Kabbalah & The Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good. 
- Notice the three elements: speaking, creation, good. We'll get back to them.
- Ok.
- Speaking of old stories: every time I pride myself on discovering something new I find out someone has been there before me, usually thousands of years before me. I'd written about the relation between Kabbalah, the tradition of Jewish mysticism, and anarchism, the political system of voluntary organization without central government*, and I thought that if Kabbalah corresponded in some ways in its social implication, why wouldn't it also correspond in philosophical?
- By philosophical you mean ideas of freedom, property, universals.
- Yes, and I had this crazy idea that if I went back again and looked I'd see what no one before me had seen.
- But you'd find yourself wrong there too.
- Yes but I'd have my fun while it lasted. So I looked to see what was in the Kabbalah in relation to property, freedom, universals.
- And what did you discover?
- The Kabbalah like the creation story associates good, language, and creativity, with the consequence that doing good is necessarily associated with change. Rules, unchanging things, are revelations from god, an incommunicable individual experience. In the Kabbalah - "tradition" or "receiving" - the rules are interpreted, put into new words and formulation, the so-called oral revelation to the world as it is here and now. The tradition changes and develops the rules in their application. Similarly we ourselves have our own rules and tradition. Our self, our "rule", hovers above the joining of male and female at our conception, and in every good deed we do we weave the robe of tradition of our self more and more complete, we tell our own story, or rather, we rewrite it with each good deed, as each good we do makes us capable of more. Rules are reinterpreted in the process of our intending to do good as our selves are developed in our good deeds.
- What is the connection to property?
- In an unchanging society with unchanging roles, rules are acquired individually, creatively, actively, but learned unconsciously in childhood, with the consequence that each individual, once he wakes up and thinks about it, has an incentive to break the rules if he can without getting caught. The Kabbalah turns this upsidedown. If the act of reinterpretation in following rules is an act using language, then it depends on the agreement of all speakers of the language on the meaning of words and how the language is spoken. That agreement provides the foundation of universal principle.
- How does speaking the same language make me obey a rule it is my interest to break?
- You and me are the Jewish people, in our exodus out of Egypt. We meet on Mt. Sinai with god, who makes a deal with you, and makes a deal with me. Two deals, god to individual, but god's part in the deal is a promise to both of us, delivery to the promised land. Follow?
- Yes.
- Think about it. To speak a language individually and be understood we both have agree on the meaning of words and how the language works. To cash in on god's promise we similarly need to act in agreement.
- On what?
- God's rules, delivered by Moses a few weeks later. Each individual continues his own life, giving up nothing to the other individuals yet benefiting by being delivered to the promised land.
- Why giving up nothing? We have to obey the rules.
- We want to obey the rules exactly like we want to learn words. Do you complain about words taking away your freedom?
- I do, when they get in the way of expressing myself.
- That you have anything worth while to express is due to what you made of yourself through the use of words. You mean you don't want to use words when you don't have to.
- Maybe. 
- The act of reinterpretation of tradition works in the same way we speak, is an action with the same form, producing the same result, unity of purpose.
- Assume I understand. Where does property come in?
- Revelation gives us rules.
- God gave the Jews their rules.
- In revelation, which we can describe as the experience of god, we see how many things are really one. We come to know it is best 'in this situation, do that'. Property too is rule and revelation, but has a special, magical power.
- What do you mean by magical?
- Power enabled by a different kind of language, a destructive use of language. Property is the product of ritual, of language used repetitively, not creatively. In the Kabbalah language is a creative act for doing good that comes from god, whereas property comes from the limited repetitive action of a limited group of people with each other at a limited time and place. We won't be able to find a universal principle of sharing if we start from property.
- Where do we start from then?
- The self that creates to do good in the company of others doing the same, who have received the same revelation 
not of the magic of property but of creativity, and reinterpret it in each others company.
- We share with each other because we are creative with each other. And as you've said before private property is a thought-through exception, the cases where sharing would not be creative but destructive.
- Universal principle, sharing, is the result of all three things god does when he creates the world: he speaks, he creates, he does good. It is in the creative act itself universal principles arise. Rules  cannot create actual agreement among followers of rule, as seeing the rule, a sort of revelation, is individual, and does not establish a relation between people. In Plato's 'Republic' people have to be lied to to keep the rules, indoctrinated while still children to believe they are all close family.
- I'm beginning to see. We expect sharing, universal principles, to be fixed things, But the truth is they come from change.
- When the Dalai Lama fled with his people to Tibet the time came when he said to the Jewish people, "Tell me your secret of spiritual survival in exile". A group of Jewish scholars and rabbis was invited to visit him. Right at the beginning of their discussion the Dalai Lama raised the question, What is religion? and hearing that among the Jews that question was the source of much bitter dispute, he answered, If religion does not make people more compassionate what good is it? Property is a version of revelation, a kind of magic, that makes compassion impossible.
- The religious dispute because they treat their religion like property. And property is a religion that makes compassion impossible.
- But we don't call it religion, we call it a right. The magic revelation of property is not experience of god, found privately, that leads to speaking with others who've had the same revelation about how to make a good life together. Rather it is the product of acting with others in the group, depending on each keeping without change his place in the group. There is no room for compassion. Each is the agent to the others stability and power. The user doesn't see the tool, sees only what the tool is used for. There is gratitude each to each for giving to each his power, but no real sharing of life and experience. That is possible only when language, creativity, and good come together. In creative speech towards good we all have something to offer potentially and something to gain potentially from results. The man who builds doors has nothing in common with the man who builds windows until someone starts talking about building a good house.
- Compassionate religion requires universal principles. For universal principles we need to build a society that  protects and develops change, creativity, discussion and search for what is good. Sharing isn't really a universal principle, but results from applying other principles, from talking creatively with each other. Then we don't directly want to share with each other?
- We have minds set on higher things.
- What higher things? Not new revelations, discoveries, which you said you keep thinking you are doing but find out you aren't.
- I can hope my derivative discoveries respond to a world of different people and interpret ideas differently, better for the understanding of the people who use the same words I do. But anyway it is not revelation and discoveries, of sharing, justice, principles, whatever that are important, but what we do with them. As the Dalai Lama said, what we want from the right views, the right revelation, is compassion.

