"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Jul 18, 2011

A Reply to Believers in Good Government


If the state is run by people who are effectively oligarchs and timocrats,  if it is operated for the emolument of oligarchs and timocrats, and if it is organized for the protection and promotion of the concentration of wealth - you introduce its beneficiaries to the French Doctor's Remedy.

You do not beg it to be gentle and and loving and kind. Only a willing slave begs his master for kindness. And such a person is not fit company for free women and men. He may merit pity, but never trust or companionship. Such a man will turn you in when the master comes a' calling. If he can ignore what the state we have does in order to dream of what it might do in a world which will never exist, he is one platonic ideal or smarmy election away from handing you over.

No - you only trust people who want the master to get his just deserts. They deserve loyalty. They have earned a true friendship.

You do not, with all the self-degradation of a court sycophant or a house slave, prithee and plead for it to do right by the peasants, peons, hoi polloi and rough folk it is organized to control, capture, repress, oppress and imprison whenever feasible.

You introduce its managing partners and beneficiaries to the French Doctor's Remedy.

Or you are complicit in its offenses.

Still...

The naivete is adorable.

33 comments:

Randal Graves said...

I wish I still had the Lego guillotine I made for English class aeons ago. Little bloody plastic heads in a radar dish, good times.

W. Kasper said...

How can something so angry read so elegantly?

Jack Crow said...

I think sometimes that the language and imagery of violence are confused or too facilely associated with the emotion(s) of anger.

And while I hold anger in high regard, as it serves a most august purpose, which is to preserve our lives in the face of those who would extinguish them, I don't think it's necessarily a good foundation for developing tactics, or ways of living.

When I offer up what I hope, perhaps vainly, is a provocative image of the french doctor's remedy, I'm not really attempting to give voice to anger.

I don't feel any persistent anger for people who have made the decision to degrade the short, mortal lives of other.

I'm not writing my admittedly sophomoric rants to give vent or voice to rage.

I'm not angry with the compromised and the complicit.

I'm not offering up the images of violence from anger.

I've chosen them with some deliberation, to illustrate a conviction which comes from the end, or the sublimation of anger.

That this conflict playing out first as politics, and then as economics, is in fact decisive.

The end game is the reduction of the surplus population and the final liberation of the wealthy from the cage of our hunger.

It is with that in mind that I suggest a particular curative (and I am cognizant of the limitations with and dangers of applying the language of medicine to human society) to an identifiable affliction.

We ought deal with the wealthy and those who serve in a manner befitting their intentions toward us.

It takes no anger, I think, to come to this conclusion (though anger is an excellent medium in which to preserve the conviction to reach it).

It takes only a health resolve.

The French Doctor's Remedy is an elegant image of that resolve.

W. Kasper said...

OK - maybe it was just my anger bouncing off the elegance...

Jack Crow said...

Wayne,

I didn't address you directly because I didn't want you to think I was explicitly singling you out. Your comment was and is welcome for its inspiration. At least, I took inspiration from it.

It got me musing.

Why do we (is this only true for English speakers?) automatically associate violence with anger?

Is it a habit learned from obedience?

I mean, we are surrounded daily with the most technical and technocratic applications of violence, with algorithms of them, in fact - and yet our popular culture, from its myriad of disparate and competing vantages, induces us to believe first that violence is a causal expression of anger which should and ought to be excised from our psyches.

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

I think sometimes that the language and imagery of violence are confused or too facilely associated with the emotion(s) of anger.

Yeah, "anger" is the accusation people use whenever a person strays from Politically Correct linguistics.

Lots of things that look "angry" are nothing of the sort. Someone accusing me of being "angry" while I'm laughingly posting mocking scathe, that person is telling me that he/she grew up among very angry adults and is projecting.

But hey, most Americans want Polite reform. Hands held, kum-bah-yah sang, "I'd like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company!" nonsense.

Spoiled little children.

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

And now for the bigger, more painful-to-the-"left" picture:

Why is there visceral anger at Islamic "violent" practices toward women, but never anything like that toward American governmental violence practiced upon foreign and domestic victims?

It can be rationalized easily for most Americans, as "what's needed to be free (/safe/prosperous/progressive)."

Spoiled children always want someone else to do their bidding.

Justin said...

Jack,
One thing I've long noticed is how our culture portrays actions as either monstrous or heroic. In the movies, television, and our historical accounts, people who couple emotions with actions are incredibly brave, and those who are capable of acting with calm purpose are monstrous.

