Social-Darwinism is also quite noticeable, and here it ironically serves as a way of inducing conformity to the system by appealing to your sense of strength vs the supposed weakness of others. You are told not to be like those wretches who take issue with rampant inequality, unfairness and suffering much of which is actually in our power to stop, and instead to pursue strength and self-mastery by keeping your head, never questioning the system and silencing the voice in your head that tells you that something’s wrong with the world around you and that it can changed. This concept of “extreme ownership” can be framed as a reflection of the conventional understanding of master morality and slave morality as per Nietzsche’s philosophy – master morality is said to originate from the strength of the aristocratic “noble man” while slave morality is said to originate from the weakness and ressentiment of his subjects. When the speaker says, “let weaker people complain that the world isn’t fair”, he is palpably invoking the idea of ressentiment, that the “weak” only criticize the society they live in because of envy and bitterness. It is notable that such analysis invariably fails to ask the question of what create said envy and bitterness. But this is immaterial to the speaker, because it interferes with the idea that you are, at all times, the master of your life and your surroundings, even in circumstances when this is objectively not the case.

The conservative view of freedom is both inconsistent and observably a mask for the desire for unquestioning obedience to the system. I am not saying that you cannot make the argument for discipline generating mental freedom (indeed, to the videos credit, it sometimes comes close to doing so, though never surpasses the realm of idealistic self-help axioms), in fact you might apply Pierre Joseph Proudhon’s liberty-authority dialectic as per The Principle of Federation in support of such efforts. But in this proposal of “extreme ownership”, discipline is not the seed of mental and spiritual freedom, but instead the means by which to silence the voice of such freedom, the spark of doubt and critique that would lead the individual against the capitalist system and against conservative ideology and morality, which of course Prager University wouldn’t want. Since I sometimes see similar rhetoric to the speaker being spouted by Left Hand Path types, and indeed I’ve seen Michael W. Ford parrot similar rhetoric in his videos, I would advise that we be very careful, and take a critical look at any proposal that tells us that to see the world as unjust or unfair for any reason is a sign of weakness, because such talking points are not bold statements against the establishment but in fact music to the ears of the system and its ruling elites. You will not find freedom by telling yourself to keep your head down as though it’s all your fault rather than raise your voice (and, eventually, your sword) against the enemy.

Long live the democratization of deity

In the foreword of Karl Marx’s Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature, there is noticeable attention paid to the myth of Prometheus, which he seems to view as the champion and affirmation of the virtue of philosophy. He makes reference to the philosopher Epicurus as echoing the cry of philosophy against its adversaries through the following quotation from his letter to Menoeceus:

“Not the man who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude, but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them, is truly impious.”

Now it is worth noting that, in the actual letter, the context of that statement is negative. Epicurus considered the affirmation to be a literal blasphemy, because in his words “the utterances of the multitude about the gods are not true preconceptions but false assumptions”.

There is a version of that quote that reads a little differently, found in Karl Marx’s Social and Political Thought: Critical Assessments by Robert Jessop, as well as Activity in Marx’s Philosophy by Norman D. Livergood, and it reads like this:

“The blasphemous is not he who scorns the gods of the masses, but he who adheres to the idea that the masses create the gods.”

And truly this would be blasphemy indeed for the classically religious person. After all, this brings the level of the gods, God, and divinity in general down to the domain of Man, and in so doing binds them to the earthly realm, to worldliness. This would be impermissible for most religious/spiritual systems. But, it is in part that quality that makes such an idea truly revolutionary in the context of the ancient world, and perhaps still so in the modern day.

It is also from the foreword of Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature that we derive a very peculiar quote, one that I find should appeal to those who seek to uphold the Promethean ideal:

“Prometheus is the most eminent saint and martyr in the philosophical calendar.”

In Marx’s canon, Prometheus is the mythological and heroic champion of philosophy, and through whom philosophy rebukes the clemency of the gods in his response to Hermes:

Be sure of this, I would not change my state
Of evil fortune for your servitude.
Better to be the servant of this rock
Than to be faithful boy to Father Zeus.

This quotation is in many ways the ancestor of that famous speech given by Satan in Paradise Lost, in which he proclaims, rightfully, that it is better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. When Hermes, a servant of Zeus, approaches Prometheus, he attempts to scare Prometheus into telling him what he knows about the eventual destroyer of Zeus, as this is one condition for Zeus to release him from his bondage to the Caucasus. Prometheus refuses to comply, and asserts that he would prefer to remain in his state of punishment and suffering then to serve as the lackey of the gods. This is how one can make sense of the Promethean interpretation of the character of Satan in Paradise Lost, assuming of course that John Milton was familiar with the story of Prometheus.

For Marx to cite him as the foremost saint of the philosophical calendar suggests that the spirit of Prometheus is very much intended to manifest in much of his worldview, and for him at least the practice of philosophy. Or, more pertinently, that the emancipatory spirit of Prometheus reminded Marx of his own overriding ideal of collective emancipation (Prometheus being the emancipator of humanity by stealing the fires of knowledge, with Marx’s .

Now, in Jessop’s book, We get an interesting analysis of the way Marx addressed the Promethean themes invoked in the foreword of Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature. First we address the analysis of the quotation of Epicurus.

“True blasphemy is not contempt for the gods but advocacy of the idea that the gods are human creations, detached ideas, become independent in the mind. Philosophy or secular self-consciousness, in other words, does not reject ‘gods’, a metaphor for ideas, but sees them as reflections of man’s own self-consciousness; i.e. gods, like ideas, are products of human self-consciousness and not the absolutes of theology.”

