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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.

“Scientists Say …”: Scientist or Technician?

The withdrawal of philosophy into a “professional” shell of its own has had disastrous consequences. The younger generation of physicists, the Feynmans, the Schwingers, etc., may be very bright; they may be more intelligent than their predecessors, than Bohr, Einstein, Schrodinger, Boltzmann, Mach and so on. But they are uncivilized savages, they lack in philosophical depth — and this is the fault of the very same idea of professionalism which you are now defending.
— Lakatos, Imre; Feyerabend, Paul. “For and Against Method: Including Lakatos’s Lectures on Scientific Method and the Lakatos-Feyerabend Correspondence”. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, Ill. (1999) at Appendix B, 1969 letter to Feyerabend’s Berkeley philosophy chair Wallace Matson.

Not sure if Feyerabend’s above criticism is directed at philosophers or at scientists; if at scientists, it is not warranted. Even if scientists are becoming “uncivilized” technicians in the sense they lack any holistic philosophy for their scientific wordgames, given the power of science in Technological Society (TS) and its potential for abuse by the Powers-that-be (PTB), such becoming of technicians is not necessarily a bad thing. It may in fact be the only option TS gives for continuing working class struggle against the PTB by scientists as they like everyone else in TS become wages slaves. What would make it disastrous and what most likely is happening is they are becoming not only wage slave technicians but technicians for whom the wordgame of science is a religion or at least a religious cult controlled by the PTB so as to control them. With such becoming, science is no longer science but a propaganda tool and what is supposed to be its pragmatic and instrumental truth instead becomes a dogma tool for the PTB to use for their power as an end-in-itself. As contemplated in other essays, the PTB through the normative power of their ethics and its monopoly on violence that is the law create a world in their image in which power is an end-in-itself. Because science is conceptually a descriptive and empirical instrumentalist wordgame concerned only with pragmatic power over nature and not over the supernatural, it lacks normative concepts of ultimate value and thus it is inherently open to the temptation of becoming a god for those seeking power on earth; at the same time it is not open to being directly subjugated to any normative wordgames (i.e., science is just as viable a wordgame under fascism as it is in a democracy). The only way to subjugate it is by converting its wordgame into a cult or religion having a normative form of life controlled by the PTB. We saw this at work in the recent Chinese Coronavirus debacle by the use of the phrase “scientists say” as justification by authority of whatever the PTB wanted be done (“Scientists Say …”).

 
Science was never intended to be either a cult or a religion. It demands skepticism toward all teleological views of life and at worse the only non-pragmatic limitation on its instrumentalist methodology is aesthetic: “[s]ince all models are [eventually] 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 are often the mark of mediocrity.” — Box, G.E.P. “Science and Statistics”. Journal of the American Statistical Association, Vol. 71, No. 356 (1976). p. 792. Conceptually, the religious can be scientific wordgame players but the scientific cannot be religious wordgame players because in the latter form of life science becomes as dogmatic as religion. The religious can place aside their religious beliefs and be total skeptics while doing science because to them science is simply a tool and not their meaning in life nor an end-in-itself. However, if science is your religion, one cannot put it aside without putting aside one’s meaning in life or the end-in-itself of being a scientist. Thus for one whose religion or meaning in life is science, one cannot be a total skeptic while doing science; instead one must accept scientific concepts as the dogma of one’s religion.

 
The recent worldwide Chinese Coronavirus debacle is the most recent example of the power of this scientific conversion: something known as statistical modeling calling itself a science and calling their conclusions “scientists say” was accepted on faith and by the authority of the PTB using the word “science” to generate dogma accepted as true without skepticism. Though statistical modeling is more of a gambling methodology similar to what bookies and Wall Street do than being a scientific wordgame, statistical modelers have been calling themselves “scientists” in order to establish their normative power within the PTB and are getting away with calling what they say as “scientists say”. The problem with calling statistical modeling a science is that like so many pseudo-sciences it does not limit itself to finding correlations as data science does nor in making predictions that can be falsified such as scientists and even bookies do with their instrumental statistical modeling nor does it deal in any type of holistic reasoning. Data science comes up with many potentially pragmatically useful correlations that can be used for normative decisionmaking but it cannot value one normative decision over another nor provide an explanation for any correlation; thus it does not need holistic reasoning. Those who use data science correlations to make normative arguments are supposed to be doing the holistic reasoning (i.e, there is a 99.79% correlation between spending on science, space, and technology and suicide by hanging, therefore we should reduce such spending to reduce suicide by hanging is a sound and valid normative argument based on data science but is still holistically irrational in terms of holistic social viability.) Bookies and Wall Street change the odds in their models as win, lost, place, and other data come in so when they lose the odds are then changed so they will win and they do this holistically (i.e., bookies set odds for the whole race not just one horse and change those odds so they will win for the whole race regardless of what individual horse wins or loses or places; Wall Street hedges their bets by creating hedge funds in case their modeling fails and incorporates those hedges into their modeling). The statistical modeling of the Chinese Coronavirus however sought to explain instead of just describing; it did not just give odds and the basis for those odds but gave explanations of what is occurring and then gave normative conclusions as to what ought to be occurring to avoid what their explanations say will occur; furthermore, statistical modeling explanations are not done holistically (i.e., hedging their conclusions of virus deaths against deaths that would correlate with the effects of their conclusions).

 
Unfortunately, any explanation and normative conclusion can be supported by statistical modeling if the necessary premises for that explanation and conclusion are assumed in the modeling. In statistical modeling as with all wordgames that want to explain instead of just describe, we can make 2+2=5 as long as we assume the premise that the first 2 in any equation equals 3 and hope no one notices in the convoluted mess of numbers and premises that will be given to hoi polloi. What really happens with statistical models that are treated as science is that if their explanations and conclusions are aesthetically pleasing and are presented so that the PTB can use them to generate fear and achieve more power, they are dogmatically accepted as truth through the authority of the PTB and its use of the words “scientists say”. Thus, what are supposed to be just wordgame models of what could happen if all the assumed premises are accurate are treated as scientific dogma in a religious sense based on authority without the chance or ability for anyone outside the PTB to review or challenge the soundness and validity of the modeling — i.e., the PTB shutdown the world in the name of “scientists say” and for the common good when really it was just a few scientists say and for power as an end-in-itself for the PTB. Most of the world complied with this shutdown order without even seeing the data let alone without analyzing it and actually doing the math — most likely the vast majority could not do the math even if they had seen the data and premises. The authority of “scientists say” and the PTB is accepted in the same way one accepts the religious dogma of a religion in which one has faith. See “Scientists Say …”

 
Conceptually, can we have science in TS without it also being a religion? Yes, we can. But, whether TS will allow for such or whether it can occur without acceptance of nihilism as a morality is an additional question. Consider the following statements:

It is a dogma of the Roman Church that the existence of God can be proved by natural reason. Now this dogma would make it impossible for me to be a Roman Catholic. If I thought of God as another being like myself, outside myself, only infinitely more powerful, then I would regard it as my duty to defy him.

If you want to quarrel with God, that means you have a false concept of God. You are superstitious. You have an incorrect concept when you get angry with fate. You should rearrange our concepts. Contentment with your fate ought to be the first command of wisdom.

— “Doubt, Ethics and Religion: Wittgenstein and the Counter-Enlightenment”. Edited by Luigi Perissinotto Ontos Verlag: New Brunswick, NJ. (2013) p. 45 & n. 4.

At first glance, these statements seem to have nothing to do with science in TS but this first impression is inaccurate. I place them here because they give a foundation for further contemplation by any reader of the essays here on the nature of science in its TS form in which its technicians are expected by the PTB to have science as their religion.

 
As with anything proposed by the PTB, if the PTB say that the nature of the universe, its beginning, its existence, and its future can be explained by the instrumentalist and reasoning of science or of anything pragmatic, working class wage slave technicians as with anything promoted by the PTB should immediately be suspicious — if they want to continue the working class struggle against the PTB that is. If they do not but are willing to accept the end of class struggle and thus of history, of course, it does not matter as nothing else about TS would matter if one does not care. Science as religion as with any religion does not change the nihilist nature of the universe: it is meaningless; there is no truth or knowledge other than knowing my existence; and it has no ultimate value until the nihilist gives it meaning and value by a leap to belief in meaning and value for it.

