21 December 2011

Why the emancipation of the workers has to be the act of the workers

If we are not free to say no, we are not free to say yes. Any authentic change, ie transformative and transforming change, comes from the inside; and moves outwards to direct and shape our behavior. If behavior is compulsory, if we are compelled by an external force or authority, there may well be “good” repercussions, but not transformations: it’s just more-of-the-same. 
Emphasis added, thank you Boppin' Bobby. A "good" government or leadership may open up possibilities for social revolution and the self-transformation of the masses, please note this cousin Hugo (and get well soon), but will never substitute for it. More of the same = "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"; revolution from above may improve things but will not open the door into the Better World.

Damn, am I becoming an anarchist (or at least a council communist / Left Communist) as I get older? Perhaps not because I do still see that participation in bourgeois electoral politics can be a useful first step towards self-liberation. But I am certainly not a Leninist, while still finding much of value in Lenin's work.

19 December 2011

Great King Rat died today



... because you can't go wrong with a bit of Queen. I have a large stash of DPRK propaganda in hard-copy, sent to me in the mail by an acquaintance ages ago to attempt to troll me as a self-described socialist. It's good reading material for the lavatory.

But to more serious business: this on the DPRK as a theocracy is very interesting, although I dispute his belief that a "religion" necessary has to posit a supernatural realm - it only has to posit anti-materialist explanations for natural phenomena, and "Marxism-Leninism" can certainly do that if it starts believing in things like "there is no truth outside the Party" or "a strong will can conquer anything". (In contrast, Deism for example can believe in a God without believing that the scientific laws of nature are ever violated.)

And to less serious business: I think this illustrates what I said before about how totalitarian "compulsory fun" has its own analogies in the compulsory fun of administered monopoly capitalism. (How many of you proles out there were made to wear Santa hats by your bosses this week?) And dear Allpowerful Atheismo, I hope this hilarious blog is soon updated.

11 December 2011

How cults start

So anyway, first you have someone who sets themselves up as a "master" (leader, guide, activist, organiser) and establishes what you might call a "Freudian transference relationship" with their followers - i.e. the followers, feeling a great lack in themselves caused by alienation, oppress and exploitation, assume that the Great Man (and it is usually a man) can bring wholeness to them, like an idealised father figure. Let Hazrat-e-Pir Dr. Javad Nurbaksh take it from here: 
The mentally ill become the morids [disciples]  of this kind of 'master' and establish a transference relationship with him. Then, by claiming that miracles have taken place, which were, in fact the result of the strong emotions established by transference, and by acting as missionaries for their master, they make converts. The so-called master, in turn, unaware of his own egoism, benefits from people's ignorance. Hence, by calling himself a saint he establishes a parasitic livelihood for himself. Sometimes due to a miracle reported by a morid, he comes to think that all the while he has really been a man of God, but has not realized it. In short, this type of 'master' is pulled along by the crowd because of his need to make a living, and in turn he becomes more and more convinced of his own claims. This causes a vicious circle between the morid and the morãd, both of them firm in their own egoism.
In every era this vicious circle stimulates a certain number of people to become 'masters', and then morids become enchanted with them and start telling extraordinary stories about them. ... In reality, people thus, create their own idols and then start worshipping them. This type of master is, in fact, subject to his own morids. As a matter of fact, a morid likes to have a certain man as his master, namely, a master who due to his defects and imperfections, always enjoys having a crowd of followers to support him.
Emphases added. It's a good living (or, if you can't do it professionally, a good source of ego boosting) to be Great Leader for a howsoever tiny group of people who are willing to let you run their minds. And then you start to believe your own publicity (like L. Ron Hubbard apparently did, or some say Joseph Smith did).

And the root of all this is hypocrisy - some half-baked yahoo, either sincerely or cynically, thinks that God or the Class Struggle speaks through them and mistakes their own ego gratification for the Good Work. Which is a lesson I should have learned ages ago. I count myself luckly that, even though most of the earlier ravings on this blog are egomaniacal and intolerant in the extreme, I always wanted collaborators rather than Zombies and therefore I never actually attracted any "followers", praised be the sweet name of Almighty Atheismo.

09 December 2011

And in the end...

... after all the questions like who am I?what am I doing here?, did I really deserve what happened to me?, why is the world like it is?, etc etc etc, are answered, the only question left is... how can I help?
 

23 November 2011

Even the Republicans know about the serious business

David Frum, former adviser to Cowboy Dubya, now understands what the evolution of mass politics from actual debate to simple faction-fighting (similar to the Blues and the Greens in 6th century Constantinople) has wrought. "Conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment." It's no longer a means to understand the world, but an ideological identity-tribe which will buy anything, no matter how noxious, that will help them hide from reality. He might have also said "same goes for fundamentalist Christianity".


"Be careful what you wish for, because you will get it and then the Gods will laugh at your dumb ass". Frum points out that the Republicans got what they wanted in the Bush era (i.e. unbridled power), but then after reality didn't turn out the way they imperially/imperiously ordered it to do so, they went to the happy land of Cognitive Dissonance. Frum challenges what a lot of we lefties think, that Bush/Cheney/Blair etc. would have told any lie to get what they wanted:
...conscious cynicism is much rarer than you might suppose. Few of us have the self-knowledge and emotional discipline to say one thing while meaning another. If we say something often enough, we come to believe it. We don’t usually delude others until after we have first deluded ourselves.
That could be a Chaos Marxist aphorism right there. Poor bastards really believed that if the Imperial Masters said something would happen, it would happen, or at least everyone would pretend it had happened. Praise the Iraqi and Afghan insurgencies for busting that little bubble.

Let's never let OCCUPY evolve into a market segment. "Socialism" evolved into a market segment, or even a minor religion, a long time ago, but it seems to be recovering during the current brush with reality.

31 October 2011

Chaos Marxism is monist

As previously explored, as a young radical/misfit I was massively drawn to neo-paganism, particularly to the anarcho-socialistic / "California head-shrinking" variety of the same described by Starhawk. I swallowed whole the line that "monotheism is imperialism in religion", and was attracted to the utopia she offered in her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing of a patchwork "confederacy of tribes" model of a post-capitalist future.

(ETA: Great Goddess on an electric motorbike, they're making a movie of it!)

But over the last few years I have rejected most of that as an essentially idealist, dare we say even "petty-bourgeois" vision of the future. Let's put it this way - Starhawk argues that "if we see the ocean as the womb of the Goddess Mother, we are less likely to fill Her with poisons". But symbolism and reality are distinct in all but the most childish of minds. The Prophet Muhammad put it on the line to the pagan Arabs, who worshipped Goddesses and yet buried the girl babies alive. The Olympian cults of Greece and Rome were hardly those of "respect for the feminine", no matter what Robert Graves might argue - the Athenian attitude to woman was not dissimilar to that of present-day Saudi Arabia. The Catholic faith, that branch of Christianity which happens to have more female objects of veneration, also has what might be considered a quite barbaric doctrine when it comes to fertility and the control thereof.

Polytheism is the theology of tribalism, and even worse, it is the theology of Empire. To understand this we have to understand that an empire is dissimilar to a nation state. The Roman Empire when it was healthy was not an autocratic monolithic state, but a sprawling multinational mess only united by a devotion to the Pax Romana personified in the Imperial cult. Apart from that, all the various ethnicities were allowed whatever insane tribal religions they wanted, as long as human sacrifice or actual rebellion weren't involved, and some of them even got popular in the metropolis. Pretty much the same went for the Holy Roman Empire of the Middle Ages, and the Ottoman Empire in its pomp. And that is precisely the logic of late, "post-modernism / consumerist" capitalism under the Pax Americana. Every minority group has its own "middle class", its own idols and languages respected. Potentially revolutionary groups are co-opted by giving them a piece of the pie, or in other words, employment for a middle class (gay bar owners, people who translate government diktats into indigenous languages, etc).

On the contrary, UNITY is a sweet and beautiful world in both the revolutionary socialist tradition and the mystical traditions of Islam and Buddhism. And Chaos Marxism is all about that. "Unify the forces". "We are the 99%". There is no room for "their truth" and ours to co-exist, because harsh reality in the form of the interlinked crises of accumulated capital / ecological degradation / mass alienation and anger intervenes. The goal is to overthrow the repressive tolerance of Empire into a new unifying way of seeing the world (although not a monolithic one). All great Reforms of history have had that same kind of paradoxical "intolerance".

27 October 2011

All saints revile her, and all sober men

Currently rereading one of my favourite books in the world when I was 16 years old, Robert Graves' The White Goddess. The historical argument is of course completely risible, and as for the poetic logic, the guy is basing his argument on close analysis of Old Irish and Welsh texts, two languages which he admits up front he doesn't speak a word of and is relying on dodgy-tastic translations. Still, his essential argument that "poetry" (and all other forms of true art) is the same thing as religio-mystical devotion is still one of the axioms of Chaos Marxism. We just attempt to bring revolutionary socialism and psychology into the mix.

21 October 2011

Welcome to the future.

It's like all the dreams of Chaos Marxism are coming to rampaging life, in city squares across the planet. And just my luck to have been ill in bed all week. Definitely getting down there this afternoon. Socialists thought I was nuts when I was talking about how Project Chanology was the wave of the future, but who's laughing now, oldthinkers? Tell me that, who's laughing now?

