Friday, January 19, 2018
Arvin Vohra, the vice chair of the Libertarian Party (L.P.) of the United States, is currently a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maryland, potentially facing Chelsea Manning if she wins the Democratic Party's nomination. Several statements and social media posts by Libertarian Party (L.P.) vice chair Arvin Vohra have been received as troubling and even disturbing by many L.P. members, on topics related to the military, the poor, and statutory rape.
These statements have generated much controversy, prompting demands that the party's leaders relieve him of his post. Several state chairs have already sent letters to the Libertarian Party National Committee (L.N.C.) stating their support for Vohra's resignation or removal. Vohra, currently a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maryland, potentially faces Chelsea Manning in that race, if she receives the Democratic Party's nomination.
In 2017, in a document entitled “An Open Letter to Current and Former Members of the U.S. Military”, Vohra made remarks which seemed to cast all military veterans as nothing more than hired killers. Given the significant proportions of military veterans in the party, and the fact about 95% of U.S. military enlistees ever see direct combat, this statement caused quite a bit of backlash.
While it is fair to criticize American intervention in foreign countries without congressional approval, and even to call the country imperialistic, or recommend significantly changing our alliances (or ending them all for formal purposes), many party members felt that Vohra's remarks disparaged the military community. It's possible that Vohra doesn't understand the economic pressures people are under; some people don't have the privilege of being born near major employment hubs, and for them, the military is “the only option” (so to speak).
Additionally, Vohra once suggested that he agreed with the founders of the nation that people who don't own property and pay taxes should not be allowed to vote. According to Vohra, this set of people includes welfare recipients.
It must have escaped Vohra's attention that in almost all states, even welfare recipients pay sales taxes on nearly every item they purchase. You can argue all day that people can avoid buying things, but it would be difficult to do without saying that poor people who are in need of work should either sell what little they have, freeload off of others, or else go try to homestead or forage.
The sentiment Vohra expressed in that statement could easily be used to suggest that private owners should be free to collude with one another to keep people poor, so that they have no property to protect or tax, forcing them to obey the government, despite contributing nothing to it, while enjoying no voting rights. The sentiment could just as easily defend taxing low-income earners, and even the unemployed and homeless, the most, because they supposedly receive the most from government. Which is not true, because of the trillions spent on bailouts for big banks and mortgage lenders.
It's clear that Vohra is out of touch, and doesn't know when to stop. But as if that all weren't enough, on January 16th, 2018, 71Republic.com published an article written by Vohra entitled “Questioning Age of Consent Laws in America”.
In the article, Vohra casts doubt on the effectiveness and desirability of state laws which prohibit legal recognition of consent to sexual activity below certain ages. Many in the L.P. feel that their party's vice chair went too far in this article, which seems to focus entirely too much on the idea that age of consent laws are both undesirable and antithetical to human liberty.
Many in the L.P. feel that Vohra's age of consent article is “the straw that broke the camel's back”. Disparaging military recipients and welfare recipients tested party members' patience well enough. But this article is the last straw; it excuses and rationalizes child molestation, by attempting to theorize contrived scenarios in which sexual activity between adults and children could be acceptable and not harmful (or even beneficial) simply because it's not the worst thing that could have happened.
Vohra does make some sound points in the article. Many members of the L.P. believe that age of consent laws are arbitrary in a sense, because calendar age and maturity don't always line up perfectly, and state laws are questionable because crossing a state border doesn't magically make you ready for sex. Vohra argued that point well, without controversy. So too do most of us agree that teenagers who have sex with each other, or share or possess nude photographs of themselves, should not have their lives ruined because of it by being required to register as a sex offender. Some feel that more states should have “Romeo and Juliet laws”, in which the state refrains from prosecuting teens for sexual activity with people very close to them in age. Unfortunately, this seems to be the extent of Vohra's agreement with most of the party on this issue.
Based on where we left off, most of us might start talking about, say, the need for some states to raise the marriage age from 13 or 14 to at least 16. Or maybe a constitutional amendment formally establishing states' rights to set the age of consent to between 16 and 18, as they do right now without such an amendment. Perhaps we would be wondering aloud why 20-year-olds and 80-year-olds are free to marry each other, but first cousins of similar age may not. Maybe some of us think the federal age of consent to sex should be higher than 12 years old, or wonder why we're sending 14-year-olds to school with 18-year-olds who are legal adults. Proposals that respect adults' rights to sex, but also ensure protection of children. Things like that.
However, Vohra goes the opposite direction, defending the idea that all age of consent laws and statutory rape laws are inherent limitations upon human freedom. For libertarians, this carries with it the implication that all limitations on human freedom are coercive, aggressive, and violent, and even that they resemble slavery. Whether the law is popular, whether it's administered at the state level like it's supposed to, whether it succeeds at protecting children from sexual abuse; none of these factors seem to matter to many such opponents of statutory rape laws. For them, either sex has absolutely no limitations, or we're enslaved to tyrants. This is an irrational approach to argumentation which in no way conforms to ethical norms of civil discourse; it's all-or-nothing, “my way or the highway” thinking, it's disingenuous, and it's manipulative towards the reader.
In “Questioning Age of Consent Laws in America”, Arvin Vohra writes that if a 15-year-old boy worked, and saved up until he could afford his own place to live, and he became fully financially independent, then it would be acceptable for him to have sex with a 25-year-old woman, because they are supposedly equals as far as financial independence is concerned.
Vohra fails to explain why financial independence automatically gives one the emotional and psychological maturity – much less the physical maturity - to handle sexual activity at a young age. If your calendar age, and what state you are in, do not “magically” affect how ready you are for sex, then how can being financially independent do the same? Does having a place to have sex, automatically make one ready for sex? Vohra seems to be defending the idea that it does, and that a person who lives on their own may have sex with someone of any age. His article certainly leaves room open for that; although in his clarifications, Vohra has stated unequivocally that it would not be permissible to have sex with a three-year-old.
To support Vohra's idea that would be permissible for an independent 15-year-old boy to have sex with a 25-year-old woman, Vohra suggests an alternative: the 15-year-old boy having sex with someone his own age. As I explained, many party members hope to decriminalize that sort of behavior, because both people involved would be at similar levels of emotional and physical maturity. This idea seems to have escaped Vohra, who for some reason is arguing that same-age sexual activity is less acceptable than sex between two people born ten years apart.
In his article, Vohra sets up a make-believe scenario, and presents a false choice – an ultimatum – essentially arguing that it is better for a teenager to be molested by someone in their mid-20's, because it would be worse if the teenager went and had sex with another teenager. This basically amounts to thoughtless trolling, and is no way for the second-in-command of our party to speak. Vohra might as well have tried to argue that it's fine for a 40-year-old to rape a 12-year-old, simply because if an 80-year-old had done it, it would be worse.
In defense of his article, Vohra wrote, “If a 14 year old has a kid, I would prefer the other person to be an adult, with a job”, ending the short post with “#EndWelfare”. Given his anti-welfare stance, it's likely that Vohra means this. But his scenario begs the question: Why a 15-year-old boy and a 25-year-old woman, in particular? I suspect that, in the name of gender equality, Vohra would say this applies to people regardless of biological sex. I can say with near absolute certainly that Vohra also believes that if a 15-year-old girl becomes financially independent and gets her own place, then it's acceptable for a 25-year-old man to molest her.
In fact, while defending his article on Facebook, Vohra did make that argument. He posted a comment which read, “Pick one”, followed by two statements: 1) “It's totally natural for two men to have sex”, and 2) “It's an abomination for a 25 year old man to have sex with a 15 year old women” [sic]. Not everyone would use the word “abomination” to describe that behavior, and not everyone would describe homosexuality as “totally natural”. Vohra knows this, and he knows his audience; he is using hyperbole to coerce the reader into considering the possibility that homosexuality is as harmful as child sexual abuse. In my opinion, this borders on the mentality that homosexuality is a “slippery slope” to pedophilia; if he had made this suggestion overtly, I would suspect that he is attempting to disparage the LGBTQ+ community.
In choosing the first scenario for the article, Vohra seems to be deliberately obscuring the implications of his idea. This forces the reader to deal directly with his example; a woman and a boy together, while relegating the discussion of men raping young girls to a message board buried somewhere on the internet. It's possible that Vohra wants to see his readers pressured into making a judgment call about him, without having all the information necessary to make an informed decision.
It seems likely that Vohra chose the scenario he did, rather than deal with the opposite possibility in a more open fashion, because in some people's eyes, a boy having sex with a woman is less offensive than a man having sex with a girl (due to the potential of pregnancy and vaginal tearing). But even if one behavior is less accepted than the other, that doesn't mean that neither of them are bad. If a teenage boy has sex with a female teacher – even if he brags about it, and believes that he consented to it - then the teacher still abused her position of trust, and violated her employment contract.
Additionally, when the boy becomes truly mature enough for sex, he may begin to rightfully suspect that the teacher took advantage of him. Unfortunately, many people seem to think that increasing the duration of statutes of limitations on reporting sex crimes is the solution, rather than decreasing that duration, or repealing those limits altogether. The purpose of the government is certainly not to make it more difficult for us to bring lawsuits against people; the U.S. Code shows that its purpose is quite the opposite.
As members of the third largest party in the country, any party members who agree with Vohra ought to understand that Vohra is acting like the Democrats and Republicans: presenting us with two bad options, and forcing us to choose. Arvin Vohra seems to have fallen into the very same trap as Jake McCauley, another Maryland resident who identifies as a libertarian; the assumption that financial independence makes a person ready for sex. It's clear that some self-described libertarians have a fixation on making room for legalized sex between adults and children, including for pay.
Jake McCauley is a presence on several libertarian and anarcho-capitalist Facebook groups. Using his own name, the pseudonym Charles Stratton, and using the account of his girlfriend Ashleigh Hines, he makes frequent posts defending child rape and promoting child prostitution, and has even published an article about his views on the matter on Steemit (entitled "Why I Am Against the Age of Consent"). Aside from posts on this topic, McCauley has trolled his own friends on social media by making them appear to approve of being incest victims, and once boasted about supposedly coming up with a solid defense for raping a woman. But I'll return to Vohra and McCauley shortly.
While it's not out-of-line to question whether federal child labor laws are constitutional (in the strict legal sense of being an enumerated power), some libertarians take this idea to the extreme, and rationalize children selling their hands for money. Similarly, while there are some reasonable arguments against the continued criminalization of prostitution, some libertarians rationalize even the prostitution which occurs under conditions of economic pressure, and even fear for the safety of the prostitute.
Apparently blind to the welfare of children and victims of the sex trade, many people who espouse both these views jump to the conclusion that in a voluntary, stateless society, the prostitution of children would be normalized. If not that, then the conclusion that under a limited government, child prostitution would be legal, regulated, taxed, licensed, and maybe even unionized. This line of logic may have caught the reader off-guard, but to the pedophilia apologist attempting to cloak his perversions with libertarianism, the flow of one idea into the other is just second nature.
