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Greatest Threat to Free Speech Comes Not From Terrorism, But From Those Claiming to Fight It — Glenn Greenwald

After a fairly long haitus from posting here, I have decided to come and share a link for an article I feel is one of the most important I have read lately. The title is the same as that of this part, written by Glenn Greenwald for the news outlet The Intercept.

I implore everyone, even if you don’t agree with his views, at least follow the links provided in that article and consider the implications of what he is saying. I have provided a number of links to articles, documents, and documentaries already on this blog which point to a direction being taken by western society that should concern anyone who cares deeply about freedom.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/05/13/greatest-threat-free-speech-comes-terrorism-claiming-fight/

The Allure of Fascism

I have lately been studying the philosophy of Nietzsche. I had heard prior from numerous sources that Nietzsche contributed to Fascist and Nazi ideology (Leo Strauss being one of the most respectable sources, he even appreciated Nietzsche’s philosophy on a certain level). I now have a deeper grasp of why that is so, and I wish to impart it because I feel it is important that the population at large be informed about it, as Nietzsche’s philosophy is very influential in our time, and it is possible that if one is to be a philosopher, in one way or another one must deal with Nietzsche’s philosophy on the deepest level.

This post is an informal continuation of the last one When Life Feels Like Slavery (or, the power to rule) but it is not necessary to read that one beforehand, but if you are concerned or intrigued by what is presented here I recommend checking it out.

I will begin this post with a quote from a recent book by the Professor and scholar Laurence Lampert published by Yale University Press. This quote alludes to much of what I will discuss and expand on. It also clearly evinces how these ideas are in vogue and even respectable at such a prominent university.

Nietzsche is an advocate of slavery […] To understand the corruption and decay of European nobility one must understand what is basic to a healthy aristocracy: the faith that society exists for its sake. Healthy aristocracy “accepts with good conscience the sacrifice of untold human beings who, for its sake, must be reduced and lowered to incomplete human beings, to slaves, to instruments.” […] “[L]ife itself is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of what is alien and weaker; suppression, hardness, imposition of one’s own forms, incorporation, and at least, at its mildest, exploitation.” […] Beyond Good and Evil has argued that humanity matures by learning to live in accord with nature. Politically that means aristocratic rule over slaves — the rule of the philosophers of the future over a human population ordered hierarchically by nature and custom. [Lampert, Laurence, Nietzsche’s Task: Yale University Press. pp. 266-267]

I think the point being made in that paragraph is clear, so I will just elaborate some of the key points of Nietzsche’s philosophy.

Nietzsche felt that Europe was degenerating and he “diagnosed” the cause of the degeneration to be nihilism. For Nietzsche nihilism was a lack of belief in life, a deterioration of the driving force that makes people accomplish “great deeds”. Because he was a philologist (he worked the study of the origins of language and their interpretation, so particularly with the Greeks) he traced this “deterioration” back through history and arrived at the conclusion that it was not so strongly present in the early Greeks (pre-Platonic, Homeric Greeks).

The first main trend that led to this perceived deterioration was Platonic philosophy, which arose in democratic Athens, and needed to pander to the population that was no longer made up of a warrior arisocracy schooled on Homer’s tales of the warrior heroes at Troy. In those legends the gods favored valor, strength and nobility. Plato changed the favors of the gods and told the people if they did “good” the gods would favor them, and those who committed injustice the gods would punish.

The second trend which was one of the main focuses of Nietzsche’s scorn was Christianity, which he called “Platonism for the people”. Plato, in his view, still held some nobility in his teaching, but Christianity on the other hand did away with all that. It reversed the morals completely, advocating things like meekness, and humility. It taught that those who expressed pride and violence were “evil”, thus elevating the weak of society.

Nietzsche felt that by ennobling this moral view of nature, people were succumbing to a delusional view of life. He especially disliked the early teaching of Saint Augustine, who explicitly taught that one should reject the material world and hope for the paradise that comes after death. This, for Nietzsche, was the epitome of nihilism, rejection of life for a delusion. As a consequence people were unable to understand nature truly and it would repeatedly drive them to despair when their idealism would be met with a cruel reality.

Schooled by Darwin, as well as the philosophy of Machiavelli, Nietzsche felt that people must affirm all that is natural, which was exemplified by struggle, the expenditure of power and ultimately dominance. In this way, by seeing nature for what it truly is, people would no longer fall into the despair of nihilism and the species could be enhanced and remain strong.