26 September 2011

FIVE YEARS OF CHAOS MARXISM

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, all you readers and commenters, for making it possible. I'm also pleased to note that we have hewed rather closely to our original intentions, although I no longer am a bigoted anti-postmodernism, and my concerns have shifted more to mysticism than to magick, more to "transpersonal psychology" than "folk parapsychology". Open thread, if anyone wants to mouth off in the comments.

13 September 2011

Once again on the purpose of Chaos Marxism

For the mystics: We all know that the world that we experience is a Black Iron Prison, a malign illusion, the Matrix. We can experience the world where God exists and magic is afoot when we "wake up", that is become properly conscious, cease to rely on preprogrammed scripts and what we "expect" to see, to actually look reality squarely in the face. But survival in the world that it is means that it's much, much easier (and actually more fun) to stay asleep. The purpose of revolutionary ecosocialism is to build a world where it would be easier to stay awake than to fall asleep. But for that to happen the broad majority of people have to "wake up". We don't have time to do this one-by-one. We need to seize the reins of the Frankenstein's Monster that the mass media has become to get to everywhere in the world at once. Liberation has to be as ubiquitous as Coca-Cola.

For the revolutionaries: we're trying to understand about how "coming to consciousness" actually works. Once you realise that most self-described revolutionaries are not conscious, but are instead following a Book of Rules for Living Your Life as restrictive and soul-deadening as any peddled by a church or a self-help guru, you realise why everything that they say they want (to unite with the masses to spread consciousness) never actually happens. Also, actually-existing Marxists and anarchists seem to have a distressing lack of practical compassion towards each other (as opposed to "abstract compassion" to the "working class" or "the oppressed peoples of the earth"), and seem not to be conscious of their own reactionary attitudes when it comes to dealing with their own privilege. Non-dualist spirituality and transpersonal psychology have a lot to teach us here. And no, just participating in the struggle doesn't make you all better psychologically.

03 September 2011

I love it when people agree with us

I've been an admirer of Terry Eagleton's work for ages, but this is... wow.
In the European world bus drivers, florists and dental assistants are not usually expected to hold complex ideas about the origins of the world, the purpose of life, or what it means to live a rich, fulfilled, fully human existence. They are simply expected to get on with their everyday lives and leave these more fundamental questions to scholars and clerics. This is not so in the case of Islam. [...] Antonio Gramsci maintained that all ordinary people were at a certain level philosophers, but this is a lot more obvious in the Islamic world than it is elsewhere. Islamists are also natural-born internationalists. [...] Western societies deal with belief primarily by reducing it to a private affair. It becomes a kind of hobby or personal eccentricity, rather like collecting Javanese parrots or engaging in sado-masochistic pursuits [...] It is not a force for the transformation of reality but a refuge from it, like Madonna's Kabbalah or Tom Cruise's Scientology. [...] The capitalist West's problem is that it can neither kick belief nor get along with it. It can do neither with it nor without it. It needs some show of faith, not least in times of political crisis, to declare to the world what it stands for. In reality, however, capitalism is an inherently faithless system. As long as you roll into work, pay your taxes and refrain from beating up police officers, you can believe more or less what you like. Too much conviction smacks of fanaticism, and is bad for business. [...] Socialists may not agree with the content of Islamic faith, but they are well acquainted by their own history with the idea of millions of ordinary men and women living lives of conviction rather than of pragmatic self-interest. In this, at least, we share a precious tradition with those hounded by the Islamophobes.
Chaos Marxism stands 4-square behind the democratisation of philosophy; of the necessity of faith to break out of the utilitarian/entropic straitjacket of bourgeois ideology; for mystics and dialectical materialists to take each other seriously. Such ideas - as well as ecosocialism, and the understanding of the pivotal role of information workers in the senile capitalist countries (aka "the West") - have to be at the centre of any new International.

31 August 2011

For everyone who's given up hope

If “tomorrow” is the first lie of the Devil, perhaps the second lie might be that our own contribution has no value; that we are powerless to make a difference in the world. It is very easy to believe that this is so, seeing clearly our frailties & weaknesses. But this is a lie, nevertheless.

- Thanks, Vicious Bob. I post this in response to the overwhelming negativity, bitterness and nihilism which have become the common sense of the liberal-leftist Internet in this day and age, this era of accelerating capitalist crisis, ecological collapse, the collapse of hopes that an imperialist war machine led by an intelligent black lawyer/academic would somehow be qualitatively different from one led by a borderline imbecile white fratboy, etc., etc...

But of course the ruling ideas of our epoch, like any other, are those of the ruling class. The ruling class want us to believe that "the war is over and the good guys lost" (L. Cohen), that their rule might be an obvious disaster but There Is No Alternative. But let's put it this way - okay, let's just assume for the sake of argument that we live at the beginning of a civilisational Dark Age like, I dunno, the European Middle Ages or the Chinese Warring States period. There's nothing that any individual can do about it, not even Noam Chomsky, John Lennon and Black Dynamite all put together. So what is your motivation for remaining alive?

Should we all load stones in our pockets and go down to the local river like Virginia Woolf? Or get drunk all the time, which is the slow-motion version of the same thing? Or give up and join the rat race to get our piece of the pie before it's too late? (Don't worry if that means selling our soul - it's not as if our soul was worth anything, and if the world is fucked whatever we do, we might as well be actively evil as long as it feels good, right?!?)

Credo quid absurdum. The only noble thing that it is still possible to do is to act as if what you did actually mattered. That is, act according to principle, as opposed to automatic ideas based on what you picked up from the TV or social chatter. Even if you're wrong, you make it possible for others to do so.

22 August 2011

Barbarians at the gate

I've quoted approvingly from Jordan Stratford, the Gnostic Monsignor and author, a couple of times which you might remember. I finally got around to buying his exposition of his modern faith-culture, Living Gnosticism. Now I've criticised Msgr. Stratford once before as being a representative of "the occultism of small businessmen" ("unorthodox faith" movements which don't break with the underlying material base of the secular and/or institutionalised faith culture they live in). In that regard I was particularly struck by parts of the closing essay of his small and worthy book, in which he foresees a quasi-apocalyptic clash between the Apollonian (rationalist and liberal) culture of the metropolis and the Dionysian (irrational, ecstatic, fundamentalist) culture of the periphery. Although I don't think that's really the clash he's talking about:

The barefoot glossolalians are emerging from the desert once again. Only whereas in the second century, these cultures met one another on a fairly equal footing, this time the North is vastly outnumbered... What happens when a generation of hip, aware, tattooed, multilingual, educated, environmentally-responsible Episcopalian urbanites who stopped at one child (if any) is overcome by a majority of dozen-siblinged fundamentalists who think being gay is caused by demonic possession? The North has been outbred by the South, and the fundamentalists are basically just waiting for us - and our egalitarian, feminist, green, tolerant, "reasonable" Apollonian culture - to die out.

The ignorant unwashed masses are outbreeding our liberal aristocracy?!? Holy crap, stop right there, Pim Fortuyn. This is how quickly urban, tolerant liberalism can flip into out sheer imperialism, close to racism. Because they are the left wing of globalised imperialism, of course they're going to be terrified by the end of globalised imperialism and therefore their privileges as the systems' internal, polite, critics.

But seriously, in the immortal words of Tonto, "what do you mean our culture, paleface"? Is the dominant culture of the West really feminist and green and egalitarian? You know, with all the rape and sexual objectification and extractive industry and consumeristic waste and people begging on the streets? No it bloody isn't. A very small privileged layer - among whom Msgr. Stratford lives and for whom he speaks - gets to live that way, because they're the middle class professionals and skilled workers who benefit from the real underpinning of "their culture" - the continued pillaging of natural resources and super-exploitation of the global proletariat in the name of glorious profit. You are not more environmentally aware because you breed less, especially if you on your own have a bigger environmental footprint than Reverend Kiswahili or Mullah Omar and their dozen kids whom you're having paranoid dreams about.

Jordan Stratford goes on about Athenian culture, and the later culture of the Roman Empire, being swamped by primitive backwards Christianity, and within "two generations... the plumbing stopped working". Uh-huh. Now this is where middle-class idealism gets you. Athenian society was based on slavery (and oppression of women of a Saudi Arabia level, or perhaps worse). The Roman Empire was based on slavery and conquering as much of the known world as they could hold. And Christianity was the overwhelmingly popular religion of those slaves by the time of the fourth century CE. The social system had run out of steam. The Lombards, Goths, Vandals and other barbarian hordes were relatively more vigorous than decadent, senile Rome, no matter whether they were sacrificing to Zeus or celebrating the Eucharist.

Yes, it's true. Neoliberal, globalised, financialised capitalism makes a very sweet lifestyle possible for a middle-class layer who - precisely because they're not struggling for a crust, and because they don't have to directly exploit anyone - can make consumer choices which they interpret as a life of virtue. That's not the culture I have any interest in protecting. To paraphrase Catharine MacKinnon, and that's something I thought I'd never do: "if your genteel culture requires having a global slave class, you have no right to your genteel culture."

To be fair, though, Msgr. Stratford isn't precisely defending the Empire against the barbarians at the gates. What he's suggesting is that Gnosticism is an example of a compromise. But the real compromise can't be a new faith or an old faith or a culture or a creed, it has to be a material way of existing. The fundamentalist hordes don't have a solution - when the kind of people he's worried about took over in Iran in 1979, nothing really changed except some industry got nationalised and the regime stopped grovelling to American foreign policy.