Theistic religions, from pre-Christian religions to Christianity to Islam to Hinduism, have traditionally held their gods in absolute, being tangible beings with tangible power, through the tremendous power they were held to have over natural and spiritual forces that directly affect the survival of humans. Framed this way, however, the gods are presented as the emanations of human consciousness, from there perhaps dependent upon it. Perhaps this is not too far away from the way that the naturalists of old viewed the gods, such as Prodicus of Ceos who regarded the gods as reflections of the natural forces that provided comfort to mankind, though perhaps it could also be taken in another way.

Continuing from there:

“The point is even more clearly established by Marx when he makes ‘the confession of Prometheus: “In simple words, I hate the pack of gods”‘, into philosophy’s own self-declaration; i.e, there will be no gods other than profane ‘human self-consciousness’. The same point is made in a footnote to the Appendix of his dissertation, where he presents the ontological proof of the existence of god as being in fact a proof of the ‘existence of essential human self-consciousness’. If the ontological proof states that the concept of a thing begs a corresponding reality, then, ‘which being’ Marx asks ‘is immediate when made the subject of thought?’. The answer he asserts is ‘self-consciousness’ – not the concept of self-consciousness but real, existing self-consciousness, the immediate source of all concepts, and the subject matter of the thesis.”

To say that there will be no gods other than human self-consciousness ties in rather nicely with the statement that it is the masses that create the gods, that they are the products of consciousness. For in much the same way, to declare human self-consciousness as the realm of the divine brings the divine into the world realm and through which, crucially, into the domain of Man.

This ethos permeates what Jessop identifies much further on:

The Foreword ends with the statement: “Prometheus is the most eminent saint and martyr in the philosophical calendar.”. In other words, philosophy, as human self-consciousness, finds its symbol in Prometheus, who brought the secret of fire to man from the gods so that man might develop his own arts and remove himself from subordination to the gods. Like Prometheus, philosophy must end the separation of the sacred from the secular, it must bring ideas down from the heavens and make them the content of real human consciousness.

It is from here that I get to my main point. The true ideal at the heart of the Promethean (and from there Luciferian) archetype is the idea of the abolition of the separation between Man and the divine, from there emancipating the whole of mankind.

In that sense, I’ve also begun to consider this in relation to even Jesus and Christianity. No, Prometheus is not an analogue of Jesus Christ. I covered this in a separate blog post in February 2017 (though, having said that, the satirist Lucian of Samosata apparently related Prometheus’ punishment in terms of Jesus’ crucifixion, and ironically there may be considerable similarities between Jesus and Heracles, the rescuer of Prometheus). But there is something the two figures have in common worth noting: theoretically, at least, Jesus through his death and resurrection was supposed to abolish Man’s separation with the divine.

In this sense, the real problem with Christianity is that it never in its thousand year plus reign truly achieved the abolition of that separation between Man and God. How could it, with its embrace of the rigid hierarchy of the great chain of being? Though I suppose it does not help things that the ideal of Christianity . There’s a profound sense of cuckoldery within the Christian religion. In Jesus you have a potentially emancipatory figure, potentially even the means by which God becomes accessible and tangible to mankind (whereas, in Judaism, he could only ever be so close, indeed his very being blinds and burns whose who lay sight upon it), and even then Jesus’ salvation can only really be a thing within the very same hierarchy within which, in Judaism, God is ever so inaccessible. Indeed, despite Jesus’ best efforts, the Christian conceptions of hierarchy served only to further or sustain Man’s partition with the divine. Not to mention, have we not forgotten when Jesus said “think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets”, referring to the Judaic law of the Old Testament, “I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill”, very clearly stating that, as much as he may have established the bridge between the divine and man, he still upholds Judaic law, and from there the spirit of the hierarchy of the intangible and the tyrannical authority of the Abrahamic Logos, and very much to the letter as he says “not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”.

The Luciferian, therefore, seeks to emancipate Man in a way that Christianity could not. His goal is to work towards ending the separation between the divine and Man, to liberate the soul from ignorance and bondage, and to generate freedom for all sentient beings. In so doing, the Luciferian rejects the order of the God of Abraham as a condition for Man’s freedom, whereas Jesus sought to uphold it. The Luciferian, in seeking to carry the mission of Prometheus, places the divine in the locus of Man, for man is the object of Luciferian liberation.

Prometheus and Hercules by Christian Griepenkerl

Deconstructing Duality – Part 2: The liberty-authority dialectic

In some ways this post can be thought of as partially a continuation of the previous post on this subject, which focused on the individualism-collectivism dynamic, because of the way the authority-liberty dialectic sometimes ties into the individualism-collectivism dialectic – typically with liberty coinciding with individualism and authority coinciding with collectivism at least per conventional liberal wisdom. However, as you will see, it is not entirely bound to this theme, though undeniably connected.

Buttressing the first part of this discussion is the The Principle of Federation, which was written by the French anarchist/mutualist philosopher Pierre Joseph Proudhon in 1863. It is here that the authority-liberty dialectic is discussed in great length, and from here that discussion of the dialectic originates. Simply put:

“Political order rests fundamentally on two contrary principles: authority and liberty. The one initiates, the other concludes; the one goes hand-in-hand with obedient faith, the other with free reason.