Some libertarians take their rightful opposition to unconstitutional federal child labor laws to a more extreme conclusion, almost as if to say that if a law is unconstitutional, then whatever it prohibits must be good, because the state is always wrong. Children being put to work, or expected to do hard work, is a problem, and voluntary association and mutual aid are better ways to solve the problem than the state. But people who want to say child labor laws are bad are rarely prepared to give any suggestions as to how that might occur.
It's fair to argue that legal minors ought to have a little more freedom to work - or even start a business - as long as they're fairly compensated, and don't do work that's physically exhausting or puts them in danger. However, I would caution my readers to be wary of any self-described libertarian who criticizes child labor laws too vehemently, might be searching for a legal or ethical rationale for sex between children and adults. So their twisted logic goes, if prostitution is a victimless crime, and some minors can consent to sex, then it should be legal or acceptable for a 16-year-old to become a prostitute.
Despite Vohra's underhanded suggestion that to use homosexuality and child molestation in the same example is to compare apples to apples, this issue is much more full of “slippery slopes” than the legalization of same-sex marriage. Last year, Dennis Parsons, an official with the Liberal Democratic Party of the United Kingdom, resigned after telling a group of teenage students that school career officers should be allowed to suggest prostitution to students as a legitimate career. What's next; high school field trips to legal brothels? As former L.P. presidential candidate John McAfee (and prostitution client, or “john”) said in a 2016 debate, prostitution is not a victimless crime; the victim is the prostitute. That is, the prostitute often becomes a victim (of a pimp or a john), and often starts prostituting out of poverty and desperation.
While it's fair to applaud the State of California for ending its practice of jailing underage prostitutes (less well known by what they actually are; that is, sex-trafficked children), that does not mean that nothing coercive occurred in the course of the actions the prostitute undertook. Someone has just raped a child, and someone has just profited off of offering a child up to be raped. Child victims of the sex trade should not go to jail for being prostituted; if they should be sent anywhere, it should probably be the hospital. These are the kinds of ideas the party should be entertaining about statutory rape laws; not the idea that people who pimp children, and people who pay to rape children, should go unpunished.
This is not the first time the Libertarian Party has faced controversy over matters related to pedophilia. In 2008, a former biomedical researcher named Mary Ruwart ran for the party's presidential nomination, losing to Bob Barr.
In April 2008, Libertarians began to criticize comments which Ruwart had made in her 1998 book Short Answers to the Tough Questions. In her book, Ruwart wrote that “Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if it's distasteful to us personally. Some children will make poor choices just as adults do in smoking and drinking to excess. When we outlaw child pornography, the prices paid for child performers rise, increasing the incentive for parents to use children against their will.”
Many in the L.P. felt that Ruwart's statements excused, or even promoted, pedophilia and child pornography, but in an April 2008 article entitled “Ruwart on Children's Rights”, libertarian philosopher Roderick Tracy Long defended Ruwart, saying that she was “clearly not” “defending pedophilia and child pornography”. Long pointed out that Ruwart was attempting to describe the effects of state intervention on child prostitution and child pornography, insomuch as there is market demand for them.
This is not to say, however, that we are talking about legitimate market activities, however; anarcho-capitalists and market-anarchists view these as a “red market” activities (actions which are immoral regardless of whether the state approves of them, such as rape of adults, kidnapping, and murder-for-hire). Ruwart was pointing out that if you look at these activities solely in terms of supply and demand, a government ban on child prostitution and child pornography causes a decrease in “supply”, thus leading to increases in the prices paid for them, which, as Ruwart said, increases “the incentive for parents to use children against their will.”
It would take a big leap of faith to expect anyone - outside of a handful of libertarians, and maybe a few conservatives - to understand how the analysis of government effects on markets could have anything to do with such a horrendous set of behaviors. That's why it was unfortunate, but predictable, that Ruwart would fail to sufficiently explain and clarify her statement. Failing to explain with whom it is acceptable for “children” to engage in sexual activity, was certainly a misstep.
During a 2016 debate for the Libertarian Party's nomination for president, candidate Darryl Perry asked the moderator whether he was referring to children in the medical definition or the legal definition. In her book, Ruwart uses the word “children” without clarifying whether she means pre-pubescent, pre-teen children, or whether she meant to refer to all people who are legally classified as adults (meaning, more or less, everyone under the age of 18).
Given her medical background, it's not clear which definition of “child” Ruwart was using. But if she meant it in the legal sense, then she would not have been saying something too controversial, as it is legal for 17-year-olds to participate in sexual activity in more than 30 states, and legal for 16-year-olds to do the same in a handful of states, despite the fact that they are perceived as children (especially by people living in states in which the age of consent is 18).
Ruwart seems concerned that government laws prohibiting child pornography and child prostitution aren't working, and that the way they're being enforced is making things worse. She seems to have said what she said out of a healthy suspicion that the state usually fails to protect children when it tries to do so; out of the need to point out the problem and draw attention to the fact that we might need a back-up plan in case the government fails or refuses to do its job.
In my opinion, Ruwart's statement is much more problematic than Vohra's, as Ruwart's statement comes nowhere near promoting or excusing sex between children and adults, while Vohra's does. Her statements reflected nothing more than a desire to protect children from rapists, and to do something to lower parents' incentives to prostitute their children or force them to appear in child pornography. In fact, in her book, immediately before saying children have the right to engage in sex, Ruwart said, “Children forced to participate in sexual acts have the same rights and recourse as a rape victim. We can and should prosecute their oppressors.”
The approach of Dr. Mary Ruwart and Roderick T. Long is very different from the tortured lines of logic which Arvin Vohra and Jake McCauley pursue. While most libertarians don't want to see teenagers' lives ruined for having sex with each other, Vohra and McCauley seem to latch onto that idea, and use it to argue that because a person is ready for sex, it must mean that they're ready for sex with anybody, and of any age. Their failures to address inconsistencies and gaps like these, or to otherwise account for them, are every bit as irresponsible as the original statements which implied them.
While Vohra and McCauley agree that it's acceptable for a child to have sex as long as the child is self-supporting and independent, Vohra's argument is “better”. But that doesn't mean it's good. Vohra's argument is only less disgusting than McCauley's because Vohra appeals to the libertarian's sense of financial responsibility, while McCauley sloppily reasons that sex with a child is consensual as long as the child gets paid.
McCauley has even defended the idea that children who are starving in the third world should consider performing sexual favors for billionaires in order to get by. In McCauley's mind, why they are poor in the first place, doesn't have much to do with anything, and any talk of exploitation is paranoid. McCauley additionally believes that it is unacceptable to use “violence” in defending a child from a rapist, or in stopping a child from joining a cult, as long as the child believes that they want to do what they're doing. I don't understand what's so unreasonable about suggesting that a child would have to be manipulated or threatened in order to assent to doing those things. Giving consent – truly informed consent, being of sound mind and body - is not the same thing as ceasing to struggle against someone who's raping you.
It should generate no controversy to wonder whether an emancipated 16-year-old might be more likely to be able to give truly informed consent than a 18-year old college student; especially if the older teenager is inebriated and/or sexually inexperienced. But to point out scenarios like these, and moreover to devote time to making them up, is to point out a lot of exceptions to the rule. Yes, a sexually active sober emancipated minor is probably able to handle sexual activity, but that doesn't mean all sexual activity with 16-year-olds is acceptable; especially not if they're drinking or on drugs.
Another issue that creates doubt would be if the person is not emancipated, and is still legal minor. But the idea that someone isn't an adult just because the state says they're an adult, is yet another point that seems to escape the libertarian pedophilia apologist. Some of these people even go so far as to claim that children can be ready for sexual activity if they are especially intelligent. Many of them stretch this logic, in order to conclude that if an adult is at the intellectual level of a child (rather than the child being as intelligent as an adult), then sexual activity between them is “on the same level”. Of course, this is to suggest that it's perfectly fine for a grown adult to rape a child as long as the adult is mentally retarded or under the influence of drugs. This is utter nonsense.
Sex can only be healthy and enjoyable - and happen without regrets, fear, or pressure – if the parties involved are sexually mature enough to physically handle the sexual activity; emotionally healthy and intelligent enough to psychologically process the experience; and well-informed as to the consequences of sexual activity (such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases).
While Vohra is correct to point out that financial independence (including, most importantly, the ability to raise a baby if one is conceived) helps take precautions against the potential burdensome negative consequences of sex, financial independence alone should not be the benchmark to determine consent. To say it should is almost like saying that any child who earns a million dollars, or somehow learns to live alone, or gets married, suddenly becomes able to process sexual activity emotionally and psychologically, let alone physically.
Anyone who is familiar with the Non-Aggression Principle ought to understand why a person who tricks someone into sex, removes their condom during sex, or fails to disclose S.T.D.-positive status, has committed fraud against that person. These are hardly “victimless crimes”; they are “crimes” even in the strict legal meaning of the word. If this makes sense to you, then it shouldn't be difficult to imagine how easily a child could be tricked into sex; or even work, for that matter.
Even an adult can be tricked into sex. Near the end of his article, Vohra asked: At what age can someone no longer be tricked or pressured into sex? After considering and dismissing 25 as the age of mental maturity, he perhaps sarcastically suggests 60, with little explanation, while failing to consider that some states have laws protecting people over 60 from people exploiting their senility for sex (through punishing taking sexual advantage of the elderly more harshly than raping a younger adult). Vohra seem to have failed to consider that children and the elderly are both vulnerable segments of society.
That topic aside, only thing that could possibly justify Vohra's and McCauley's rationalization of the exploitation of children for sex, is if money and financial independence are the only objective measurements of human value; the only ways to measure maturity. They only make sense if protecting the safety and innocence of children – weak, vulnerable members of society whom are expected to trust adults – isn't as important as making money.
Don't get me wrong, money makes it easy to buy things, but only in the sense that Chuck E. Cheese tokens make it easy to get prizes. Money isn't a human need; it doesn't directly doesn't sustain any life process in the same way that food, water, and air do. You don't die from running out of money. If you do, then it's because someone has made it the law that you have to use that money. If someone can make you falsely believe that money is one of your basic needs, then that person can make you do anything in order to get it. According to Arvin Vohra, “anything” means hard work. According to Jake McCauley, “anything” means prostituting yourself and your children.
The Libertarian Party is the fastest-growing political party in the United States, and the third largest by votes and members. This arguably makes it the most likely party to unseat the political establishment dominated by the two-party duopoly.
Now, at a time when the American public is more keenly aware of sexual assault by politicians and celebrities than every before, when high-profile officials of both major parties are suspected of sexual harassment (and even a few suspected of child sexual abuse), L.P. vice chair Arvin Vohra's article “Questioning Age of Consent Laws in America” couldn't have come at a worse time. But of course, rationalizing legalized or normalized sex between adults and children can never come at a good time.
