Deconstructing Duality #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.

Deconstructing Duality – Part 1: Collectivism vs Individualism

Before we begin I’d like to acknowledge that it has officially been six long and interminable years of running Aleph’s Heretical Domain. The only reason I haven’t got a separate post marking this occasion is because I’ve been spending a long time writing this post, alongside other posts that I suddenly got the inspiration to write (which will be released in due time). So just to throw it out there, here’s to another year of heresy.

Anyways, let us start with the pure state of nature. What is there? We do not see civilization as we recognize it as such. We do not see rights, we do not see the dignities afforded to us in civilization, and we do not see the social basis of freedom as we know it. We know a narrow sense of “freedom”: freedom from society, maybe, but the subjection experienced regularly by animals (an animal is only free in the sense that it is able to do what it must in order to propagate its genetic material and survive).

It is a very narrow, but all too common, perspective that the individual and the society he is contextualized within are apart from each other, when in reality they exist interdependent on each other within the sphere of sociation.

We as a species are evolved to be social in nature,. Many sources of physical, emotional and spiritual fulfillment tie into interdependent relations with other people, and large scale goals inexorably necessitate cooperation. Even our loneliness, our isolation, and the consequent depression, are contextualized predominantly by our adjacence to others and our ability or lack thereof to related to our fellow man. We feel disappointment, anxiety, and anguish when we are unable to relate to those around us, and to society, whether that be due our own temperament or because society is against us (of course, in reality it is surely both). Thus the social realm penetrates the being of Man, even when we are alone.

The Austrian philosopher Max Adler puts it rather succinctly in The New Concept of Sociation (which was published in Lehrbuch der materialistischen Geschichtsauffassung).

Even loneliness and unsociability are only possible within sociation. One cannot separate oneself from society, one can isolate oneself only within society. Indeed, even the hermit and the hater of humanity, as long as this is not pathologically expressed, are bound to society, just that they want to know nothing about it. A really isolated individual is a condition that begins where his spiritual connections to others is interrupted, that is madness. When Marx once said that Robinson is a figure in a novel that could never appear in an actual economy, that is also the case for sociology.

Essentially, Adler’s point is that is that the alienation we experience from our detachment from society, and even our hostility to socialization, can only truly be framed in the context of one’s place within the broader sphere of sociation – that is, the domain of social interaction and social being. Without that framework, these phenomenon do not exist. Individuals do not exist in isolation, and inexorably they are shaped by the environment they are in, which of course includes not only the natural environment but the social environment; the behaviors, customs, hierarchies, mores, systems of organization and relations/relationships the individual imbibes in.

You know, I would say it’s possible to think of loneliness in different ways if we’re being fair. Most of us, of course, react negatively to it, as is natural to do. We who are lonely because we are different to the majority of people often have a desire to be accepted by society for who we are, because this allows us to connect with society, and to ultimately support it on the grounds that it has accepted us. Some, however, react to their detachment, and the premise of sociation and socially engendered identity, by seeking further and further isolation from society, by seeking to become some sort of Anarch through their misanthropy. These paths, of course, are all defined through the relationship the individual experiences to society. Just as Adler said, this sense of alienation is only meaningful in the remit of society, taking form only in the context of a society to be alienated from.

Alder also managed to wed the individuated ego to the collective through the conception of sociation, a concept that will be touched upon in a different work later on.

Or put more clearly: the ego is only the experiential form of consciousness; it experiences itself not merely as ego, that is, as a spiritual singularity, rather as a generic-determined subject, whose spiritual contents are nothing other than the necessarily common possession of the infinity of other subjects. From this fact follows the logical and normative value of its conscious contents, which only exist so that the true, the good, the beautiful, and so forth of the individual are contents which are not for only this individual being, but rather for ‘everyone’ the true, the good, the beautiful, and so forth. The process of consciousness is not first found in its ethical or aesthetic ‘social’ form; rather it is from its very beginning as a logical form, in which no truer, that is, logically more correct content can be thought without the individual subject thinking ‘everyone’ is the object of the thought. The consciousness is thus merely a self-conscious form of ego, an individual, but in its essence from its inception a ‘we’, a supra-individual. Consciousness is only lived in the ego, but in this ego as not only ego, rather as belonging to an infinite many other egos, it thus stands together with these other experiential-egos in the possibility of an experientially-connected association. One could also say: consciousness is given only as a ‘we’, that is, as a mentality in which the I is from its cognised inception contained with other ‘I’s. And from this recognition, it can be said that sociation does not arise first in the historical-economic process. Sociation, then, is not initially the product of the interactions of human beings who exist before or after sociation, rather sociation is already in the individual consciousness, given its very being, and thus the prerequisite of all historical connectedness among the majority of individual subjects.