If your culture of "Lulu Lemon yoga gear and $200 Nikes... "Tradition" starbucks cups... [and] Bang & Olufsen speakers" has nothing to say to people who live in grinding poverty and whose faith is all they have and do not really take kindly to being told not to reproduce themselves by corpulent, privileged white folks, then you need to think a bit more clearly. The only people who can change the world and create a new culture on a new material base are the globalised proletariat - the people who actually make all those things that Jordan Stratford's people consume. Isn't it such a pity that the United States spent so long wiping out communist movements among that class of people in the 70's and 80's and instead building the credentials of the religious fundamentalists that are now the Great Satan?

(As an aside, by "global proletariat" we have to include the information workers, and this is where those of us with plenty of Western cultural capital can intervene. I more and more think that Anonymous has become the modern equivalent of 1870's Russian Narodnik terrorists. I wonder what form a "Cyber-Bolshevik" party might take. Just as the tiny but vital industrial proletariat in Russia had to make an alliance with the peasant masses to win power, the vanguard of modern information workers who keep globalised capitalism and consumerism functioning have to line up with the inhabitants of the sweatshops of China and the coffee plantations of Colombia.)

Chaos Marxism stands against both fundamentalist obscurantism, and a defence of "liberalism and Western culture" which is nothing more but an appeal for the perpetuation of the privileges of the middle class.

20 August 2011

Once again on commodification

In March I wrote:

Mass production means that nothing gets lost forever. Everything can be replaced - and, in the era of the Internet, if it can be digitised, these days nothing need be lost at all. [...] So that's what's behind "vintage culture", steampunk, Goth, SCA, whatever - the attempt to create a culture of objects which are totally individual and therefore meaningful, even sacred.

But someone else got there before me:

Hence steampunk, for what is steam punk if not a romanticized do-over, a setting of the clock back, a time of craftsmanship and real (fetishized) objects, remaking the world, not in the mode of the ceaseless slow sprawl of cheap oil but in the Victorian self-aware world making spirit?

So maybe Chaos Marxism is salvagepunk. And taqwacore.

18 August 2011

(Doloras entered nirvana, parenthetically.)

Holy crap, for about five minutes there I didn't exist. It was COOL.

And when I came back to existing I found myself at the centre of a synchronicity storm which proved to my satisfaction that I'm doing something right.

===

All the great works of mystical literature (eg. Irina Tweedie) say that the path to ego-loss is rapid-cycling-bipolar to the Nth degree. One minute God doesn't exist and you're full of crap, the next moment you're in Paradise eating from the fruits of the tree of Knowledge of Good And Evil and Endless Free Sex, and then God doesn't exist any more, and so on. Probably enlightenment comes when you realise that both are illusions, or as Hazrat-e-Pir Dr. Nurbakhsh would say, you give up on both this world and the Hereafter.

Because God doesn't exist in the world of blind matter and inescapable natural law. In contrast, the world of Love and Meaning and Compassion and really really good orgasms and cuddles and niceness and warm milk is nothing but God. We live in the hologram caused by the overlapping of the two worlds, to use Grant Morrison's terminology which I think he took from Philip K Dick.

Aphorism time:

He who tries to defend or describe or dismiss God with Logic is committing a foul sin against Logic as well as one against God.

I notice this in the similarity of the style of arguments made by both Catholic and Salafist theologians. Religion is just rules, which is a form of cause and effect and therefore of the hard, nasty world not the sweet, gentle world. I read a website by some heretical Muslims who argue that God has actually set Satan up as temporary ruler of the planet. That might be a pretty good metaphor for describing what happens in revolutionary events... when the Black Iron Prison springs a leak and suddenly the impossible becomes possible (almost a definition of the presence of God).

Because that never lasts, and what happens afterwards is that the sweet spring of flowing nectar which existed for maybe a year or two maximum gets damned and polluted and set to drive the waterwheels of the dark satanic mills. The ekklesia, majlis or soviets of workers and soldiers' deputies become new engines of oppression. The institutions founded to guard the message end up destroying the message. And that's the price of success - having to cut a deal with the Prince of This World. Compare the umma after the death of the Prophet to the Soviet Union after the Civil War and see what I mean.

(A Persian fellow once said to me: "I'm a Muslim, but that means I submit to God, not to Muhammad." Similarly, the only real revolutionaries are the ones who refuse to argue in terms of the hadiths of Lenin and Trotsky, instead trying to emulate their spirit and daring and avoid their dumb mistakes, and whose only wish for that mausoleum on Red Square is that they should give Vlad a decent burial and stop propping him up like a grinning scarecrow.)

To be true to the spirit of the Revolution, which is precisely identical to the Holy Spirit and to what makes cats scream in the night and poets howl at the moon, we have to refuse rules, schemas, hierarchies and brain death - while at the same time refusing the opposite trap, of going back to worshipping our own egos. As Ayn Rand put it (and screw her, by the way) - "in the name of the best within all of us".

We don't need any more Prophets or idols, but we will always need idolsmashers and the Enlightened Masters who come to wake us up. But they get taken from us too early, so let's appreciate them while we have them.

16 August 2011

Rumi Was A Homo

Progressive Islam is purely an academic exercise. It’s not creating a culture. It’s professors talking to each other.

Thank you, Michael Muhammad Knight. You can only create a culture out of practice, not out of ideology or ideas. If you try to create a culture out of ideas, then the culture will be based on what practice you're actually doing and trying not to think about.

Brother Michael is referring to "Progressive Islam" meaning smug liberal upper-middle-class Westernised academics who happen to be from a Muslim background or culture trying to package upper-middle-class liberalism (the lifestyle they actually follow, being the consumer lifestyle plus libertarian sexual/gender ethics) in a pseudo-Islamic flavouring. Funnily enough, it has exactly the same content as the "socialism" or "Marxism" which comes out of academia or out of the lumpen-academia known as "the activist communities" - nothing but pieties, symbols and rituals over the top of a content of the privileged behaviour of those who have cultural capital recognized by the Black Iron Prison. Nothing more than native informants, or the left-wing of Empire.

"Progressive Islam" of this sort, and "socialism" which means nothing more than the ritualised behaviour of a lumpen-intelligensia subculture, offers absolutely nothing to your average person living in an Islamabad slum or under a pile of rubble in Gaza, or even in the working-class area of London or Paris or [FILL IN WHERE YOU LIVE RIGHT NOW]. The people are already creating the New World on the ashes of the old, and the honest intellectuals are those who can be like Orwell in Barcelona in 1936, and realise that just because you don't really like what is happening doesn't mean it's not something worth fighting for. If you don't like it the answer is to create your own new culture where you are right now, and then seek to become allies.

Actually, I think Brother Michael might have something in common with Chaos Marxism, since he certainly takes a historical-materialist approach to faith:

Once you recognize how much of your tradition is a product of historical forces, it empowers you to be an historical force yourself.

Too many Marxists, for example, seem to believe that they are the Chosen Ones on account of the unblemished ideology passed down to them from the Holy Prophet Karl and His Noble Imams Fred, Vlad, and (Josef and Mao if you're a Sunni, Leon if you're a Shi'ite). They don't look at the historical reality of where they are, where they came from and where they might go, they only act as if they had abstracted their egos from reality and were nothing less than the living incarnation of The Most Holy Tradition. And of course in that situation the ego is left free to run rampant and ruin everything in support of its own continued existence.

If more Marxist groups honestly socially looked at themselves, they might see how their own actions continually sabotage what they claim to want. Hell, substitute "Marxist groups" with "human beings". The only people who really think ideology matters in and of itself are those trained to be ideological technicians under capitalism, and that's why they either sell out or create little "toy" versions of the churches and universities which they would be running if they'd made it in the big wide world.

15 August 2011

I love historical analogies

If, as previously discussed, the relationship between the ruling class and the media today is analogous to that between the feudal aristocracy and the priesthood in Europe of 1000 years ago, then Rupert Murdoch would be a Borgia pope. Alexander VI?

09 August 2011

Riot! The unbeatable high!

Tomorrow you're homeless... tonight it's a blast. Still, sometimes it has to be done.



The energy has been released - now is it going to be a firework or a laser beam? Only the people on the ground in [England] can tell, and so far we're only hearing all the voices yelling "SIT BACK DOWN AND SHUT THE HELL UP".

Of course implacable opposition, rioting, etc are fun and all. But what does it accomplish, if not tempered with a positive?

We commented on riots in Tonga in 2006, and in Greece last year, and the same rules still apply. My favourite Trot gives a good analysis - interesting how the American media are far enough away from the action that they can actually see what it's about, as opposed to the British media demanding troops on the streets, mass floggings, etc.

The forest fire burns everything down. Then possibly new growth can happen.

08 August 2011

Rule #1 of Cult Leadership

Try to talk in the same voice as the super-ego of your gullible stooges. Generally people are so used to doing what the programmed voices in their head tell them, that if you can work out what that programmed voice is telling them and make it come out of your own mouth, they will become your devoted zombies and you can exploit them to live quite comfortably without actually contributing any value to the real world.

No lie. Mediocre cult leaders like Deepak Chopra or whoever tell people what they want to hear about themselves. Hard-core cult leaders like L. Ron Hubbard, Gary Chicoine or Jim Robertson will abuse the hell out of their followers, triggering all their class society-implanted self-abasement circuits.

In contrast, real Masters are distinguished by their loving-kindness.

premature emaculation

...as T.H.Meyer has suggested in relation to the channelling of `messages from the
Masters‘ by Madame Blavatsky and other members of the Theosophical Society, it is possible for a `transmission‘ of genuine Higher Wisdom to be distorted by the psyche of an `underdeveloped receiver‘. Translated into Gurdjieffian terms this would refer to someone who had achieved a degree of premature connection to the higher centres.