A day or two after the publication of Vohra's article, Alaska state chair Jon Watts wrote a letter to the L.N.C., stating that it it the view the L.P.'s Alaska state board that Vohra be removed from his position. Watts wrote that “On an intellectual level, some logic may exist in his arguments, however the topics and conclusions he forwards repeatedly result in discredit to the LP.” Watts continues, “Our leaders must be ambassadors as well as philosophers. One role cannot exist at the expense of the other. The LP is not a hermetic association for the advanced study of arcane philosophical concepts, but a political organization with the intent to guide and influence our government and citizenry”, adding that Vohra must not understand that.
Watts is correct; each of our leaders must be an ambassador, as well as a philosopher. I personally see no reason why the Libertarian Party should not study philosophy in an advanced way; that could only help libertarians and non-libertarians understand how free people would solve problems without the state. The state's abuse of children ought to show that as much as we may support the intended effects of statutory rape laws, the state usually makes things worse when it intervenes. Prosecuting youths for breaking vice laws (prostitution included), sending them to for-profit juvenile detention facilities, and coercing them into forced labor or the sex trade after legally kidnapping them into the family law court system, are all examples of these failures.
In 2016, the two leading U.S. presidential candidates were a pussy-grabber, and a woman who surrounds herself with men who prey on much younger females. The last thing that American voters want to see as their third choice is the leader of a party that appears to promote the normalization of enticing children into the sex trade (among other crimes).
With this article, I hope I have pointed the discussion of this issue in the right direction. I believe that this issue can be solved, both politically and for the purposes of a voluntary society. But before that can happen - and long before a “deeper” (read: nihilistic) questioning of this issue becomes appropriate - people will have to make great strides towards making the sexual exploitation of children a thing of the past, through peaceful activity that is both mutually beneficial and voluntary.
Until then, it will suffice to urge my readers to admonish anyone promoting the legalization of prostitution in tandem with child labor, and anyone citing the need to decriminalize sex between teens to defend adults taking advantage of children.
And finally, that anyone who would like to follow this story, and keep up on news regarding the process of relieving Arvin Vohra of his post as Vice Chair of the national Libertarian Party, should request to join the Facebook group “Remove Arvin Vohra”.
Late breaking developments related to this story include allegations that the producers of the documentary “I Am Gary Johnson” attempted to pay 14-year-old girls to appear in pornographic videos, and the revelation that Vohra may intend to endorse Chelsea Manning for U.S. Senator from Maryland. If true, this could very well be a ploy to sabotage Manning's campaign with an endorsement by a party official who's steeped in controversy, and seems to think that freedom can only be achieved through disparaging our veterans, our children, and the poor.
Sadly, it appears as though women, and homosexual and transgender individuals, may be next on Vohra's list.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
As Eisenhower chided (chode?), “The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” General Patton, too, remarked that “A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.” In Biblical times, a talent (or kikkār) was a measurement of a particularly-sized disk-shaped loaf, made of gold or silver; the monetary equivalent of twenty years' wages.
These facts ought to show that the use of talent, genius, hopes, and dreams as a way of backing currency, are already widely accepted. This, and the existence of an e-currency called SweatCoin, ought to show that sweat is accepted just as widely, if not more. Additionally, the U.S. Federal Reserve has set the standard; a currency with no human fluids on it will not survive in today's fast-paced currency seller's market. That is why we must forge a currency of sweat.
However, a document covered in sweat can serve as a fine substitute. There's no way to perfectly imitate that head-swelling, confidence-instilling feeling - like the feeling of some cleansing flu coming on - of that most coveted and elusive of currencies; Man. But what better way to counterfeit the witchy of the itchy and the sticky of the icky of the way humons feel, than by smearing your moneys with human transmission fluid?
Get high off of your money. If your money doesn't give you V.D., then You're Not Doing It RightTM. If you've no blood nor sweat to spare, then as the saying goes: You'd better get busy crying, or get busy crying.
If the value of a money comes from its shine, then where doth its value lay? Hark!, where, when the paternal, miserly Sun hides from mere mortals for fear of his mistress Luna, as if She were some attention-starved solar-powered vehicle (just as fair Gaia)? We may only know by using the very Sun as our astrolabe – and probably as our ass too, if you ask Georges Bataille – that is, by using the Sun itself as our sundial and timepiece.
Would that I could but snatch the Sun and Moon out the very Heavens for thee, and gift them to you as currencies, untaxable by the gods. But the best I can do is write these Letters. For the Sun and Moon are round yet flat; just like the Earth, coins, and our callous hearts. Amun RaShi'Amun Rocks.
Through replacing the money in our pockets with miniature sundials, our currency will stay current, and we will be all paid-up on our phone bill to G-d. We can even dial-up the Messiah, to hear The Message, and the ephemeral Operator will inform us of the True Cosmic Time. Then we can finally find out whether Jesus was trying to tell us it was 2:45, 3:45, 8:15, or 9:15. I mean, Christ on a clock!
Yea, for a Solstice has come to pass! To watch the seasons, and Sun and Moon, is to gently rock the cradle of civilization, to push the perambulator of progress, to tend the Garden of the stationary Church-house-wife. It is the cosanguine Nile of the suburbs. That is why we may no Know-Religion until we know No-Religion. And only through the No-Religion may we practice the All-Religion, the Night-Religion, and the Day-Religion of Duty, and deliver our End of the Covenant.
So it was that those who had come to bask in the warmth of the Son had also come to call it their god, and rely on it. Just as it was hours later, when their god deserted them; mocking them, laying them bare, cool and dry, vulnerable to the stare of the (K)night-King.
But Lo!, for a second light – a lesser Light - did govern the Sky, during fearsome Night! The people rejoiced, gave thanks for this grace, and took heart. They trusted their Moon-Goddess; she governed the Heavens so as to make the very trains run on time! Truly She were a goddess to whom mortals could set their watches, and even their calendars!
But this mild, innocuous Lunacy grew feverish, bringing Discord. And what Luna see, Luna do. They feared the Son would never return. Some began to believe they didn't need Him. Moon-tanning boomed as an industry. The vampires' unions went too far and then got complacent. Bad times were had by all.
But the Morn brok nevertheless, and the Lord of Light scalded dry the winter-parched faces of the Draculistic Moonites with the sight of the unforgiving day. This was the same chasmed flesh which had once worn dry as caked desert mud from haloed Luna-C's glowering glow; halo-lujah.
Fuckin' way she goes; same shit, different millennium. For to God, every day is like a thousand fears. ...Here's to another 365 of those shits.
But after but after but; this is the nature of the koan. Forsooth, I like big buts, and I cannot lie; to lie is to call the Eternal But anything but samsara. It is to make it the but of the joke. For Our Lord Kurt Cobain, of the Holy Trinity of Nirvana, freed us from the cycle of what the Buddha termed the Cycle of Buts. This is what is truly meant by “Get thee behind me, Satan!”. No amount of Time, nor The Waiting, can free us from the Eternal But. If it can, then it is not the Eternal But.
But that is the Nature of Time; we don't have Time to talk about Time. Time may be money, but as Tha Boi warned us, “Time won't give me time, and time makes lovers feel like they've got something real”. And if time won't give you time, then it's no better than a money that doesn't make you more money while you're sleeping.
The Black Hole Son can only redeem us (for value) insofar as He can symbolically store our value. If Time is at all fleeting - and it is - then time and permanence cannot be rightfully described as countrymen, thus serving as a store of value in any real sense proves difficult. But through conquering the Word - and defeating the demonic, time-stealing scoundrel Hypnos - this dissonant disconnect between Time and Value can be bridged, transcended, and overcome.
This Letter is about making a sigil. A sigil for your vigil.
That I may lead you, the reading novice magick practitioner, out of the sweat-shop and into the Light, so that you may pick the Golden Rays from the very Air.
This is about how to create your sigil, and how to craft it into a sigil-based currency. Moreover, how to charge it; the same way you charge a credit card, or charge an innocent god with a crime He didn't commit. Only then may we conduct this Alchymical Wedding between Spirit and Flesh (the same way you would conduct lightning to yourself, or an orchestra. Or conduct an orchestra).
The task before us is to transmute mercury into gold; to get blood from stone. And remember, blood is mostly water, so if Moses got water from a stone, then blood isn't a far Leap away. If Moe can do it, yo can do it. It's right there in his name: “Moe's us!”
That's right, all your months of hard work are about to pay off! Collecting these instructions, ritualistically inducing trance states so as to emit ecstatic glossolalia, generating letter after word after symbol after emoji after cryptogram after codex after sigil after seal after amulet after talisman after primordial language after ancient number that nobody's ever heard of, while a bunch of clothespins hang off of your dangly bits.
Did you forget to do that? Oh. Well, I did mention to get a job as part of all this? No? ...Actually, that's perfect, you have nothing to work with. Just as Socrates was a genius because he admitted he knew nothing, so too must the fabrication of a Faberge egg begin with its negation; through piercing. This ain't the Seven Dolours of Mary here, it's just like getting your hand pierced. And as it may as well have said in 1 Timothy 2:9: “You can't be beautiful until somebody pokes a hole in you.”
Look away, and think on this: Piercing the one creates a zero within it. How many zeroes? One. As zero is defined self-antithetically as the absence of value or number, it is both a number and not a number. How many numbers is it? One. But how many numbers isn't it? All of them. This is the nature of non-Euclidean hyper-numeric out-forming.
This principle is best symbolized by Sisyphus (1) pushing Ouroboros (0) up a hill. The self-completion of Nothingness gives rise to the One, to raise it. All positive and negative value comes from within or without the 0. This is what the Kingdom of God is like.
Yes, that's right; act now, for the Black Hole Son is the demiurgic furnace of Creation; that supercollider of supercolliders, the Lord's personal microwave, from which the All-Yet-What-It-Is-Ness and the Not-But-What-It-Do-Ness spewluminate and spewmerge from the Hotness of the Notness. This is why the knowledge that A does not equal A, is the fountain pen of all ObjectiveTM Human No-Ledge. For there is (k)No(w)Ledge Beyond the Edge.
That's why lack of a ledge to stand on is a desirable quality to possess. For even if the sigils you manifested were too hardcore to translate into English – much less millions in domain names profits – then the only real portfolio you need is within your own mind; it is your Memories. While the First Rule of Sigil Money is that You'veTM GotTM aTM PortfolioTM toTM MaintainTM, there is dispute over whether “There is No Second Rule of Sigil Money” in fact constitutes a second rule. But this should not come as unexpected, for in the very same way that 2 emerges from 1, so does 1 emerge from 0, and vice-versa. It's kind of like removing a square peg from a round slot.