Nietzsche’s advocated aristocracy and slavery because he saw nature as defined by a natural rank of superior and inferior, the stronger and the weaker, the smart and the stupid, etc. and he felt it was the rightful place of those who were of the highest rank to rule, and those of the lower rank to be ruled, this is the affirmation of nature. (See the post alluded to above for more on that theme.)

The fascisms that have existed in the past incorporated not only Nietzsche’s writings but other philosophies of the time which gave them their own particular colours and characteristics, but this is the underlying similarity, the elevation of the strong because of the demand to see nature clearly and affirm it as it is (exemplified by the struggle of the lion and the gazelle).

This underlying ideology has not died out since the last world war, and in many ways it has gained momentum. It is something that people should be aware of. I have compiled materials and information on this blog to help people understand certain trends current in society as well as to give advice on what can be done. In the shortest terms, my highest recommendation is that everyone should educate themselves and as much as possible work together outside of the dominant social instutions, that way you will be able to acquire learning and ability and independence from structures that increaingly attempt to determine our lives. At least be aware that when you work for institutions your energy and power is being put to purposes and ultimate ends that may not be your own.

Here is an important article about the militarization of the police force in the Us: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/08/14/militarization-u-s-police-dragged-light-horrors-ferguson/

The beginning of this post has a number of links to articles about abusive tacticed used by governments and the police against protests: A New Form of Social Organization— For those who value Freedom

When Life Feels Like Slavery (or, the power to rule)

 

 

I will begin this discussion with some quotes from Laurence Lampert’s book Nietzsche’s Task:

As Europe Sleeps on, thinking the crucial fight to be over, Nietzsche thinks the war is entering its most crucial phase. It enters that phase coiled into a magnificent tension of mind and spirit [… T]he fight in our past makes the present like a bow drawn taut that can launch an arrow into the most distant future [… T]wo attempts have already been made ‘in grand style’ to unstring the tense bow and rob the present of its promise: Jesuitism and the democratic Enlightenment. [Lampert, Laurence. Nietzsche’s Task: Yale University Press, pp. 13-14]

The central chapter [of Beyond Good and Evil, “On the Natural History of Morality”] argues that victory in the war against the democratic Enlightenment can be acheived only by “a new type of philosopher” who effects a “transvaluation of values”. [ibid. p. 16]

Physicists speak with pride of the “law-abidingness of nature[” …] The philologist counters with what looks like a philologist’s pride: that’s only your construal […] nature’s law-abidingness is not “text” but a prejudiced misreading of the text: “a naive-humanitarian costuming and twisting of meaning.” These accusations from a philologist’s arsenal are part of the political charge that misreading nature as law-abiding goes “more than halfway to meet the democratic instincts of the modern soul.”

The philologist reads the physicists’ interpretation as itself a text, one that betrays the motives lying behind it: “Everywhere equality before the law[” …] Zarathustra had taken special care to persuade his followers that the teaching of equality is a reaction to intolerable inequality, a forceful preaching intended to right a natural wrong through revenge […]. “Hooray for the law of nature!” is a cry of good cheer masking a hatred of nature for generating superior and inferior. The political alliance of modern physics with the democratic instincts of the modern soul is based on a shared opposition to nature[.] [ibid. p. 55]

Laurence Lampert is a Canadian philosopher and professor currently teaching in the US. He has been published by Yale University Press and the University of Chicago Press. He describes himself as a Nietzschean and writes that he is progressing Nietzsche’s philosophical enterprise. I have quoted from one of his works here at length so that you can make up your own mind about it, but I will proceed with my own thoughts in this post.

It troubles me that professor Lampert would choose to progress this declared anti-democratic enterprise. Nietzsche provides a lengthy critique of democracy. I personally feel that we aren’t living in a true democracy now, and that there possibly never has been a true democracy. Here is a quote from a recent paper published from Princeton University about a study of influence in the economy:

The central point that emerges from our rese arch is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism. [ https://www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gilens%20homepage%20materials/Gilens%20and%20Page/Gilens%20and%20Page%202014-Testing%20Theories%203-7-14.pdf ]
 
One of the things I find troubling about Lampert-Nietzsche (I will refer to Lampert since it is his text in particular I am addressing here) is that embedded in the criticism of democracy is a critique made through discussion of physics of “equality before the law”. Here he is criticisng “the democratic instincts of the modern soul […] based on a shared opposition to nature”. The implication I see here is that Lampert would like to see a society where those “superior” and those “inferior” would get treatment “before the law” which he feels would befit their status.
 
