"...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

Sep 13, 2012

Entirely Avoidable Outcomes

If you don't want to die in a US embassy or consulate, don't work in one.

If you won't want your death to be used to by (a) a fuckhead Mormon Republican, to justify drone wars and Hellfire missile attacks on Iranians who had fuck all to do with your summary execution at the hands of putative allies, or by (b) a callous, rat bastard Democrat, to justify sky death robot bombings and Hellfire missile attacks on Libyan non-combatants, in the name of retaliation, don't put your silly little self in a position to die in a US embassy or consulate.

If you don't want Diane Sawyer staring moon eyed into the camera, whisper voiced and falsely solicitous, while she discusses how you were a gentle ally of the Libyan people, and a peacemaker, examine whatever decision tree it is you use to plan out your next five or ten years. If it leads you towards a job with the State department, and an assignment to the CIA riddled gutter hole that is post-Qaddafi Libya, you get what you get. Plus, there's good money on the wager that Diane won't remember your name in passing three weeks from tomorrow. You're a prop. This was avoidable.

If you don't want your kids to sit in an overcrowded class room, it painted in prison grey and pysch-ward eggshell, being taught on entirely excusable autopilot by an overworked public school teacher who's already picking up the tab for most of the in-class materials, the next time your town or city has an official choice between further militarizing the cops, or hiring more teachers - perhaps your first thought shouldn't whimper along about "rising crime" and "criminal elements."

If you don't want so many people to hate your admittedly underpaid profession, learn to hit back hard enough to make the mayor's head crack on the wall behind him. Nobody likes a loser. More importantly, nobody trusts one. That pity thing? It's always laced with contempt.

If you can't remember what it's like to sit in a hot classroom while the autumn winds beckon, and play, play, play winks at you from behind a distant cloud or hill top, you probably won't avoid a simple failure to understand why a healthy child hates school. Children learn when they play and overcome. They remember when they're boxed into classrooms.

If you don't want to deal with the ramifications of Republican anti-women measures, or the Democrats' anti-labor ones, and you don't want to have to put up with the election season, practice swinging blunt objects. If you aren't willing to make a rat fuck in a suit worry for the security and integrity of his hide and vital organs, he's going to occupy himself with yours.

If you don't think that violence works, please explain the defense department's budget. Please explain the President's Praetorian Guard. Please explain why it is that those who rule can never agree with each other about how to fuck over their subjects, but there's no discord between them on the subject of how to keep them scared and running.

If you let a wrong go unrequited, somebody will always notice. If you don't like the conclusions they draw, about you, learn to requite a little. If the opponent isn't calculating what he can't predict about your possible conduct, he's already moved on to how he's going to take what's yours.

If you don't want to believe that whiteness and maleness are constructed out of the historic victories had over those who are defined by their exclusion from the winner's circle and its inheritances, that's your business. You shouldn't be surprised when people reach the obvious conclusion that you are well off, white, male and blind to fact that you were one of the inheritors. Think for a moment: what would all that unpaid labor look like, in terms of real capital and property, were it not taken from the not-male and not-white people who had to produce it, but could not decide how it was handed down, or what was built, sheltered, hidden away and protected by it. Think about unpaid household labor.Think about all the failures to remunerate. Actually, think. There's no spirit. There's no will. There aren't any numina. It's all just stuff, and stuff made into stuff. So, what would whiteness and maleness look like if it wasn't backed up by violent, brutal, deceitful misappropriation so bold and grand its called History? If you can't answer that question correctly, it's probably fairly unavoidable that you're a dude with pink skin.

Sep 8, 2012

Not Nothing

Men and women differ, fundamentally.

You can read this assertion from any number of pick up artists, anti-feminists, evolutionary psychologists, traditionalists, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, holybookers, perennialists, conservatives, manarchists, Marxist-Leninists, anti-liberals or misogynist lawyer douchebags who really don't like Jews, homosexuals, "girly men" or the reality that some people identify with government because for the last thirty or so years it's been the wolf which has kept equally nasty wolves more or less at bay.

To be fair, Maoists (despite their many flaws) tend to be amenable to women who make decisions. Kind of.

I don't feel like linking to an example of each, so I'll just refer you generally to Manboobz, and the last year of output there. Seminal work, that.

An equally common complaint resolves to this: feminists are working mightily, from their lofty perches atop the human universe, to undermine, well, everything; but, especially the natural-supernatural-scientific gender differences that keep the cosmos in balance.

And you can tell this to be true, the argument's variations assert, because the universe is out of balance. Things aren't right. They aren't natural. If let be, the human norm would find itself again. Men would be men, women would be women, governments would wither away, corporate executives would self-defenestrate, markets would be fair, bigness would gave way to local smallness and motherfuckers would decide to be nice.

