Wednesday, November 08, 2006

ALIEN OBSERVATIONS, Part II



The following is my answer to very instructional comments offered by Troutsky and Ché Bob in a discussion of Ayn Rand which turned out to be more of a post than a comment:

"There are two ideals of our existence; one is the condition of the greatest simplicity, where our needs accord with each other, with our powers and everything we are related to, just through the organization of nature, without any action on our part. The other is a condition of the highest cultivation, where this accord would come about through infinitely diversified and strengthened needs and powers, through the organization we are able to give ourselves." Holderlin

If I am not mistaken the separate ideals described by Holderlin parted ways some 16,000 years ago when totalitarian agriculture caused artificially large, intensely dense populations to collect around the food locker/trough. The hunter-gatherer ideal of simplicity and natural organization in tribes was left behind as this self given organization invented a god who in turn gave man the earth to do with as they damned well pleased to excuse eradicating natural plant and animal life to make room for his own food and resource mining. As this condition of the highest cultivation grew its mythos of god given stewardship became the facts of its members’ existence evolving from religion through the totalitarianism of royalty and tyranny and on to the democracy and socialism of today. The only real result of these infinitely diversified and strengthened needs and powers is mankind’s ability to destroy more life from more remotely indifferent locations with no accord in sight.

In an issue of the NOLA Express, a New Orleans underground rag in the early ‘70s, I read a young girl’s idea of the best thing to do for the revolution was to be the best example you could be of living in the world as you want it to become, now. This is what I have always believed and enacted in my life guided by nature and the golden rule. “He who goes alone, can leave today.

As I see it, nature is here whether we are or not. Because we are here gives us no inherent ownership of where we are. The assumption that we do implies our superiority to everything not us and the right to exploit it for whatever pleases us. The culture known as western has wrapped its core beliefs around this arrogant lie and based all the facts of its life on it and its followers behave toward each other in the same fashion. The intricacies of, “… a condition of the highest cultivation, where this accord would come about through infinitely diversified and strengthened needs and powers, through the organization we are able to give ourselves.” have lead us into continual global abuse and warfare, yet this is the improvement on nature we’re still trying to make work against all evidence to the contrary.

This is the box outside of which I live to the extent that I have relearned “the condition of the greatest simplicity, where our needs accord with each other, with our powers and everything we are related to, just through the organization of nature, without any action on our part.” That Troutsky finds this leading to all the evils I find at the feet of that superior man made organization he champions is the crux of the conundrum.

The socialist principle of “from those according to their ability, to those according to their need” sounds like a man being asked for the metaphysically absurd performance of raising himself by his own boot straps to me. Wherein lies this fountain of ability from which to quench the ever needy? From whence the energy to sustain another as well? Where must the happiness and love arise to even attempt to impinge on the life of another in the name of responsibility for them? The state is not the place to look for any of this surplus no matter how much it requires. The individual self, gratefully responsible for the care and feeding of its own gift of life, is that very precious source. The particular individual self that I happen to find myself being is very cautious about thinking I know enough to help anyone else, much less imposing myself upon them for any reason. There is no state, be it a democracy or socialist state, moral enough to tell me I must inflict myself on anyone else for any reason. The golden rule is my only access to others and cannot be circumvented by any demand less real than pushing them from under a falling piano or waking them to a fraudulent state.

The flaws of both democracy and socialism are magnified by the overwhelming populations attempting to be represented by either. Now, a tribe is different than either state, in that it is made of a gathering of kindred folk with a common welfare to which all contribute as they can. One knows everyone in ones tribe, the golden rule is behaved out in the wide open and karma is instant. I know, I know … it’s just like the state, just smaller … not! There is no top, we are Barabas! There is no scorecard to rate tribe against tribe, because they all overlap to the degree of the curious sociability of tribal members.

This simpler, more natural utopia could actually benefit from the experience of having pursued the more artificial one by, for example, replacing the entire idea of justice with an understanding of the natural workings and benefits of the golden rule and karma, thereby precluding his hierarchy hell of Lord of the Flies Troutsky lays at Ayn Rand’s feet.