 

The PTB want their scientists to be religious: believing in the god of science and thus not seeing themselves as technicians but as followers and believers of a true faith. They control this true faith as they control all other faiths in TS. Forget them. Forget Feyerabend’s, Ellul’s, Sartre’s, and many other intellectuals’ ridicule of technicians as somehow uncivilized hoi polloi or as inauthentic waiters. Reject this religion they promote. Nihilistically reject it all and them. Go ahead and accept your fate of being an uncivilized technician free of secular religion and secular religious dogma and thus free to be skeptical of all who claim to know not only the nature of life and the universe but of what you ought to be doing with your life. If you are going to believe in something, let it be something to which you leap not something to which the PTB want you to leap so they can have power over you in their heaven on earth they seek to create in their image. With such freedom of skepticism you will be more of a scientist than any who accept by authority what “scientists say”. Remember, God is the ultimate nihilist.

 
I will end this essay with another statement that hopefully will promote thought on the present and future of the scientific language wordgame in TS:

Let them have their belief, if it gives them joy. Let them also give talks about that. ‘We touch the infinite!’ And some people say … ‘Ya ya, he says he touches the infinite.’ And some people say ‘Ya ya! He says he touches the infinite!’ But to tell the little children in school, ‘Now that is what the truth is,’ that is going much too far.

— (Horgan, J. (2016) “Was philosopher Paul Feyerabend really science’s “worst enemy”? Scientific American, Vol. 24, October. Retrieved from: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/was-philosopher-paul-feyerabend-really-science-s-worst-enemy/)

“Scientists Say …”

The truly apocalyptic view of the world is that things do not repeat themselves. It isn’t absurd, e.g., to believe that the age of science and technology is the beginning of the end for humanity; that the idea of great progress is a delusion; along with the idea that the truth will ultimately be known; that there is nothing good or desirable about scientific knowledge and that mankind, in seeking it, is falling into a trap. It is by no means obvious that this is not how things are. — Wittgenstein, Ludwig. “Culture and Value”. Trans., P. Winch. U. Of Chicago Press (Chicago, Ill. 1980) p. 56.

A common propaganda tool in TS (Technological Society) is to quote science or some scientist as support for whatever explicit or implicit normative values one may be proposing. This technique has become very obvious in the recent virus lock-down propaganda battles in which almost any soundbite or headline of value will begin with the phrase: “Scientists say …”. To anyone experienced in what scientists actually say, this phrase is immediate warning that whatever sentences follow this phrase should be viewed with skepticism at a minimum and perhaps with outright doubt. The reality of any so-called science that really is a science and not a pseudo-science pretending to be a science or an outright fraudulent science is that “scientists” do not “say” much of anything but “some scientists” say one thing and “some scientists” disagree with them often by concluding the exact opposite. Holistically, this disagreement through critical thought is used eventually to reach pragmatic truth: that is, not true or false propositions but sentences that solve the problem about which the scientists are arguing. The acceptance of this skeptical almost nihilist epistemic reality for science and then being able to continue doing science in a leap to hope of eventually achieving non-pragmatic knowledge is what makes the scientist more than just a technician.

 
As I have contemplated and argued in more detail elsewhere, scientific language is instrumentalist language. It does not deal in true or false sentences in the classical propositional sense but in sentences that are pragmatically true or false: they either work or do not work to solve a problem. Science does not give explanations of reality, it gives descriptions of reality that can be falsified and thus in a world lacking knowledge are used to achieve useful solutions to problems. As with reason, scientific language is a great tool and a great pragmatic improvement on normative descriptive language — especially that of ultimate value — which can only say what the world ought to be and gives no way of getting there nor even lets us know if there is a way of getting there. Though, ultimately, it is no more useful in giving life meaning than any other language. “We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all. Of course there is then no question left, and just this is the answer.” Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus at Prop. 6.52.

 
Real scientists disagree and are natural skeptics on everything. Everything that non-scientists assume as scientific truths are really only isolated sentences in a vast holistic collection of sets of inconsistent and incomplete hypotheses that are always subject to be proven false by the parameters of a future experiment. This is as true of the present so-called “hard” sciences as it is of the so-called “soft” sciences — many of which are not really sciences since many of their premises and descriptive sentences are tautologies that can never be falsified (i.e., evolution). The physicist Ernest Rutherford once said, “[a]ll science is either physics or stamp collecting.” Well, those glory days may be gone even for physics whose physicists are now stuck in a convoluted mess of contradictory and incomplete theories in which they must make up words such as “dark matter” and “dark energy” to hide the fact they do not know what makes up 95% of the universe. If pressed, most physicists at least would admit the mess in which they are. Such admission would most definitely not come from those who worship science (or concepts such as evolution) as the ultimate explanation of all that is life. The fact of the matter is that all science may become stamp collecting eventually if the technicians of science continue to have their way and allow propagandists to use them and scientists as tools in propaganda by allowing the propagandists to get away with saying “scientists say” as if they all say the same thing and by treating science either as dogmatic or worse as a discipline that is decided by consensus.

 
For an age that loves storytelling, there is an almost universally known and simple story that attacks this propaganda technique and shows it as the fraud it is: Galileo and his heliocentric theory of the solar system. In the 16th century, the almost universal consensus among scientists accepted an ergocentric model of the solar system in which everything revolved around the earth as first described by Ptolemy a couple of thousand years earlier. A small minority including Galileo argued for a heliocentric model in which the earth revolved around the sun as proposed by Aristarchus of Samos a couple of thousand years earlier. The Catholic Church had a trial; the scientists came to present their evidence; Galileo had no opposing evidence or experts since he lacked the necessary mathematics at that time; and thus deciding the science by scientific consensus, the Church ordered Galileo to stop teaching his heliocentric theory as foundational truth but allowed him to continue contemplation of it as theory — which eventually allowed him to develop the mathematics to make his heliocentric model become the dominant consensus. Thanks to Einstein, we now know they were all wrong and both theories have been falsified; space and motion are relative, either model would work but the heliocentric one is much simpler mathematically and thus it is accepted as true pragmatically. Now that the consensus of physicists accepts Einstein’s mathematical models as descriptive, are they foundationally true and not subject to doubt? They better not be so accepted or physics is no longer a science but stamp collecting.

 
Getting into serious analysis and contemplation of the nature of scientific language may be beyond the capabilities and skills of many who quote what “scientists say” but it should not be if one is going to go around treating such phrases as dogmatic authority. The Galileo story is a simple and readily available means to understand what is going on if there were a genuine desire to understand what is going on by those who propagate the “scientists say” propaganda and by those who blindly or dogmatically accept it as true. Even if one is not able to look up the data and do the math, if one is going to read any “scientists say” propaganda should one at least be honest enough to know there must be disagreement out there by opposing scientists and should one not be so lazy as to avoid finding it and contemplating it? As always, what should be and what is are very different and incompatible. The dishonesty and the laziness of accepting “scientists say” propaganda exists and is the norm, this is why the phrase is so powerful and omnipresent by the Powers-that-be (PTB). As I have contemplated elsewhere, this dishonesty and laziness are the unavoidable reality of TS because there is a need to make science a religion. I have argued that the only way to deal with this TS reality is by accepting nihilism as a morality. But, how would this work with scientists themselves? Can scientists avoid being used and useful as propaganda tools through nihilism?

 
The philosopher of science Paul Feyeraband wrote in a letter:

The withdrawal of philosophy into a “professional” shell of its own has had disastrous consequences. The younger generation of physicists, the Feynmans, the Schwingers, etc., may be very bright; they may be more intelligent than their predecessors, than Bohr, Einstein, Schrodinger, Boltzmann, Mach and so on. But they are uncivilised savages, they lack in philosophical depth – and this is the fault of the very same idea of professionalism which you are now defending.