This is to say that you can't get into Heaven unless you can fit through Jesus's ribcage wound to get inside of it. And that hole wouldn't be whole if some asshole centurion hadn't gone and done a damn thing, and Doubting Thomas hadn't stopped by to open-up old zounds. Above all, it's harder to thread the Hole to Heaven if you have a plank in your own eye that prevents you from pointing our the camel in the eye of the needle. Basically, the more valuable and precious the memories you've stored in your mind, the more Value® you can sneak into Heaven.
Though ye may lack possessions, ye still have some number of sword and cup. I mean, whether getting rid of all your possessions will get you into Heaven or not, then if you are getting in, then whatever is inside you is also getting in. Eh? Eh? So why not swallow a couple'a cigarette packs? Where there's clouds, there's cigarettes. Why not turn yourself into a drug mule while you're at it? What, do you think there's nobody in Heaven who likes drugs!? This is how you can raise your Value® without weighing yourself down spiritually. Make yourself use-full!
As you'll recall from earlier, the hole in the donut signifies the debt which is built into the dollar. Money is weighted with debt - so as to anchor it to Gaia, lest it dash adventurously off to reach the lofty Spheres – and in order to inculcate into the bill an imperative to spend. In this manner shall we rein spending Power into our own sigils, like St. Nicholas herding reindeer with his Lightning Command of the Word. As money now commands us to spend it, so shall we soon command it to spend itself; through seduction.
The value of Money (that is, money as we know it) cannot be acquired without spending; this discharges the debt, allowing the spender to redeem the interest (that is, the cost of using money which he incurred in choosing that currency in particular). Basically, money is only useful once you Get Rid of ItTM. Just like a god.
Also, conveniently, just like a sigil. If you want to truly keep something, then you must spiritually possess it, by preparing to let it go. If it comes back to you, then it was meant to be. Only then may you buy your future back through the flames. As has been said, “You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone”; just like the manna in which golf is scored, the value of possessing a sigil-currency lies in its non-possession. One year you won't want to be caught without money, the next you won't want to be caught with it. You won't know until it's All-Too-Not-Just-Late-Enough.TM
The less you have, the closer to Zero you are, the more you appreciate what you do have. This is what it means to live by God's grace, to live in God's hands. To do this is to manifest financial appreciation through acts of intellectual and emotional appreciation. As each of ye bead a precious jewel with innumerable facets, different yet equal in the unparallelable uniqueness which knows no degree but only absolute. Thus, uniqueness – your Unique, at that - may never be diminished nor demeaned.
Verily I say unto thee: by the time this is over, you will see the Kingdom of God with your own eyes. More importantly, you will have learned to not trap, but catch your intentions, uponto your sigil, without nailing it down and accidentally killing it. This will allow you to practice what we shall call the Entomology of the Word, so that you may treat the flowers as Osho besought.
Even if you can only do it as part of a simulation, living near Zero - at the edge of nothingness and annihilation - is the only way to gain the perspective necessary to understand that mankind must create a currency whose value is inversely proportionate to the level of human suffering which caused it.
To paraphrase Matthew 5:3-6, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and getting hurt is a sure way to get people to pay attention to you. To do this is to “make yourself scarce”; so rare that you nearly fade-away into NothingTM, and your value's wave-function collapses into a shit-line. But fear not; if you strike yourself down, you shall become more valuable than you can possibly imagine.
To paraphrase Matthew 5:3-6, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and getting hurt is a sure way to get people to pay attention to you. To do this is to “make yourself scarce”; so rare that you nearly fade-away into NothingTM, and your value's wave-function collapses into a shit-line. But fear not; if you strike yourself down, you shall become more valuable than you can possibly imagine.
Just as you can claim a flower - without picking it, nor killing it – by uprooting it, so too can you obtain the humour of your choice, and transfer it onto the document that will wield your sigil. (Note: humours are herein referred to as both Flesh and Spiritus, not to be confused with Spirit.) However, you will not be trapping spiritual powers, nor intentions, nor fluids; but catching them, as you would a dream with a dream-catcher.
This document you use may be of paper, papyrus, vellum, parchment, buck-skin, Charlie Manskin, or a grimoire made of human flesh. Use whatever's handy. Even literally; use your own hand if nothing else is available. After all, as Mr. Wright noted, it's easier to read someone's palms if there's something already written on them.
Your goal will be to keep record of significance, and a souvenir of your illusory physical body (ectoplasm), with - and on - this codex. This will allow you to delicately “capture” the spiritual union of Spirit with Flesh, but not in the same way that every time you nail something into the ground, you're driving a nail through the Body of Christ, and preventing both Jubilee and the Second Coming. This way is less painful (depending on who you ask).
Additionally, you must lay a trap for Fire; so that it may act as your Servant, rather than your Serpent. Fire, as students of Richard Feynman will attest, is a kind of spiritual lightning, which mortals refer to as “electricity”. Once you have trapped your fluids with your sigil, the fluids (spirits) become your prisoners, and begin to go to work inside your money, to make more money for you. The walls of this numismatic prison insulate the economy against all designs of electric and economic shock; from Nixon Shock, to China Shock, to the risk of e-Weapondollar Shock (posed by mounting speculation in 3-d-printed-handgun-backed currencies).
That's why lighting your humour-moistened sigil-currency with Holy Fire - “charging your sigil” - results in a sticky electrical discharge that's nearly as delicious and refreshing as what Natasha spells backwards. Lick your sigil while you're at it, there's no sense in wasting good saliva. More saliva donations to the Fire is more saliva donations to Commodity Fetish Records.
Licking the sigil, just as well, serves to Mark it as yours; this is termed “Homesteading by the Tongue”. You may recall this property-claiming process from your youth. If you lick it, it becomes not just yours, but a part of you, because it's covered in your Flesh.
To set your Spiritus-meshed Mooney ablaze with Light, is to literally electrocute the Money-Moon-Men inside of it, by the Thunder of Zeus! Again, just like a credit card. Once it's your property, you can do anything you want with it; trade it away, burn it, eat it in order to gain its power, even destroy it by selling it to the Fire.
These rituals - exposed to the open Air, and uniting Handwater with Meat, Will, and Fury - alone ensure the Union of the four classical elements Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. A voodoo monetary theory which does not accept this Union as essential to the creation of value, does not comprehend the true natural law of moonetary exchange. The Union of Flesh with Spirit and Word, and Faith with Works, and Time with Money and Moon, the same.
The good people at Commodity Fetish Records believe in your True Value, that it would be impossible to calculate your value; that you are invaluable. That's why we're proud to offer a generous commensurate sum of a whopping Zero® Economic Units for your donations! (Disclaimer: We will be testing your emissions for drugs. Just like your Boss, Cool Guy SatanTM takes only the purest, least adulterated samples.)
Once you've chosen which fluid or fluids you will apply to your sigil – be it spit, sweat, urine, ass-milk, or handwater (that's “blood” to the layman) – you will be prepared to transmute the humours of your tumours from-within-out-onto the parchment.
But prior to applying Spiritus, you must make your sigil manifest. Draw a simple design – this could be anything; an assortment of lines and curves, a doodle, a flag, a crest or coat of arms, an established magickal amulet or talisman, really anything – and think of it as a symbol or logo. Next, assign it a meaning, and telekinetically imbue it with your intentions. Stop just short of inflicting your Will upon it; save that for human beings.
With your mind's eye, give the symbol a meaning that represents what you wish to manifest; this could be a simple task with which you need spiritual assistance, or as high-minded as your wildest hopes and dreams. Visualize yourself surrendering what you lack, in order to lose something negative, in order to make gains (say it with me... Chris Gaines). Simply put, let go of what is holding you back, so sayeth the Emperor. This is how you make trades while staying out of both the red and the black; praise Eleggua, fuck Vegas.
Meditate upon the symbol, and upon the meaning you have projected onto it. As best you can, memorize the shape of what you have drawn. Release your physical attachment to the document (now made Spirit-Flesh), while simultaneously pretending to, and pretending not to, release spiritual attachment. Having prepared to let go of the sigil-currency – and, with it, physical and symbolic parts of yourself – you may now feed your Spirit-Flesh to the Fire (yourself or the document, there's really no wrong choice here).
What do I do for a living? It doesn't matter. What's important is that I make money. Whatever my job looks like it is, my real job is, ultimately, to make money. But all that aside, what did I buy a shit-ton of when I got my first paycheck? Beads. Why beads? “Why beads?”!? You know how many beads the island of Manhattan would be worth today, if you accounted for bead inflation? Quadrillions!
So fuck with a sigil. Draw a simple and make it symbol. Blow it up, and charge it with spiritual fire, then push credit or debit, and you're approved! Put a bead on it. Draw a bead on your sigil. Draw a bead of sweat onto your sigil. 'ell, draw a bead of cum, no less. Cum On A Sigil, so sayeth Sri J.C. Meyers, may Her Name Echo into Eternity. I mean, everybody's doin' it!
Though ye may say, “Well then, if everybody jumped off a cliff, would you?” Hell yes I would, there'd be nobody to hang out with! Am I to waste away and wait for withered Thanatos to portend his mulish, desiccating jowls thither and thence across my visage? Forshook!
Though cum be, too, fleeting - just like Time and Life (nay, yet also Glamour, and National Geographic) – what is money without a little bit of cum on it? The transitory, vagabond-like nature of cum, is – like the Black Hole Son – a furnace of creation, albeit housed in the River Nile, while the other is housed in the Ceiling (cielo). Thus is the nature of the fiscal cliff, of God, and of currency.
And, yes, ass-beads ought to work just fine, as long as they're not cleaned beforehand.
As the usurpers must be killed with kindness, so shall all blood, sweat, and tears (BST) be repaid in kind; whether to boss, landlord, or humanoid cloud of pumice-colored plasmic cinder. Those who work us, must work for us; especially if our lazy money refuses to. Just as every man shall be a king, and each house his castle, so shall each person be a central banker.
Literally make it your job to make money. When it comes to counterfeiting operations, you've gotta spend money to make money. The only difference in legitimacy is whose money you spend to get things started.
If this doesn't make sense, don't worry; it doesn't have to. What matters is that you employ some sort of logical loop in your defense of your currency of your choice. That you take the cum-glossed ghosts made of spiritual electrical-fire which dance inside of your money, and put them inside of a hamster wheel, that is shaped like that very same logical loop, which is alone the source of value, it being also shaped like a coin, and the impostor “number” zero.
This is like Sesame Street, except the Count never leaves the screen.
And this is what The Count hath taught us; for, just as money comes from blood, blood comes from water, and water comes from the moon, if Moon-Goddess is the source of all, then She is the source of Mooney, Blood-Money, and Handwater alike. She alone May quell the perturbed tempest of Draculistic Moonies wreaking havoc upon our quiet little town.
For blood – not blockchain – is the real Keeper of Record of transactions; that Ancient Historian, Holder of Value, the RNA to the RZA to the GZA. The Declaration of Independence might as well have been written and signed in blood, considering how well-aware the revolutionaries were that they were pledging their very lives and lifeblood to one-another, in defense of each other's property. Then how hard would it have been for Nicolas Cage to read?