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That this book is published by Yale University Press is perhaps a testament to their impartiality regarding opinions expressed in scholarly publication (which I think is right for a society that values free speech), but it is disturbing in the sense that this work is getting significant attention and recognition, not because it shouldn’t be allowed, but because as citizens of a democracy who value our rights and freedoms, we should at least be aware and concerned that there substantial forces that are actively working against those freedoms, and it is equally our right in a free society to work to protect our freedoms.
 
There is a significant relationship between the ideas expressed here and those of the philosopher Hegel. In the book Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, Alexandre Kojeve describes what Hegel calls the Master-Slave Dialectic. He says that what defines humans is first their desire, which puts them on the level with animal entities, and then their recognition of their own desire which they wish to fulfill, which is self-consciousness, or consciousness of the “I” who desires. To make the human fully human, writes Kojeve, in the sense of being a historical being, the human desire must desire another desire (the desire of another person) and this takes the form of the need for recognition. It is in this way that humans can get an objective knowledge of their own value, as being a human.
.
He then describes the process of Hegel’s master-slave dialectic, where two humans meet and begin a battle to the death for recognition. Ultimately one of them is killed, but this is unsatisfying, because the victor has no one to recognize them, so in order for recognition to be possible one of the two combatants has to survive the fight. He writes, because some people are willing to risk everything (their life) for the sake of something immaterial (recognition) they are willing to gain recognition by any means (a fight to the death). But there are also certain humans who are not willing to risk everything, their desire for life overpowers their desire for prestige, so they give in to the battle and recognize the other as the master, while they subsequently become the slave.
.
This process becomes more complicated as Kojeve writes that the master is ultimately unfulfilled by this relationship, because while they wish to be recognized, they wished to be recognized by their equal but can only be recognized by their slave, who they hold as inferior. From this situation the master has nowhere to go, because they have reached the pinnacle, and any change would be for the worse (to lose master status), and so (according to Kojeve-Hegel) the only possibility for the achievement of true humanity lies with the slave.
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Because the slave works for the master, transforming the natural objects of the world so that they are fit for consumption (by the master), for example into food or as tools for use, the slave begins to become educated by this experience of transforming nature and realizes a possibility of conquering nature (which the master is also slave to, being bound by their desires for physical objects brought to them by the slave). The slave realizes a new power, this is the dawn (according to this story through Kojeve-Hegel) of technical and scientific knowledge. The slave can now learn to transform nature so that it benefits him/her, and subsequently become the master of both nature and the prior master. Because the slave has the knowledge that he was once a slave and can see the results of his work physically, he acheives an objective self-consciousness and power above what the master was able to achieve. [Kojeve, Alexander. Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Cornell University Press, chpt. 1]
 .
Writing on the relationship of Master and Slave is part of the tradition of philosophy as far back as Aristotle. He wrote:
 
But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a violation of nature?
 
There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.

and

 Where then there is such a difference as that between soul and body, or between men and animals (as in the case of those whose business is to use their body, and who can do nothing better), the lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should be under the rule of a master. For he who can be, and therefore is, another’s and he who participates in rational principle enough to apprehend, but not to have, such a principle, is a slave by nature. Wheras the lower animals cannot even apprehend a principle; they obey their instincts. And indeed the use made of slaves and of tame animals is not very different; for both with their bodies minister to the needs of life. Nature would like to distinguish between the bodies of freemen and slaves, making the one strong for servile labor, and the other upright, and although useless for such services, useful for political life in the arts of both war and peace. [Aristotle. Politics, Book 1]

More recently the philosopher Leo Strauss summarized Aristotle’s position on slavery thus:

Aristotle sets forth the dictate of reason regarding slavery: it is just to enslave men who are by nature slaves; men who are slaves not by nature but only by law and compulsion are unjustly enslaved; a man is a slave by nature if he is too stupid to guide himself or can do only a kind of work little superior to the work done by beasts of burden; such a man is better off a slave than free. [Strauss, Leo. The City and Man; University of Chicago Press, pp 22-23]

The implication here is that the slaves “minister[s] to the needs of life” by their “labor”, while the masters dedicate themselves to “political life in the arts of both war and peace.” I hope the quote provided above from the recent study from Princeton University will make it clear “that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence”. So if the corporate interests are those dedicated to the “political life in the arts of both war and peace”, it can be surmised what role the laborers are meant to play here.