(source: Thompson, W. J. J. G. Bennett's Interpretations of the Teachings of Gurdjieff, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Lancaster, 1995.)

Hmmm. As a former "gifted child" (*shudder*) that seems very plausible to me. I was certainly having "spiritual experiences" left and right from the ages of about 13-15 (puberty, according to tradition, being closely associated with the opening of the more complicated bits of the brain), but due to very difficult psychological circumstances in my upbringing and being born very far from anyone who could have actually helped, it took me two decades or so of repeated head/brick-wall interface, bad choices, wild goose chases, following half-baked ideologies made up by dodgy people, and following my own half-baked ideologies, before I actually got in a position where it made any sense.

This fits in with Robert Fripp's analysis of Music as an expression of something which comes from somewhere "more real than life itself" (i.e. from the parts of consciousness beyond language), and that's why all those great musicians just get burned out, like a 2 amp fuse trying to contain a lightning strike. Just because someone's got a particular skill, or is really smart, or has spooky powers, doesn't mean that they are egoless Perfect Masters and you should let them take your life, is the take-away message from this.

...individuals who search after greater meaning are especially vulnerable to abuse because they feel themselves to be ‘unworthy’. ‘Seekers’ are greatly at risk. They look towards unseen worlds without having the confidence of gaining access to them, so that they come to look towards personalities who claim such access to guide them and interpret reality for them. This is of course exactly the same structure which is found in religions, the only difference being one of scale. All the remarkable men I have met who are truly remarkable embody a willingness to speak ‘on the level’ with others and not as authorities.

Thank you, Anthony Blake; it only remains to me to point out that seekers can be political as well as spiritual ones. Whether your guru spouts bullshit with a vague family relationship to Marxist political economy or to the Rig Veda, cult dynamics are cult dynamics. True Perfect Masters (by which we mean people who have gotten out of the way of their own ego and are capable of actually behaving like all humans will in the Better World To Come) are known by their massive humility, wicked sense of humour, and willingness to get their hands dirty in the Real World of Horrible Jobs.

I would certainly put myself in the position of "imperfect receiver", and this is why this blog should be taken as the efforts of a mind trying to work out what the hell happened to it and suggestions for your own experimentation, much like Philip K. Dick's Exegesis.

05 August 2011

So simple it probably doesn't need to be said, but...

We don't need any more Prophets, any more religions, or any more rules. The ones we have right now will do nicely, thank you. What we want is more praxis; theory put to at the service of Love, and at the service of Right Action.

03 August 2011

Anon v Monsanto, IN A STEEL CAGE

02 August 2011

Words like violence break the silence

... yeah, so I'm coming very close to understanding that, as far as understanding goes, Cramulus is probably right and I wrote everything I needed to write on these subjects a couple of years ago, when I first found the books which provide the "missing link" to my ideas. But the issue was that I have spent the last almost-five years on this blog attempting to give a rational justification for the embrace of the irrational. A worthwhile project, but one which I realised with a jolt yesterday I have not actually been practicing in my own life.

I've talked about, if you are serious about introducing "light from the Better World" into the closed system of entropy which is the Real World of Horrible Jobs, the need to "give up your identity" to the Higher Power that you've devoted yourself to. I suppose I underestimated how difficult that is because giving up your identity means giving up your mind, and giving up your little world. (Or at least be prepared to give those things up... if you do it right you will get them back later, all cleaned and tuned up. As Crowley put it, you put yourself together again on the other side of the Abyss.)

The last one is a concept which has just congealed for me. Just as one of those insects that lives on the bottom of ponds glues rocks and shells and sticks to itself to defend itself, your nafs / mind / ego / identity creates a little world around itself. This world is made out of possessions, habits and social relations - but only the most very important ones, the ones which shield you from the vertiginous abyss. You know - your drinking buddies, your favourite intarwebz sites, your favourite albums and books, your family, your loved ones, your local sports team. All the things that "tell you who you are" (at least in terms of the Matrix, which as we know, cannot really do such a thing).

But it also makes you blind to the real world. It's a hermetic seal, if you'll pardon the pun. You can't know Reality, and therefore what you are really supposed to be doing in order to bring Light into the world, unless you are prepared to step out of your little world and leave it behind, like a hermit crab does when it grows too big.

And the only thing that can induce you to do that - as the 12-Step programmers know perfectly well - is an act of faith, the mind / ego / nafs / identity just giving up and letting a Higher Power (call it God, an Angel, a praeternatural intelligence, the Spirit of the Age, your own right brain / Higher Self / atman) do it. To get back to politics, one of the reason the Leninist sects (possibly the anarchists as well) have put themselves into a dead end is that they built a party to change the world, but the party has become the extended ego of the participants - they have all the fuel they need but they refuse to burn it, and if anyone else burns their own fuel they're mocked for "liquidationism".

The Sufis say that this is generally not possible without a Master - as a focus for the great power of Love that you need to be able to make this happen. I have one of those now, so we'll see what happens.

I realise now that my pride is my shame - I really did think my mind could do everything itself. "What a sucker I had been. What a fool. The answer was there all the time," to quote Dr Frank'n'Furter. Everything I've really achieved, I haven't achieved myself - Higher Self did so acting through me. (You can tell that because I didn't think about it, it just "came to me", and I could barely remember it afterwards.)

So, that's my job next - building the faith to leave the mind behind. In politics, building the intellectual and activist strength to leave organisational forms behind. And hopefully in music I can leave a few holes in my solos so maybe some Music will fall through.

===

A very important warning: because books work on the level of the mind, they can't really teach you jack-shit about anything important in the real world. They can help your mind make sense of your experiences in the real world, but you need those real world experiences first. I've certainly had experiences reading books which seemed impenetrable garbage the first time, and the second time (after a few years doing it hard), they answer all my questions in retrospect. Probably the same goes for blogs, hint hint.

01 August 2011

A nice syllogism

We help beyond any help ever available anywhere. We are a near ultimate in help.

- L. Ron Hubbard

Helpful people are a nuisance.

- Guitar Craft aphorism

29 July 2011

I need someone to hold me while I wait for something more

Faith is necessary. The object of faith is irrelevant. It is the power of the faith itself - the overriding of all the "what ifs" thrown up by the intellect and the ego - which makes the impossible possible. The idol is made by the genuflector, not the craftsman. This is why all initiatory paths which have real power call for total devotion to the Ideal or to a particular Master who embodies the ideal. (The truly enlightened never claim to have spooky powers, but sometimes the disciples will tell stories about the Master's spooky powers. This is a sign of their faith which is not discouraged by a true Master.)

(ETA: There's a wonderful piece in the Doctor Who story The Curse of Fenris. For those who haven't seen it: it's World War Two and the Doctor et al are fighting vampires, for some reason, and of course a traditional way to fight off vamps is with a crucifix. A Red Army soldier who happens to be with them protests that he doesn't believe in Christianity; the Doctor asks him: "What do you believe in?" and he answers "I believe in the Revolution". So - get this - he takes the hammer-and-sickle badge off his cap and fights the vampires off with that. Even faith in the cynical bureaucratic murderer Joe Stalin can move mountains.)

For all we have criticised the Leninist sects, you must admit that their belief system gives them incredible powers to face ridicule, to stand on street corners selling badly-xeroxed papers, etc., for an entire lifetime. The problem with some of them is that they don't teach "loving-kindness", or in other words, integrity - instead they have a half-assed belief in "Bolshevik ethics" which, in practice, boils down to the same kind of Might = Right nonsense that we rightly despise when we hear it coming from the fascists (and would make Trotsky spin in his grave). The problem with others is that they've given up actually changing things in the Big World and have become nothing but a substitute religion.

But are we to say that they have no right to exist or to participate in the movement - that they would be better off individually giving up and getting some bourgeois job? Surely they can be annoying, but is that a problem with them or a problem with us? I'm reminded of secular atheists who curse religious believers for "relying on a crutch". The implication is that secular atheists are both ethically and psychologically superior. But what do they do with that superiority? (Can someone point me to hospitals, schools, charity drives etc. started by humanist organisations? I'm sure there are some.)

"Atheism" and "secularism" are both negatives - no religion - but why do you stay alive in the absence of any metaphysical meaning? Is the answer nothing but "pure hedonism" - or, more likely, "live the capitalist dream, earn money to buy leisure commodities, have a good time, then die?" Many people would rather stay in a cult than accept a lifetime of nothing more than psychic masturbation. As Seven of Nine put it before she was reverse-assimilated, "WE DO NOT WANT TO BE LIKE YOU".

The point is: don't be so quick to tear down someone else's faith before examining your own. And yes, you have one, even if it's not in God. I am increasingly thinking Fripp was right when he said "any act based on principle is a good one".

28 July 2011

Physician, heal thyself

I'm embarrassed to have to admit how much of everything I've done in this lifetime - up to and including writing this blog - has been in the service of a story I was telling myself in which I had to train to become a PERFECT GENIUS SUPERHERO - Noam Chomsky crossed with Frank Zappa crossed with Xena Warrior Princess - or my life would be a complete waste of time. That the world was doomed if I didn't hone my gifts and skills to be able to save it.

Wow, it sounds far less convincing outside my head. And then I come on here and rant about "don't get trapped by identities" and "don't let fantasy be the enemy of making something happen right here right now". I think the word we're looking for is "facepalm". Robert Fripp says that the course he was on at Sherborne House in 1975 was full of people who thought something very similar, and the purpose of the course was to beat that out of them.

