The Search For Evil


1.

- This book I'm reading about evil offers a definition: destruction done for no practical reason but for a psychological reason.
- Which is?
- Because an individual's desire is diverted to social conformity, both the act of satisfying desire and acts of social conformity, when this is known, are illegitimate, alien to the individual, and merit destruction by the individual. He suggests evil, depending as it does on intellectual analysis, is fairly rare, both in individuals and societies.  
- Let's take an example: the company Google, whose slogan for a while was "Don't be evil''. Their primary business is operating a search engine, their primary source of income paid advertising. They believe it is good to make a machine that functions to a good purpose, helping people find information. Which also is the presumed socially useful function of advertising. Google's search rankings are done mainly by popularity. Advertising in reality substitutes for the function of providing information a false claim of popularity, associating their product with symbols of acceptance and power over other people. Google takes the money of advertisers who sell images of false popularity and gives them the place real popularity achieves. 
- Google gives, by priority placement in its results, both a false sense of popularity and the advertising itself gives a false sense of popularity.
- Yes. Google and its advertisers are in a kind of arms race. The better, more accurate, more useful and informative Google's search results are, the less effective paid advertising is, therefore advertisers have to spend more. This in fact is what is happening as we speak. But the more advertisers spend, the more Google's results reflect advertiser priority, the less useful Google itself is as source of information, and Google needs again to improve the usefulness of its results if it hopes to continue to be bought out by advertisers.
- Then you are accusing the managers of Google of being evil? Arguing that no one could reasonably desire to make such an idiotic machine, such desire would be alienated desire. And a society where institutions for communication function fundamentally at cross purposes with themselves is worthy of destruction. The people who manage and participate in such institutions, if they know what they are doing, are evil.
- Do you think the people at Google know what they are doing, know their own desire is for something they don't really want, money and power, and feel oppressed by the worthlessness of the society they participate in creating?
- No. They are doing what everyone around them is doing.
- Remember what we've said about ritual. The individual's passionate participation in the group, in which his desire is not his own, results at the conclusion of the ritual in a sense of power and security within the group. The "alienated desire" is constructive of a world that is desirable. A better definition of evil is assigning other people the role in ritual of obstacle to be overcome to regain security and power.
- Not just our desire is corrupt, not really ours, and the world is artificial and not worth desiring, so I'll destroy it. But if I abandon my poor worthless self to a ritual, in a fight to the death with those who've forced a world not worth desiring on me, I will get free. And that is really what evil is. 
- At least might be a better definition. And examples won't be hard to find. But an evil individual acting alone is uncommon. An evil individual is insane.
- Why?
- Because the ritual obstacle for him is the whole world, with him in it. At the conclusion of the ritual he, with his worthless desire, is unchanged.
- Then why continue?
- Because in general, in our social lives, ritual works. It established security. The evil individual sees what he has done, made a mockery of the world, expressed his power, but he knows that even that expression of power over this world  is contemptible and worthless. It is too abstract, unphysical, it is not really his. 
- And he once again sets out to lose himself in ritual violence.
- Knowing that losing himself in violence he is doing something worthless. But for a moment, while it lasts, is relieved. 
- Yes. And on and on. Relieving loss of self in violence, disgust, loss of self in violence....

2.

- Let's go back to Google. They're not evil because they know not what they do. Why don't they?
- Good question.
- And the answer is?
- Since Plato philosophy and religion have been thought best kept out of politics.
- Thought by who?
- Philosophers.
- Not the religious.
- They vary.
- And the philosophers don't?
- They do. I'm referring to the best philosophers.
- According to you.
- Sure. Democracy was the safest form of government for philosophers to live their private lives.
- With or without religion?
- With.
- So Google is not evil because there are no philosophers there.
- That's right.
- Why aren't there any philosophers at Google?
- Another good question. Something happened in the last couple of centuries that never happened before: the possibility for philosophers to speak openly about politics and religion in public life without getting killed for it.* Democracy, when it uprooted class held monopolies over property and allowed freer exchange, allowed the aspects of social life, political and religious, that had supported class authority to be questioned.
- And philosophy and religion return to public life.
- Yes. But with the understanding that no one would take them seriously for the same reason they were allowed back.
- What?
- No one cared. Democracy is the form of society where people are allowed to disagree about what is best in life, as long as what supports that understanding is not put in question.
- Free exchange of property.
- Yes. The age of reason launched a vicious attack on religion and society. The nineteenth century followed with attempts to see more clearly what really goes on in the minds of individual participants in religion and society, culminating with Frederick Nietzsche throwing down the gauntlet proclaiming outright we are blond beasts pursuing our desires and sleepwalking slaves deluding ourselves both that we are not beasts and not slaves.
- Like the people over at Google. There doesn't seem to be any difference between this ordinary life and evil except being deliberate and self aware about it. Assuming Nietzsche didn't think this beastly and sleepwalking ignorance was too nice, did he go beyond criticism to how we should get religion and philosophy in our public lives and save ourselves?
- We should act on our own will not that of others, we should love life as it is so much we'd be willing to relive it endlessly, we should use tested knowledge to remake our place in community.
- He didn't say how?
- No. The kind of human being who'd be doing the remaking and he claimed to be the precursor of, the loving, scientific, self willed super human, didn't yet exist.**
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* Bringing philosophy and religion into public life, in addition to being a danger to the philosopher, is also a danger to the public: see The Islamic Philosopher Farabi And Our Times
** "We have no right to stand out individually: we must not either make mistakes or hit on the truth individually. Instead, our thoughts, values, every ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘if ’ and ‘but’ grow from us with the same inevitability as fruits borne on the tree – all related and referring to one another and a testimonial to one will, one health, one earth, one sun. – Do you like the taste of our fruit? – But of what concern is that to the trees? And of what concern is it to us philosophers? . . ." (Preface, The Genealogy Or Morality, 1887, Frederick Nietzsche)

The Prize



Hammer Museum, Westwood, July 15, 2014

- They put us down here. I feel uncomfortable.
- A whole auditorium of people looking at the back of your head. The front row probably was reserved for important people who didn't show up. Anyway we'll see faces of the important people on stage. If you consider them important.
- You don't?
- They're going to talk individual entrepreneurial genius. But I think there might be a direction to history somewhat independent of important people. This one of the two who's from XPrize seems to think so too. His company holds prize competitions: reusable space shuttles, oil spill cleanup kits, etc. He says poverty has been reduced more in the past 50 years than in the previous 500 years, and that over the next several decades it will be possible with exponentially increasing technology to significantly raise global standards of living.
- But?
- In that same last 50 years, the net worth of the average American family went from about $170,000 to less that nothing.
- Because of debt.
- Yes. In another, famous prize competition, in 1754, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality on a subject proposed by the Academy of Dijon, which was in full: "What is the Origin of Inequality Among Men, and is it Authorized by Natural Law?" The epigraph he chose was from Aristotle:
We should consider what is natural not in things which are depraved but in those which are rightly ordered according to nature.
Rousseau believed the arts and sciences corrupted human nature.
- That human nature was naturally good. I know. I read about him in school.
- I'll show you something on my computer. I don't think you've read this.
- The discussion is going to start.
- We have a couple minutes. Here:
The outstanding discovery of recent historical and anthropological research is that man's economy, as a rule, is submerged in his social relationships. He does not act so as to safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social claims, his social assets. He values material goods only in so far as they serve this end. Neither the process of production nor that of distribution is linked to specific economic interests attached to the possession of goods; but every single step in that process is geared to a number of social interests which eventually ensure that the required step be taken. These interests will be very different in a small hunting or fishing community from those in a vast despotic society, but in either case the economic system will be run on noneconomic motives.*
What if our technological development is relying on unnatural economic relations?
- How do you define unnatural relations?
- Doing for the sake of doing.
- Why do things for no reason?
- For no specific reason: for the feeling of power. Rousseau described how we go from naturally doing what we learn is good for ourselves to do, to learning what other people want us to do, then doing it, for the sake of the power over others it gives us.
- What good is power for its own sake?
- None. Power has its reward in displacing fear. The more we know we can do things because we've already done them many times before the safer and more powerful we feel. Anthropologists call this practice ritual.
- I think I understand.
- If economics in our times excludes or dominates all other aspect of life, and technology is now taking place within that constraint, what can we expect?
- Better health, less poverty.
- But greater inequality too throughout the world, as in the past 50 years? The CEO of XPrize discounts the economic downturns, wars, climate catastrophes of the 20th century as surmountable obstacles.
- You disagree.
- Free Market economic jargon has it that executives "grow" their corporations, as if there was a natural direction they are entrusted with nurturing.
- But Rousseau saw an unnatural growth.
- Yes. If we are going to imagine a direction to history we have to have a model of how history grows. Say we use the model of ritual, doing for the sake of doing. We are worried about wars, and economic reversals, delaying the course of progress despite technological advance. Economic reversal has happened clearly in the case of the U.S., but not in the case of poor countries, so the argument goes. Let's look at it logically. Four categories:
economics for their own sake, outside the country
economics for their own sake, inside the country
war making for its own sake, outside the country
war making for its own sake, inside the country
Recent history of the U.S. shows both war making for its own sake and economics for its own sake in foreign lands.
- How?
- By invading and developing markets without concern for other factors in those countries. If we look within our country, we see economically, as I mentioned, the entire destruction of the middle class by exclusive focus on economic interests. What about internal war?
- Civil War?
- We have suspension of civil rights since 2002 and the Patriot act, torture, secret prisons, abduction, denial of legal representation, assassination. We have government spying on all communications. Still we have a long way to go before totalitarianism.** We have economic freedom. We can choose our jobs, quit at will. The question is, how does technology fit in? Technology facilitates economic transactions, shipping and high speed trading, both inside and outside the country. Technology facilitates foreign war, suppling equipment and communications. Won't technology be turned also to civil war, the powerful acting deliberately against the powerless, if not directly militarily, then with economics exclusively in their control, financial war waged to increase further inequality? ***
- There should be a prize to stop it.

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The Great Transformation Karl Polanyi

Some Girls Like To Fight




- I have this new idea. I was walking home from UCLA, passed the L.A. Country Club and had stepped onto the small pedestrian island at Beverly Triangle, the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvds....
- Where the Peninsula Hotel is...
- ...when someone squeezed in between me and the signal post. I looked up with astonished recognition: a provocatively dressed extremely well taken care of beautiful young woman, smiling broadly at me. Beside her a middle aged man, not looking at her.
- An escort and her client. How did you know her? Do you have secrets I'm not aware of?
- My runaway wife told me how I looked when she looked at me looking at her: astonished recognition.
- Recognizing what?
- Something I appreciated.
- Your wife had been an escort for a while.
- So she hinted. In fact I had been thinking of her during my long walk. 
- You never get over her. What's there to appreciate in these women? 
- Thoughts of appreciation were circulating in my mind, along with conspiracy theories, economic and political, and how accumulation of property leads to a slave society.
- Nothing else?
- No. I thought that imagining people plotting against you left you powerless if you didn't have some model of why and how they were doing it, some way to analyze the situation that would suggest some action to take. And that might also be true on a basic level, and there was a logic to how accumulation of unused property in developed societies led into slavery.
- When accumulated property is inherited, monopoly ownership of property develops forcing those without property into slavery.
- But what if, besides this practical, historical likelihood, there is some inherent relation between the two practices?
- Like what?
- Accumulating unused property, not giving it away, keeping it to pass down to descendants continues the same practice of not sharing.
- Leaving them property is sharing with descendants.
- Life is not shared with those property is left to. 
- And?
- I think it might be important. In undeveloped societies the donor of accumulated property continues to live with recipients.* In developed societies, the value of accumulating unused property, not giving it away, is in the power it represents, and power can be transferred freely and arbitrarily after death since no sharing of life is involved. With no mental dissonance unused property can be transferred to the oldest son while leaving the other sons and daughters totally disinherited. 
- The transition from unused accumulated property to slavery comes about not merely out of a practical chain of events, but because of an arbitrary division of people into inheriting and not inheriting, neither class based on shared life.
- Waiting for the light to change on that Beverly Hills corner I turned a face of astonished appreciation, reminded of my wife who was wised up to the conspiracy of relations of men to women. How men wanted to buy women, but at the same time wanted to imagine that the women they bought like them. 
- You're going to say they wanted to imagine the money they're paying as a bequest to a descendant.
- Right. The men want to see the beauty they think they are buying as really theirs.
- They want to be women?
- They want to possess the power of the woman's beauty, as they have acquired unused property for the sake of the power it represents.
- Then slavery, as a product of imagination, develops directly out of inheritance of unused property. 
- That's my bright idea. 
- Interests conspire to wage wars, they transfer wealth from the poor and middle class to themselves, they care nothing for the destruction of the environment and of human lives, not because they are crazy, but because slavery is a natural consequence of acquiring unused property. 
- Yes. 
- Women who professionally use men know exactly what they are doing, are experts in giving men the impression power is transferred with their beauty. You admire these women because they're wised up, but they don't do anything about the male conspiracy except take the money and run.
- They reveal a vulnerability.
- They're tougher than the men.
- I mean the men's weakness. If what appears to be their conspiratorial madness is actually continual dependence on acts of imagination, and everyone wises up on a massive scale? Interfering with the imaginings might be a step towards bringing down the whole edifice of accumulated property and slavery.
- I can follow that, that's the old idea of "withdrawing consent".** For the rest, give me a chance to catch up! 
- Take your time.
- Try this: accumulation of unused, unshared property is done for the sake of power property represents. Power to be safe and prosperous. Transmission of property to some descendants rather than others creates in the mind of the giver haves and have nots. And this too is done for the sake of power. The donor believes, in passing down property, he is buying into the power of the descendants, like the middle aged man buying the escort's beauty. And the power of haves over have nots is the idea of slavery. How'd I do?
- Not bad. You put together everything - property accumulated, unused, unshared, passed on, as an inheritance, selectively, for the sake of imagined power acquired through the bequest. You could maybe have been clearer with the conclusion. When those accumulating unshared, unused, property buy the imagined power of descendants, power is passed on to those already with it, and this what creates social class.
- Power stays with power. ***

Further Reading: Married To The Business Of Buying
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** See Their Technology And Ours
*** For an example of how the idea of slavery is translated into class identification, see: The Financial Crisis: Why Have No High-Level Executives Been Prosecuted?