I have created this post because I feel these issues are very relevant and important to people at large. I have given some suggestions on what can be done in the post A New Form of Social Organization— For those who value Freedom

Other relevant posts from this blog include:

Institutional Slavery

and

Web of Deceit — Mark Curtis

A Return to Self-Overcoming

 

Below is a passage from Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra followed by an interpretation of it:

 

‘Will to truth’ you call it, you who are wisest, that which drives you and puts you in heat?

Will to the thinkability of all beings: thus I call your will!

All beings you want first to make thinkable: For you doubt with healthy suspicion whether they really are thinkable.

But they shall fit and bend themselves to you! Thus your will wills it. Smooth shall they become and subject to the spirit, as its mirror and reflected image.

That is your entire will, you who are wisest, as a will to power; and even when you talk of good and evil and of valuations.

You still want to create the world before which you can kneel: that is your ultimate hope and intoxication.

The unwise, of course, the people — they are like a river on which a bark drifts along: and in the bark, solemn and disguised, sit your valuations.

Your will and your values you have placed on the river of Becoming; what the people believe to be good and evil betrays to me an ancient will to power.

[…] But that you may understand my word about good and evil: to that end will I say to you my word about Life and the way of all living.

The living did I pursue; I followed the greatest and the smallest paths, that I might understand its way.

With a hundredfold mirror I caught its look when its mouth was closed, that its eye might speak to me. And its eye did speak to me.

But wherever I found the living, there too I heard the speech about obedience. All that is living is something that obeys.

And this is the second thing: whoever cannot obey himself will be commanded. That is the way of the living.

But this is the third thing that I heard: that commanding is harder than obeying. And not only because the commander bears the burden of all who obey, and this burden can easily crush him:—

An experiment and a risk appeared to me in all commanding; and always when it commands the living puts its own self at risk.

Yes, even when it commands itself, there too it must make amends for its commanding. For its own law it must become judge and avenger and sacrificial victim.

[…] Where I found the living, there I found will to power; and even in the will of one who serves I found a will to be master.

That the weaker should serve the stronger, of this it is persuded by its will, which would be master over what is weaker still: this pleasure alone it does not gladly forgo.

And just as the smaller yields to what is greater, that it might have pleasure and power over the smallest: so does even the greatest yield, and risks for the sake of power — life itself.

[…] And whoever must be a creator in good and evil: verily, he must first be an annihilator and shatter values.

 

This is one of the most important passages in all of Nietzsche and pretty much the key to all of his work. This is the penultimate expression of his doctrine of the “will to power” in the work he called his most profound, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. I will try to make my interpretation brief, though that may mean leaving certain passages up to you to interpret. I will touch on the most important parts.

 

At the beginning of the passage Zarathustra indicates that he is addressing “you who are wisest”, this address is meant for the philosophers and others who spend their time in contemplation of existence and ideas (scholars, for example, or perhaps those who seek to be intelligent rulers or counsel rulers).

The philosophers (I will stick with this denotation) believe, or at least expound, that they seek the “truth” about existence, or society, nature, or what have you. That Zarathustra calls this search the “will to the thinkability of all beings” is connected with the next couple of lines. The philosophers have a “healthy” suspicion about what the world is, about what they are told, and opinions, and so they put all ideas to the test of thought and reason to discover whether they can accept it as true.

But Zarathustra does not think it is possible to see the truth in itself, he says the philosophers “fit and bend” the truth so that it accords with they way they would like to see the world, so they transform the truth into a mirror in which they see their own image and are satisfied with it.

This signals the beginning of Nietzsche’s doctrine of the “will to power”. The philosophers (or others with a power to bend the truth into their image) place their valuations on the truth, and they call what they value “good” and what they despise “bad” or “evil” and they back it up with reasoning.

By forming the truth into their own image, one they love and respect, Zarathustra says that the philosophers create a world before which they can kneel, or worship, because they love and respect that world, because it is their own.

 

Zarathustra then talks about the “unwise”, or “the people”, who in other parts of the book he calls “the herd”. The herd, he believes, don’t think for themselves, they don’t take time to examine the nature of the world and ideas, this is important to the imagery. He relates the people to a river, which he later says is the river of Becoming. The image of the river is an old image in philosophy related to the nature of existence or “being”, first related by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who Nietzsche was very fond of. Heraclitus thought that existence was a constantly changing flux, everything that comes into being ultimately changes and/or perishes… He said “you can’t step into the same river twice” to express this, because though the river as an idea is the same, the water is always moving and so your foot would sink into different water particles at any given time. So the “unwise” people are related to the river, which is also time.

