Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Conclusions of Materialism

I've noticed a tendency of some materialists to completely dismiss the moral perspective and the aesthetic perspective (and even the epistemological perspective) out of hand, leading to a certain kind of scientistic (and not scientific) nihilism. I think that this is a non-sequitor from materialism in which context is dropped. By materialism I refer to the basic naturalistic notion that matter is the only thing that exists, which is generally understood to be in opposition to idealism and supernaturalism. By all accounts, I am a materialist myself, but I object to the conclusions that some people reach from materialism.

Materialism can sometimes lead people to adopt what might be called a "concrete-bound" or "anti-conceptual" mentality in which the role or power of concepts is neglected, taken to the point of dismissing various abstractions as if they necessarily are "floating" or completely unrelated to reality. This can be manifested as a reductionism taken too far or a sort of vulgar atomism in which aggregates or higher-level properties are said to not exist. It also can be manifested as a crude view in which conciousness practically dissapears. But, given a sensible philosophy of mind (hint: John Searle?), such views are indefensible.

Materialism has also lead some people to adopt a pessimistic nihilism in terms of the viewpoint that life is just a pointless cycle of consumption and reproduction, the continual fruitless striving to avoid pain and the purely malevolent play of volatile physical forces. This is basically what happens when we project a pessimistic value judgement onto determinism that downplays what we can potentially make out of life while we're here. But I don't think that any of this necessarily follows from materialism. It seems like one could just as easily find meaning in life as an individual in a more existentialist sense. The fact that I'm a biological being doesn't have to negate my individuality and the various goals and things that make me happy in life. Such a nihilism is a non-sequitor; materialism does not negate the realm of experience.

Another issue is the use of scientific descriptions as if they override morality and aesthetics. For example, suppose someone is playing a piece of music on a guitar. A materialist can lecture us about how the sound waves coming from the guitar technically work. But from a musical perspective, that is irrelevant - what matters is how it sounds, how that makes us feel and values that it could represent. It seems like both the scientific and the aesthetic perspective are valid, it's just that they're different contexts. The scientific description of sound waves doesn't negate the aesthetic value of the music and the aesthetic value of the music doesn't make the scientific description of how it's produced false either. In this sense, perspectivism (or a vibrant contextualism) makes sense to me.

Or let's use a flower as an example. A scientist can lecture us about the "brute facts" of the flower, the description of its physical composition. On the other hand, someone can consider the flower in terms of its beauty or in terms of the particular function that it may have in a given context (for example, perhaps the flower was given to them as a gift and they view it as a token of appriciation). It seems clear to me that both perspectives can be valid without contradicting eachother. The "brute facts" about the flower don't negate its aesthetic value or its "use value", and its aesthetic value and "use value" don't negate its physical nature as an object. One could concievably entertain both aspects of the flower at the same time. To use materialism to negate aesthetic value and "use value" seems rather vulgar and misses the point.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reflections of UPB: A Total Critique of Molyneux

UPB; i.e. “universally preferable behavior” is an attempt by Stefan Molyneux to form a universal standard of validation that applies not only to: hard sciences, mathematics, and the like, but also to “moral theories.” Thus, Molyneux applies the same standards for consistency that are the necessary and sufficient condition for things like: physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics, to MORALITY. Thus, UPB is a kind of unified epistemological theory of consistency.

Molyneux’s main aim and/or goal of using Universally Preferable Behavior is: “morality;” i.e. he seeks to use UPB as an all-encompassing tool to validate (or invalidate) moral theories.

In Molyneux’s own words in his introductory video to UPB he says: “There is a universally preferable measure of beliefs called truth, proof, evidence, and rationality.”

Adding: QUOTE “Truth requires logical consistency and/or empirical evidence.”

As such, Stefbot uses a universally applicable standard for truth claims, which he then applies to what he terms the: “moral” and “physical sciences.”