I doubt that a single voice will be raised against this first proposition. Authority and liberty are as old as the human race; they are born with us, and live on in each of us. Let us note but one thing, which few readers would notice otherwise: these two principles form a couple, so to speak, whose two terms, though indissolubly linked together, are nevertheless irreducible one to the other, and remain, despite all our efforts, perpetually at odds. Authority necessarily presupposes a liberty which recognizes or denies it; in turn liberty, in its political sense, likewise presupposes an authority which confronts it, repressing or tolerating it. Suppress one of the two, and the other has no sense: authority, without a Liberty to examine it, to resist or submit to it, is an empty word; liberty, without an authority as counterweight, is meaningless.”

The order of a society rests on the dynamic of the forces of authority (order) and liberty (freedom), but of which are rather clearly defined here:

The principle of authority, familial, patriarchal, magisterial, monarchical, theocratic, tending to hierarchy, centralization, absorption, is given by nature, and is thus essentially predestined, divine, as you will. Its scope, resisted and impeded by the opposing principle, may expand or contract indefinitely, but can never be extinguished.

The principle of liberty, personal, individualist, critical, the instrument of dividing, choosing, arranging, is supplied by the mind. Essentially a principle of judgment, then, it is superior to the nature which it makes use of, and to the necessity which it masters. Its aspirations are unbounded; it is, like its contrary, subject to extension or restriction, but it likewise cannot be exhausted as it grows, nor can it be nullified by constraint.

It follows that in every society, even the most authoritarian, liberty necessarily plays some part; likewise in every society, even the most liberal, some portion is reserved for authority. This requirement is absolute; no political arrangement is exempt. Despite the efforts of the understanding to resolve diversity into unity, the two principles persist, always in opposition to each other. Political development arises from their inescapable logic and their mutual interaction.

This explanation also cuts right at the heart of the basis of monarchical rule in contrast to republican rule. The basis of monarchy is, indeed, the idea of the body politic as represented by a family unit, specifically the royal family, and this idea is typically intertwined with religious ideas of vertical hierarchical rule (hence, the royal family as ordained with the divine right to rule by God, or perhaps by one of many gods in pre-Christian monarchies). By contrast, republican rule is based on, as the name suggests, the principle of “res publica”, which means “public affairs” and references of the commonwealth or the commons, entailing that the domain of politics is the domain of the commons, and so it should be in principle that the body politic is represented by the people at large who inhabit the commons rather than a singular family unit.

We also see the authority-liberty dialectic play out in the realm of class, as is observed thusly:

Surprise is occasioned by the fact that a government founded by bourgeois or patricians in alliance with a dynasty should generally be more liberal than one founded by the masses under the leadership of a dictator or a tribune. The phenomenon may indeed seem all the more surprising in that the people are at bottom more interested in and more genuinely attached to liberty than the bourgeoisie. But this paradox, the great stumbling-block of politics, is explained by the situation of the parties: in the case of a popular victory, the people must think and act autocratically, but when the bourgeois enjoy supremacy they think and act as republicans. Let us return to the fundamental dualism of authority and liberty, and we shall understand the matter.

From the divergence of these two principles, and under the influence of contrary passions and interests, two opposite tendencies, two currents of opinion, emerge. The partisans of authority tend to reduce the scope of liberty — individual, corporative, or local — as much as possible, and by this means to exploit to their own profit and at the expense of the mass the power with which they ally themselves. The partisans of the liberal regime, on the other hand, tend to restrain authority and to conquer the aristocracy by relentlessly limiting public functions and the acts and forms of power. Because of their position, because of the modesty of their wealth, the people seek equality and liberty from governments; for the opposite reason, the land-owning, financial, and industrial patricians favour a monarchy which will protect the great interests and secure order for their own profit, and as a result stress authority at the expense of liberty.

In order to understand this from the lens of the modern day, consider the proclivity of the petty-bourgeois or upper-middle classes to embrace a very peculiar type of cosmopolitan liberal progressivism. This brand of liberalism one whose remit for freedom, in its allowance for the prosecution of “hate speech”, derives legitimacy not from the kind of post-Stalinist Bolshevism imagined by classical liberals, conservatives and the far-right, but instead from the logic of the paradox of tolerance constructed by the liberal Karl Popper, and whose arguments for the increased heterogeneity of Western societies, decreasing immigration controls (see for example Vox’s Ezra Klein who claims that allowing an influx in lax migration will make the global richer) and in general support globalization under the premise that it will spread cosmopolitan liberalism and welfare capitalism across the world and eliminate tyranny -the irony, of course, being very rich considering that, in supporting the European Union and related initiatives they invariably support the centralization of government both national and supra-national. An example of the way this is tied to class is how affluent and cosmopolitan areas of the UK that used to consistent support the Conservative Party have moved to Labour over the issue of the European Union. Or how the bourgeoisie slammed the British government for making rhetorical overtures towards controlling immigration.

Of course the expansion of state power is something that liberals across the spectrum find themselves forced to support, with classical liberals such as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises historically on record for supporting the regimes of Augusto Pinochet (the Chilean dictator who removed the democratically elected Salvador Allende in a coup in 1973) and Engelbert Dollfuss (the fascist chancellor of Austria who ruled between 1933 and 1938) respectively. Even today you will find classical liberals online who will defend not only those figures in spite of their support for dictators but also support politicians like Jair Bolsonaro, who is an open supporter of military dictatorship, and Donald Trump, who has done nothing to reduce the NSA dragnet and has sometimes suggested that people be fired for disagreeing with him and under whose administration the US is looking to implement hate speech legislation under the guise of fighting anti-semitism. What’s more they do so, as Proudhon observed, convinced of their own devotion to liberalism. If social democracy is seen as an inherently authoritarian system, even when it lacks authoritarian governance or indeed is the result of democratic choice, then imposing free market authoritarianism ceases to be authoritarian in the mind of the liberal because of the framework they operate under.