Though I would not go as far as calling modern and post-modern physicists uncivilized savages; but, just as with philosophers, their need to make language — in the case of physicists, it would be the language of mathematics — more real than reality does threaten to convert them from scientists not only to technicians but to technicians who do not care if what they say becomes propaganda for the PTB. Is there a way to avoid such conversion? I will argue next — consistent with my arguments before — that acceptance by scientists of nihilism as a morality is the only way to avoid such conversion of a scientist to being a technician that worships science as one’s religion.

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Virus Supplemental Part IV

The creation of Man whom God in His foreknowledge knew doomed to sin was the awful index of God’s omnipotence. For it would have been a thing of trifling and contemptible ease for Perfection to create mere perfection. To do so would, to speak truth, be not creation but extension. Separateness is identity and the only way for God to create, truly create, man was to make him separate from God Himself, and to be separate from God is to be sinful. The creation of evil is therefore the index of God’s glory and His power. That had to be so that the creation of good might be the index of Man’s glory and power. But by God’s help. By His help and in His wisdom. Robert Penn Warren. “All The King’s Men” at pp. 658-59 (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt: N.Y., N.Y. 1996).

As stated in Part I of this series of essays, the last few weeks of mass hysteria have given me an opportunity to re-read Robert Penn Warren’s magnum opus partly quoted above and to apply its conclusion and the mass hysteria to the original question of a previous longer series of essays in this blog: Why Does God Hate the Poor? Prologue / Part I? My original answer written several essays ago was:

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. Why does God hate the Poor: The Answer

I then went on to ask and to decide if the answer matters or changes anything. My conclusion was that in the big scheme of things, it really does not. Why does God hate the Poor: Does the Answer matter?  As a result of the last few weeks, have my conclusions changed any?

 
Warren’s words are a true thing of beauty. In a few sentences, he has summarized libraries of theological verbiage. But, there are problems. The most relevant to the topic of this blog is that God may have created a God-less universe, but God most definitely did not create a god-less universe. Whatever help and wisdom She is granting creation, it appears to be limited or preferentially handed out only to the gods that make up a tiny portion of creation — by any measure they should be insignificant or at least of no greater power than anyone else but this is most certainly not the case. There is a hierarchy of help and wisdom resulting in a hierarchy of power that can be seen and described in words but not explained.

 
For the lifeless portion of the universe, be it made up of dark matter, dark energy, atomic particles that may or may not exist except when we observe them, numbers that are more real than the waves of nothing they describe, or whatever, in its benign inertness there is no “help” or “wisdom”. The non-living universe spends its entire existence exploding so that it can then come back together to explode again — unless it just explodes back into the nothingness from which it came. It created life so that immediately after this creation it can begin trying to kill it and life can begin trying to survive. Is a virus alive or a form of life or is it just one of the countless things in the universe seeking to kill life? More likely, a “virus” is an example of how words are a form of life by giving order and meaning through social construction of language to the meaningless inertness that is the universe.

 
What about whatever we can agree upon as being life or alive? Does it have help and wisdom in some form?

 

 

Things are not much better for non-human life than it is for the universe. Considering a virus either to be or not to be life would not do much to change its existence just as it does not do much for other non-human life. For non-human life, it spends its entire existence not much better than the universe: explodes into life, hunts and kills each other for life, and then dies. Fortunately, non-human life does not appear to be self-conscious that this is their existence so they are free of the pain of this existential knowing.

 
How about human lives? Is there any help or wisdom there? The last few weeks like all historic events prove there is some help and wisdom available to human life if you are one of the few with the power to define “help” and “wisdom” so as to maximize the power of the few doing the defining. As with any words, “help” and “wisdom” are socially constructed relevant to the needs of a social group. The social construction of the meanings of these words is ultimately controlled by a small proportion — more accurately described as a handful — of individuals who have the power recursively to define “help” and “wisdom” or at best randomly and arbitrarily to define them axiomatically. Both definitions are done through their will to power and not based on any objective truth that exists independently of their will to power. God’s help or wisdom is granted to a few and not to “Man” or to any significant portion of Man. Just as with everything from the first tribes on earth to the World Wars of the 20th Century and the pandemic of the last few weeks, a few decided what the rest of us ought to do and then we do it. If we do not like it, we used to be able to leave but even leaving is not allowed anymore. The gods speak about choice but that is all nonsense. For most of humanity, the choice is work or go to jail; in the last few weeks, for some the choice was stay home or go to jail. The will to power of these few gods not only defines what constitutes God’s help and wisdom but goes on to create the aesthetics allowing them to pretend they are not acting as gods in a hierarchy of power but with the consent of those over whom they exercise their random and arbitrary godly power. The aesthetics consist of words such as: rule of law, social contract, will of the people, universal rights, social justice, and all the other social constructions aesthetically created to keep our Heart of Darkness in check so that the gods may rule.

 
Is that what all of this is about? A God-less creation means we are all “sinful” with this Heart of Darkness but it would be easy to forget this if we were all in fact gods with a power to create a world in our image. Maybe there are only a few gods so that only a few have the temptation to forget they are God-less. Is this the help and wisdom provided for most of us: to deny us a temptation we would most certainly not be able to resist and thus deny us failure?

 

 

I do not know the answer. In the end, I am stuck with agnosia but I do not like it and most definitely do not love it. I hate it. I must accept it to survive but hate it with my whole heart, mind, and soul.  Given this agnosia and the act of will required to deal with it, the answer to my question does not really matter as at best it will be aesthetics as is Warren’s answer. At that point, even the question does not matter. Asking the question pretty much answers it as it is a dead end.

 

It is this new school agnosia that is the biggest problem with the beauty of Warren’s above epigram: the beauty created by Warren through the use and usefulness of words hides the ugliness of not knowing. As with all aesthetics, it is tempting to believe the words have something to do with a reality beyond the will to power of Warren or of any writer or other master of aesthetics but nihilists must resist this temptation. There is no “Man”, “creation”, “life”, “beauty”, “good”, “evil”, or any other words that can be used to ask my question or to answer it in reality other than in the reality of words. We created words, not God. There are six billion or so individual conscious lives on earth but there is no thing that is “life” on earth. For each, actual reality comes into existence when each individual soul becomes conscious of their existence and ceases when their consciousness ceases. Objective reality and truth may in fact exist before or after their consciousness and before and after my consciousness but it does not matter to the individual who is not around to be conscious of it; they also do not matter in a world of new school Technological Society agnosia lacking any non-pragmatic meaning for truth and most definitely lacking any for objective truth. Of objective reality and truth, all I know is nothing — not “nothingness” but actually nothing. There are six billion answers to my question — more accurately, there are six billion questions with six billion different answers. The answer to my question and even the question does not matter because both are an act of will by each of those six billion and not an act of reason. Whether one makes a leap to faith in the “glory and power of God” or a leap to the rejection of that faith, it is all a will to power leap to meaning in life as random and arbitrary as is life. Reason is a tool for making that leap work but it can give no reason for justifying any such leaps nor even for questioning them or answering any questioning of them.

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Virus Supplemental Part III

The individual is in a dilemma: either he decides to safeguard his freedom of choice, chooses to use traditional, personal, moral, or empirical means, thereby entering into competition with a power against which there is no efficacious defense and before which he must suffer defeat; or he decides to accept technical necessity, in which case he will himself be the victor, but only by submitting irreparably to technical slavery. In effect he has no freedom of choice. — Ellul, Jacques. The Technological Society. Vintage Books: N.Y., N.Y. (1963) p. 84.

The new school epistemic agnosia of nihilism: the only certain or foundational knowledge you have is that you exist, you think, and want more than just existence. All else is unknowing, you know nothing else. These existential meanings are present in all words but precede the meanings of all words and thus are something of which in reality we cannot speak and of which we should be silent and thus are pragmatically meaningless. These existential meanings do serve as the implicit axioms or recursive meanings of all words and all language and of everything else pretending to be foundational knowledge. All such non-existential knowledge is uncertain at best and usually just made-up of socially constructed verbiage intended to hide there is no other foundational knowledge but only pragmatic knowledge and beliefs sometimes called truth for aesthetic effect and sometimes called normative or morality for the same aesthetic effect. At this point, you can accept what you are as you are and the world as it is: a slave can accept being a slave and make do, a king can just as easily and most likely even more easily accept being a king and make do, and so forth. This would be an optimistic nihilist. An existential nihilist would take the next step consisting of an act of will wanting more to life than just mere existence — a will to power. With this act of will, a slave would demand to be a king and a king would demand to be a god and all can demand love from a god or even from God, and so forth. It is this act of will that creates and leads to the struggle between the nihilist and existential reality which results in a life of absurdity and an existential choice that life either is worth living or is not worth living and what to do about that worth or lack thereof. As Orwell wrote in 1984, “[t]he choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better”. In summary, all you really know is that you do not know; ultimately, freedom may be just an illusion anyway, so the choice of being a technical slave is as viable, sound, and valid as choosing not to be one.