Molenux, (by his own admission) fully rejects Plato’s forms, and also doesn’t believe that there are any types of morals that exist, either: floating somewhere in the universe, or that are derived from a god or gods. Thus Molyneux notes a sharp distinction between physical objects and moral theories, believing the latter to not exist. Thus for Molyneux, morality flat-out does not exist.

Yet this is curious, as, Stefbot’s methodological approach to truth; i.e. UPB almost assuredly implies the meta-ethical standpoint of OBJECTIVISM. In other words, it seems that for Molyneux, the truth-values of moral claims can be determined INDEPENDANTLY of the subjective or intersubjective preferences of a group or individual. This becomes apparent when we look at his fixation on the consistency and UNIVERSALITY of morals, as this is the very essence of UPB.

This can be further demonstrated by Molyneux’s own words when he says:

Morality IS: Any theory that attempts to describe and define universally preferable behavior; judged as “true” or “false” first by internal consistency, and then by general evidence.”

Yet the oddity of Stefbot’s theory doesn’t stop there, as he seems to either believe in (or acts like he believes in) OBJECTIVE MORAL REALISM. The very idea of UPB is essentially the expression of this fact. Universally preferable behavior implies that: in actuality, there are moral claims that are true INDEPENDENTLY of any individual or group’s preferences. What also confirms his “objective moral realism” is the fact that he seems to accept many of the fundamental premises of this type of realism; i.e. Moral Cognitivism.

UPB can only be a validator or invalidator of moral theories and/or useful if and only if MORAL COGNITIVSM is true, which, UPB assumes that it is. By moral cognitivism I mean: the philosophical belief that ethical/moral claims are indeed statements and therefore can have a true value (i.e. they can be true or false) and can have truth conditions (i.e. they can have necessary and sufficient conditions for being either true or false).

In addition to this, UPB could only be useful if and only if moral realism was true, as, it would make no sense to validate or invalidate non-cognitive ethical propositions, or to weigh the truth/consistency claims of what would be recognized as false propositions, with a false framework.

Molyneux also claims to have: “slain the beast of individual relativism, cultural relativism, and nihilism” thus presumably Molyneux must be a Moral Cognitivist, who accepts Objective Moral Realism (as we’ve essentially ruled out all other meta-ethical positions he could take).

Thus, in accordance with this viewpoint: ethical propositions must be made true by objective features of the world, which are independent of subjective opinion. Hence, Molenux attempts to formulate a foundation for an elementary standard of universal truth on the basis of: logical and scientific qualifiers. It is these types of qualifier that (in his view) are necessary to determine the validity of such moral claims (the same type of methodological reasoning being also applicable to science).

Stefbot says:“Truth is universally preferable to falsehood; [and] It is universally preferable to replace false ideas with true ones.”

Adding: QUOTE: “UPB is simply a recognition of this basic reality; UPB is reason, science, evidence, etc.

Yet this merely begs the question: Why is it the case that truth is universally preferable to falsehood?

This premise, part of the very intellectual foundation of UPB theory immediately fails the: FACT/VALUE distinction. In other-words, Stefbot is falsely attempting to state: “values” as universal facts. This is a simple category mistake, but nevertheless a significant one, with devastating implications on the intellectual merit of UPB.

While it is indeed true that values exist in material reality, they do so only as a subjective or inter-subjective opinion/brain-state of an individual, contingent upon their nature, composition, construction, socialization, alignment, etc. In-short this entails that the current values of individuals are derived from the immediate de-facto biological condition of their minds, which were derived from a synthesis of nature and nurture; yet this fact does NOT transmute such “values” or any other type of moral theories derived from them, into a UNIVERSAL TRUTH OR FALSEHOOD. Indeed to even phrase it that way is false, deeply misleading, and a category mistake of epic proportions.