Following this analysis, let us explore the liberty-authority dialectic in a different tangent, beginning with the theme of anarchy and anarchism. In a way I think it can be argued that the principles of anarchy and tyranny are but shadows of each other. Think of it this way: tyranny, in practice, is nothing but anarchy for the ruler. The tyrant has the total freedom for him/herself to exercise his/her rule however he/she desires, unmoored by the constraints of law, guided only by their own will to power. Conversely, anarchy represents the abolition of the state, and in so doing abolish the constraints of law that allow for an ordered existence and prevent the wholesale violation of another person’s rights. What this means is that the . If that sounds silly just consider the anarchist solution for, from their perspective, dealing with “hate speech” and how to punish people who commit it – something that common sense would tell you requires some sort of state apparatus. From what I’ve managed to get out of the anarchists I’ve talked to on the subject, their answer can be summarized as follows: if someone attempts to speak publicly about immigration being bad, or gays being lunatics, or race being tied to IQ, or whatever far-right bile you can think of, their answer is for the community to basically just agree to beat them up or else some black kid gets murdered by Nazis or some shit because apparently minorities only die because of mean words. The result, in essence, is a kind of mass tyranny – the absolute freedom not of one ruler but a mob to misuse force and power unmoored by the constraints of law. Of course this does not even get into the doctrine of anarcho-capitalism, which in its abolition of the state prefers to concentrate tyrannical power into the hands of private entities.

Because of this anarchy can be considered the shadow in many ways. It serves as theoretically its polar opposite and yet also sharing desire of tyranny to abolish all limits to the ability to exercise power over others. For tyranny, this is the power of a single ruler, but for anarchy it is power of a mass or an individual. Freedom and liberty therefore are the not the offspring of anarchy, but of law; more specifically, the law of the republic, and its highest forms as encapsulated within the tradition of democracy.

Though the main focus of this post is on the dialectic between authority and freedom, I think I can extend this discussion to the broad theme of order and chaos which, if we’re being very honest, is a rather meta-philosophical form of the same dialectic at least in terms of the modern discourse of it (with most of the ancient mythological discourse centering around the primitive stage of creation its transformation into an orderly cosmos by the gods).

One of the problems of chaos, at least in the social sense, is that it is never a permanent state and cannot be such a state. In the end, it will and must always consolidate itself into a new order. Every revolution inevitably generates – in fact, the whole point of revolution is to establish a new order after displacing the old one; indeed, revolution is never an end in itself but rather a means to an end. Thus, human social organization cannot be based on a state of chaos without reforming into an orderly society. As such the only question that follows from that is whether or not the outcome is for the better or the worse.

The other problem of course is that, a lot of times, what we think of as chaos is often another piece of the pervading order, a side effect of it. In cosmic terms, it can be seen as part of the spiral that is the universe, part of the processes of the universe, the entropy that is but a necessary component of the life force of the cosmos. In politics, one can think of it in perhaps a more sinister sense, as so much what appears to be mere senseless violence in the Middle East is but a single manifestation of the modern global economic order, which presently requires war and conflict over resources to sustain itself. It is as Carl Jung famously said, in all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.

Thus, when we discuss the overthrow of the old order, we invariably discuss the formation of a new order, even if we are anarchists – that is unless our sole business is merely insurrection for its own sake. It is like as I say in my Christmas Day post for this year – there is the order of the Light of Logos, that of YHWH and his creeds, and there is the order of the Light of Nature, that of the pagan entities and creeds and, indeed, of the morning star. Indeed, it can be said that perhaps one does not truly abolish norms, but rather transforms them.

In my youth I have often discussed the concept of chaos not in this sense, but rather as a primordial, energetic force of being – one which brings power to those who imbibe it, awaken it within themselves, or become possessed of it or connected to it. Reflecting on it, perhaps if there is such a force, does it make more sense to think of it simply as “Chaos”, or does it in fact make more sense to think of it as an agent of order in the sense that it is a spiritual means that allows a being to arrange the world around him – invariably entailing transformation of a given substance into a different orderly matrix?

Finally, there is something worth saying about freedom within context of the order-chaos dialectic which might defy the way popular imagination dictates these concepts and indeed the way I may have thought of things years ago. We imagine freedom in conjunction with archetypal chaos, we imagine chaos as the space of freedom, but if we think about it there is no freedom for the individual without the ability to direct oneself, and there is no possibility to direct oneself without the ability to exercise control. And this is not an immaculate state of affairs either. We often have a general idea of a strong, self-reliant . We sometimes see this in old action movies where there is one guy who gets pretty much everything done on his own, like in Commando. But how does one get to be a Commando? When I try to imagine it, I imagine a lifetime of military training undertaken to get to the state where you possess the strength and know-how necessary to do what you’re expected to do as, effectively, the kind of one man army you see in the movies (if such a thing could be realistic to start with), with John Matrix telling his former superior about how he got to be so “silent and smooth”.

In a broad sense, because you come to know what you know through the environment around you, most notably through other people, the only way you will learn how to survive on your own under your own power, much as a lot of hardcore individualists or indeed the very young do not like to admit it, is through others. This typically means going through the channel of a support system within society, such as family, friends, the tribe, the community etc., or from a teacher or an academy. And this invariably means that, in order to go through those channels and come out of them a self-functioning human being, you have to deal with having someone to answer to within what is, although conditional, a dominance hierarchy of sorts. The student-teacher relationship is one such hierarchy, with your continued progression being dependent on whether or not you follow the course you signed up for as laid out by the teacher.