Karma & Kabbalah

India In Beverly Hills

There was a king who had a single son who kept misbehaving. One day he offended the king. The king said, 'I have punished you so many times and you have not [changed]. Now look, what should I do with you? If I banish you from the land and expel you from the kingdom, perhaps wild beasts or wolves or robbers will attack you and you will be no more. What can I do? The only solution is that I and you together leave the land.' So . . . the Blessed Holy One said as follows: 'Israel, what should I do with you? I have already punished you and you have not heeded Me. I have brought fearsome warriors and flaming forces to strike at you and you have not obeyed. If I expel you from the land alone, I fear that packs of wolves and bears will attack you and you will be no more. But what can I do with you? The only solution is that I and you together leave the land and both of us go into exile. As it is written, 'I will discipline you,' forcing you into exile; but if you think that I will abandon you, Myself too [shall go] along with you.*


Corner of Beverly Blvd. and Doheny Dr., India in Beverly Hills.

Untouchables live and die on two bus-stops facing each other on either side of the street, in front of the supermarket on one side, in front of the more expensive supermarket on the other.

- I've seen you around. You give away money.
- I've seen you too. You read. What have you got there?
- Kabbalah.
- The Kabbalah is simple. I'll tell you all you need to know. Compassion. Do good. I don't talk, I do. I see people who need help, and I help them.
- How do you help them?
- If they need food I buy them food. If they need money I give them money.
- What makes you think that is doing good?
- The Rabbi says you have to be careful in how you give. Respect people's sensitivities.
- Do you pay attention to what happens after you do good?
- How do you mean?
- Do the people you give money to have better or worse lives after you give them money? Do you know?
- That's god's business, not mine.
- They'll see you are treating them as things.
- I don't.
- They'll see you've done this before and you'll do it again. That they are a tool in your hands, a thing you use, an instrument for your doing good. You shouldn't operate on people like a technician.
- How should I operate on them?
- Like god. According to Kabbalah, the world is not simply something, some thing he made, but something emanated from him.
- What's the difference?
- When you look at the world you see god, at least that aspect that can be seen in the world. Because we are created in god's image, we too have to create like god in every thing we do. Kabbalah tells us how god created the world, and we have to do it the same way if we are to follow god.
- How did god created the world?
- With wisdom and through beauty. We have to follow in his footsteps. That means, in practical terms, start our operation by reminding ourselves what god has done. We do that by seeing god in the world, and we do that when we recognize, we experience beauty in the world. Beauty is a sort of karma, but unlike the Indian version that simply goes from our action, good and bad, through the world back to us, this Karma stays out in world, visible to us and capable of being built upon, of inspiring good deeds that create more beauty. In Kabbalah beauty is joined compassion and judgement, as befits its being the product of wisdom. Beauty is drawn into marriage with the world, and the progeny of that marriage is more beauty.
- I told you. I leave all that useless reasoning and talk to others. I go out and do something.
- And botch the job. Do something ugly. Not beginning from beauty you don't produce beauty. To do good in the world requires you first see the world as beautiful. Seeing the beauty of the world is knowing god made the world and made it well. Not made well the entire world, which you know nothing about. But that part you are looking and thinking about now, that you identify by means of the language you've learned among the people you live with. The beauty of the world excites your judgement and compassion, draws you to respond to it and gives birth in you to another beautiful good deed. Beauty is both judgement and compassion, not one or the other. Beauty won't be created out of good deeds done by rule, by judgement only; won't be created out of good done out of thoughtless feeling, compassion alone.
- How is beauty drawn to beauty?
- Judgement and compassion is brought to bear on the world, and out of that marriage is the good deed born, beautiful in itself. The beauty that inspires making more beauty works through language. Beauty is recorded in the world, gets its persisting, foundational karma, from our ways and habits of using our language. A story once told inspires more stories. Language lives through its community of speakers. That's why in Kabbalah the Jewish people are identified with the world which also is god, not merely his product.
- The Jewish people is god, the world is god. Language is god. And I am to act like god. Everything is god.
- Everything would be god if we all acted with god's wisdom. God creates with wisdom, through compassion and judgement, bringing his wisdom to bear on his own creation. Made in his image we have to do the same. As a people we tell each other stories of how this is done, and we see the world through these stories. The beauty of the world seen through these stories inspires us to make beautiful stories out of our lives.