Typically in the human experience, truth is universally preferable to falsehood for two reasons:

First: human beings have an innate naturalistic propensity toward truth, as, when an untruth is pointed out in our worldview, we experience cognitive dissonance i.e. psychological stress caused by the realization of two mutually exclusive beliefs. As such, both individuals and society in their own social spheres (at least somewhat) VALUE truth; but they do not pursue truth to pursue truth, they pursue it because they VALUE it.

Second: Truth generally allows for a greatly increased means to pursue one’s own self-interest; i.e. if we can understand and apply things we know about the world and ourselves, we will inevitably have a greater means of pursuing our own naturalistic self-interest.

Thus it appears that: right from the beginning, Molenux has (by implication) unknowingly smuggled in consequentialism into his theory; i.e. (in this context): the pursuit of one’s own self-interest by striving for the best means to actualize our values, thus producing preferable consequences; this fact is in stark contrast to the deontological ethics Molyneux claims to advocate. Moreover if Molyneux denies this, then he’s merely begging the question as the statement: truth is universally preferable to falsehood isn’t true because truth is universally preferable to falsehood, this is circular reasoning.

Molyneux (using the same general line of reasoning) also claims that: QUOTE “In a moral argument we already accept the value of UPB: - a universal preference for truth over falsehood, reason over inconsistency.”

This is a colossal non-sequitur, as it does not follow from the fact that because I am arguing with you, that I’m either: 1) being honest with you in regards to truth, as I may be dishonest with you, and intentionally rejecting truth. Also, it does not follow from the fact that I’m arguing with you that: 2) I value, appreciate, use or even accept truth, as I may in-fact not value truth, I may decide not to use it, and I may even despise it. Statements like these are merely an attempt to sucker people into agreeing with Molyneux, as no individual in their right mind would claim to accept: falsehoods over truth in the middle of an argument; plus, most people view themselves as pursuing truth.

There is also another perplexing contradiction in Molenux’s viewpoint. As, if morals do not exist in the universe, or as any sort of form or relation in reality, but are (in reality) contingent upon the application of one’s own values, then, to invoke notions of morals or moral theories indicates OBJECTIVE MORAL ANTI-REALISM. In other-words, if we apply Molyneux philosophical framework consistently, then: ALL moral claims must be equally false as they unwittingly assume a moral framework that does not exist. Moral statements in Molyneux’s context are non-referential, they do not refer to anything that is in the world, and therefore they are false. –Its like saying: “the current leader of Nazi Germany is very hairy;” this statement is false because it presupposes both: a current leader of Nazi Germany, and a state of Nazi Germany that obviously do not exist.

Molyneux would probably respond to my claims of inconsistency by the following analogical reasoning: numbers and the scientific method don’t exist, they are not objects, and have no property of existence, however, this does not mean they aren’t useful/true because although they are abstract, they nevertheless refer to a means by which we can pursue truth.

However, this analogy falls apart at the seams, because, it compare the scientific method and numbers to morals. The problem here is a severe disconnect in properties between concepts, which is the why the analogy fails.

First, the scientific method refers to a method, a system, a relation, that one can apply to data (an object which exists in some tangible or intangible form). Second, the use of the concept of numbers pertains to the use of the system and/or relation we call: “quantification.” I.e. abstract representations of real objects, useful for determining a certain amount of objects, and relations between certain amounts of objects. Both of these concepts have a referent; i.e. when someone says the word number, they refer to quantification, a kind of possible relation/method which exists in reality (albeit not as a “thing”). The scientific method also refers to a relation. Morality in Stefbot’s usage has no such referent.

Yet, suppose we invoke the concept of “morality” which according to Stefbot IS NOT:

1)Empirical (“this man stabs you, is that bad?”)”

2)”Determined from effect (this moral rule leads to great benefit)”

3)”A Cultural custom”

4)”An observation of human habits”

5)”A biological drive”

6) “A practical or functional necessity”

Now, suppose these statements made by Molyneux are true, suppose morals don’t exist in any of these previously stated forms, or even at all. If this is the case then: how could a moral framework exist for them to interact within?! The answer: it’s not possible.