Look at it this way: No blood money, no blood oaths. No blood oaths, no blood vigils. No blood vigils, no blood moons, no blood supermoons... But all this can be aided and betted with even the smallest donation. After all, blood's value is high, stable, and robust; owing to the need of it, and demand for it; for transfusions, research, etc..
Also, blood can be easily transported. Shit, your body does it for you. Moreover, God knows how easily blood spreads. In fact, it's the only currency that's accepted everywhere! What do you think when you see blood? Exactly!; “Damn, the violence in the world is something that I need to accept.”! Blood: It's everywhere you want to be!
Blood is, also, 100% proof positive of eating. That he who does not eat, neither shall he maketh bludd. And what to blood cells look like? Little donuts! “What does it mean?” Fuckin' you tell me!
Most importantly, as anarchist Bach Dorein attests, blood is “a bodily fluid that carries all of your genetic material”, which enables both parties to be identified if need be.
Furthermore, each drop of blood, bead of sweat, or cummie (CUM), serves as an easily divisible unit-share of the currency-stock BST, which is basically a basket of similar human-resource-backed currencies, grouped together so as to pool risk if one of them goes under. These drops (or beads) are valued inversely in proportion to the debt of the unique individual human being from which it came (and which it “represents”, heh-heh-heh).
It's like a blind trust, except what's being traded is being treated like a currency more than like a stock, and it runs almost like a cooperative model. What this means is that each investor can easily own – upon request of delivery, with postage paid by the recipient – Pieces of You. This enables each investor (remember, that includes you, at least potentially) to have a 100% bona-fide record of the genetic material of all parties to your contract.
This “currency” (more accurately, a whole mode of exchange unto itself) will allow a creditor to clone his debtor, from his blood, and work the clone until the debt has been paid back in full! At which point the creditor is free to dispose of the clone at will, having created it in the first place. You cannot truly own what you do not create. This is the mode of money management which is most in-keeping with the lessons in the Lord's Prayer. Don't like it? Clone yourself! Jesus did. Remember? He made that sheep? I think he called it Salvador Dolly.
According to Dorein, when “Loss of property, loss of bodily parts, loss of life are all consequences”, in addition to loss of blood, the “Mutual threat of extreme violence” will “maintain peace”, and the “Mutual threat of death will keep everybody in line”, in much the same manner in which the threat of mutually-assured destruction seemed to help stave-off a nuclear exchange during the Cold War.
That blood money be our currency, and blood oaths be our Constitution. May blood Serve as a check and a cheque; a contract on which its users declare their independence from the trappings of mortality and the tyranny of monocurrency.
Perhaps blood's use as a sort of primordial blockchain could even be augmented through genetic engineering! Wouldn't you like to fill your pockets each morning with G.M.O. chimera-borg babies, whose parents are everybody who has ever used blood money!?
And don't get me started on the possibility of trading blood derivatives!
This is the logos you must embrace if your will is to make the world safe for Chaos, with Chaos. For Chaos, like Zero, clears room for itself, and thus makes all else (including the One) possible.
Just as 1 comes from nothingness, so too do the magick and the Muse only visit the shaman in full force of fury as a novice. To experience this is to know true passive magick; to be used as a mere vessel for the Word.
So, as Timothy Leary famously said, "Induce trance states, patent yourself as a crypto-numerological random number generator, and cash in."
Written Between January 13th and 16th, 2018
Edited on January 17th, 2018
Edited on January 17th, 2018
Friday, January 12, 2018
Written for Issues Magazine
Unlike the magazine you're reading, the world is not always black-and-white. As history develops, we are learning, more and more, that many concepts exist on a continuum or a spectrum, and not always in starkly-opposing binary pairs.
Being colorblind to the “gray area” can make it harder to perceive the dichotomies and false dualisms that limit our capacity for abstract thought. But through seeing those false dichotomies for what they are, we can transcend them, and understand the world around us a little bit better.
A dichotomy refers to a cutting-in-half, and to something being torn asunder; while a false dichotomy is the illusion of separation, difference, or disagreement. Right now, the two major political parties are perpetuating a false dichotomy. They jointly wield a “two-party duopoly”, literally meaning a state of two sellers. And what they're selling is, of course, bullshit. But they need a public who's willing to buy it.
It is no secret that the Democratic and Republican parties are “two wings of the same imperialist war-hawk”. Through complicity with the Electoral College and first-past-the-post systems, and through the Commission on Presidential Debates, candidates and parties are vetted, to make sure they lie within “Overton Window”. This term refers to the narrow range of debate which the controllers of free speech deem appropriate for the public.
“Gate-keeping” is a term often applied to such a vetting process. Additionally, each party looks for “controlled opposition”; people in the other party who are similar enough to the original party, that they're willing to tow the party line of their opponents. An example would be a partnership between the Republican Party and the “Blue Dog” Democrats who are moderately conservative on social and/or economic issues.
The purpose of all this is to create an illusion of disagreement, while avoiding the instability which that tends to cause, by “compromising” on what matters most: the best way to ignore everyone's freedoms and confiscate all of their earnings. This maintains an appearance of a house which is “divided against itself”, yet somehow still standing. Simply put, if the parties fight too much, the country could get invaded, but if they don't fight enough, then people will vote for the other party.
Aside from keeping We the People in a state of perpetual terror and complicity, these tactics achieve the goal of suppressing dissent; through suppressing free speech, free debate, and free elections. What we have now is the illusion of a voluntary society, while every day we are presented with binary choices and ultimatums, and wondering where all of our other choices went, and why. Whether on the street, in politics, or both, each day we're pressured into answering questions like “Your money or your life?” and “My way or the highway?”, and then we're told that we're responsible for every decision we make.
While there are clearly too few choices in our elections, democracy and markets both suffer from the choices being too similar to one another. In the market, the feeling of being overwhelmed by having too many choices, has been termed “overchoice”, “choice overload”, and “analysis paralysis”. However, the real problem is not that we have too many choices at the grocery store; it's that the “alternatives” we have to choose from, are all too similar to one another. Preserving a multiplicity of distinct choices is essential to fostering open markets and open elections.
With all the false dichotomies and false binary oppositions, the stress of trying to make an informed decision when the choices are limited and/or similar, and the limitations on speech and debate, it is getting more difficult to feel that our “choices” are actually our own. The state being profoundly illogical, and having abandoned the people, the people turn to philosophy. That's because it's only through philosophy that “multi-dimensional” abstract thinking becomes possible.
While it may be helpful to develop schema or systems through which to understand and categorize ideas and things, it is binary, one-dimensional thinking to continuing seeing things in terms of black and white, good vs. evil, Left vs. Right. To see above and beyond the Left-vs.-Right line, on the other hand, is to transcend the planar realm (think Nolan chart) to the third dimension. It is to observe multiple dimensions of political and ideological “space”, and to discover just how limited your world-view once was.
The works of German philosophers Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Rudolf Steiner, all exemplify radically self-aware attempts to confront and overcome dichotomies through reasoning, leading to the creation of third solutions, and sometimes even more. Although Fichte was the first to develop a “dialectical method”, the most popular method is the Hegelian dialectic. These are methods of philosophical discourse which aim to expose and resolve contradictions.
To describe an initial idea, its opposite, and the idea which results from their resolution, Fichte coined the terms these, antithese, synthese (thesis, antithesis, synthesis). In the dialectical method, the resolution of the contradiction between thesis and antithesis, is referred to as aufheben or aufhebung. These are usually translated as “sublate” and “sublation”, while they literally refer to a “moving” or a “picking up”. Perhaps it helps to think of sublation as “picking up” the parts you like out of two broken philosophies, and putting them together to make a new one.
The goal of sublation is to suspend, cancel, or abolish two ideas, while at the same time preserving them, thus overcoming and transcending – and perhaps, hopefully, even resolving - the apparent contradiction between them. The dialectical method has been used successfully to expose contradictions and false dichotomies, and to “synthesize” new ideas, through making the thesis and antithesis interact and engage in a discourse with one-another.
Whether the reader needs more help understanding the dialectical method or the political spectrum, it will be helpful either way to assign the “thesis” and “antithesis” labels to socialism and capitalism. Whichever one chooses as the thesis, these two economic systems – just like the two major parties – are popularly perceived as polar opposites, and through taking away all other options, the people are “given” the binary choice between them. A sublation of the two ideas should take equally from both – whether it takes completely, half from each, or not at all – and result in a synthesis, a man-made idea whose novelty (newness) exposes just how similar the first two ideas actually are to one-another.
The problem, of course, is figuring out how much – and what - to take from the thesis and antithesis; in this case, deciding what we like best about socialism and capitalism. And naturally, if we want to synthesize a new political philosophy, we must take precautions, so as to avoid the historical problems associated with each. If what we like about socialist and capitalist regimes is their ability to keep order, cling to power, and run people's lives, then our synthesis will tend towards fascism, command-and-control economics, price controls, and rationing. But if what we like about these systems is their histories of promoting freedom and equality, then our synthesis will be more radical, activist, freedom-loving, and perhaps even anarchist.
Oddly, what this fact exposes, is the possibility of the creation of two syntheses which are polar opposites of one another. This should tell us that the puzzle has not yet been solved. Each the dialectical method, and the lessons of Steiner's “social threefolding”, is helpful when it comes to ensuring that we have more than two bad choices. But if we stop after a single synthesis, then all we have done is replace a false dichotomy with a false trichotomy.
The “four-fold truth” can only be created through opposition to, and contradiction of, the synthesis. We must develop two or more syntheses, and compare and contrast them using the same dialectical method which gave us the first synthesis. This will result in an antisynthesis; an idea that negates the original synthesis. This forces the first synthesis to look itself in the mirror, so we can know which one is the real evil twin, and shoot it. Synthesis is like Hell: “If you find yourself going through [it], keep going.” Synthesis is not just a one-step process; if you haven't found an antisynthesis, then you haven't finished synthesizing.
While logic tells us that totalitarians and anarchists hate nothing more than each other, this could very well be just another false contradiction. The public perception of anarchists as bomb-throwing radicals - and some misogynistic, petit-nationalist, and even anti-Semitic statements by radical theorists such as Marx, Proudhon, Bakunin, and Makhno – have caused some people to suggest that anarchists and fascists might unite to spread terror and chaos, disrupt stable democracies, or even infiltrate national politics so as to threaten minorities.
Going forward, anarchists must avoid the mistakes these men made, and avoid the pitfalls of synthesizing towards power. Synthesis-anarchists (like the “anarchists without adjectives” of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left) have every reason to be wary that organic nationalism, social nationalism, national syndicalism, and National-Anarchism, could channel Right-nationalist sentiment. Anyone who wishes to form a nationalist movement, re-define nationalism, or find a “Third Way” or “Third Position”, should avoid ultra-nationalism, statism, and territorialism, or else it is practically inevitable that people will be forced to participate in it against their will, or else submit to it.