Alien Invasion

 

- You know this book by the physicist, A Short - something - About Time, said to be the most bought and not read book in human history? Have you read it?
- Didn't buy it but tried to read it in a bookstore.
- The physicist says, maybe someplace else, I'm not sure, that if we want to know how aliens will treat us when they land on our planet we should look at how those of us with high technology treat those with lower technology.
- They'll massacre most and enslave the rest.
- Yes.
- I guess people bought the book thinking that to compete they had to be up to date on technology and then didn't like reading the part about technology dooming the species to massacre each other and finally be massacred by aliens. Did you get far enough yourself to find out if he talked about societies that didn't organize themselves as parts in a machine?
- The first societies,* where prestige of doing things well was tied to giving away the products of doing things well. Wealth wasn't accumulated, so wasn't inherited. And the technical knowledge responsible for accumulation, also not inherited, could not become the basis of social class.
- And not lead to massacring and enslaving each other.
- I am among those who couldn't finish the book, but I'm willing to bet it's not there.
- What about another bet? What are the chances alien invaders come from the end of the line of technological evolution rather than the beginning?
- Since the exceptions to technology and slavery appear only at the beginning of our history and in scattered small societies that have been isolated from history, isn't it likely aliens will travel the same path?
- We've had a lot more bad societies than good.
- Yes.
- And the only good societies we've had don't do well when contacted by the bad.
- They don't. The good don't survive.
- Will the bad societies survive?
- They have, so far.
- Suppose though slavery, massacre, inherited hierarchy destine us for destruction. On the other hand, the archeological record and continuing survival of isolated communities show that good societies are stable and long lasting.
- So if good societies that go bad self-destruct, and good societies that stay good survive, and there is no necessity for good societies to go bad, then our reasoning is wrong: it is infinitely more likely we'll be contacted by people who stayed good, because there are more good societies than bad out there in space.
- As you said: if good societies don't all go bad. And if they get technology.
- What if technology always makes us bad and without technology we'll always be conquered by those with?
- Then aliens will come massacre and enslave us.
- Look on the bright side: every year that we continue to survive and the aliens don't come to get us is an argument that they don't want to. They have better things to do.
- And then like them we'll someday work out how to use technology and stay good.
- Do you know what else is encouraging?
- What?
- No one reads that guy's book.

Further Reading:
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Democracy & Inequality



- Start with ancient Athens, the first democracy?
- Ok.
- In Plato democracy was the kind of government in which people didn't agree with each other about what is best, and which in any case they didn't know: they educated each other in manners and beliefs in daily life without conscious knowledge.
- People in democracy were ignorant, and indifferent to the truth.
- Exactly.
- And the beautiful idea of equality?
- The mutual power people had over each other.
- Which they learned to have unconsciously and indifferent to good and bad.
- The power they had came from a very real, material source: property ownership. Workers of the land and makers of things, as owners of property, could not be frightened into accepting conditions of slavery. They saw their civic status in terms of power not to be slaves. Inequality existed both in the home, where there was strict hierarchy, man master of women, older master of younger, and in the imperial policy of the government, exacting tribute from dominated foreign lands.
- Are you saying that democracy is the product of slavery? Not just economically, but morally? Equality is the product of inequality?
- Yes. Equality politically is mutual power. Emotionally it is common security gained by losing individuality, performing a ritual of rebirth in a group.
- Loss of individuality in acquiescing in master-slave relations in the home and in politics, and in return being rewarded by common security in sharing power, neither good nor bad, the result of unconscious learning, with "The People". That explains the terror that interrupted the French Revolution. But you don't deny, even if in democracy equality is built on inequality, that it allows better than any other government "liberty and fraternity"?
- The liberty and fraternity depend on the common power of the people. And common power depended, as we saw, on property ownership. Remove that condition, and the people must sell themselves into slavery as employees, and share with each other lives of mutual powerlessness.
- Alright. That is what the Athenians thought. What do you think?
- Nothing new, nothing not already said by Plato. Political equality is not a good in itself, and does not have good results because it does not depend on knowledge. If we want liberty and fraternity, techniques of government, of power sharing, will not get them for us.
- Knowledge, not power. We won't get anywhere until we know how to live.*

Further Reading:
The First Culture
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* How ideas, good ones!, caused the French Revolution: Jonathan Israel's
Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from The Rights of Man to Robespierre, 2014

The Logic Of God




Mind & Body, God & The World: Two Ways Of Looking At The Same Thing

- Using foresight we see the world made up of different things to be learned how to be arranged better. We see a world that is ordered, but definitely not too good for us.
- We die.
- For starters. Because the world is ordered we imagine that something made it. Because the world is not too good for us we imagine god, the thing that made us and the world, is punishing us for not being too good ourselves.
- But god is not a thing.
- No. We think god exists because we remember that we don't always see a world made up of different things to be learned how to be arranged better, and at those other times we felt love.
- But there are no things in the world of love.
- There aren't. We try to see how the experience of love could cause the things we see in the world to exist and change, and can't imagine it. The two kinds of experience can't be had at the same time.
- A world having parts and a world not having parts obviously don't go together.
- So we say we have to have faith, belief in a truth we can't imagine that god made the world the way it is for a reason and is punishing us until we know how to act right.
- And people believe because they don't know what else to do. What else could they do?
- They can't use knowledge of the experience of love to understand the world they see when they don't love. They can, however, use their knowledge of the world made up of different things to act in such a way that returns them to the experience of love.

The First Culture

Aristotle 

- What about Aristotle?
- What about him?
- He wrote that some human beings were born slaves, and some made slaves.
- Once slavery has been instituted, some 'by nature', those not disposed to violence, are going to be made slaves.
- Those with better nature. But that's not what he meant. Aristotle wrote that natural slaves are better off being slaves.
- Sure, in a slave society.
- Is there any other kind?
- Yes. We can be fairly sure of that. Anthropology and ethnography show* our first societies consistently had ranks reflecting achievement, but as ranks were not inherited they did not translate into slavery.
- Why not?
- Because in these societies generosity is prestigious. Achieved wealth in the form of food, shelter, tools is given away, not monopolized in families. Studies show that chimps too have rank societies, but ranking cannot be passed on by inheritance. Each generation has to acquire rank for itself. Humans though, developing from out of the earlier societies that rank by generosity, with the heightened foresight that language allows have learned to teach their descendants how to frighten outsiders into submission, and institutionalize slavery by monopolizing food, shelter, and tools. Slavery is not natural. It's our first, characteristically human, culture.
- I've read that in Australia, dolphin mothers have been observed teaching tool use for hunting, not generally practiced in their group, only to their own offspring.
- Does the exclusivity establish social relations?
- Depends how you look at it. To favor family over outsiders is a social relation, in-group and out-group.
- But can we see the influence of foresight? A deliberate attempt to change social relations, rather than deepen existing relations?
- I don't know.
- To institute deliberately inherited social class division we need at minimum to imagine, define both classes, the frightening and the frightened.
- And the dolphins didn't have to do that.
- No.
- But why do you think making class inherited has to be deliberate?
- Partly because other species without our foresight didn't discover the behavior, partly because generosity was first. Generosity when acted on is complete. Wanting a world where you and your ancestors and descendants have property, and others don't, requires acting, and then attention and adapting to results. Generosity can be by habit, not so imposing order on the world.**
- Maybe we just stumbled into it.
- But then why didn't other species? Our foundation myths tell the story of a fall, of evil appearing in our nature as a result of gaining knowledge.
- And evil is deliberately choosing what you know is wrong for the sake of rewards in a group.
- Yes. The anthropological and ethnographic evidence fits.***

Further Reading: Eve In The Garden Of Eden
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* See The Creation Of Inequality, Flannery and Marcus, 2012
*** See Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse On The Arts And Sciences 

Equality, God, Revolution



1.
But is it likely, one might well object, or even conceivable, that any single seventeenth century author, let alone an aloof, solitary figure raised among a despised religious minority who lacked formal academic training and status, can have fundamentally and decisively shaped a tradition of radical thinking which eventually spanned the whole continent, exerted an immense influence over successive generations and shook western civilization to its foundations? (Jonathan Israel, 'Radical Enlightenment')
- Who is that about?
- The Dutch philosopher Benedict de Spinoza.
- And how is his philosophy supposed to have changed the world? Is it even possible for philosophy to change the world?
- According the Jonathan Israel's detailed historical studies, it is, it did, being the primary cause of the French Revolution.
- Hard to believe.
- Before Spinoza, mind was split from body, and god was outside the world. Mind controlled body, and god controlled the whole world in the same way, made move what without him would be motionless. Authorities claimed not only had god made the world the way it was for good reasons, they knew also what god wanted from human beings. We humans were pushed and pulled by god, rewarded and punished, much like in the mechanical way we saw the world operating.
- And Spinoza?
- Turned everything upsidedown. If the conventional view saw human beings reduced to a mechanical relation to god, he instead sought to extend to the world qualities of spiritual life.
- Make the world alive?
- Make nature equivalent to god. And then say that mind and body, god and the nature were two ways of looking at the same thing. Mind and body did not interact with each other, but rather moved in parallel. Some parts of the world moved faster some slower, allowing us distinguish them from each other, like ideas are distinguished from ideas. Every part of the world strove to perfect and maintain its nature, human beings included. The movement that in the old way of looking at it was outside the world in god now is inside the world, in every part, and the striving of all the parts together is god.
- And why is that revolutionary?
- If the world makes itself, no one can claim that the god who made it made it that way for good reason so we should leave it alone. And if the world is god like our body is our mind, then there is no reason, as we attempt to perfect our minds in education, we should not also be able to bring our social relations with us.
- And Jonathan Israel claims that Spinoza helped revolutionaries to do that?
- Yes.
- How exactly?
- First, by making society something we strive for for our own sake, for increase of our power. Our power is greatest when we come to know how to love the world, the whole world*, to love god, in other words. As the possibility of what is best in us is in all of us, we are each other's teachers in this highest striving, and once we know this, we never can willingly leave anyone behind.**
- And so we arrive at equality, and democratic revolutions.
- Yes. But equality is not the goal, nor any definite constitution. We treat each other as equals because it is in our interest to have everyone in our lives as teacher and collaborator. But when that is not true...
- For example?
- When some acquire much more property than others, we probably will want to tax them at a higher rate, that is, unequally. If we don't we can expect the wealthy to influence government in their favor, expect those without influence to be dispossessed, and forced to abase themselves before their arrogant masters, undermining the fundamental goal of society of serving each individual's striving for perfection.
- Learning to know and love the whole world.
- Yes. What we have in common is our striving to love. It is protection of that striving, rather than of any equal condition of the world, that we base our society on. Jonathan Israel distinguishes two different enlightenments, moderate and radical. The moderates wanted equality, but not for everyone: wanted to retain privileges for aristocrats while removing advantages of kings and clergy, and denying freedom to slaves, women, and other classes. Equality offered a sort of honor among thieves, advantageous for practical results, a good example how what looks out in the world to be a virtue is nothing of the kind.***
- Would I be wrong to conclude that ideas can really change the world, for the same reason? I mean, we don't have to rely on particular new structures of society, which are not necessarily good in themselves anyway, but only turn away from seeing each other as adversaries and towards seeing each other as collaborators, and see what follows? That might have been why Spinoza was so influential. Not because of his abstract system of god being the same as nature and mind the same as body, which I can't believe drove anyone to make a revolution.
- It's something to think about.

Further Reading:
Spinoza, Ethics
Jonathan Israel, Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from The Rights of Man to Robespierre
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* See Spinoza's God
** See Killer Metaphysics
*** See Blueprints & Recipes 
Keeping particular arrangements in the world unchanging, as an end in itself, however virtuous appearing is the result of fear and weakness, of passivity, the opposite to the individual's striving for perfection.


2.

- The first thing I think about all this is that I don't like god involved in politics. Why can't we just repeat to each other until it gets through, Cooperate, People!
- But cooperate how exactly?
- As you said, we'll figure it out as we go along.
- Do we cooperate in gaining knowledge for the sake of obtaining power over nature and over other people? Or do we cooperate, obtaining power for the sake of gaining knowledge?
- I understand knowledge for the sake of power, that is science, technology transforming nature and psychology, the techniques of manipulating people. What is power for the sake of knowledge? Something to do with god, I suppose.
- Supposing that you'd be right.
- So what is it?
- Technology applied not to the world of nature, or of other people, but of the relations between what we individually do, think and act, and what good and bad results follow.
- And the good result would be love, experiencing god. And the bad result?
- Hatred, fear, passivity, ignorance of self.
- God was brought into 17th century philosophy to balance technology of the world with technology of self?
- You could say that.*
_________________
* See The Technology Of Good

Prostitution, Employment, Slavery

 

1.
When employed in your job you sell yourselves into temporary slavery. You'll not feel like a slave only so long as you believe you can quit your job. In a society with rough economic equality, allowing you to quit your job, the exact amount of payment for work, so long as it is sufficient for a basically good life, you'll treat as a meaningless economic artifact, or the result of the gangsterism of criminal members of society who literally can be lived with. But the very second you know you can't quit you'll feel like a slave.
Prostitution is a special form of employment slavery that directs one human body into contact with another body.  
 
People in a literal sense make their lives with each other by bringing their bodies close to each other. A society is composed of people who want to live near each other.* The life they make with each other is judged good or bad by how much they want to stay in each other's company.** 
A home is made by the comfort people feel in each other's presence. You want to go home to your friends and family because that is where you feel good, which is a matter of the body, not of judgement. When your body is forced by economic conditions to be sold into slavery, the fundamental good of society and home can no longer be recognized because no longer can be acted upon: the body that should want to find or make a place in society cannot freely do either, and the home the body needs to find is confused by the false home that has been pretended to in prostitution. 
Economic inequality both forces large numbers into prostitution and, by creating the acceptance of employment as slavery, makes prostitution seem acceptable as only another kind of employment, all of which is forced to one extent or another. However prostitution is not just another kind of employment. It is a kind of employment that by threatening the conditions of private life and of social development leads to destruction of all aspects of life not presently regulated by slavery. It is the economic actively at war with the personal and social.


2.