Molenux’s position is completely analogous to that of a: MORAL NIHILIST. Hence, if we apply Molyneux’s viewpoints consistently, we ultimately defeat Molyneux’s position by sheer contradiction; as, if we act more Molyneuxian than Molyneux, we end up with the moral nihilist (i.e. moral-anti-realist) position that he denies.

But let me elaborate this point further. Molyneux says:

1) “A rock falling is bad” - makes no sense to science.

2) “Only blue rocks fall” – is a testable observation

3) “Mass Attracts according to F = GMm/r2 is a testable universal theory.”

Yet to equate these claims with morality is to equate an abstraction with a referent to an abstraction without a referent (i.e. to equate a floating abstraction with a valid abstraction).

The second claim in Molyneux quote refers to: the color and the relationship (in this case a descent) of an object with color; the third claim refers to: a material relationship by which mass attracts. However, what does the first claim refer to in logical positivist i.e. Molyneuxian terms? The answer: nothing. As (according to Molyneux) we cannot appeal to: empiricism, consequentialism, culture, values & biological drives, or practicality; thus we are left with a vacuous statement referring to a floating abstraction. Such would be a useless an unthinkable way of dealing with moral terms.

Stefbot says: QUOTE: “Since material reality is objective, and behaves in a rational and predictable manner… A statement that is “true” must describe something that is objective, rational, and predictable.”

Adding: “Those thoughts which are designed to define truth must be: rational, objective, and predictable.

Since we’ve already established that by the Molyneuxian criteria necessary for valid moral theories cannot exist in any form in reality (or even as a relationship), moral statements cannot (per Molyneuxian reasoning) behave in a rational, objective, and predictable manor. Hence, UPB applied to morality as a validator or invalidator for moral theories is self-defeating if it is an attempt to avoid nihilism, the meta-ethical that Molyneux finds himself within, if applied consistently.

Now, the question may arise as to why in the debate I claimed that UPB (applied to morals) only proved hypocrisy and not inconsistency. To illustrate here my poorly described point, suppose I hold two mutually exclusive moral propositions to be true at the same time. Suppose for instance that I claim: Killing is ALWAYS wrong in any circumstance; but I also hold that: the STATE is justified in killing.

This seems to be an obvious and blatant contradiction in the moral theory I hold. And UPB would maintain that I have invalidated my theory by my utterance of such a contradiction; Molyneux equates UPB with a kind-of “souped-up” version of the law of non-contradiction stating: QUOTE “If you say: there is no such thing as UPB, you are contradicting yourself.” Thus, according to UPB, my moral theory would be false.

But wait a minute, since morals do not exist as things unto themselves, or in any other form/relation, and are ultimately contingent upon a particular application of one’s own values, how might I call such a thing false by contradiction? I really can’t, as I’m not dealing with propositions that can be true to begin with; as (per Molyneuxian criteria) morality cannot be: empirical, determined, cultural, observational, biological, or practical/functional, then, (if we apply Molyneux consistently) this translates moral statements into framework errors. If one claims that: one ought to kill, and one ought not to kill, this is equivalent to saying: one ought to build 3-sided squares, and one ought-not to build 3-sided-squares. Such is unthinkable, a totally non-cognitive proposition to begin with, it’s an error. Thus, to claim inconsistency in this instance is to claim inconsistency in a framework for proving truth that was false to begin with. In a sense it is a contradiction, but not in the context Molyneux was describing, as the inconsistency was the framework, not necessarily the propositions.

Molyneux also seems to believe that totally arbitrary factors in a moral theory make it self-contradictory. For instance, the example used in the debate was: suppose someone claims that killing is wrong, but claim that individuals who wear green hats (i.e. soldiers) are exempt from this rule. Stefbot points out the stupidity of this commonplace claim, remarking on the fact that the individual who wears the added clothing doesn’t experience any meaningful qualitative differences, even the quantitative differences are negligible. Thus he gages this claim as arbitrary and rationally unsubstantiated, insisting that is contradictory with reality and thus false.