This image is also bound up with something I believe Francis Bacon said about rivers, which is that the hollow and “light” things float on them and are taken down stream… so in other words the unimportant things… so this would be another jab at the unwise, that they don’t bring into the future the truly deep and important things which just sink through to the bottom of the rushing river but instead they carry the useless empty junk…

So what is the empty junk in this passage? It is the values of the philosophers, which Zarathustra says are the “ancient will to power”, so the values of past philosophers, or rulers.

 

Next Zarathustra names the three truths he has learned about life, that all life obeys, that whoever or whatever does not obey himself/herself obeys another, and that commanding is harder than obeying. I think those are pretty self explanatory in themselves. By obeying oneself it means that you have to become resolute about your goals or desires and also you do them on your own terms, for yourself…

Nietzsche writes a lot about morals, and this passage is no exception, so obeying oneself would also mean not following the moral standards unless you have put them to the test of your own reason and you desire them entirely for your own and their own sake… if you desire them for the sake of another, or because society has demanded them, that would be obeying another… if you do it for another for your own sake and you have really thought that truth, then it would potentially fit this description as well.

Zarathustra says that the commander bears a burden in commanding. There are several reasons for this, I will mention a few reasons. If you reject the current social standards and set out on your own path and your own valuation, you will have to shoulder the burden alone… there is a chance that no one will understand you or even agree with you, you might face hostility towards your ideas (there is more in philosophy that is given to tactically combat this, but I will not address that here). There is also the possibility that you might collapse under the weight of your conscience, either for something you have done or something you have commanded others to do that went wrong (think along the lines of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment). There is also the possibility that, because you are striking it out on your own, you are taking the role of someone of “strength” (in Nietzsche’s view), and because (in this world of wills to power) there are other figures of strength, you might come up against another will greater than your own and face annihilation.

Those are a few reasons that commanding is a risk, and it is a risk to “life”, because life for Nietzsche is “will to power”, and to fail in one’s self exertion is to lose your life, your “will to power”.

For this “will to power”, one must become judge and avenger and sacrificial victim, Zarathustra says. Judge because it is on one’s own reason to decide what is true and real and worth fighting for. Avenger because other people or conditions in nature will threaten one’s will to power, and sacrificial victim because of the prospect of annihilation, and because as one expends one’s life it becomes expended, and much of what one accomplishes, particularly on a grand scale, is something that lives on for posterity… Nietzsche didn’t really believe in a life of ease and attaining pleasures, he called a world dominated by those ideals the world of the “last men”, who he saw as epitomizing the unwise, the ones who did not want to gather themselves to accomplish anything, who just wanted to sit back and enjoy pleasures for the remainder of their lives.

 

There is more to the passage, but I think with that description it should become more evident how to place it all. I want to say a couple more words. A lot of people place Nietzsche into the existentialist tradition, which partly makes sense because of his thoughts on striking it out for oneself and playing an active role in the world… but Nietzsche scholar Laurence Lampert has a different interpretation of Nietzsche which actually places him in opposition to existentialism. Here is a short passage from his book Nietzsche and Modern Times:

 

Nietzsche is no existentialist, for he ridicules long before its promulgation the existentialist  faith that we are free to create ourselves and the existentialist morals that condemn as bad faith identification with one’s role. […] The age of the actor [who can create his own destiny] poses a problem for the master-builder [Lampert is using this term for the philosopher or ruler who creates morals and a new way of life]. Such builders […] have the perspective of millennia and aspire to create a new society; they are prudent legislators who found peoples. Any such aspiration today must face the fact that all people believe themselves capable of everything. Such a faith is most unpromising for the builder whose projects require a very different fundamental belief: that worth derives from being a part of a whole, ‘a stone in a great structure.’ [pg. 253-254]

 

If what Lampert describes as Nietzsche’s point of view is true, despite the ridicule of the existentialist “faith”, Nietzsche himself in the role of a “prudent legislator”, or “master-builder”, would himself have a degree of faith, that he could create new societies and that the “unwise” would fall into place like blocks in a great structure… it is also clear, from this point of view, that Lampert’s Nietzsche does not intend to dispell “faith”, but merely channel it into a useful direction, ie. the belief “that worth derives from being a part of a whole”.