I would also use this point to stress necessity of having an encompassing support structure in place that would, in a rather engrossing manner, serve to teach people the skills they need to survive on their own and in a communal setting in the event that modern society should collapse. There’s a scene in an episode of Red Dwarf called “White Hole” where two of the characters, Dave Lister and The Cat, are trying to cope with life on the Red Dwarf space ship with only a couple of months of oxygen left and no power except for the emergency backup generator being used to generate the hologram Arnold Rimmer. The two characters take turns powering a hair drier to try and cook eggs, and then at the end of the scene an electric blanket (though really it’s just The Cat having Lister do everything). When they fail to fry eggs for dinner, they lament not only about how they have to go back to eating canned beans, but also that they have to saw the lids off of the cans because they can’t use the can openers due to them being electrically powered. At that point Lister says:

Everything on the smegging ship’s electric, man. Heat, light, doors. I never realised how dependent we were.  I never realised how little I know. I just plugged things in walls and pressed the “on” button.  I don’t even know how to make oxygen.  All I know is it’s got something to do with plants and ends in “osis.” Or is it “esis?” I — I don’t know! Why is it I never paid attention in Biology class?  Why did I always turn to page forty-seven and start drawing little beards and moustaches on the sperms?

Here in the early 21st century, a great deal of modern life is dependent upon electricity, and the Internet, and I fear that, within not too long, perhaps a few decades if we’re being entirely generous to be honest, there will come a time where the life we have taken for granted will be all but destroyed as a result of our failure to regulate or neutralize the effects of anthropogenic climate change (that is if most of the world isn’t destroyed by nuclear fire in World War 3). And if you don’t think the Internet will be adversely affected by such developments, you would sorely mistaken given that it is predicted that the rising sea levels might destroy underground internet cables. Because of this,and many many other reasons that I’m sure we don’t need to go through for now, learning how to survive in the aftermath of the scenario that awaits us is essential, particularly because I am convinced that we, like Lister, have no idea how dependent we actually are. We depend on the comforts of industrial society and support modern life and we depend on the internet to keep us attuned to what’s going on in the world and even to relate to other people; without any knowledge or preparedness of life outside this sphere, the destruction of all of this would be catastrophic to the majority of people. It is for this reason that I support the creation of some sort of community infrastructure set up to arm the populace with the skills and information needed to make sure they can cope with these situations, perhaps something that would be called a “survival academy”, because the simple reality of it is that without the knowledge and skill to cope with ourselves we will be sitting ducks at the mercy of the wrath of the Earth, and all freedom will mean is the freedom to hunt for scraps and die in a world that begins its transformation into a second Venus (a planet that, I must stress, is the dutch oven of our solar system).

Hence, it is important to see the path to freedom as necessarily a structural one, a dialectical one, one that bases itself not on some Randian idea of the atomic individual, or the Ernest Junger ideal of the Archon, or on basically what life would be like if that one episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia happened in real life. It is to be based on a social individual, an individual that is guided, taught and conditioned so that it can learn to guide itself, an individual that, without such conditioning, cannot transcend the state of a baseline animal subject to the winds.

I will try to make it a point to make new posts in this series every month (until its completion of course), maybe within a shorter period than that, while I publish other posts that I would like to write.

What is freedom? 2016 edition

This is a new version of a post I wrote back in 2013 about what freedom means to me.

I have been thinking about this for a while, and I have gone through some changes in how I define my views. When I was a teenager I oscillated between anarchism and liberalism, then I fell under the libertarian label, at least nominally since I don’t think I knew a whole lot – to me libertarianism was just “the best government is the least” – all with certain hedonistic tendencies (or about as hedonistic as it gets, for me at least), and now I’m a libertarian-leaning and right wing liberal with the occaisional anarchic tendencies, even if that is just free speech anarchism (well, almost – I’m prepared to accept active calls to violence or participation in violence as an exception in certain circumstances, but apart from that it’s free speech absolutism all the way). But all of that centered around one ideal – freedom.

Anyways…

Freedom to me means the ability of each individual to live the way he/she chooses to live and to follow his/her own natural inclinations without coercion from the state or too much pressure from social norms. It means for Man to be the social, competitive and perhaps spiritual animal that it is, perhaps more. You should be free to be the best that you are, or to become even greater than you are. It is independence, the ability of the individual to have agency and control, thus it is responsibility for ones own actions. It means the ability of the strong, the successful, the meritorious to earn the fruits of their effort in a competitive society through their own effort. It means being able to say whatever you want without being forced to fear coercion from either the state or anyone else. It means being able to express yourself as you please, without that same fear of coercion. It means not having every aspect of your life controlled or regulated.

My ideal society is one were this freedom is the highest ideal, and one that is in harmony with the natural order of how humans and societies work rather than held in bondage to utopian visions of the world. People need to be free to follow their own paths in life, to make their own decisions and pursue their own natural inclinations – free of peer pressure, free of state coercion unless you’re actually harming other people, free of the imposition of grandiose ideals that work against human nature and the human spirit whether they come from religion or from secular ideologies.