After my brief foray into the world of politics, I find it as relevant to my life as religion, Major League Sports or American Idol and just as debilitating to its addicts. I shall withdraw to my simpler world of natural organization and share my compassion, abilities, happiness and love with my tribe and anyone who thinks they’re part of it. No more political discussions about the inadmissible mistaken facts of western civilization or the emperor's new clothes — I'm tired of seeing his hairy ass anyway.

8 comments:

troutsky said...

That is very understandable. I got crazy busy there forawhile but havent forgotten our discussion. Though you tire of politics I believe you deserve a last response and it will soon come.By the way, I am jealous of your fabulous garden, It has already been below zero here!

troutsky said...

OK, it seems our main area of disagreement is whether it is throught the attempt to organize,or "cultivate" a working system itself that all this injustice and violence arises or whether it is the specific forms this organization has taken in the past and present that cause these problems. You feel it is the attempt itself which is flawed by its very nature while I think the concept of a "natural" system requiring "no action on our part" is hopelessly utopian and even destructive.( in the Ayn Randian laissez faire sense)

By saying all attempts since Mesopotamian agriculture are doomed I think you adopt a hopeless position and one that romanticizes "nature" as a bit to benevolent a force.I think you also concede to those who say capitalism is a natural system and as such the "end of history".If your retreat into a tribal existence means you can avoid "markets", that is selling labor and commodities, then this might be a revolutionary example.But the rest of the planet will still be out here being exploited and commodified and brutalized for profit in a "natural" ,if brutal hierachchical system.

As a socialist I propose we(the People, organized out of the multitude) have to "cultivate" a system which accords us more justice and that this can only happen if we take "action on our part." Are there dangers, certainly history shows that.Can they be overcome? If you believe in evolution, that knowledge and learning mean we can advance, progress, move forward then I say yes.I can think of no reasonable alternative.It doesnt mean society need be organized in ever larger groupings, it means we need a process which allows us to decide and not be told.

At this point ou have set up a dualism between democracy and socialism which i don't guess I understand.True theoretical socialism is radically demoratic and inclusive, on any size scale.

Again, I believe "doing" nothing is actually doing something, it is ceding control and POWER to those that exercise it due to their position within a structure of productive forces. Simply "being" a good example is a great spiritual position but is an ineffective way to struggle.I need people willing to engage not only for their own self interest but on behalf of those who are in a less priveledged, less powerful position than us.We are in solidarity with them because unity exists in our common goals as well as our positions. ( worker,minority, woman,soldier etc)

Ill let it go at that for now ,though there are other large and interesting areas for discussion brought up in your piece.
Peace, Troutsky

Ché Bob said...

Greg,

Don't go just yet! Our discussions have been too educational to come to such an abrupt end.

Unfortunately, no "tribe" is safe from the system within which it could possibly exist. We cannot simply unplug and hoped to be ignored. The space and resources of this planet are not inexhaustible, and eventually even your space will be encroached upon. So here I agree with Troutsky, to do nothing is still an action, and unfortunately someone will make decisions for you that will affect your no-nothing existence.

Your description of how things are in the world today ("As this condition of the highest cultivation grew its mythos of god given stewardship became the facts of its members’ existence evolving from religion through the totalitarianism of royalty and tyranny and on to the democracy and socialism of today."), I don't think accurately appreciates what Holderin was hoping for but that has yet to be cultivated. None of the historical manifestations of "socialism" or "democracy" have evolved/achieved their ideals as of yet. If for only a brief moment, in 1936-37 the world was embraced by a truly radical social revolution in Spain. That revolution achieved a temporary stateless and classless organization. Even George Orwell, a card-carrying communist who loathed anarchists, was taken aback by the less-than-perfect yet positive achievements of the Spanish anarchists.

In today's world, there are radical people's movements that deserve our attention. My favorite, is in South America, where there is a workers-occupied factory movement that is succeeding in seizing and controlling the means of production without the state.

We cannot underestimate the strength of the social forces at work to break our spirit, but there is also no reason to assume that history is at it's end. The definite trend is an ontological trajectory towards anarchism, the immediate work is deciding how to organize ourselves.