 

I personally think as far as philosophy currently stands, existentialism is the closest we have to providing a way for individuals to experience freedom and create their own image of the world. While I may be accused of being like the philosopher who is planting morals and beliefs into others, that may be true to a degree, but keep in mind that pretty much everyone believes in something, even if you are a nihilist, you just call that something nothing… and existentialism does not dictate what you should believe… though it might be argued to the contrary, as the above comment by Lampert indicates, the existentialist “moral” not to identify with one’s roles… which I happen to agree with, but nonetheless I will put that on the table here with the rest of this to ponder on… and you can submit it to the light of your own judgement, so that if you do not agree you can reject it… I think existentialism gives that freedom more than any other “belief system”, it has the advantage of openness and fluidity… I personally think Nietzsche and/or perhaps Lampert has a fear of existentialism for the prospects of his “strong”…

 

I wrote another post which I personally think is helpful. It could probably be expanded upon or tweaked by different points of view, but again it is an attempt to create an open way of life and not just become a “stone” in someone else’s “great structure”, the post can be found here:

A New Form of Social Organization— For those who value Freedom

Learn and Expand your Mind

First, a passage by Camus:

“You never believed in the meaning of this world, and you therefore deduced the idea that everything was equivalent and that good and evil could be defined according to one’s wishes. You supposed that in the absence of any human or divine code the only values were those of the animal world – in other words, violence and cunning. Hence you concluded that man was negligible and that his soul could be killed, that in the maddest of histories the only pursuit for the individual was the adventure of power and his own morality, the realism of conquests. And, to tell the truth, I, believing I thought as you did, saw no valid argument to answer you except a fierce love of justice which, after all, seemed to me as unreasonable as the most sudden passion.

Where lay the difference? Simply that you readily accepted despair and I never yielded to it. Simply that you saw the injustice of our condition to the point of being willing to add to it, whereas it seemed to me that man must exalt justice in order to fight against eternal injustice, create happiness in order to protest against the universe of unhappiness.”

Thanks to – http://r3lativ.blogspot.se/2011/02/albert-camus-letters-to-german-friend.html

 

And here are some lectures that are well worth looking into. This presenter has provided a great service by making his channel open for others to receive a wealth of insight:

 

The Genaelogy of Morals – Nietzsche

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

 

The Present Age – Kierkegaard

On Self-overcoming

 

Let us at least talk of this, you who are wisest, grim though it may be. Remaining silent is grimmer, all truths that are kept silent become toxic.

And so let everything shatter that can shatter on our truths! There is many a house still to build!—

Thus spoke Zarathustra.

A New Form of Social Organization— For those who value Freedom

 

I want to begin this post by asking everyone, please watch this documentary if you have not already. If you get only one thing from this post, I hope it will be that it leads you to watch this documentary. The response of police and cities to protests in supposed “free” western nations in recent times is shocking, and something everyone needs to see. You should also distribute it to those you know, it is important that people understand what is happening to our freedoms today. Here is the documentary:

 

(This post will have two parts, first I will share some articles, then I will talk a little about what I feel needs to be done to safely and peacefully protect our freedom in the future. This will be one of the more important posts on this blog, which accounts for the length. You may consider reading it in a number of sittings…)

 

That documentary focuses on a protest that took place in Toronto in 2010 which resulted in mass police oppression, arrests where the protesters were held in torture-like circumstances. Watch the documentary and you will see much of it first hand.

Just to show you, this activity is not isolated to the US or Canada. Here are a number of articles from human rights organizations that detail similar experiences around the western world. I am focusing mainly on the west because most people know that this kind of oppression takes place elsewhere, which is also terrible.

Here is an article about a number of protests that were curtailed in different European countries. At one point recently in Frankfurt, protests were even banned and when the protesters tried to form they were harassed by the police, attempts to make protest illegal in Spain have also taken place, as well as oppression in Greece:

http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-193-anti-austerity-activists.pdf

Recently in May, 2014 a protest in Belgium, the capital of the European Union, a protest took place which resulted in mass arrests, a Belgian MP among those who were arrested:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ttip-100-arrested-belgian-anti-treaty-protests-1448674

This article tells of how the “kettling” tactic which you will see the documentary was approved by the European court of human rights:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/03/15/kettling_tactic_denounced_by_toronto_police_backed_by_european_court.html

Here are a number of other articles that detail similar tactics and oppression throughout the US and other countries as well:

https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/global_protest_suppression_report_inclo.pdf

https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/first-amendment-violations-watch-rnc-and-dnc

https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/international-organization-finds-us-violating-rights-protestors

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/17/nyregion/17police.html?ex=1300251600&en=d0575173149f8baa&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=1&

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-18/news/chi-chicago-aldermen-approve-emanuels-g8-nato-protest-crackdown-20120118_1_g-8and-nato-mayor-rahm-emanuel-aldermen

https://aclu-wa.org/library_files/WTO%20Report%20Web.pdf

 

I believe that a new form of organization is needed in our society. Many people do not want to experience this kind of oppression and will stay clear of protests, making them less effective, and even when they did take place, for example I was in Toronto at the very time of the G20 protests, they newspapers were almost completely silent about them and what few articles did exist were mainly mocking of the protests, which I feel is a terrible thing, and if you watch the documentary I hope you will agree.