- But it is not just the Jewish people I help. I think that's wrong.
- The Kabbalah reached its high point of development and probably acceptance at a time the Jewish people were excluded from most activities in the lives of the people they lived among. When restrictions were lifted in the Enlightenment, the time of the French and American Revolutions, the rabbis declared the Kabbalah dangerous and to be studied by only a select few. Do you know why?
- Why?
- If god is known in the world and the world is known through language and language is carried on by a community of speakers, when that community is freed to speak to others outside, there is no reason to exclude anyone from that community. Doing good would have to be directed also to those outside. The rabbis wanted instead to take advantage of the practical gains the new social freedom allowed, but keep the doing good within their communities. Gershom Scholem, the German Jewish academic who begin the modern study of Kabbalah, explained that a non-practicing Jew like himself found himself drawn into the study of mysticism by its political implications. He was a Zionist, and the return to Israel was a way to make a secure foundation for the Jews from which they could safely bring good out into the world.


- "Bring good out into the world". You talk about it like doing good was secret knowledge.
- It certainly is secret knowledge. I'll read you this: according to Nahmanides, 12th century rabbi and physician,
 In the prophetic vision, during which the soul is united with the objects of its contemplation, it is in this state of debhequth, that is, obtains a ''knowledge of God face to face." In this longing for its origin, the highest soul of man becomes capable of penetrating all the intermediary spheres and rising up to God by means of its acts—which, strangely enough, are united here with contemplation.** 
- Whatever.
- Not whatever. Knowledge. We see apparently civilized countries suddenly breaking out into the most vicious savagery, and then within a few years back to civilized again. We see the same with individuals. Do you know why?
- Do you?
- It's because we as individuals don't do as Nahmanides tells us it's possible to do: know how to get out of ourselves.
- To get with god.
- When we don't know what we do to get out of ourselves we take instruction from the people around us. Behind conscious self-instruction is knowledge. Behind unconscious instruction from others is violence. 
- Is that the secret? Is it even true?
- It might be true. And if it is true, we know from other things we do know for sure that though there is no necessity, there is a possibility that history might end and the messiah come.
- And that's the secret.
- There is a sort of dynamic, or logic, to the competition between the two ways of getting out of ourselves. They block each other: violence punishes love, love disdains violence. But it is not an equal battle. Violence grows out of ignorance and is always the same old thing, whereas love, growing from knowledge, knowing that violence is the product of unconscious activity in the group can alter the group to prevent violence from developing. The group can punish good, reward bad, get us to forget love and worship property, but if the group is modeled on knowing how to act to get out...
- How can a group be modeled on knowing how to get out?
- By seeing the world created as words spoken by god, seeing the world as people creating their lives in the same way they use language, using words not knowing how the sentence will end but expecting it be good and what they want if they use language right. If our group tell us one thing only, and that is to do this for ourselves, if we take precautions to make sure this only is what our group does, then good prevails, and must. 
- Like our country spreads democracy around the world by dropping bombs on people.
- Is our country a group of people who learn consciously to see god? 
- We're all waiting for the messiah.
- Wait for the messiah and the devil will come. The messiah has to be brought down to us.
- And you know how.
- If the good we do stays in the world in the form of beauty, and beauty is no more than a model of the kind of knowing action that get us face to face with god, and the good staying in the world requires the obtainable protection of the people who speak to each other of beauty, and the people can speak to people in other groups, then ultimately a time will come when the battle is over. The messiah is the one who arrives to say, That time is here, prepare now for an entirely new way of life. No more will we betray each other in protection of our property, our god, our selves as possessions, no more will we act to get ourselves out of the world of betrayal and rest in the sight of beauty. Finally all of life, all those cycles of betrayal and recovery, exile and return, action and rest, will be gathered together as one long period of action in exile, and be over, we'll rest with god. His beauty will give us continual rest, but we'll act in our calm, act like a child acts in the protection of family, our difficulties enjoyable diversions, played through like games.
* From the Zohar (Hebrew: זֹהַר, lit. Splendor or Radiance), the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah.
** Gershom Scholem, Origins Of The Kabbalah