The problem, for these pitiable worm complainants, isn't that status quo ante is bad for most of the people stuck in it - it's that it isn't natural. (See also, primitivists, greenies, eco-pagans, democratizers and abolition democrats.)

Almost every assertion to naturality is, upon even rudimentary observation, a claim from transcendence. It's supernaturalist, because it attempts to impose from without definitions of right conduct, and wrong, which apply then to the within, also called "nature." The person staking that claim may not believe in gods or numina or dialectical historical planning committees, but he is demanding from the rough stuff of life an adherence to a norm which almost always suits his tastes, temperament and often enough, early childhood experiences.

But, contained within the complaint itself, is the concession what negates it.

The argument follows thus: if only [insert bête noir] didn't exist with its unnatural impact on human relations, [insert outcome clucked out disapprovingly] would not occur. If feminists weren't teaching women to be lesbian amazon man killers, girls would realize that they need to market themselves to men as better, more efficient sex toys. If the atheists hadn't taken over the schools, people would still know and love god. If the liberals didn't control the media [you are, of course, invited to scoff here], people would know that the government has violated the Constitution. Et cetera.

This seems like a simple enough declaration of cause and effect, but it's not. What it concedes immediately is that culture isn't a given, and that personality isn't merely inherited. That there is no natural, correct way to be human. If there was, there would be no reason to restore it. If the perennial were actually such, it would establish itself by virtue of its cosmic coherence.

Every argument about the shaping of hominid brains into bodies-with-personae recognizes immediately that what we call the "human self" is a made thing. It's an artifact, if you will. And that no right nature defines it.

Sometimes this self succeeds brilliantly, for its time; often, it collapses completely. Sometimes it doesn't sync with the body it inhabits, because it was shaped not for the body, but for needs of those around it. Very commonly, a single body houses several incompletely formed stages of one, in various degrees of struggle and accord. More often than soul-believers would care to admit, the self is in fact a multiplicity.

What matters here, though, is that it's made. It's a shaped thing that learns to shape itself. It's a shaped shaper. What this means - and it's a doozy given our larger culture, religious assumptions, scientistic premises and technological framework - is that everything and everyone are always up for grabs; the experience of self is not stable over time, because there is no norm for it.

The conditions which shape bodies into persons are always changing because there's no one correct way to accomplish this end, and truth has little to do with success or outcome.

The anti-feminists know this, perhaps without using this set of phrases exactly. Their complaint, reduced to its essential terms, suggests a basic awareness: women, like men, are made into self-referential genders. It's why these types constantly return to their tired, familiar refrain - that feminists violate nature in merely attempting to carve out the smallest of spaces where women can take some control of their own shaping. Where they can attempt these experiments without the unrelenting cultural subjection to men who have very strong notions about the proper uses of women. Not for nothing, anti-homosexuals and salvationists make the same concession - it's why they struggle so mightily to dominate the schools, the airwaves and the political contests which define acceptable and verboten.

So, here's this - and for what it's worth, I make no claim to revolutionary insight - there's no observable reason to believe in progress, given how often we all tend to regress, but it says something that the various traditionalists, paternalists and supernaturalists no longer argue as if they're right. They argue, right out in the open, as if they know it's all about who controls the story-making.

The RCC didn't use to have to try and persuade. It ordered, the Holy Orders obeyed. People burned and kings took a knee. Heads of state didn't use to have campaign. The cops didn't have full time public relations staff. People who used others as mere instruments didn't use to have to come up with market slogans and palliatives and misinformation.

The world was assumed to be, mostly by all, the best and only possible world. It was, you know, just natural and right that it was the way it was.

Most of us, I imagine, find that notion at least suspect, if not outright unnatural. Nietzsche called this the death of god. I won't be so bold, and rather refer to it instead as a kind of liberty. Our times are labile. The people trying to force human events back into the neat categories of caste, gender, faith, obedience and rigid class...well, they are trying to force things back.

Genies and bottles, cats and bags and all that.

They could definitely still win. They've got most of the loot and idiots who take orders under arms. But they're fighting from a distinct disadvantage, and one which doesn't require the rest of us to have so much loot, or armed staffers, or access to stable forms of power - they've already conceded, like the anti-feminists, that what they're really trying to do is to program the next generation, and the next, in ways which will re-establish "the right" and "the natural."

They've admitted, out loud and in public, that they're really just one more set of contestants, roughly aligned, in the struggle to define what is acceptably human.

It's a really big fucking deal, if you think about it. It's not that we're evenly matched. We're not, obviously. It's that, acknowledging that things are shitty as they seem, and worse, and that forces aligned in favor of reaction are well armed, they still have to regularly concede that "the natural" and "the right" are no longer a given.

They have to struggle to constantly maintain their claim on what is human.

There's an opening there. In fact, there are dozens of them.

And that's not nothing.