Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Wisdom of a Dog

My first dog was a runt of a pug named Norman. Sometimes I called him Woola, after the gigantic, savage (but ultimately nice) Martian hound dog in Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Warlord of Mars. Mostly, though, I called him Norman. He looked like a Norman.

Like pretty much all pugs, Norman wasn't very bright. I reckon, intelligence-wise, he was somewhere in-between a rock and a cabbage. But like nearly all pugs, he was a good-natured clown. He did such things as fall off of my lap into the trashcan and sleep on his back with his front paws sticking straight up in the air. He hopped back and forth like a rabbit, and often spun around, as if he thought something was sneaking up behind him.

I've read a dog's life described as eating, sleeping and playing, and when they're sleeping, they dream about eating and playing. That was Norman 's life. He lived the life that makes a dog happy, because he was expressing his dog nature to its fullest: eat, sleep, play, gnaw on rawhide bones all day.

Occasionally I wondered what he felt. Is he happy? He seems to be, very much so. Does he feel constant happiness? I am reminded of a poem by William Blake: "How do you know that every bird/That wings the airy way/Is in an enormous world of delight/Closed to your senses five?" Maybe that's true of a dog. Norman certainly seemed to be ecstatic when he attempted to untie my shoelaces by tugging at them with his teeth, or running in frenzied circles in the park.

Oliver Sacks once wrote of a physician friend of his, who somehow, had his sense of smell increased many fold, nearly, he suspected, to the extent of a dog's. He described it as astonishing, as being in an amazing world of smells that nearly overwhelmed him. He too used a poem to describe his experience: "The brave smell of a stone . . . the happy smell of water." He regretted it deeply when his sense of smell returned to that of a human's. Was that Norman 's life? I suspect it was.

It is from Norman, and other dogs and cats I have owned ever since I was a kid, that I realized that humans, too, have to fulfill their natures to be happy. Dogs, less complex than humans, have a nature easily fulfilled. Humans aren't nearly as simple as dogs, but they too have to use their talents to be happy. They even need some of the things dogs need -- love and friends and community.

I tried to teach Norman in accordance with his dog nature. Dogs are very much herd animals, with a strict hierarchy. The top dog can tell every other dog what to do. Number two can tell everyone except number one; number three everyone but number one and two, and so on down the line to the last dog, who can't tell anyone anything.

I tried to teach him "sit," "stay," "down," and "come." Each one of these commands is based on the natural behaviors of a dog, which is why they work so well.

Such a life may sound awful to us, but it's what dogs want. Without it, they are unhappy; they're secure and happy when they know their place in the pack. So, Norman knew who's top dog, and he was happy.

Human education is supposed to be the same way: a teacher's job is to find a student's talents, and draw them out. Some people are born to be teachers, musicians, writers, businessmen. Sometimes their talent is so overwhelming they know what they're going to be when they've five. Most of us aren't so lucky.

The teacher John Taylor Gatto said true education has three purposes:

To make good people.

To make good citizens.

And to make each student find some particular talents to develop to the maximum.

In Norman 's case, you could say, "to make a good dog and find his particular talents and develop them to the maximum." That made him happy. It's not hard. Such education helps make people happy, too. That's not hard, either.

I don't think human education in the government schools works very well anymore. It doesn't even work as well as dog education. That's what I've learned from raising dogs.

Human education didn't work very well when I was in school. I had twelve years of public schooling, excluding college, and I'm not exactly sure what I learned. Did schools find my, and the other student's talents, and develop them? No, they didn't. I suppose I had some talents, but the attempt to draw them out, such that they were, actually bored me. Sit, march between classes, sit, march. That's not conducive to an interesting education.

I don't blame this situation on the teachers. They're doing their best, but stuck in a system that doesn't work very well. Even private schools may not be much of an improvement, to the extent they copy government schools.

It's not too far off of the mark to say that I, and many other students, were slightly driven nuts by junior high and high school. One of the curious things I noticed is that drug and alcohol use was fairly prevalent in my high school (as it is in most) but it dropped off substantially once we graduated. One of my explanations, and it's the main one, is that we self-medicated against the sit-march-sit-march that all of us had to do for so many years. It's better to be drunk or stoned than bored.

One of my defenses was retreating into my imagination. I spent most of my junior high and high school years daydreaming. I have been, since I first noticed it when I was four, a bit more sensitive, intelligent, and imaginative than many people. I have found that such people, even though they are at times very extroverted, still need much time to themselves. That time is hard to find when you spend five days a week in school, then have homework. Which I didn't do, by the way.

My imagination was so vivid when younger I even had what are called hypnagognic hallucinations, which generally happen as you fall asleep (it starts with paralysis). Because I've had them, I know that alien abductions, and old tales about succubus and incubus, are just these hallucinations excessively extended. And I will tell you this: when they are pleasant, they are so far ahead of drug use it's not even close. It reminds me of that old saying, "We seek without the wonders that are within."

I suppose that imagination was (and is) one of my inborn talents. I never had any idea in school what to do with them. The schools didn't either. Indeed, they tried to eradicate the imagination -- along with everyone else's -- because I wasn't paying attention in class, and it showed in my grades. I graduated high school with a D+++ average. I wasn't even supposed to graduate, but had already been accepted to college.

One of the reasons I am for the free market and liberty (and I think this is rarely noticed) is that it is an antidote to boredom. It allows you to express your talents to the maximum, which is a component of happiness. And if you're happy, you're not bored. I'm sure one of the main complaints of people in socialist countries was boredom. Hard to believe, since socialism was supposed to allow people to maximize their talents, indeed make them into earthly gods.

Curiously, a lot of people would have "security," thinking you can have both it and freedom. They think the government can give them both, not realizing they're going to end up as regimented as bees in a hive. Or dogs in a pack. I don't see things their way, and history backs me up. We're not dogs, seeking an exact place in a hierarchy. We have to have liberty; it is good for us, indeed necessary for us, because it allows us to be the most, and the best, we can.

Look at the ancient, static societies of India and China , which for thousands of years produced . . . nothing. In such strictly hierarchical societies, people couldn't be what they wanted, and ended up more along the lines of dogs in a pack, than much more complex -- and free and happy -- human beings.

I do not believe it is necessary to go to school 12 years to be a high school graduate, another four to get a college degree, and another three or four to get a Ph.D. That's almost 20 years of schooling, and in some cases, more. That is just plain ridiculous, and hardly liberating. One of my friends, who is a podiatrist, admitted it would only take six months to teach everything he knew. I suspect it only takes six months to learn most everything. The rest is just a filter to remove students who can't put up with excruciating boredom. School today, from the beginning to the end, is obviously not the free market.

People like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin barely had any formal schooling at all, and in some cases, none. Yet look how they turned out. Where are the people like them these days? Gone, wiped out by government schools. Liberty produced such people. But not anymore.

It's a sad day when it takes raising puppies to realize what true education is. But then, that's real life as compared to academia. And as much as I liked Norman, I don't want his simple, hierarchical, herd life. I don't think most people do, either.

Meaningless High School

When I was in high school my life consisted mainly of four things: high school, family, partying, and science-fiction. The first two were close to meaningless, and the last two meant a lot. In fact, they were pretty much the focus of my high school life.

It took me years to figure out what the answer was to that puzzle of why the first two meant so little and the last two so much. I didn't have a bad family life. It was just that, like a lot of kids then and now, family just didn't mean that much (I'm sure I would have realized just how much it meant if I didn't have it). Finally, I realized the answer was pretty simple: it had to do with meaning. The first two had little meaning to me; the last two a great deal. Everything has to have meaning, or it's not really worth doing or having.

For the last few decades there has been a lot of controversy among many people about the break-up of families. They have a point, and it's an important one. But when families are intact, there is something else little noticed but very important. As Ortega y Gassett has written, "People do not live together merely to be together. They live together to do something together."

Because of the way American life has evolved (in large part due to the interference of the State), there was no place for most teenagers when I was growing up, in society or the family. It's no different today. Teenagers have been marginalized for a long time, including in the family, even if it's not purposely done. Lots of teenager's lives don't have much purpose or meaning, even in their families. There is no true sense of community. That, I realized, was one of the main problems.

A few years ago I was in Memphis, sitting in a mall on a Friday night with a woman I know, waiting for a movie to start. I watched the same kids circle the mall, widdershins. That's all they were doing. I especially remember two girls, dressed like Goths, who I saw four times as they circled, before we left for the movie. That was the meaning and purpose of a lot of their life for these teenage girls. Walking in circles around the mall on a Friday night.

Not long ago I was in Chicago, in another mall on Saturday morning. I saw the same behavior among teenagers I saw in Memphis.

It wasn't always like what I saw. The only book by Laura Ingalls Wilder I've read is Farmer Boy, her biography of the life of her husband, Almanzo Wilder, when he was ten years old and growing up on a farm. I was surprised by his life, which wasn't all that long ago -- in the 1860's.

Almanzo had a place and a purpose in the family, and an important one. The functioning of the farm was very much dependent on him, and Almanzo didn't mind at all. He enjoyed it a great deal. How many teenagers today can say the same? How many today just live with their families, but don't truly feel part of them? As for school -- ugh.

There was something very interesting about Almanzo's life. He hated school passionately and apparently only attended a few months at the most in his entire life. Yet he grew up intelligent and well-read.

He also remembered nearly everything that happened to him when he was young. I remember little, mostly because I spent most of my time in school, and it was the same meaningless thing day after day. I couldn't tell one day from the other. I have few memories from in-between the ages of seven and 10. I'm not the only one.

So, school, too, is a major part of the problem with teenagers today. Many have little purpose or meaning in their families, and even less in school. Unfortunately, to borrow a phrase from John Taylor Gatto, the purpose of government factory schools is indoctrination. That's why it puzzled me at first why family and school didn't mean that much to me. I especially had no place, or meaning, or purpose, in school. Indoctrination is not education, and it's always boring and never has any meaning.

Almanzo had an important place in the family, but no place in school. That's why he hated it. School meant nothing to him, and it bored him. It isn't any different today.

