Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Machine is Breaking Down, and Two Books You Might Want to Read

"They are new socialist man — interchangeable parts with no sense of their own group identity or uniqueness — no traditions, no culture, and no reactionary and troublesome notions to pass on to their children." - Yggsdrasil

By saying, "The Machine is breaking down," I mean the Machine of the State. The State is not alive, it is a monster, and its purpose is to turn you into a cog, an interchangeable part bereft of meaning, importance, community, with no traditions, no culture...just a working, consuming, and murdering machine meant to serve State and Corporations. It's purpose is to mortify you, make you dead inside.

And when you feel dead inside, what you want is feel alive:

What I listed above are the purposes of public schools (contrary to what you're told): to mold you into a cog. Sit, march, sit, listen, regurgitate your lessons...obey, obey, obey.

School, yech. I still shudder to think of the years I served...and utterly wasted.

I've pointed out before that for all practical purposes I might as well have dropped out of school in the first grade, considering that after I learned readin', 'ritin' and 'rithmetic, I learned nothing.

Middle school? DoubleYech. Worse than that, even. Hell on earth.

High school? About the only thing I learned in it was how to make a bong out of a coffee pot.

College was better. I actually learned something, and one of the most important things I learned, in an English class, was the theme of the Machine State vs. the Natural State.

That theme got its state during the Industrial Revolution, when various artists noticed the alienation it engendered (when Marx, who was overwhelmingly a destructive leftist imbecile, wrote about alienation, he was writing about people being alienated from their jobs. He was right about that.). William Blake, for example, referred to "Dark Satanic mills," and Charles Dickens made a career out of writing about children working in them.

Thoreau understood what was going on: "The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others — as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders — serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few — as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men — serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and are commonly treated as enemies by it."

This theme of the Machine State versus the Natural State never existed before the Industrial Revolution. It's not that machines are bad (they are amoral) but they are supposed to serve us, not we them. We're still trying to solve that problem.

Opposed to the Machine State is the Natural State, and that opposition has intrigued me for years. I see this opposition in much of what I read.

Let's look at Laura Ingalls Wilders' biography of her husband Farmer Boy. Almanzo grew up on the family farm in the 1870's, hated school and rarely attended it, but grew up intelligent and well-read. And he loved working on the farm as a little boy, because he had meaningful work.

Something his father told him will forever stay in my mind: if you work for someone else you will be a wage-slave, and you will never be your own man. You will forever be a replaceable cog in the Machine.

Almanzo grew up in that Natural State, free, happy, his own man. He and Laura spent their lives that way, and when their daughter, Rose Wilder Lane (who wrote The Discovery of Freedom) couldn't tolerate school in Mansfield, Missouri (where I have visited) they let her home-school herself in the family house...which her parents built (and I have been in it).

Free, your own man, meaningful work...that's why I consider this book essential reading.

Less than 100 years later (the 1950s, to be exact) you can still see this freedom and independence, in Bill Bryson's autobiography, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. This is a book that ends with these lines: "What a wonderful world it was. We won’t see its like again, I’m afraid."

Again, one thing that sticks in my mind is that the young Bryson rarely wanted to get up before noon, so he didn't attend school all that much. Yet he grew up to be a much admired - and very funny - writer.

What has happened to destroy all of this? The same thing that always happens, the same thing that is one story that is repeated over and over throughout history: the growth of the State. And when it grows, another thing always happens: society and civilization reel under its assault.

The State always collapses. The Machine always breaks down.

The Machine is breaking down right now, before our eyes. It's horrible and fascinating, like watching a bunch of cars get into a slow-motion car wreck, one that you know is going to be awful.

There always be must organized resistance, groups of like-minded people who share the same ideas and goals, ones who can be trusted. As Edmund Burke wrote, "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

"There are always two parties; the establishment and the movement." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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