 
The first freedom of choice allowed a technical slave if they want it: choose to be one knowingly, intentionally, and holistically in the context of the indifference to the universe to your choice. Do not do it because it is the moral choice to make; because it is the ethical choice to make; because Divine Law requires it; because Natural Law requires it; because the law requires it; or for any other reason pretending your choice has ultimate normative value to anyone other than yourself. In the end, no one not even God cares, only you care — if you care. If the Room 101 prepared for you by Technological Society (TS) makes you happy and you want it, then live it and love it. Like Winston, look up and love Big Brother with a tear in your eye and be happy until the bullet enters your brain — it awaits all of us as would be made clear on this Easter Sunday by true believers if they were not too scared of Big Brother to go to church. If those who “truly” believe in a Resurrection can cowardly hide in the corner, the rest of us certainly can.

 
The second category of freedom allowed a technical slave if they want it: it is not to reject technical slavery because this is not allowed anyone in TS, but to hate it even to hate it with your whole heart, mind, and soul. You are a slave but that does not mean you have to like it and especially you do not have to love it. “To the end I grapple with thee; from Hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” You owe a duty to yourself to do what you have to do to survive as a slave if you want to survive and even to prosper as a slave if you want to prosper. You even have a legal duty to act as a slave so as to avoid going to jail. You even have an ethical duty to act as a slave because ethics is ruling class ideology and all present TS ruling class ideology requires you be a slave. However, you have no duty to be honest, skilled, happy, or anything “good” in your slavery; you have no moral duty, Divine Law duty; Natural Law duty; or any type of ultimate normative value duty to be a slave. You are one because you want to survive, prosper, and not go to jail. If something better comes along or you can get away with dishonesty, negligence, cheating, breaking the law, or anything in your duties as a slave, all without getting caught and punished by the Powers and gods of TS, then do it. In the end, it does not matter to anyone other than yourself. Even if there is a Resurrection, remember Christ died for all sinners as a criminal and outcaste Himself who only gave to Caesar the minimum the law required and no more, so you are still all set — except unlike Him hopefully you will be smart enough not to get caught. You have the ultimate freedom: to reject God or to accept God as He, She, or It is and not how They ought to be.

 
These two categories of freedom of choice and are the power that slaves have to continue class struggle and thus to continue history. They are not available to the Powers and gods of TS because their meaning in life is a purely self-served need for power: they must have a morality to force upon others; they must have an ethics to force upon others; they must have Divine Law, Natural Law, and all the other laws to force upon others. If in fact all authority comes from God, then in addition to their socially constructed gods, rules, and laws, they must also have God despite their aesthetically pleasing protests of the opposite. They cannot think holistically because the world and the universe revolves around them and their self-served need for the power of gods or of God. This is their only weakness. Not much of one but slaves must take what they can get and run with it.

 
Some will object that such nihilist morality is really just anarchy that will result in another world of Nazi and Communist extermination camps and global political and economic collapse. This nonsense admits to both a lack of understanding as to the nature of TS and a delusion as to the Heart of Darkness that is the substance of our nature. If history repeats itself and the conditions are ripe for Governor Cuomo and the law or some other political pyschopath rule of law Inner and Outer Party Powers and gods to wake up one day and decide that extermination camps are needed to stop a virus pandemic in the same way their predecessor godly creators of moralities and ethics decided to stop what they considered to be a people pandemic, the reality is that what present moralities and ethics will do is the same as what Ellul, Sartre, Beauvoir, Foucault, and 95% of people did last time: nothing. Slaves do not control the Powers and gods of TS, they control us; there will always be morality and ethics in TS or in any society to control its slaves be they chattel, wage, or the slaves of technology. The extermination camps of the past will not occur because those techniques failed and were grossly inefficient. TS has morally and ethically grown beyond them.

 
Armed force is too efficient and dirty. Creating moralities and ethics that march people into self-imprisonment, self-isolation, and even self genocide (i.e., abortion for Blacks;  wars in the Mideast for Christians; feminism for women) is much more efficient and the easier means to victory for the Powers and their gods. Again, do not forget the beauty of the last few weeks: not just one nation’s culture but the entirety of world culture has changed drastically and substantively without any bloating bodies laying in the streets or blood running in the gutters — no armies and navies fighting, no extermination camps, no mass rallies of armed crowds roaming the streets, no cities covered in volcanic ash, no cities swallowed by earthquakes, and none of the other natural or historical events that usually are the foundation for such cultural revolution. This cultural revolution was accomplished even without martyrs or human sacrifice. (Well, without explicit martyrs and human sacrifice that make the headlines, so they do not matter.)

 
This finally leads me to the big question at issue in these multi-part essays: Why does God hate the poor? Why did God defined as the reason there is something instead of nothing create a reality with a necessary hierarchy? Why will there always be a small powerful ruling class (Powers, Outer Party, Inner Party, and so forth) who can positively control reality so as to create a world and gods in their image and then there will be the rest of us who are stuck only with the negative power to oppose whatever they are doing? Why must there always be a class struggle in order for history to continue and so we can go on to discover, explore, and conquer the universe?

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Virus Supplemental Part II

The individual is in a dilemma: either he decides to safeguard his freedom of choice, chooses to use traditional, personal, moral, or empirical means, thereby entering into competition with a power against which there is no efficacious defense and before which he must suffer defeat; or he decides to accept technical necessity, in which case he will himself be the victor, but only by submitting irreparably to technical slavery. In effect he has no freedom of choice. — Ellul, Jacques. “The Technological Society”. Vintage Books: N.Y., N.Y. (1963) p. 84.

From a will to power perspective, the last few weeks of mass hysteria have been Technological Society (“TS”) at its best and one of its finest works of art. Not just one nation’s culture but the entirety of world culture has changed drastically and substantively without any bloating bodies strewn about the streets or blood running in the gutters — no armies and navies fighting, no extermination camps, no mass rallies of armed crowds roaming the streets, no cities covered in volcanic ash, no cities swallowed by earthquakes, and none of the other natural or historical events that usually are the foundation for cultural revolution. Complain about it all you want and call the Powers of TS names such as corporatism, capitalism, communism, neo-liberalism, socialism, or whatever, but the factual reality is that the Powers of TS ordered everyone to imprison and isolate themselves and everyone followed orders — cleanly, easily, antiseptically, and without any fuss or protest. In fact, any protest would seem monumentally evil because the orders get their validity based on the innocent deaths of some elderly and other sick who most likely would have died of something else instead of the virus anyway; since they would have died anyway, TS does not even need martyrs or human sacrifice to achieve cultural revolution. The Powers of the past must be rolling in their graves admiring the beauty of this exhibition of power for the sake of power.

Of course, the bodies and blood are still there. Just the higher suicide fatalities resulting from the forced isolation will most likely cancel out any lives saved by this pandemic cure. Even before the collapse of the world economy, on average 15,000 5-year-old and younger children died each day from malnutrition, under nutrition, or starvation; no doubt, these deaths will now go up by thousands more daily with global economic collapse. The educational system was barely educating the working classes as it was; now that they have lost a whole semester isolated at home while the upper classes afford on-line education and tutors for their children, I doubt they will ever catch up and will be permanently under-educated. The massive destruction and loss of life caused by the pandemic cures will far exceed the number of lives of the elderly and others it supposedly saved but this destruction and death will be hidden and not in the mass propaganda describing and explaining its history and thus they do not matter.