When I was in high school, we formed our own little communities. The same thing happens today. We called them "cliques" back then. To a degree I found it amusing even at the time. For one thing, in the one I belonged to, we all dressed exactly the same, from head to feet. It was the uniform for our community. More than anything else, what I remember from high school is the group I belonged to, and how we dressed.

The only acceptable shoes were Hush Puppies (I don't even know if they exist these days). Dark socks. White sweat socks? Ack! "Greasers" wore them. I didn't even know what a greaser was. None of us did.

Pants? Blue jeans as long as they were Levi's. They had to have the welt down the outside, and be flares, which were sort of a modified bell-bottom. Shirts? I remember flannel shirts were okay in the winter, as long as they were worn with a blue peacoat. No button-up shirts, especially with short sleeves. Pure Nerdsville. No hats were acceptable, either. Long hair was an imperative. Mine was down in-between my shoulder blades.

Sound silly? Not really. It was the uniform of our community. It was part of the ritual. And without ritual, community and meaning, you'll get not much more than alienation.

As for the purpose and meaning of my group, there was exactly one: partying on the weekends. And I'll tell you what: I had a great time. I belonged to a true community, and all of us had a meaning and purpose. It was nothing that could last for life -- partying never does -- but for those few years, it was wonderful. When I told one of my friends stories of my teenage years he admitted years later he was envious of me, because his high-school years consisted of him and his best friend sitting in the basement eating popcorn and watching TV. While I was on an island with 500 people, partying around a bonfire.

The science fiction, I knew even at the time, gave me what is commonly called "a sense of wonder." I traveled from one end of the universe to the other, from the beginning of time to the end. It was amazing stuff -- meaningful stuff, to me -- and to this day I still read it. Even in jr. high and high school I knew it was a reaction against the boredom of both. I just drifted away in my imagination, which at the time was more vivid than life.

When the Harry Potter books came out, and I saw they were so popular that kids dressed like him, I understood why. Harry also had no place in his family. It wasn't even his real family. He was an outsider, an outcast, a scapegoat. I think that's one of the reasons for the popularity of the books, because even many small kids realize they don't have any true place or meaning in their families. It wasn't until Harry went away to Hogwarts that he was given a place in his new family, and a meaning -- in his case, a very important meaning.

Is it any wonder those books are so popular?

I've come to the conclusion there is no hope for the public schools. They bore kids, they destroy their imaginations, they give them no meaning or purpose. I'd shut them down on the spot if I could. How many kids like school? Almost none. Doesn't that tell people something?

Why in the world do we need 12 years of schooling anyway? What exactly does it take 12 years to learn? And that doesn't include college and graduate and post-graduate work. Is all of this necessary? It isn't a good thing, of that I am convinced.

I read an article several years ago about a rather strange man who lived in a cave with his 12-year-old daughter. He taught her out of a set of old encyclopedias. When the police finally found them, investigators said the daughter was "unusually intelligent and knowledgeable."

I'm certainly not recommending living in a cave with your kid, only pointing out perhaps schools are only not necessary, maybe they are instead a obstacle to true education. Watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off sometime. It reminds me of a nightmare I sometimes have: it is the last day of high school, and for some horrible reason I won't graduate and have to go another year. It is the only nightmare I have repeatedly.

It'd be better if a lot of kids started as apprentices at 12 years old. I've known several people who just simply could not finish high school. All of them later became successful in their field. One friend who lived next door to me when we were in high school dropped out, and later became an airline pilot. None of them could find a place, a meaning and a purpose in schools they attended.

As for families, I do know one thing: the State is the cause of most of their problems. Interference by public schools, interference in the economy, destruction of neighborhoods and communities...all of these things are created and exacerbated by the State. Interference by the State takes away the meaning and purpose of people's lives, and tries to replace it with its meaning, which is generally bureaucracy, militarization, war and empire.

The State does a lot of bad things to people. Taking away a true meaning to their lives and replacing it with false one is one of the worst. Or, as Robert Nisbet put it in his The Quest for Community, "The conflict between the central power of the political State, and the whole set of functions and authorities contained in church, family, guild and local community has been, I believe, the main source of those dislocations of social structure and the uprootings of status which lie behind the problem of community in our age."

Oh, yes. Oh, yes, indeed.

Monday, December 24, 2012

No Liberty Equals No Brains

I was a big fan, as a little boy, of the original Star Trek. I wanted to whoosh around the galaxy in the Enterprise, if I could have avoided being the unnamed and expendable crewman who when he beamed down with the crew invariably got croaked by getting the salt vacuumed out of his body by some sucker-mouthed alien monstrosity, or otherwise got rubbed out in some other other way. I didn't care to experience any of these most unusual methods of getting bumped off, which always ended with Dr. McCoy leaning over the lifeless guy sprawled on the ground and saying, "He's dead, Jim."

Then we had Star Trek: the Next Generation, which I didn't like nearly as much as I did the original. Jean-Luc Picard, played by an English actor pretending to be a humorless French capitan, was no James T. Kirk. I also could have done without all the gooey touchy-feely syrup from Gates McFadden and Marina Sirtis, both of whom made me grit my teeth.

However, I was very impressed by the Borg, whom I consider the scariest of the modern-day monsters I've encountered. Any villain who flies through space in a mountain-sized cube and whose motto is "Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated" has my vote for the baddest of today's bad guys.

There are two reasons for my view the Borg are the scariest of the scary.

One, being monsters, they do what is the nature of monsters to always do: be the Bad intruding into the Good, the monstrous intruding into the normal. As Stephen King wrote in his non-fiction book, Danse Macabre, the Bad intruding into the Good is the structure of every horror story. Think the Morlocks attacking the Eloi.

What's makes the Borg so scary as monsters is that they don't want to conquer one world or one galaxy; they want to conquer the entire universe.

Judging from their power and ruthlessness, it's entirely possible they could have. They certainly gave it a good try.

King referred to the structure of the horror story as the Apollonian intruding into the Dionysian, but in simpler terms is Evil attacking Good. It's the archetype that animates Dracula and the Wolfman, which are based on two of the three archetypes King identified: the Vampire and the Werewolf (the third is the Ghost). This structure not only undergirds all of King's stories, but the stories of every horror writer, all the way back to whomever wrote the myth of Satan, which might be the classic archetypal horror story. (What could be more horrific than someone trying to overthrow God and rule all of time and space?)

Two, the Borg are a perfect example of the warfare/welfare state, which are eternally the two sides of the same coin. Monsters and the welfare/warfare State always go together; no matter how many people claim the State is not the former, and that we have can have the welfare without the warfare. We can't.

All empires, whether past or present, Terran or future interstellar, have been, are, and will be monsters and welfare/warfare: a murderous, destructive threat to Society, with Mommy-State welfare at home and Daddy-State warfare abroad. Remember Rome? Better yet, think of its modern reincarnation--the warped administration now running the U.S.

I don't know if the creators of the Borg knew what they were doing, or if they just chanced upon the concept. Either way, it's confirmation of Ezra Pound's comment, "The artist is the antenna of the race." They were portraying the universal truth that the cradle-to-the-grave mommy state is the other side of the coin of the let's-blast-them-to-hell warfare state. It's the way it's always been, and it's the way it always will be. I have resigned myself to seeing this as a law of human nature, although like all laws it gets broken. The upshot is that this is certainly one law that needs to be broken, and permanently.

Why this "let's be children at home and bullies abroad"? The reason for the first is the desire for complete security, which is one of the curses of childish humanity. It's the belief in getting rid of enemies at home – unemployment, poverty, lack of health care, drug use, cigarettes, potato chips, nuclear power plants, oil refineries, whatever – through the idol of the State.

The reason for the second – the bullying abroad, by using the same modern-day Golden Calf idol known as the State – is to rub out perceived enemies, and to exploit their resources. The writer Jeffrey St. Clair tells how the Roman historian Suetonius "chart[ed] how the expansion of that ancient empire paralleled the rise of a totalitarian regime at home that plundered the provinces to bankroll the invidious habits of a degenerate ruling elite."

These days, the Mommy-State says it's too dangerous to have nuclear power here, or drill for oil, so Daddy has to secure energy and resources from other countries. It's not just plundering the provinces for the corrupt running the State, it's for bread and circuses for the sheeple at home.

Apparently one of the defining characteristics of empire is that it's okay to mess up foreigner's homes, as long as the empire doesn't mess up its own. Is it any wonder those on the receiving end of an empire's abuses always hate and attack it?

But it's a con, both the welfare and the warfare. At home, people think they can have security guaranteed by the State, and freedom. But they can't. Security comes from Society and true law (which is Natural Law), which can only blossom when they are free from the State. As Proudhon wrote, "Liberty is the mother, not daughter, of order."

People who think they can have security – to be enfolded all their lives in the arms of the Mommy-State – and freedom are Borgifying themselves, only they don't know it. They think they're going to have security, but what will happen is that their "security" will disappear, and so will their freedom. As Benjamin Franklin wrote, "They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety." The novelist Somerset Maugham (among many other people) noticed the same thing: "If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose that freedom, and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose those too."

The reason, as Albert Jay Nock pointed out in his Our Enemy, the State, is because there is eternal warfare between Society and the State. Society is persuasion and freedom; the State, force and slavery. The State can only expand by destroying Society. Hence, when people give up their freedom for "security" they are turning themselves into slaves. When they finally look up and say, "Hey, no fair!" it's too late. Then people revolt, the violence starts, and the State falls.

Abroad, the State in its hubris thinks that, might making right, it can just roll over other countries, caning all the wogs into submission and snatching their resources. But it never works. All the empires that existed in the past are gone. The ones today will disappear. The ones in the future will disappear, too.

Because there is eternal enmity between the Society and the State, the State is a monster. The State is Evil attacking Good. Like the Blob, it always tries to grow, and in doing so intrudes on Society, always damaging it, sometimes destroying it. The writer Butler Shaffer described this as "the disorderly nature of politically directed systems and the orderly nature of spontaneously ordered social practices." It's Chaos intruding into Order.

The observation of the State as Chaos intruding into Order isn't original with me. The first time I read it was in Nock's book. Ludwig von Mises wrote about it, and so did Murray Rothbard. Mark Skousen has an excellent article about it – "Persuasion vs. Force"– online.