- You say we're all slaves when we're employed: not complete slaves, we sell only some of our time, and sell only some of our freedom. But a prostitute sells the freedom to move her body towards those she chooses. And you say that undermines her ability to feel at home and to participate in a normal way in society. I am accustomed to thinking that part of being free is an ability to rise above the restrictions of the body. You obviously disagree.
- I do. What you are calling being free is really being deprived of a freedom. Many employers of prostitutes argue that the girls like their work, that their character suits their profession. In other words, the girls have the character that does not choose who to be close to so as to manage their lives in the best way. They don't know about the possibility of this choice.
- Well, I'm not a girl or a prostitute and I don't think I know about it either!
- Then let's go into it. The body is the beginning point of all politics.
- Why?
- I said before that the body gives us our sense of home, and leads us to others we've chosen to live our lives with. Choice in the body is desire, home is habit. We are happy when our habits suit our circumstances and when we are fairly certain we are on our way to get what we desire, or know what to do to find that way. 
- I'm sorry. It's too abstract for me.
- We are like each other in having bodies, which are alike in having habits and desires. If we want to work and live together we have to begin with respecting what we have in common. And what we have in common, if we combine both ideas of habit and desire, is power, the ability developed over time for us by our habits to get what we want. Follow?
- Yes.
- The first appearance of the golden rule in relation to democracy is in Thucydides, Pericles' Funeral Oration. Athenians love to be generous without expectation of return, because the idea of being in debt offends them. In The Melian Dialog the golden rule is argued to apply only between equals in power. Those without power must submit to inequality.
- What's your conclusion?
- Athenians, according to the funeral oration, thought of themselves like this:
 Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extravagance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft. We regard wealth as something to be properly used, rather than as something to boast about."  "Here each individual is interested not only in his own affairs but in the affairs of the state as well: even those who are mostly occupied with their own business are extremely well-informed on general politics—this is a peculiarity of ours: we do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.
- They are generous, but don't feel obligated to be fair.
- They are not hypocrites with each other. They tolerate each other with neither false acceptance nor with resentment. Their love of beautiful things and the things of the mind does not make them soft or extravagant with each other.
- So in some ways they are equals in power with each other? They are generous with each other only when they are equals in power? What is their power?
- Love of beauty, love of thought, attention to public life.
- That's strange.
- Why?
- Thinking, making something beautiful, paying attention to what our neighbors say all are examples of generosity without expectation of return, and the result is supposed to be the golden rule, that you return the good conduct you demand of others.
- That's right.
- And?
- It means that people are fair without hypocrisy when they are of the character the Athenians claimed for themselves. Athenians follow rules because that works. They tolerate each other out of an act of generosity, as a self conscious respect for the power each has over the other in a shared public life. Equal power comes from a rough equality of political knowledge and willingness to act on it. From that comes generosity without expectation of return, because you don't make deals with equals in power. And out of that generosity comes the fact that we treat each other as we like to be treated. That we want to obey the golden rule. Obedience actually is not to a rule but to our own conclusions.

3.

- A prostitute deprived of the freedom to use her body is deprived of political freedom. This in addition to lost personal freedom, her ability to feel at home.
- But we aren't Athenians! Aren't many, or most employees in the same condition? When afraid of losing their jobs, selling their time and activities, both within defined limits, they go further to selling political possibility? They keep quiet about politics, don't try to do anything with their personal lives, out of fear? Like prostitutes, as far as I know without exception, are forced into their profession by poverty or threats?
- The difference is that the prostitute is deprived from the beginning of both personal and political power, and the man who buys her, by entering into relation to someone deprived of personal and political power, himself is deprived of the same, unable to feel at home with people who are there with him only by coercion, and unable to cooperate in public life because unused to making a future out of shared power. Prostitution is fundamentally destructive.***
______________________
* On reason and desire being the basis of social life, not trade between enemies, see this dialog, and William Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice And Its Influence On Morals And Happiness
*** Prostitution both undermines private and public life, and is unthinkable to any man not already damaged in public and private life: no man pays for mere shows who is not already accustomed to take imitation for reality and to expect no better from himself and others. (And what should go without saying but doesn't, no woman selling herself as a prostitute takes pride in the image of her power over men except as an ameliorating recourse and a dulling drug.) See: How To Read Plato's Republic

Killer Metaphysics (And Other Stories)

Theda Bara

1. Monsters

UCLA's Institute For Pure And Applied Mathematics, Conference On Mathematics Of Social Learning, January 9, 2014

1.

- Are you a Luddite?
- I would like to use machines right, not break them. As the last lecturer said the internet reflects the social world as it is, but also changes it. I think the internet can teach us how not to organize our social lives.
- How not to?
- You know Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Dr. Frankensein robs graves and scavenges body parts, puts them together and is horrified by the result. Each part individually is good, but the whole is an abomination.
- They don't fit together. Vary in color, texture, age, and joined by sutures or scar tissue.
- But the monster is alive. Each part gives something to the others. Were you at the lecture yesterday morning? They'd done a study on telephone contacts. People were in two categories. Some kept mostly the same contacts for years. Others kept some contacts, mostly family, but were often adding and removing contacts too. At the end of any one month about 40% of their contacts were no longer there. For both groups, the number of contacts remained stable, about 25. People were constantly, day by day, adding and subtracting.
- Why?
- They were operating a gift economy, the term from anthropology for a community of people who give gifts to each other not expecting a direct return, but expecting because they stay within the community, eventually being on the receiving end. If I send a contact a picture of the sunset, I am giving up my immediate enjoyment of that sunset, at least for a few moments, in order to make a gift of it to my contact. If keeping the contact does not eventually lead to a return gift, a new contact is looked for. That is what the numbers mean.
- What about the kept contacts?
- Even more interesting. Did you hear the afternoon lecture?
- Yes.
- The social behavior that we now have recorded and accessible to us on the internet is both natural and artificial.
- Meaning?
- The computer scientist had studied Facebook. What appears in the timeline of each member depends on decisions made by Facebook selecting a limited number of posts out of hundreds or thousands friends send out. In fact, the computer scientist's colleague had just been given the job by Facebook to set the rules for making that decision. What is decided to be shown affects how members use the network. Two things follow from this. First, using Facebook you lose the freedom to choose who to make a gift of your updates, and the resulting stream is alien to you. It includes return gifts from everyone in your gift economy, but put together in a way you can't account for.
- But Facebook can.
- Consider what Facebook is doing. Facebook is like Dr. Frankenstein, putting together a monster out of the gifts made to us in return for our generousity. What we see has life and order to it, which Facebook can account for, but to us is ugly and arbitrary.
- I don't think many Facebook users would agree with that statement. But I see your point.
- The second thing that follows from the selection is that while we use the social media site to make things to give, the social media site is taking things away. The site is editing, filtering, channelling our  lives. Now what if that, Facebook's activity as a site, not our response to it, is a model of how we should be living our offline lives?
- Editing and filtering?
- Yes. A friendship, if it is real, is continually making and receiving gifts. Your wife walking in a room is a gift, her sitting down is a gift. So what really goes on...
- That's a marriage, not friendship.
- Let's say "intimate relationship". Ugly words. The wife and husband don't actively make gifts. Rather they make demands on each other, on each other's attention. They do what Facebook and the other online social networks do, they filter. They control who sees who, who does what, when, and how.
- I don't know what world you live in. That's not marriage.
- Marriage, or friendship is like the development of science. The mutual respect of scientists selects out who they take seriously and whose hypotheses to develop and test. In the same way husband and wife, friend and friend have selected each other out to control the direction they will take together in searching to make the best life together.
- Friendship and marriage are research projects. Facebook is a Frankenstein electrifying a billion monsters, one for each of its members. What next?
- Like in the Frankenstein novel, a warning. You heard it in the lecture: statistics from Facebook already allow us to predict when a "relationship" will break up. In Afghanistan, according to another participant in the conference, the US Government is taking advantage of its total access to records of private communications to profile possible terrorists by patterns of internet and telephone use.
- You think the government will use the new way of gathering information against us?
- Why wouldn't it? But I wanted to return to the observation that what they, the computer scientists were studying is something partly natural and partly artificial, and that the artificiality becomes absorbed in the "natural" world which responds and adapts to the artificial. The warning: modified behavior is more easily predicted.
- You think we will become monsters.

2.

- This guy from the Santa Fe Institute talked about his new way of computer modeling of prices. In the usual supply and demand model, it is unknown how a price is arrived at. There is no central auctioneer asking an audience, who will pay 100? who'll pay 50? who'll pay 5? His solution was to consider prices private. Each buyer and seller starts with an idea of how much he wants or will pay, then looks at what other people are selling at or paying, finds out if they are successful, and adjust his own sale or buy price accordingly. Prices evolve individually.
- I missed the lecture. What happened when he ran the model?
- Stable price arose.  At the buffet I told him that he was only partly right. Prices were set individually, but they only partly evolved. Mostly they were set by a social expectation.
- How do you know that?
- That's what he asked me. I said from experience buying and selling old watches between other dealers in Europe. Prices willing to be paid by shopkeepers, for example, were three times what they paid. If the buyer wouldn't or couldn't pay, price would be lowered if there was a need for cash, otherwise there would simply be no transaction.
- Like in the housing market after the 2008 crash. Very few people were buying. People offered property for sale only when they had to. What did the economist say?
- His father, a furniture dealer, demanded 40%. He said, come to lunch, we'd talk.
- And?
- I didn't go.
- Why not?
- Don't be offended, but I don't like the people here. This is not my world.
- What is your world?
- I don't know what you think of the theory of evolution. I'm of the opinion that it is something like the theory of mysteriously stable supply and demand. The economic model works a little, but only because of stability provided by social characteristics of human nature. The same is true of evolution. For random adaptations to be selected, and evolve in one direction, they have to at each step be advantageous. That is almost impossible to believe. The mathematician Berlinski gives the example of evolving a paper cup, starting with a tube, and later adding the bottom disc. The tube isn't much use for drinking. Compare what happens in the computer simulation of evolving individual prices. Two things are necessary for stable prices to result: attachment to the path already set out on, the process of looking for a price, remembering what has happened and continually readjusting trial price in response, and the expectation that you will be able to succeed. That is, that you know there is such a thing as a right price. The theory of evolution fulfills neither condition, neither requires keeping to the same path nor has a known end looked for.
- That's the stuff of our world. I asked, what is yours?
- Rousseau wrote that society becomes corrupt when people act in response to other people's demands so as to get power over them, rather than do what they know by personal experience will be good for themselves. In the natural life are both requisites for successful evolution: the individual path stuck to and continually referenced, and known goal: happiness. The theories of evolution and market stability describe individuals responding to other individuals and the world without the continual reference to past experience and individually known goal, in other words, are built on the model of corrupt human behavior.
- You think we are impersonal and put ambition ahead of being happy?
- I do.
- But you profit by the work we do.
- Nietzsche wrote that certain people were drones: they work but don't reproduce, don't themselves play a part in evolution.

3.

- Consider the so-called problem of free will. In scientific research, social convention keeps scientists to a path and sets the end. Following the path, however, each scientist can go at his own rate and make some deviations of direction. To that extent the scientist can be an individual, while participating in the social project. An individual develops habits, and adapt his habit to the circumstances of the world as they change in response to the habits he allow himself to practice. As an individual, the scientist does exactly what he wants to do. As a scientist, however, he sees it is possible, given exact knowledge of his habits and circumstances, to predict his every thought and action. He finds this possibility disturbing. How you ever wondered why?
- He's not free to do anything he wants if he has to do what we can predict he will do.
- But why would he want to do anything he doesn't want to do?
- That's an interesting question. Yet I for one, if I examine myself, do want to do, at least potentially, what I don't want to do. I want to be free to do anything, and then choose to do what I want.
- Unconstrained by dedication to individual path or to individually determined end? You see the implication? Wanting to be able to do what we don't want explains the appeal of the unreal models of evolution and supply-demand economy. The freedom to do what we don't want is precisely the freedom to accept the demands of social convention, to find out what other people want and then do it to obtain power over them.

4.

- Why are evolution* and market economics accepted despite being obviously inapplicable to what we know about the world?
- Money and power. Educational and journalistic institutions accept the theories. They are orthodoxy.
- Why are these theories the one's you can make money and get power from supporting? Why have they, and not others, become the orthodoxy?
- They play a role in political and economic developments, propaganda campaigns or campaigns of war.
- As Darwin was for the Nazis, or market economics for financial speculators. As the equally unsupported economic theories of communism was for the Soviet Union. But why do scientists and economists, secure in their positions, asking nothing from political movements and campaigning for no war, still support them? Is it something in the theories themselves? What is it in the theories that is so attractive?
- You tell me.
- We like each other.
- Yes, I hope so.
- People like each other. Animals like each other. Plants seem to like each other's company. We find stone with stone, air with air, water with water. "Like likes like". In nature it is the rule. People like each other, and want each other to like them. Do you agree?
- Of course.
- Do you think people want to go on liking each other and being liked by them?
- Sure.
- And if at the cost of liking and being liked, they could have more children survive and make more sales? When your children fail, mine have better chance of success. When you set the wrong price and don't make a sale, I have a better chance to make one. I have an interest in your failure. Previously I liked you. Maybe now I don't want to go on liking you. Imagine we are constructing a computer model of these choices.
- Ok.
- I like you. I want to go on liking you. What happened to us to make it possible not to want to go on liking?
- We get corrupted. Once it hurt us to buy and sell for profit, to speak to a man at a coffee shop and the next day pretend we'd never spoken. What was once unnatural, becomes second nature.
- I think you're right. Any idea, kind of education can teach these behaviors. Torture people enough, any regular violence, they become selfish, will betray their best friend. We don't need to look to evolution, or market economics. We can't blame modern life on these theories.
- Modern life is full of torturers. Parents, teachers, lovers, employers. A never ending list.
- So why, once we have already become selfish, are we attracted to these theories?
- Say I am a monkey and make an ugly face. I scare you, another monkey, with my anger. I keep doing it, you keep running away. In time I am the boss, you are the servant. Roles have been set. We call the setting of roles by repetition by the name "ritual". We've been through this.
- We have.
- We like each other. We like liking each other, and want to go on liking each other. But we get angry and afraid, repeat situations in which some of us are angry and some afraid, social roles are constructed. Do we still like each other? Do master and servant like each other?
- They feel safe.
- Rituals provide security. That is why they work, why they are a stable human social behavior. Fear and anger plus repetition produce security.
- And that goes into our model.
- Right. Now what about our theories of evolution and supply and demand market price? What do these two theories have in common?
- What?
- We said evolution works by chance mutation, prices are set by a process unknown to the individuals participating. The result of the chance and unknown processes is a stable structure of unequal roles.
- Why unequal?
- Because your having worse children allows me to have better, your failure at setting prices enables my success. There is no question that the Nazis at times justified their killings with Darwin's theory, that the communists used their own fantastic economic theory to justify their own killings. There are  known cases where the theories were explicitly appealed to, directly instituting ritual, like the training  of mass executioners by the Nazis. But I think this is a clear case of the, call it, promiscuity of myths. Where existing rituals need only be given the direction to be repeated, any myth of ritual form can function, it need not be the ritual that originally formed the behavior. Any myth with the structure of ritual, dying and rebirth, will do. The ancient Greeks, for example, seem to have had no trouble accepting alternative version of their myths, to even have had no trouble in composing them themselves.
- Then market economics and evolution simply reinforce our existing rituals that accomplish the unnatural remolding of character. We ask now, Why should we be altruistic? Instead of asking, Why hurt people we like? But even if these theories do not form the original rituals, the expectation that they remain in currency is very great. According to Berlinksi even such a famously independent man as Noam Chomsky was skeptical of evolution before later falling silent on the subject.
- We are already selfish. Nevertheless, we need the theory to issue reminders?
- We haven't completely gotten rid of our liking for people. We like our families, a little. Though it is not unusual for us that family members keep their possessions separate and demand payment for any exchange. It is not unusual for us that family members feel under obligation to pay attention to each other in an equal way, when it should be obvious that if affection is real it can't be other than inevitable and immediate.
- So we have our university professors and politicians and journalists going on and on about evolution and supply and demand. Every time they mention these theories we are not directly reminded to be selfish, we don't think about that. Rather we are recalled to the self forgetfulness that must be there in our economic and personal lives if we are going to continue as we are.