Property & Addiction

- The internet addict sits at his computer. Click. A girl. Click. Another girl. Click. Click. Click. Why isn't the first good enough, why isn't the second? Why doesn't he keep looking at the same girl? Does the pleasure or whatever it is of looking wear off, like effect when taking a drug?  
- When I drink wine in a good mood I feel better. If I am in a bad mood, I feel worse. Are you the same?
- I am. 
- Being in a good mood means being normal. Creative, responsive, imaginative, pleased. You take the alteration of experience in stride. Maybe you laugh at what you're doing to yourself, maybe you take advantage of the relaxation to remember what you didn't have time for during the day. In other words, the deliberate modification of the way you experience the world is in your control. Drinking the wine makes you worse at some things and better at others, but there is nothing in it that detaches you from the world as a whole.
- And when I drink wine when I'm sad?
- You are doing something unnatural. If you are sad it is because there is something wrong that needs to be taken care of. Maybe a good sleep would do it. But if instead you drink a glass of wine, you are taking a step along the path of addiction.
- One glass of wine.
- Remember when we talked about lying*, how telling a lie makes it necessary to tell more lies to keep consistent, and how telling each new lie limits further the world you can talk about and limits how much of the world draws your attention? The boy sitting at the internet looking at pictures of girls is like you drinking wine when you're sad, or the liar forced to tell more lies with each lie he tells. The boy wants to be with a girl but is instead with a picture of a girl, You want to be happy again but instead have made yourself forget your unhappiness, the liar wants to speak the truth, because that is what language is for, but afraid to be caught in his lies he tells more lies, with the world that can be talked about shrinking to his attention more and more.
- An addict wants more and more what he can resist less and less, begins in unhappiness and goes on from there. Ok. That is what addiction is. Many people have said that. But why does someone get addicted?
- We give our sadness an unnatural treatment, aware of doing which makes us more sad, and we give ourselves again unnatural treatment... 
- The boy at the computer looks at the picture of the girl. She's really something. Then, you say, he doesn't close his computer and get up  and go out to real life but clicks again to see another girl. He does this because he felt bad looking at the first?
- Yes. Let's go back to me and my wine. If I drank knowing life was good, I'd feel good. If the boy had many friends, both girls and boys, he'd probably shut the computer and laugh about what he'd seen with them. If the boy however looks at the picture and his first response is that he'd love to laugh at what he'd seen but no one is around and he doesn't know when anyone ever will be around, he goes back to the picture as an unnatural substitute disconnected from his life as a whole. The more time spent solitary the less experience and confidence born of experience he'll have in company, and as company becomes something he doesn't know how to deal with he loses interest in it.
- The unnatural treatment works when there is some happiness to make something of it, reflect on it, incorporate it in a story. But when there is no happiness, when the forgetting is over we remember what we did to forget, we feel the unnaturalness of it, and to forget this unwelcome news we have recourse again to our drug. That makes sense. Do you know what people are saying is our biggest addiction these days?
- What?
- Business. Making money.
- Sure. Buyer and seller are enemies trying to get the better of each other. Every act of enmity in the midst of cooperative social life is unnatural. We take pleasure in the profit from the transaction, but aware of the unnaturalness don't stop when we can but go back again to money making. The only way we wouldn't be addicted to money would be if we made a habit of taking a step back in our happiness, a life not based on making money, saw what we had been doing all as some kind of joke. But the addict goes on making money, transaction by transaction treating everyone as an enemy, forgetting the misery of having to live at war with his fellow human beings in the joy of profit. When that joy fades he feels uneasy with what he's done, which has made it more difficult for him to return to the world outside money where people are not enemies. He throws himself back into money making to forget his inner uneasiness and growing disinterest in the world outside. 
- Would you say that not just making money is an addiction, but holding property itself?
- Making money is an addiction, and acquiring property is an addiction. The attachment to property itself is an addiction. Property is not sharing. Happy people share. Children share. Not sharing is unnatural. 
- You've said before ** that property was a ritual of imagination. We imagine how this and that person is impressed by our possession. When I imagine that guy over there impressed by my car, I feel safe for a moment. But then I don't really know that guy, if he is really impressed or pretending, what about that woman, yes, she'd be impressed by my car.
- We embark on this sequence of imagination because we are addicted to the idea of impressing people with our objects. We possess an identity, a social role, which like our physical possessions is also the product of addiction. An ape that makes the ugliest face, grunts louder, jumps higher scares the other apes into submission, establishes himself as master and the others as servants. All the apes stay, make and witness gestures again and again, the more frightening and the more frightened, because once they've discovered the possibility to stay securely together and continue with the unnatural repetition of the same gestures, the conditions of addiction are met. 
- Why don't the frightened apes run?
- Run from sight of their own weakness? Why, when knowing something is wrong with what is producing security is the essence of addiction. Every participant in a ritual is an addict to ritual, not just those who end up with more powerful position in a hierarchy.
- Addiction on top of everything else produces hierarchy. Our identification with our property, our mysterious attachment to things is imaginary, but at least this additional addiction produces something real, a role in a hierarchy is some kind of social act. 
- The kind that make us all unhappy because it is unnatural and sets us out to new addictions.
- What a mess.***