Skousen quotes A.N. Whitehead: "The creation of the world -- said Plato -- is the victory of persuasion over force...Civilization is the maintenance of social order, by its own inherent persuasiveness as embodying the nobler alternative. The recourse to force, however unavoidable, is a disclosure of the failure of civilization, either in the general society or in a remnant of individuals..."

If the creation of the world is the victory of persuasion over force, then the destruction of the world is the victory of force over persuasion, of the State over Society. Of Evil over Good, of Chaos over Order, of the monstrous over the non-monstrous.

When I say "State" I do not mean true law, or the real government on which it is based. Real law, true law, is Natural Law. Law that is discovered, not created. It supports the Economic Means of Society, which is free, peaceable trade.

The Economic Means is opposed to the fake, political laws of Man, which are little more than disorderly and arbitrary rules, designed to benefit one group at the expense of another. They support the Political Means of the State – war and theft.

The Political Means is forever trying to expand into the Economic Means, to destroy it or absorb it. Since the Political Means is based on theft and violence, it is a monster attacking society. As Frederic Bastiat wrote, "The State is the great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else." His quote also describes empire: it tries to live at the expense of other countries.

When government goes beyond its proper functions of discovering and applying Natural Law – the protection of life, liberty and property – it turns into the State, and invariably becomes destructive. What then happens is almost always the exact opposite of what is intended. The rest of the time you can't predict at all what will happen, as the Law of Unintended Consequences informs us. Those last two sentences are Natural Laws that never vary.

When I say "State" I also do not mean Country. The State pretends and tries to convince people that State and Country are identical. They are not. They are opposed to each other; as the State grows, the Country and Civilization shrink. I'll support Natural Law, and I'll support my country when it obeys Natural Law. Since the State is a monster, I will never support it (G.K. Chesterton once wrote that saying "my country right or wrong" is like saying, "my mother drunk or sober." )

When government turns into the State it always damages Society. That is why I consider the nature of the State to be exactly the same as a horror story: the Bad intruding into the Good. Whenever I think of the word "State" I often think of H.P. Lovecraft's story, "The Color Out of Space," which was about a sentient and malevolent meteorite that landed on Earth (in a well, of all places) and devastated the countryside for miles around. It also drove the local inhabitants insane before it murdered them.

One definition of a monster is "an offense against the natural order." Think Madeleine Albright, Janet Reno, William Kristol, David Frumm. That is exactly what the State is: an offense against the natural – and peaceable – order. The word "monster" is also related to the word "demonstrate." It means "to warn" – to watch out for something malformed.

The word "malformed" clearly describes the State.

Since the State is a monster, it fits all three of King's archetypes. The Borg fit them, too.

They certainly are Werewolves. Both are supposed to protect and provide security. In the government's case, it morphs into the monster of the State, and you or your kids are drafted into an unnecessary war, or there's a State-caused depression and you lose your house or your life savings. Then you or your kids come back from the war looking like the Tom Cruise character in Born on the Fourth of July, or worse, like the basket case in Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun.

In the Borg's case, those assimilated went from being autonomous beings to permanently enslaved, unthinking, expendable and murderous monster-bees. From Larry Talbot straight to the Werewolf, with nothing in between.

The State is also a Ghost. It doesn't really exist. It's just people. The name "State" is just a convenient fiction. We may smile at "primitives" whose lives are run by their terror at their non-existent Ghosts, but are we really that much better? We give power to the Ghost of the State so that it may rule over us, and then we live in fear of it. We think it's real. It's not.

Those assimilated into the Borg have also become Ghosts. They no longer exist as the beings they once were. They are but dim memories of their former selves.

The State is also a Vampire. It is a parasite that lives on the wealth of Society. It creates nothing; it only destroys. Not surprisingly, vampires usually don't want to murder people. They just want to ensorcel them, the way Dracula did Renfield. The way the State ensorcels people is through propaganda, as when it pretends it is the same thing as Society and Country, or demonizes and dehumanizes whomever the current "enemy" happens to be.

The Borg are also Vampires. Lacking creativity, as all bureaucracies do (and the Borg are the worst bureaucrats ever) they are reduced to absorbing alien races, to gain their knowledge and resources. Because they have no liberty and therefore no creativity, they can't produce what they need. For all practical purposes, you can say, "No Liberty Equals No Brains." When you give up your freedom, you also give up your brains. Security equals Stupidity.

I suppose I could make a joke in which Man goes before God and says, "Want security!" and God answers, "Okay, but it'll cost you your brains!" Like most accurate jokes, it's half humorous and half horrible.

The Borg, with their unslakeable thirst to conquer, aren't just blood-suckers; they're life-suckers.

Since the State is a monster, those who lust for control of it are also monsters. Specifically, politicians, all of whom I consider to be potentially Satanic, in greater or lesser degree. What kind of person generally goes into politics? Someone who wants power over others. Lord Acton wrote, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I think a better saying is, "Power intoxicates, and immunity corrupts." I am convinced the typical politician is a much weaker person, morally, than the average citizen. The typical politician is just about the last person who should be in government, because of his or her inability to handle power.

Thomas Jefferson had a trenchant observation about these kinds of people: "Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?"

The Borg are not only monsters, they are the clearest example I have seen of the welfare/warfare state.

In their case, they are essentially a pure State with no Society. They are the ultimate collective, worse than bees in a hive. They're commies in a cube. Everyone has a place, and is taken care of from birth to death. There are a few unpleasant catches: the Borg have absolutely no freedom, and they are engaged in eternal war – perpetual war for perpetual peace – to annihilate their enemies through absorption, and to grab their resources since the Borg lack the ability to innovate.

The Borg Cube is a gigantic Mommy-State womb, flying endlessly through space. No one has to think; everyone is taken care of from womb to tomb. That desire to return to the womb is a catastrophic problem for the human race. It's the desire to lose all unpleasantness, and in some ways, the desire to lose self-consciousness. This is why when the Borg character Seven of Nine (played by Jeri Ryan) was detached from the Borg she wanted to go back. The only way you can have complete security is to give up your freedom and self-consciousness completely. But it's not possible.

The beings who are the components of the Borg believe they have complete security, until they get in the path of a phaser or photon torpedo or a Klingon like Worf swinging a sword, all of which tends to happen quite often.

The Borg not only don't even have to think anymore, they can't think, not with all that nano-technology riddling their brains to prevent it. They have no fear or anxiety. No unpleasant feelings at all, as far as I can tell (this can only be due to all those wires running into their brains, numbing the fear centers and probably stimulating the pleasure ones. This is a fairly old concept in science-fiction: the implanted wires are called "wire-heading," and the contraptions on their heads that control the wires are called "drouds.")

Mark Vonnegut (son of Kurt) has written exactly one book, The Eden Express, about his episodes of schizophrenia and his days on a commune. The title is about the desire of the human race to return to Eden, to give up freedom for security, to give up self-consciousness and the choices that go with it. He wrote that what he wanted was to "lose his consciousness." To return to not just being a baby, but to the womb. And he thought he could do it through drug abuse and living the ritual life of a commune. He wanted to be a Borg, without the warfare.

In the myth of the Garden of Eden there is an angel with a flaming sword barring the way back. Since we can't go back to it, we can only go forward, away from the Borg and the womb, and toward liberty and self-responsibility.

The late Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, in his seminal book, Leftism Revisited, wrote that, "viewed from a certain angle, we are all subject to two basic drives: identity and diversity." Identity he calls "a herd instinct, a strong feeling of community that regards another group with hostility." He believes "identity and its drives tend to efface self, tend towards an 'usness' in which the ego becomes submerged."

He believes this is the basis of leftism and its various manifestations: socialism, Nazism, fascism, communism, liberalism, neoconservatism. I think he would call the Borg a "terrifying, bigger and more pitiless conformity."

A blood brother of identity and conformity is equality. Everything that is identical is automatically equal. Two quarters or two pennies are identical and therefore equal. They're interchangeable. Writes Kuehnelt-Leddihn, "Therefore, all political or social forms that are inspired by the idea of equality will almost inevitably point to the concept of identity, and foster the herd instinct." Everyone in the Borg fits this description; they are identical, equal and interchangeable. At home, identical, equal, secure, and submerged in the oceanic unconsciousness of the womb; abroad, at war, to protect the home and absorb resources.

In the famous "Grand Inquisitor" scene in The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky has the Inquisitor say, "For centuries...we have been wrestling with...freedom, but now it is ended and over for good." Did the Inquisitor look up one night and see the Borg heading his way? No, he was commenting on the fact that many people want to give up their freedom to "authority." The Inquisitor goes so far as to claim, "they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at our feet."

Erich Fromm wrote in his book, Escape from Freedom, that people will, in order to escape the burden of freedom and responsibility, even turn to dictators. They will bring their freedom to them and lay it at their feet. "The person who gives up his individual self...becomes an automaton," he writes. Echoing Kuehnelt-Leddihn, he wrote that when people are "identical with millions of other automatons...[they] need not feel alone and anxious any more. But the high; it is the loss of [the] self."

There is in almost everyone a desire to be part of the Borg, to return to the womb, the Garden of Eden. It would be a world without anxiety or fear, without unsureness, without envy or jealousy, without self-consciousness. It's a world that doesn't exist, but the continual attempts to create it by the State always have the downside of war, in the attempt to protect the "Garden." This is why welfare and warfare are two sides of the same coin.

I don't know if it was a coincidence or a stroke of genius, but the Borg are ruled by the Borg Queen (played by Alice Krige, who I found hot even as a Borg, until her head fell off). Since the Borg Cube is a Mommy state, a huge womb, logically it would have to have a Queen. Since it lacked a King, the Borg Queen kidnapped Picard, turned him temporarily into a Borg, and renamed him Locutus. When he got away, all he wanted to do is destroy every Borg he saw, as the abused always want to do to the empires that cruelly dominate them.

Unfortunately, Mommies can't fight very well. So who has to protect them? Daddy, of course. That's why Daddy goes abroad and fights wars. To protect Mommy and all the children at home. But what happened when the Borg attacked the Federation? They fought back, of course. And what's going to happen when the American empire attacks other countries? They certainly aren't just going to roll over like kicked puppies.