Sociation is a process that seems innate to us because we are social beings, and we are social beings because we are I’s that experience the world in relation to other I’s as a shared experience of reality. It is in part for this reason that solipsism can be treated a foolish vice, because you are most certainly not the only observer in reality and your fellow observers are not simply shadows of your mind: they emerged materially, in a material plane of existence, just as you did.

The Right To Be Greedy: Theses On The Practical Necessity Of Demanding Everything, written by a situationist collective going by For Ourselves: Council for Generalized Self-Management, had a very good framework for the erosion of the dichotomy of collectivism and individualism from the perspective of, of all things, an egoist framework, which will be demonstrated using a selection of paraphrases.

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Is it necessary once again to point out the self-absurdity of the one-sided abstractions “the individual” and “society,” and of the ideologies founded on this one-sidedness – “individualism” (or “egoism”) and so-called “socialism” (or “collectivism”)?

We can be individuals only socially.

We can be social only individually.

Individuals constitute society.

Society constitutes individuals.

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Dig deeply enough into the individual and you will find society. Dig deeply enough into society and you will find the individual. Dig deeply enough into either and you will come out the “other” side. The concept named “the individual,” fully grasped, is the same as the concept named “society.” The concept named “society,” fully grasped, is also “the individual.” One is impossible, does not exist, without the other. At the heart of society is its “opposite,” the individual. At the center of the individual is his “antithesis,” society. We must speak of the social individual. Both of the abstract universals, “society” and “the individual” find their concrete universal in the social individual.

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Society, without the individual, is empty, is without its existence, just as the individual, without society, is without its existence – and even outside human society, is not a human individual (even if it should chance to survive as a biological individual. However, even as such, it is the issue of a human social – in this case, sexual – relationship). Unless both these moments can be affirmed simultaneously, univocally; grasped as a single, unitary concept – in fact as a conceptual singularity – their contradiction having been transcended (to begin with, in thought), then neither “the individual” nor “society” has been understood.

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Self-production can only be social; society is self-production, that is, society is the only possible means-of-production of selves. You cannot ever talk about the “self” without identically implicating or talking about “society.” The “self” exists only in association with other selves, i.e. in and as an association of selves, a society. It is no accident that the Latin root of ‘consciousness’ – conscienta – means literally “together-knowledge”; “to know together.” Subjectivity is essentially intersubjective, that is, essentially social.

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Your “individuality” is already a “social structure,” and has been so from its very inception (including, from its very conception).

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Individuals are produced only by society. Society is produced only by individuals.

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Society can be realized only egoistically, just as the ego can be arrived at, can be realized, and is possible at all only socially.

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The self is pre-eminently and essentially social; society is pre-eminently and essentially selfish.

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If the philosophers of one-sided individualism, of narrow egoism – that is, of the axiology of the self – want to understand Marx’s socialism, they should reflect on his statement to the effect that the other is a necessary part of your self.

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The principle “I want nothing other than myself” – the principle of self-desire, self-attachment (self-cathexis, or self-centration) – becomes the principle of daily life in communist society once it is socially actualized that the other is a necessary part of my self. Society becomes an object of cathexis without this any longer necessitating projection-identification – i.e., the alienation of cathexis from the self – once the social nature of the self, and the “self nature” of society has become a palpable and transparent truth of experience.