Further Reading:
*** "Friendship, real esteem, and perfect confidence are banished from among men. Jealousy, suspicion, fear, coldness, reserve, hate and fraud lie constantly concealed under that boasted candor and urbanity, for which we are indebted to the enlightened spirit of the age.(Rousseau, Discourse On The Arts And Sciences)

A Spiritualist Campaigns For Congress, An Anarchist Attend

(Meeting Room, Beverly Hills City Hall, March 14, 2014)

- You're not staying for questions. You didn't like what you heard?
- Marianne Williamson is a nice woman, who knows, but what I saw in there was a politician giving a speech. Elect her to congress and she promises she'll work to get the money out of government. The people in our country aren't bad, she praises them, but the government is bad. If we work together we can change that.
- You don't agree?
- When people ask her, she said, what can we do? what hope do we have? she answers, look at the civil rights movement, the abolition movement, look at feminism, the anti-Vietnam war, all successes in full or part.
- That's right.
- No, the comparison is false. Our country is a democracy. From its beginning democracy has been the form of politics which does not express any one idea of human nature. We don't say the best people govern us, we don't say the workers govern us. Instead we say let everyone fight it out in words and ideas, and in general the results will be better than the alternatives. This is simple political theory. Do you understand?
- Yes.
- Good. From the beginning, I'm talking about Aristotle here, two and half thousand years ago, concentration of wealth was identified as the enemy of democracy. The compromise between scattered different interests breaks down when wealth forges agreements between people of different views, wanting more money being something they all have in common, buys them out and then takes control. Since the civil rights, feminist, anti-Vietnam war movements' successes the entire middle class of the United States has been wiped out. From an average net worth for an American family, the value of all their possessions if they were cashed in and all debts paid, of 170,000 dollars in the 1970s, we now have a negative average net worth, meaning the average American family has nothing, owes money, is in debt.
- Even here in Beverly Hills you can see the middle class has gone.
- Say Marianne Williamson gets elected to House of Representatives, becomes the only independent there. What do you think she can do? She says she'll call for a constitutional amendment banning the influence of money on politics. What power does she have to get the government, all the other elected and appointed officials, to listen?
- The people have the power.
- The people don't have power over those elected and appointed officials. Money has power and they don't have money. They let it be taken away from them.
- We have to do something. What's your plan then?
- Throw them all out.
- That's not realistic.
- It is realistic. Imagine that Marianne Williamson came to me and asked me what she should do when she got to Congress, since I know everything. Do you know what I'd tell her?
- What?
- I'd say, address the people of the United States in these terms: Our elected and appointed officials have been corrupted by taking bribes. I call on you, the people of the United States, to demand all elected and appointed officials resign and new elections be called. I'd have her then explain to the people the truth, that the American people can't compete, literally can't afford to bribe their elected and appointed officials to act in their interests. They have no choice but to throw them all out. That's all their budget allows.
- It will never happen.
- And there are not revolutions going on as we speak in South America and Eastern Europe? Wake up. General strikes, massive non-compliance, withdrawal of consent, they all work. Governments are overthrown. The problem I have with your Marianne Williamson is that she's not ready. You aren't either.
- Because if we got a new government it would be just like the old. Consciousness has to change. That is why people like Marianne are important.
- The consciousness of people changes when it is given a chance to change. People fighting each merely to survive are never going to be gurus on a hill. You might as well ask us to commit suicide, because that is what results from being gentle and loving in the midst of maddened beasts.
- But if your fantasy came true and the government resigned, new people were elected, they would be same people with the same low consciousness and it would be the same old story over again.
- Let's make the story even more fantastic. I'll tell you that story, then I've got to go. Politics makes me sick. Here's the story:

     'Marianne Williamson, spiritual psychotherapist and talk show regular is elected to the House of Representatives. She calls on all elected officials to resign, and new elections be held.
     All comes to pass. We get a whole new gang in office. We use existing laws of taxation and financial penalties for criminal acts to take back all the wealth stolen by those who bribed the government into eliminating the middle class. I emphasize here existing laws. No change to basic institutions, no new laws.
      Now we are back to where we left off in the 70s. We're like doctors who've cured our patient's symptoms and ask, how are we going to prevent their recurrence? We've recovered the money stolen from the middle class, and we're going to give it back to them. We're going to do it with a couple new rules.
     Marianne Williamson says she wants people to raise their consciousness. Doing yoga on a mountain top, getting Marianne to do psychotherapy on them might help. But wouldn't it be better for people's consciousness not to make them into slaves?
     The government has taxed and confiscated back from criminals the trillions of dollars stolen and uses it to guarantee everyone a place to live and food to eat forever. Forever and forever. The government, representing intelligent understanding of human nature, understands that people who have the basics in life securely taken care of prefer to do something rather than nothing. They want to work and want to work creatively. People don't need to be made into desperate killers to get them off to work and out of bed in the gutters where our present government destines them if they don't willingly enter into slavery to criminals.
      No. Our new government uses a very small amount of its new wealth to give everyone the basics of life. And then says, submit your applications. You are now all entrepreneurs. Tell us who you want to cooperate with, if anyone, and on what, and we'll hand you the money if we like your proposal. We've got lots of money! But there are two conditions. No wage slavery. Slavery destroys the spirit. Our democracy can't take it, and it makes people uncreative. Everyone has to be an equal partner. If you don't like the rule, stay at home. Sit and look out the window. We'll leave you be. If you're right that people only work under threat of death you'll be very happy.
     If you want to work together creatively and voluntarily with your fellow human beings you'll share in the results. But there's a condition here too, the second rule. There is a disease called "doing for the sake of doing", making money for the sake of making money. The corporation is an economic entity exactly defined by this disease. Doing for the sake of doing leaves out spirituality. We have learned our lesson and we can't allow that disease to return.
     We do things for a reason, a good reason. We don't do things to do things. We do things to make our lives better, love each other, love the world, be happy. If we are to prevent this disease from recurring we have to prevent people from using wealth they accumulate for the sake of accumulating more wealth.
     So the government will tax away all wealth not used, not immediately placed at the disposal of new enterprise.
     This is the government's new health regimen. We've treated the symptoms, returned the wealth to the people. We've diagnosed the disease that's been depriving the majority of people of their spirituality, making them slaves, and that's been allowing the minority of people deprive themselves of spirituality in their doing for the sake of doing.
     Outlawing employment of servants by masters, and outlawing possession of unused wealth are our two preventative measures.
     Although not completely untested - there have been large scale experimental trials - the treatment is unproven. But our choice is to do nothing, allow things to go back to how they were before, or do what we human beings do best and one way or another better our lives together.*
Anarchism is no patent solution for all human problems, no Utopia of a perfect social order, as it has so often been called, since on principle it rejects all absolute schemes and concepts. It does not believe in any absolute truth, or in definite final goals for human development, but in an unlimited perfectibility of social arrangements and human living conditions, which are always straining after higher forms of expression, and to which for this reason one can assign no definite terminus nor set any fixed goal. The worst crime of any type of state is just that it always tries to force the rich diversity of social life into definite forms and adjust it to one particular form, which allows for no wider outlook and regards the previously exciting status as finished. The stronger its supporters feel themselves, the more completely they succeed in bringing every field of social life into their service, the more crippling is their influence on the operation of all creative cultural forces, the more unwholesomely does it affect the intellectual and social development of any particular epoch. (Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism)