It is only through philosophy and etymology that we may understand what terms like nationalism, socialism, and private property even are, in any sense other than how they have been historically practiced. While results matter, the intentions and ideals of a philosophy matter every bit as much. Only when we understand the intentions, ideals, and goals of the systems we're describing, may we conscientiously synthesize new ideas that are truly freeing, and neither burdened nor haunted by past failures.
And once we've formulated these new ideas, we must develop them, so that we may represent and explain them well, so as to differentiate them from their competitors. Only then may voters and consumers make truly voluntary choices, from among distinct, distinguishable alternatives. Then, the market for political half-truths can at least function fairly.
The modern world is complex; it is no longer enough to simply say “caveat emptor” (“let the buyer beware”), and assume that the market will sort this all out. Some continuing education is imperative. Think of philosophical discourse as a sort of consumer advocacy organization; for people who need help understanding how to stop buying the government's lies.
Written on January 11th, 2018, and
Based on the Original “Extended” Version,
Which Was Originally Written on January 8th and 9th, 2018,
Originally Published on January 10th, 2018,
Edited and Expanded on January 9th, 10th, and 12th, 2018,
Edited and Expanded on January 9th, 10th, and 12th, 2018,
and Edited on January 11th, 2018
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Table of Contents
2. Dichotomies, Duopolies, and False Choices
3. To Do Philosophy is to Be Hunted by Thought-Spirits
4. Government Failure Exacerbates Philosophical Failure
5. Introduction to the Fichtean-Hegelian Dialectic
6. The Application of the Dialectic Method to Economics
7. Synthesizing Socialism and Capitalism
8. Social Threefolding and Overcoming Trichotomies
9. Creating Antisynthesis Through Negation of the Synthesis
Preface It is my intention and hope that this article will aid those unfamiliar with either the political spectrum or the dialectic method, in coming to understand both; through the lens of how the dialectic may be applied to political and economic issues, and as a way of “graphing” the dialectical method by “projecting” its components (thesis, antithesis, synthesis) onto ideological space.
In his song “Rising Sun”, George Harrison wrote, “Every word you've uttered, and every thought you've had, is all inside the files, the good and the bad.” But unlike the printed word, the world is not always so black-and-white.
Not everything can be easily lumped into the good-vs.-evil dichotomy. As time has gone by, we have learned, more and more, that many things we once thought were polar opposites, actually exist on a spectrum or a continuum.
That's why, in modern times, we should hope and expect dichotomies, binary opposition, and binary choices, to go the way of the Dodo.
2. Dichotomies, Duopolies, and False Choices
The Greek word dichotomia refers to a cutting-in-half, and to something being torn asunder. In the two major American political parties, a false dichotomy has arisen.
Duopoly – distinct from, but not dissimilar to, dichotomy - refers to a state of two sellers. What's being sold is, of course, security, or fear and control (depending on how you look at it). But most importantly, what a politician or a party is trying to sell to you is the truth; their version of what the facts are. What they need is a public who's willing to buy it.
The two major parties, Democrat and Republican, have been incorrectly characterized as “left” and “right”. The Republicans are farther to the Left than many people think, because they betray conservatives' desire for free markets and limited government; while the Democrats are actually right-of-center, because they betray liberals' and progressives' desire for a viable organized labor movement. During Bernie Sanders's presidential run, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even described herself and the Democratic Party as capitalist; not socialist. Additionally, the extent to which these two parties disagree has been exaggerated, in order to give the impression that, as has been said, they are anything other than the left and right wing of the same fascist, imperialist war-hawk.
In truth, the leadership of the Democratic Party is comprised of neoliberal corporatists, while the leadership of the Republican Party is comprised of progressive neoconservatives. To anyone outside the Beltway, these political ideologies are virtually indistinguishable. Each values interference in trade, as well as imperialism and a surveillance state. Neither seems to value liberty, equality, constitutional legitimacy, or budgetary solvency. The political ideology that governs America is neoliberal-neocorporatism; this is the country's true political center, which is to the right of absolute political center.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Democratic Party is not actually on the Left; in reality, both parties self-describe as capitalist, and are thus on the Right. If the Democratic Party truly represented the “Left”, then those who feel that the Democrats do not represent their ideals, would not flock towards progressivism, the Green Party, socialism, communism, and left-wing anarchism. If the Republican Party truly represented the “Right”, then those disappointed by the Republicans would not be drawn to ultra-nationalism, constitutional conservatism, libertarianism, and market-anarchism.
The controllers of the two wings of this jointly-wielded duopoly – the former heads of each major party, through the “corporate personage” of the Commission on Presidential Debates – has come to control even the very rules for debate and inclusion themselves. Complicity with that commission's wresting of control of that process from the League of Women Voters in the 1990s – as well as complicity with the basic mode of American governance outlined in the Constitution (in particular, the “first-past-the-post” system and the Electoral College) – have assisted both major parties in creating an illusion of disagreement and difference.
The fact that each major party wants to reign-in the other, is downplayed. That each major party practices “gate-keeping” tactics, is kept hidden. Thus, few members of the public ever find out that each party wants to keep the other in-line as its “controlled opposition”, and wants to vet their candidates to ensure that their positions lie within the narrow “Overton Window”, the range of opinions which is endorsed and approved by government and the business community.
In 1962, John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” And the only way to make peaceful revolution possible is to leave people free to engage in peaceful, respectful discourse. However, that type of real debate is, more or less, impossible, under the current conditions. Fortunately, some people have woken up to that fact.
But the important thing for our controllers is that a false dichotomy has been created in the minds of the majority. There exists an illusion of disagreement, alongside an illusion of agreement. The appearance of disagreement makes us look weak, and emboldens our enemies. On the other hand, the illusion of agreement is manufactured (through vetting to within the range of acceptable choices), in order to make political compromise continue. This is essential to upholding the power and apparent legitimacy of the state, because that compromise can be made to appear as though it were preventing the nation from falling apart. What's being compromised, unfortunately, is not usually the things we're most willing to give up in negotiation; instead, we're allowing the things we value most, to be compromised-away in the name of progress.
What matters to our controllers is that we keep perceiving our government as, at once, united and divided; united in the name of progress, while divided formally and constitutionally into a separation of powers. That's because, if it were ever revealed how monistic and monolithic government is, and how different people and parties are, then our controllers' whole narrative would collapse; exposed as a brittle, dead, unyielding shell, which is propped-up under the pretense that what actually upholds it is a living, breathing document.
And with that collapse would come the collapse of their control systems (the media and the educational system), as well as the legitimacy of their control, and even of the legitimacy of the political ideologies which shape those control systems.
A “binary choice” is no true choice. A binary choice is nothing more than an ultimatum; it's a false choice between “my way or the highway”, or “your money or your life”. To present a binary choice is to take away all other viable alternatives for no reason, and to contrast what you want, with a fabricated strawman argument that sounds terrible. This is the illusion of choice, which should never pretend to serve as a rightful substitute for real choice and real freedom. That's why it's essential to call-out elections as rigged when voters are faced with two (or more) terrible, strikingly similar alternatives.
To call these elections as shams, and to call-out these ultimatums for what they are – examples manipulation by politically well-connected pathological narcissists - are essential to preserving a real multiplicity of choices. Democracy and markets can neither thrive, nor create conditions of freedom and openness, unless the people can prevent choices from being taken and withheld from them without cause.
3. To Do Philosophy is to Be Hunted by Thought-Spirits
It is only natural that the lumbering, faltering dinosaur, which we call the modern bourgeois Westphalian nation-state, should fall prey to the mass delusion that there is no such thing as “grey area” (I think of it as sort of a selective color-blindness). And so, these dichotomies and duopolies are to be expected in partisan politics.
In “All I Really Want to Do”, Bob Dylan wrote, “I ain't lookin' to... simplify you, classify you... analyze you, categorize you, finalize you, or advertise you.” Indeed, this is the approach we should take to ideas. We should wish to merely make friends with them, rather than to categorize them and put them into a system, lest we fall victim to the same delusions which, through thought, we are trying to avoid.
And so, we think, like Howard Beale in Network: “At least we are safe in our philosophy; at least we are safe in our minds.” However, although ideas and thoughts have no real body - and cannot “chase us down”, as it were – we mustn't be so foolish as to believe we can run away from ideas. Remember: “What is dead may never die, but rises again harder and stronger.”
As Max Stirner wrote, “In the time of spirits[,] thoughts grew [until] they overtopped my head, whose offspring they yet were; they hovered about me and convulsed like fever-phantasies – an awful power. The thoughts has become corporeal on their own account, were ghosts, such as God, Emperor, Pope, Fatherland, etc. If I destroy their corporeity, then I take them back into mine, and say: [']I alone am corporeal.[']”
We must approach people as we approach thoughts and ideas; just as the tiger approaches Stirner, “to rend... or befriend”. Another person, a foreign thought, a new idea: each is a geist (ghost, spirit, phantasm, spook) which may come, just like the tiger, to hunt us down and devour us. This is to say that we must treat others, and their ideas, as realities equal to ourselves and our own (that is, our own reality), with which we must contend, and from which we might be able to learn. Unless we do that, then we cannot decisively confront the issue at hand. Thus, we become frustrated, and confused about whether to keep our weltanschauung (world-view) open or closed, and if so, how.
That is when the truth becomes veiled with clouds; and confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, and obscurantism set in, even evolving into consideration as full-fledged philosophies in and of themselves. This is a breeding ground for nihilism and self-doubt, but even these can be overcome (or sublated) as long as they're used as tools for self-critique and for maintaining neutrality. This holds true as long as the fog of cognitive dissonance can be penetrated; with a wide beam of interrogating light, shone onto the cracked-mirror disco-ball of understanding. Being that fracture, factionalism, feud, difference, and discord are hard truths of life; sometimes yielding to them is not only easier than fighting or resisting them, but also wiser.
Still, it's only natural for a person to desire to reclaim one's reality – one's own world-view - as one's own property, and to challenge and defeat mere idées fixe and “ideas-as-we-know-them”. However, ideas are so sacrosanct to some, that the punishment which is meted out for their destruction, is the destruction of the very person who who challenged it; albeit a person who destroyed nothing except our delusions, who simply tore-away the outermost layer of the onion. Hence, it seems that to destroy an idea is to risk destroying yourself. However, this punishment mechanism exists through control and by design; it is only the desire of our controllers that we continue to perceive this risk-reward relationship as natural and inevitable.
4. Government Failure Exacerbates Philosophical Failure
It is no surprise that philosophy has evaded the state. Nor is it any surprise that our masters have failed to consider even the most basic rational and logical points about how to run an efficient man-devouring mechanical tiger, which we have been foolish enough to call “the economy”. But freedom-lovers still want to believe that if the state, or democracy, or markets fail, then the people will fill-in the gaps.