Since humans are social beings by habit and by nature, freedom and individuality . Societies may indeed be constructed by individuals, but society is also much more than the product of the individuals who made it. It shapes the individuals who make it as well, for good or for bad, and the individuals in turn shape the society they create. Consequently, we find much of our identity shaped by social circumstance and stimuli, and hence by the society we have created, and therefore to speak of the individual as an atomic being and of society as an abstraction is indeed one-sided. There is a perspective of interdependence and dialectic worth considering here. When it is said that society is nothing without the individual and the individual nothing without society, what is expressed is that the two concepts shape each other – individuals, or rather a collection of individuals, engender society, society and its functions become the stimuli that affect the development and growth of the individual and his material circumstance, and from there the individual derives a means to cultivate him/herself, act within the environment and shape the society around him/her alongside his/her fellows.

Any useful conception of individualism, if we are to hold on to any individualism, has to account for the interdependence that exists between beings, and in particular between individuals and the society they live in. This is because, as was explained earlier, the being of sociation is at least practically innate to humans, and we share reality with a seemingly infinite ocean of individuated consciousness, and that is what is identified when it is said “Dig deeply enough into the individual and you will find society”.

In addition, it is very much worth considering cooperation as a necessary prerequisite of independence, as the late Tupac Shakur, of all people, actually put rather succinctly in his interview with MTV. While I do recommend you have a listen, I’d like to place a quotation from it here to show you what I mean.

“Everybody’s smart enough to know that we’ve been slighted, and we want ours. And I don’t mean forty acres and a mule, because we’re past that. But we do need help. For us being on our own two feet, we do need help because we have been here and we have been a good friend, if you want to make it a relationship type thing. We have been there and now we deserve our payback. It’s like, you got a friend that you don’t ever look out for, you know. America’s got jewels, they paid and lending money to everybody except us. Everybody needs a little help on their way to being self-reliant. No independent person just grew up and was born independent. You worked and you learned teamwork, cooperation, unity and struggle and then you became independent. We have to teach that and instill that.”

There is something to take stock of here, because a lot of it is very intuitively true. People are not born capable of making their own decisions, commanding their own faculties, navigating their course right out of the cradle, we instinctively know this and this dawns people especially when the time comes for them to be parents. Because of this, we make efforts to raise people as children so that they may develop those faculties.

This perspective also rather underpins the need to see collective cooperation and individuated freedom and experience as a dialectic. You cannot simply subsume the individual to the other as per the doctrine of altruism – each man is an individual, he has his own concerns, and he needs to be mostly free to pursue them in a healthy manner that does not cause harm or exploitation to others, but we cannot atomize the individual and place him in a vacuum free of societal consideration, for far from meaningful freedom it actually generates loneliness, isolation, and from there a deep seated suffering and anguish that results from these things. And in the end doing both extremes disempower the individual. By suffocating the individual to some altruistic mode of the group, and that mindset hangs over the individual, the individual can’t really express his/her will or agency outside the remit of the hivemind, but by atomizing the individual and cutting him/her away from society, you take away the ability of the individual to cooperate with others, in turn cutting off a major source of power for the individual – after all, there is great strength in numbers and being in a pack comes with its own rewards. As a consequence of this reality, the greatest source of freedom, development and power for the the individual lies within sociation, within the individual’s ability not only to act of his own agency and volition but also to make the best of the relations and collaborative efforts he imbibes in. In a sense, the social realm is necessary for a human being to cultivate him/herself fully as a civilized and free being capable of affecting anything. This is not because of any chains that have been placed upon humans by some tyrannical deity, but it is by dint of man’s social nature and of the interdependence that exists between all people and all things.

There is also to be said when it comes to knowledge from this perspective. No one starts off with knowledge, and it is only by our interface with the world around us that we acquire it. Without, you can have all of the strength, desire and will in the world and still amount to nothing more than a mighty slave. You’ll be driven forward by desire, strength, and willpower, but without intellect and wisdom you will lack awareness of your surroundings, and you will be unable to guide your own destiny. And since learning depends being able to receive knowledge from the outside world, from your peers, and from there a healthy society, it will be impossible for the individual to gain knowledge and wisdom and from there emancipate oneself outside the remit of sociation.