The fact that the moral framework UPB has lain out for us as the necessary and sufficient condition for valid moral theories (aside from hypocrisy) is false, this example proves no contradiction. Granted, the person claiming that someone wearing green clothing is exempt from the rule of killing is 100% an unsound claim, a claim that has no meaningful basis in reality. However it is not self-contradictory; as, it lays out an exception to the thou shall not kill clause, which (although totally arbitrary) saves it from being contradictory.

All of this being said: Stefbot has successfully been able to prove individual hypocrisy in the views of persons who hold two mutually exclusive moral proscriptions to be true. And in terms of a moral debate this is a very useful and effective tool; as, cognitive dissonance is the fundamental key which results in people altering their belief systems. Hence, in terms of furthering a debate; Universally Preferable Behavior (as it pertains to establishing individual hypocrisy) is incredibly useful.

However, UPB does nothing more. And people who advocate its usage should claim nothing more. If we accept its fundamental premises, and apply them consistently, we accept the nihilism we were attempting to avoid in the first place; negating the very point of UPB.

So what may we conclude from this? It seems that unless Molyneux significantly reduces his claim that UPB is the “solution to the problem of objective ethics,” downplays its importance, and labels it what is actually is: a tool to prove hypocrisy in a debate or analysis; then, the only “beast” Molyneux will have slain is himself. Furthermore, he should come to terms with the nihilism implied by his position, and either admit it or alter his position in order to avoid it.

References: (video introduction to meta-ethics) (Stefbot Quotes) (Stefbot Quotes) (Stefbot quotes & the video I’m responding to) (Moral-Cognitivism-VS-Non-cognitivism)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thinking Seems to be More Than Language

Yesterday in a philosophy class I was explaining something complex to everyone. The complex idea I was describing was a model in my mind. When I was explaining the idea I was mentally looking at it. I think this allowed me to not worry about memorizing what I was going to say. During my explanation I had to address a criticism. I was able to address that with full attention and then go back to explaining the rest of the complex idea without worrying about forgetting what I was going to say because I was describing the model. I was able to be conscious of this activity without disruption, so it leads me to think that thinking isn't bound by language. I might have been more conscious of it because of my last discussion in Stickam with Laughingman. So it seems I agree with Neon that it's more than language. I'm not sure what to call it. Maybe we have a philosopher of mind who knows the correct terminology?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Marx and Bakunin Argue

Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx walked into Bronx County’s 47th Precinct. Yet terming the action “walking” would be quite insufficient, as this term often implies the erroneous assumptions that such actions were free and voluntary; quite the contrary. To quote the reigning police chief on this matter: the two fellows were being: “forcibly escorted out of the central booking station of the New York City Police Department, and were subsequently led into their respected holding cells” (which were right next to each other). However, a more accurate portrayal of the affairs that transpired would provide a very different description; an unbiased look at the incident might reveal: a large gang of uniformed thugs using the coercive power of their nightsticks to both batter and break the resistance of two fiery personalities.

The circumstances regarding these two outstanding 18th century philosophers somehow living in the 21st century remained quite unclear; the true specifics as to how these seemingly ill fated individuals met each other, whether by come cosmic lapse in the linear progression of time, an accidental result of experimental new technology, or even by occult tinkering, remained quite unknown. Let it suffice to say that the only logical facts one might deduce from the situation was that: both Bakunin and Marx had lived in the United States for a period of at least 6-12 months. During this period they devoted nearly all available time studying (at the New York Public Library) the history, culture, philosophy, and political landscape of the last century. Additionally, both men had become involved with current political activism. Thus, later, whether by sheer coincidence or an ironic twist of fate, both individuals were unlawfully arrested during a demonstration, where, in the most unlikely of places, the two met upon arrest.