In the context of what you are saying, I sometimes wonder about how we remember stuff vs. how it happened. Like the French Revolution is portrayed as a mindlessly bloody revolution that got out of hand in its savagary. No doubt, but in the context of why it got to that point, I'd say the crimes were probably lesser in scale, it was just that the wrong class of people were hit, the class of people who in earlier times were content telling fantasy stories about how France was a great power, jockeying for international prestige in the great colonial games; a story that was just as vicious and savage for the people below in those times as the revolution and guillotine was for the people above.

Jack Crow said...

Karl,

I'm wary of psychoanalysis from afar, but I think you are correct to argue that anger is used as both the tar and the brush, by which to characterize people with whom we disagree as incompetent, untrustworthy and subhuman.

There are two notable exceptions. When anger is contained within one of two very specifics vehicles, it often receives a broad social sanction, and the imprimatur of the leadership: that of the "Lone Gunman" or that of the "Divided God."

The Lone Gunman, who is a compliment to the Divided God, is given wide leeway in his anger, and the physical expression of it, so long as he (and it's almost always a he, perhaps with only the recent fictional exception of "Hit Girl") can provide a moral gloss to his actions, actions which must ultimately not only confirm the endurance and rightness of powers that be, but that they were right all along. The Lone Gunman doesn't upset the moral order. He restores it: George Bush was given the same leeway as Tony Blair, for example, but the fall out for Bush is nil, while Blair is roundly despised. Bush, a better actor than Blair, was able to give the credible impression that he was a righteously angry Lone Gunman, avenging wrongs in the name of the weak (and mostly feminized, passive, receptive) American people, and the very female American Nation, which itself was cast as the victim of a terrible violation and rape.

Blair had no such moral cover. Despite being given the same latitude to pursue policy as Bush was, he is now treated by his former allies as a man who had no cause, because he was not in fact a true Lone Gunmen. Blair, failing to make any case for the protection of virginal England, is now instead an opportunist and betrayer. Blair is a failed Gunman not allowed the consolation of divine division. He is now precisely a scapegoat.

The Divided God is the other type (almost always male, as well) who is allowed the sanction of a righteous wrath, but unlike the Gunman, only so long as it is ultimately impotent. The Divided God (see Christ, Orpheus, Prometheus, Jimmy Carter, Gandhi after Partition, Fela Kuti or Labor/The Poor so long as it/they is/are powerless) is allowed wrath only when that wrath is deferred. The Divided God is tolerated as the reservoir of rage, because he neutralizes it, delays its produce to an indefinite end and ultimately sanctifies his own victimization with forgiveness and toleration. And whereas the Lone Gunman rights the moral order, the Divided God blesses it by absorbing its sins, and in doing so, excusing them.

Jack Crow said...

Justin,

This:

"...One thing I've long noticed is how our culture portrays actions as either monstrous or heroic. In the movies, television, and our historical accounts, people who couple emotions with actions are incredibly brave, and those who are capable of acting with calm purpose are monstrous..."

...goes to the bloody beating heart of what I only alluded to, with this:

"...I mean, we are surrounded daily with the most technical and technocratic applications of violence, with algorithms of them, in fact - and yet our popular culture, from its myriad of disparate and competing vantages, induces us to believe first that violence is a causal expression of anger which should and ought to be excised from our psyches."

We have a disconnect, here. On the one hand, popular culture does seem to exist as an endorsement of the idea that anger is heroic when coupled with a quest or mission, and that villains are always dispassionate and technical applicators of violence, or people who don't have the right kinds of anger.

And the tevye hand, ours is a political, economic and military regime (funny how to express the fullness of its might, we have to divide it by function and label, as if these categories are not immediately inclusive) which exists because it is also a culture of aristocratic, oligarchic and aristo-serving dispassion and technique.

JM said...

and yet, you're completely fine with Qaddafi squashing protesters in early February?

Jack Crow said...

JM,

I think we need to draw a distinction between pointing out why Qaddafi is in the US/UN/NATO sights, and endorsing Qadaffi as a ruler.

I'm not entirely sure why you read endorsement of Qadaffi into a condemnation of the coup against him.

Perhaps, if you have a moment, you can take the time to show why you reach this conclusion.

That's not snark - and I ask all other respondents to avoid snark or attacks, as well.

I'm genuinely curious.

Jack Crow said...

As for the larger point, JM, I am of the opinion that those who can oppose their local/regional expression of oligarchy or power do so with whatever tools best suit the moment.

There are any number of circumstances where violence is the least appropriate response.

Perhaps the lines of support are not well developed. Maybe labor is disorganized. It might be that there is no popular environment which can serve as a ground for unrest, insurrection or revolt. Perhaps it's as simple as lacking the ability to protect a fragile housing environment, food source or child care network.