 
As always in TS, it is tough to make conceptual sense of what is going on because there is so much going on, no one knows what is going on, and no one knows what they are doing. Yet, not only does everyone go about pretending they know and talking about how much they know, but then from their tower of ignorance they pass judgment on the lives of others and decide what others ought to be doing as a matter of ultimate normative value — define the morality and ethics of the state of affairs. Most of the time it does not matter and is just yalking with no value other than perhaps as aesthetics in some form, but when those doing the yalking have the power actually to enforce their value judgments upon others, it does matter and it matters big time. At that big time moment, in just a few weeks, even without any natural catastrophe or war but peacefully through the monopoly on violence that is the rule of law, world culture arbitrarily and randomly changes drastically, substantively, and forever. This is the will to power freedom TS grants its gods.

What about the rest of us? Unless one is suicidal, as Ellul eloquently wrote, acceptance of TS is required because it is “a power against which there is no efficacious defense and before which [we] must suffer defeat”. But, does the acceptance of technical slavery allow for any substantive freedom of choice for the will to power of the technical slave? How does the technical slave continue their will to power struggle and thus continue class struggle so history may continue?

 
In terms of being naturalized to reality, TS on the surface appears to deny the rest of us freedom of choice as we become bound to technical slavery. However, as I have argued elsewhere in more detail (Such as at Existential Meta-Ethics ), the acceptance of material technical slavery in order to be a victor in life through the material prosperity it gives does not necessarily negate substantive freedom of choice for the human mind and the will to power of the individual soul. Technical slavery is not unnatural or an anomaly, it is the natural flow of history. This recent Wuhan Virus events and the associated mass hysteria further elucidate my arguments that nihilism allows for nihilist Acceptance: we can knowingly and intentionally accept our fate in life but without loving it and without making it our life’s meaning in order to give meaning to our life and our lives. This new school freedom of choice is founded upon what was once old school theological agnosia; it is the freedom nihilism grants us even while physically imprisoned and most definitely while technically imprisoned by the will to power given to the Powers of TS by its godless Fates or even by God. This nihilist freedom of Acceptance is a freedom not even granted the Powers. Ultimately they need godly power over us and, if God is in fact the source of all authority, they need the God who grants this will to power so as to give meaning to their lives. We however do not need godly power over them nor any godly power over anyone including over ourselves to give meaning to our lives. Ultimately, the Powers need us but we do not need them. This is their one weakness that must be exploited so as to struggle and to overcome them and ourselves to defeat out technical slavery. This Acceptance gives nihilists the power not only to reject the Powers but also to reject God or to accept God: the ultimate freedom of choice and the ultimate godly power.

 
Pragmatically, we must first see that Acceptance of technical slavery in TS is not something that we should see as a weakness or as an existential bad faith surrender to lack of authenticity or whatever other phrases about which the some hypocritically pontificate to ignore their own status as technical slaves. As a matter of practical reality, in addition to being conceptually necessary, to be a victor in TS for anyone who is not one of its gods regardless if one is a simple proletariat or an intellectual proletariat requires one accept technical slavery. There were never any “good old days” nor any “noble savage” who had a greater freedom than anyone living in TS including any wage slave workers in TS. In the past, workers may have had a different kind of freedom but it was not any better. If one’s hunter-gatherer tribe or ancient classical tribe became too tyrannical, for millennia workers including slaves — if smart and lucky enough — had the freedom to run away one day and to start another tribe in the next valley, hill, or wherever they could survive. This type of freedom however requires the knowledge of how to survive in reality as-it-is and does not allow for the freedom of creating reality as it ought to be. This old school freedom is missing in TS and gone forever. It is a different type of freedom but not any better or worse than we have now consisting of the freedom to decide how reality ought to be — to declare “God is dead” and pretend we mean it.

 
The last century or so of human history despite all its problems has been the most materially prosperous and peaceful time in human history in which while growing from one billion in 1900 to more than six billion population in 2000, workers have for the first time in human history enjoyed freedom from: chattel slavery; world famine; true plagues of truly pandemic proportions such small pox, polio, measles, the Black Death, the Antonine Plague, and many more deaths that lacked any cure or any concept of a cure; unsanitary water; unsanitary living conditions; world pestilence; locusts causing mass suffering; mass sufferings due to the vagaries of weather and nature; and much more. The freedom to change one’s tribe at will simply by physically leaving one’s social constructs allows one to look and admire the heavens from any place on earth but it cannot give one the power to actually discover, explore, and conquer the heavens. TS gives us freedom from material imprisonment so that we are free to confront the reality of imprisonment of the soul and its mind in this meaningless life if we have the courage to do so.

 
This confrontation is a necessary aspect of TS that cannot be eliminated because it flows naturally from the nature of its technique though it can be ignored if one lacks the courage to confront it. One can see this necessary aspect of its nature working in the simplest of techniques in which pragmatics provide a foundation for a will to power leap to creation of morality and ethics. For example, if one pragmatically needs a bridge for the purpose of carrying 5000 tons of vehicles, one does not engineer a bridge capable of carrying 5000 tons of vehicles. I am not sure what the engineering standards are these days, but most likely the technique for the technology of building a 5000-ton load bridge is to engineer at least a 10,000 ton load bridge and mostly likely a 40,000 or more ton load bridge depending on one’s arbitrary and random choice of the morality and ethics of such risk decisions. Likewise, if with certain conjectures or assumptions, medical technicians build a modeling of the Wuhan Virus in which millions of persons die, this leaves open the option for calling it a pandemic and for the Powers of TS to use their power to define morality and ethics so as to force self-imprisonment and social isolation and so forth for all. Why would they do it for this model instead of for the 15,000 five-year-olds actually dying per day model or for any other modeling for problems that have equivalent or worse scenarios? Again, respective to the godly exercise of power as an end in itself, asking for such an explanation is a meaningless question and misses the point of godly power just as it does respectively for the power of God. God is power; the gods of TS are power. The gods of TS just as with God can do whatever they want when they want to do it — power is an end in itself. The fact they can arbitrarily and randomly exercise their power of creating morality and ethics purely as a will to power is a necessary aspect or attribute of their power; by definition, morality and ethics is in their power to define.

 
The spiritual questions of freedom of the soul and mind for meaning in life are the same in TS as they always have been. In fact, TS allows for the existence of the intellectual proletariat and their freedom — which is based not on knowledge but on ignorance and verbiage to hide ignorance — to work on these questions. The intellectual proletariat technical slaves appear to be above slavery because it is their technical task to sit in the stands and criticize the techniques of those slaves struggling in the blood and sand of the arena, but in the end they are just as expendable to TS as those struggling below. These questions of freedom in TS, instead of being expressed by shamans in religious or mystical expressions or even by the Platonic contemplations of philosophers as expressed in the past, are now expressed in popular media and aesthetics by post-modern shamans through aesthetically pleasing phrases that are in denial as to their equally religious, mystical, and Platonic nature: such phrases as authenticity, inauthenticity, angst, bad faith, despair, slave morality, master morality, the self, the other, self-identity, whiteness, blackness, and all the other post-modernist favorites complaining about the weaknesses of the “herd” as they like to call wage slaves among themselves as they look down on us from the stands while pretending to empathize with us. Again, the concepts are different but not any better nor worse. What there is now is the freedom to be purely aesthetic about these concepts and to ignore their pragmatics.

In prior cultures before TS, when exercising the freedom to leave and to create a new culture, one had actually to know how to physically survive; if one did not pragmatically know how to survive in reality, one did not survive reality. This was true as much of the tribal shaman as it was for the tribal hunters and gatherers; even the tribal shaman needed to know how to hunt, farm, gather food, and so forth and needed a record of success or the tribe would find another and the shaman would starve. Such is no longer true. The power of aesthetics in TS allows for survival independently of having any pragmatic knowledge of survival or of reality other than the ability aesthetically to create delusion more real than reality or to create what reality ought to be through fictions and verbiage. It no longer matters if our TS tribal shamans have any record of success or any record other than being able to convince through propaganda that they ought to have a record of success. Even failure can become a successful basis for power in TS if one controls the successful propaganda techniques available in TS.