To summarize my point, the dichotomy between individualism and collectivism melts away when you consider not only the social nature of human beings, but also mutuality and cooperative societal relations as the basis for proper societal freedom and liberty. Or, perhaps…..

I know it’s a silly meme but come on, we really do live in a society.

This has been the first in the series of posts where I attempt to deconstruct the common dualistic frameworks we imbibe ourselves in. I apologize in advance for taking so long to post this, along with anything else for that matter. I will be working on the next post in that series, but in between I would like to release some posts I have been planning for a while as well as talk about new developments concerning The Satanic Temple (which will likely be the next thing I write about after this).

Is individualism going out of fashion for people these days?

You know, it seems to me that in our “society” we are decreasingly valuing the moral, social and political worth of the individual and our instead opting to focus on a wider collective force. From the neo-progressive idea that humans are objects of a mythical “structural oppression” to the idea that people generally aren’t capable of making their own choices as conscious beings, it’s as though our culture is increasingly embrace an anti-individualist outlook.

When crime in general is committed, it’s society’s fault rather than that of the person who committed the crime. This may also extend to businesses and corporations as well – businesses do terrible things but it’s not their fault because capitalism. When mass shooting occurs, a lot of people instinctively try to blame guns, video games, music, movies, anything and everything except the person using the gun. They probably just can’t accept the idea that a human being can choose to do bad things – no, better that he was simply the object. In particularly American culture, there’s a tradition in the revolutionary (in their dreams) leftists (the kind you see who fawn over the likes of Anonymous) who are convinced that people cannot live and work as citizens in a democratic society with any kind of moral agency because in their eyes they’re actually participating in modern day slavery. You’re thoughts and lives are not your own because you live in a capitalist system, and if you disagree with the people who tell you this then that’s just because you’re a thought-slave! And if Allum Bokhari is right, the very idea of individualism seems to be under attack by academics. Not to mention there’s something I found out about the reaction to the Brussells’ terror attacks from two months ago. Specifically, how The Independent basically decided that the attacks that happened in Brussels were Belgium’s fault, rather than obviously the fault of Belgium rather than the fault of the people who – possibly out of either a desire to either not criticize Muslims or the fear of tarring all Muslims with the same brush.

I can’t help but wonder if it’s indicative of a direction that humans are opting to take, and how much trust people have in themselves compared to collectives or authorities. It’s telling that there’s a lot of people are sick of the government, sick of what they perceive as excessive corporate influence on the government, and yet they put their trust in guys like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn who would expand the government. Probably because the Anonymous-types are into them as well.

Is it any wonder Anonymous are such a fun bunch of people?

 

 

On the opening of the Greater Church of Lucifer

On Halloween in Old Town Spring in Texas, the Greater Church of Lucifer has opened a building for the first time, thus facilitating a public physical venue for people to explore the Luciferian belief system. I may be late in saying this, but I would really like to offer my congratulations to the Greater Church of Lucifer for their successful opening of their first building, particularly for carrying on as planned after being greeted with hate-filled Christian protest and vandalism. I also offer respect and praise to the neighbours of the GCOL who do not agree with their teachings but still respect their right to exist and to spread their teachings to those willing to listen.

An image of the GCOL building in Old Town Spring, Texas.

This development represents not just the potential success of the Greater Church of Lucifer as an organization, but the hope that Left Hand Path philosophy will break the domination of Right Hand Path philosophy on a wider level. As fantastic as this all is, it’s also part of why it’s frustrating to hear that the GCOL have apparently been vandalized again.

Haven’t we had enough of people’s childish hatred of other belief systems, and their equally childish delusions of the God-given superiority or natural ordinance their own belief systems, making a mockery of the notion of freedom of religion and civil rights? Is it too much to ask that anyone other than Christians or members of other mainstream religions can set up their own organization and physical buildings in peace and liberty? And the funny thing is, I haven’t heard of Christians hatefully vandalizing buildings from other religions, not even mosques. I know The Satanic Temple has received death threats for their Satan statue, but pretty no actual vandalism (though that might be because of the security and privacy of their unveiling).