In many cases, violence is counterproductive.

But that doesn't mean that those who rule ought not be reminded that their continued mastery of a society is and should be in doubt.

I find the French Doctor's Remedy to be a perfect image of that reminder.

Jack Crow said...

This is what I mean by adorable naivete:

"The first problem is to get the access bloggers like Matt and Felix on board with coin seigniorage. Then they need to blog about about. Then we all need to reach the progressives in Congress. Then we need the progressives to stand up up on their hind legs for a change and vote with the tea party crackpots to defeat the debt ceiling extension. Then what will the President do? Is he going to do nothing? Or is he going to live up to his 14th Amendment obligation. That obligation, at that point in time will be to use coin seigniorage whether Geithner likes it or not.

So what I mean to do is to persuade Geithner, by leaving Geithner and Obama no alternative, and I hope to get that done by making it possible for the debt ceiling extension to be defeated."

You know how the naifs get their future golden age?

Well, they don't.

Because they are all Savonarolas.

JM said...

Just that you're writing in favor of violent overthrow as a sort of response to a violent government and yet, you seem to be a okay with governments suppressing protests with violence in other countries(mind this was all before intervention). Just because NATO and two defected bastards decided to poke their noses into the affair doesn't mean Qaddafi's a saint. The media's hailing them as leaders of the revolution when, if you look at the stuff Proyect presents, again, Qaddafi's not the revolutionary he presents himself to be and global research and the like seem to be falling for it. All I'm saying is all of the big players need to be condemned here, Qaddafi included. Diplomacy and travel sanctions,etc should have been the strategy from the start of all this. There should have been no missiles,lauding of leaders, rabid bomb fetishism, or war period. Only diplomacy.

Josh said...

@JM I think one of Crow's points is that (apropos of the current post) because of what the state is, calling for "Diplomacy and travel sanctions,etc" displays an "adorable naivete" about the possibility of the state being a force that would help the "Libyan people."

Jonathan Versen said...

Jack, First, thanks for the linky link recommendation. This a very interesting discussion.

Are you familiar with Mona Harrington's The Dream of Deliverance in American Politics? It came out some time in the mid 80s. I don't think it made much of a ripple in the zeitgeist when it came out, but it's well worth reading if you can find a copy.

JM said...

"I think one of Crow's points is that (apropos of the current post) because of what the state is, calling for "Diplomacy and travel sanctions,etc" displays an "adorable naivete" about the possibility of the state being a force that would help the "Libyan people."
But couldn't this also apply to Qaddafi? Is he not a member of the state, as it were?

Jack Crow said...

JM,

Josh (thank you, and welcome, by the way) does an admirable job summing up what I've tried to suggest.

But, to take it a little further:

"Just that you're writing in favor of violent overthrow as a sort of response to a violent government...

I'm not writing in favor of "violent overthrow." I wrote an admittedly brief critique of political naivete, beneath the image of the guillotine, because I think that those who rule have nothing to fear, which is why they make the choices they do. This is not a particularly new position for me. In fact, given the fact that my header is a photo of the Assassin redoubt, Alamut, it's fairly consistent.

But, while I'm not a pacifist, I'm not making a case for open revolt.

"...and yet, you seem to be a okay with governments suppressing protests with violence in other countries(mind this was all before intervention)..."

You are simply leaping to conclusions here, I think from an a priori assumption of all-or-nothing, and either/or thinking. But, these circumstances don't resolve to either support Qaddafi or support NATO. I was trying to point out earlier, only, that one can understand why Qadaffi is the new Hitler/Khomeini/Saddam/Ahmadinejad for US/NATO propagandists without making value judgments about Qadaffi himself.

Which has very little to do with the original above. In the above, I'm more or less echoing a noble sentiment first expressed by Lucy Parsons, as a manner of reply to what I believe is unsustainable naive faith in the state as an agent of the people, or justice.

I know there is theory which suggests the existence of a social compact, and the consent of the governed - but I find it so much hogwash, really.

"...Just because NATO and two defected bastards decided to poke their noses into the affair doesn't mean Qaddafi's a saint..."

I believe you are tilting at windmills, here. No one, as far as I can tell, is arguing a Qaddifian hagiography. I'm not, if that's what you've managed to glean from previous postings.

..."The media's hailing them as leaders of the revolution when,..."

Hailing Qadaffi? What media, kindly? I've only read/seen Qaddafi portrayed as a rape ordering monster, in the English language press.


