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Ode to Cpl. Carlton B. Jones

Mr. Ta-Nehisi Coates recently added a National Book Award to his MacArthur Foundation “genius” award given to him in gratitude for telling rich white folks what they want to hear: unlike all other former slaves and their descendants in the world and throughout history, being black is a “struggle” that “black bodies” cannot survive without their help and noblesse oblige. In his acceptance speech, he dedicated the award to his deceased friend Prince C. Jones, Jr. with whom he has much in common. They both lived a life of privilege with little struggle in life (except for the beatings that Mr. Coates received from his father that he then dished out to the other kids in the neighborhood and his teachers); received much family, emotional, material, and financial support from their extended family and numerous friends all of whom were college educated; received excellent educational opportunities from their parents and the American education system; and then received a free ride to college. Mr. Coates spent five years of that free ride engaging in sexual conquests and then having a child (but at least stayed and continues to live with the mother) but never graduating. Prince Jones ended seven years of that free ride not by finally graduating but by intentionally ramming his jeep — that his mommy bought for him — into what he knew to be an unmarked police car resulting in his being shot to death by the police officer in the car. Prince Jones left behind a baby mama and a daughter — another fatherless black family. Given that Mr. Jones was twice arrested for beating the mother of his child including once when she was 8 months pregnant, with the addition of the multi-million dollar civil settlement from the offending police department some good may come out of his death after all.

 

What the “journalist” Mr. Coates almost always leaves out of his story about his friend Mr. Prince Jones, that he left out of his book except in a one-line passing side comment, and that he left out and always leaves out except as a cursory side comment in all of his discussions about Mr. Jones, as the Washington Post was at least honest enough to admit, is: “Black Victim, Black Cop, Black County.” The officer that shot Mr. Jones, Cpl. Carlton B. Jones, was a “black body”, the term that Mr. Coates uses in his book to refer to himself, to his son, to Mr. Jones, and to others of his “tribe” or “race”, terms that he uses despite claiming that such terms are the product or source of racism (he cannot make up his mind which). Cpl. Jones worked for and was trained by the “black elite” of Prince George’s County. This is one of the many dishonest exclusions if not outright distortions of Mr. Coates’ polemics that caused me to write the book Between the World and Us and that caused me to continue on into this blog.

 

But, to whom should I dedicate this blog? At first, as an act of irony, I was going to dedicate it to Mr. Coates’ grandmother who “cleaned white folks’ houses” in the same way that my poor, immigrant, uneducated white mother did after coming to this country as a refugee from communist Yugoslavia and a life of peasant farming going back generations. After cleaning their houses while also cleaning tables at restaurants for a few years, my mother was able to get a night job as an office cleaning lady that eventually led to the attainment of the holy grail of working class work: a union job (cleaning offices as part of the SEIU). When I was a younger man that could cry, it would bring tears to my eyes when I thought of how little I saw her during my high school years. By the time I got home from school, she had already gone to work. When I got up in the morning, she was sleeping having not gotten home until 2 or 3AM from work. I still remember a few nights when I was awake in my bed and she would quietly open my door and peak in just to see me. To this day, I do not know why I did not say anything or greet her. It just did not seem to be the right thing to do at the time. God, if I had a time machine, I would change those moments. Her cleaning lady job put food on the table, paid the mortgage, and avoided welfare for us during the years that my father was disabled from his construction laborer job and only able to find part-time work when he found any. She was glad to have the job and was good at her job.

 

The same must be true for Mr. Coates’s grandmother. Her hard work resulted in great success: his whole family including his parents and his siblings, except for Mr. Coates, are college educated and well off and thus have succeeded in the American Dream that he ridicules (his siblings work as engineers, lawyers, and business owners as did his father and mother).

 

As is true of all social elite especially writers going all the way back to Aristotle, Mr. Coates looks down on the menial, physical work done by his grandmother as demeaning. It is good enough for the likes of the poor such as my mother but not for his “gem of purest ray serene” to “waste [her] sweetness on the desert air.” Pride in one’s work and respecting the work of others, including the hard physical work in which the vast majority of humanity has toiled and is toiling, is to be restricted to the creative work of such geniuses as Mr. Coates and is not to be granted working stiffs with no hope in the present but only in the future.

 

However, I rejected such irony because such dedication would not be fair to his grandmother. If his story about her is true, which I doubt given Mr. Coates’ tendency to distort reality, no doubt she appreciates and wants her privacy in the same way my mother does. Though being a cleaning lady supporting your family is honorable work that should be a source of strength, social support, and an individual sense of worth as all work should be, it really is miserable work.

 

No, my dedication should be and is to the forgotten soul in need of much empathy in the Prince Jones half-story told by Mr. Coates: Cpl. Carlton B. Jones. Mr. Coates as with the vast majority of pundits these days gets rich sitting in the stands watching the gladiators fight life’s battles and then criticizes their technique, tactics, and strategy — another one of the privileges of life in the United States granted to Mr. Coates. This is a privilege not given to workingmen and women, white or black. This was not a privilege given to Cpl. Jones.

 

As a workingman, Cpl. Jones joined both the Army Reserve and became a police officer because according to his deposition he was “inspired by the vision of racial harmony invoked by Martin Luther King, Jr.” As many a workingman did throughout United States history, he joined the military and gave the rest of society a blank check for his life to use as it saw fit to defend the Constitution of which Mr. Coates is always invoking its protection — though never willing to risk anything to protect it. Regardless of how naive this inspiration was, I admire the willingness to do it as I did and am grateful personally that he as a “black body” did so regardless of the overall or ultimate ethical nature of the military. Having grown up in a segregated working class neighborhood that defended itself against all it perceived to be a danger to the little its residents had, all strangers or outsiders both white and black ones, the military was my first opportunity to work with and become shipmates with a “black body.” He and all other “black bodies” who joined the military throughout the years and became trusted shipmates and comrades did and do much to reduce racism in this country, vastly more than either pretend intellectual elites such as Mr. Coates or pretend warriors such as the Malcolm X’s and Black Panthers of the world too busy concentrating on their struggles for personal power to be mates or comrades to anyone else. Though I am not a fan of police officers, I do understand and admire his inspiration to become a police officer to put the bad guys away and to fight for truth, justice, and the American way of life.