However, the state's untruths, and propagandist distortions, have become so pervasive, that they have begun to poison the well of philosophy itself. This confounds our tongues, changes our semiotics, and reduces the various schools and tendencies of political thought into a mutually-incomprehensible Tower of Babel. I'm speaking, of course, about the perpetual disagreements between the Left and Right concerning the meanings of words like “property”, “private”, “public”, “socialist”, “capitalist”, “free market”, etc.. As if speech and debate were not already closed and unfree enough, gag orders, rejections of F.O.I.A. requests, and conspiracies of silence make communication more difficult in general, and philosophic discourse and education on political and economic topics practically impossible.
Today, thanks to modern conceptions and laws concerning intellectual property rights, people who have made no discoveries are termed “innovators”, even if all they have done was to merely apply laws of physics to already existing inventions. So too do we apply the word “idealist” to most if not all thinkers, even though they may solely challenge or re-combine existing ideas, yet formulate no original thoughts of their own. Rather than applying the term “idealists” to people who continuously seek to perform the impossible task of rebuilding the world in their own images, we have chosen to call them “realists”. This fact ought to help demonstrate that those who challenge the system with philosophy, all too often fall victim to its lies, even if all they are trying to do is describe (rather than proscribe) human nature.
This is why it is so unnerving when our ideological philosophy – our very ways and methods of looking at, thinking about, and applying our own ways of systematizing and categorizing political, social, economic, and cultural arrangements – falters in the same manner as the state.
The cause of this is overzealousness. First, an overzealous desire to systematize and categorize – a desire to make a thought-friend into a thought-girlfriend - in the first place. Continuing along this line of “reasoning” – and to be perfectly crass - ideological philosophy is an attempt by the thought-cucked to escape the thought-friendzone. It is to attempt to find not just an idea, but a system of ideation, with which we can mate for life, and through this union, formulate lots of little baby ideas.
For some people, the affairs of a distant government are so far from their minds, that refraining from allowing oneself to worry about them, gives one at least the illusion of freedom. Indeed, “freedom from worry” was one of Franklin D. Roosevelt's “Four Freedoms”. Moreover, to some, political ideas and theories seem unreachable, unattainable, even lofty and poetic. However, as Marshall McLuhan reasoned, people must be able to understand how the law affects them on a day-to-day basis - in their normal, everyday lives - if problems are to be confronted and solved.
This is a perfectly practical and practicable idea, which McLuhan called “making the political personal”. Unfortunately, the second cause of philosophical failure, has been the overzealous desire to apply that idea everywhere. This has resulted in a distortion of the concept, such that politicizing the personal is the order of the day, rather than personalizing the political, which is quite the opposite.
That is why we must set out a course by which, through philosophy, we can make the political personal, without accidentally politicizing human beings, and everything else, in the process. To fail to do this is to risk normalizing arrest and brutal treatment of people suspected of even the most minor and trivial, and often victimless, crimes. As they say in Harvard Law School, “Don't support a law unless you're willing to kill in order to enforce it.”
5. Introduction to the Fichtean-Hegelian Dialectic
If - in the course of developing each of our own unique, personalized ideological philosophies - it is impossible to avoid systematically and methodically categorizing ideas, then the categorization system should at least make sense; should be neither too grandiose, nor too simplistic.
People living in wealthy, industrialized market economies may be familiar with the term “affluenza”, which refers to the feeling of being burdened by privilege. One way to experience affluenza is to suffer from "choice overload" - also known as "overchoice" or "analysis paralysis" - the feeling of being overwhelmed with choices while trying to decide what to buy. However, having “too many choices” is not a real problem; it's an example of what some call “white people problems”. The real issue with choice overload is not that there are too many choices, but too many similar choices (e.g., Hershey's vs. Ovaltine vs. Nestlé Qwik).
Just as we should not be satisfied with one or two “choices”, we should also not be satisfied with a multiplicity of choices when all the choices are virtually the same. As Jesse Ventura said, “I love that we have two parties in America, that's one more than they have in Communist China.” So at least we can say that the American people are not overwhelmed with political choices.
In geometry and physics, in order to create a line or a line segment, it is necessary to connect at least two points. However, as we have seen, two is too simplistic; too reductionist, too black-and-white. Just as not everything is good or evil, not everything fits easily into the false dichotomy between the Left and Right, which originated in modern times in the French National Assembly. This “Left-vs.-Right” thinking is, pure and simple, one-dimensional thinking.
Creating a plane, however, is more complex than creating a line. In order to create a plane, you need to connect no fewer than three points. Thus, connecting, comparing, and contrasting three ideas, is the smallest number necessary to perform what we shall call “two-dimensional thinking”. The works of Fichte, Hegel, Rudolf Steiner, and Hannah Arendt, all exemplify radically self-aware attempts to overcome dichotomies through philosophical reasoning, leading to the creation of a third solution or proposition, and even additional ones.
Probably the most famous of these methods of reasoning, is the so-called “Hegelian dialectic”, named for German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is known for having employed in his writing a “dialectical method” which was developed by earlier (and equally German) philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte.
Dialectic - which refers to “talking, speaking, or conversing, across or between” - is a method of philosophical discourse. Its objective is to expose a contradiction (or apparent contradiction) between ideas, and hopefully merging, resolving, or otherwise transcending that contradiction. The dialectical method has been successfully used by many philosophers as a tool for overcoming false dichotomies.
Fichte coined the series of terms “thesis, antithesis, synthesis” (these, antithese, synthese). The thesis and antithesis are two ideas which form a binary pair. The antithesis “sublates” (or overcomes) the thesis, while the antithesis is itself sublated by the synthesis. The goal of the dialectic is a sort of alchemy; it is to create an idea which simultaneously preserves yet abolishes the thesis and the antithesis, in order to overcome the false dichotomy. It is to destroy an idea as we know it, while leaving the original idea untouched.
It's almost like pirating copyrighted material. Pirating, is, of course, distinct from stealing or theft. If the “thief” has left the original copy alone and undisturbed, then how may we rightfully claim that any such “theft” (or, in this case, destruction) has occurred? How, in any real, tangible sense, can an idea be stolen, when it is no concrete object; when it cannot be physically moved nor removed?
To abolish an idea, or to change the way we perceive it, results in no real loss, nor takings of fairly earned property. True, it may result in a loss of potential; that is, a loss of the right to exclude others from their natural freedom to borrow ideas they've heard about, and to re-combine and tweek them in order to keep them useful. To prohibit people from doing so, is to let good ideas go to waste, as history eventually proves parts of them to be less useful and less valid than others.
6. The Application of the Dialectic Method to Economics
To understand the dialectical method of discourse, it will help to explain thesis, antithesis, and synthesis a bit more clearly, and to use a real-life example of how the components of a thesis-and-antithesis pair interact.
The thesis is the beginning proposition, while the antithesis is the negation of that thesis. The negation may be absolute, and completely polar, in its opposition to the original thesis. However, the antithesis might simply be an “almost-opposite”, which has been popularly assumed, wrongly, to be an exact opposite of the thesis. This gives rise to the false dichotomy between them. Sadly, this falsehood often quashes hope for reconciliation, and makes compromise (or even neutrality) seem impossible.
In the synthesis, the two conflicting ideas are reconciled and resolved, possibly through some degree of merging, to form a new proposition. Hegel called this interaction between thesis and antithesis aufheben or aufhebung, usually translated as “sublation”. Through their various translations and interpretations, these terms have also been explained as signifying an “abolishing”, “canceling”, or “suspending” of the thesis and antithesis, but also as a “preserving” of both.
Aufhebung has also been described as a “lifting-up” or “picking-up”. Alternatively, as an act of moving; in order to either put away, or else put somewhere else. I think of it as a sort of “picking up the pieces”; picking out the “good” (read: “desirable”) parts of the thesis and antithesis, in order to build a synthesis from those parts. Most importantly, sublation is a “transcending” of the supposed opposition of the thesis and antithesis.
Perhaps it will be helpful to perceive of capitalism as the thesis, and socialism or communism as the antithesis; capitalism as the socio-economic mode to which we have become accustomed (to the point of ceasing to question what lies beyond, as in a goldfish in a fish-bowl), while socialism is defined, more or less, as whatever is not capitalism.
However, defining something in terms of its opposite, however, is no logical way to proceed about creating a reliable definition. And so, we may, just as well, conceive of thesis and antithesis in the opposite fashion; with socialism as the primeval mode of socioeconomic organization, which has followed mankind through most of its evolution. And if a form of socialism or communism is the thesis - that is, a socialism or communism in which land is viewed as part of the Commons - then the antithesis of socialism is capitalism (with its weakly-founded private property ownership rights claims, which are so difficult to protect without either a state or else unanimous popular support).
Whether we take socialism or capitalism as the thesis, the two systems comprise a binary pairing, and whichever is not the thesis, we shall call the antithesis. It is out of these two ideas that the synthesis will emerge.
7. Synthesizing Socialism and Capitalism
The difficulty of synthesizing socialism and capitalism lies in the difficulty of “picking-up” the pieces. That's because this need impels us to ask ourselves: Which pieces are we to pick up? That is, which things about socialism and capitalism do we like best? Perhaps just as importantly, which socialist ideas are likely to mesh well with which capitalist ideas? Should we synthesize based on our individual preferences, or based on an objective analysis of how socialism and capitalism work best together? It could very well be that an objective analysis is impossible, and a subjective analysis impractical; only the course of history and the bearing-out of facts will guide us on this matter.
It would seem logical that a synthesis of socialism and capitalism should involve either a reconciliation on economic issues, or a moderate or centrist stance, or some kind of compromise. If not that, then it should at least involve a commitment to neutrality, or even nihilism, on those issues. It could even involve the development of an “anti-economics” - that is, a system (or anti-system) which values negation of the importance of economics and Left-vs.-Right issues altogether – one which might treat economic tendencies and bias as useless or even deviant.
A person applying the dialectical method to these economic systems, might come up with either tyranny or freedom as their synthesis. If the person views freedom as the desirable feature which both systems share, then that person's synthesis will reflect a tendency to love and favor liberty, freedom, and anarchy. If the person views control, stability, or social order, as the desirable shared feature, then their synthesis will likely tend towards power, authority, and Fascism. But does this mean that tyranny and freedom are each rightful syntheses of socialism and capitalism? That is a difficult question to answer.
Efforts to craft a “Third Position” which overcomes the thesis and antithesis of capitalism and socialism, have, thus far, only served to justify economic protectionism, and all types of isolationism, emboldening ultra-nationalists and racists, and giving credence to the fascistic tendencies in both major parties. So too has the “Third Way” “triangulation” strategy between Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans in the 1990s, only served to solidify the dichotomous neoliberal-neoconservative power structure, and its control over our bodies and our thoughts.