"...if you look at the stuff Proyect presents, again, Qaddafi's not the revolutionary he presents himself to be and global research and the like seem to be falling for it..."

I don't understand your dispute, here. I'm not "global research." Nor am I arguing for a theory of polar contest within the collapsing order, or what t (pink scare) understands as a "Two Camps" fallacy. I was previously suggesting that the US claims to benevolence are false.

Now, I'm offering up a brief criticism of political naivete, with regard to the state we actually have.

"...All I'm saying is all of the big players need to be condemned here, Qaddafi included. Diplomacy and travel sanctions,etc should have been the strategy from the start of all this. There should have been no missiles,lauding of leaders, rabid bomb fetishism, or war period. Only diplomacy."

You seem to have a hopeful view of politics, great powers, governments and hegemony not confirmed by the facts at hand, JM.

Jack Crow said...

Jonathan,

You are more than welcome.

I am not familiar with the book in question, sadly.

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

Jack,

Interesting theological analysis!

Would Obama be a divided god, as viewed from the "right" or GOP angle?

Jack Crow said...

I have a lot of respect for Lambert and for what the Correntians do with their collective effort, but this is precisely why I find the MMT agenda, and the seeking of access/influence so laughable:

http://www.correntewire.com/yglesias_comes_round_on_coin_seignorage#more

Getting Matt Yglesias to care about "coin seignorage" is like getting Roger Clemens to care about the batting average of a 1920s negro league short stop who only played for a single season.

And we are discussing this Matty Woodchuck, in case anyone has forgotten:

"To be perfectly honest, it seems to me that I’d rather be a tenured professor at UCLA like Mark Kleiman than be CEO of a Dallas-based dairy company like Gregg Engels. The professor does more interesting work, has less day-to-day stress, lives in a much better city, and has much more opportunity to form meaningful social relationships with colleagues and students. I don’t even slightly envy the idea of membership in multiple golf clubs. I’ll admit that I would love access to a corporate jet, but I’d like the flexible schedule and ample opportunity for travel that academia provides even more. Now of course if you offered me Engels’ job, I’d say yes. But I’d try to do it for a year or two, put millions away in the bank, then quit to become an independently wealthy political blogger who’s working on a book about his fake life as a dairy company CEO. That, however, is just one of the many reasons I’m not qualified to be the CEO of business enterprise. The board needs to hire executives who won’t just take the money and quit, even though quitting is exactly what any sensible person with that much cash would do.

In other words, it seems to me that if you’re a waitress or a cab driver or a security guard or a carpenter or a cashier you’re perfectly entitled to regard 'the elites' as encompassing the CEO and the professor and the blogger too. Whose life you’d prefer really has to do with your tastes and preferences. The diminishing marginal utility of money means there’s a strong case for redistributing funds from people who have a lot of it to people who’ll get more use from it. But that very same diminishing marginal utility of money means that there’s little reason to believe that inequality in real living standards among the elite is nearly as big as the inequality in income."


http://thinkprogress.org/yglesias/2011/06/20/248739/beyond-the-top-one-percent/

(h/t Avedon @ Sideshow)

Jack Crow said...

Karl,

If you judge according to folks like Sean Hannity's regular listeners (take a visit to his very well trafficked forum), Obama is the Devil.

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

PS: I'm wary of shrink-playing from afar as well, that was the point of me talking about someone saying I'm "angry" when I'm laughing while mocking something. The laughter may be a dark comic type, but it's still not full-on anger.

My psychological beef with most of the "left" and especially with liberals and progressives, is their belief (as indicated by comments and discussions I've participated in, e-style and in person) that social system (govt, commerce, monetary) changes can happen in full tranquility with politeness foremost in view/mind.

A person has to be very naive to believe that can happen. The naivete may come from growing up in a house full of passive people who agree on most things and therefore never approach values/morality/ethics clashes with any real spirited dispute.

Human psychology is individualized as well as cultural. I don't think it's that poor an exercise to muse over what particular dimensions inform the thinking (or not) of a person who holds fast to very naive, impractical "solutions" to problems that will not be resolved peacefully and politely.

At the bottom of every person's advocacy for this position or that is a psychological framework -- a "worldview" as Ignatius J Reilly called it. In all advocacy contests, the most adept advocate is the person who can surmise accurately the adversary's perspective not just at the rhetorical level (what is/was said) but also at the thought-formation level (why it was said).

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

Jack -

As to Hannity... hmmm. I don't know my enemies THAT well! I was thinking more about my immediate family members, who are GOP to a person, and who tend to not dispute Obama's "national security" agenda or his "homeland security" measures, because they believe we are under dire threat from "terrorists" both internal and external.