 

Unfortunately, as young idealists such as Cpl. Jones soon learn, it is not always clear who the bad guys are, and truth, justice, and the American way of life are not what Martin Luther King nor any other politician, white or black, makes them appear to be. As Clarence Darrow once said, “there is no justice in life, in or out of court.” As Mr. Coates’ journalism, books, and awards establish, truth is what those in power say is true — most of the time, in the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is not king but a danger to be eliminated. That aspect of the American way of life consisting of the High Noon image of a solitary peace officer standing up against the bad guys is an idealistic one but also a delusional one. As many a military veteran has learned and as Cpl. Jones learned the night that Prince Jones decided to ram him with his jeep, despite intense training, the facing of death and danger with rational reserve and then spitting in their faces sounds nice and looks cool on television, movies, and in the books by writers such as Mr. Coates who have never faced such a situation and most likely never will, but it is a completely different matter to face in reality. Facing what appears to be an attempt to kill by someone willing to kill is scary, especially the first time. If John Wayne or Russell Crowe faced Prince Jones on the night that Cpl. Jones did, perhaps they would have been able to transfer their screen persona into life and everyone would have survived completely unharmed. Based on my life experience, I doubt it. As many a man or woman in similar circumstances throughout history have done, Cpl. Jones got scared, could not think straight, and began to shoot wildly at his attacker. A mistake with which he must live for the rest of his life.

 

The undisputed fact about life is that if one tries to work, to do things in life, to actually fight the battle and problem that is life, one will make mistakes about which the critics such as Mr. Coates sitting in the stands watching can then critique, ridicule, write about, and be rewarded. However, my hat and dedication is to those in the arena fighting the battle that is life. Cpl. Jones seems to have disappeared from the county police department and I have not been able to locate him anywhere. No doubt, if he still is or ever was the idealist that his court deposition makes him appear to be, he is somewhere still suffering from the guilt of his mistake. He is doing so without the empathy of public sympathy but with the public humiliation of having his mistake constantly marketed and publicized by Mr. Coates so that he can sell books. Wherever he is, I wish him good hope. As a military veteran and thus as a warrior, he should not need and I hope he succeeds in dealing with his guilt without the publicity and public sympathy that Mr. Coates needs and craves. At least, as a fellow workingman, I hope that we are comrades in the never ending struggle with the powers-that-be that we are destined to lose — in this life at least.

Truth: Time For An alternative / Part II

In relation to my need to survive in life as a free person, the Powers-that-be are equivalent to a person who always lies. I and the individual worker bees of any society always speak the truth to ourselves — even when living a lie — so we are equivalent to a person who always tells the truth. This is getting somewhere and needs to be developed as an alternative to truth. The reasonable inference from the analogy I am using and reasoning is that when acting upon words that are the truth as told to me by the Powers, I should try do the opposite of what that truth implies doing. When acting upon the words of truth I am telling myself, I should try to act as action is implied by the truth I am telling myself. Will this work? There are a couple of problems.

 
In doing the opposite of the truth told to me, I seem to be ignoring or acting against truth which in turn seems to go against my simple goal of living in reality instead of living in ignorance of reality. Further, in acting in accordance with truth that is really a lie I am telling myself, it seems I am acting on a lie. However, these impressions are incorrect. The words “truth” or “falsehood” do not really add anything to reality other than normative implications. Saying “it is true the car is green” adds no reality to the statement “the car is green”. Saying “it is false the car is green” adds no reality to the statement “the car is not green”. The facts are the same in either case with or without the words “true” and “false”. In the case of the Powers, they are only using these words “true” and “false” to get and maintain power, they could not care less about the facts or of reality, they only care about what reality ought to be in order for them to maintain or raise their power not what it is. So, by trying to go against the truth of their statements, I am rejecting power as an end in itself and trying to insert reality and the truth of reality back into the meaning of language and back into action based on the language of truth. As far as acting on lies I tell myself, so what? Unless I know it is a lie, it is my truth and thus I am acting on truth. If I know it is a lie and I still act on it, I am proving my freedom by acting upon a lie with the knowledge it is a lie. Cannot be anymore free and honest than having true knowledge and the power to freely act or not act upon that true knowledge. Right? Supposedly, even the ultimate truth that is God has given us the complete freedom of rejecting that ultimate truth.

 

Also, if I am going against truth, I seem to be going against reality which goes against the purpose and goal of my seeking an alternative to truth. This impression is also incorrect. Notice that I said “try” to do the opposite and “try” to act as implied by your truth. As I have repeatedly concluded in my writings including in these blog essays, no one in Power — be it God or His anointed Powers-that-be — care what I think nor really care what I do. In the end, I will always have to act according to their truth; all I can do is believe the opposite and intend to act in opposition to it. Which is a significant accomplishment these days. Remember what I pointed out about the simplicity and honesty of Pilate and his Rome and also the warning of Orwell in his 1984:

By comparison with that existing today, all the tyrannies of the past were half-hearted and inefficient. The ruling groups were always infected to some extent by liberal ideas, and were content to leave loose ends everywhere, to regard only the overt act, and to be uninterested in what their subjects were thinking. … With the development of television and the personal computer, and the technical advances which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end. The possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience to the will of the State, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now existed for the first time.

The error of this impression is most obvious in the hard sciences. I may try to reject their truth that E = (1/2m)p2−(erE); F=ma; E=mc2; or whatever but I cannot. If I want to accomplish anything physical I have to trust them and act on faith in accordance with their truth — does not mean I have to like it and accept my bondage. Never know; someday I might be able to challenge these truths and prove they are false and create new math and a new physics. Remember the old school spirit of science and the humanities, this is what the scientific spirit and the spirit of the Enlightenment is supposed to be all about: rejection of argument and faith based purely on authority.