5.
“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination.” -John Keats

- Let's go back to evolution. Go through the argument again.
- Darwin's theory of evolution is natural selection of chance mutations. When we breed dogs for height we make sure other possibly advantageous qualities aren't given a chance to develop: not health, age, color, shape, strength, only height. We have difficulty imagining how in nature the equivalent conditions, a substitute for the breeder, could be found. A long neck is good for a giraffe, but so are many other qualities. Another problem is that a greater height and longer neck will come at the cost of other useful qualities. Hip problems, breathing problems for example are common with certain breeds of dogs. The dog breeder puts together tall dogs with tall dogs and ignores the problems, but it's hard to see what nature without the interference of a breeder could do about it. Another problem is the complexity that has to be maintained and extended for the development of specialized organs. For this to happen, useful changes must not interfere with existing structures, rather they have to extend the potential of existing structures. Hard to see how this could happen by chance.
- OK. You've said chance selection of random change in evolution, the spontaneous organization of the free market out of impersonal economic transactions are examples of myth and ritual. I don't really get that.
- The Guru brought over last night a girl who told me she'd prostituted herself the night before.
- You're living with a prostitute?**
- For the time being. I asked her if she was a prostitute, and she said she wasn't. She is living her life, living out the myth popularized by singers whose message is Be who you are are, everyone is as good as everyone else, find your power.
- Where is her power? Did she tell you?
- She told me. It's power over men. She was extremely defensive, she took everything I said to be an evasion or an attack. Her life was a struggle for power. She had to give up all other human qualities, sincerity, kindness, etc in the pursuit of being who she'd decided she was. At least for the time being. She was young, wanted to apply for film school.
- She was evolving herself into role like the dog breeder guides the evolution of his breeds.
- Yes. The politician does the same, saying or doing anything to get and keep the job.
- Evolution then is modeled not only on myth, but also on everyday social behavior?
- Lewis Mumford said that physical technology grew out of the historically prior social technology,  the complex hierarchies of Middle Eastern empires.
- How does this connect with what you said about ritual?
- The politician, the prostitute, in every act of gaining and solidifying power passionately attempts to make up for the loss of personal alternatives, looking ahead to the power of newly established social relations.
- If the theory of evolution is merely a clumsy translation of social technology of ritual, how does evolution really happen? Or do you deny evolution altogether?
- Let's try to imagine a kind of social technology that could support evolution.
- Sure, if you can.
- We need to be able to get rid of the breeder artificially limiting which good adaptations are to persist, and we need to protect complexity. We have technology which does this.
- What technology is that?
- When we see something as beautiful we have taken a step back. We've stopped responding to immediate demands of the world, we see a limited part of the world and feel ourselves to be safe with it. Within that safety of defined relation of ourselves to the world, small changes can be allowed that do not imperil stability of relation, and which, if they too can establish a new, safe, beautiful relation to the world, will be acquired and take their functioning place in the complex world we already live in.
- Lost me.
- We we speak, we have confidence we will be understood and in the words we've already learned how to use. That is the background of beauty and complexity. We add one word on top of another, without knowing the end of the sentence. When the sentence works out to be a good one, a beautiful one, we have maintained complexity and evolved a bit our knowledge.
- Do you mean that individual animals learn to remake the world into something beautiful, in which condition evolution then can occur?
- If we assume we living things have something inherent in them similar to our conscious endeavor to create and live with beauty, evolution works***. Something like what we do when we use language takes the place of the breeder.
- But, this is difficult. Do animals take a step back like you say we do when we speak? Do they have a sense of beauty? Do they in fact act on the world to make it beautiful?
- I think it is possible that any form of life can identify different basic kinds of relation to the world without using language as we do in naming some things beautiful and others ugly. I think it is possible that adaptation and evolution could proceed with beauty, with making the world beautiful as a priority.
- Evolution may still be seen as a struggle for existence, but beauty may be its necessary condition.

* Natural selection of chance mutations 
*** Complexity respected, a single path of adaption pursued, disadvantages taken into account along the way. In the example of language production: 1. Complexity respected: retained as the motive behind speaking. 2. Single path of adaptation: the course of the sentence being produced. 3. Disadvantages dealt with: sentence direction alters as obstacles of meaning encountered. From outside, natural selection. From inside, random change plus this additional factor (reaching towards beauty) selecting between changes.

Evolution thus modified applies also to property relations. The chance acquisition of property, limited by the demands of beauty, and selective pressure of the claims of other people, yields something like anarchist economics.

For anarchist economics:


Summary Of The Argument:

1. Evolution of species out of individual chance mutation, and free market productivity out of de-individualized trades for profit, are two models of development that suggest a corresponding model of personal life. Individuals perform rituals, and these theories of communal or species development out of impersonal or chance behavior of individuals share the form of ritual.

2. Using our imaginations we are able to make models of the world. We see that in one particular kind of situation some particular kind of thing happens. Sometimes what happens is frightening. Once we have this knowledge of what frightens us we cannot easily forget it.

3. Our fear itself is fearful. Our fear can lead us in two directions. Either away from fear, in exploration of ways to change our circumstances so as to avoid the fearful consequences. Or towards fear, making it the basis of ritual. Ritual is a group enactment where fear is replaced by the security from knowing what to do while in our group performance. Ritual removes fear, overlaying, hiding from view conditions causing fear.

4. In ritual there is no limit to what we are willing to do to enact whatever is the conclusion of the performance. Ritual is violence against oneself, against one's individuality. It leaves you ripe for violence against others. When you have no sense of yourself you can have no sense of others, no sympathy with others; nothing stops you from violence against others who might be an obstacle to whatever order ritual might be establishing. Any chosen means is justified to reach the social end. Someone who choses the other direction, however, sees other people as help in the job of replacing fear with creative action. Such an individual can never use violence except in the extreme case of self defense. Such an individual does not aim at creating any fixed relation between people or aim at any fixed state of the world at all. For such an individual fear itself is deliberately to be avoided, therefore there can be no recourse to violence, the tool used to build a society of ritual on the basis of fear, the tool used to institutionalize fear.

5. A neuroscientist "thinks" that thinking is not real. How is it possible to think that thinking isn't happening? A neuroscientist thinks brain changes are his thinking. He thinks he doesn't have to pay attention to thinking. If he was an evolutionary biologist, instead of ignoring thinking he would think evolution was based on chance. If he was a free market economist he would think the only relation between people with regard to things was the search for profit. In each case human nature is denied for the sake of investigating a mechanical relation: economic, biologic, or species-historical. Neuroscientists, Darwinians, free-market economists are all thinking. And what they are thinking is that their own experience does not exist. Nature includes movement of a kind we cannot see, known to us intimately as thinking, that shares few characteristics with things we can see*. No less real is the  movement which draws us to others, or which for a time draws species towards complexity. This denial of experience is only possible because what these thinkers are doing, when they do the thinking they deny doing, is the performance of ritual.

_________________

- In Darwin's theory of evolution individual organisms randomly change. In free market economics trades are impersonal done exclusively for profit. In the generally accepted view of how science works, researchers begin with theory which suggests hypotheses that are tested by experiment. Which theories to be tested is chosen by consensus between researchers. In order for this process to work, to produce new understanding, consensus has to be rooted in agreement on, intuition of what kind of research allows the process itself to keep moving forward.
- Consensus, when isolated from understanding of how science progresses, gives us theories like evolution and free market economics.
- Gives us the entire realm of social sciences which claim to be seeking "objectivity", looking for facts independent of theory, gives us theories which reject both personal bias and the consensus of scientific research. In the social sciences, facts are supposed to suddenly fall into patterns of meaning, one after another, like evolution appears out of chance mutation, like economic prosperity develops out of impersonal trades for profit.
- The Darwinians, the free market economists, the objective historians of social life all believe they are doing science. If their sciences are not real science, if they don't work, don't lead to new understanding, why are they still around?
- They are fundamental to our education. We are taught to assume our social habits, our way of trading with each other, our very bodies are as they are by chance. Who we marry then divorce, who we cheat in trade, who we leave behind in the struggle for existence is arbitrary, totally without meaning.
- So we don't cooperate. And the people doing the education, cooperating with each other in perfecting our education, get what they want. What do they want?
- Money and power, what else?

___________________________________________________________

2. Another Japanese Professor

1.

- Another Japanese Professor?*
- They seem to be turning up everywhere. This one was researching the Japanese massacre of Chinese that took place in 1938. Japanese researchers, himself included, were being told by indignant Chinese that Japanese work showed national bias. They weren't objective.
- And he said he could be objective?
- No. He was smarter than that. He challenged the expectation of objectivity. He spoke of historians as doing what philosophers of science say natural scientists do: have a consensus of what sort of theories are important to be pursued, the theories lead to hypotheses, which are tested by experiment. The facts that are revealed by experiment are only those that the selected theory and hypotheses lead to being looked for. In the same way, the documents historians work with are the result of selection, by the mere fact of their survival when others didn't survive, and by the interests and abilities of those responsible for producing the documents.
- Then there is no difference between the social and natural sciences?
- There is a big difference. Social sciences consistently fail to come up with theories that can survive even the beginnings of testing. That is an important experimental result in itself.
- The failure?
- Yes. Social sciences like history, economics, sociology pretend that science is about collecting facts, "objects" of perception. Facts, unlike theories and hypotheses, have a right to equal treatment, unbiased by nationality. In exactly the same way exchange of property exclusively for profit and biological change by chance are supposed to lead to economic prosperity and evolution of species, objects of history are all thought to be equivalent and all together somehow can be assembled into historical conclusions.
- Give me an example.
- The example the Professor gave was the recent book The Rape Of Nanking, criticized for suggesting Japanese isolation and nationalism as causes of the massacre. It was obvious that there was no way of telling, lacking experiments with people social science cannot do, if those Japanese national characteristics were direct causes, contributing causes, or no causes at all.
- The professor's idea was that we shouldn't imagine there were any objective facts that everyone could agree on but we should work to reach conditional consensus.
- Yes. The social science demand for objectivity, to pretend documents arise from chance or mechanical processes, an objectivity that has no place in the practice of natural science supposedly its model, reflects the influences of politics.
- How?
- Take our own country. We fight wars, crash our economy. What for? No one knows. It's not a secret, but no one is right. We have to be objective. Some say this, some say that. Everyone has a special interest to promote. Decisions are made, like trades in free market economics or adaptation in evolution, seemingly coming out of nowhere and going nowhere. There can be no progression of theory, hypothesis, experiment, new theory. One fashion replaces another. Is it really true that supporting mass murdering dictators is good for our own country? Is it really true that doing whatever makes more money for the rich also benefits everyone else? All we know is we say so now. And no one can tell us we have no right to our view.

2.

- In Darwin's theory of evolution individual organisms randomly change. In free market economics trades are impersonal, done exclusively for profit.** In the generally accepted view of how science works, researchers begin with theory which suggests hypotheses that are tested by experiment. Which theories are to be tested is decided by consensus between researchers. In order for this process to work, to produce new understanding, consensus has to be rooted in agreement on, intuition of what kind of research allows the process itself to keep moving forward.
- Consensus, when isolated from understanding of how science progresses, gives us theories like evolution and free market economics.
- Gives us the entire realm of social sciences which claim to be seeking "objectivity", looking for facts independent of theory, gives us theories which reject both personal bias and the consensus of scientific research. In the social sciences, facts are supposed to suddenly fall into patterns of meaning, one after another, like evolution appears out of chance mutation, like economic prosperity develops out of impersonal trades for profit.
- The Darwinians, the free market economists, the objective historians of social life all believe they are doing science. If their sciences are not real science, if they don't work, don't lead to new understanding, why are they still around?
- They are fundamental to our education. We are taught to assume our social habits, our way of trading with each other, our very bodies are as they are by chance. Who we marry then divorce, who we cheat in trade, who we leave behind in the struggle for existence is arbitrary, totally without meaning.
- So we don't cooperate. And the people doing the education, cooperating with each other in perfecting our education, get what they want. What do they want? 
- Money and power, what else?