25 July 2011

Anonymous: CM prophecy confirmed accurate

"Was Project Chanology for the Intarwebz what May 1968 was for French students?" I asked almost precisely two years ago. The answer appears to be "yes". We now live in an era where Anon is taking on governments, the FBI and major corporations, appears to be actively thriving on persecutions and arrests, and is reported as serious news in the mainstream press. This article from around the same time, suggesting that Anonymous had reached its limits because it could not possibly find a more ideal target than Scientology, is laughable in retrospect - obviously the author couldn't imagine them actually going after the Pentagon or the FBI. (But perhaps it was only the intervention of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange which made that possible.)

Also of note is that Anonymous is a "meme", like al-Qaeda or radical right-wing resistance, so nailing individual participants can't stop the signal. The media have never gotten this - they keep going on about "members of Anonymous" being arrested. Newsflash, guys, a "member of Anonymous" is anyone who does anything under the Anon or associated banners. The Clams' "tech" for dealing with enemies is to nail their leaders personally, but Anon has gone past the individual. This is of course what all radical movements should be doing; however, I think we're still addicted to the "leader / Central Committee" structure, which evolved in the case of a Tsarist police state when the telegraph was the cutting edge of information technology. Networked resistance is the next step. Don't let the 4chan crowd or the fascists out-innovate us.

In other death news...

... so what do you think of the argument that "the price of genius is a tortured mind, and more often than not an early death"? I don't 100% buy it. It makes as much sense as arguing that being gay is unhealthy because it makes you want to kill yourself. No, homophobic culture makes you want to kill yourself, and I suggest we live in a creativity-phobic culture.

What is happening is we live in a culture where inspiration is either bullied out of you or commodified. They'll try to destroy you unless you become useful for their agenda, in which case they'll turn you into a brand and a cash cow, which will also destroy you, just with a higher budget. The article also lets off the hook the fact that the music industry has been known to actively encourage drug addiction among its artists because that's a very effect mechanism of control. It used to be quite common in the 80's for club owners in the USA to offer to pay musicians in cocaine.

Robert Fripp knows all about this because he's one of the few people who have been successful enough to be tempted by the Great Deceiver and lived to tell the tale. Of course, he also suggests that truly great artists are channeling a source of power which just burns their human personality away. Was Ms Winehouse a truly great artist? Even a pivotal figure for her generation like Courtney Love's husband? I don't know, never actually heard her work, perhaps you can fill me in in the comments.

Solidarity



No to fascism.
No to race-hatred.
No to Islamophobia and other religion-hatred.
No to the belief that "words don't have consequences" and that therefore free speech comes with no responsibilities.
No to allowing memes of hatred to survive unchallenged in our media and in our conversation.

If there's one thing that you yes YOU can do without getting out from in front of your internet connection, it's to slap down anyone who tries to make Muslims, non-whites, queers or leftists "the Other" who have no rights. (But try to do that without just unleashing hatred against Christians, atheists, conservatives or people who haven't read as many books as you. The "arty queers vs. rednecks" thing is a false dichotomy to stop us embracing the true diversity of our culture and forging unity in that diversity. Ideas are the enemy, not those who hold them.)

ETA: Amanda Knudsen in Norway writes: "I understand that people just want to show solidarity with those killed in the fascist massacre on utøya and in oslo, but please, understand that using the norwegian flag is not an appropriate symbol for this. Our response to the nationalist nazi violence must be openness and internationalism, not to support the nation borders that divide us."

24 July 2011

I was asked to tell you this:

You can't achieve holiness, enlightenment, transcendence, self-actualisation or become a Good Person by following a set of rules. (So screw religious fundamentalism and its political equivalent, "programme fetishism".) Religions, codes of ethics and ready-made schemas are, at best, good for keeping you out of trouble, or baking a fine cake. But everything that's actually valuable about being a human being on this planet comes from pure, inner inspiration - "the disciple's infidelity is the master's faith". And to be able to bring that into the real world requires (a) TRUST that what comes out of "the real you" not only can be unleashed on the world but should be, because it comes from God / The Better Place / Universe A; (b) DISCIPLINE to stop your learned habits of behaviour, your ego, all the little things you to do to fit in and survive in the World-As-Is interfering what what can be done to make The World-As-Could-Be a real thing, here and now.

And, of course, "you" don't really exist. You are a crystallisation of Humanity, which is a crystalisation of Nature, which is a crystallisation of the Universe, which the theists among us would argue is an emanation of God. You can only realise that when you get to the point where the survival of your biological entity and its privileges among the particular primate troop you belong to are no longer the only motivating forces behind your behaviour. Screw Ayn Rand - altruism is what brings light into the world, the compulsion to give, the sheer joy of "I was a hidden treasure and desired to be known" - although selfishness is necessary in the World-As-Is to be able to promote that light against the conservatism of the primate mind. Acting from the communal interest of the society you live in in the first step, and - as Marx put it - only when we overcome the contradiction between the self's desires and the needs of the species and of the society the species has created for itself will we be truly free.

Let us be clear, though - as the "true self" grows and strengthens, so does the ego / nafs. It's not a zero-sum game. As previously mentioned, the nafs is a booster rocket, and you cannot get rid of it and survive in this world, nor should you try to. But, if your goal is to bring light into the world, you do need to (a) get in touch with your "higher nature", the part of you which does act from somewhere other than selfishness and inertia, heredity and environment; (b) resolve the contradiction between that and your nafs, so that the donkey ends up pulling the cart rather than just kicking you all the time. The really tricky thing is that the nafs is so excellent at fooling you that you are acting from a higher spiritual goal, when really you're just reiterating stupid primate dominance games or acting from scripts your parents or teachers implanted in you. (This is easily observable by the presence of hypocrisy - manipulative, cruel, grasping religious preachers, or political activists who'd rather keep control of a cult than lose control of a mass movement.) Learning to tell the difference really is a thousand miles of broken glass on your hands and knees.

And in the meantime it means that you do miss out on the Valuable Cash Prizes that the culture or your particular subculture offer you - you will not be popular if you're doing something right, let's put it that way. So very very many of us who set out to change the world or do magick end up just settling for a well-paid gig in the heart of the beast, the kind of gig in which we get a longer leash than the other wage slaves so we can pretend we're free, in return for closing our eyes to the misery and blindness we've bought into. Failing that, being a cult leader is at least some kind of identity. But the need to "have an identity", have a social role, is as much a trap as the need for money. Always best, I think, to have an active social life which has nothing to do with your political or religious or social mission, so you don't turn your mission into your social life, which means your nafs just ruining everything.

Chaos Marxism is anti-fascist

... to the point where we have been traduced by name in the pamphlets of the extreme Right. However, since fascism / conservative revolutionism / radical traditionalism / radical Rightism is self-confessedly in love with the irrational, they often have a strong appeal to those who have become disgusted with the instrumental rationalism (coupled with gross superstition) of late capitalism. This blog is a damn fine attempt to track exactly how they attempt to normalise their foul politics in artistic subcultures which do take the subconscious, the subaltern, the Other seriously. What we are trying to do is to recuperate the unconscious and the irrational for a political project of liberation; to mutually strengthen the rational, not destroy it.

21 July 2011

I am an authoritative source!

Fresh from one of our regularly scheduled autogooglestalks: first came Cramulus' Primer, and now this blog is being discussed as source material for an e-course and referenced in academic essays in Austria. A bit surprising, a lot flattering, and perhaps a satisfactory return for going on five years of thinking outloud.

20 July 2011

Slowly, slowly

Insight on how the financial question is not only a political question, but a spiritual one (emphases added):

Fashioning coin banks out of bamboo, she asked her lay followers to drop a NT 50 cent coin into the bamboo bank everyday before going to the market. "Why not simply donate NT$15 each month?" one follower asked. The amount was the same in dollars, Dharma Master Cheng Yen replied, but very different in spirit. Dharma Master Cheng Yen wanted each person to think of helping others every day, not just one day each month.

I was also urged to get with the programme, learn how to use the internet, and sign up to alternatives to Paypal. In part, this was to facilitate regular small payments - which I have to admit would be extremely useful - and in part to allow Paypal boycotters to spare me a dime. One of the systems I was urged to try out was Flattr.

...with this alchemy change the copper of the heart into gold, slowly, slowly.

And there came a certain poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And calling his disciples together, he saith to them: Amen I say to you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury.

18 July 2011

A vital question for those on a mission

Would you rather be a hero, and everyone think you're a villain; or be a villain, and everyone think you're a hero?

01 July 2011

Ooh, this is good.

Some of my best friends are Gnostics, and this, mutatis mutandis, works for any initiatory path, I think. I think I'm personally still working through stage 3. You do have to make compromises with the Prince of This World to be able to survive in this world long enough to change this world. Perhaps the most important thing - which I don't think I ever truly understood until a couple of days ago - is that the game cannot corrupt you if you remember that it's a game.

I, personally, a long time ago (perhaps age 6) started playing a game called PRIDE/SHAME. The object of the game is to see whether you can get everyone in the world to give you uncritically positive attention. This is a game that any human is designed to lose, but playing the game is a way to be able to participate in the world if you're convinced that what you really are is worthless and rejected by God and everything on the earth. And I played the game for so long I thought it was my personality. I still do if I don't keep up my work of "remembering". It's an addiction and it's like sleepwalking at the same time. It's so much easier.