 
This impression of going against truth is more deceiving in the social sciences and the humanities. Starting with “a” for example. According to the normative supposed humanity of the law, abortion is not only ethical and moral but a natural right of the mother. By my alternative of contrariness, this is false but so what? No Power cares. As long as they want their daughters to be able to abort their children, they will allow their daughters this power — plus it allows them the power to get rid of a lot of unwanted poor kids. If I actually act to stop the infanticide, I will go to jail. The point of my alternative to truth is a free life and not a life of imprisonment nor of my death; it does not require I be a hero. So probably the best that my alternative will let me do and the only way that I can by action affect the elimination of abortion is by creating medical technology to make test tube babies, designer babies, and designer bodies (that only get pregnant when pregnancy is desired by the person) so as to have the material reality that no one gets a pregnancy unless they actually want it. At that point, abortion will fade away in the same way that bleed therapy by leeching has faded away: because it is technologically inefficient or does not work to solve the problem trying to be solved. The Powers will always let me mess with technology — we are a Technological Society, it is a requirement. Of course alternative action allowed by my alternative to truth and allowed by the Powers will result in other ethical and moral problems, but so what, everything in life and in living causes ethical and moral problems. F–k them.  One problem down and solved, on to the next one.

 

History is class struggle; no class struggle, no history — we become a stagnant and eventually a dead culture and society. My alternative to truth not only maintains this struggle and creates it but does so as an act of freedom instead of just an pretend struggle of words between individuals in the bondage of aesthetics. “In prison, dreams have no limits and reality is no curb. Intelligence in chains loses in lucidity what it gains in intensity”. — Albert Camus, The Rebel. As the poem goes, at least I will be or at least can pretend to be “the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul”. One thing I learned from the Navy, if you are going to die a miserable death in struggle, you are better off doing it as an officer on the bridge or at the helm than as a lowly snipe pushing the boat around and providing its power, water, and light in engineering with no clue as to where you are, where you are going, nor how or why you got there. At least at the helm or as “O’Captain! O’Captain!” you will have some control over your “fearful trip” and its demise.

 
I have my alternative. In honor of the philosopher Nelson Goodman and his “New Problem of Induction” that inspired much of my reasoning in my life’s epistemology and never ending search for a theory of knowledge, I name this alternative “grue”. From now on, I will honor and respect truth — as I must or else — and I will pretend to seek it in all my endeavors — as I must or else. But, what I really will be doing when freely making  my beliefs or my rules of action for life and living is seeking, honoring, and respecting grue: when acting upon words that are the truth as told to me by the Powers, I should try do the opposite of what that truth implies doing. When acting upon the words of truth I am telling myself, I will try to act as action is implied by the truth I am telling myself.

Truth: Time For An Alternative / Part I

The problem with truth is not that there is no truth but that there is too much of it. Forget Pontius Pilate and is Quid Est Veritas; those were simpler times that allowed for doubting truth. Now, not only does every one know and must know the truth, but what each person knows to be true contradicts or at least is different from what every one else knows to be true. As if this is not bad enough, they all insist on telling me what it is plus insisting that I accept it. It is a complicated world that changes in knowledge and creates new knowledge every day, and we must use language and its inherent vagueness and indeterminacy to talk about it and its truth. So, even if one wanted to know and talk only about the truth and nothing but the truth, it is simply not physically possible to do so. For me to know the truth of any subject, I would have to spend a full day studying its truth that would be different from the day before by which point the day would be over so I could not act on the knowledge I have gained during that day anyway, but then the truth for that one day will be a different truth tomorrow. Truth is a full-time job but I already have a full-time job. In reality of the majesty of the law, I accept its truth or go to jail which is worse that Pilate. Pilate just wanted me to work, pay taxes, and tell everyone else to do the same, after which I could do whatever I wanted and accept whatever truth I wanted and he would leave me alone. Pilate and Rome accepted Power as the only god and were honest enough to admit it. If they had to crucify an innocent to get that point across, they did it knowingly and did not cowardly hide behind ethics or some -ism claiming the sacrifice will create a utopia. As government prosecutors and police are well aware, if you talk long enough about anything, you will eventually contradict yourself and thus they will eventually be be able to accuse you and charge you with lying as leverage to be used against you for whatever else they are trying to get out of you.

 
The unfortunate reality is that I and most persons in Technological Society spend most of our days and life acting in ignorance of truth as a matter of necessity and must hide our ignorance by minimizing talk of truth and thus avoid the inevitable contradictions that lead to trouble with the law so as to earn a living, sleep, and have some fun. According to the Dunning-Kruger Effect in statistics, not only is this what most people do but the most ignorant usually are the most confident of their truth and are the most confident of it when they talk about and act upon it. We need an alternative to truth. Let’s start looking for one.

 

The clearest meaning of truth is in the hard or natural sciences including their language of mathematics; can they give me an alternative? They seem to know timeless, all possible worlds, and absolute hard truths. Want to get a rocket to the Moon, Mars, or the outer solar system or accomplish anything physical? The worker bees of the hard sciences are your source of truth. But, that is the problem with their truth. It is a collective truth. It is a massive collection of contradictory mathematical models and mathematical fictions known by a few worker bees in a few hives that are created, divided, and subdivided so as to ignore the contradictions. Of course, the simple stuff is as easy now as it was in Pilate’s day; 2 + 2 = 4 is true anywhere in the real world and in all possible real worlds except perhaps in the imaginary ones of post-modernism that are not real worlds anyway just pretend real worlds created for aesthetics and perhaps for power. However, what about the hard truths of the hard sciences? For example, what is the truth of gauge theory in physics or in mathematical logic? Is it true that the reified formula A[δ] can be treated not as the ordered pair <A, δ>, but as the result A(d1,…, dn/x1,…, xn) of substituting the objects d1 =δ(x1), … , dn = δ(xn) for the variables x1, … , xn that occur free in A? Does E really and truly = (1/2m)p2−(erE)? If relativity physics has to hypothesize the existence of non-detectable dark matter and dark energy that makes up 95% of the universe in order to get its mathematical fictions to work, does that mean it only describes 5% of the universe? If the universe is made up of atoms that cannot be experienced directly in any human sense and are themselves made of numbers consisting of waves of probabilities that are not waves in anything since there is no ether, is not the universe made up of numbers? Hell if I know.