Bakunin was not brought to his cell without a fight; every ounce of him strained and struggled to grab a hold of anything and everything he passed; he held on until he was red in the face, in what might only be described as: a last effort to prolong his all-but-inevitable imprisonment. Tables, chairs, posts, it made no difference, so long as the item he grabbed could cause the thugs dragging him a bit more hardship and discomfort. In the end, Bakunin had to be forcibly pried from the objects in the hallway, as he was unwilling to cede an inch to his overseers. Marx responded in much the same fashion, although he felt it necessary to hurl insults at his captors while being insubordinate. The guards would angrily tug at his overcoat, and Marx would call them: “fascist puppets of the capitalist state.

Upon literally being thrown his cell, Bakunin staggered to his feet and dusted himself off. He looked around at every inch of the 6 x 8 foot cell; there were no windows. The room had dull, grey, linoleum floors, cold concrete walls coated with lime green paint that had long since faded. Bakunin thought to himself glumly: “I always figured they’d improve aesthetics of state prisons in the future, so that it might hide the tyrannical nature of the functionaries it serves.” It was in mid winter, and either by sheer malevolence or negligence on behalf of the police, no source of heating was active in the holding cells. Furthermore, there was no light to speak of except for one dimly lit bulb on the ceiling of his cell. Shivering, and bundling up for warmth, Bakunin thought to himself: “Well, I suppose there’s no way to hide it, even in a future society; one way or another, the true face of the rotten state edifice must surface at some point…. Although, at least in Russia I had sunlight…..”

Already in his cell, Marx folded his arms and glared across his cell at Bakunin with disdain; the two men hadn’t been on speaking terms since 1872 when Marx and his followers expelled both Bakunin and the Anarchists from the First International. “Why of all people did it have to be Bakunin” he thought? Why not Engels? I’m in the frigid epicenter of bourgeoisie class domination, and I’m sited next to an unscientific dolt!” Bakunin, (seizing upon the moment of silence) took it upon himself to become a bit of a rabble rouser stating:

“You know Marx, it appears that all of your predictions have failed; your historical materialism that put state socialism and finally communism on both an immutable and inevitable pedestal has all but collapsed. Your dialectical predictions masquerading as scientific commandments claiming the soon-to-be downfall of capitalism has been refuted by history itself. Additionally, all hitherto experiments involving in the implementation your ideas in societies have lead to nothing but: economic, social, and moral disaster! Did I not tell you that the Red Bureaucracy would be the most terrible lie of the century, that your dictatorship of the proletariat would be nothing more than a dictatorship over the proletariat?”

Marx interrupted: “do you think if a man calls himself a true Marxist or a socialist but acts like a gangster that this says anything about my ideas? Nonsense! I bear no responsibility for madmen hijacking my philosophy, perverting it into a noose to hang society. Your blatant intellectual snobbery merely stems out of your refusal to accept a scientific approach to politics. Moreover, how could I predict the rise of the mass media, and the entire public relations industry’s “manufacture of consent” without the use of the purse; in addition to the creation of privileged middle class used as societal managers for the subordination of the workers. Such institutions and conceptions didn’t even exist 18th century Germany, much less pre-capitalist Russia.”

Marx added: “What of the anarchists? You yourselves have done no better, after a few short lived revolutions you drift into utter political obscurity. What has been your “great” contribution to the emancipation of the working class? That is, aside from periodic influx of youth blinded by political idealism agitating for a few years, who then proceed to become disillusioned and absorbed back into contemporary society as cogs in the machine. Time has made you: irrelevant, weak, and petty; degradating to the point of a mere intellectual curiosity found only in the outskirts of academia, and in the semantics of post-modernism. Even Lenin was right when he referred to Anarchism as: “infantile ultra-leftism.”