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3. An Old Man & The Laws

Leo Strauss


- What's wrong?
- I've been fighting with a bad mood. Maybe caused by reading Plato's 'The Laws', the long dialog he wrote in his old age in which an old man specifies humorlessly the best practical form of government for a new colony. It is about 700 pages Plato seems to kept himself continuously in a bad mood to write.
- Tell me about it.
- Unlike the city Plato imagines in 'The Republic'*, this one would not have property held in common. It would be overtly religious, with four classes unequal in property ownership, and would have a fixed number of lots for a fixed number of citizens. Only one male descendent could inherit the lot, and if no male born and surviving one would have to be adopted.
- Like primogenitor in feudal times.
- Yes. It is a property arrangement meant to be stable, and unlike in 'The Republic', to respect individual desires in private life, at least the life of private ownership of property. Private feelings for other people however are not respected in the arrangement, as even if you were lucky enough to be a citizen - slaves and merchants were not - only one of your male children could become a citizen, and your female children would have to marry a citizen to acquire the privileges of citizenship.
- I think I like our society better.
- Well, the idea expressed that only one aspect of private life - property - would be respected in the political arrangements is fascinating to encounter in our times, because it is exactly the nature of our present political arrangements. Rules of property are legislated to be un-challengeable and citizens taught to consider it sacrelige to change them. For example, it is out of the question to consider application of anarchist rules of property (no one may be employed by another, no possession of property without use). On the other hand, no regular arrangements are made to respect personal relations of friendship or love. Like in our present society, if economic conditions demand then your own children are left to be propertyless, with this unquestionably assumed to be fair and right.
- Not by everyone.
- By those it is accepted by the arrangement is religiously maintained: the religious element is the sense of property relations being unquestionable, as if dictated by god as a certain and permanent form of justice. 
- I know you. Displaying your bad mood is the beginning of a talk. Maybe it was the same for Plato, his thousand page bad mood. Am I right? I'm right.
- Though an old man himself when he wrote 'The Laws', and writing mostly words voiced by a humorless old man, Plato was not lapsing into senility.  He was practicing what the philosopher Leo Strauss called esoteric writing, apparently saying one thing but meaning another: expressing the unsuitability of a society based only on religion and property by showing how that building would look when rigorously executed: joyless and fundamentally unjust. Hiding his secret message in plain sight, conceivably even laughing at the thoroughgoing boldness of his own trick, Plato goes to the extreme of having his old man propose the very dialog of dull words we are reading as a model of how citizens should speak with each other.**

**Critics of  'The Laws' are sensible of a want of point in the dialogue and a general inferiority in the ideas, plan, manners, and style. They miss the poetical flow, the dramatic verisimilitude, the life and variety of the characters, the dialectic subtlety, the Attic purity, the luminous order, the exquisite urbanity; instead of which they find tautology, obscurity, self-sufficiency, sermonizing, rhetorical declamation, pedantry, egotism, uncouth forms of sentences, and peculiarities in the use of words and idioms. They are unable to discover any unity in the patched, irregular structure. The speculative element both in government and education is superseded by a narrow economical or religious vein. The grace and cheerfulness of Athenian life have disappeared; and a spirit of moroseness and religious intolerance has taken their place. The charm of youth is no longer there; the mannerism of age makes itself unpleasantly felt. The connection is often imperfect; and there is a want of arrangement, exhibited especially in the enumeration of the laws towards the end of the work. The Laws are full of flaws and repetitions. The Greek is in places very ungrammatical and intractable. A cynical levity is displayed in some passages, and a tone of disappointment and lamentation over human things in others. The critics seem also to observe in them bad imitations of thoughts which are better expressed in Plato's other writings. (Benjamin Jowett)

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4. Freedom & Property


- Is freedom the right to use property as you wish, or something else?
- Like what?
- To do something worth doing, for example. The problems with freedom defined as the right to dispose of property is that it cannot be a moral principle.
- Why not?
- Moral principles are universal. What applies to you also must apply to me. But if you own everything and I nothing, and you offer me food in exchange for being your slave, I cannot reasonably accept the property right you claim. You'll need threat of force to compel my acceptance. That's the first problem.
- What's the second?
- Once property is unequally distributed, it tends to get more unequal. Wealth is used to influence the government to lower taxes, allow speculation and permit monopolies to be formed. To stop this from happening requires a very intrusive government.*
- Which limits property rights!
- Exactly.
- What's the alternative?
- To make a starting point where the right to property leaves off: equal distribution of wealth. Make this a principle which, unlike the right to property, is universal, so qualifies as an ethical principle.
- But what difference does that make, to end with an ethical principle or begin with one?
- When you end with the principle, you have built on the threat of violence a coercive state that enforces the principle by threat of violence.
- When it is possible simply to begin with the ethical principle which can potentially be universally agreed to. That's an example of what you mean, the other kind of freedom, to do something worth while.
- We choose between two conceptions of freedom, one founded on the threat of force, the other on an idea of what is a good way to live.

P.S. From: William Godwin's An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Political Justice and Its Influence on General Virtue and Happiness, 1793:
It is necessary that every man should stand by himself, and rest upon his own understanding. For that purpose each must have his sphere of discretion. No man must encroach upon my province, nor I upon his. He may advise me, moderately and without pertinaciousness, but he must not expect to dictate to me. He may censure me freely and without reserve; but he should remember that I am to act by my deliberation and not his. He may exercise a republican boldness in judging, but he must not be peremptory and imperious in prescribing. Force may never be resorted to but, in the most extraordinary and imperious emergency. I ought to exercise my talents for the benefit of others; but that exercise must be the fruit of my own conviction; no man must attempt to press me into the service. I ought to appropriate such part of the fruits of the earth as by an accident comes into my possession, and is not necessary to my benefit, to the use of others; but they must obtain it from me by argument and expostulation, not by violence. It is in this principle that what is commonly called the right of property is founded. Whatever then comes into my possession, without violence to any other man, or to the institutions of society, is my property. This property, it appears by the principles already laid down, I have no right to dispose of at my caprice; every shilling of it is appropriated by the laws of morality; but no man can be justified, in ordinary cases at least, in forcibly extorting it from me. When the laws of morality shall be clearly understood, their excellence universally apprehended, and themselves seen to be coincident with each man's private advantage, the idea of property in this sense will remain, but no man will have the least desire, for purposes of ostentation or luxury, to possess more than his neighbors.
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* Why lessen income inequality? Bribery of the government, speculation, and monopoly result in the poor having less money to buy things and the rich not investing in producing new things. A vicious cycle results of more unemployment, lower sales, reduced production. For the rich economic depressions of low production and consumption are intervals of profit taking. The market is cleared as small businesses fail, and foreclosed property may be cheaply acquired. With this profit taking comes a danger of social revolution. Though social disruption, like economic disruption, can also be a period of opportunity, with social repression creating market openings by making business hazardous to all those without money to buy the protection of the forces of order, when those who bribe the government consider this too risky, for the time being to be avoided, they take measures to lessen income inequality. (Further Reading: Bloomberg Reports Wall Street Speculators Buying Up Foreclosed Houses Lost In Crash They Caused)
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5. Property Is Silence


- You've heard the slogan, property is theft?
- Sure.
- If we all live in common, holding onto something only for oneself is stealing from others opportunity to use it.
- Some things should be only for our own use.
- For example?
- Right to care for our own children. Right to live in our own house while we care for our children.
- And wouldn't the reason for these exceptions be that others, if they thought things through, would agree with us that it was better parents care for their children and families have one house to live in while raising children?
- House and children would be our property and not stolen because other people would not, should not want them.
- And we would not want to give them away either for the same reason. When we talk, we are giving away our words, and we are giving our attention to the other's word. When we are silent, refraining from giving and from expecting to receive, we expect it to be understood we cannot always be speaking. In the same way, we cannot always be passing back and forth the things we live with and among.
- Exchanging things is only one out of many human activities.
- Yes. We give and receive things not for the mere sake of it but to make our lives better and more beautiful. We refrain from sharing at times because we do not live for the purpose of sharing.
- Property is then not theft but a thought-through exception to sharing.
- Or a taboo*, if established by tradition.
- Property is silence that allows us to speak better.

* Taboo: that we have anything is because our ancestors had us, a mystery that expresses the exceptional nature of ownership. To the extent we can be said to own anything our ancestors own us.

(Continued at: Take It Back)


Further Reading:
The Conquest Of Bread Peter Kropotkin
The Great Transformation Karl Polanyi:
The outstanding discovery of recent historical and anthropological research is that man's economy, as a rule, is submerged in his social relationships. He does not act so as to safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social claims, his social assets. He values material goods only in so far as they serve this end. Neither the process of production nor that of distribution is linked to specific economic interests attached to the possession of goods; but every single step in that process is geared to a number of social interests which eventually ensure that the required step be taken. These interests will be very different in a small hunting or fishing community from those in a vast despotic society, but in either case the economic system will be run on noneconomic motives.
Note the inescapable conclusion: things held onto for the sake of trading for profit, because used in an activity done for its own sake, by definition are never eligible for the exception "private property".  Private property and trade for profit are principles fundamentally at odds with each other. Profit can claim no property right unless, as Aristotle allowed, it is made not for itself but for the sake of private life. Since the exception of property for private life depends on public good, the amount of profit taken into private life is limited to an amount which serves public good, beyond which profit becomes public.

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6Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism, Doing For The Sake Of Doing

Yet it is decisive that the experience of the eternal, in contradistinction to that of the immortal, has no correspondence with and cannot be transformed  into any activity whatsoever, since even the activity of thought, which goes on within one's self by means of words, is obviously  not only inadequate to render it but would interrupt and ruin the experience itself. -  Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

1.

- Why did you want me to read this passage?
- The experience of the eternal is what is lacking in how we live now. We live for doing. We make tools to make more tools.
- Maybe we like to live like this.
- It wouldn't be so bad except that we compete with each other in the making of things. A love for making things doesn't make us want to make things together.
- Why not?
- Because we don't see the good of it. We only value making things.
- But we could.
- Yes. We don't because power over things is extended to the desire for power over other people. Each tries to make his relation to others serve his own private interest in making things. We compete against each other.
- We become atomized, isolated, hostile.
- Yes. I wanted you to read that passage because it is wrong. The eternal can be expressed in action as a longing to return, but that requires seeing the world as a place not where you do for the sake of doing, but do, and learn how to do this as efficiently as possible, for the sake of not doing, for making a return to the eternal.* When you don't know how to get the eternal mixed up with your doing things you feel alone and futile, trapped in meaninglessly doing for the sake of doing, doing not for yourself and not for others either. But what if there was a way you could get the feeling of the eternal in life with others by doing what you are already doing, but doing it in common?
- I thought doing in common was blocked by the habit of seeing people as things to be made to serve your interest as maker of things?
- If you say to yourself, I and all the other doers for the sake of doing know what it means to do what we do. We have that in common, and with this common knowledge there is a task we can set ourselves in common that doesn't depend on anything else: the destruction of all that is in the world that hinders doing for the sake of doing. We respect our own individual natures and expand them at the same time.
- We recapitulate our own loss of individuality by destroying what's left of individuality in the world.
- We go over our own personal story, we enjoy the exercise of the power of doing, and we get a sense of the eternal in sympathy with our fellow doers for the sake of doing. Totalitarianism is the collective, bureaucratic task that destroys all those not in the group of fellow doers precisely because these holdouts still presume to do for the sake of not doing.

2.

- My turn, you guys. Look at this.
- What?
- The Billionaire George Soros, how he conspires to manipulate currencies and destroy the world's economy.
- He doesn't conspire. He is openly on record that the banking community of which he is a prominent part is knowingly destroying Europe and America's economic stability.
- How do you know?
- He wrote and published an article in The New York Review Of Books last year saying so. And I have briefly spoken with him several times.
- You?
- You think it is impossible, someone like me dumped here in the Beverly Hills lower depths? I asked him why not support the Occupy protest movement. He said he sympathized with the pain of the protestors, but changing the system when it is already stressed leads to greater disorder. His business is to predict the direction of market swings and profit by them, succeeding in this both in upturns and downturns, in fact helping the market go fast in the direction it is already going, even if this means destruction of the marketplace.
- What good does destruction do him?
- The weaker participants are destroyed. The surviving stronger monopolizing investors like himself buy up the devalued assets of the destroyed, then invest to bring on the upswing. Monopoly and concentration of wealth.
- Wikipedia says he gives away billions. Why does he do it if he is out to destroy the world?
- He is someone who makes money for the sake of making money, does things for the sake of doing things. Another time I talked with him...
- Ha.
- Don't believe me, see if I care. Another time I talked with Soros...
- Where?
- Budapest. Central European University, the school he founded and paid for. He'd given a lecture in which he said economists couldn't account for or control the economic system currently in operation. I asked him didn't he think it was time to start talking of looking at basic economic relations and asking which kind make people happy. He was silent, then answered that he included happiness as one factor in the calculation of investment for profit, a certain amount of happiness might be necessary to maximize the efficiency of the process. Everything for him was for the sake of doing, even happiness.
- He's evil.
- Hannah Arendt defined radical evil as behavior we can't forgive, and we can't forgive what we can't punish, and we can't forgive and punish what we can't love. To me, Soros is a case of doing for the sake of doing kept going by the imagination that he is part of a mass movement of doing for the sake of doing. He imagines that he with faceless and countless others is working together to convert all the hold outs, the remnant of those living for happiness, not doing for the sake of doing. He gives away away billions to causes that help people enter the system of doing for the sake of doing, as another form of investment. The poor protesters in the occupy movement have to be helped too, but unfortunately they make the mistake of challenging the movement he belongs to of doers for the sake of doing.
- The revolution will come, and sweep away evil people like him.
- Well, to be honest, when I talked to him, when I looked him in the eyes I saw a madman. But I felt pity for him. I found myself tapping him on the shoulder even. It is possible, for me at least, to pity, to imagine reformation, punishment and forgiveness, of someone who can imagine human community but only find it in the collective mad destruction of human nature.
- You said three times. What was the third time you talked with Soros?
- I asked him for a job.
- What did he say?
- He's busy.**



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7. Some Plain Words About Evil

- Can you do me a favor?
- I'll try.
- I was told there's a car paid for in my name at Hollywood Honda. All I have to do is pick it up.
- Who told you that?
- A man on the street.
- Someone you asked for money?
- Yes. I see him every day.
- Does he know your name?
- I don't know.
- Did you tell him your name? I don't know your name.
- Can you look up the phone number anyway?
- Sure. Come to Starbucks with me for the wifi.
- Don't you have a phone?
- I told you last time I'm the poorest man in Beverly Hills.
- Are you still writing? Doesn't anyone pay you?
- No. Why should they?
- You just have to ask. That's how I got the car.
- "How you got the car." You really think there's a car waiting for you?
- You are the one who told me to ask for things.
- I remember. I said as long as you were going to spend all day standing on the street you'd be better off asking for a car than a couple of bucks. So you actually did it. I'm impressed.
- You should try it yourself. Your writing can't be that bad. What are you writing about anyway?
- Today? I'll write about evil.
- Do you think the man who told me he bought a car for me is evil?
- Should I give you my short lecture on evil? Or do you have to work?
- So many people ask for money in Beverly Hills. I make two dollars an hour. When I get two dollars I go into Rite Aid and buy a two dollar beer. I end up with nothing.
- I see. That's how you got that red face.
- Don't make fun of me.
- I wouldn't dare. So you don't have any money then?
- I have twenty dollars. I was walking in the alley way looking in the garbage containers and two guys from a reality show paid me.
- For what?
- To be pepper sprayed. I wouldn't let them spray me on the face.
- Good for you. The BattleCam* people the next street over, on Canon, right?
- Yes.
- We're on topic, then. Evil. Ever thought what evil is?
- No.
- I'll tell you. Evil is acting against our own good nature and being rewarded for it by the group we participate in.
- Is that the kind of thing you write?
- You see why I don't have a car.
- But you live somewhere. Where do you live? In Beverly Hills?
- With the Guru.
- Who?
- Another time.
- What about all the crazy psychopaths out there? How are they evil?
- They construct a group in imagination in which their role is the most powerful. If you kill someone the question of whose role is more powerful has be decided. Now this is where things become interesting. If we can blame people for actions only for which they are individually responsible we can never blame people for evil. They are never responsible, by definition. Evil is being dictated to by a group.
- Then what are we supposed to do?
- In theory, understand evil and be sure we don't act against ourselves for the sake of conformity to our group. In practice we can't do much of anything.**
- Why not?
- Because every time we buy or sell something and as buyer and seller try to get the better of each other we commit evil. We deny our natural good natured wish to like and cooperate for the sake of advantage from trading according to group defined rules.
- I like your idea. We aren't violent when we buy and sell things but we're evil anyways. I've always thought something was wrong. You don't think there's a car in my name at Hollywood Honda? You think the man was just being evil? Should I give up hope?
- Well I'm the one who said ask for a car. We can't accept the evil people do, we can't blame them for it, all we can do is try to be ourselves.