My best wishes to the Greater Church of Lucifer, and all I can say is good luck and keep up the thick skin, because I’m worried that more struggles await and that people are going to keep vandalizing the GCOL building either because they have no understanding of what they are doing wish to keep playing childish games or because they’re just jerks looking to derive gratification through hooliganism and see the non-conformists as acceptable targets (you know, the same kind of people who killed one Sophie Lancaster for kicks). Other than that, I would say that I hope somebody starts vandalizing these fundamentalist Christian churches just to show them who’s boss, but the danger to that is that it would only lead them to feel confirmed in their persecution complex.

Group blaming and academic hardship

As of yesterday September has officially begun, and that means time is running out for me before I start university. In fact, I start my second year on September 28th. There are quite a few anxieties I can feel as I draw closer to this date and I can absolutely expect things to be harder for me in this coming academic year, but if there’s one thing I am looking forward to the least, it’s the prospect of group blaming. Seriously, nowhere else have I encountered an environment were the whole group can be put at fault for the incompetence of the few, or when the few who don’t commit atrocious actions can be viewed as just as bad of those who do, especially after one of the students slips up and says something stupid about another. Although I recognize this would not happen in all university courses, and would be likely to happen only in courses where group work is a certainty, I swear it feels like it can only happen in university.

Let me try to give you a concise description of the group blaming I’ve experienced at my course during my first year, or at least how bad it can be: For the first year, I studied in a class of 12 people (we briefly had one person transfer to our course, which made it a class of 13 for a while, but it didn’t last long and I never heard from that person again), which after Christmas became a class of 10 (one person dropped out and the other was probably kicked off for frequent lack of attendance), and by the end is now a class of 8 (one of the students dropped out right before the end of year presentations and the other basically failed). Before the end of the first semester (first out of two, each one consisting of each half of the academic year) we got into to teams did two main projects for two of the modules. After the group presentations at the end of the first semester , it was deemed that the two projects were handled poorly for various reasons, and for the second semester we all worked as one group on a single main project spanning three modules. For this project, we decided to combine elements of the previous two projects and put them into one new project. It was quite a shake-up, and we had to decide what elements of the background, game world, character design, and level design we wanted to keep or introduce and we all had to come to an agreement, and it didn’t come easily or quickly. In fact, about three weeks in, we all had an argument that I remember started with a discussion about designing the two main characters we were creating, and unfortunately that discussion escalated into a rather nasty argument that eventually devolved into people slinging insults and words of discord at each other in typical Internet fashion, but I began distancing myself from the conversation early on in order avoid becoming part of a petty argument, let alone a degrading mess. One student even tried to end the argument by shouting down everyone, but that just made things worse because he also called one or more people a “bitch”. The argument lasted a couple of days and eventually died down, but one student soon began to feel like quitting because she began to feel intimidated what she felt was a hostile atmosphere, and the tutors could not allow that to happen. So one day our usual lecture became devoted to the whole sordid mess, and it was a disaster. We all got chewed out, except myself and at least two other students who did not involved, and the tutors were trying to get to the bottom of who started the argument and who were the main belligerents. There was even concern about abuse and cyber-harassment, which would have led to expulsions, so they wanted to figure if anyone was hurling abuse as well, and they made it very clear that the university does not look kindly of such conduct, and neither would pretty much all potential employers. Despite my lack of involvement in the whole debacle I feared the worst would come and one of us would be expelled from the university for being, but thankfully it did not come to that. However, this foul business was not forgotten, certainly not by the tutors, who made it clear that this was the only year in which such a state of affairs had to be dealt with and (as I recall) expressed the possibility of monitoring conversations on Facebook (which as I recall has since not come to pass, but if it did and I became aware of it, I would probably leave the course because such actions, regardless of intent, conflict with my moral/ethical views because I would definitely view them as a form of policing conversations that previously happened independently). What I remember is that I was present in the whole chewing out, despite my lack of involvement in the affairs, and even though my lack of involvement was acknowledged, I felt like I was part of this mess, and it was a disgrace. Months later, about a week before the end of year presentations, one of us slipped up and referred to three students as “vanishers”, in reference to their frequent absence and their association with each other, and then the tutors began to tell us that we were all in the same lot as them, and that during the arguments those who were not involved were just as bad as everyone who was for not doing anything to try and stop the argument, which was insulting to me because this included me and devalued my sense of good judgment, all without any satisfying modicum of reason and good ethical sense behind it in my eyes. Nowadays, I come to a point where I feel like it’s entirely possible I could have stopped the argument or led it to cool down sooner, but let me tell you; that’s NOT how it should happen! I shouldn’t be forced to come to any conclusion regarding my role in things, no matter how sound, based on guilt or group blaming. Good work should be rewarded and failure should be punished, but that must be based entirely on individual actions and merit, meaning no one must be blamed for the actions or words of the incompetent and malicious but the individuals who proved incompetent or malicious by said actions or words. In my opinion at least, a situation/environment where people who are good or competent find themselves punished or put at fault for the actions of the few who were malicious or incompetent, regardless of their own actions, is morally (and logically) inexcusable!