What France is becoming should not surprise you

Recently, France has passed a law banning people from paying for sex, with clients facing fines of €3,750 if they flout the law. Apparently, prostitution is not a crime in France, but paying for it is, which basically means that the French government isn’t criminalizing sex workers, but rather banning people from paying them for their services. If you think that sounds stupid then guess what? It is. Seriously, how do you ban people from paying for sex work without criminalizing prostitution as a whole? How does that work? It doesn’t. If your government wants to ban people from paying for sex, you might as well just criminalize prostitution altogether because the whole point of prostitution is that one person pays another for sexual services. It’s fairly obvious that laws like this exist only to work against the sex industry. The people passing these laws seem to not want to punish sex workers directly so they want to punish the clients instead – but such a thing by itself is a punishment of sex workers because it directly harms their industry as a whole. If you want to protect sex workers, just decriminalize prostitution as a whole and allow sex workers to operate in a regulated industry. The pimps and traffickers can’t exploit sex workers if they operate in an environment where their rights are protected by the law. But of course, that’s common sense, and governments don’t often consistently operate under common sense.

To be honest, though, I actually don’t feel too surprised with this law being passed in France. The French government has made notable moves towards authoritarianism before, despite their president Francois Hollande’s claims that their country values freedom (specifically freedom of speech). In 2011, France banned Muslims from performing street prayers in the absence of adequate mosques, apparently to appease the French far-right’s concerns that the street prayers are a sign of “invasion”. In 2010, the French government passed a law banning the wearing of the burqa, the traditional veil often worn by women in Islamic culture. Four years later, the ban was inexplicably upheld in the European court of human rights. The law was passed on the pretense of preserving the freedom of women, presumably under the delusion that women only wore the burqa under coercion, but anyone who knows anything about freedom and liberty can inform you that it is totally possible to wear a burqa by choice and that banning the burqa does nothing to protect the civil liberties of women. Just last year, in the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo by Islamic terrorists, the French authorities arrested the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala over apparent anti-Semitic remarks and for supposedly inciting racial hatred and sympathizing with one of the attackers, and he was also given a jail sentence in Belgium on similar charges. He’s been sentenced seven years imprisonment for the specific charge of his social media comments that supposedly sympathize with terrorism. The French authorities also opened up several other cases of people “condoning terrorism” or mocking murdered policemen, and similar instances of what some might describe as “hate speech”. And later last year, in the wake of the Paris attacks in November, France decided to extend a state of emergency and pass a bill whose provisions are very much characteristic of a country panicking about terrorism. Around the same time, the French government closed 3 mosques that were supposedly linked with radicalization, and suggested that about 100 more mosques would follow under the pretense of preventing radical ideology and hate speech. Oh, and the government has also raised plans to police online “hatred” – twice – which at this point you know is not going anywhere good..

It should also be noted that, again, despite Hollande’s claims that France is committed to freedom of speech, France is not completely liberal. So-called hate speech is illegal in the country, and specifically speech that characterizes a group as a mortal danger is illegal. Which of course, is stupid. You’re not coercing individuals, truth be known you aren’t violating any of their rights. Only the mythical right to not be offended or insulted. France also has laws prohibiting Holocaust denial, as well as libel laws and online surveillance curtailing freedom of speech online, and it actually endorses the concept of a “public speech offense” with regards to the arts. And as you surely know, when you legally divide speech into acceptable and unacceptable speech, you do not have freedom of speech. And no, there’s no such thing as “partial” freedom of speech either. Because of this, it’s clear that France is not the liberal example of democracy the media sometimes has you believe it is (at least during coverage of the attacks in France), but in fact an illiberal democracy, or rather an authoritarian state – after all, any country that decides what you can and can’t say is in fact authoritarian because it does not recognize freedom of speech.

So in my opinion, France is slowly but surely embracing full-on authoritarianism. The only peculiarity seems to be that it frequently seems to center around women, Muslims, and Jews, and a noticeable paranoia concerning terrorism.

A belief driving witch-hunts and moral panics

I watched a documentary about the infamous “video nasties” that were the center of a lot of controversy and media scandal in the UK, and the characteristically British problem of how the furor surrounding them always leads to media hysteria and the erosion of freedom of expression. For those who may not be aware, the term “video nasties” refers to low-budget horror movies which were released on home video in the UK and were typically highly graphic in their violent content.

In the documentary (which is ironically titled Ban the Sadist Videos), I learned a little something about what I feel drove the moral panic surrounding it, or rather the people whipping it up. There was always this belief that these videos would fall into the hands of children and that the videos would not simply desensitize them to violence, but also compel them to actually commit the brutal acts of violence depicted in the real world. I think this mentality reached its lowest point in 1993, when a boy named James Bulger was beaten to death two other boys and the movie Child’s Play 3 took the fall for it as the supposed cause. But interestingly enough, the documentary showed quite a few interviews conducted by news reporters talking to children who apparently have seen some of these “video nasties” and don’t seem particularly traumatized by it. To them it was nothing more than entertainment, and what’s more it was the kind they clearly weren’t meant to watch, so it had that forbidden fruit angle – the kind that I’m sure today’s youth may be familiar with. Even more interestingly, I think at least one of them that they were unrealistic and silly. But of course, the media was never that concerned about what the children as free agents thought – they were only concerned with children as people that had to be “protected”.

During the 1980’s, one of the key figures in this whole moral panic was one Mary Whitehouse, a woman who I swear her name has become synonymous with prudery, censorship, and moral panic over the years – at least in the UK. She’s also known for being an ally of everyone’s least favorite wicked witch Margaret Thatcher, who helped introduced stricter censorship to the UK and contributed to this country having the strictest censorship in the Western world by the 1990’s. People like her and the British press were keen on promoting the idea that the images they saw on video would directly harm people and through people their social order. In my opinion, this all hinges on a central idea – the idea that human beings are inexorably influenced by forces that they cannot control because they lack the ability to choose whether or not to feel influenced.