However, if the Mommy-State didn't rule at home, and all the children grew up and took care of themselves, then there wouldn't be any need for the Daddy-army to venture abroad in search of "monsters" to destroy. George Washington suggested as much in his Farewell Address, when he insisted the US should engage only in free trade with other countries, but stay out of their internal political squabbles. Thomas Jefferson agreed with him when he wrote, "Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none."

Wise words, utterly ignored today.

I've been impressed for many years about the ability of good artists to discern the problems of society. Whoever created the Borg certainly discerned two big problems the human race has: it can't tell the State is a monster, and instead thinks it their mommy and daddy. They also (re)discovered the cure:

When people are sheeple, the monsters of the State will always eat them. Unless, of course, they resist. In that case, resistance isn't futile, unless they – and you – really do want to be assimilated.

"The Beatings will Continue Until Morale Improves"

Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

Most people think it's "Pride goes before a fall" but that's a misquote. The above is the correct quote.

But why should pride go before destruction? It depends on how you define pride. If you define it the way the Greeks did - Hubris - then it makes sense. Then, hubris and pride are the same thing.

The Greeks defined Hubris as the god of arrogance, lack of restraint, insolence and wanton violence. It was always followed by Nemesis, the goddess of fate and revenge. It's the same thing as pride going before destruction.

Originally the Greeks defined Hubris as humiliating someone in public, and they considered it so obscene they banned it from the theater. So, then, the Biblical concept of pride would mean humiliating someone in public.

And there's the rub.

The psychiatrist James Gilligan, who spent 35 years dealing with prisoners who had committed the most horrendous of crimes, when he asked him why they did it, heard, every time, "He disrespected me."

So the humiliated prisoner attempted to replace shame and humiliation with self-respect by murder - revenge.

Gilligan one day realized what he was hearing over and over was the story of Cain and Abel -- hubris followed by revenge, pride going before a fall. The Greeks saw the problem, as did the Hebrews.

The Greeks also saw the solution - don't humiliate people, and certainly not in public.

Most people don't understand just how bad humiliating someone is, especially if they have shaky self-esteem (as Gilligan once wrote, "The most dangerous men are those who are afraid they are wimps").

The first defense people engage in is to blame their problems on other people. This is the lesson of Adam and Eve. Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. So when a person who is easily humiliated feels he's been humiliated, the first thing he is going to do is blame his problems on the person attacking him.

And often the response is violence - revenge. Just as Cain blamed his problems on Abel and murdered him.

It's bad enough when individual humiliate each other but it's far worse when countries do it to each other. Hitler wrote about Germany's "humiliation" from the Treaty of Versailles - and looked at what happened (incidentally, Germany was no more guilty than France or England in WWI).

Osama bin Laden wrote about Islam's "humiliation" at the hands of the West - and look at what happened.

I think it's obvious that when politicians obtain political power they lose their consciences. In other words, they become afflicted with Hubris. They humiliate other countries, then those countries seek revenge on us, we feel humiliated and seek revenge on them...and so on.

I call it the Cycle of Murder and Revenge.

At one time the Greek myths and the Bible were taught in school. But not anymore. Personally, I'd settle for the stories of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, and Hubris followed by Nemesis being taught.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Most Powerful and Awful Spell of All

I'll let you in on a little secret. Want to know the most powerful and awful spell of all, one that can be used to send millions of people to war like sheep going over a cliff? Here it is:

"All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

That's all there is to it Twenty-seven words. It's a short spell that will start wars.

That spell is from Herman Goering, Nazi Minister of Propaganda. If you want to know that whole quote, here's what he said:

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

"Spell," means "to talk," or "tale." I don't believe in toe of dog, wing of bat, or Love Potion Number Nine, but it's not even debatable that spells exist. People can be enchanted, or better yet, ensorcelled, if they are susceptible to it, by mere words.

Watch Triumph of the Will, and you'll see how Hitler, one of the most hypnotic speakers ever, walked through a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people who parted before him like the Red Sea when Charleton Heston waved his staff. Hitler had ensorcelled those poor, deluded and willing fools. He had cast a spell on them, and this was in the 20th Century.

So many people susceptible to the Goering spell. Tell them they are the Good Guys, ones being attacked by slavering evil homicidal maniacs who, like the Terminator, will not stop in their attempts to wipe the Good Guys off the face of the earth. Those defined as the enemy also must always be defined as evil. That's worth repeating: they must be defined as evil. Not mistaken, not deluded, but mad-dog drooling crazy evil.

If you want to see something illuminating, just look at any fairy tale in which the village is under attack by a fire-breathing dragon. The villagers band together to fight the dragon. If anyone was to say, "Hey, it's not a real dragon, just a paper mache' one," he'd be attacked as deluded, crazy, or traitorous. "Hey, what's wrong with you? Are you on the side of the dragon? If you don't like it here, why don't you leave the village, huh?"

People's response to this particular spell is so predictable I consider it a law of human nature. In some ways the whole thing is funny. It's also a heart-wrenching tragedy, but then, that which is a tragedy in real life is quite often funny in your imagination. Chang and Eng, that's the relationship between humor and horror. The Three Stooges are funny on the screen, but who would want to deal with their catastrophes in life?

Call me afflicted with a terminal case of daffiness, but I see no evidence the people on this big round world of ours are any different than those of 10,000 BC, pace our SUVS and cellphones. We do all of the same Sodom-and-Gomorrah badness, only intensified through the Cooper's Law of high technology, and not an iota more of the same goodness in spite of the Sermon on the Mount. The latter of which we mostly give lip service.

We even believe in Hoodoo Men, only now we call them "intellectuals." They try to cast a spell on the susceptible, telling them they are under attack by dragons, ones who will eat everything in the village, men, women, old folks, children, dogs, cats, goats. And the villagers can only be saved if they listen to the Hoodoo Men and put their spells into effect with missiles and machine guns.

I can tell you the names of some modern-day Hoodoo Men: Max Boot, William Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, David Frum, William Bennett, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Victor Davis Hanson. All are trying to convince us we are under attack not by people, but by horror-story monsters.

It's the old story of absolute good and absolute evil. In reality it's a continuum, but reality's no good for conning people and starting wars. The first thing Hoodoo Men have to do is say good is right here, with us, and bad is over there, with them, with those defined as the enemy.

That's how you can recognize Hoodoo Men. Whether wittingly or unwittingly, they always use the concepts of an absolute good and an absolute evil, with nothing in-between. Otherwise, it wouldn't be possible to create dragons.

It's what Hoodoo Men Richard Perle and David Frum did in their book, An End to Evil, when they claimed the United States is good, and those who pose a threat, current or future, are evil and must be neutralized or destroyed. They're the ones defining what is good and evil, and what is a threat. It's because they're smarter, more aware, and probably more moral than everyone else. In their minds.

If those two nitwits really believe what they wrote, then they obviously believe the whole world is a children's fairy tale, one populated by heroic wizards and people-eating monsters. And if there aren't any monsters out there, then let's create one. Or if there's anything out there sleeping that might pass for a monster, let's kick it over and over until it wakes up. Buffoons like them aren't even good Hoodoo Men. If they were magicians, the cards would fly out of their hands in front of the audience.

There's one other thing that Hoodoo Men believe in besides absolute good and evil: murder. They exult in it, they exalt it. In their minds, since they dealing with monsters it's okay to rub them out. They ignore the fact monsters only exist in horror stories.

Of course, they never want to get their hands bloody; that's the job of the spell-bound sheeple as they fall off the cliff into piles that get larger and larger.

The problem with people ultimately is not that they are stupid or evil. They're asleep, and don't even know it. They think they're awake. As Rousseau, for all of his insanity, once wisely said: "One is misled not by what he does not know but by what he believes he knows."

It's the year 2005 and we still fall for spells, cast by incompetents. And monsters, too, apparently, even if we have to make them up.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Crackpots Who Rule Us

For many years I have been wondering about the relationship between the rulers and the ruled. With a nod to C. Wright Mills, I have decided many those who gravitate towards the State are merely crackpots. Or as Mills termed them, "crackpot realists."

Before Obama, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld struck me as prime examples. They appeared to be competent (merely competent) running large corporations. Their expertise didn't translate into being statesmen. In fact, their marginal abilities to run large corporations (themselves creations of the State) didn't translate in the slightest into running the government. In those positions they became extremely dangerous.

Although I can't read their minds, I suspect Cheney and Rumsfeld would consider themselves "conservatives." Yet leftists can be just as big of crackpots, and if history is any guide, much worse.

Van Jones — a buffoon if there ever was one — is clearly a Communist, which means he is automatically a crackpot. One of the main differences, in my view, is that almost all leftists can't manage any business, although they are convinced they have the ability to run everyone else's lives.

These crackpots act as if they are the grownups, which makes everyone less then grownup. Yet grownups are supposed to have some understanding of human nature. I have never seen it from any of these men. They are in fact fools.

I am reminded of the first Bush, who when he finally made his way to a grocery store, was amazed to see a barcode scanner. Clearly our ruling crackpots don't get out much.

Being fools, they are unread and therefore uneducated. They are unaware of the simplest facts of human nature, to wit, you don't humiliate people, and you certainly don't humiliate countries.

There were quite a few people who predicted some kind of blowback against the United States, blowback that culminated in 9-11. Osama bin Laden said the attacks were "a copy" of the humiliation the United States had been visiting on the Islamic world for some 60 years, overthrowing governments, installing repressive regimes, and crushing popular uprisings.

9-11 was a demonstration of what the ancient Greeks called Hubris followed by Nemesis. The original meaning of Hubris was to humiliate someone in public, and the Greeks banned it from the theater as obscene. Nemesis is the goddess of fate and retribution.

In other word, humiliate someone (or countries) and the oppressor is fated to suffer revenge. And revenge, in the simplest of definitions, is the attempt to replace humiliation with pride by humiliating the oppressor.

The worst thing you can do to anyone (or any country) is to strip from them their pride and dignity. That stripping of those things from Germany after World War I (and Germany was no more guilty than any other combatant) led inexorably to World War II. And World War II, for all practical purposes, is still going on.