A quick word before I detail  a few of my thoughts and suggestions on a new form of social organization. The very things you should not do, if you are interested in this (though your actions are your own, and by all means do anything you feel you want to or should): As much as possible, do not rely on centalized resources. This means for information, like mainstream news, television, film and other entertainment sources, clothing from large brands and conglomerate corporate chains, as well as other centralized sources… This is not to say that you shouldn’t use them at all, but try to devorce yourself from a strong alliance with them. A good alternative that still utilized for example mainstream news is to instead actively search for information on different topics rather than merely receiving the information which is told to your on a daily basis.

The reason I say this is because, in the case of news, strong efforts are made to control the perception of events for the public. This can be done in a number of ways I’ve spoken of in past posts. One way is focusing on certain events as if they were the most important, or even just neglecting certain information while híghlighting others. There are many other ways, you can see past posts in this blog, or read Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky, or Public Opinon by Walter Lippmann, though that is a bit dated and pretty technical. There are other documentaries available under the documentary section about that.

As for the other centralized resources: For entertainment, for one the entertainment is often meant to put certain thoughts about ways of being in the minds of people. There are a number of books written about this this you can look up. But in general think of it this way, you could be thinking and feeling a number of things, having a number of experiences. Television shows and mass produced films are often created by a small group of wealthy producers who are interested in putting certain ideas out, often they have corporate backers. Military has even been involved in film production.

Other centralized sources: Clothes and other products, besides the fact that you are paying much more than you should for a brand name that has frequently been produced by children and other labourers working under ghastly conditions, buying from centalized sources also supports large corporate entities who are the very power structures who the oppression at most of these protests are protecting. If these structures did not have terrible amounts of power this kind of oppression would not take place at all.

Instead I would recommend as much as possible buying used things, in particular clothes, even perhaps supporting friends who try to independently produce things or make clothing, even produce your own stories, poetry, plays, etc. and share them among your friends or watch, listen, or read to what your friends have produced. Some benefits to that way of arts sharing is that you are able to tell your own story, express your own feelings about life and create your own narrative for life. That way other people, your friends, etc. can learn about how you feel and about how their neighbors feel about life and can come to relate to it. Mass produced shows and films are created by wealthy executives who have a vastly different impression on life than you do.

Also, don’t be afraid of when things are realistic and depressing, though you may not want to hear it always, at least acknowledge it, because if we never acknowledge the reality we can never transcend it and create a new situation for ourselves.

 

I hope the words above will suffice. There are books and documentaries and articles available on mainy of the subjects spoken about. If you are interested I recommend you searching them out. I also always recommend educating yourself on pretty much everything, I will say more about that below.

 

In free and democratic countries, protest is supposed to be a right. It would seem that that right does not mean a lot these days. Nonetheless, our society has not degenerated into utter tyranny, and often even in tyrannical societies there is a little bit of wiggle room. It is in this leftover space that I feel we must make a new start for ourselves.

First, I want to say that this is not something I feel can be accomplished all at once. Like all important things it will take time, but as it seems by the responses to these protests, it does not seem like the government is listening, at least not in such a way which is respectful of what the people have to say.

We still have the right to organize, and the right to free speech. These, I believe, should be cornerstones in a new form of organization. Above I made recommendations that you try to support production from among your friends, acquaintances and other independent parties, that is important. This connects also to what I will say in a moment regarding organization, because by helping others and even hopefully joining with them and mutually being helped you could perhaps come to create your own decentalized modes of production from which you can make a living.

Ultimately I feel it would be important for people to have access to, either through someone they know or from a collective purchase, of some piece of land where food can be produced. That is not something immediately practicable for most people, but something to keep in mind.

That idea of coming together and “organizing” can take so many forms and have so many purposes, so I would like to keep the discussion about it open, because you or others you know may have completely different ideas about what could be done through organizing. Some things that could be done though are ingaging in different constructive projects, whether it is creating or producing things, helping each other learn or discussing things. A project for example could also be accumulating reliable information about society that people are unaware of, whether it is from accountable books or news articles, and distributing them to people at large with your own suggestions, maybe even trying to find others to join with your in an endeavour you find important. Maybe a project could also be producing a video which either shares important information or makes some kind of an advertisement for your own project or something you have created which you wish to tell in an online capacity. These are only suggestions, different people may have diferent ideas about what is important or worth doing. It is good to listen to others.