30 June 2011

A dancing, nascent insight

As Stewart Home put it, the essential fallacy of liberalism and lifestylism is that it is impossible to live differently under capitalism. But it is possible to live ethically - i.e., with integrity. And part of that integrity must surely involve putting something into training ourselves and others to live differently. "Starting with the Man in the Mirror" is a cheesy way to put it, so maybe "live as if you were in the early days of a better nation"? Or even - this horrible world of advertising agencies and mechanised death is a university in which we train ourselves to live in the better world. The Kingdom of God, in Reality as it is in the Nice Place We Made Up Inside Our Heads. A world where Love In Action becomes easy, or at least easier.

"It's steam-engines when it's steam-engines time", as a wise man once said, and while you can't stop playing the capitalist game (there is no longer any outside to the money and capital system, which, as Rosa Luxemburg said in 1903, means it's coming near to TILT), if you play the game with integrity - which means accepting that you're not going to win the Fabulous Prizes, and that you wouldn't want to anyway - you will keep enough "soul" (energy + free time + financial spending money) to give you a chance at contributing to building a better world.

At the right time, that is. You can't be a revolutionary in a non-revolutionary time for the same reason you can't be a saint or a prophet by your own volition. The time is not right for most of the world, but - for example - in Greece I think it's getting close. If you and your mates keep doing your exercises and your eyes on the prize, one day the Black Iron Prison might show a chink and you might be able to declare a jailbreak or even an occupation.

25 June 2011

Further to the below...

... being good, bringing Light into the world, making the Solid World more like Universe A and less like Universe B, is unnatural. It's fighting against gravity, as Robert Fripp puts it. It's contradicting our animal nature, and it contradicts every rational, logical scheme for living and surviving in the World-As-Is. This planet would have gotten along perfectly fine without sentience, hence the Eden myth. Consciousness=the Knowledge of (and therefor responsibility for) Good and Evil, to be better or worse than animals, the ability to make Heaven or Hell real right here right now.

Which is why utilitarianism (in liberal democratic, social democratic or Stalinist flavours) doesn't work - it assumes that good=logical, when in reality all the words and abstract concepts on paper - if not backed up with an effort of Love In Action - just lead to the same primate games, with higher technology. As R. A. Wilson pointed out, most people use words in the same way that a chimp will use a handful of its own shit.

One of the things that appeals to me about the Islamic tradition is that there's no original sin - people are not naturally sinful, but they are naturally forgetful and weak. Bad things happen because it's easier to let them happen, and it's extremely easy to forget about God or Universe A or the Inexpressible Benevolence of the Creative Impulse or whatever.

The power of capitalism is of course that it feeds on our animal nature - greed and territoriality, in particular. But the tragedy of capitalism is that it has trapped us in one of those tiny universes I was talking about in the last post - we have, in other worlds, all entered into playing a game which we can't win and is running down the planet and poisoning us body and soul, but if everyone thinks that The Game is the entire universe, then ceasing to play it and acting like adults is unthinkable. And if thinkable, then too damn hard.

If we can look after our animal selves without giving into every single prompting - if, in other words, we can stay awake, act according with Will (=Love In Action) - in little things, then perhaps we can do so in big things as well. We are what we do, and our political activism will not be worth a damn if we act in our private life like we are entitled to everything we want, that Those Guys Over There have no rights because they're wrong, that our actions have no consequences, etc.

23 June 2011

If there's a shortcut, I'd have found it, but there's no easy way around it

Light of the world, shine on me.

One thing that's very interesting in the Abrahamic religious tradition is this idea of the tragedy of prophecy. The idea that when Universe Central taps you on the shoulder and says "oi! pass on this message!", you are not in for a good time. Prophets are always getting stoned to death, crucified, shot with arrows, betrayed by their nearest and dearest, cursed and slandered, etc, and Universe Central doesn't do anything to help. Even the religious experience itself is portrayed in disturbing terms. The Holy Spirit, in the Christian tradition, is said to descend "like a dove". Have you ever had a pigeon land on your head? It's nothing but feathers and shit. And in this case it's DIVINE feathers and shit.

That's why these modern "You Are The Chosen One" myths fail somewhat because they don't point out that being the hero in the World-As-Is - to be technically accurate, making a commitment to act from somewhere else than your own immediately perceived selfish interests - is not going to end up with you being King and getting the Girl (or whatever gender). Actually, the best modern account of the tragedy of prophecy is Terry Pratchett's Small Gods, which gets it just right despite the fact that Pterry was an atheist until he got sick. And as for our secular prophets of revolution - MLK and Malcolm X were shot, Karl Marx died in poverty and 11 people came to his funeral, Ché Guevara ended up dead in a jungle. Fighting the good fight is not a pleasant lifestyle choice.

===



The more I think about it, the more I think that perhaps my real "religion" (in Sufi terms, my shari`a as opposed to my tariqah) is still the Church of the SubGenius. Yeah. I am sure that Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley would be kind of shocked to know that people are reading this who really, truly are Discordians - but I think Ivan Stang kind of accepts that there are people who really, truly are SubGenii (as long as they keep buying swag). And - let's face it, people - J. R. "Bob" Dobbs is a pretty damn good folk-hero for the lumpen intelligensia and the petty-creatives. Congratulations, Stang, you and Philo created something that works.

A hundred years ago, the freed slaves and children of freed African-American slaves sat around on the porch and told hilarious lies about John the Conqueror, which is pretty much what SubGenii do today WRT "Bob". Big John wouldn't pick cotton, he wouldn't bale hay, he wouldn't take a licking and he wouldn't run away; whereas every time "Bob" screws up, he makes a million dollars. (The Polynesian people's stories of Maui fulfill a similar social function.) Every era and culture and subculture creates its own mythology, its own way of being, its own gods and demigods and folk heroes, its own working religion - practical code of ethics, plus rituals to make sense of the world we live in.

You see, that's the problem for those of us out on the edge - we want to change the world we live in, change the community we came from, but we're not individuals, we live our lives in the matrix of community. But the problem comes when we turn the organisations we build to try to change our world into new communities - that's the basis of sectarianism, a turning away from the Real World of Horrible Jobs into an exciting "pocket universe" where we get to be Big Cheeses and heroes of our own narratives of Great Revolutionary Heroes. (I'm always impressed by how thoroughly the Spartacists and offshoots manage this - obsessively taping all their internal meetings, memorising the history of every ridiculous faction fight in their tradition, and in all other ways behaving as if what happened inside their group was the important thing. But it's common in pretty much all radical groups.)

That's where "small group psychosis" comes from - voluntarily withdrawing into a tiny universe that we created ourselves, and forgetting that it's all just something we made up and that it doesn't really mean a damn thing in real terms. In contrast, a real revolutionary or saint lives in the real communities where they are at and then brings Love In Action to bear in that community. ("Love in Action" is here identical to what Crowley would have called "True Will".)

I think perhaps the Sufi distinction between shari`a and tariqah is useful here. Shari`a, in our own sense, is "how we live our real day-to-day lives in the Real World of Horrible Jobs, how we take care of our needs, have fun, deal with other beings and the real physical world - our Rules for Living". Tariqah would then be "the discipline we accept in order to bring about change in ourselves and in the Real World of Horrible Jobs". The two are orthogonal to one another - they function by incompatible rules. Which is why Hazrat-e-Pir, Dr Nurbakhsh, was fond of saying "the master's faith is the disciple's infidelity" - what you have to do to bring Light or Revolution or whatever into the World-As-Is is completely a separate matter to the rules we follow for surviving and thriving in the World-As-Is.

God or "Bob" or whoever doesn't need you to do rituals - you need you to do rituals, preferably within the matrix of community, otherwise you will never have a solid and healthy basis to work from when "Bob" or God or whoever lands on your head like a big smelly pigeon and asks you to do something impossible. I don't think it matters what rituals you do in your community, as long as your community's practice is for Love and Quality and against braindeath. And I think you also need to have "escapism" - little private worlds where you do get to play pretend and tell stories where you are a hero, like sci-fi fandom or following a football team or whatever. Just as long as you don't start mistaking them for real life, for your tariqah.

As for practical ethics, Frank Zappa never joined the Church of the SubGenius, but he did approve of them, and I think his moral code works well:

Do what you want, do what you will,
Just don't mess up your neighbour's thrill
And when you pay the bill, kindly leave a little tip
To help the next poor sucker on his one-way trip.

And a quote from Grant Morrison, whose work is proving suprisingly helpful to me at the moment: "The Solid World is the only place where an ugly caterpillar can become a beautiful butterfly." Things change into other things. That is the central secret of life in this world - the materialist dialectic, but also the essential spiritual insight of Heraclitus, Gautama Buddha, and virtually every mystic who was worth a shit. All that exists only exists in one time and in one place; only in the depths of consciousness is there anything pure and eternal (or foul and sinful). The question is whether we can overcome the contradiction between the shari`a of daily survival and the tariqah of becoming something more than heredity and environment programmed us for, so we can eventually end up at the haqiqah of... I dunno.

09 June 2011

A new aphorism

If we can forgive without accepting, a lot more becomes possible.

"To forgive", in this context, should be understand in the same word as "debt forgiveness" - which means, nothing will change that you ran up a debt, but I waive my right to collect on that debt. It is not right that you ran the debt up, but I have decided that it's in everyone's best interest not to pursue it.