Do any of our crackpots understand these truths about what happens when people and countries are humiliated? No, they don't, even though this fact was noticed by the Hebrews, the Greeks (Aristotle noticed it), and the early Christian fathers, such as St. Augustine and St. Aquinas. Not to mention all the modern researchers who have written about it.

Our crackpot realists, most unfortunately, appear to be bound and determined to humiliate everyone in the world. It's not so much that they will be the ones who suffer Nemesis. It'll be, as always, the innocent public.

I Don't Believe a Word the MSM Says

I have a degree in Journalism, so I knew a lot of students who became journalists. I also worked on three newspapers.

I've never met a smart or knowledgeable journalist. Not one. Not surprisingly, being so ignorant and stupid, they were liberals, which meant they were self-righteous and convinced they were right. They were also convinced that anyone who disagreed with them was not only wrong, but a bad person.

These people did not know history or economics or political science. They thought they did, but they didn't. I was amazed at their ignorance. Not just ignorance, but invincible ignorance.

These are the kind of people who are now in the media. It's also why anyone with any sense with believe nothing they read and see in the MSM. I don't, and haven't for years.

One of the first things I was taught in class is that newspapers are written for the average high school graduate. Even then I was surprised. But I shouldn't have been, considering how much of the media concentrates on the lives of actors and actresses, and athletes.

For all practical purposes, a degree college is worth less than an eighth-grade education a century ago, so even if newspapers were written for college graduates today they're still written for semi-morons.

If a newspaper actually explained how the Federal Reserve creates inflation, or anything else that requires any intellectual effect, the eyes of almost all people would glaze over, and they'd go back to reading about the latest fuck-up by Paris Hilton.

One of the problems is that there are college degrees in Journalism. We should go back to the past and have cub reporters. That would help to weed out the worst. Almost all of those in Journalism programs couldn't handle being a cub reporter.

In point of fact, if you want to figure out the truth, just take whatever the MSM tells you, and the truth is the exact opposite.

You'll never find the truth from the MSM. They will always distort everything. They distort so badly they're not even worth reading or watching. Since they're an arm of the government they're not only worthless; they're dangerous.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Humiliation, Murder and Revenge

“The infernal serpent; it was he whose guile/Stirred up with envy and revenge/Deceived the mother of mankind…” – Paradise Lost

All human evil in the world is explained by the myth of Adam and Eve and their sons Cain and Abel – the archetypical dysfunctional family. I consider it the most important story in Western culture. Since it’s Biblical in origin, even though it’s as much mythology as the Iliad and the Odyssey, you’ll never see it taught in public schools.

While the story of the Garden of Eden is not literally true, it is part of the oral tradition of mythology – a story, refined through hundreds if not thousands of years, that entertained and educated at the same time. It is unfortunate that at one time it was perverted into placing the blame entirely on women for bringing evil into the world…completely ignoring the fact that Adam was just as infantile and irresponsible.

Scapegoating is what Adam did to Eve, what Eve did to the serpent, and what Cain did to Abel. Adam said, “She made me do it,” Eve said, “The serpent made me do it,” and Cain demonstrated in deed if not in words, “Abel made me kill him, and he deserved it, the jerk.” Each was saying, “It’s not my fault…you made it do it…look what you made me do.”

Adam and Eve get kicked out of the Garden of Eden, thereby bringing evil into the world. In some versions, their refusal to take responsibility for their actions is what gets them expelled (the story should be updated, which certainly would bring outrage and attacks by fundamentalist idolaters of the written word).

The late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck wrote, “Scapegoating is the genesis of human evil,” and he is exactly correct. Scapegoating is when you project all of your problems onto other people and believe if you can get rid of them, then your problems will depart this world.

He wrote of scapegoating “as the exercise of political power – that is, the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion…they must perceive others as bad…[t]hey project their own evil onto the world.” And political power, as Hannah Arendt wrote, is the power to turn a person into a corpse.

Scapegoating – or projection – as Melanie Klein wrote in her magnum opus, Envy and Gratitude, is the first and most primitive of our defenses. What parent has not encountered a child exclaiming, “He/she/they/you made me do it!” Unfortunately, it’s also the first defense of adults, and especially of ethnic tribes – as I see it, it’s their only defense.

Klein’s colleague Joan Riviere wrote, “The first and the most fundamental of our insurances or safety measures against feelings of pain, of being attacked, or of helplessness—one from which so many others spring—is that device we call projection. All painful and unpleasant sensations and feelings in the mind are by this device automatically relegated outside oneself... [W]e blame them on someone else. [Insofar] as such destructive forces are recognized in ourselves we claim that they have come there arbitrarily and by some external agency....[P]rojection is the…first reaction to pain and it probably remains the most spontaneous reaction in all of us to any painful feeling throughout our lives.”

Perpetually blaming your problems on others is technically known as a character disorder. They fall into several categories: Anti-social Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder.

I have met several of these people in my life and the havoc they wreak is astonishing. Bizarrely, they don’t even know they’re doing it – they’re as unconscious of their antics as a two-year-old. Being self-centered and inconsiderate, they are clueless about the effect they have on others.

The easiest way to identify them: it’s never their fault, always someone else’s. Someone else is always responsible for their problems. And while they have no idea what they do to others, they are hypersensitive to what others do to them – even to the point of imaging it.

I am reminded of a scene in the movie Jaws, in which two boys are caught pretending to be sharks. One immediately points at the other and says, “He made me do it!” For a not so humorous example, there was the case of a woman who murdered her husband by running him over with her car, then exclaimed, “Look what you made me do!”

The serpent, as Milton pointed out in Paradise Lost, is the symbol of “envy and revenge” (because, as the author suggests, his pride is hurt – he writes of Satan’s “obdurate pride and steadfast hate”). Envy and revenge are inextricably linked; you might as well call them envy/revenge. Or better yet, envy/hate/revenge.

The story of the Garden of Eden illustrates that evil comes into the world because of scapegoating, almost all of which is based on envy. And with envy comes the desire for revenge, to “bring down” the other, the way the serpent wanted to bring down Adam and Eve.

The serpent feels humiliated because Adam and Eve are God’s favorites instead of him. So here is the dynamic: feeling humiliated leads to envy and hate and the desire for revenge.

“Serpent,” though, isn’t necessarily the correct word. The word it’s translated from is “nachash,” which is a very interesting word indeed.

“Nachash” has several interrelated meanings: to hiss or whisper like a snake, enchanter, prognosticator. Think of the lying Iago manipulating Othello into murdering his innocent wife, or Salieri’s hate-fueled backstabbing envy of Mozart in Amadeus. In each case each villain used words, and as Rudyard Kipling noticed, “words are the most powerful drug ever invented.” And in each case they desired to predict -- indeed cause—the future of their “enemies”: destruction, ruin, death.

The word “enchant” means “to chant,” as in hypnotize (it can also mean “to sing,” as Kaa the serpent did in the movie version of The Jungle Books when he sang, “Trust in me…”). Essentially it’s the same as a “spell,” meaning “tale,” or “the use of words.” The serpent used words in an attempt to cast a spell on Eve, to get her to do what he wanted so he could bring down her and Adam.

You might even consider what the nachash did the first known use of the basic techniques of propaganda: convince (I like the word “ensorcel”) people into believing their problems are caused by someone else.

The envious never say, “I envy you.” It’s too excruciatingly painful for them to even admit it to themselves—they call it something else, such as misnaming it as “justice” or “fairness.” Of all the Seven Deadly Sins, envy is the only one that isn’t any fun. It is one of the most corrosive feelings in the world. Instead, the envious almost always whisper, lie, and go behind people’s backs, the way Salieri got Mozart to believe he was Mozart’s friend. They are subtle about their envy, the way the nachash was “the most subtle.”

There is no murder in the story of Adam and Eve. That escalation happens with their children, Cain and Abel. Cain’s sacrifice is rejected by God while Abel’s is accepted.

Convinced he’s humiliated, and envious of Abel, Cain seeks his revenge by murdering his brother. Cain blames his problems on Abel; he scapegoats him and takes it a step further than their parents. If someone had asked Cain why he killed Abel, I believe he would have answered, “It’s his fault…he made me do it...look at what he made me do” – an O.J. Simpson excuse thousands of years ago.

The psychiatrist James Gilligan, who spent 35 years interviewing prisoners, said he always heard the same story as to why they murdered or brutally assaulted people. What he heard, every time, was “He dissed me” or else mocked, insulted and ridiculed the prisoner’s children, wife, parents, friends.

Gilligan one day realized what he was hearing, over and over, was the story of Cain and Abel: the feeling of humiliation followed by revenge manifesting itself as murder.

John Douglas, the retired FBI profiler of serial killers, and the author of several best-selling books, stated that every serial murderer he encountered was an “inadequate” type (i.e., he felt humiliated) who covered it up with grandiosity (i.e., an immense Satanic pride) and sought revenge on anyone who reminded him of those who believed caused his problems in the first place. Again, humiliation leading to murder.

Wrote Douglas in The Anatomy of Motive about one mass murder: “…this crime…[was] a kind of revenge…it was retaliation for some perceived wrong – real or imagined – perpetrated against the killer” (in another case, a teenage school shooter said, “The world has wronged me, and I could take it no more”—his pride was hurt).

The desire for revenge, as much of the world’s literature attests, even enters into our most intimate relationships (the influential The Count of Monte Cristo is about little else but revenge – I’ve seen its influence in mysteries, science-fiction, westerns and hard-boiled detective fiction).

Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, in her article, “How We Mate,” laments the destruction of romance and courtship leading to long-term marriage (all of which are Western institutions). Instead, what we have now are temporary relationships; “hookup-breakup.” This destruction, not surprisingly, leads to humiliated partners seeking revenge.

“Women content themselves with revenge fantasies to exorcise their jealousy and anger,” she writes, then goes on to list what happens when it goes beyond fantasy, such as cutting the crotch out of every pair of pants the man owned. “If this…sounds like junior high,” she continues, “it should. The pattern of hookup-breakup is adolescent, and perpetually so.”

The men in these relationships, Whitehead pointed out, have a tendency to become violent, and for the same reasons: feelings of humiliation leading to envy/hate, to revenge.