This week I caught an article from author Ryan Holiday, and this is probably my favorite part of it:

Real empowerment and respect is to see our fellow citizens—victims and privileged, religious and agnostic, conservative and liberal—as adults. Human beings are not automatons—ruled by drives and triggers they cannot control. On the contrary, we have the ability to decide not to be offended. We have the ability to discern intent. We have the ability to separate someone else’s actions or provocation or ignorance from our own. This is the great evolution of consciousness—it’s what separates us from the animals.

With every crusade against violent and subversive media, there seems to be the belief that the opposite of that comes to effect; that people are ruled by things they cannot drive and will always act at the behest of certain influences because they can’t say no, so they have to be protected by self-declared guardians of public morals. With every crusade against those deemed as “detestable slaves of the devil”, we’re always told be on the lookout for those controlled by supposedly evil forces, who are possessed by demons because they engage in witchcraft and beliefs outside of the Church. Beware the rationale behind all the self-imposed guardians of public morals; they are believers in the notion that we are mindless automaton-like beings.

The great struggle

The Asuras fighting the Devas.

The Christians and Muslims proclaim the struggle between God and Satan at the battle of Armageddon, and want to convert as many people as possible so that their God may hold their souls as property. The Hindus proclaim the struggle between their gods and the “ego” embodied by Man and the Asuras, and pray for the eventual . The Buddhists proclaim the struggle of salvation and enlightenment, and the hope that eventually all beings will be saved. The materialistic atheists take their lack of belief in God and the soul and extrapolate it as a struggle against all religious and spiritual belief, guided by the desire to convince others that any spiritual or religious belief is stupid. The leftists proclaim their struggle against corporate America and go about trying to get people to “wake up” – to come around to their viewpoint. The anarchists proclaim their struggle against “the system” and also want people to “wake up”. The feminists proclaim their struggle against the “patriarchy”, and want people to join them in their struggle. The rightists proclaim their struggle to “make America great again”, and will never tire of followers – Donald Trump is not the first right-wing politician to claim this as his goal, and he may not be the last. The communists proclaim their struggle for their ideal “stateless society”. The fascists proclaim the struggle for their perverted notions of purity. Hell I think there are even some in Satanic, Luciferian, or generally Left Hand Path circles who prefer to emphasize a great struggle for liberation from the cosmos and its God. And still there are always the type of people who wish to lead the people to march in the name of progress, against the old and unfashionable world order.

For a lot of people the world of Man is locked in a struggle of light versus darkness, the old versus the new, the rich versus the poor, science versus belief, materialism versus spirituality, theism versus atheism, the left wing versus the right wing, male gender interests versus female gender interests, one racial interest against another, capitalism versus socialism (or versus communism depending on who you ask), liberalism versus conservatism, war versus peace, love versus hate, and many other struggles. And the majority of the time, it’s believed that one must prevail over the other – and anyone on the other side is surely misguided or evil. If it feels like you’re either part of a revolution or just fodder for the system, you should know that something’s wrong. Everyone’s got a vision for the world, an ideal to follow, and for most people it’s always about an ideal for other people to live under and they’re always looking for followers; their cause is useless without them.

To be honest, I think the idea of a great struggle goes back even before the establishment of monotheistic belief. You tend to notice many conflicts found in the older polytheistic mythologies. The Aesir versus the Jotunn in Norse mythology, the Egyptian solar deity Ra or Amun-Ra versus the serpent of annihilation Apep, the Olympians versus the Titans in Greek mythology, among other examples. It may have been that in old polytheistic traditions, that conflict was a little more balanced, or simply representative of natural processes. But of course, religion and politics march on. Even then though, sometimes it kind of seems like one side is supposed to win out over the other, just like in today’s narratives of the great struggle.

In a way, I’m reminded of the Law and Chaos conflict. Even as a usually pro-Chaos person, I can come around to the fact the struggle between Law and Chaos even leaves little room for the individual to do much other than follow the figureheads of the Chaos faction and then ultimately enact their vision – though that might be because of real-life figures reminding me of some of the worst aspects of the Chaos factions in the games, some of which I’ve been willing to overlook in the past. But even the Neutral fans can be like that, insisting that their way is correct (usually citing canonicity, which is weird because -in my books at least – the individual’s relation to the story supersedes established canon in the MegaTen series). And even in some of the games, or at least more recent games, taking the Neutral path doesn’t always feel like asserting individualism (like a lot of people claim) – you’re still following someone else’s cause or following someone else’s orders (Stephen in SMTIV and Commander Gore in Strange Journey).

If I have a struggle, it’s the struggle to fulfill my own ideals, my own convictions, and to preserve my own liberty – without lapsing into herd mentality or unhealthy extremism. I will fulfill my ideal, and carry my Reason, without imposing on the liberty of others. The cause of the continued survival and advancement of freedom is the only cause I want to be a part of – even then I can imagine groups of people claiming the cause of freedom, and then actually fulfilling the exact opposite as part of their dynamic as a group (but hey, that’s often what happens when people think they can achieve liberty by promoting group or herd mentality).

I say, be who you are on your own terms, and don’t just someone else’s struggle if you don’t sympathize with them, and even if you do try to make it about your own fulfillment – or at least, your own relation to a cause.