Note that we can forgive, not that we must or should. We have a choice of actions, we can pursue debts or forgive them. Which ties into the broader mystical frame that "God is both just and merciful". "Just" might mean: "everyone gets what they deserve". Mercy means: "everyone gets more than they deserve". Since we are all sinners and black sinners (or to put in secular language, we are all weak and forgetful and make mistakes), then we had better hope that others practice mercy; and indeed, an eye for an eye leaves the whole planet blind.

"Forgiving without accepting" means "exercising mercy while recognizing that it contradicts justice". In the outcome of that contradiction lies an ethical framework for a free humanity. The whole concept of restorative justice relies on precisely this question of giving the victims of a crime their own free choice as to what blend of mercy and justice should be pursued.

26 May 2011

"Pump Up The Volume" vs. "What Is To Be Done?"

An edited transcription of a rant given by Doloras LaPicho live on transmissionFM, Auckland, New Zealand, 2011/05/24.

...yeah, so, my interview guest of last week was kind of impressed by the transmissionFM setup. "Real Pump Up The Volume" stuff, he said. Now he was not referring to the great acid house hit by MARRS, but to the 1990 movie starring Christian Slater as a high school kid with his own rabble-rousing pirate radio broadcast. I actually just watched that movie the other week, and in honour of it I am, myself, sitting her wearing nothing but a cock ring. And believe me, that's an interesting experience when you're a woman.

But that movie is really, really prescient in a way that only the great artists can be. Leonardo da Vinci designed a helicopter centuries before the technology existed to build one. Frank Zappa, in the 1980s, thought of selling music down the phone lines, long before the MP3 or broadband internet were invented. Similarly, in "Pump Up The Volume", what you see is: Dude gets on the air, rants, does interactive content, leaks embarrassing information that The Man don't want you to know about, foments a social uprising, gets thrown in the jail but not before everyone and their cousin are doing exactly what he did. So what you have there is a pop culture depiction of blogs, podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, flash mobs, Anonymous, crowdsourcing, Wikileaks, and the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, ages before social media made it possible.

Because it is all possible now! And legal! You don't need a shortwave transmitter and you don't need to dodge the cops - at least until the point when you actually HAVE fomented an entire revolution and the state has to shut down the whole Intarwebz to get you. And that's when they get in trouble, because then the really big guns are after them. I've been watching Anonymous as a social movement grow and develop, since the very early days of just taking down people's websites for shits and giggles, to attempting slightly bigger game in the Church of Scientology, to now actually attempting to wreck entire national governments who dare get in the way of the Freedom of the Intarwebz. Because that's Anon's entire political programme. It's not the same as mine, it's libertarian bordering on anarchistic in that it thinks that information is the key to the struggle, when, as I will go on about at length in our second "rant" section, as far as I'm concerned, it's PRODUCTION. But THEY ARE DOING STUFF. People like Julian Assange, no matter whether he might have also done something pretty horrible to a woman, have been doing that kind of stuff as well. Why aren't you doing stuff?

All the technology is there! Technology that pirate radio broadcasters 20 years ago would have shit their pants to get their hands on! When transmissionFM goes on the internet, THEN you will see whether what we are doing here has real memetic potential. But there's always a downside, isn't it? There is SO MUCH information out there these days that it becomes very, very difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, which is why even the most anarchic online community needs moderation and Wikipedia needs a battalion of unemployed PhDs to keep the bullshit off the system. Getting the information out is no longer the problem - gatekeeping and editing is the problem. Will YOU be a gatekeeper and editor? Will you start your own "channel" which broadcasts NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH as far as you can see it? Because it's not enough to just do something, you have to do something that actively, as T. S. Eliot put it, "purifies the dialect of the tribe".

So the question remains just the same as it was in 1903 in Russia, ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends. What Is To Be Done?

Back in the old days of political punk, there were two answers to that question, which you could call the anarchist answer and the communist answer. What does a political band, or a radical cultural initiative of any stribe, do when the forces of Big Money come a knockin' and making an offer? Because they will if you're doing it right and getting a response from The People, because YOUR PEOPLE will be ipso facto a "market" which Big Money hasn't managed to sell to yet.

The anarchists would say - tell them to get lost, do everything DIY, for the people, non-commerical, under the radar, subversive. One keeps one's independence that way. One also runs the risk of being trapped into an intellectually inbred little group, becoming the house music of a lifestyle choice rather than becoming a VIRUS which could infect the wider civilisation. Imagine if Neo and Morpheus and that just stayed in Zion all day and went to raves and let the machines alone. I don't think the machines would have had a problem. The other issue is that - sadly, in this $2.99 material world run by capitalism - if it doesn't make a living (in money or goods and services) it's dependent on the good will and energy of whatever you are doing to make a living. People burn out. People decide to sell out individually if they can't sell out together. If you're not commercial, you had better hope that your people are extremely generous, or extremely devoted. You wonder why all those hippies punks and anarchists are now making good money as "creatives", or are Green Party MPs or something even more pathetic. Because they COULD. Because they got a good offer.

Now the communist answer is, take the money! Dumbfuck capitalists want to give us big money and sell our records and our gigs full of communist agitprop, then more stupidity to them! The capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him with, as Michael Moore put it. Now that's a higher risk venture. You find yourself in the logic of The Machine that way. It's trying to change the system from within, which, as Unca Lenny could tell you, sentences you to 20 years of boredom if you're lucky. If you're unlucky, you begin to forget you were going in to drain the swamp and you end up making friends with the alligators. These people will be NICE to you if you play nice. Striking a pose and yelling slogans, yeah, they get that, it's a good "branding" exercise. The thing is that you can yell SMASH THE STATE and it doesn't change anything unless the people you're yelling it at actually decide that's a good idea.

The most vital thing to remember is that no-one but no-one ever changed anything, a damn thing, one iota, by making a consumer choice, by buying product X or not buying product Y or buying product Z instead. CONSUMPTION IS NOT A MORAL CHOICE. It is handing over dollars in return for goods and services and it is what the system is all about. You will remember a while ago that the British record buying public were sick and tired of some manufactured bullshit star from their Idol programme, I think it's called X-Factor, being Christmas #1. So they started a meme to get Rage Against The Machine's "Killing In The Name Of" to the top of the charts. Yeah, "fuck you, I won't do what you told me". The band full of actual communists. But guess what? RATM's record company was the same as the record company which made the X-Factor single. So Sony Music made BIG BIG MEGABUCKS EITHER WAY. And some people got to feel cool. But was the market model shaking in its boots? Was it bollocks.

And if IS THIS THE FUTURE? has a point or a purpose, it's to remind you of this. CONSUMPTION IS NOT REAL. It is neither good nor evil. It means absolutely nothing what you buy, or what you believe, or what you say, IT MATTERS WHAT YOU DO. When I'm performing with Vostok Lake or promoting the Electric Salon, it would be nice if people paid money because that means those ventures become sustainable in the material world of capitalism. But it will really only mean something every if people decide THEMSELVES to start an insane electropop band or host a weird performance night or an anarchic radio show. PRODUCTION IS REAL. Only what you do, and what you make, and what you bring into the world matters. Do it the communist way, or the anarchist way, or some other way - they're both choices with pluses and minuses, risks and potential rewards. Maybe you'll succeed, or maybe you will serve humanity for being the grisly warning of what could go wrong. Like Bono. But remember that only when we can do and make free of the Law of Value and the cash economy, only then will we be ready for the next great adventure in what it means to be human.

28 April 2011

Against anarcho-narcissism

One of the things that strikes me from reading The Invisibles - particularly the later, less interesting issues - is how incredibly naive and short-sighted the argument that the essential conflict is between "order and chaos" is. See, the thing about capitalism and imperialism - the current face of The Black Iron Prison - is that it's always combined the two. As Marx put it, the hierarchical order of the firm is balanced by the anarchy of the free market. And in modern consumer capitalism, the dominance/submission model of the workplace is replaced by the GO HOG WILD mentality encouraged by the advertising industry for after work hours. This is why capitalism is so dynamic (or, to put it in another way, unstable) - that very tension between order and chaos.

Which is, I think, why those of us lucky to have the cultural and social capital and productive skills necessary to join the professional or creative middle classes end up selling out the movement for a better world. Because once they get to be their own bosses - or get a boss who encourages them to be creative - they think they've cracked it. Oh! The current system is wrecking the planet and causing poverty and misery and violence and death and torture on a global scale, but since I get to slack off and still get fed well and buy consumer products which tell me I'm a cool person and bitch and moan and make offensive jokes on the intarwebz, it can't be the same as that evil Black Iron Prison thing I read about in all my favourite books, can it?

Yes it freakin' can. The true rulers and archons of this world want a world where some people are free to go to raves and have kinky sex and to write sarcastic blogs, just as long as they think they've earned that privilege by being superior to the slave classes. The current system not only gives "creatives" a special privileged place, it tells them that the class system is just and meritocratic. So that's why anarcho-capitalism always appeals to SubGeniuses and the other lumpen-intelligensia, because it's a consistent system of individualism and chaos, where the Evil Bad Corporate Monsters are vanquished but you get to keep your precious ego and your illusion that you somehow have a separate existence out of the matrix of your neighbourhood, your bioregion, the human species and the wider ecosystem.