 
Which one of my examples above is pure mathematical logic inquiry and which is pure physics gauge theory inquiry? Only the few are given the gift of knowing the true answers to these sample questions and pretty much all the other questions and answers of the modern hard sciences. The average person has to accept what these few say on faith not on knowledge and everyone knows it but only a few admit it. The propagation of this faith depends on full-time preachers varying from incompetent scientists such as Richard Dawkins to ignorant publicists such as Bill Maher. What about the worker bees of science? Ultimately, if you are able to get an knowledgeable, intelligent, and competent worker bee individual scientist alone in a room and ask them what the f–k they are doing, the honest ones will admit: “[s]ince all models are wrong the scientist cannot obtain a ‘correct’ one by excessive elaboration. On the contrary following William of Occam he should seek an economical description of natural phenomena. Just as the ability to devise simple but evocative models is the signature of the great scientist so overelaboration and overparameterization is often the mark of mediocrity” — Box, G.E.P. (1976) in “Science and Statistics” Journal of the American Statistical Association, Vol. 71 (No. 356), pp. 791-799. Or, simpler yet, such worker bee scientists will admit “the goals of science [are] to be met by construction of theories that correctly describe all observable matters, whether or not they are right about what lies behind them … [which] is a metaphysical question best avoided by philosophy as well as science.” — Richard Healey in Gauging What’s Real: the conceptual foundations of contemporary gauge theories, Oxford University Press (2007) at p. XV. Great, they admit their truth that I must accept on faith as a basis to run Technological Society is really based on an avoidance of truth so as to be economical in their descriptions. So, they already have alternative to truth; an alternative that is just as confounding and confusing as the omnipresent and convoluted cloud of truth that surrounds me behind my ability to grasp it and deal with it in anyway but blind faith. So the hard sciences alternative so is not an alternative to truth but only a further reason to look for one.

 

What about the math? Forget words, just deal in numbers as an alternative to the word “truth”. Forget truth, all answers to problems and questions must be expressed in the form of a correct answer to a mathematical equation. If the problem and question cannot be formed mathematically, than, hey, it must not be worth asking? According to some books I have read, as many as 70% of mathematicians are Platonist — they believe they discover numbers in the same way we discover and trip over rocks. Others, such as the great Bertrand Russell concluded, “I fear that, to a mind of sufficient intellectual power, the whole of mathematics would appear trivial, as trivial as the statement that a four-footed animal is an animal” — Holt, J. (2013) in Why does the world exist?: an existential detective story, N.Y., N.Y.: Liveright Publishing Corporation, at p. 183. Given that great physicists from Aristotle to Newton, Fourier, Heisenberg, Gell-Mann, and others have had to make up new math to get their physics to work leads me to go Russell’s tautology route but maybe not; maybe they discovered their math in the same way they discovered their physics. The problem with tautologies is that they can never be proven false and thus are not science: a scientific hypothesis is one that can be falsified by parameter controlled, repeatable, experiments. So math does not seem to be a viable alternative; not only can only a few do the math and thus only a few know the math as an alternative to truth, in the end math may be a worthless and trivial alternative no better than the word “truth”. I would be replacing faith in scientists with faith in mathematicians. If numbers are Platonic, this may not be so bad. If not, the cure is as bad as the illness. I cannot even answer this basic question and must leave it to mathematicians and philosophers of math to tell me what math is — I am back to relying on faith. Numbers thus cannot be an alternative to any problems with the word “truth”.

 
There is a popular expression among trial attorneys: “There are three types of lies. There are lies, dam lies, and statistics”. Frankly, an alternative to truth dependent on one’s ability to do math with the remainder based on ignorance of math (again, does E = (1/2m)p2−(erE) and how would I know any proof you give me for this equality is actually true?) or dependent on blind faith in mathematicians and their math that may or may not be just aesthetic fictions is not much of an alternative — post-modernists can give me aesthetic fictions in which to have blind faith. I was hoping and am looking for something better than just numeric beauty and faith based aesthetics.

 
What about the soft or social sciences, do they provide an alternative for truth? They are what the philosopher of science Karl Popper called pseudo-sciences and the physicist Richard Feynman called cargo cult science in which generalization without predictive value is taken as truth. In the post-modern world preaching creativity, these sciences have lost all creativity regarding alternatives to truth with their only alternative for truth now being just one word or generalization: evolution. Whatever the problem or question, evolution is the answer and the explanation. Evolution is the new god that explains everything, makes all explanations true, and empowers everything no matter how contradictory the explanation. Whatever. I am not looking for an alternative god; I am looking for an alternative to truth. There are already too many gods in the world just as there is too much truth in the world. The overabundance of gods and of truth my be related. Evolution is a worthless alternative because even I know enough math and logic and have sufficient reasoning skill to use them to know that the concept of evolution in the social sciences is a tautology and thus is no more truth or knowledge than saying “a four-footed animal is an animal”. Again, if you get a competent, intelligent, knowledgeable worker bee scientist — even a social scientist — alone in a room safe from the condemning religious eyes of their preachers, they will admit to this.

 
Genetics and its conceptualization of evolution is science. However, genetics is a mathematical model and thus we are right back to the problems of getting alternatives for truth from science and mathematics. For example, in biology, because of its dependence on computers and their software to do the correlations required for the vast amount of data necessary to establish DNA probabilities, many biologists are complaining that the exalted DNA “explanation” is quickly “becoming epistemologically vacuous” with genes defined or equated by some biologists as no more than the mathematical algorithms or computer subroutines used to correlate the massive amount of data for physical traits with the equally massive amount of data that makes up DNA. — Buchanan, Anne V.; Sholtis, Samuel; et al. “What are genes “for” or where are traits “from”? What is the question?” Bioessays (February 2009), p. 3. doi: 10.1002/bies.200800133); Gerstein, Mark B.; Bruce, Can; Rozowsky, Joel S.; et al. “What is a gene, post-ENCODE? History and updated definition”. Genome Res. (2007) Vol. 17, p. 671. doi: 10.1101/gr.6339607. It is clear the social sciences cannot give me an alternative for truth; they are one of the main reasons I and we need an alternative for truth. Faith in them is a religious faith.