I wish you all the best, but I would also like to urge you to reconsider your decision to disengage.

Ciao!

Che

gregrandgar said...

Well, Trotsky, and now Ché Bob, I guess its like Al Pacino and the mafia, every time I try and quit, you two keep pulling me back in. But this dialogue is great, much more informatively informal than Pocho’s podium as Far Queue refers to Further Left Forum. Although I prefer getting to the origins of how come we ever think we’re right enough to tell others they’re wrong; the psychological, philosophical, culturally mythical justification for thwarting nature because we think we own it. But, until such time …

OK, it seems our main area of disagreement is whether it is throught the attempt to organize,or "cultivate" a working system itself that all this injustice and violence arises or whether it is the specific forms this organization has taken in the past and present that cause these problems. You feel it is the attempt itself which is flawed by its very nature (exactly, except not by its very nature but by its very lack of concern for nature itself) while I think the concept of a "natural" system requiring "no action on our part" is hopelessly utopian and even destructive.( in the Ayn Randian laissez faire sense) I still don’t understand how you keep twisting a natural system requiring no action on our part (beyond following nature’s example and paying attention to the effects of our actions on others when the golden rule is sufficient for all interaction morality) into some sort of Randian destruction. The only thing Ayn Rand ever advocated destroying was Howard Roark’s destroying his own bastardized creation. How you pin destruction on someone who championed creativity so passionately mystifies me. There is nothing to destroy in a society that believes creativity is their due.

By saying all attempts since Mesopotamian agriculture are doomed (you said doomed, all I ever said was that all attempts have failed so far and no one has backed off of the ownership of the earth myth far enough to change its primary flaw/) I think you adopt a hopeless position and one that romanticizes "nature" as a bit to benevolent a force.I think you also concede to those who say capitalism is a natural system and as such the "end of history". What??? If you can show me anywhere I even mention capitalism I’ll eat my bank statement — I also don’t know what the whole sentence means. If your retreat into a tribal existence means you can avoid "markets", that is selling labor and commodities, then this might be a revolutionary example.But the rest of the planet will still be out here being exploited and commodified and brutalized for profit in a "natural" ,if brutal hierachchical system. You keep shifting the hierarchical brutality to the natural system, when hierarchies are obviously artificial classifications by your self given organizations. I don’t understand this.

As a socialist I propose we(the People, organized out of the multitude) have to "cultivate" a system which accords us more justice and that this can only happen if we take "action on our part." I, as a tribalist propose we (the people gathered out of the local multitude) acknowledge the commonality that drew us together by working for a common sustainence. What are the dangers if the tribe can exist independent of the system rejected? Are there dangers, certainly history shows that.Can they be overcome? If you believe in evolution, that knowledge and learning mean we can advance, progress, move forward then I say yes.I can think of no reasonable alternative.It doesnt mean society need be organized in ever larger groupings, it means we need a process which allows us to decide and not be told. Bravo, on this we can agree whole heartedly

At this point ou have set up a dualism between democracy and socialism which i don't guess I understand.True theoretical socialism is radically demoratic and inclusive, on any size scale. I guess I don’t understand how you see me setting up a dualism between democracy and socialism by merely mentioning them as the latest forms given the assumptionof mankind uber alles. I agree, democracy is a calculus or digital version of the analog socialism that does no more than legitimize mob rule for the biggest mob — another reason people don’t vote their conscience over their need to hide in the biggest mob as guided by the polls everybody loves to analyze.

Again, I believe "doing" nothing is actually doing something, it is ceding control and POWER to those that exercise it due to their position within a structure of productive forces. Ah, yes, but the control and power it cedes to such exercisers in positions within a structure no longer has effect upon their “do nothing” tribal doings no longer addicted or subject to the dependency that the power exploited and bled. Simply "being" a good example is a great spiritual position but is an ineffective way to struggle. Personally, I find anything based on obeying nature as the ideal way to keep life from being a struggle, that’s exactly why I am endeavoring to do so. I know this is not what you intended when you spoke of “ineffective struggle” but that kind of struggle smacks of life’s struggle due to original sin or the inescapable flaws of the human being. I guess I think better of my fellows to think their need be any struggle to follow the natural curve. The only struggle involves going against nature. I need people willing to engage not only for their own self interest but on behalf of those who are in a less priveledged, less powerful position than us. The only priviledge or position I may have that could be of help exists outside the system within which you find priviledge and power to be the currency of justice.