Revenge is a misguided attempt to replace shame with pride. It’s doomed because instead of increasing pride – self-image – it instead increases reciprocal violence.

People who believe they have been victimized may not necessarily been shamed or humiliated; sometimes they think they have when they haven’t. They believe they’ve suffered some unjust loss or injury. As a result they feel rage, hate, anger, shame, jealousy or envy – and want find someone responsible for it, and to make them “pay for it.”

I’ve seen people from shame-based cultures, such as ones in Asia, who in America have accused people of trying to humiliate them in public when the people were doing no such thing. This flawed perception, conditioned by a foreign culture, is what caused the problem.

The stories of Adam and Even and Cain and Abel explain much of the political trouble in the world these days.

Osama bin Laden said the attacks on 9-11 were “a copy” of what the U.S. had been doing to the Islamic world. The attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon were revenge and vengeance, caused by the Hubris-afflicted U.S. empire humiliating and shaming the countries in the Middle East, if not most of the world. This is why so many people in the world hate the United States government.

Incidentally, Hubris – the goddess of arrogance, moral blindness, insolence and wanton violence – is followed by Nemesis, who is the goddess of fate and retribution. Thousands of years ago the Greeks noticed insolence and violence against others is fated to breed revenge. The same observation is found in the Bible: “Prides goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit leads to a fall.”

9-11 wasn’t, as Bush in his invincible confusion believed, because the attackers were the Evil Ones who “attacked us for our goodness.” It was revenge, pure and simple. And revenge, the old saying advises us, is a dish best served cold – served after about 50 years of the U.S. supporting dictators and repressive regimes in the Middle East. But then, there’s this warning: if you’re going to seek revenge, dig two graves.

The U.S. was attacked by those seeking revenge; we attacked them seeking revenge on them. I call it the Cycle of Murder and Revenge; it is, again, the misguided attempt to replace shame with pride. Many have died on both sides because of this cycle, necessitating far more than two graves.

Very few people can do as Francis Bacon suggested in his “Of Revenge”: “In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy but is passing it over, he is superior.”

I had mentioned I believe the only defense of ethnic tribes is to blame their problems on someone else. If this is true, then it is impossible for different ethic groups to share the same land without each tribe blaming its problems on the others, leading to attempts at expulsion and genocide. The misnamed “multiculturalism” leads inexorably to bloody tribal warfare. Each tribe is outraged and resentful that another tribe is on “their” land.

I use the hypothetical example of the same land shared by one-third Wahabi Muslims (the ones who perpetrated 9-11), one-third Ultra Orthodox Jews, and one-third Christian fundamentalists. How well would they get along? They wouldn’t. Not at all.

Some have claimed the “free market” (which has never existed in its pure form) would unite them peaceably with an assumed love of SUVs, DVD players, and Nikes. This is pretending the free market trumps all, including religion and family and tribe.

Anybody who believes that material consumption will trump everything else is as na├»ve as can be. The history of the world without exception has been that all “multicultural” societies have collapsed.

If the United States ever ends up one-fourth white, one-fourth black, one-fourth “Hispanic” (whatever they are) and one-fourth Asian, it too would collapse in death and destruction – once the totalitarian government that kept the lid on the simmering hostilities first collapsed. Try “Yugoslavia” (a non-country if there ever was one) for an example.

Even now, in the U.S., Hispanics and blacks are murdering each other, each trying to expel the other from their “territory.” When each group moves into areas where whites live, the whites move out. Liberal platitudes fall on deaf ears (what Erik von Kuehelt-Leddihn said about leftists is true: they don’t merely misunderstand human nature; they don’t understand it at all). These tribal problems were predicted a long time ago by the more perceptive and prophetic of critics, and the problems are only going to get worse before they get better.

Or, to quote Gary Brecher (“The War Nerd”): “The fact is, genocide is, historically, the most common result when one tribe runs into another.”

This problem with humiliation – whether it’s real or imaged - leading to the desire for revenge is something we’re never going to rid ourselves of, being that the human race is decidedly imperfect.

We’re certainly not going to get rid of it when it comes to personal relationships. I’d be satisfied, though, if more political scientists and economists (sorry, got to laugh about the typically inept “economist”) understood more about the concepts and if the government put them into effect in its dealings with our own country and with other countries. It’d be a much more peaceful world -- both here and abroad.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

SpongeBob Squarepants, Libertarian Hero

He has strange friends, bizarre adventures, a weird pet, a pineapple for a house, a job at a burger joint, and lives in a place with the endearing name of Bikini Bottom - a place with no visible State. Throw in just a few more things, and Spongebob would have about as close to a dream-life as is possible in this world.

I was puzzled why I - and so many others - am so enamored of this cartoon. After a little thought, here are some conclusions:

Spongebob lives at the bottom of the sea. He, and everyone else there, are safe. They have the entire sea to protect them from the outside world. Symbolically, the sea stands for a preconscious (child-like) state, and for the feminine (the womb). Think of Father Sky and Mother Earth. This makes sense, because Spongebob is in many ways an innocent child, safe in the womb of the ocean. You can say he lives in the Garden of Eden, in a womb which shelters and protects.

Spongebob lives in a world which he experiences with little fear or anxiety. His greatest worry is if he can make a krabby patty the right way. The mythological image of Spongebob is the puer aeternus - the one who is forever a child.

The sea actually has a positive and negative archetype. One is that of creation and the womb; the other is that of death and fear. Both are shown in baptism, in which both death and life are illustrated. In Spongebob, only the positive archetype exists.

I believe the above essentially answers the question of why Spongebob is so popular. He dwells in a Garden of Eden state of innocence, in a safe, well-protected neighborhood. There is something in almost all of us which responds to such a life. The cartoon is actually about reversing the Fall.

People can live with some aspects of their personality still in this state of innocence. I believe the public reception given Spongebob indicates that many Americans identity with this as a not-far-from-ideal life. It's safe and weird. What more can you ask for?

What true danger that exists for Spongebob and his friends comes from outside the sea. The archetype of the horror story is illustrated: something good invaded by something bad. The sea is good; the outside world is a danger.

In the episode titled "Hooky," Spongebob and his dimbulb friend Patrick play on fishermen's hooks dangled from a wharf above the sea. Both are so innocent they don't realize the danger involved, even though Patrick does say that someone who had been playing on them was no longer there. The inference is that he was hauled out of the sea, caught on a hook.

Squidward finally cures Spongebob of his foolishness by stabbing a hook through his pants, making Spongebob think he's going to be hauled up. In literature, this is called Innocence to Experience.

The complete theme of Innocence to Experience is Innocence/Unconsciousness/the Natural State versus Experience/Consciousness/the Machine State. The former are supposed to be characteristics of the Garden of Eden; the later, of the Fall. You can see these themes in H.G Well's The Time Machine, in which the Eloi stand for the innocent, unconscious dwellers in a Garden of Eden, and the Morlocks are the experienced, conscious users of machines.

You can also see these themes in the movie, The Elephant Man, which starts out with a worker severely injured by a machine. Through all of these horrors, the Elephant Man still maintains his innocence.

To a degree, these themes are a bit fraudulent, since they are opposed to technology. But since they exist in many stories and movies, it is best to be aware of them.

You can see these themes in Spongebob, since the outside world is where most of the advanced technology exists. Such as the hooks. Technology does exist in Spongebob's world, but it's not portrayed as dangerous.

In Spongebob's world, there appears to be no State. There appears to be no government, for that matter. Everything is taken care of by Society; this is why the older and wiser Squidward has to teach Spongebob a lesson about the hooks. The older teach the younger, which is as it should be.

Again, we're back to the archetype of the horror story. Society, which is but a thin, fragile film on a bunch of sometimes very unpleasant human nature, is easily damaged by the intrusion of the State. When this happens, all the badness inherent in humanity pops up. Since there is no State in Spongebob's world, everything is Society. Everything is held together by what the British statesman Edmund Burke called "the little platoons" - the social groupings like family, friends, neighborhoods and churches that glue societies together.

Burke's idea is of course anathema to those who view as the State as a god capable of working wonders. In reality, the State is a horror.

The cartoon is in some ways a "conservative" cartoon. Everyone is imperfect. Spongebob himself suffers a bit from what appears to be Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. In the episode "Pickles," Bubble Bass lies and tells Spongebob there were no pickles on his krabby patty. Spongebob is then up all night making burgers, trying to figure out what he did wrong. In the end, Bubble Bass is exposed for a liar, and everything ends well.

Actually, you can call Spongebob Squarepants a conservative libertarian cartoon. There is no State, indeed no government, and everyone is imperfect.

I've seen this portrayal of a libertarian/conservative society in other cartoons. It exists in The Simpsons, which celebrates family and friends, and denigrates politics. The line from the program I can never forget is when Chief Wiggum says, "I didn't say the government couldn't harm you. I said it couldn't help you." Truer words have never been spoken.

There are, thank God, no politics in Spongebob's world. >From this you can infer that in as perfect of a world as can exist, there would be no politics or politicians. What politics that does exist in Spongebob's world would have to be outside the sea, in the world where the hooks came from. In his world, there are no wars, which are always caused by the State. There are just the usual human frailties, such as Bubble Bass' lies and Spongebob's own childishness.

Ezra Pound called artists "the antenna of the race." He was, I believe, exactly right.

The Laws of Stupidity

The First Law of Stupidity is to blame all of your problems on someone else. This relieves you of any responsibility whatsoever for your life, and also makes the people you blame your problems on into permanent enemies. This is a highly intelligent thing to do!

The Second Law of Stupidity is to never learn from your mistakes. The smartest people learn from other people’s mistakes, the second smartest learn from their own, and the dumbest don’t even learn from their own mistakes.

The Third Law of Stupidity is to talk or act without thinking. That is, be impulsive! It’s the same thing as being ruled by your more childish, indeed infantile, feelings.

The Fourth Law of Stupidity is to think than what you feel is what is right. One of the things it’s based on is arrogance, or what the Greeks called Hubris. It is of course followed by Nemesis.

The Fifth Law of Stupidity is not to know you are impulsive and convinced that what feel is what is right. Instead, you believe you are rational and logical, even though you don’t know even one logical fallacy.