 

Finally, we have the humanities. Once the furnace for The Renaissance and The Enlightenment, in our post-modern world they are a dead end and as much a reason for needing an alternative to truth as are the social sciences. In our post-modern world, they simply make shit up. For the humanities this is not really a problem. They have a long tradition going all the way back to the great Socrates stating the alternative to truth is admitting that you do not know truth and then to accept a search for knowledge and truth as an end in itself — you may never know whether you ever find truth; it is the search for truth not the truth that is important. Yeah, right. Every time a boss asks me for the true answer to a problem, I will tell them I am in search of it and it will be a life-time search that may never end. This alternative will get me to the truth of being poor, homeless, and alone. I already know that truth; not interested in re-learning it. If one has academic tenure in the humanities at some university or other academia or even as a life tenure judge with complete immunity for failure, this alternative will work fine. However, just as the alternatives used by science and mathematics, this is a limited option only available to a select few and is not an alternative for hoi polloi.

 

I am stuck here. I need to find a new way of looking at truth. Reasoning is my usual tool for creativity. This problem is similar to the logic game of the prisoners. Its reasoning may help in my search for a truth alternative. This game goes by many names but its facts essentially are as follows:

You are in a prison. There are only two ways out. One way leads to freedom, the other to death. One way is guarded by someone who always lies, the other by someone who always tells the truth. You can leave if you pick the right exit. You are allowed to ask one guard one question. Instead of a random and arbitrary guess to choose an exist, is there one question you can ask either guard to learn the true exit to freedom?

There are actually at least two questions that will work. You could ask either guard, “what would the other guard tell me is the exit to freedom” and then take the other exit. Or, ask either guard, “what would the other guard tell me is the door to death” and then take that exit.

 
As Orwell so beautifully brought out in his writings, the Powers-that-be only care about power; power is an end-in-itself. Whatever they say, its only use and usefulness and thus its meaning is to maintain or to raise there power — neither truth nor falsehood matters; it is all bullshit. In relation to my need to survive in life as a free person, are they not equivalent to the guard who always lies? However, I am always honest with myself. Even when I am lying, I am honest to myself that I am lying. This may not always be true nor true of all persons. Some people live their whole lives or a good part of their lives in a lie. However, during the time we are living a lie, it is our truth and thus we are still being true to ourselves. So, we are always the guard that tells the truth. This is getting somewhere and neads to be developed — there may be an alternative to truth here.

Is Ethics Subjective or Objective?

Neither and both.

Morality means the individual’s leap to meaning in life, it is an ideology that in theory can be non-violent if the individual decides martyrdom for that meaning is part of the meaning of their life. Ethics is essentially a group’s morality, it is the social construct by which a social group arbitrates morality conflicts among members of its group so that the conflicts do not disrupt and destroy the group’s ability to exist and maintain its social construct meaning and power. By necessity, ethics must involve an element of violence though this is not obvious since usually most members are not involved in the enforcement aspect of the ethics. Even an ethics of non-violence will be enforced by violence. If an ethics has no violence element, it is simply a social construct ideology that makes nice parlor conversation but is meaningless in the struggles of life and eventually will achieve social suicide by disappearing from history. All social groups have a code of ethics including such as the mafia, the Russian mob, and the lowest street gang on the West Side of Chicago. In my experience, these latter are more honest, consistent, and loyal to their ethics than the vast majority of moral busy bodies that enforce “legal” codes of ethics that are in denial of their violence. However, complying with the code of ethics of the mafia for example does not make you a moral person.

Morality and ethics are not the same.

Law is simply an ethics with a monopoly on violence.

Language is “objective” when it describes by means of hypotheses subject to Ockham’s Razor and makes quantifiable predictions that can be tested and falsified in repeatable parameter controlled experiments. Objective truth is pragmatic: its truth is ontologically real as long as the words of its truth work to solve the described problem. “To be is to be the value of a bound variable”. Willard Van Orman Quine. “Subjective” misses one or all of these attributes.

Thus, an ethics that works or is successful in having a social group survive its struggles with the universe and other social groups is objectively good; one that does not work but leads to the group’s destruction or loss of power is objectively bad. However, for any given individual in the group who disagrees with the ethics but is forced either by violence or threat of violence to comply with it, it is subjective and a basis to struggle against it regardless of whether or not the ethics is objectively good in terms of survival for the group. Existentially, social history is the struggle between these two objective and subjective meanings.

 

Race and Class: A View from the Bottom Up

I have not posted any essays for a few months while writing a book. The book is now available at: They Hate if You’re Clever and Despise A Fool and at the bottom page of Selected Essays/Podcasts.

This book is a conceptual analysis of race and class. It begins as a contemplation of my personal life experience with both varying from my white trash emigrant beginnings to my Ivy League education. It then goes on to an analytic contemplation of the past meanings of race and class, their present use and usefulness, and the future use and usefulness of these concepts. I argue that social class distinctions are a necessary attribute of any modern Technological Society just as they have always been a necessary aspect of all past civilizations. The only new attribute of class struggle that Technological Society creates is its ability to isolate individuals in the lower classes from any social bonding with others in their class and thus potentially ending class struggle and making present ruling class ideology permanent resulting in the death of history. However, the death of history is not the end of history. I argue that such death may not be a bad thing given the material benefits and power Technological Society creates for humanity’s need to explore, discover, and conquer the universe. I argue that race distinctions will continue to be used and be usefulness as a means to maintain class distinctions and as a business model for profit. In modern Technological Society, the humanities act solely as a means for normative power. Distinctions such as race serve both as a means to keep individuals in the lower classes isolated and unable to struggle together and as a means for monetary profit by those humanities holding normative power.