Anyways, alongside all that, I just know that the course is going to get harder, for reasons I have described before, but one of the reasons I’ve already mentioned smells a little rotten as well. Basically, from what I have been told by the tutors, from the coming academic year and onwards we will all have to hand in assignments before we break up for the Christmas and Easter seasons respectively, and given the time in which we start. However, the reason this is happening is because there has been a problem with students not doing any work whatsoever during the holidays, and then trying do three weeks of work that could, and should, have been done sooner during the last few weeks before the deadline, resulting in students handing in poor-quality (often unfinished) assignments, as has happened in the end of our first semester. But I was not one of those students, I spent time over the winter and spring holidays doing some work, and I can bet a good number of fellow students were in the same position. Once again, I find that an entire group of people is now put at fault for the poor efforts of the incompetent, and sharing in the fruits of their mediocrity. But this time it doesn’t just apply to my class, but if I’m correct it could apply to everyone, including the first-year students, and now this means everyone is bearing the fruits of the incompetence of students from my class, which in my opinion is simply wrong, illogical, and unjustifiable. I am now in a position where I feel that, even if I finally graduate and earn a career in the games industry, if I find that the games industry generally abides by this pattern, I would give up on being a games designer completely because I can’t continue to participate in such practice and call still myself an honorable man who abides by his principles in spite all odds and perceptions. Not to mention, as the course gets harder, I feel like it’s only a matter of time before we all argue again, and I will be expected to stop it, but I feel even if I try, it could easily get out of hand and with the distinct possibility that I will simply get tired of it, with the result that before long we’ll all be chewed out for it again, and I will receive blame for the things I did not do or endorse, which will substantially demoralize me.

Through all this, I want to continue the course and do as much of the rest of it as possible, quitting only when I am fully demoralized about my course and never at the end or beginning of each year, but I’m not sure I’m going to survive this course, and even if I do survive the second-year It’s likely that the best I can definitely hope for is that I don’t have my first heart attack and/or die from stress, but that’s quite a morbid thought for the rest of what is still my summer break. All’s I know is I don’t have long, because once I complete the second year and transition to the third year, I feel it will be too late as there will be little point in quitting as I will be at the peak of my course.

Elaborating on the principle of Chaos

I have been meaning to elaborate more on the principle of Chaos I mentioned earlier.

In past blog entries I have primarily described Chaos a primordial force in the universe, but now I feel ever closer like Chaos is an individual principle. It is inspired by the Shin Megami Tensei faction, as you would already expect, and as I imagine Chaos is the principle of freedom, individual, will, and primal nature. It is the principle in which individuality trumps collectivism and we make our own order for ourselves. It is the principle where freedom is more important than social order, and no rules, laws, and codes should harm freedom or stand in the way of the liberty of human beings. It is the principle where if doing the right thing must cause upheaval, than let it be done. It is the principle that espouses raw ethics, derived from the inner self, as espoused to externally espoused ethics, and where the only rule is to follow yourself and think for yourself rather than obey other people. It is the principle of being yourself, following your own desires, even if you are despised or unpopular for it, and expressing yourself freely even if others consider it indulgent and selfish. It is the principle where we create our paradise, rather than accept any false paradise laid before us. It is the principle where we embrace our primal nature, and work with it.