 
If you look at how most of the proponents of the above aesthetically pleasing terms actually lived their lives instead of how they preach others ought live their lives, the practical reality of their necessary conceptual Acceptance of technical slavery in their own lives so as to have the freedom to complain about it is easily seen. If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for the rest of us to accept and to go on to the bigger questions of freedom of the will to power of the individual mind and soul. For example, even for Jacques Ellul, he had his chance explicitly to fight the last explicit imposition of technical slavery upon the world during World War II; he instead spent it making a good living as a potato farmer in Vichy France selling his product into the high demand created by TS and its World War II so he could survive to be critical of TS once liberated. Vichy France provided post-modernist hero Foucault with the formal education and the freedom to engage in his sexual escapades so that after liberation he could go on to complain about the West that liberated him and their supposedly destructive and oppressive power over the individual — though apparently he was not really seeking liberation nor needed liberation and could have continued living the life he wanted just as well under the tyranny of fascism or under the tyranny of communism as long as they left him alone to satisfy his sexual desires including sexual needs involving minors. The greats like Sartre, Beauvoir, and even my working class hero Camus and many more preachers of authenticity spent those World War II years — again, the last great opportunity for explicitly struggling against explicit technical slavery — enjoying the cafes of Paris and Marseilles and the critical adulation of both Vichy and German literary critics. These examples are countless. Intellectual proletarians are technical slaves as much as the rest of us but are simply in denial as to their status. Those who were or are not able to accept their technical slave status usually died fighting it either at the hands of others or by their own hand in physical or spiritual suicide.

 
Camus at least during his war years developed the idea of his book The Plague which is being rediscovered in this recent mass hysteria by the intellectual proletarians of the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and some others while completely ignoring — or not realizing — that the plague in The Plague was an allegory for fascism and Stalinist communism. They have also ignored the relevance to the recent mass hysteria of such books as Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. Most definitely, they have not rediscovered Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom (“‘Emergencies’ have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have eroded.”).

 
It is the success of TS in creating freedom from material imprisonment that is its most powerful technique for creating spiritual and mental imprisonment through technical slavery for those who either lack the courage to face this new school type of imprisonment or who enjoy their technical slavery as acceptable mental and spiritual meaning in life. One of the reasons the recent Wuhan Virus has resulted in mass hysteria is because a large proportion of the world population especially in the West has gone their whole life without ever experiencing death or unbearable physical or even deep tragic emotional pain or emotional isolation from society and most definitely without experiencing actual plague, pestilence, famine, war, or anything approaching catastrophic social collapse. This is good; as I have said before, given a choice between my child growing up in a world of violence in which by necessity only the strong and the fittest survive accustomed to the traumatic misery of life or of their growing up in a peaceful world in which all survive and the strongest must by choice work at being fit and strong to the traumatic misery of life, I will always prefer the latter peaceful option. In the latter, the pragmatic reality is that the weak as well as the strong will survive thus perhaps weakening the chances of survival for all and the chances of our exploring, discovering, and conquering the universe; but, since one never knows whether you or your children will be among the weak or the strong, if possible, my love for myself and for them would prefer the latter option. T.S. makes the latter option more practically possible, acceptable, and workable than in any prior time in history.

 
So, given that acceptance of technical slavery is necessary to be a victor in TS and thus in life, it is not something of which workers should be ashamed or be ridiculed as bad faith lack of authenticity or whatever ridicule elitists have of those who are not their gods. The important question is what freedom of choice does nihilist Acceptance of this new school slavery give to those who have the courage to confront the mental and spiritual aspects of this technical slavery? The answer is that there is a will to power freedom of mind and soul possible for the technical slave. It is founded on a new school nihilist version of the old school concept once know as theological agnosia from the philosophy of Pseudo-Dionysius or Dionysius the Areopagite: “unknowing” or agnosia is not ignorance or absence of knowledge as ordinarily understood but rather the knowledge that no language can express that which is beyond and above language.  TS will always have gods who know what ought to have ultimate value and how others ought to live their lives. For the rest of us, the power of our will to power is to live without knowing either. The gods of TS will always convert their knowledge of good and evil into morality and ethics with its final attribute of violence. For the rest of us, the power of our will to power is to live without this knowledge and without this attribute.

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Virus Supplemental Part I

The individual is in a dilemma: either he decides to safeguard his freedom of choice, chooses to use traditional , personal, moral, or empirical means, thereby entering into competition with a power against which there is no efficacious defense and before which he must suffer defeat; or he decides to accept technical necessity, in which case he will himself be the victor, but only by submitting irreparably to technical slavery. In effect he has no freedom of choice. — Ellul, Jacques. “The Technological Society”. Vintage Books: N.Y., N.Y. (1963) p. 84.

 

The last few weeks of mass hysteria have been a rich source of contemplation for me. Some of which will be covered here. Part of this series of essays will be an “I told you so” since I rarely in life have a chance to express this sentiment and never expected to see my prior predictions come to life in my lifetime. Part will be a supplemental contemplation on my primary concern throughout these podcast essays: what freedom if any do wage slaves, slaves either materially or spiritually, have while ruled by the gods of Technological Society? The latter contemplation has been further enlightened by my being stuck at home with the time to re-read a book I last read in my childhood: All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt: N.Y., N.Y. 1996). In the years since my first reading of it, I gradually lost faith in fiction as a source of anything but aesthetics serving more to hide reality than reveal it and thus completely forgot that this novel has my most favorite ending of any novel I ever read even though I completely disagree with the meaning expressed by this ending:

The creation of man whom God in His foreknowledge knew doomed to sin was the awful index of God’s omnipotence. For it would have been a thing of trifling and contemptible ease for Perfection to create mere perfection. To do so would, to speak truth, be not creation but extension. Separateness is identity and the only way for God to create, truly create, man was to make him separate from God Himself, and to be separate from God is to be sinful. The creation of evil is therefore the index of God’s glory and His power. That had to be so that the creation of good might be the index of man’s glory and power. But by God’s help. By His help and in His wisdom. “All The King’s Men” at pp. 658-59.

 

The above simple expression describing in its simplicity a meaning upon which some theologies have written entire books of verbiage and yet have failed to express with such beauty is to be admired regardless of one’s opinion of its value. It is truly a work of art in its purest form created from words. The essays collected here have been a conceptual contemplation of the social conversion of chattel slavery into wage slavery and its implications for those who are the new school slaves of Technological Society. Unlike mainstream modern and post-modern philosophy and theology who criticize this social construction while being instrumental in creating and maintaining it, I have accepted it as a necessary attribute of Technological Society. Class struggle while hopeless and ultimately destined and fated to be a loss for the individual fighting its power is necessary so we can all be a “victor” in the ultimate struggle we all share to survive the indifference of the universe to our survival. If you choose life, you necessarily choose Acceptance of your social class in life and the struggles it entails. For the individual who does not allow themselves to be cheapened into an aesthetic struggle between a fictional Self and a fictional Other, this struggle necessarily entails nihilism as a metaphysics and as a morality.

 
The following is a thought I expressed in my first published book Existential Philosophy of Law and further highlighted in subsequent writings:

As George Orwell wrote in 1984, in order for the Powers to keep their powers, it is not enough for hoi polloi simply to accept Big Brother, they must love Big Brother. Through law and its Powers, our Technological Society is bringing to life O’Brien and his Room 101, but it is not a room with a rat cage but a sterile, pleasantly decorated, warm, friendly room with a surround sound of legality and illegality negating conscious, complex tragedy in the classical sense: replacing it with fear, hatred, and the joy or pain of either winning or losing but without dignity of emotion nor deep or complex sorrow and thought while at the same time denying the truth that 2 + 2 by definition makes four.

As a result of recent events, even after this virus debacle is over, the present and future for wage slaves will be living and working in a Room 101 more commonly known as “WFH” (Working From Home) with all the necessary pleasantries and attributes for making such bearable. In the past, there was a differentiation between house slaves and field slaves. The future of class struggle is a differentiation between WFH wage slaves and the field wage slaves who will be serving their needs. The overseers who make up the Outer Party class will still exist to assure these two groups of slaves are busy fighting each other so as not to bother the Inner Party.  So, uh, I told you so.