Why does God hate the Poor: Does the Answer matter?

Does it really matter why God hates the poor? No one else seems to care. The vast majority of people have and always will spend their lives trying to survive and gain as much power as they can during their life — as they should do. So, why does the answer as to why God hates the poor matter to me and to some others?

In deciding whether God or I should do anything about this hatred of the poor by God, the answer to the first part of the question is easy. Because God gave me this life I never asked for, does God owe me any duty to do anything about how messed up this life is? Given our contemplation so far, the answer should be obvious: No. He is God and does whatever He wants to do consisting of acting by necessity. According to Christians, God did do something. He became human through His Son Jesus Christ. I will leave that response between you and Søren Kierkegaard and go on to the question of what my response or duty ought to be regarding God’s hate for the poor.

Why does the answer bother me so much? What, if anything should I do about this ontological truth that there were, are, and always will be the poor in life who will be the object of God’s hate? The answer does not matter to those God loves nor should it. Unfortunately, it does not matter to most of the poor. As worker’s rebellions varying from Spartacus to the French, Haitian, Russian, and many other revolutions have shown and as most of history in general has established, poor people given the chance are just as greedy, homicidal, hateful, power-hungry, and generally what we call evil as any rich and powerful person can be or are.

As Camus said: “The slave begins by demanding justice, and ends by wanting to wear a crown.” The undisputed fact of reality is that the poor, if given the chance, will seek the same power over me as the few powers-that-be already have over me. Christian saints claim to love others as an end in itself but that is bullshit. Take away the promise of the power of the Resurrection and they would be no different than anyone else.

So, why should I care about these poor as I defined them previously physically, materially, or spiritually? “F__k them,” should be my answer. I should just worry about myself and my own search for power so that I become a power-that-be; so that I become among the few beloved by God. This is the reality ignored by even the existentialist writers, from Camus to Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Herman Melville, and so on. They see the reality of what is but ignore the potential for much worse when reaching their conclusions of absurdity and hopelessness. They go to the edge of the abyss, look over, and then step back. That is why, in the end, despite their claims of despair, hopelessness, and absurdity, they always end with hope and avoid nihilism.

They start with phrases such as by Camus, “Everything is permitted. It is not an outburst of relief or of joy, but rather a bitter acknowledgement of a fact.” Or by Dostoevsky, “If there is no God, everything is permissible.” But after saying this, they back off. All of a sudden, they start writing about good and evil as if those terms have meaning outside of whatever random meaning an individual or the powers-that-be arbitrarily give to them. Why do they back off of it? Are they cowards? Is this all part of God’s playing with His hatred of the poor, to create false hope to hide His hatred of many of us?

The dead are dead. There is nothing that I can do to help them. Even if they were alive, they should really not mean much to me. Based on my life experience and reading of history, at any given time, considering both the reality and potential of human nature, 90% to 95% of humanity is divided into four kinds of humans: 1) those who would walk into gas chambers to die when ordered; 2) those who would do the ordering; 3) those who would do the killing; and 4) those who would clean up afterwards. The remaining 5% to 10% of humanity, at any given time might refuse all four.

Are those remaining the ones that are troubling me? Am I in that 5% to 10%? The problem with this percentile division or categorizing of humanity is that those who make up any of these categories at any given time are completely random. It varies from time to time, depending on the circumstances. So, today’s gas chamber victim may be tomorrow’s executioner. Today’s hero may be tomorrow’s coward. The same is true for me. This is all part of God’s hatred for the poor. Any one of us, depending on the circumstances, could fall into any one of these categories.

In some ways, being poor is a great excuse for going through life, once you reach maturity. Many advocates for the materially poor complain about the loss of opportunity. Among the poor, there may be a wasted Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, or whoever might exist, and we are wasting their potential. Well, also among the poor might exist a future Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, or whoever. If these two, for example, had stayed poor and in poverty and died young, it might have been the best thing that ever happened to them and to the world. At least if you died as a victim of the gas chambers, you will be remembered with pity and kindness. That might not have been true if you had actually had a chance to live.

One’s status in life as hero or villain is purely random for the vast majority of humans. So, the poor themselves are not a reason to care about them. In his book, The Confessions, the so-called Church Father St. Augustine stated, argued, and essentially realized that even babies are either evil or have the potential for it. He exclaims to God, “No one is free from sin in Your sight, not even an infant, who’s span of early life is but a single day.” As St. Augustine explained, “What, then, was my sin at that age? Was it perhaps that I cried so greedily for those breasts?” That is, of his mother, for milk. “Certainly, if I behave like that now, greedy not for breasts, of course, but for food suitable to my age, I should provoke derision and be very properly rebuked. My behavior then was equally deserving of rebuke.” He complains that once he saw a mother with two babies, who, while trying to feed one, the other cried out of envy and jealousy for his turn at the trough. This is a tough view on life in a tough era in which some theologians, including St. Augustine, even argued and believed in the damnation of unbaptized babies. As a true power of this world and apparently of the next, St. Augustine accepted this condemnation of even babies as the price that he had to pay for eternal happiness for God. What a great human being he was.

It never occurred to him to rebel against such happiness and to rather accept damnation and hell with those babies. So, why should it bother a sinner such a me? And why does that rebellion occur to me as a viable option? In terms of the potential evil of humanity, of even babies, his contemplation was right. Why should he reject his happiness simply because some — maybe as little as 5% of those dead babies — could have been true saints of humanity if given the chance? The differentiation between the lives of those who fit into the 90% – 95% of humanity that I describe as random poor and those in the remaining 5% to 1% that are the powers-that-be are just as random.

The chosen few that have the power to decide for themselves into what percentile they will be, and furthermore, to what percentile the remainder of humanity will be, are chosen randomly. It is a random choice by God. As a random choice, it could have been me placed into any one of the four categories. It could have been me — depending on luck deciding whether I was a gas chamber victim, operator, rebel, or a St. Augustine — deciding into what category the remainder of humanity will be.