That is Chaos. That is what Chaos is to me. That is why it’s the philosophy for me.

An unconscious Satanist?

Reflecting on my past since discovering the Shin Megami Tensei series of video games (when I was 15 or 16), I cannot help but look back and think I might have in some way been a Satanist without even realizing it, knowing about Satanism, or even taking an interest in Satanism.

The reason I say this is because, for as long as I can remember, I have been against the idea of handing myself over to same higher power, or being one with some global consciousness, or the idea of an external force telling me what to do and ruling the world. I never liked the idea that my desires should be oppressed or extinguished. I was an individualist as soon as I learned about the philosophy and understood it was right for me, or more or less accepted it as truth.

But remember, when I was about 15 or 16 I didn’t have much awareness of many of the ideas that I do now, and my understanding of what I believe or am interested in wasn’t as refined as it is now.

Detachment from the Hindu philosophy

I’ve been doing some research and some thinking, and I am realizing that there isn’t any hope for me and Hindu philosophy. I have had trouble reconciling Hinduism with individualism, and I think the reason for this is because individualism is simply not present in Hindu philosophy.

The first reason for this is because of the obvious values of devotion to God and self-abnegation or self-sacrifice. Individualistic philosophies place emphasis on the individual, and thus the self. Hindu philosophy, meanwhile, values the surrender of the self to God, the abandoning of desire and want, and the cessation of the self and the idea of the individual, and Hindu rishis often describe individualism as a path that leads nowhere, thus marking what is actually anti-individualism. I find that Hinduism’s emphasis on this idea of self-surrender inescapable, as is their emphasis on God, and I can’t find any hope of bringing individualism into it.

Then you have the concept of Dharma. If Hinduism is not a religion, then it is a way of life based on this concept of Dharma, which is about duty (which I have traditionally seen as an artificial moral obligation imposed by others), drawing close to the family and family traditions, and thus family values (which I see as little more than social conservatism), and sacrifice. Again, I find this easily contradicts the spirit of individualism, since individualism is about you, yourself, and your freedom to walk your own path, as opposed to following society, thus it goes against any communal attitudes. I don’t follow the traditions of my family, I follow what I believe and for myself.

The fact is, individualism isn’t very big in Indian philosophy, or that matter many Eastern societies. In the West, we are quite familiar with individualism as a philosophy which values the individual as free to walk his own path (though this is not to say Western society has always valued the individual, or even honestly values the individual today), but many Eastern societies such as India and China valued family and clan more than the individual (China in particular traditionally values social harmony over the individual). In Indian society, there was much importance given to family and the group, only rarely did the individual take centre stage.

I still love Hindu mythology, lore, symbols, gods, and art, and still adore the force known to their culture as Shakti (which I find is related to the horned force, or the raw primal force, or Chaos), but I cannot subscribe to the Hindu philosophy and I cannot identify as Hindu. Ultimately I am a Satanist, and a pagan, because that is where my beliefs and philosophy lie, all I can do is venerate Hindu gods my own way, or in a much more pagan sense. And I like to think I still have a connection to the lore but not the philosophy. Although, I still have some interest in Tantra, and I have no major beef with Carvaka, despite its atheism and materialism (which I find to be rather dull especially for Indian philosophy).

Of course, it could be possible that those who wish to surrender themselves to a higher force simply have the wrong idea of how to approach the force of Shakti, as a dear friend of mine tells me.

Me and black metal

Emperor, a symphonic black metal band

Recently I’m developing a more positive attitude towards black metal, and that’s mostly because of what I’ve learned about it. Particularly, black metal in Norway.