The Sixth Law of Stupidity is to not listen to good advice. This is related to the Second, Third and Fourth Law of Stupidity. In fact, all the Laws of Stupidity are related to each other, and it’s probable that all Stupid People show all of them in one degree or another.

The Seventh Law of Stupidity: you don’t know you’re stupid. In fact, you think you’re smart! Aristotle noticed this one, when he wrote about ignorant people who didn’t know they were ignorant. That was like 2500 years ago! Oh no! Stupidity is inherited! Someone get me one of those castration things that are used on sheep.

The Eighth Law of Stupidity: you can’t tell when someone is smarter than you and almost always think you’re smarter than them. This is related to what I call Scott’s Law, after a friend of mine who formulated it: “The smart understand the stupid a lot better than the stupid understand the smart.”

The Ninth Law of Stupidity is that you can have a high IQ and still be stupid. I’ve heard these people referred to as “high-IQ idiots.”

The Tenth Law of Stupidity is: “The stupid are always really surprised when they end up in prison or when someone kills them.”

It’s a bit frightening to realize there are Ten Laws of Stupidity, just as there are Ten Commandments (although “Commandments” is the wrong word – Utterances, or Words, is correct).

Let’s see if I can put all this into one sentence. Stupid people blame their problems on other people, they never learn from their mistakes, they think and act impulsively, they always think they’re right, they think they are logical and rational, they don’t know they’re stupid, they think they’re smarter than other people, they don’t listen to good advice, and they’re amazed when they get caught.

The Laws of Smartness, of course, are the exact opposite of the Laws of Stupidity.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gun Control Equals Murder

Exactly once in my life have I felt like I was two inches tall. It was about eleven years ago, when I was in a secretary's office. While she was out of the room I looked around and saw, on her shelf, two pictures with a teen-age girl in each one. I knew them, but couldn't remember anything about them. Even stranger, they appeared to be twins. How could I completely forget two twin girls?

When the secretary returned, I commented, "I know those girls from someplace, but I can't remember where."

To this she replied, "You've seen those pictures in the newspaper. Those are my daughters, the ones who were killed on the old Chain of Rocks bridge."

"Oh," I said. Then, "I'm sorry; I didn't make the connection."

"That's okay," she said. "Don't worry about it."

I felt like I could have crawled in a mouse hole. When I told a friend about this, he put his hand over his eyes and said, "Oh, God."

The old Chain of Rocks bridge, which in far north St. Louis, was closed down sometime in the '60s. We used to party on it in high school, hundreds, sometimes a thousand of us. These days it is a bike and walk-way from Illinois to Missouri. In between the end of the parties and the start of the bikes, it was known for one thing: two 19-year-old girls (who weren't twins, but just looked a lot like each other) who were murdered on it.

They were, like their mother, less than five-feet-tall, and less than one-hundred pounds. Tiny little girls. I've worked out with weights that weigh more then they did.

They had taken their visiting cousin, a teenage boy, to show him their poetry they had written on the bridge. I don't remember exactly what it was about, but I believe it was the sort of idealistic "We can all get along" poetry than teen-age girls sometimes write.

While they were on it, four teen-age boys found the girls on the bridge, raped them, then threw them over the side. The drop to the Mississippi is about 60 feet. I have been on that bridge many times, and I wouldn't want to jump off of it. I'd live, because I could make it to the shore. . .but two tiny girls wouldn't be able to.

Only one body was ever found. Their cousin was made to jump over the side, but he was able to swim to the shore.

The police found all four boys rapidly. Like all criminals, they were stupid. One left his flashlight with his name on it on the bridge. All of those over the age of sixteen were convicted and given the death penalty; the 15-year-old got 30 years.

One of the rapist/murderers was executed, and swore right up to the point the needle was stuck in his arm he was innocent. Which he wasn't.

The leader got life in prison, because his IQ was so low and he was abused as a kid. However, he was smart enough to try to cover his crime.

The 15-year-old boy got 30 years but was let out after 15. He was going to be paroled earlier but said he didn't want out. Guilt, I suppose. When he did finally get out he wrote the family a letter of apology.

The other three never admitted their guilt or showed any remorse or contrition.

When people tell me they are for gun control this is the case I always bring up.

If those girls had had even a two-shot .22 derringer on them, they would be alive today. Criminals are not only stupid, they also cowards. Even if they had shot the leader – who almost always has the biggest mouth – the rest would have run.

Even if they would have had a knife with a big enough blade – maybe three, three-and-one-half inches – they'd probably still be alive.

When a version of this article was published, I made a bet with myself that at least one idiot would email me and say it would be a bad thing for those girls to have a pistol. I got only one, fortunately, but I did win that bet.

I was reminded of that old saying that a liberal is someone who would rather see a woman raped and strangled with her own pantyhose that see her defend herself with a pistol.

I sometimes have this fantasy I run across this scene, and just happen to have my .357 Sig Sauer on me. The one I load with Magsafes, frangible ammo that are like little shotgun shells. I think I would make all four of those boys jump off the bridge. And if they didn't, I'd shoot them in their both their feet and then their knees. I'd have to reload, but that's okay. And then I'd disappear, and nobody ever finds out who I am.

In the last ten years I have yet to find anyone who can come up with a reason for gun control.

I'm still waiting.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Mythological Slice of Braveheart

You can learn more from a good movie or even a good cartoon than you can from the shambling, twitchy, semi-autistic egghead/nerds that infest and corrupt Ivy League universities such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Someday, Ph.D.s will disappear, as will those those three colleges. Considering the horrors these reality-challenged nerdlings have visited on the U.S. -- and the world -- it will be for the better.

Think "Vietnam" and "the Best and the Brightest." Think "Iraq". . .maybe think "Iran."

Here's an example of what I mean about good movies: I used to think Mel Gibson was little more than a pretty boy with moderate acting ability. After seeing Braveheart some years ago I realized I was wrong, very wrong. He has a brain, and it's a good one, and he uses it. My opinion of him has done a 180 degree turn, and I now see him as the most impressive and culturally aware movie-maker out there.

I can't say the same for Ron Howard, not after The DaVinci Code.

Many people have complained Braveheart is in some ways historically inaccurate, and at times grossly so. The critics are right: it is. Here's one example of pure fantasy: in one scene the English send Irish conscripts charging the Scottish lines. As the Irish reach the lines, they stop, shake hands with the Scottish, then turn to face and fight the English. It never happened, and that's too bad, because the scene is one of the most important in the movie.


Because what really happened is this: the English used Welsh archers to try and mow down the Scottish.

Why did Gibson ignore what really happened and instead create a bit of mythology? Here is what I think is the answer: all tyrants use the strategy of "divide and conquer." It's why the English used Celtic Welsh archers to mow down their Celtic Scottish brothers.

What Gibson was showing us is this: in his version, while literally untrue but still showing us a higher and nobler truth, the Celtic Irish won't do England's bidding and kill their Celtic Scottish brothers. Instead, they join them to fight the English, who, being Anglo-Saxon, are German (the original British displaced by Germanic invaders now live on the coast of France, in a place called. . .guess what?. . .Brittany).

What's that old saying? "Either we hang together or we most certainly will hang separately." That's what Gibson is telling us: don't fight your brothers, stand with them against your common enemy -- or enemies. Be aware of the fact that all tyrants try to divide you so they can conquer you. Don't fall for it. Be aware of what's going on.

Gibson, who is of Celtic ancestry, clearly despises the English, even today (see his movie, The Patriot, if you want to see further proof of this). Why? Perhaps because the English king Oliver Cromwell killed or kicked out one-third of Ireland's population, almost all of them Catholic, because Cromwell thought Catholics were heretics. Gibson, as it is well-known, is a devout Catholic.

Then, of course, there were the Clearances in Scotland, in which many villages were burned to clear them of their people, leading many of them to leave Scotland and be scattered around the world. After these burnings and clearings, for many years, about six families owned most of Scotland.

Had everyone -- Welsh, Irish, Scottish -- hung together, would all three countries been conquered by Cromwell? Would the genocide have occurred? I doubt it. But they didn't, and so they hung separately.

That is Gibson's message: families (ethnic families), don't fight each other. Fight those trying to divide and conquer you. If you don't hang together, then you will hang separately.

Gibson also points out who the enemies are: corrupt government, as it always is, and the corrupt, treasonous and incompetent political, economic and intellectual "elites" -- be they named George Bush or Bill Gates or Wal-Mart or David Frum or Rush Limbaugh, or Bill and Hillary Clinton, or Ted Kennedy, or John Kerry, or Al Franken.

In Braveheart, the land-owning Scottish nobles, in another eye-opening scene, purposely leave the the field of battle, refusing to support Gibson's character, the Scottish hero, William Wallace. They were corrupted by their own self-interest (which they put above their nation, and their people) and their lust for money, land and power. Instead of sacrificing themselves for their country and their people, they sacrificed their people and their country for their own narrow, deluded, short-term selfish interests.

Only they didn't know this. Instead, they thought they were benefactors! As always, all tyrants think this, even today.

Nation, tribe and family, Gibson tells us, are above government and our backstabbing elites (even today, especially today) and those things are what we must rely on to repel that which threatens to destroy us. And what will destroy us are not "enemies" from the outside, but the inside.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Myth of Redemptive Violence

The theologian Walter Wink (author of The Powers That Be) writes of what he calls the Myth of Redemptive Violence. This myth, he writes, is the belief that violence, especially administered by the State, is necessary and restorative to make people whole. Violence equals health, you might say, or in Orwellian terms, War is Peace.

He believes this myth is one of the oldest known, and runs back to the Babylonian creation story, (the Enuma Elish) from around 1250 B.C.E. This story, he tells us, keeps reappearing, even today, even in something as innocuous as children's cartoons.

According to the myth, in the beginning Apsu, the father-god, and Tiamat, the mother-god, give birth to all the other gods. But the younger gods are so rowdy in their partying their parents decide to murder them so they can sleep. Their children uncover the plot and kill Apsu. Tiamat, also known as the Dragon of Chaos, swears vengeance.