Questioning Property

- Property.
- Yes.
- The great problem.
- The great social problem. As a philosophical problem it is easily solved.
- Alright then.
- What we have here is the rare case where the popular perception is dead-on right.
- That we identify with our possessions.
- Meaning our possessions identify us. We identify ourselves with our possessions. We see ourselves when we look at our possession, our possessions tell us who we are.
- Because they are close to us?
- Property is something we are close to. But that's not it.
- Why not?
- Because when we feel a sense of possession and ownership it always is a claim on the future. Imagine a world where there was no one to take anything away from you. Would you look at your things in the same way?
- I'm not sure.
- In science, one thing next to another becomes known only when by experiment we can establish a law of relation between the movement of those two things. The two things just standing there have no relation.
- You think it is the same with us and our property? We have no relations to our things except in the lawful way we act with them? By law, do you mean scientific laws, or human laws?
- Human laws, including the laws of the state that tell us how to act with each other.
- What is the human law of property?
- Don't share. Now, other than science, what does this remind you of: this lawful relation of people with each other, and an emptiness of direct relationship?
- What does it remind you of?
- Ritual establishes who we are, our power in a group, by repeating the same acts in the company of others doing the same. The people are "ours" and we are our roles.
- Ok. Property is mysterious to us because it arises out of ritual, which you've explained over and over leads us to forget ourselves, forget everything outside what we do in the ritual. Right?
- Right.
- A patient tells the doctor who he is, a car tells the car owner who he is. Who is he?
- The kind of person who drives that kind of car.
- How does he know?
- He's performed his rituals in imagination with the help of advertisements.
- We don't let others touch our property because it interferes with our imaginary rituals. They are not the kind of person who has that thing, we are.
- Yes.
- And the doctor is ready to defend his Ferrari to the death because this mysterious sense of ownership has been acquired at the cost of self forgetting in ritual?
- The sense of ownership has replaced memory of all personal actions besides following the rules of the ritual. Ownership is who we are.
- By following the rules of the ritual, you mean the doctor playing by the rules, going to school, wearing the right uniforms and maintaining the right attitudes. I have this watch because it reminds me of airplane instrumentation and the idea of being that flying kind of person amuses me, and I won't let you take it from me because it then wouldn't be my story but yours. Stories are competitive?
- A doctor needs a patient to be a doctor. The doctor doesn't care about the patient, but has to have patients in order to be a doctor. The doctor is one kind of thing, his patients another. Things don't share. They have relations defined by law.
- So the doctor doesn't care about his Ferrari?
- He cares very much about the power the car has to tell him who he is. He is nothing without it and he knows it, he will fiercely defend his right to keep it. Property rights are protected by force because that is a practical necessity: exclusive use of things, not sharing things, will never be agreed to by people who have nothing. But people don't see property as unfair and made possible only by violence. Property seems to us to be a moral principle*. It tells us our relation to other people. Since we derive our sense of self from ritual in which we have forgotten our real self, without self knowledge our response to threat to property can only be violence. The irrationality and immorality of the state's recourse to violence to defend property so obviously reflects our own passion it is never questioned.
- We're questioning now.

* * *

- Say you are right. Property, what we mean by it, feel it to be, is a product of imaginary ritual. Now what? Property is not sharing. How do we share things? Do you have any idea?
- A couple years ago we were talking about sharing and we imagined this dialog:
- Give me that.
- Here. Give me that.
- You just gave it to me.
- It's better to give it to me now before you become too attached to it.
- OK. Give me that.
- OK. It is just a house.
- Thanks.
- Give me that.
- Why not? It's just a house.
Two good fellows living in the jungle. Both have nice houses made out of tree trucks and branches, and all the time in the world to get something good to eat. They aren't afraid of dying, and like to make gifts. The only thing that really could frighten them would be a life like yours and mine, to not be able to make gifts. One of them kindly hands the property rights to his house over to his friend, who asks for it, and who hands back the property rights when asked in turn. The point of the story is that each of these good fellows almost immediately comes to an obvious conclusion: Ask for something else. This for two obvious reasons: each already has a house, and each cannot get another one by asking because it will be asked back. Economic life can be rational, can have its laws, and also be human when what the human being is rationally doing is also the object of human attention and choice.