 
Such WFH future will be more than bearable, it will be pragmatically better in almost every way by which such matters are now judged by those with the power to judge: 1) it will allow for proper social distancing to avoid communicable diseases; 2) no more miserable commutes back and forth to work and the associated wasted resources and time such commuting causes not only for individuals but for society; 3) reducing the cost of doing business by transferring overhead costs over to employees without need of paying higher wages; 4) no more expensive commercial leases for office and business space or at least greatly reduced lease expenses for such space; 5) allowing for both home and work to be located almost anywhere instead of being forced into crowded cities and their urban problems, high cost of living, and associated misery and disease spread; 6) allow for a cleaner and better social and natural environment for all who are naturalized to it while also allowing for better control and management of any social outcastes; 7) no more having to deal in-person and personal with the miserable struggles for power between the Self and the Other. When the Other is simply an image or a voice in a Searlean Chinese Room, it is simple and easy to resolve the conflict: you just close the screen or turn the computer off. If you do have an Other at your WFH, they will be roommates, significant others, spouses, or whoever you choose or reject and not those chosen by your employers without your input. In almost every technological material way, the reality of WFH and what is now considered artificial or virtual reality is pragmatically better than having to deal with the actual reality of personal and physical contact and especially the natural world. Eventually, VR and even the well-marketed AI will be considered and be used as meaning for “personal contact” in the same way the fictions of physics such as “atomic particles” and many other fictions in the sciences and the pseudo-sciences varying from “evolution” to the “sub-conscious” are now considered more real than the reality of what we actually experience. Already for most of the humanities, words such as the Self, the Other, Whiteness, and Blackness, are more real than any white or black person or any individual person or any particular state of affairs or experience actually perceived and experienced.

 
However, in my contemplations, I expected such a Room 101 reality to come to be in the same way reality is usually created in history: gradually over time or as the result of a natural catastrophe such as earthquakes or volcanoes or something similar. (But, not as a result of war. War is lawless. Because law in Technological Society has a monopoly on violence, any war that occurs would consist of legal acts of violence and thus not really be war just the rule of law exercising its power; the only acts of war that will occur will be individual acts of violence by fanatics who are outside of society and thus cannot socially construct social power.) Recent events have proven me wrong on this expectation. I greatly underestimated the power and the Powers of Technological Society.

 

Within a matter of just the past few weeks, the Powers and their technicians of Technological Society have been able to construct socially a new world order consisting of a WFH Room 101 reality not only without a bang but even without a whimper. Sure, armed police and military are around to highlight this new world order, but they were and are not necessary. People have just marched into their new WFH Room 101 reality willingly, knowingly, and without complain like the banality of good expects of them — heck, even the bad people and the banality of evil have gone along with it. It is both amazing and scary to watch. As with much of Technological Society, its power is a much more impressive creation than anything the natural world has created or prior history has created — except of course for us. Natural creation requires a bang; Technological Society has now reached the point where like a god it creates naturally and by extension — both the Self and the Other become a virtual unity while the individual self and other individuals are still completely separate but irrelevant in reality. Diversity is maintained physically while completely eliminated where it matters. It is what all post-modern social justice theory both liberal and conservative has always wanted: an orderly and peaceful world under the rule of law in which any violence not naturalized to the rule of law is restricted to the spiritual purgatory or hell that may be the existential soul of the expendable individual and is thus irrelevant.

 
I will also say “I told you so” on the technique used for achieving this Brave New World: 1) by a random and arbitrary will to power of the Powers; 2) by the existential Heart of Darkness in all of us. I have gotten into greater detail on these two concepts in other writings (Existential Philosophy of Law and  An Existential Meta-Ethics) but will summarize how they have been at work in the last few weeks.

 
The pragmatic work of finding treatments and cures for the recent Wuhan Virus as for any virus or for any problem requires pragmatic descriptions that can be used to solve such problems. However, as any nihilist should know by now, it is a complete waste of time to seek explanations for the normative classification of the Wuhan Virus as a pandemic or for the normative social actions taken, either voluntarily or forced upon society by governments, as a result of such classification. All non-existential knowledge is pragmatic: something is true and objective to the extent it solves a problem. As recently as the first week of March, there was no agreement among major health organizations including among the so-called experts at the World Health Organization as to how to define “pandemic” nor how to combat one if the definition is agreed upon and satisfied — there still is no agreement. These disagreements and their history are readily available on the internet. Calling something a pandemic, epidemic, or any such classification intended not to solve a problem but to create normative value for a problem is itself normative and is thus created recursively or based on implicit or explicit assumed axioms. Any such classification is not required foundationally by any premises argued as logically required by that classification. If you believe something to be a pandemic, you will find statistics to support your belief. If you believe something is not a pandemic, you will find statistics to support your belief. Your belief decides what statistics are relevant and material and not the other way around. Likewise, the normative determination of what actions to take in response to a pandemic are created arbitrarily and randomly by those with the power to make these determinations and are then justified by reference to statistics and not the other way around. For some forever unknown reason, the technicians and the Powers-that-be of Technology Society decided that this year they would call the Wuhan Virus a pandemic and decided the normative value of controlling its spread through government destruction of the world economy and of personal individual freedoms in the United States was of greater value than suffering deaths by the virus to avoid the deaths and other harms that would result from economic collapse and failure to protect those freedoms.

 

As a historical contemplation, it would be nice and fun to contemplate why Technological Society used this particular virus instead of some other problem to make its leap into the next stage of its historical development just like it would be nice to know why history led to the World Wars I and II and not some other world wars. However, as with any historical event, no one will ever know exactly why this-instead-of-that occurred and any answers will be pragmatically useless because history does not repeat itself. Always remember the nihilist motto: reality does not happen for a reason, it just happens.

 
What is most definitely existentially true and thus objectively true by the nature of our existential Heart of Darkness is that the pandemic classification and the normative actions taken were not altruist: the mass hysteria of the last few weeks was not done out of unselfish caring for the weak, elderly, sick, or the innocent children of the world or as a result of some kind of “innate goodness” in the Powers who control social construction. It is descriptively true based on historical experience that there will be an internationally spread flu or some other virus every year that will kill at least >600,000 people almost all of whom will consist of either the weak, elderly, sick, or innocent children. In 2019, on average 15,000 children under the age of 5 died every day as a result of malnutrition, under nutrition, or outright starvation — a figure that will most certainly go up this year as a result of global economic collapse. One guided solely by altruism could make a very rational argument that every day should have a pandemic declared and that all of world society should consist of being one big hospital entirely dedicated to taking care of the weak, elderly, sick, or innocent. Why the Powers randomly and arbitrarily decided to pick the Wuhan Virus to create temporarily such a world so as to change world culture is a mystery and will remain so but without doubt it resulted from a will to power not from altruism. The Outer Party government officials enforcing the Inner Party’s will to power of Technological Society through forcing house imprisonment, unemployment, and loss of small businesses as a result of declaring a pandemic upon the world are doing so because they have nothing to lose and are not themselves suffering — for the moment and so they think. If the enforcers of a “pandemic” were themselves thrown into unemployment, economic loss, and imprisonment by the declaration of a “pandemic”, it would never have been declared.

 
Unfortunately, the news is full of examples of this will to power at work. One of the most disgusting examples was given by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. I am old enough to remember his father former Governor of New York Mario Cuomo whose political success I followed because he was expected at one point to become the first Italian-American presidential candidate and perhaps even first President. I am Italian by birth and Italian-American by social construct. Mario Cuomo always struck me as being a psychopath. Unlike the other Mario Cuomo son who works at CNN and who seems pretty much to be an idiot, this son Andrew is no idiot and seems to have followed in the psychopathic footsteps of his father as exhibited by his cold-blooded and hypocritical ability to justify based on Christian love his exercise of government power to violate every federal and state constitutional protection there is against tyrannical exercise of government power. Specifically, he chastised those who oppose his actions by preaching about his love for his 74, 84, or whatever year old (forgot how old she is) mother and his Christian sense of love and duty to protect all elderly and the defenseless weak, sick, and innocent children endangered by the Wuhan Virus. This dude like his father is supposedly a practicing Christian and a power in the New York Christian community who has no problem supporting infanticide in the form of abortion and signed new law authorizing abortion as late as the last trimester of a pregnancy — something his father had no problem doing also. So, yeah right, he respects the life of the elderly, weak, and sick because they are innocently helpless to defend themselves but has no problem with killing the ultimate defenseless and innocent life of a prenatal infant in order to help his political career.