Terrified, the rebellious gods turn for help to their youngest, Marduk. His price is dear: he wants to be undisputed ruler. Having gained this promise, he catches Tiamat in a net, drives an evil wind down her throat, pierces her belly and heart with an arrow. He then smashes her skull with a club and scatters her blood. From her corpse he creates the universe.

In this myth, creation is an act of extreme violence. Life comes from death. As the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur has pointed out, order is established by means of disorder. Tiamat (the Dragon of Chaos) is prior to the "order" imposed by Marduk by violence. The gods themselves are astonishingly violent. Evil precedes Good; in such a case only great violence by the latter can control the former.

Now contrast this Babylonian myth with the one in Genesis: Good precedes Evil. Creation is essentially good, but has been corrupted by Man, overwhelmingly through a combination of his awakening to self-consciousness and narcissism that leads to the scapegoating based on envy. The result was the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

What we have are two diametrically opposed stories: Evil precedes Good, necessitating violence to impose "order," or Good precedes Evil, meaning violence, however well-intended, will never return us to the Garden. In the first instance existence is inherently corrupt; in the second it isn't, but has been corrupted by us. In the first, Good grows out of Evil; in the second, Evil is twisted (or as C.S. Lewis called it, "bent") Good.

The first story is not only un-Christian, but anti-Christian. It is the most pagan of pagan horrors. In the first, existence is inherently a horror, in the second the horror is secondary, caused by the corruption of an inherently good cosmos. In the first the preferred response is revenge.

In the first story people are by nature incapable of peacefully co-existing and must have order imposed from above by strong rulers who, according to the myth, are motivated by little more than a lust for power and violence. In the second the need for a powerful authority, and the lust, are themselves the corruption. The first is an excuse for slavery and fascism; the second, an argument for freedom.

It can be argued (and I would agree with it) that a conservative is one who believes human nature is corrupt and that society represses or transforms the imperfections in it. In the latter case it would, for an example, attempt to turn envy into admiration.

But notice that it is a voluntary society that does these things, not the coercive (and inherently pagan) State. I'd argue that a true conservative believes there is much good in human nature, but it has been corrupted. To believe this is to believe people can redeem themselves, can change for the better. Unless there is some goodness in us – and because of that we instinctively know what it is – we cannot "return" to it. And that return, that true change of heart and mind, can only come about voluntarily, through persuasion. That, to me, is the Christian view.

The pagan view, on the other hand, believes might makes right, the violence is necessary and redeeming, that the Good (and order) imposed on Evil (and chaos) is usually motivated by vengeance and the lust for power. Whatever philosophy it hides behind, whatever ideology is used to justify it, underneath all of them it is the belief that the gods smile upon conquerors, that peace can only come about through war, that security not liberty is the highest good.

That ancient myth does not exist in its pure form today in the Western world. It was ameliorated by the influence of Christianity, although Christianity today has been influenced and therefore perverted by it. But in whatever form it exists, that Babylonian myth is far from finished, even today.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My First Novel

"Shut up, maggot," evilly cackled the sadistic guard as he ground our hero's face into the dirt with his jackboot. "You're only alive because the State wants you alive!"

His evil cackle turned into a terrified shriek as our hero's love -- her brain encased in a nuclear-powered robodog -- used her nose laser to slice through the bars, removed the guard's gonads with her titanium teeth, and then hurled herself through the opposite window.

Our hero climbed to his feet, muttered "You fascist pig!" to the guard, now curled unconscious in a fetal position, kicked him in his decaying teeth, scattering them throughout the room, then headed out the window after his true love, knowing they would met in the clinic in Switzerland, where her brain would be replaced in the luscious body he knew so well.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Accursed Deodands!

I never ceased to be amused by how little the human race has changed in probably the last 30,000 or so years. We still believe in idols (like the State), talismans (like the Constitution) and spells (which we now call propaganda). And we still believe in curses and deodands.

The first time I read the word "deodand" was in Jack Vance's book, The Dying Earth. He used it to describe a totally black, man-shaped cannibalistic monster with red eyes. His vivid description of this creature, coupled with the almost poetic sound of the word, imprinted it on my mind.

At first I thought Vance had created the word (he also referred in his writings to tossing someone in a lake as "subaquation"). Years later, I found that he hadn't. But his use of it – an evil object – was accurate.

A deodand is a medieval superstition that actually made its way into the law in those days. It's based on the concept of "the guilty object." If an object, say a weapon or cart, killed or injured a human, it was declared a deodand and forfeited to the king.

It wasn't uncommon during that time for an animal that had been involved in injury to a person to be condemned, dressed in clothing, then burned at the stake or hanged. The last time this happened was in Switzerland in 1906.

The word deodand is from the Latin "deo dandum," which means "given to God." Its origin is often attributed to the passage in Exodus that reads, "[i]f an ox gore a man or woman, that they die, then the ox shall surely be stoned and its flesh not eaten..."

It's an ancient and silly superstition, yet since people today still believe in spells, talismans and idols, there is no reason whatsoever for them to not believe in deodands and curses.

I suspect the origin of the deodand lies in our inherent tendency to scapegoat, or project our problems onto something outside of us. I once caught my three-year-old nephew stealing change out of my car. When I caught him, he ran, fell on his face, then jumped up and cried, "You made me fall!" He even pointed his finger at me, as if he had a magic wand ("I curse you, Uncle Deodand!").

Apparently, destroying a deodand is revenge, although I don't think I would get any satisfaction out of hanging a cow. But then, during the '70’s, I do remember seeing autoworkers smash Japanese cars with sledgehammers.

The concept of the deodand partly explains the destruction of the World Trade Center. Bring down these symbolic "evil objects," get some revenge, and then people in foreign countries dance in the streets to express their glee and satisfaction. Until, of course, we deodandize their cities.

Currently, in the U.S., guns and tobacco are cursed as deodands. Those who oppose them consider them to be inherently evil objects, even though a pistol or a cigarette will just quietly lie there forever without hurting anyone.

Tobacco has already legally been declared a deodand; hence, all the money tobacco companies have to forfeit to the State – that modern idol and false god. Opponents of firearms are trying to do the same with them, although so far, fortunately, they haven't had much luck.

Deodands were especially popular during the '80s, when the State was trying to steal peoples' property on the flimsiest of excuses. In one case, an innocent woman lost a $600, eleven-year-old Pontiac because her husband was caught with a prostitute while in it. The court ignored the fact this taking of her property without compensation was a violation of her rights under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. In fact it commented, "cases authorizing actions of the kind at issue are too firmly fixed in the punitive and remedial jurisprudence of the country to be now displaced." This court's comments reminds me of what Paul Newman said in the movie, Cool Hand Luke: "Calling it your job don't make it right, boss."

The rationale behind a deodand was that all property "derived from society," and if people violated the law they forfeited any right they had to it. Supposedly, returning the property to the king (or the State) somehow removed the curse from the property. How taking property from the rightful owner and giving it to someone else removed the curse has never been explained. The reason, I believe it is obvious, is because it doesn't. It's just a money-grab by greedy people working for the State. This is what Thomas Hobbes meant when he wrote, "Unnecessary laws are not good laws, but traps for money."

The gun "buy-back" programs so popular several years ago were a case of the State buying "cursed" deodands and then punishing them by destroying them. Looked at this way, it isn't that much less silly than executing a horse. Since many more people are killed a year in car wrecks than by guns, perhaps it really isn't such a bad idea to bash cars with sledgehammers.

The idea of the deodand didn't make much headway in the U.S. until the War Between the States, when the Confiscation Act of 1862 authorized seizing the properties of rebels who owned property in the North. After that, it escalated to ridiculous levels.

In one case in 1926 a man lost his automobile because he lent it to the dealer from whom he had bought it, who then lent it to someone else, who used it to illegally transport liquor – all without the owner's knowledge.

In a more recent case, a yacht-leasing company lost a yacht because the lessor, or a visitor, left a marijuana cigarette butt on the ship.

The '70s and '80s saw legislation really get out of hand (but then, those last five words describes what always happens to the government). Here's some of the laws passed: the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO); the Continuing Criminal Enterprise Act (CCE); the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970; the Psychotropic Substances Act of 1978; the Comprehensive Forfeiture Act of 1982; the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984; the Comprehensive Drug Penalty Act of 1984; and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986: the Comprehensive Anti-Ugliness and Anti-Stupidity Act of 1989 (okay, I made the last one up). Altogether, more than 200 federal forfeiture laws have been passed.

None had the slightest effect on crime, which is understandable when it is realized these "laws" do nothing more than lay curses on objects and then try to remove them by stealing them from the owners. I suppose this means politicians are actually witches. Thieving witches. Although I suspect that in their minds they somehow see themselves as priest-kings.

Fortunately, after an almost decade-long effort an unlikely coalition of organizations (the ACLU and the National Rifle Association among others) headed by Representative Henry Hyde, pushed through the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA), which was signed by President Clinton in April 2000. It helped to stop some of the abuses. What should be done is that the legal concept of the deodand should be gotten rid of completely.

What actually is evil is not the deodand, but the State. Consider this case: Donald Scott, a 61-year-old millionaire wrongly suspected of growing marijuana on his 200-acre ranch in Malibu, California, was shot and killed in front of his wife when 30 local, state, and federal agents burst into their house to serve them with a search warrant.

Awakened by the commotion and his wife's screams, Scott grabbed his handgun and was descending the stairs when he was murdered. After a five-month investigation, the Ventura County attorney concluded that the evidence of Scott's "drug cultivation" submitted to obtain the warrant was non-existent. Testimony also revealed that Scott was "fanatically anti-drug."

Ominously, Scott had refused to sell his ranch to the U.S. National Park Service. His refusal made especially frightening the district attorney's finding that U.S. National Park Service police were present during the raid, that at the final police briefing before the raid, the possible government seizure of Scott's ranch was discussed; and that documents reviewed at an earlier meeting included a property-appraisal statement. In other words, the State's curse on marijuana was used to "bear false witness" against Scott so his property could be declared a deodand and stolen from him.

If the saying, "the love of money is the root of all evil" applies to everyone, then even those who try to use the State as a magic amulet to protect themselves are not exempt from it, no matter how much they pretend they are. And while this is no such thing as a cursed object, I have no doubts at all that there are cursed people.