Further Reading: 
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** Retribution for evil in any case doesn't require our concern: as evil cannot be loved, penalty is automatic. 

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8. One Dollar Ninety Buys A Lot In Beverly Hills



- How are you today?
- Not good.
- Sorry to hear that.
- Hearing that upsets me more.
- Why?
- You appear to be my friend but you steal from me.
- I don't steal from you.
- Your company does.
- Calm down. What seems to be the problem?
- AT&T is trying to steal $1.90 from me. That was the credit I had in my account. I bought the credit here. No one warned me that unused credit would be confiscated by AT&T after 30 days.
- Those are the terms.
- You say now they are the terms. I don't accept them. I want the $1.90 you stole.
- Politeness will get you much further.
- Won't get me what I want, which is to discredit your politeness.
- Would you prefer I wasn't polite? Where would that get you?
- We'd be able to talk about your company pretending to be my friend but the moment my back is turned inventing a policy that allows it to pounce on my money.
- This is about $1.90. If I give you a refund in that amount will that make you happy?
- Very happy.
- Give me your telephone number.
- Will this take long?
- Are you trying to provoke me?
- Not any more. What's going out out there on the street?
- It's a No Parking zone in front of the store. We have a good relation with the city. 
- I bet. While we've been talking that Mercedes pulled up to the curb, the city of Beverly Hills' guy on the bike arrived in seconds, wrote him a ticket, gave the order to drive on. The Mercedes drove around the block and parked here again. 
- We called parking enforcement. We always do.
- The guy in the Mercedes doesn't seem to care much about paying a fine. What's that car cost? $100,000? $200,000? He probably owns stock in your company.  How's my refund coming?
- Sign here. That is one dollar., 25 cents, 25 cents, 25 cents, 10 cents, and five. Happy now?
- Sure. I win. 
- Have a nice day.

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9. 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.

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

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10. A Country With A Lot To Learn

Drawing of the glorious Plaza hotel on 5th Avenue. Famous for a young Macaulay Culkin sliding across it’s marble lobby floor in the film Home Alone 2. Bit of a departure from the skyscrapers i’ve been drawing recently but i couldn’t resist drawing it, so here we are. Drawn in pencil and crayon.

Hilgard Ave, Westwood

- What are you looking at?
- The copper on the awnings, the French roof. Aging beautifully. I was wondering what this was before it became a hotel. Do you know?
- No. I was staying here. Leaving now.
- What have you been doing in Westwood?
- Attending a conference.
- On what?
- Hospital management.
- Is that your business? Where are you from?
- Turkey. No. It's not my business.
- And was the conference worth coming all the way here?
- In fact, yes.
- Why?
- Hospitals are a good business these days.
- More people are dying longer. How did you like the hotel? Are you enjoying these days before you start dying? You're not dying?
- I'm not dying. It's like a palace inside.
- I've never been inside. I was once at that hotel, across the street, when it was a luxury apartment building. My mother wanted me to meet the wayward hippy son from a family of billionaire meat processors who was living there.
- That is also a good business, food.
- Know any other good businesses?
- The pharmaceutical business. The food business makes people sick, the pharmaceutical business makes them sicker, and the hospital business keeps them sick.
- I see.
- Defense is a good business too.
- Don't wars like the one in the country neighboring yours kill a lot of people? Reduce the customer base? Do you know how many people died in the Iraq war?
- Yes. One to two million. Quickly replaced in today's world.
- Military strategists in Israel call such defense actions "cutting the grass".
- I've heard.
- You have? So. How did you like your stay in our rich and poor town?
- The people in Beverly Hills live off the dying of everyone else around them.
- Indeed they do. I walked over here from Beverly Hills. I used to live there with the driver for a billionaire Beverly Hills couple. They owned a building just like the luxury hotel across the street. According to the driver, his employers, orthodox Jews, had rented the building to a corporation controlled by Arab Princes for a million dollars a year. They were still living in it, holding the entire penthouse floor to themselves, keeping a close watch on their property. They were so cheap, the driver said, they paid him by the hour. That way when they wanted to go to a restaurant they'd have him drive them in their Rolls Royce, then he'd be told to return the car to the hotel without them and clock off. They'd take a taxi back or bum a ride from some other restaurant patron.
- That's how they got rich.
- The rich are cheap because there is nothing in their heads but money. They don''t get rich by being cheap but by cheating, doing one of your three businesses, for example. I've read some amazing statistics about Los Angeles. Supposedly 200,000 people have registered with the government the fact they have no place to live. They aren't sleeping on the streets. Only 20 to 50 thousand are sleeping on the streets. That according to other statistics. The 200,000 are living with friends, I guess. Telling the government they have no place to live they get money for food, just enough money to buy the cheap deadly food produced by the food business with government subsidies. They become customers of your booming food, drug, hospital businesses. What do you think about that? The numbers are just for those with no place to live. The government gives 3 million people in L.A. money for food. If you can call what they eat food.
- We have a lot to learn in our country.

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11. We're All Rex At Ralphs

- Hi Rex. What's the latest?
- The night security at Ralphs across the street has been following me.
- While you shop?
- Yeah. Next day, that's last night, I was waiting outside for the Guru to show up. A new friendly guard I hadn't seen before came over and asked if he could join me standing around. Sure. Any trouble to report? He said this guy Rex was hanging around down by the water machine. Did I know him? I ask the guard:
- How does he look?
- Beard. Thick Glasses. Hat.
- Sounds like the Guru.
- Who?
- What did he do?
- He's a drunk.
- The Guru doesn't drink.
- There he is now! Hi Rex.
      - I'm not Rex. Rex is there.
- Did you hear what Rex said? Why is he pointing at you?
- I have information you guards follow around another Rex. We're all Rex at Ralphs.
- What do you do all day? Do you mind my asking?
- Kind of old fashioned, asking before you look. But since you ask, just now I came from a lecture at UCLA on the surveillance state and drone warfare. The speaker - I noticed he wore loafers without socks - was a young guy who does the political reporting for The Atlantic magazine. He bonded with the audience saying he was writing a book about an influential UCLA graduate, the founder of Sea World. Though he himself went to Pomona College, a small school, 40 miles east of here, a west coast version of Harvard, a club for families of old money. Pomona happens also to be my school, though I failed to bond. Actually I tore up my diploma at my graduation ceremony. Everyone now good friends, the journalist - I have to say he didn't look like much - launched into his talk. The director of the NSA lies to Congress about government spying, with no-one expecting a high government official could ever be punished for lying. The journalist worried about the secret use of weapons like drones and secret spying authorized by secret courts. If we didn't know, he concluded, what the government was doing, if most of the elected officials didn't know either, there was a threat to the democratic process. I asked him when he finished why he thought there was much democratic process left to be threatened if the head of the second largest government department can openly lie to Congress, be caught at it and yet nothing happen.
- What did he answer?
- Reporting like he did for The Atlantic, an institution that has its origins 150 years ago in the abolitionist movement, has resulted in fewer drone strikes this last year.
- How many?
- A few dozen, as opposed to hundreds previous years. I asked him if last year there weren't 10,000 deaths by more ordinary weapons? He said he didn't know. I said it seemed to me reporting like he did was useless. Push down on one side, the other side goes up. The economics are constant. Did he know, for example, how many slaves there were at the time of the civil war? No? There were around 3 million. Did he know how many in the prison system are of African descent? No? Something under two million*. Did he know that Federal Regulations require all prisoners to work who can, and that they are paid between 10 cents an hour and one dollar an hour? My point, I said, was that of course there are now tens of millions of African descent in the US who are not slaves, but the number of slaves has been more or less constant. Democratic pressure for social change has been allowed to have effect only so long as economic interests remained satisfied.
- What did he say to that?
- "Next question!".

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*According to the US justice department, on current trends, one in three black boys born in 2001 will end up in jail.

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12. 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:
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13. A Spiritualist Campaigns For Congress, An Anarchist Attends



(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.*
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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)

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14. Addiction & Property

- 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:
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*** "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)

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15. The Golden Rule & The Deviant Path

1.

The Golden Rule

- We say moral principles must be universal: what applies to you must also apply to me. Why do you think this is?
- What do we use moral principles for?
- To make our lives better, I suppose.
- Our lives individually or our lives among others?
- Since we live among others, it wouldn't make much sense to live the best life ourselves if it didn't give us the best life in the society we live in.
- Do you think it is possible that the best life for ourselves could be not the best life for the people we live with?
- That depends on the kind of society. A society that punishes people for living good lives wouldn't be the place to live the life best for us individually.
- Ok. Let's say then a moral principle is not about making the best life in a bad society. Neither the best life for the individual nor the best for society.
- Then what is it?
- When we speak* we first have to agree on the meaning of words. Moral principles are the words we are going to use to talk about how we live together. Moral principles lay the foundation we are going to build on, establish first that we are going to cooperate at all before we work out how best to cooperate.
- Give me an example.
- Property is not a moral principle, because the rule, everyone is free to not share what he has, is not something everyone will ever voluntarily agree to. Agreement will have to be forced.
- So if use of things is to become a building block of society, as words we use when we talk of perfecting society, then everyone will have to agree. Do you see how this can work?
- Provisionally, yes. As words change their meaning in time, so our foundations can change in time. If we for example start with the rules, no possession without use, no selling oneself up for hire in exchange for receiving the necessities of life, we have a determination of how things will be used all can agree on.
- Not everyone.
- Not in a society that punishes people for living good lives. That is not our concern here at the moment.
- What is our concern again?
- Universal principles of behavior. Whether they are possible.
- And you are tying to show they are possible.
- What do you think?
- We're not asking that any existing society of people universally agree, only that without any change in human nature people could agree, given the chance.
- Yes.
- Then moral principles are possible.**

2.

The Deviant Path

- Once they have been established, and everyone's basic needs satisfied, moral principles can be universally observed, but only in creative societies where they are the common foundation for individual development. Where every creative act of every individual begins with and is founded on the same principles, to disregard them means destroying what has been collectively said and learned and built upon them, means having to begin again in speechless ignorance and incompetence. The feeling of guilt is the creative person's awareness of self caused incompetence. Unchanging societies organized around a division of labor lack shared foundation; each role benefits from altering present arrangements in its favor, causing moral principles, if attempt is made to institute them, to be disregarded. What appears to be guilt in uncreative people is only their fear of being caught.
- Say I am one of those guilt-free, track-covering, uncreative people who are incapable of following moral principles. What do we do about people like me?
- First, let's give you a definition. You follow rules. Second, you know that always following rules is not good, you understand that you might not want to give a man back his gun when he asks for it angry at you and drunk. Together, "follow rules" and "but not always" allow you to do anything, and what you do is discover what works to make it easier for you to go on doing what you do. For you there is no world outside doing. You don't look at the consequences of anything you do except as they increase the efficiency or not of what you do.
- Then I am creative too, in a devious sort of way.
- Yes.
- So what are you going to do about people like me, rich, confident, sure we are leading creative, fulfilling lives? How are you going to block our development?
- You present us with two problems. Once you've developed, found each other, prospered with each other, acquired the instruments of oppression necessary to force all the rest of us into following rules against our wishes, then we face the practical problem of revolution. The other problem is not letting things get to that point, depriving those on the deviant path access to power.
- How?
- By not allowing them to organize.
- How?
- That's to be determined, but our provisional moral rules, no possession without use, no selling oneself for hire in exchange for receiving the necessities of life, might work to prevent association of doers for the sake of doing. It would have to be tried. Our admission of ignorance here is axiomatic. Axioms are foundational knowledge, in this case what we need to know about ourselves and life before we go about looking for moral universals.
- And that is?
- Follow rules to make our lives better and for no other reason. If we said we were confident of our rules untested we would be doers for the sake of doing, set on our rules and merely maximizing our ability to practice them. We'd all be on the deviant path.


Further Reading:
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** On Humanism And Morality, Noam Chomsky

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16. Killer Metaphysics

1.

Killer Metaphysics
The notion of “physical world” is open and evolving. No one believes that bodies are Cartesian automata . . . or that physical systems are subject to the constraints of Cartesian mechanism, or that physics has come to an end. It may be that contemporary natural science already provides principles adequate for the understanding of mind. Or perhaps principles now unknown enter into the functioning of the human or animal minds, in which case the notion of “physical body” must be extended, as has often happened in the past, to incorporate entities and principles of hitherto unrecognized character. Then much of the so-called “mind–body problem” will be solved in something like the way in which the problem of the motion of the heavenly bodies was solved, by invoking principles that seemed incomprehensible or even abhorrent to the scientific imagination of an earlier generation. (Noam Chomsky, 1980)