Insurrection, and even peaceful resistance, have been maligned to such an extent that nearly everyone who resists, questions, and challenges this unauthorized “authority” (read: “domination”), are labeled “anarchists”, or even “terrorists”. Moreover, their actions are cited as a reason why the collapse of the state would lead to a power vacuum where anarchy and fascism would somehow flourish together.
But is anarchy really “one step away” from fascism or tyranny, as some suspect? Will they work together when the “centrist” (read: amoral) state collapses? The disdain which anarchists and fascists feel towards completely embracing one economic system or the other, would certainly seem to point in that direction. Especially in light of some misogynistic, petit-nationalist, and even anti-Semitic statements made by prominent anarchist and left-libertarian theorists (namely, Marx, Proudhon, Bakunin, and Makhno).
Perhaps the best answer to these questions, at least for now, is that the philosopher usually stops synthesizing before the synthesis has been fully completed.
8. Social Threefolding and Overcoming Trichotomies
Rudolf Steiner (not to be confused with Max Stirner) proposed a sociological theory called “social threefolding”. The theory supports independence of political, economic, and socio-cultural institutions, alongside freedom, equality, and human rights. Social threefolding aims to foster cooperation between these types of institutions, but with minimal interference between them, and without domination by any of them. In my opinion, it is precisely because of this interference (this blending-together of politics, economics, and society and culture), and the domination of one over the others, that false dichotomies and binary “almost-oppositions” remain so prevalent.
The modern, two-dimensional, square political spectrum is modeled after the Pournelle political chart, which resembles the Punnett square, a tool in genetic science. It has only an economic dimension (Left and Right) and a politico-socio-cultural dimension (up and down). The structure of the political spectrum – especially evidenced in the manner in which the dimensions of the Nolan chart are labeled – demonstrate not only the problem of false dichotomies, but also the need to develop three-dimensional models. To fail to do so is to fail to separate the political from the socio-cultural, and to fail to utilize all three dimensions (the X-, Y-, and Z- axes).
On the other hand, to use all three is to exemplify three-dimensional thinking. Although this is undoubtedly an improvement over the overly-simplistic Left-vs.-Right continuum, the most basic three-dimensional object is a pyramid. In geometry, a pyramid requires the connection of four points; in philosophy, this corresponds to the need to connect at least four ideas in order to provide a full “picture”; at that, a spatial “picture”.
Unfortunately, neither Steiner's nor Hegel's works have succeeded in creating an easy model by which to facilitate the interplay of four ideas. But they do make room for a third idea; and in that regard, we should be appreciative, and take what we can get. However, we must not forget to build on that model. Hence, our new goal now becomes utilizing that space, originally cleared for the third idea, to making room for the fourth. The fourth “point” (in more senses of the word than one) may serve as either another point on the same plane as the other three; or it could transcend those three points, by rising to a higher level, and utilizing an axis which had previously been empty and wasted. To fail to give that point a boost upward, risks allowing yourself to remain on the same plane as the other points; allowing yourself to “stoop to their level”.
It's fine to overcome a dichotomy, but if you're only going to replace it with a trichotomy that is equally false, or with an incomplete “three-fold truth”, then you're only going to end up with a little more than half of the picture. Simply put, don't replace a false dichotomy with a false trichotomy, or else you'll give yourself a lobotomy. Nazis, communists, and anarchists don't belong to the Democratic and Republican parties, but that doesn't mean we can lump them all together as one.
9. Creating Antisynthesis Through Negation of the Synthesis
On the political compass, socialism is positioned on the left, and capitalism on the right, while tyranny and authority are “on top” (or “up”), and anarchy and freedom are “on the bottom” (or “down”). Tyranny and anarchy are positioned opposite one-another, just like socialism and capitalism, yet they both appear to be valid syntheses of the two economic systems. How is this possible? Truth be told, it's as simple as “forgetting to carry the '1'”; as simple as forgetting to make room for a fourth idea.
The final step of the dialectical method is not synthesis, but anti-synthesis (or antisynthese). Just as the thesis must be anathematized to show the antithesis (and create a synthesis), so too must the synthesis be anathematized (and overcome, or transcended) in order to give rise to a fourth idea and the “four-fold truth”. Simply put, if you haven't negated your synthesis, then you're not done synthesizing yet.
If anarchy and tyranny are your syntheses, and they're opposites - or, at least, opposites in many or most ways - then it's possible that one is an antisynthesis of the other. Fascism – just like anarchism, and, indeed, most political ideologies - was born out of a desire to reconcile disputes over land and economic issues. Unlike anarchism, however, the goal of Fascism has been to unite the features shared by socialism and capitalism which the Fascists admired; namely, power. In particular, the command-and-control system of economics, which usually features price controls and rationing. Even today, scholars are still grappling with the question of whether fascists, Nazis, and the like, more closely resemble historical or modern capitalism or socialism.
However, to reject command-and-control economics, and other fascist policies, as the least desirable things which socialism and capitalism sometimes have in common, is to negate the synthesis which these control freaks have fabricated. To negate the fascist synthesis to embrace a wide range of equally freeing potential antisyntheses; for example, “anarchism without adjectives”, the Georgist and Mutualist schools of economic thought, free and anarchist communism, libertarian socialism, and many others. Taken together, these tendencies comprise what is known as, appropriately, "synthesis anarchism".
To pursue “Bottom Unity” (that is, cooperation among all the anarchist and liberty-loving tendencies and schools), and to seek antisyntheses of fascism among the theorists of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, is to send a clear message to the fascists. That message is that justice is not merely what Thrasymachus argued; “the advantage of the stronger”. It is to say that we shall not admire, nor judge, a political ideology (nor party, nor candidate) solely on its ability to cling to power and throw its weight around.
If a spirit of moderation (or even, lacking that, neutrality) can foster an open and peaceful discourse - and make room for third, fourth, and even more alternatives – then it is possible that each position may be more fully and accurately represented, and possible that we might achieve that multiplicity of choices which is essential for true freedom to flourish. As long as anarchism can avoid the same pitfalls which led its critics to decry it as akin to fascism, then anarchism can provide a framework for such discourse.
It may well be that anarchism will have to forge a new path ahead, in order to prevent itself from being perceived as populated by “scabs” (due to its seemingly halfhearted embrace of socialism). To fail to chart any path forward, or even to “Walk Straight Down the Middle”, could risk that anarchists be criticized for “kicking the can down the road”, avoiding taking a stance on economic issues. And to fail to chart the appropriate path forward, is to risk making free speech, open debate, and free choice, all but impossible. That's where the Popperian question of whether to tolerate intolerance comes in. To fail to answer the Paradox of Tolerance is to consider criticizing Nazis on their own terms, rather than by any objective criterion.
On the other hand, to succeed – if that “success” must involve some degree of synthetic nationalism - could very well serve but to enable fascist synthesists; those who believe that nationalism as it is commonly practiced (that is, the ultra-nationalism of the bourgeois Westphalian nation-state) is the only right way forward. That's why it will likely be necessary for anarchists to wholly refrain from chasing any form of petit-nationalism - such as “organic nationalism”, “social nationalism”, and “national syndicalism” - because that course might bring them to the very same coordinates of control which they virulently oppose.
Another quandary with which the pensive anarchist must contend, is whether to submit to the very same sorts of contractual agreements to which we currently submit under the state; under conditions of coercion and pressure. If we believe that all interaction with government must be voluntary - yet we rely on societal pressure, peer pressure, and ostracism to pressure people into signing contracts as a condition of belonging to a political community - then how can we claim that anyone has real choice in the matter? Is that not the very same type of coercion from which we are attempting to flee in opposing the state?
Or is that the bare minimum amount of vetting and security which are necessary to take precautions, protect the safety of the community, and offset potential risks thereto? If nobody agrees on morality, much less the very definitions of the words we use to debate, then how can a voluntary civil society exist without philosophy? That is, if people do not accept, nor even understand, the norms by which they should still abide, even with the state gone? Are we to expect that all criminal suspects will simply voluntarily submit to arrest? And if so, to whom?
If we fail to conceptualize, and teach and transmit, a voluntary basis for the acceptance of what should be widespread social norms - intended to keep civil society from falling apart under conditions of total consent – then our ideology (anarchism) dies, and begins to look even less feasible than it already is.
In political speech, “the public sector” and “the private sector” are all too often discussed as a binary opposition. That's why many people think that every mode of running a company, or a government program, or a charity, or resources, must fall into one of these two categories. However, the existence of private clubs and club goods, the distinctions which Pierre-Joseph Proudhon made between personal possessions and private property, the idea that land and raw natural resources all fall under “the Commons”, and the existence and pervasiveness of “private-public partnerships” between government and businesses, show that this “public-vs.-private” dichotomy is nothing more than another contrivance.
So too is the dichotomy between universalism and monism, as far as cultural, civic, and ethnic sociology is concerned. Multiculturalism is the third proposition, while pluralism is the fourth. Similarly, the supposed opposition of statism to chaos, have given rise to the notions that anarchism is not about chaos, and that federalism (whose meaning has basically flipped since the Founding of the nation) is not about centralized control. Additionally, this false opposition has been synthesized and antisynthesized into the ideas of minarchism, libertarianism, decentralization, polycentric and diffused power, power-sharing, henocentrism, and ambiarchy
The application of the dialectic method to class theory has advanced the philosophies of discourse, politics, and economics. Notably, by Karl Marx, in his suggestion that capitalism is the synthesis of the thesis-antithesis pair of feudalism and socialism. Additionally, by Wally Conger, in his synthesis of Marxism with free-market ideology, in his book Agorist Class Theory. Another book on the distinctions and commonalities between Marxism and free markets - Agorism Contra Marxism - written by the late Samuel E. Konkin III, was unfinished, yet published.
But political philosophy is not the only discipline which may benefit from the application of this full dialectical method which I have outlined here. While the applications of the dialectic to economics, sociology, and culture, have been broadly hinted-at here, other fields of study such as psychology, theology, and even hard sciences, could benefit just as much from discourse and antisynthesis.
Even if we lack or abhor a schema by which to categorize and systematize our modes of thinking about these concepts, all that is necessary to do this is to apply a discursive or scientific method to itself. This is to say that if we apply a field's traditional methods of doubt and verification to itself – for example, using the scientific method to cast doubt upon the ontological validity of the scientific method itself – then we may force what we once believed to be “the hard truth” to face itself in the mirror. Only then can we discover which synthesis is “the real synthesis”; that is, which witch is which.
The only thing left to do then, is to figure out which one is which, and which one we're supposed to shoot.
Originally Written on January 8th and 9th, 2018
Originally Published on January 10th, 2018
Edited and Expanded on January 9th, 10th, and 12th, 2018
Edited and Expanded on January 9th, 10th, and 12th, 2018
Edited on January 11th, 2018