Further Reading:

Security At A Hollywood Preview

Village Theater, Westwood, March 5, 2014

- Sir! You can't pass here. The intersection is closed.
- Everyone has to walk around the block so limos can drive up to the movie preview. Can I pass? I'm invited.
- You can pass.
- What do you think of this? All these kid trying to get to school, finding you and dozens of other guards dressed in banker's suits blocking sidewalks and streets.
- Girls! Street Closed! You have to pass on the other side.
     - Can we J-walk?
- Yes, but be careful.
- No! You girls are too small. We're instituting a height rule, drivers behind all those sport utility vehicles can't see you. Cross at the corner.
- I know this isn't the way it should be. This is my third job. I'm struggling.
- Where are you from?
- Chicago. I came here six months ago. For the first two months I slept in my car, saved up five thousand dollars so I could get an apartment. My late night job is guarding a downtown parking lot. The job is about taking care of everyone who's slipped in to sleep, I clear them out like zombies after the apocalypse. People in government think that if they raise the minimum wage to ten dollars an hour I'd be rich. I just survive. I'm thinking about going home. Go back to school, the University of Chicago.
- Good idea. Get away from here. The people in the limos will let you die without a thought. They couldn't care less about you.
- Why don't they care? What can they do with five houses, ten cars?
- Why should they care? Why should they place importance in the life of a stranger? What is it to them? Should we all care about each other?
- Hell, yes.
- Can you convince anyone of that? What would you say? You aren't part of their lives, how are you going to convince them to make you part of their lives? What have you to offer?
- I'm a human being like they are.
- Not enough.
- We live in the same society.
- Society. Once you start arguing about better and worse society you are seeing society as a thing to be made better or worse. Try to convince someone in society to make it a better thing, and you bring to mind other things that person could be making better instead. Better possessions, better protected family, etc. Why should they care about public things more than private things?
- What's the answer?
- The answer is as old as democracy itself. People don't care about a public thing called society. People get together when they see cooperation makes each individually more powerful.
- They're thinking of themselves, not society.
- Right. We're on our way to an answer. Now I'll ask you something else. Do you know what power is?
- No. Do you?
- Power comes from self observation, self knowledge. We look at what we have done in the past, put our different kinds of actions into different categories, we look at the different kinds of results also put into different categories. For Plato, the best kind of actions were those that lead you to be able to love the beautiful. It was best to teach yourself to do those things which put you in a relation to the world we call happiness, a general readiness and confidence that problems would and could be taken care within a constant appreciation of the beauty of life. The great discovery was that people gave each other the power to be happy. Conversation and cooperation taught them to love beauty.
- We shouldn't try to make society beautiful but our lives beautiful.
- It is beautiful to know the alternatives. To know that acquiring things makes you feel safe in their protection and inattentive to, sometimes even antagonist to the important things in life when choice between them becomes necessary. It is beautiful too to know that attachment to the public thing of society brings exactly the same dangers*. It is beautiful to exercise the power to chose between alternative lives based on knowing. But to someone not exercising that power of choice, to someone unacquainted with the beautiful possibilities of life, then, to get back to your question, since society is just another kind of possession it is natural that such a person prefers his own things. Let's imagine though that this person understood in theory the power that people give each other to be happy. Would he then be interested in the suffering of the unknown people around him?
- Why not?
- He doesn't need the power gained from cooperating with you. His money protects him from you and he does plenty and enough cooperation among his own people. The difference between him and you is he doesn't want to cooperate with just anyone. And in fact he doesn't really believe you do either, only circumstances force you to pretend you do. But perhaps turning his back on you harms his ability to know himself and so exercise his own power privately. Maybe in his private life he needs to be continually reminded, needs the model, the piece of art made by helping a stranger on his way to happiness. What do you think?
- Needs me for what?
- Maybe founding the power of cooperation on this division between yours and mine is no power at all.
- Why not?
- Because maybe every glance and thought of "not mine and not my problem", each act of turning away turns us back to the weaker alternative we observed when we looked at ourselves. Sets us back on the path of fearful repetition established by hiding within the same things among the same people.
- Is that true?
- We have good reason to think it is. Even a harmless lie plays havoc with memory**. If it is true then we can answer our question. We know why they don't care. They would care if they knew the danger to themselves of letting themselves not care, but once they have set down on that path of not caring they are carried away, desperately holding onto private things. Inattention and fear of the public replaces sight of the beautiful and power of cooperation. Strangers are either feared or invisible, they have nothing to offer. It is better for us to care about each other, but to care we have to know ourselves, and when we don't care, we stop knowing ourselves and can't care.
- You're a real talker. You're good, I never heard this before. Say it again.
- They don't care because they can't care, it's futile to ask them to do what they can't do.
- And they run our society.
- Ignore society. It is a question of our own power, of who we cooperate with and who we don't.

* Danger of totalitarianism. See: How To Read Plato's Republic