It’s mostly ideological persuasion though. I have come to understand the Norwegian scene as an expression of individualism in opposition to the ways of Norwegian society. By the time the black metal scene was forming, Norway was quite the socially democratic state, and group mentality and traditional social roles were encouraged. Not to mention, the Christian church had a powerful role in Norwegian society. The black metal scene in Norway was started by young musicians who disliked Norwegian social norms and wanted to rebel against that, and they saw Satanism and their music as a way of rebelling against the establishment. Since then a series of church burnings struck Norway in the 90’s and many black metal artists were attributed to them (some artists did burn churches, some didn’t), and they were also attributed to a few killings.

The Fantoft stave church in Norway burning to the ground (taken in 1992).

The church burnings, in my opinion, were a protest against the Christian establishment and the “power” of the church, but it’s not just in the Satanic spirit. Some black metal artists prefer to operate under the banner of paganism, particularly Scandinavian paganism, as opposed to Satanism and the occult, as they feel it works much better for them. And these days, many black metal artists sing about life and nature, particularly winter, which would tie in well with their aesthetic style. Whatever suits them and their raw style.

To be honest though, I’m not gonna go crazy here. It’s still the occasional black metal I like for whatever reason, and I still can’t get into the aesthetic style, but I do sympathise with black metal’s idea in some way.

Reject fake Satanists

What do I mean by fake Satanists? I mean those who advertise themselves as Satanists but in reality do not espouse the Satanic philosophy or ideology. This could be those who simply pretend be Satanists in order to sound cool, but it could also be those who identify themselves as Satanists while simultaneously backing authoritarian ideology or have nothing to do with the philosophy of Satanism.

Most Satanists, regardless of their position on the existence of Satan, regard Satan as representing individualism. This isn’t exclusively in the form of Church of Satan teachings, which espouse that while Satan doesn’t actually exist, he is a powerful symbol of individualism and personal pleasure. Many theistic Satanists view Satan as encouraging individualism, freedom of thought, and raising oneself up, though they value the achievement of this through magic. The Temple of Set, which views Set as the dark lord behind Satan, espouses enlightened individualism in the form of the concept of Xeper. However, there are some organizations and/or individuals who claim to identify with Satanism but whose philosophy has nothing to do with Satanism.

For instance, Boyd Rice is associated with the Church of Satan, which is known for espousing an individualist philosophy, but has a Social Darwinist outlook and is the founder of an organization called the Abraxas Foundation, which promotes this outlook along with authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and elitism. This, I believe, contradicts the Satanic philosophy of individualism, thus I deny the legitimacy of Boyd Rice’s organization. There’s also the Joy of Satan, which is an organization that believes Satan is actually a creator god called Enki, who is believed to be an alien. They believe Satan/Enki is the creator god who wanted man to reach perfection and they tend to campaign against Christian oppression of paganism and the occult. Problem is, they’re Neo-Nazis. And if we know anything about Nazism, we know that it is certainly incompatible with Satanism, for the same reasons the Abraxas Foundation is not real Satanism. There’s even a “Satanic” group that tries to blend Satanism with communist ideology. To be honest, neither communism nor fascism are worthy of the Satanic mantle, for they reject freedom and individualism.

Personally, I classify myself as an independent Satanist. This means that I espouse the essential philosophy of Satanism, while not affiliating with any organizations. I feel it’s less restrictive this way, after all a Satanist should not restrict themselves to a doctrine the way a Christian subjugates him/herself to the doctrine of the church. Anyways, as an independent Satanist, I feel I must deny the legitimacy of those who pretend to be Satanists, of those who claim to be Satanists but do not understand the philosophy, and of those who claim the Satanic mantle but whose ideology is very much the opposite of what Satanism is about. I encourage that other Satanists trust in their good judgement and not be taken in by those who pretend to be Satanists.

It should be noted, however, that the diversity of opinion across Satanic groups could be interpreted as a manifestation of the individualism represented by Satan. Still, I don’t feel we should let posers and authoritarians get away with thinking they are worthy of the Satanic mantle.