 

Some words should be said about organizing itself. There are a number of issues that can arise from organizing with others. In particular I want to talk about organizing with strangers and others you are not familiar with, in case you would seek that kind of an organization, in particular if your organization would be information, something like loose gatherings. Depending what you are trying to accomplish, that is, if it would be socially significant in such a way that endangers powerful social structures, however peacefully, there is always a small chance that your organization could be infiltrated by someone who seeks to disrupt its activity. This no doubt only applies to certain kinds of organizations. It would not be helpful to develop a paranoid atmosphere in a group. In that way you are sure to create more problems than you would otherwise solve. A few things I do recommend, and this applies equally to other less volatile groups though perhaps for other reasons, though reasons which are just as important to the groups in question, is that you get in the habit of engaging in deep discussion with others. By this I mean that you talk to each other at least to degrees in depth, even if you are a little uncomfortable at first. That doesn’t mean that you should talk to people who make you uncomfortable for any serious reasons. You should become open to question and answer formats of discussion, and really listen to the answers from people and even be aware of the questions you are getting. You need not answer all questions or expect answers, but be aware of both the questions, answers, and even lack of answers and understand their significance.

You should also, as much as possible, give everyone a chance to speak and address everyone, as well as having more personal one on one contact.

It is also very important that you keep yourselves and others educated. I personally recommend at least a little knowledge of social psychology, and to share it among your group. If you are serious about organizing, you might even consider collectively contributing to buy perhaps a used introduction to social psychology book and sharing the information together. The reason I point out social psychology is because, if you are not already familiar with the field, you will find in there a number of eye opening facts about how people interact. A couple of things you might consider looking up now are the Asch conformity Experiment, the Stanley Milgram experiment, and the Stanford Prison experiment. The least well known of those is the Asch experiment. The Stanford Prison experiment is particularly important for understanding how people come to subsume roles they are given. I think that is a very harmful effect in society, because we begin to act within our pregiven roles and it then becomes more difficult to ineract together in open and natural fashion where we rely on our own knowledge and beliefs rather than on rules that are readymade and given from above. Also remember that roles are not always as clear cut as “police officer” or even “cashier” or what have you, they can also include social fashions, even statuses…

It is not only important to learn about social psychology, but pretty much everything else. If there is a particular goal of an organization you would like to create, learning about that goal is important. Even learning concrete skills, how to building or otherwise accomplish something. But also just learning about history. In a lot of ways, I think, people have come to see history as unimportant or impractical. Some things I think you can get from history is a knowledge about how you society has evolved to the place where it is today. You can understand how social structures were created. For example, I did a lot of studying on Medieval peasants and it was very eye opening for me and actually contributed towards me becoming aware of the information on modern society. For one I came to understand how people could be terribly oppressed and used. I also learned from studying Medieval peasants about how the ordinary people would create their own festivities and modes of entertainment. A very interesting book on the latter subject is Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe by Peter Burke.

Philosophy is a similarly discreditted subject. While I personally do not have a ton of interest in metaphysics, I do recommend Political Philosophy to everyone. If you are up for the reading, two very good introductory books are Politics and Vision by Sheldon Wolin, and History of Political Philosophy editted by Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey. They are both pretty heavy reading, but also eye opening. I might recommend Politics and Vision first, as it is slightly easier to digest and Sheldon Wolin is a philosopher very concerned with what he sees are the negative trends in modern Democracy.

I personally also recommend when you are trying to learn things to search for books (you can do searches on google books, for example) that are printed by university presses… One reason is that those books are peer reviewed so you are somewhat guarenteed to be getting good reliable information. They are often more in depth as well.

It is important to learn for an organization for one because it will help you to gain new ideas about what could possibly be done, and even if you are not going to engage in such an organization, because it might give you new ideas about how to aim your own life path. Also, in a situation where you are interacting with many people, you might be given information, and while you might take it at face value at first, it is often good to know you are getting valid information, to fact check… Also if you are getting recommendations from an untrustworthy source, it is good to be educated yourself to guard yourself against bad decisions…

 

I recommend fact checking as much as possible. Also remember that opinions are separated from facts, and sometimes opinions can be informed by an incomplete knowledge of the facts. I will leave this here, I hope some of this may be of use to some readers.