Hannity plays a clown show. I don't give him much credibility except among those who simply are looking for an "expert" to believe and emulate. The "devil" rhetoric obviously is playing to something other than what Obama actually is doing, since Obama's Admin has been more "right" than Bush-Cheney, and therefore should be a wonderful thing to Sean Hannity, if results are the measure.

However, if Hannity wants to play on race notions and "legal citizen" notions, he's obviously playing on issues that have nothing to do with what Obama's Admin has been achieving.

Jack Crow said...

Karl,

If you have a moment, this is exactly the space to which I referred:

http://forums.hannity.com/forumdisplay.php?f=7

I mean less Hannity himself (he's no doubt a paid monkey), and more the people who listen to him and draw conclusions about the world.

Enjoy.

(more on psychology, later)

Jack Crow said...

Bah. All those links, improperly tagged. Bah!

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

"Enjoy," you say! I will try! Ever onward, ever optimistically!

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

One thing I wonder about w/r/t a place like Hannity's website forum(s) is to what extent they mirror reality, and to what extent they are a small cadre of very idle hands seeking something to busy themselves with.

I could choose some extreme forums as examples of how bizarre America has become, but despite the relative ubiquity of computers and internet connections, I still think that it's a tiny % of America who are using the Toobz as a serious tool to "organize" or whatever. A lot of steam-blowing poppet-valve-activation by an irked 3% of the populace doesn't move me to worry about a crazy "right wing" mood or mindset in the populace.

I tend to wonder what makes people so disaffected, disenchanted, and feeling disengaged to take such positions.

And I tally those "extreme" positions as representative %s of the populace, who were there always, but not as visible pre-Toobz.

If a person wants to find a "right wing whacko" from whom to extrapolate a massive groundswell of "right wing whacko" movement-making, a person can find that stuff without much effort.

Toobz reality isn't reality, though. I prove that with every post at my blog. The whole nature of my blog is to poke fun at things, primary among them being the artificiality of Toobz personhood and personality.

Jack Crow said...

I think Hannity's listeners/commentators are representative of the 25% of Americans who sympathize with the Teaps, Karl.

Hannity has thousands of people who participate in his forums, every day.

It foots traffic in the tens of thousands, per diem.

Hannity has 10 million listeners, every day. (Limbaugh has 20 million.)

I think they are exactly mainstream, for what it's worth.

Likewise, FOX News is profitable and widely followed precisely because tens of millions of Americans prefer their news colored, tempered and stained with that ideology.

The are only "extreme," IMHO, if we understand that word not to mean "out on the periphery" but instead mean "not liberal."

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

Stats on site hits are not reality where website substance is concerned!

Partisan rhetoric is not the same as "when the chips are down, I'm coming for YOU!"

Lots of talk, very little action likely.

And "sympathizing with the Teaps," what does that mean, exactly?

Sympathy with the original Tea Party in boston?

Sympathy with the circa 2000s critters who said they wanted a new tea party?

Sympathy with the now-co-opted GOP platform designed to curry antipathy and play on fears?

And 25% of Americans, they are in which camp?

Original Tea Party?

21st Century originals?

GOP's co-opted version?

I agree about fringe/periphery qualifications but with all linguistics there's a tension between literal and colloquial.

I could ICH every day and assume Tom Feeley is a rabid Jew-hater, based on the spambot comments by dupes, stooges and bigots. Instead, however, I write off the EVIL JOOOOS nonsense as feckless psy-ops and duped bigots.

Maybe that makes ME naive.

Jack Crow said...

I hope it's obvious I'm not referring to a 250 year old historical footnote, Karl.

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

No, I didn't think that! I was just being relatively comprehensive. There is the issue of the recent resurgence of "tea party" sentiment and it's co-opting by the GOP national level party gang for pure tribalist purposes... gatekeeping... redirection of antipathies... turning legitimate frustrations outward and elsewhere, away from what might hurt the national-level GOP's ...uh... "image."

I see two subtypes of Tea Party people these days: those who feel affinity for that 250 year old thing, and those who just latch onto what the GOP is suggesting, tribal-style. The latter group don't feel visceral/existential connection to a revolutionary impulse; the former do. And the former contains people who would fragment and separate the culture of the USA, not render it monolithically GOP.

The latter group are a tougher sell where commonality of struggles (socioeconomic, or oppression from the govt) is concerned, as their allegiance is partisan.

The former group can occasionally cross party lines and I'd suggest they were starting to fragment the GOP and cause attrition, which is why the National Party co-opted them with re-direction rhetoric.