Trader Joes, Beverly Center

- You can go ahead of me in line.
- Thanks, but maybe it's better waiting. I can look at you while your food is scanned.
- You're nice
- And you can talk to me while I look. I'm harmless, mostly.
- Mostly. You might be a killer.
- I haven't killed any one yet.
- Are you planning to?
- That's not in my future as far as I know. But everyone led down the wrong path is capable of it. Or do you disagree?
- No.
- Some people in fact are capable of killing at any time. They are incapable of knowing why they shouldn't kill. I've been trying to figure this out all day.
- You have?
- Do you want to hear what I concluded?
- The line's not moving. Tell me.
- That some people are incapable of guilt. The argument depends on the idea of creativity. We can either build our lives on a universal principle of caring about people, or not. When we build on the principle, and later break it, we feel as guilt the knowledge we have made ourselves incapable of continuing along the path of all we have built on the principle. Those on another, uncreative path,* one that never builds on the principle, don't feel guilt.
- What is the other path?
- Doing for the sake of doing, following rules which give you a sense of security and power, adapting rules to the occasion, selecting between rules following only those that increase power over others.
- Why do people base their lives on moral principle when they don't have to and another life is safer and more powerful?
- It takes some metaphysics to answer that.
- Why not? We're not going anywhere. Credit card problem or something.
- If treating everyone the same as we'd like ourselves to be treated turns out to be the general way of nature, would that be an argument not to act selfishly?
- Do we have to do what nature does?
- We want to learn to do better than we are born into doing, than what comes naturally, but what if that learning too is what nature does?
- People who act selfishly will simply say that acting selfishly is doing better than they were born into.
- But what if the way of acting better in nature excludes that selfishness?
- Then the selfish would ask, why should they care? They can do better than all of nature's ideas of doing better.
- What happens when we act in a way fundamentally different from the world we respond to? Neglecting the possibility to respond in kind, do we lose something good the world offers?
- What?
- We have experiences of love, beauty, truth, sympathy. Say we can show the world does too, in a way.
- What way?
- I'll get to that. If selfish people deprive themselves of these experiences which are not human illusions but the general way of the world, and these experiences, in the judgment of those who've experienced both them and selfishness, are vastly superior, do we have an argument? (The latter part, knowing both choose one, comes from Plato.) What do you say?
- Show me how everything in nature loves and learns to do better than it is born to do.
- Ok. Take the example of seeing a line. Actually our visual system sees bits of image which are collected together unconsciously and composed into what we see as a line. Same goes for things we see as solid, as moving or unmoving. Now those bits of image too are composed.
- What does the composition?
- Our nerves, cells in the brain and eye. The bits of image are composed, collected from other responses to the world, something like what in physics happens on the quantum level is composed into how the atom responds.
- Is this science?
- Experimental results. There's an infinite regress: the eye is one organ that composes the body, cells and tissues compose the eye, atoms compose the cells, particles compose the atom. In the body, the different levels are assembled together. What the higher levels do "perceives" what is happening on the lower level in the sense of takes account of, collects, and then does what we were talking about, uses what is collected to do something new, make a new collection. From what is happening on the quantum level we get to those visual images we are unconscious of getting finally to the image of the line we are conscious of. Ok?
- Yes.
- In our thinking, we turn away from response to the world, and start collecting as units "ourselves responding to the world". Not seeing lines, but ourselves seeing lines. We call that unit an idea. And in our imagination we assort these different ideas found in memory, looking for a way to collect them together, something in common between them, and when we do, we've found a new idea. The words we use in language are such units collecting our responses to the world that have some way in common. When we speak a sentence we are putting words in combination aiming toward forming a new collection.
- Perception, biological organization, thinking, language all are collections.
- And add evolution of species, development of the individual from conception to adulthood, nature thinking and speaking as it were. Collection is done to a purpose, which is to stop collecting. We stop collecting when we pass on the drive to collect to the collection itself as a whole. When a word is formed it becomes a element in a new sentence that possibly has never been spoken before. In the body, the drive to new collection has been passed on from quantum level to atom to cell to organ to human individual speaking words in an open ended process of composing sentences.
- The freedom to make new collections is only at the top level?
- Yes.
- Let me try to process this information. The selfish bypasses this development? What do they lose?
- If according to the argument all of nature is such as we say, it is not really possible for the selfish, who after all are in nature, to bypass nature. What selfish people can do is deprive themselves of rest.
- How?
- Simply by leaving one collecting process and moving on to another, instead of building one upon the other, the lower level resting in being the foundation for the higher.
- And finding this rest is somehow related to the experiences we have of love, beauty, truth, etc.?
- Yes.
- Can you prove this?
- We are trying to see whether there is in what we know about the world, in all the aspects we can talk about it, something which argues against acting selfishly. If all of nature moves towards rest, and we ourselves move towards rest, if those of us who can reflect on the matter from Plato on see moving towards rest superior to not doing so, isn't that a good argument?
- I like it.
- People who would like to make universal moral principles the foundation of their lives together can point to their own experience and the general behavior of nature. But the selfish set themselves up against nature, and against their own experience too. They reject all these arguments as mere reports of behavior, examples of nature they set themselves against. They are to their minds kind of gods.
- They're devils.**
________________

P.S. The way we each individually drive to collect together with others is such that each individual gives up nothing. This is difficult to see at first glance. Before collecting with others we first have to accept that our individuality is complete, making no demands from society, like the word in the sentence which achieves more in the sentence than it does itself, while losing nothing of itself by being included in a sentence. Or a particle that loses nothing of itself in being included in an atom. There is a sense where the particle continues in the atom, and in that same sense I as an individual continue in social life of the kind, and only of the kind, that is founded on a universal moral principle. Only under the protection of universal moral principle can individuality survive intact voluntary collection with others. Only universal moral principle, offering the same protection of individuality to others, provides the stability where foundation of society on individuality is possible. As an individual I rest in what I know how to do, and make it the basis of my choice of what new things I can do with others, which since collection is not complete - we have not collected ourselves into a stable organization - is provisional. Our present position, individual to society, is: project of individuality rested in, provisional experimental attempts at collection by one and all.

As an exercise in collection we might, for example, consider state ownership and control. We know already* that home, family, tools of trade are likely to be a thought through exception to sharing, a principle likely to be universally agreed to. But once we allow private property it becomes clear that the led become the private property of the leaders, the leaders do not share with the led power over their lives. Failure to share power with the led is an exception to the sharing leaders are supposed practice among themselves and to manage among the led. Good is not likely to come from this. (Private property + collective sharing + state control = class war.) So we look back again at our project of state control and ownership, think we might have to exclude private property after all, but guided by experience and a reading of Plato's "Republic" see that sharing everything goes against human nature. We decide we don't want to do without private property, and unless we want to do without the principle of sharing we cannot accommodate leaders exercising power over us.
_________________

Anarchist Metaphysics

- 'Principle of sharing + the exception of private property + the state = class war.' Can you go into that a little?
- If we have private property, and a central control of government, the led do not share ownership with the leaders, the led are the private property of the leaders. This means the leaders can speak creatively with other leaders, in what we called the deviant path of creativity*, but not with the led. If the period of being the leaders' private property was scheduled to end, like children are for a time subject to authority of parents, this might work. Love of parent for child insures that the status of property is always subject to higher consideration of shared life, of universal principle. Love requires individual knowledge through individual experience, as a word of a language is acquired through a history of action in relation to the world. When there is no actual personal relation the universal principle is not satisfied and there is no real creative life. The leader can speak creatively with the other leaders, but in relation to the led he can only pretend love. He lies, for their own good. The lie, as something unnatural but producing a temporarily desirable result, imbalances the leaders in relation to their own creative life among other leaders. They tell more lies to calm their imbalance and quiet the demands of the led for the fair treatment they are not receiving, for not getting the treatment they would have been getting had they been truly loved. Leaders become addicted to lying**, to pretending they are managing the led for their own good when that is strictly speaking impossible. Instead they are perfecting efficiency***  of their management of the led, like addicts working out the most reliable and quickest means of acquiring their drug.
- And leaders, sharing power with each other, and lying to the led both to quiet their own qualms and the dissatifaction of the led who are deprived of property rights in becoming the property of the leaders, is what you called class war.
- Yes.
- But is there any difference if we imagine workers own their workplace and homes, workers elect workplace leaders and residents elect community leaders who elect federations of leaders to make larger scale decisions? Won't any leader, no matter how quickly recalled, or how rooted in the community, be subject to this process of class creation?
- Unless one condition applies: the right, and practical capacity, of individuals to withdraw from community and workplace, the right and capacity of community and workplace to withdraw from higher level federations. If there is a contract binding the led to the decisions of the leaders who represent then that contract must be subject to be dissolution at will.**** Keeping promises depends on the prior keeping to the universal principle of sharing. No sharing, no promise. No sentence has been spoken if their are no words, no words without universal principle.
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*** Unloved, the people are lead by their leaders in the only way they can be led, not creatively but "efficiently", that is, whatever things the people are thought to do they are managed to do more of faster. See Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism, Doing For The Sake Of Doing
**** Promises

17. Liars & The Free Market

 

- But you can't expect the word "think" to be understood in the same way. More the opposite.
- You learn the word "think", or rather how to use it, under circumstances you don't learn to describe.*

- Do you think they know they are lying?
- Do they believe their own lies?
- Yes.
- They say they are in favor of a free market. A free market creates relative equality, ends the control of monopolies, the social classes and institutions that before limited trade. But then they go on to attack as a monopoly the government which had been protecting against monopolies and had made the free market possible. They bribe the government to protect them from foreign free trade, bribe the government to subsidize their risk of operating in a free market. In the absence of regulation, with protection from competition, with government subsidy they overwhelm markets and they themselves form monopolies.
- They are in favor of a free market to form monopolies.
- Yes, and the freedom to form monopolies is a one time opportunity that falls to first takers, over once everything has been monopolized.
- Hard to believe they could convince themselves that that would still be a free market.
- Is it? We can we still believe in the mechanical model of physical science, that things pass on movement by knocking into other things, a view impossible to conceive clearly, and left behind hundreds of years ago by Newton and his theory of gravitational force acting at a distance. We continue to be comfortable with the idea of the world working like a clock or machine. Do you know why?
- Why?
- Class society is the product of ritual. One ape makes faces at another, one ape stands his ground while the other flees. One ape gets in the habit of flight, one gets into the habit of standing ground. As long as circumstances remain constant any habit gives security.
- Ritual again.
- Like it or not, it's fundamental.** You enter ritual in a state of weakness, act in the company of others in a safe and regular way, exit ritual with strength regained. You define yourself as you enter, you define yourself as you exit, but are invisible to yourself in the ritual itself which passes in pure movement, a dream of intoxication. The sequence of ritual consciousness is: (1) defined self (2) movement (3) defined self. If we imagine the two instances of selves are different objects, which in the typical ritual guiding account or myth they are - an old god dies and is reborn - then we have clockwork nature's object passing on movement to object by contact. The old self is in contact with the new self, but a mysterious movement and force has passed from one to the other. Follow?
- Yes.
- Free market economics is practiced as a ritual. Individuals enter into transactions with each and mysteriously beneficent movement is passed on.
- But is it or was it true that free markets create more equality?
- A step towards freedom from class repression became a ritual, and once it became a ritual it was possible, free from awareness of inconsistency, to remove the government controls that created the free market in the first place by restraining class power, possible to create monopolies that ultimately ended any reality of free markets and equality.
- The free market ritualists don't know they are lying. When they look at themselves they only see movement which has no definition. They remain true believers in free markets even while destroying them.
- When they look at the market they only see movement they pass on, what they call efficiency. They see something is happening, feel the increase in their power, but they don't pay attention to the world. Free market economics, like its two sisters in ritualized science, Darwin's evolution by chance (and only chance) mutation*** and the superceded clockwork physics, is a theory with no application to the real world. These theories function as myths guiding ritual behavior. They serve our ability to make ourselves feel safe by fixing our relations to other people, that is, they serve our vanity. Do you know what a free market really would be like?
- What?
- Since free markets begin with the monopoly of certain classes and institutions controlling trade, controlling class and institutions would have to continue. We know that employment, selling oneself instead of selling products we make, is an example of a self to be put into motion by a self, the self of the bought servant moved by the self of the master who buys, is an example clockwork nature in all its appeal and incoherence. The servant is the agent of the master, a tool to ritual, while the master can act creatively in management of servants. Two distinct and unequal classes are created, masters with a monopoly of creative use of freedom, while a division of labor is heartlessly imposed on servants in which they are without choice how and what, when and how much to produce. Monopoly on creativity in the workplace makes a mockery of equality. Division of labor, wearing down ability to act creatively, makes a farce out of freedom.
- Then if we really believed in freedom and equality we would outlaw wage employment.
- We would also want to get a step ahead of the formation of class interests that eliminate equality. Class interests are produced by ritual. Possession of property without use is exclusively of ritual value. It is a daydream-guarantee of immortality, each unused possession representing a prepared escape in rebirth. And obviously, though this is trivial in comparison, withdrawing resources from exchange and use reduces the scope of freedom in the free market.
- The proponents of the free market do away with government controls which made the free market possible in the first place. They bribe the government to protect them from free market foreign competition, they demand subsidies to save them from their market failure and to eliminate their unsubsidized competition. In the absence of controls they form larger and larger monopolies. They are conscious***of themselves distinguished by their economic creativity from the marketplace dependence of their servants, and express that class consciousness in unequal treatment. They destroy the freedom of their servants, enclosing them in a rigid division of labor that makes the offer of freedom to trade meaningless, and all this when freedom and equality was the original rationale of the free market.
- Make the free market really free and it would be free to change. It would not be the enactment of ritualized theories, would not institutionalize class division.****

Continued at:

Further reading:
_________________
** For the intoxicated action, vain thought of ritual, see Physical Things.
*** See Monsters. Left off the list of ritualized science is the no longer fashionable psychology of unconscious forces. The more natural science became myth guiding ritual, the more the mysterious forces of psychology - from the beginning a division of natural science - became an embarrassment. Force related to human behavior, erotic or aggressive, is disturbingly questionable; better to hide force somewhere in the brain within atoms or particles.
**** For the creative alternative to "enactment of ritualized theories", see Killer Metaphysics and Noam Chomsky & Mental Things. It is worth noting that the creative element of free market practice has a limit: doing for the sake of doing, restless and fundamentally irrational, is destructive of the very springs of creativity. "To be clever enough to get all that money you have to be dull enough to want it." At the limit of futility, one of two things happen: either the free-marketer, evading awareness of self destructiveness throws himself back into practice of doing for the sake of doing, the pathology of compulsion. Or the free-marketer feels himself impelled against his will to become a participant in other peoples' rituals of doing for the sake of doing, the pathology of paranoia. See Capitalism & Compulsion.

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18. 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.
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19. 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.*

1.

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.


2.

- "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.

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* 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

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20. The Messiah



- "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, by 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.

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* Gershom Scholem, Origins Of The Kabbalah

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21. God

- F&#! god!
- That's an idea.
- F&#! love!
- Ok.
- People don't know what love is.
- What is love?
- They think love is holding onto things. Love is freedom. I'm going to write a book about it. God's not about love.
- What is god about?
- Freedom.
- Love and god are both about freedom?
- Yes.
- Tell you what: I'll read your book if you read mine. You write how god and love are about freedom and I'll write about how god and love are about slavery.
- What will you write?
- A kind of science fiction. I'll start with religious experience, experience of god. Wholeness, unity. Love too, but there are no individual things for love to be attached to. And also freedom but only because in religious experience nothing is being done.
- Which is why I say f&#! god.
- That's your book. In mine, I go on: stories of gods help us put together experience we can see with experience we can't.
- What experience can't we see?
- Thoughts, emotions, ideas. We have religious experience, and then what happens?
- What?
- We lose it. It ends. We feel betrayed by friends. We tell stories of being exiled by god to help us remember what has happened in the past and expect will happen in the future.
- What's that?
- More experience of god, more betrayal.
- That's your god of love for you. You can have the f&#!.
- Have you ever wondered why our gods are given human emotions, good as well as bad?
- Because they're made in the image of the morons who believe in them.
- In some of the stories god is trapped in the world like we are trapped. What if they are true?
- They aren't. God is freedom.
- In my scifi story god has his own different world, and in it is doing the same thing we do: going in a circle from religious experience, loss of religious experience, and getting back to it. When he is in exile, in his attempts to get back home he creates our world, the world we live in, and creates us, either without his knowledge or because he can't help it.
- Accidentally? We're a by-product of his working his imagination? And we do the same, accidentally are god to a new world of people when all we are trying to do is imagine a way back to our own god?
- Oh. Has somebody already written this story?
- Why does god know about us but we don't know about the people and worlds we create?
- Sometime he remembers, sometimes he doesn't. The story reminds us that we create our own world and then have to live in it. We create people and worlds when we betray people in this world. When we understand how to organize ourselves right we will stop betraying each other and stop creating new worlds. Imagining god trying to organize us right reminds us what we have to do.
- So god blundered us into existence, trying to escape his slavery...
- Going from religious experience to betrayal to religious experience...
- And another god, doing his own blundering, blundered our god into slavery.
- Right.
- How does it all end?
- You'll like this.
- Tell me.
- When the love and freedom we misapply to religious experience are put back where they belong, in our everyday lives with each other. We arrange our practical lives in such a way we don't become attached to things and we stop betraying each other. We end the cycles.
- In one level or them all?
- Them all. When we stop creating new worlds, our world has no function in the cycle of our god, whose world has no function in the cycle of the god who created him...
- And then what?
- Love and freedom.
- And god?
- What do you think?
- F&#! god!