Bakunin stood up, faced Marx, and with an increasingly loud and scathing tone shouted:

“Well Marx, a hundred years ago I called you vain, but I see that was insufficient in description, what you proclaim is dogma! Do you really still believe in the validity of authoritarian communism after all this time, and endless examples; do honestly think that the former Soviet Union could have taken any other path then the one of terror and bloodshed? Top-down communism doesn’t work, vanguards, parties, states, central committees, all fail! Anarchism and freedom is the aim of your communism, but the state and dictatorship is the means, so, by your logic, in order to free the masses, they have first to be enslaved; this is self-contradiction. True political, social, and economic change may only be derived from: universal rebellion, by the toiling masses from the bottom up. Liberty, equality, and emancipation aren’t gifts from authority, nor awards of the state, but its antithesis. Don’t you see that liberty can only be created by those who have the means to pursue it? Just as one cannot suspect that a small tree which has been turned into a club to produce leaves, so to can one equally not suspect that the state: organized violence, control, and subjugation, to produce anything out of its assigned role.”

Before Marx had the chance to interject Bakunin added:

“The tried and true methods of the anarchists are not perfect and we never claimed otherwise; yet, because we have perpetually admonished rigid adherence to a domineering philosophy outside of core ethics, we maintained the resolve to adapt, change, self-criticize, and self-improve and we have. True, our grand past revolutions have failed, but with inquiry into the matter reveals none but the most sinister intentions emanating from your camp. Lenin smashed the Black Communes, the Red Army crushed Makhno, and Stalin destroyed the last hope for democracy and freedom, betraying the Spanish Anarchists of Catalonia and Barcelona, and paving the way for Franco and Fascism. True, Anarchists are small in number, but our numbers are on the rise; yet never have we been irrelevant. Organizing, educating, agitating, striking for the 8-hour work day, proliferating solidarity networks with out comrades, resisting: war, occupations, aggression, capitalism, unionizing the disenfranchised, shutting down WTO, protesting the corporate parties, forming: collectives, councils, federations, associations, all under the principles of mutual aid, without hierarchy, without authoritarianism, a free and equal model in which all have a voice. And we have room for improvement.”

Bakunin cleared his throat, raised his hands in the air in the matter of an evangelist, and proclaimed with great enthusiasm: “If the present wave of repression can be beaten back, if the left can overcome its more suicidal tendencies and build upon what has been accomplished in the past decade, then, the problem of how to organize industrial society on truly democratic lines, with democratic control in the workplace and in the community, can become a dominant intellectual issue for those who are alive to the problems of contemporary society, and, as a mass movement for libertarian socialism develops, speculation will proceed to action.”

Upon hearing this, Marx was completely enraged, his face was flustered, his eyes fixated on Bakunin; he rattled the bars of his prison cell and roared:

“Fool! I neither supported nor envisioned vanguards or centralized party domination in which only those administrative organs at the top have the only measure of control. The party was supposed to be the living breathing embodiment of the people, a means to craft the general will into pragmatic action. Lenin, Stalin, Mao made the proletariat their tool, and both used and discarded them as such. When I say the dictatorship of the proletariat, I mean the entirety of the proletariat operating the mechanisms of the state on a free-egalitarian model, yet using the state organs to suppress the reaction of the bourgeois; those who would kill the revolution along with, peace, solidarity, and cooperation.

Bakunin shook his head, and replied:

Don’t you understand that the very state you tout about with glee, that entity you claim ought to be the benevolent embodiment of the people is the very reason for Marxism’s downfall? Marxism merely replaces: Venture Capitalists with the Central Bank, Markets with State Planners, and Capitalist Mangers with so-called Socialist Managers. We the Anarchists see these things for what they are; we call as spade a spade and reply: a boss, is a boss, is a boss, is a boss. Metaphorically speaking: when the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it’s called “the people’s stick.”