But the sad twist is that anarcho-capitalism is the only social system which is actually impossible. The "free market" can't exist without some sovereign to enforce the sanctity of property rights and contracts. Wilson and Shea's contention that there would be such a thing as "property-2", i.e. property rights that everyone would just agree to respect in an anarcho-capitalist system, is bringing in The Cop Inside Your Head through the back door, to reconcile the irreconcilable contradiction of "individualism without hierarchy and punishment". The sovereign individual of liberal/libertarian theory is just as gross and unreal a chimera as the "New Socialist Man" of North Korean totalitarianism, because it dissolves actually existing social bonds and mutual obligations in favour of an administered totality, either that of the almighty dollar or the almighty bureaucracy (or combination thereof).

Any social system worth a damn has to start from human civilisation as it actually exists - a dynamic tension between individualism and community/cultural matrices. A society of yeoman farmers can't exist in the modern era any more than a society of altruistic, collectivised tree-huggers. We revolutionaries are ourselves similarly for both order and chaos at the same time - just in different places than the current system would have it. Of course "Worker's State" is a contradiction in terms, but then so is "Capitalist State". The next era won't abolish all our problems, it will just - hopefully - give us new ones to solve while safeguarding the individual from oppression and commodification, the species from extinction and the biosphere from devastation.

25 April 2011

Out of traction, back in action

I returned to active political service over the weekend. Soon you will get to see the kind of wild-assed, cultural-political ranting you've come to love on this blog on a real live website of a political tendency. Here's a meme for you to chew on: terminal 5.

As to the Greater Jihad, I'm currently up to vol 3 of The Invisibles, and damned if it's not totally synchronistically relevant to my life. I feel like I'm going toe-to-toe with The King Of All Tears at the moment. I'm in a major life transition which, if it succeeds, will pretty much mean my death and rebirth as the human being that I was supposed to be before the personality implants kicked in in my childhood. (And if it fails, I'll end up living in a gutter and standing on a street corner with a sign saying WILL DROP PANTS FOR FOOD.)

In any case, I will not be who I am for much longer. Will keep you posted.

05 April 2011

Disregard the below, I give fellatio

Q. Why do things hurt?
A. Because if they didn't you'd walk around like a benumbed zombie all the time. Because you don't really allow yourself pleasure or even real feelings unless they're forced on you, we gotta force them on you until you decide to wake the fuck up on a semi-permanent basis.

01 April 2011

However did it come to this?

"A failed initiation doesn't mean the end of all things, but it means that any future attempts will be even less likely to succeed." - Lawrence Miles

"No god accepted me; no power spoke through me; no-one came to get me out. The suffering was meaningless." - from my personal diary

31 March 2011

KING FELIX was here.

"So you can encounter God while you're alive," he said.

"Under exceptional circumstances. Originally God and Moses talked together as a man talks with his friend."

"What went wrong?"

"Wrong in what way?"

"Nobody hears God's voice anymore."

Rybys said, "You do."

"My audio and video systems do."

"That's better than nothing." She eyed him, "You don't seem to enjoy it."

"It's interfering with my life."

She said, "So am I."

To that he could think of no response; it was true.

I think PKD was totally onto something when he had his dystopia in The Divine Invasion ruled by a fusion between the Stalinists and the Catholic Church. Mechanical materialism has always depended on brain-dead idealism as its flipside and counterpart, like two drunks propping each other up. The equivalent in the World-As-Is is free-market consumerism's alliance with the most backwards-assed superstition.

23 March 2011

No-one likes me, and I do care.

A while back, a kindly contributor to our comments blog - Noisysphinx, I believe it was - suggested that instead of writing mopey articles on here, why I didn't just go out and spraypaint some slogans on some walls with some friends. I was too ashamed, at the time, to respond "Because I don't have any friends".

I was reminded of this by this article on a friendly allied blog, which led to me giving a flick through of the first volume of The Invisibles. I was of course struck by the great similarities of the general conceit of the work - and of course to a whole series of literature running from Illuminatus! to Join My Cult and beyond - to my own recurring fantasy...

I have a recurring dream where I have finally been accepted into the S00per-Sekrit Society of Cool People Who Are The Only Hope For The World. Their headquarters is up a set of clammy and portentous stone steps, and they have the damndest best parties up there. Everyone is extremely pretty and wants to have sex with me once we get back from our vital, world-changing missions.

Yeah, the issue there is that there are plenty of people who at least act like they're The Invisibles, or Hagbard Celine's crew, or the living continuity of the OTO or the Fourth International or whoever. And they would never have anything to do with me because I'm not socially skilled.

I am serious. You've seen Futurama, right? I have always been slightly more popular than Dr Zoidberg. Slightly. I had literally no friends in high school. Even the weird kids avoided or bullied me. The kid with Asperger's Syndrome looked down on me, for heaven's sake. At university I made a few "friends", by which I meant people who liked to have me around as the butt of their jokes. The kind of people who read The Invisibles back in the 1990s, to be dreadfully precise, would have never wanted anything to do with me because I was the kind of person people emigrated to avoid.

To some degree I also get that feeling reading principiadiscordia.net. That I can't actually take part in changing the world because I wouldn't be welcome at the parties of those other people who would have that agenda. All these articles about "affinity groups" etc. assume a basic level of "being able to fit in" which some of us just don't have.

Just as liberation theology tried to bring to Catholic Christianity "an option for the poor", I suppose Chaos Marxism wants to bring to revolutionary cultural politics "an option for the uncool".

21 March 2011

Commodification ain't all bad

There's one good thing about, as Uncle Charlie said, money under capitalism making everything equal to everything else; and, as Walter Benjamin put it, mass reproduction removing the "aura" from previously meaningful individual objects, like works of art. Mass production means that nothing gets lost forever. Everything can be replaced - and, in the era of the Internet, if it can be digitised, these days nothing need be lost at all.

That's a good thing, in some ways. I'm a music nerd, myself, and I remember 15 years ago having to desperately hunt through the used bins of record stores, trying to fine rare and beautiful music from past decades which hadn't made it to CD yet, and hoping the vinyl wouldn't be too scratched up. Sometimes I'd hunt years for a particular album. Now, I can generally find anything I want with a thirty-second Google; and, perversely, the greater the rarity and obscurity of something, the more likely that someone will have slapped it up on some dodgy blog somewhere. (Less obscure stuff will have been commercially re-released and I'll have to pay for it.)

But it's a bad thing in that, as Walter B. put it, it has put an end to the category of the sacred. The individual as created by late capitalist society no longer has a "homeland", in the way we would have understood it when your average human never ventured more than thirty miles from their place of birth. They no longer have sacred traditions handed down from generation to generation - they have professional gurus who earn an honest capitalist living from their work, who will teach you any practice from any culture you can name, and a few they made up on the spot. And they certainly no longer have sacred objects.

Even thirty years ago, in my childhood, even mass consumer objects were sacred, because mass consumption hadn't gotten to the point where everything was replaceable, or at least, easily replaceable. People would still take their toasters to be fixed or sew buttons on their jeans, when these days it's much more convenient and easy to buy new ones. In a previous era, before deliberate obsolescence, even consumer items could have some whiff of "the sacred", if they were looked after and cared for and had the precious labour of their owners poured into them. A basic principle of Chaos Marxism might be expressed: labour is not only the source of value, it is the source of meaning. If I rip a $50 jacket I got at K Mart, no biggie, any $50 bill will get me one that's identical. If I rip a really cool jacket I got for 10 euros at a second-hand store in some obscure country, I might never be able to replace it. If something bad happens to my computer system with all my finely coded information on it, that's a disaster coupled with a nightmare.

So that's what's behind "vintage culture", steampunk, Goth, SCA, whatever - the attempt to create a culture of objects which are totally individual and therefore meaningful, even sacred. To some extent, my musical project - which is dependent on low-budget equipment linked together in idiosyncratic, customised ways - epitomises this connection. What is commodified or "weightless" can never be lost (as long as the means of information reproduction are intact - someone's brain, a piece of paper, a computer, whatever). But physical things which are individually customised and individualised cannot be gotten off a shelf for mere money. It may be lost forever, and is therefore precious, even sacred. So is my music essentially reactionary, attempting to return to an era of "artisanship" rather than glorifying in what is truly weightless, truly disposable? Or is it just an attempt to turn the essence of "me" into something that can't be imitated, that isn't a commodity?

In the current era, nothing is permanent except information artefacts and the Culture. In some weird way, the current era (of relative abundance of mass-produced STUFF) is less materialistic than it ever has been. As communists have said for hundreds of year, morality will come naturally to human beings when the struggle to accumulate "stuff" comes to its end. Of course, this current "false liberation" (for the well-off in "the West", including places like Bangalore and the Green Zone in Baghdad) will all come crashing to a halt when the current economic system reaches its end point, 20-40 years from now. (The information artefacts are only permanent as long as there are freely available storage devices on which they can be copied, and power to run those storage devices on.)

So, we'll have to find a way to make abundance not only generalised, but long-term sustainable. The answer will surely have something to do with "expanding the public" - i.e. minimising how much "stuff" any human needs to own to be a fully participating member of the Culture. Other socialists have pointed out that community daycare and socialised housework would lead to the liberation of women - surely, for example, high-quality public transport and free car share on demand would liberate us from the twin demons of Oil and Suburbia.

But it might explain the big boom in "magick" of the late 90's and why that seems to have petered out now. "Magick" is to the current era of hacktivism, culture-from-below, the Pirate Bay, Anonymous etc. what alchemy is to chemistry - the former being people who know in theory something should be possible (which the rise of mass media and the dawn of infotech made obvious from the late 60's onwards), but going at it with ridiculous "cargo-cult" style tools that don't work. Now, we have something that works.