So, do I care and have empathy for the poor and hate the powerful as purely a selfish act — as an act of envy — because I am not among the powerful as St. Augustine was; if I had that power, would I not care in the same way that he did not care? Probably. Unlike the existentialists who in the end pretend their concerns are not based on their own self-love but are based on empathy and a concern for humanity, the truth is that their concern and my concern is mostly a selfish act of envy and jealousy as described or as alleged in the Parable of the Workers.

Well, so what if that’s the true motive of my concern? God’s power includes the ability to randomly decide whether He would give me life and what kind of life. He has randomly decided to allow his chosen few to control my life and most of human life. Why should I accept his randomness? He wants me to work all day for the same amount of money as those whom He chose to work in His vineyard for only an hour. Why should I accept that? There is no reason why I should accept it, just as there is no reason why not. By randomly rejecting God and His random choices, I am getting as close to being a god as a human can become. Without that, the only other option for being a god is making a choice to randomly make nothing out of something: killing life. Killing life, the only random act that is even more God-like but for some reason that I cannot choose.

 
I can try to do better than God’s random power. I cannot do better since I am not God but I can at least try to do it. I do not want to accept happiness based on the suffering of babies because by doing such — I say to myself — I would be accepting His arbitrary power over me. I reject His power. Tough talk. But, as we used to say in the Navy, I can talk the talk, but can I walk the walk?

On the Nature of “Deconstruction”

Anyone trying to argue these days on the concepts of race and class will inevitably run into practitioners of deconstruction as a means to analyze the text of arguments. It is a pseudo-philosophical fad that has taken over much of academia and the work of much of the humanities intelligentsia. It was developed by the French so-called philosopher Jacques Derrida. However, unless you have a lot of time on your hands, it is not worthwhile to read him for purposes of getting an understanding of deconstruction either as a methodology or a philosophy. Like many in continental philosophy, especially French existential and post-existential philosophy, Derrida has mastered the art of writing in a dense, convoluted, and nonsensical manner that allows uncritical readers to assume his writing must be profound and intelligent instead of nonsense (though, to be fair, the same can be said of some of present analytic philosophy such as much of its philosophy of mind and philosophy of language). The best way to understand deconstruction is to see it in action. As an example, I will deconstruct the first line of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 
From an analytic or logic-centric or logocentric perspective as it is derisively called by post-modernists, the first aspect that strikes me about this line is that it is false — it does not state what factually is or was. Our nation was not conceived in liberty nor dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Quite the opposite, the founders conceived our nation on violence upon others with the foundation belief that some are better or more capable to govern than others and they created a government based upon and designed to survive such a perspective on factual reality. Based on these conclusions, using the classical rules of logic and historical analysis, we can go on to discuss why the founders so conceived it and the ramifications of their reasons — that is what worked and what did not work to create a functioning nation. Further, unless we assume Lincoln was an idiot, we can contemplate why he would use an assertion he must have known to be false as a starting premise? This is a profound epistemic question. Is it the case — as many analytic philosophers in epistemology argue — that a false belief can be used to reach true knowledge? Of course, all of this contemplation requires an understanding of the extent to which a reader can give meaning to this text — which itself involves contemplation of the extent to which readers give meaning to text instead of those who wrote it and are no longer around such as Lincoln.

 
For deconstruction of this text however, the text is immaterial. It is not important to read or to try to understand the present of the text or what is present in the text in order to understand its true meaning but to see the contradictions created by what is the absence of text or what is absent in the text. It is here that a critical reader runs into the first problem with deconstruction: there are an infinite amount of actual and possible worlds, words, and concepts missing from the text, which do we pick from this infinity of absence or transcendental nothingness to give the text its supposedly true meaning? That is obvious: what is missing from the text are women, gays, blacks, transsexuals, and other oppressed who are omitted by the white male Lincoln as a result of the structural patriarchy of his logocentric whiteness reality. Why is this obvious? It is obvious because the humanities professor who teaches deconstruction says it is obvious.

 
This leads to other problems if you are corrupted by logocentric thinking. If the text is immaterial, then why even bother to read it? The first line might as well be Lincoln’s laundry list or say “our nation was founded upon apples and oranges” because what is absent from the text — or its transcendental nothingness as many of the worshipers of deconstruction call it — will be the same infinite set of possible world nothingness that must be transcended. Does not this mean that the truth of any text can mean whatever the person doing the deconstruction wants it to mean? Now you are getting it! No matter what you write, the truth of any given text will be same: whatever the person doing the deconstruction decides ought to be the truth of the text.

 
Contemplate how powerful the methodology of deconstruction is. It requires no logical thinking nor any rational skill other than being able to imagine what is not present in text — you do not even need to be able to read the text in any way but in a primitive or introductory sense. It is not limited by any reality that you can sense — not even by the sense reality of the words being deconstructed. Its infinity of options is limited only by the normative values of those doing the deconstruction.

 
It is based simply on argument by authority analogous to religious dogma: upon the authority of the intellectual teaching it in the same way divine law would be defined by God. If one professor indoctrinates deconstruction into a class of twenty students, we have twenty worshipers of deconstruction. If each teaches it to another twenty students and this goes on for years, you see how deconstruction has taken over the humanities academia and the intelligentsia. Its most powerful aspect is that it cannot be argued against logically or rationally: rejection of logic-centric or logocentric reasoning is its initial premise. It is argument from authority that can only be opposed by other authority. This is one reason why present political argument in the United States and much of the Western world has been reduced to virtue signaling and attacks on personal morality and ethics through the methodology of deconstruction. For example, it is irrelevant what the immigration policies of the United States should be pragmatically; what is important is how good or evil those advocating the policies are. Thus, any immigration policy proposed by President Trump is evil because he is evil, and any immigration policy proposed by President Obama was good because he is good even though the immigration policies are factually the same. Every written fact can be deconstructed down to an ethical or moral analysis of the writer of the decision or of those designating something to be a fact — the conclusion on the virtue of the writer decides the virtue of the decision.