Marx, you must know that it is impossible for a special interest group, limited in number, with more: rights, privileges, and powers than everyone else, to embody the will of the people. It is the nature of the human animal to pursue his own interest; thus, if you grant a man special privileges, he will use those privileges for his own ends. The revolution mustn’t be handed to the proletariat on a silver platter, as a revolution divorced from the people is merely a coup; rebellion must come from below, being derived from our innate need to pursue: material necessity and individual autonomy; in short: freedom. The people must be free to do as they see fit, without infringing upon the rights of others. We must abolish the state that fetters us so; Those: stealing, thieving, conniving, murderous thugs, they must be stopped where they stand; the will of the people must be set free to destroy the decadent failures of the old paradigm; as, the passion for destruction is a creative passion, and our creativity must be set free. Marx, we have no need of your top-down structures, your bureaucrats, planners, or Apparatchiks, we can run our own lives for ourselves; and we intend to do so.

Marx obviously overcome with emotion buried his hands in his face and remarked:

“It’s all gone wrong, all of it. Bakunin, the Communards of the Paris Commune regarded you as their national treasure; you saw their rise and fall, the glory and destruction of the commune. That was what I meant by the dictatorship of the proletariat. An association of men and women, freely constituting themselves for the purposes of production and consumption, yet, using the means available to combat those would take that away for their own selfish greed. I never intended for any of this to happen, communism should have bought about mans freedom, and instead buried him in the fetters of despair.”

Marx got up, unburied his hands and took a deep long breath; a long white puff shot out as he exhaled, the entirety of the moisture being consumed by the cold. “Bakunin” said Marx “how can we reconcile the failures of the past with the impending deficiencies of the present?”

Bakunin pointed to the police officers across from them: “There is no certainty, only opportunity; yet, if we cease to face the powers at be, and the many social ills that accompany their dominion, we will only guarantee that we lose. Thus, we must fight, we must pursue liberty with all our ferocity, we must insure a world where not only we are secure in our rights, but where the collective citizenry as a whole is guaranteed liberty; a circumstance where people are truly free to pursue their own: economic, social, cultural, and political livelihoods, in a manner which they themselves see as fit.”

Bakunin, (this time modest tone of voice) then replied: “we can organize. And as long as there is discontent, brutality, alienation, subordination, that which would deny both man and woman the things they needs to survive and discover happiness; as long as we apply the same level of skepticism to ourselves as we do to others, and as long as we constantly re-evaluate, update, and improve our: ethics, methods, morals, and organization, then certainly, there is hope.”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Strange Noise

While smoking a cigarette outside on my patio, a strange noise came from somewhere. I said to myself, “what on Earth is that!” I looked around and saw nothing. I heard it again and was baffled. I thought maybe it's a strange bird. I realized it was night time and no birds should be out. The noise was too loud for an insect, so I decided to investigate the area near the fence where I heard the noise. I walked over to the area and I noticed the noise stopped. I looked down and there was a green toad sitting on the edge of the concrete near the fence. I looked at it and it appeared very adorable. I felt a primal urge to anthropomorphize the toad, but reason told me toads don't care about humans and its croak was probably for a mate. Then I thought it's unfortunate toads don't croak to humans and was reminded of how lonely our species is. It ceased to mean anything and I walked inside.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Man Qua Man?

"Man qua man"? Tautology qua tautology!

What could it possibly mean to live as a "man qua man"? That doesn't seem to be the right question. Assuming that one is a man to begin with, how could one possibly not live as a "man qua man"? Now that is the question!

And yet this just begs the question: what do you mean by "man"? Is "man" an ideal form - the "absolute spirit" of man? If that is the case, I must inform you that noone lives as a "man qua man". Your "man" is a spook!

But oh, you sly ones, do you then claim to bring us "the superman"? Away with your "superman"! I know nothing of it. "The superman" is alien to me. You dare insinuate that "the superman" is above my ego?

My ego consumes "the superman" and takes it for its own. I transvaluate your transvaluation, for I am all in all. I no longer am possesed by either "man qua man" or "the superman". I am neither man or superman.

I am unique! Unique qua unique!