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22. Why Nations Fail


- I've a request today.
- What's that?
- I'd like you to give me an example of philosophical investigation.
- Do you have a subject in mind?
- Yes. This book I'm reading, 'Why Nations Fail'.
- Why do nations fail?
- According to the authors, one a professor of politics at Harvard, the other a professor of economics at MIT, nations fail when the economy and politics are in control of a few rather than many.
- What do they mean by fail?
- The majority are impoverished.
- And the country as a whole?
- They think technological advance is the preserve of economics and politics in the hands of the many. But dictatorial countries can prosper for a long time when they are catching up to other countries in the use of existing technology.
- What would you like philosophically investigated?
- The book argues that in nations in the control of the few, economics determines politics, people with most of the money bribe their way into control of the government, and politics determines economics, government in the hands of the few makes laws that benefit the few, in a vicious circle. An opposite kind of circle, a virtuous circle, operates when government is in the hands of many, who make laws benefiting the many, who then share more and more the control of government. What do you think?
- You want a philosophic analysis?
- Yes.
- Let's say politics are the rules for making rules: do many people do it, or a few, or one? And economics are the rules themselves. Rules for what?
- Since it's economics, rules of buying and selling things.
- Good. And the book argues something like when rules of buying and selling things are made by the few, monopolies dominate the economy.
- Exactly.
- And the equivalent of monopoly in politics, the rules for making rules, is dictatorship.
- Yes.
- Now, what is monopolized in economics?
- Wealth.
- And wealth is control of property?
- Yes.
- What would be the thing equivalent to property that is controlled in politics?
- Power to set the rules.
- For what purpose are the rules set?
- According to the book, to control economics. Accumulate wealth and property.
- Do you think there is something in politics that is monopolized like property is monopolized in economics?
- What kind of thing?
- If there is a cycle, vicious or virtuous, then we are dealing with some kind of machine with parts moving in regular, predictable relation to each other. In economics we have supply and demand, in politics compromise and bargaining. What connects the machine of politics to the machine of economics?
- That is the failure of the book: it says that nations that are worse for the many get worse, and nations that are better for the many get better, but can't explain how or predict when and which nations change course, except to say they tend to do this at "critical junctures" such as opening the Atlantic to trade, the Black Plague, the fall of the Roman Empire.
- Try this. Economics are rules for exchanging property. Politics are rules for making rules for exchanging property. What if there were a connection between getting the many to allow the few to make the rules for making rules, and the rules of property themselves.
- I don't understand.
- We could found a society on the idea of cooperation, making each other gifts, and make each other the gift of our ideas of making the best rules for doing this. Basing our economics on property, we also base our rules for making property rules on an assumption of property being fundamental.
- Still don't understand.
- Ok. Two examples of prosperous countries where politics and economics were in the hands of the many, and rapidly were transfered to the few: Germany in the period just prior to World War II, and we the United States now. The machine of economics is controlled by monopoly. In German politics, monopoly was accomplished through the intermediary of the ideas of the National Socialist party. In the United States, through the idea of a marketplace unconstrained by government.
- But people voluntarily give up ideas, whereas in monopoly economics they have no choice: if they have no property they have to sell themselves as slaves.
- Good. Behind the idea of property is the threat of force: if you try to take my property I will either takes it back personally or call on the state to do it for me. What if behind the ideas of free market and nazism is the same threat of violence, coercing the many to accept what is in the interest of the few?
- And if so, then the increasing or decreasing violence in economics would be transfered to politics and vice versa, from politics to economics, and we would have a mechanism connecting the two.
- Yes.
- Continue the philosophic analysis.
- I myself was reading today, about the recently published journals of the 20th century German philosopher Martin Heidegger. They settle the question whether his philosophy was tied to Nazism. It was. Heidegger writes how the Jews were incapable of the German spirit of intuition, blood, nature. Jewish technology, way of social organization, was "uprooted". Nazism, Fascism in general, sees the state as a kind of property, a well functioning social machine mysteriously powered and defended by violence, the root that the Jews were supposed to lack
- And you think political ideas of mysterious force behind a machine-like organization of people provide the connection to economics, buying and selling actual things.
- In the case of the US, nearly unchallenged belief in a mystical force that sets the market in motion is behind the political monopoly* that creates the economic monopoly, which with ownership of the media is able to make the political monopoly more pervasive.
- 'Why Nations Fail' fails as a book because it is only economics, about money and property. If the professors looked at what is involved in property, saw property as one way among others of founding cooperation, they could do more than say nations that cooperate do better than those that don't. They could say that people who base cooperation on violence will be vulnerable to having cooperation reversed by extending the violence behind the rules of economic transactions to the political rules for choosing rules, basing politics on the violence of free market, the nation, blood, race.  Cooperation can also be founded on people positively wanting to cooperate because they see ahead the beauty and good that will come of it. The truth might be that the only condition under which nations don't fail is when people want to cooperate with each other, and that nations are doomed to failure when people cooperate under threat of force or with unwilling compromise.

Further Reading:
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* As economic monopoly takes advantage of threat of violence to force the propertyless to accept their state of dispossession and sell their labor cheap, so political monopoly uses ideas of human nature reduced to a force driving markets, nation, or race to discredit and disqualify other aspects of human nature that might otherwise enter into competition in political decision making.

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23. Slavery


Labor, the subjective essence of private property as exclusion of property, and capital, objective labour as exclusion of labour, constitute private property as its developed state of contradiction.*

- Karl Marx, right?
- Right. I'm not one much for him ordinarily. But the association of private property with slavery is about as fundamental and revolutionary an idea as you can get. But maybe you don't like his language, his resolution of the problem in communism?
- I don't.
- What if it is correct that private property results in a state of slavery for those without property?
- Is that what you think?
- I think that property, when made the foundation of human relations, leads to a constant threat of being enslaved. Life and freedom are dependent on having property. If you continue to exist without property, it can only be as a slave, dependent for life and freedom on the will of those who allow you to be on their land, eat their food, or use their tools. And the ever-present potential loss of life or liberty creates the sense that slavery, in those lucky enough to escape it, is part of the human condition.
- Then we'll just have to live with the threat of being enslaved, because private property, the need to be in control of things that are around us, is human nature.
- Could be it is. Still, we don't have to make private property the foundation of our societies. When we do, we are sure, if we avoid outright slavery, to be stuck with hierarchy, each level giving up some freedom to the direction of the higher level.
- Private property creates hierarchy?
- Private property when made the foundation of society. It can be present without being made the foundation of society.
- How?
- By putting cooperation before private property. Cooperation sees other people are a resource to be protected, their lives and their ability to do things freely benefiting everyone, everything accomplished providing more material to work with.**
- What if people are not willing to share what they produce?
- But why wouldn't they? A creative person wants to get rid of what's been finished and move on to the next project.
- You're assuming we don't need to use everything we make.
- Assuming, yes, we are not on the verge of death.
- And what about private property in cooperative society?
- It enters into society as a means of cooperation, when it turns out people cooperate better with their own house and own tools and within their own family.*** Anthropologists are discovering that both hierarchical societies and cooperative societies can be found at all times, often in contact with each other. Neither is the destined outcome of history. Hierarchy and cooperation appear to be divergent paths, depending on whether property is primary or secondary to their foundation.****

Further reading: The Game Against The Game
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* Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

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24. Prostitution

- We should try to go through this fast.
- Ok.
- Prostitution: one person sells the use of their body to another. For the period of time the paid for body is rented a mind might be free to make ground breaking discoveries in physic or biology, as unlikely as that may be, but body is not free, and cannot accompany mind in its discoveries.
- How can a body accompany the mind in its discoveries?
- When drawn to someone out of liking, physical attraction, for them we enter into conversation and are led places we've never been.
- We can't do that all the time, so maybe its not a loss if we take a break in selling ourselves in prostitution.
- It is necessarily a loss. Whenever we engage in relations to people as things we want again to establish relation to people as things, a habit develops. The force of habit makes us blind to everything else in the world, including the world of people who attract us in an uncertain way into conversation with them to make discoveries.
- Entering into prostitution closes the door on creativity. For both buyer and seller?
- For both buyer and seller. However the buyer cannot want to buy a human being without having already compromised his ability to live creatively, whereas the seller usually is still young and creative and only life and death necessity forces into prostitution.
- Prostitution is the uncreative destroying the creative.
- Prostitution is the uncreative destroying the creative. We don't need to know more.

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25. The United States & Totalitarianism


- A totalitarian nation controls all of individual life in the name of perfecting social arrangements.
- Doesn't sound much like the United States.
- Another way to define totalitarianism is by the practice of continuous, unending ritual*. We are threatened by the communists, the Jews, the capitalists, we must be vigilant in eradicating these threats. We see ourselves as weak, we perform a ritual according to the known procedures, and come out feeling stronger.
- What are the known procedures?
- Depends on the country. War making, conceived as response to threat to security. Or exchange of goods and services between parties defined as adversaries in an economic transaction. Ritual in its basic form is an occasional means of recovery. Practiced too often, like a drug too often had recourse to, ritual becomes addictive**, for the same reason: our ability to lead ordinary lives is lessoned when not practiced, and with less ability the world become more inhospitable, making the security delivered by ritual more attractive.
- So countries limitlessly make wars, expand the realm of trade.
- Yes. Doing for the sake of doing***. The state institutions, originally the servant of individuals, become an end in themselves, administrators of the settled, unvarying practice of continuous ritual.
- Money making, war making.
- When this continuous ritual is turned away from foreign practice and turned inward to the state itself we have totalitarianism. The elements within us opposing the trade of goods and services, or opposing the ideal society of sharing we are in the way of perfecting, have to be eradicated.
- The actual achievement of the society of sharing, communism, or the actual achievement of free markets, capitalism, isn't important then, only the application of ritual to assigned obstacles?
- The United States is no more a country of free trade**** than the Soviet Union was a country of sharing.
- Still private life is very free in the United States. It is nothing like totalitarian countries in that respect. But maybe you'll say we're on the way there, with increasing inequality of wealth, monopoly ownership of means of communication and natural resources.
- Monopoly serves expansion by controlling markets. The danger is that the monopolists, with political power bought with their economic power, will not be satisfied only with economic ritual turned within, satisfied with the power to force everyone, like it or not, into transactions with them; that labeling holdouts threats to the nation, as truly they are obstacles to continuous practice of economic ritual, they begin to perform continuous rituals of war against them, step up practice within the country of what they have long been practicing outside. That economic and war expansion share the same form of continuous ritual encourages the transition from one to another, and this is true of all relations internal and external, economic and war making: between external war, internal terror, economic empire and internal monopoly.
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26. Enquiry Concerning Political Justice And Its Influence On Morals And Happiness











- Why would you want to read a book like that?
- You don't like philosophy?
- No, not really. What good is it?
- For helping you think.
- But you are miserable.
- I'm miserable? How would you know? You just met me.
- I can tell. You're idle.
- I'm miserable and idle. Reading philosophy doesn't count as doing something and can't possibly make anyone happy.
- I'm entitled to my opinion.
- If you don't mind being called an idiot.
- You don't have to be offensive.
- I do. Idle and miserable people like me can't help themselves. You know, this book I'm reading, it's amazing. Written about the time of the French Revolution, it is the best and first detailed exposition of society without government.
- That's not possible.
- You know that like you know I'm idle and miserable. The book's writer worked hard to prove the opposite.
- Who's the writer?
- William Godwin*. Ever heard of him?
- No.
- He's pretty much ignored these days. His argument that ideas and reasons are enough to describe human life and guarantee progress so making revolution unnecessary offends both the spiritually oriented and political radicals, and his so-called anarchist argument against the necessity of government seems laughable to nearly everyone else.
- Then why are you reading him?
- I'll try to explain. Will you listen?
- I'll try. It's noisy out here.
- When you've had enough and get up from the table I'll probably write down this conversation and post it on the Internet. It will take its place on a site that is being visited by someone somewhere in the world at every moment of the day. You might think that means I am an influential, connected person, but I'm not. I'm not connected, only my ideas. Whether I live or die, what happens in my life, has no effect on what goes on on the Internet, and vice versa, what goes on on the internet does not affect my life. You say I am idle because no one pays me for what I do, you say I am miserable because I insist on improvement. Doing things for others but for your own reasons, "think for yourself, act for others", sums up Godwin's anarchism.
- You're an anarchist then?
- You can call me that.
- You're a utopian. An idealist.
- Progress in reason doesn't make people more generous and independent. Do you know why?
- Why?
- For the same reason what happens on the internet doesn't affect my life. In both society and individual life there are structural restraints that retard progress.
- Why?
- If you are bigger and stronger and repeatedly threaten those smaller and weaker, you can get them into the habit of deferring to your authority without actual violence. That habit of deference brings with it a resistance to change and to concern for people not present relations. To the terrorized individual, generosity and independence are threats and are actively blocked**. The same goes for society as a whole. The bigger and stronger, organized as a class, actively restrain the development of generosity and independence in the class of their dependents.
- That will never change.
- If I make strangers on the Internet more reasonable and kind by posting conversations I've had for the sake of making myself more reasonable and kind, and don't do anything about the structural conditions, nothing will change. That's correct. The world out there is getting more reasonable with my help but getting nowhere despite that. The terror society plants in personal lives remains intact, allowing free communication of ideas, dismissed as idealistic, so long as real life-sharing remains blocked.
- You see.
- What do I see?
- Nothing ever changes. You make yourself miserable for nothing.
- It is not true that knowing something makes it likely we will act on our knowledge. But it might be true that knowing why reason fails can lesson our fear and show us what to do about it.

Further Reading:
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