 
What can workers do about this struggle for power among the elite and their intelligentsia? As usual, nothing much. As I wrote earlier, ethics is simply ruling class ideology. The efficiency of modern Technological Society allows the ruling class to argue among themselves for power regardless of whether their arguments pragmatically serve any purpose other than power. The founders of our nation at least had to win their war to found a nation. Such is no longer required of a ruling class. They can simply deconstruct our nation down to a constant struggle among hoi polloi in which it exists with no essence but the will to power of the ruling class. As I have written before and as Orwell wrote in 1984, “God is Power”. As the song goes:

I’ll move myself and my family aside If we happen to be left half alive

And the party on the left
Is now the party on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight


I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around

Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again, no no

The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

Why does God hate the Poor: The Answer

I have finally reached the point of being able to answer the question that I am asking: why does God hate the poor? I have defined the nature of the God of the ontological proof and contemplated the issues that come up when trying to understand why He hates the poor. I have either resolved those issues or defined them as necessary so that I can answer the question.

 
The answer as to why God hates the poor turns out to be very simple, and it goes right back to the ontological nature of the God of our contemplation as the reason there is something instead of nothing. He hates the poor because He can. He is the ultimate power and can do whatever He wants. In fact, since She acts by necessity, She must do whatever She wants. If you could choose your acts and had the power to do whatever you want, you would choose to exercise the power to do whatever you want. God acts by necessity, not from incompleteness requiring choice. He is what He is and can be.

 
It sounds as if we are getting into matters of which one cannot speak logically and wherefore one should be silent. Given the importance of this issue and the time spent on contemplating it, I want to keep in mind that logic is not the end-all tool for truth and illusion. The logical mind is creative and imaginative and can use fictional analogy as a means to reach truth and illusion when logic reaches its endpoint for either. Through logic’s creativity and imagination, I want to clarify my answer to the question I am asking by going back to the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard and my card-game analogy. The Parable is a good description of my answer to the question except for two facts: 1) it describes an agreement between God and the workers; 2) the Parable assumes free will.

 

The Parable justifies God’s hate of the workers who worked all day for him by saying they were offered a deal to work all day for a denarius, accepted the deal, got the deal, and therefore have nothing to complain about. That is not a true analogy of life, especially not for the workers of the world. God, the vineyard owner, not only creates the vineyard and similarly the cards of the game of life but also created the workers, players, pay, ante, vineyard, game, and the work needed to be done and knows better than anyone the hands or the work at the end of the day. He designed the pay scale and odds so that only a small percentage of people will win at the expense of many others, and He knows who the winners will be and who the losers will be. To say that the workers freely made an agreement, contract, deal, or whatever, or that they knew they were making a contract, deal, agreement, or whatever is an absurdity. It is outright deceit and dishonesty that shows theology and Christianity at its worst. If the workers had known that God would be paying the same amount to the workers who did nothing all day, they would have waited until then to accept an offer to work. The fact is that they did not know what He would do until He actually did what He did. They could not know it because He can randomly do whatever He wants, whenever He wants.

 

Free will to deal with God, if it exists, is reserved for those few with the power to enter into contracts with God, not for the poor who can not or have only an “I live or I die” choice to accept the power of God and His work in His vineyard.

 
That is why I am asking this question in the first place. The choice to work in a vineyard or not to work is an “I live or I die” choice for workers. If this is how Christian theology, or any theology, defines free will then maybe there is free will for workers but otherwise there is none. More likely, free will does not exist in making a choice to live or die but only in accepting or rebelling against your destiny and fate in life. There is no reason, justification, or any rational basis for God’s hatred of the poor — it is simply an exercise of pure power — and thus we can accept it on the same nihilistic basis or rebel against it through our own nihilism. God is the ultimate nihilist, but workers can at least be nihilists in our rejection of God’s nihilism when we finally know of it. As Spinoza argued, knowledge that we are not free is the ultimate freedom.

 
George Orwell ends 1984 with the character Winston ending his “self-willed exile from the loving breast” and accepts death not with rebellion but with tears realizing, “[i]t is all right. Everything was all right. The struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” The Powers-that-be try to make power seem to be some kind of inhuman evil to be avoided. It is similar to those people with a lot of money saying money is not everything or does not buy you happiness. It is the essence of humanity to seek power but such search is seeking for God. This is true of all reality — organic or inorganic, matter or energy, or whatever fiction is used to describe and try to control reality. The search for power is the search for God, either to be with God or to become a god. And it cannot be avoided if we are living humans. If the New Testament ended at the crucifixion, there would be no Christianity and no Christian saints who reject all worldly power. It ends with the power of the Resurrection: The promise of unity with the ultimate Power of this and all worlds.

 
I have answered the question at issue, in large part but not completely. When I started this contemplation, part of my questioning was what do we do with the answer? Given God’s hatred of the poor, what do we the workers do about it, if anything? What should God be doing about it, if anything? In the presence of the indifference of the universe, what difference does the answer make? Paraphrasing Dostoevsky and Camus, should we accept the hope of a reward from God of happiness as compensation for a single moment of human suffering? Or, as the ultimate act of human power against the random power of God, should we spit in His face and reject God and thus become a god ourselves — not by being the reason for there being something instead of nothing as God is, but by being the reason for there being nothing instead of something. Nietzsche ridiculed that humans rather wish for nothing than not wish at all. What is the ultimate victory over the hate of the universe to our existence: to accept our fate and be free through the knowledge we are not free; to wish for nothing though we do not control satisfaction of the wish; or to stop the wishing?

 
This is not an ethical question that can be answered by society. Society, controlled by the Powers-that-be, will always choose the power of wishing. Essentially, the Powers will always choose to continue their Power over others in a search for power as an end in itself — this is how they find the God that loves them. Ethics is a set of rules created by those in power to stay in power. This remaining issue of what to do about the reason for God’s hatred of the poor is a moral question, to be answered by any individual who can ask it. This moral question has its own unique set of problems that I need to contemplate.