The law of liberty

Freedom of speech is simple: everyone must have the freedom to speak as they wish, and everyone must be allowed to express any opinion or thought they please. There are no exceptions. Not even those whose opinions or beliefs are unpopular or even revolting are to be exempted from this freedom, and no unpopular or unsettling statement is to be exempted. This is the law that all who believe in the concept of liberty invariably oblige themselves to when they profess their belief in the concept of freedom of speech, because in observing this tenet we nourish liberty itself. In order for liberty to be sustained properly, we must have freedom of speech in the truest sense. No “partial” freedom of speech will suffice.

In our age, we still have to deal with the thought of the youth, not just the old, in parts of the world being blind to this basic reality. The entire notion of no-platform policies being implemented in many universities is based exactly on the ignorance towards the fundamental nature of freedom of speech. It’s based on the notion that you are allowed to say somethings but not others. It’s based on the notion that freedom of speech exists only as long you don’t say anything that could be accused of being hateful, offensive, and even aggressive. And ultimately, it’s still based on the notion that someone else decides what you are allowed to say, which is fundamentally opposite to the notion of freedom of speech.

The reason I say that no “partial” freedom of speech will suffice is because such “partial” freedom of speech is ultimately non-existent by definition. If you are only partially allowed to speak freely, but otherwise not allowed to say certain things, then you are living in an environment of restricted speech rather than in freedom of speech. Those who wish to support freedom of speech must remember that if they are to support liberty, if they are to support true freedom. Liberty means that we can do as we wish provided it need not directly harm others in the sense it would deprive others of the right to exist as independent beings. It is free agency. Genuine freedom of speech is an essential part of this notion of liberty. Without the right to speak freely, we aren’t really free at all in any strict sense of the word. Thus the law of liberty is clear: freedom of speech means exactly that – no exceptions.

The willingness to create structure

There was a lecture I had in university yesterday morning about game design theory, and an interesting thought occurred along the way. A lot is made of how in the game industry you as a designer will end up working for a client of some kind, with specific ideas of what they might want (not sure if that’s completely true in the world of indie games but that’s besides the point), about the need to meet the demands of consumers, and how creativity can only account for so much. But it’s important to remember you can’t make a game for everyone, and I did learn that if you have an idea for a game, it’s entirely possible to find a demographic for your game and hone in on it. Not only that, but if you focus on that niche, you may in fact be more likely to succeed than if you tried to have something for everyone. Like putting something from Battlefield in a game that isn’t Battlefield for any of its competitors, for instance: the result is something that’s just half of Battlefield in a game that’s supposed to be completely different.

And along the way it occurred to me that maybe, if you do all the planning, the market research, and the consideration for who’s going to receive your game idea as soon as you plan the idea, which would be somewhere in very early stage the game, likely before the pre-production stage, then you might just be free to explore the creation and production of what you really want to make, knowing that you’re making it for people who might actually want to play it. And that takes thought, consideration, and planning, specifically coming up with a plan for what you’re making. And I thought that maybe that planning and that consideration is what frees the creator in the world of game design, rather than having an idea and just expecting it to get through on the sole basis of it being your fondest creative vision.

I think it takes a certain faculty within the human self: the willingness to embrace and create structure to benefit your own personal goals or to fulfill your own desires. Order or structure is ultimately a product of the will, so the power to create it is another expression of the self, its will, and its potential, rather than as necessarily being detrimental to the imagination, or at least not if applied in tandem with creativity and/or flexibility in the case of game design. With that in mind I feel something about my attitude towards order and chaos might be changing, as I hope to explore in a future blog post.

Chaos, the will to power, and the Black Flame

I haven’t finished reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra yet (though I think I’m getting closer to the end of the book), but I’ve found some information about the concept of will to power as espoused by Nietzsche that I think leads me to believe that the “all-powerful life force: passionate, chaotic, and free” I’ve read about on the back of my copy in fact refer’s to this concept of will to power.

Will to power is the concept of a life force behind all that is, characterized by the drive to grow in power, become stronger, and attain mastery and overcome both the world and the limits within, and Nietzsche apparently felt that every form of becoming and appearance, even reality itself, is an expression of the will to power. Having learned somewhat more about this will to power, and discussed it with others, I think the life force I envision can expand to the will to create, the will to express, the will to expand, the will to become immortal, all perhaps related to or complimentary to the will to power. But I feel I feel the life force I envision might be more than just will to power (at least by Nietzsche’s definition), as I feel there are other attributes to it reflected in other ideas. After some thought, I think the all-powerful, passionate, chaotic life force of freedom and personal power is at once the power of selfhood, the power and life force tied to the Black Flame, the hotly glowing flame of desire, imagination, being, and the “I”. And I am Black Flame might not even be the only name for it, the Flame of the Adversary or simply the Inner or Chthonic Flame might work too, or even simply the Satanic Fire, but the Black Flame is a name that really sticks, and I especially like its connection to the ideas of the Temple of Set, which teaches the Black Flame is the life force and the source of consciousness in the individual. You could say this is what Satan represents in the context of Satanism (though I admit this is usually in a non-theistic context; however some forms of Satanism or demonolatry refer to Satan as a force representing the All from which all demons originate, as is my understanding anyway). And as I mentioned before, this force can potentially be reflected in other concepts from other cultures.

It’s hard to find images to illustrate this life force, but I think this might be a really good one.

At any rate, I feel like I understand the life force I’ve been looking for a lot better, and with that it might be easier to make it grow in me and fulfill my being through it; because in the end, no matter what, I feel like it’s my life force, and I think I at least reflect that in how I prefer to express myself as an individual. Could I still refer to it as Chaos? Probably, though I have made statements in the past that Chaos was more a state than a force, and I don’t think I’ve revisited and reconciled that yet.