I once again heartily recommend reading Ishmael, Beyond Civilization, or any of the other books written or recommended by Daniel Quinn, there’s a link to him on the blog.

troutsky said...

Im sorry I was not more clear in showing the linkages between "natural systems", Ayn Rand and capitalism. I see a direct theoretical lineage from Adam Smith, through Schmitt and Oakschott and Von Hayeck (all conservative, free market types)into Rand and Milton Freidman and the whole Chicago bunch of economists.
This work is basically all based on the notion that capitalism is the most "natural" system for an economy because it rests entirely on self interest, survival of the fittest,etc which is also how nature operates.A "free market" is a natural system which works best (according to this line of thought) when it is "organized " the least. when it is left to "the invisible hand".

Now much of my life is spent in the natural world, I fish, hunt, grow food etc and I value all the lessons that nature has to teach and that part of me that is still a hunter/gatherer.The harmonious way that tribal people live with nature is commendable but they have "organized" themselves into something beyond a herd of humans and I advocate continuing on this path of developing organizational forms (communes,co-ops,worker run factories, socialist society) to fit our modern social conditions.

mullet said...

it's good troutsky

but how do we implement this now?

gregrandgar said...

I totally agree with what you say in this last entire comment, Trotsky, but I wonder about the use of "survival of the fittest" because the fittest to survive civilization is the least able to survive nature by virtue of debilitating dependency on prosthetic technology, while fittest to survive nature is merely the most aware of relationships to the environment, which, while not making them unfit for civilization, certainly makes it far less addicting. And uncle sam the pusher knows that if you want to live in his country and you aren't addicted you're headed for the booby hatch or jail.

I also wonder when humans might have ever been the "herd of humans" that had to improve on nature with "human organization" Pardon my naiveté but it seems like a good idea is the only thing needed to have an organization form naturally behind it, each partaker in the benefits equal sharers in the implimentation. I think one of the problems I have with some of your hatred of Ayn Rand is the whole idea of ownership, which is a point of departure for me. I wouldn't have blown up the bastardized results of my design as Howard Roark did, although it was an extremely noble gesture emphasizing the point that creativity owes no one. When I create something for a client I tell them to pay me what it is worth to them when I am done — they always pay me more than I would have asked — and if they wipe their asses with it right in front of me is no skin off mine. To me ownership is like marriage where fear of loosing everything goes hand in hand with lack of self reliance.

I have completely started over twice, sans possessions, shelter, employment, money. Its kind of like a needed brush fire to keep ones regenerative skills honed, because without them we tend to cling to some pretty sorry habits and compromises. But then what else could we bitch about.

troutsky said...

I have my own ideas mullet,but I am a long way from having it all figured out.What i want to do is start the process, getting input from past experience,analysis of current conditions, and visions of the future. I am inspired by Michael Alberts vision, a system called Paracon (see Znet), Marx's vision, Gregs vision, yours? This issue of ownership is an important component.Should people own productive property (property from which they make profit or collect rent?) Should production and allocation decisions be made in a market (supply and demand)or is there a more just way, a moral way? Ayn Rand (who i don't hate, just strongly disagree with) liked the market because it "objectively" and "naturally" separated strong from weak. Nature for her included technological aspects made by man,since he is a natural being, a component of nature.She also advocated ownership, claiming and using productive property to create and accumulate wealth.This is different than Gregs or other artists notion of intellectual ownership.She supported Gregs right to charge admission to people to come onto HIS property to listen to HIS frogs in HIS pond. I don't.

How do we get there from here? Organize , educate , agitate.Write a pamphlet, talk about it with some friends, join others in their protests against injustice.Ive got a big list.