 

Dudes like these controlling the pandemic classification and response would knowingly and intentionally kill any one of us if it would give them just a slight increase in godly power over us and are what made extermination camp management possible and efficient. They care nothing for saving life or for taking life unless it gives godly meaning to their own life. Unfortunately, they are common in the Christian community as its “leaders”. No doubt, for example, the famed St. Augustine (a fricken Saint no less) and his ability after half-a-life of sinful debauchery to find his salvation in his faith that included justifying infant damnation was of the same psychopathic soul as this Cuomo family. Nietzsche would love their will to power as that of his Übermensch but I place their likes at the same level as that of psychopathic scum.

 
So, getting an explanation of the new world order in Technological Society is irrelevant. It happened for the same existential nihilist reasons everything happens in life: the random and arbitrary indeterminate nature of the universe and our existential Heart of Darkness. The big question is what now? For the wage slave now living life in the WFH Room 101 of Technological Society or out in the field serving these new school WFH slaves: must they also love this new life as victors submitting irreparably to technical slavery?

 

Picking Your Battles

History is class struggle, but within this class struggle exist the individual struggles that make up our lives. In these individual struggles, one must pick and choose the right battles to fight or not to fight in order to have any chance to survive getting involved in the class struggle. There is an interesting historical anecdote about General Robert E. Lee regarding his life after the Civil War. At a mass at his local Southern Episcopal Church right after the War, at communion time the first person to get in line to receive communion was an elderly Black man recently freed from slavery as a result of the War; this was the congregation’s first encounter with the supposedly new integrated South and it simply sat in stunned silence with no one knowing what to do. Until, one elderly but distinguished man got up from his pew and got into line behind the Black man; then, others joined the communion line. According to the story, the man second in line was the recently discharged veteran General Lee. At some point, even after the greatest and most hateful of struggles, if one actually believes in life more than death as meaning in life, one has got to let go and get on with life. Unlike the concepts of race and racism, getting involved in language self-identity battles — be they sex, gender, feminist, or whatever — are not battles worth fighting and should be let go quickly if begun. Once one accepts that language including its words and the meaning of its words is a social construct, it is conceptually inconsistent, holistically illogical, and practically hypocritical and wasteful to engage in individual battles of self-identity either with the proverbial Self or any of the so-called Other or Others and to get involved with self-identity politics unless they have a class struggle component. Fighting worthless battles distracts and detracts from the class struggle that really does ultimately identify and define us.

 
I have contemplated elsewhere the reality of self-identity. The existential reason for one’s existence that makes up one’s soul or the spiritual reality of the proverbial Self precedes the social construction of language and is not something of which we can speak in language — except perhaps at best indirectly or implicitly through the illusions and delusions of aesthetics. The battle for one’s soul and its demons will always be a private battle fought in silence. But, the unfortunate or fortunate reality is also that the meaning of the words “one’s self-identity” or anything similar trying to mean the self-identity of the Self is a social construction created by social construction through the Self’s struggles with Others and by struggles among Others. It is fortunate that there is no self-identified purely private self-identity because if there really were a “self-identity” created only by the Self, there will be no way to avoid solipsism and the possibility that we spend our whole lives talking to ourselves — either as a mind of ideas or as a material brain in a vat. The unfortunate reality is that “one’s self-identity” is what society says it is; you are what Others say you are even if your Self disagrees with it. It is only through the social construction of language that we know we are not alone. Take away social behavior and its resulting language in either direct form or indirect form such as by the experience that makes up memory and there is nothing remaining of “self-identity”. The unfortunate and fortunate reality is that if society and its social construction of language call you or name your identity as a wimp, tomboy, feminine male, masculine female, A or B type personality, as Blackness or Whiteness or whatever race, or as whatever, regardless of how distasteful you find it or how much you dislike being called such words, those words are your identity including your self-identity.

 
Can you try to change your self-identity created by social construction? Yes, struggling for such change is an option. At one time, a social construct “feminine male” for example would start lifting weights, getting involved in physical sports, and be socially aggressive in order to change how social construction identifies them. Now, the option exists to do actual physical surgery converting the physical appearance of someone in order to avoid the “feminine male” identity. The same is true for the reverse. It may work, but it may not. It may occur, as is occurring now, that the concept of “feminine male” will be phased out, be considered bigoted, and replaced by concepts such as transgender or one of the many new socially constructed genders; or, the entire social construct process of assigning feminine and masculine attributes may eventually be phased out in favor of unisex attributes. This latter progression is not that unusual in English because English lacks the grammatical genders contained in Romance Languages such as Latin, French, Italian, and so forth. Unlike these languages, many of our English words and their meanings are and have always been unisex. (As always, the French post-modern and other continental intelligentsia and their worshipers here in American intelligentsia who are so quick to criticize and ridicule English and American language use and usefulness should look at their own glass houses first before throwing stones at ours.) In which case, your new social construct self-identity may be transgender or apparently whatever you want it to be seems to be the new language fad. Regardless, no one controls their self-identity, it is controlled by what social construction is willing to accept. It may be willing to accept only two genders, it may be willing to accept six billion genders; either way, your self-identity is what society and especially its ruling class says it is. Sure you can disagree with it and thus add to the struggle that is life, but is it worth the battle? Is it worth the battle for your Self to fight with the Others who are struggling with their self-identity?

 
Whether one needs or wants to fight their social construct self-identity is a personal struggle all individuals should be free to make. Frankly, if “acceptance” of your self-identity requires that you physically or surgically start cutting off or cutting out healthy parts of your healthy body, I would suggest that you would be better off in acceptance of your social construct self-identity and in the forgetting of whatever your Self’s self-identity may be; however, ultimately, it is your body and your decision to make and you will get no struggle from me on making it.

 
However, what about when this self-identity struggle becomes a public struggle? That is, what about when individuals start demanding social support and perhaps social expenditure upon their individual struggle to change their socially constructed self-identity? This is when intelligent choices need to be on what battles to fight and which not to fight. The guide to use is: first, determine how the battle will affect class struggle; then, if there will be no adverse effect or it will be minimal, go onto more important battles and let the individuals struggle and perhaps even change social construct self-identities.

 
Perfect examples of how this process ought to work are the present ongoing feminist demands and resulting disputes on whether transgenders and the like will be allowed to compete athletically with their social construct opposites or to use their bathrooms — such as allowing transgender females to compete in women’s sports and to use women’s bathrooms and the reverse though the reverse seems to be much less common. This is simply a battle not worth fighting. If feminists really want transgender females to compete in women’s sports, let them. The worse that can happen is that the transgender females will win. This is not a class struggle; if women have a problem with feminists advocating and successfully getting want they want in society, let them work it out among themselves. Similarly, there is the issue of bathroom use. Feminists want transgender females to use female bathrooms, fine, let them. If this is a problem, let them work it out among themselves, it is not a class struggle. I have no problem with a transgender male using a male bathroom with me; compared to some of the things I saw in public bathrooms growing up in the Chicago area and while in the Navy, I doubt this would even raise an eyebrow if I saw it (try imagining what a Navy shipboard crew’s head looks like after sanitary tanks were inadvertently blown inboard instead of outboard — not a pretty site or smell). If you are concerned about a daughter who might not feel safe in such a public bathroom with a transgender female, teach her to deal with it as necessary. A truly independent woman should be able to deal with and know how to feel and be safe in a lot worse things and experiences in life then what may be or may not be a dude using her public restroom. When the feminists start feeling unsafe in their bathrooms, they will quickly abandon the transgender source of their discomfort anyway and amend feminist dogma so as to oppose it.

 
The same is usually true of most feminist struggles: better just give them what they want and avoid the battle. Feminists want women to be treated equally as men treat each other? Fine, treat them so. Men treat each other very badly is the reality of the patriarchy; if feminists want the same treatment, fine. Such surrender to the feminist struggle is much better than the present state of affairs in which feminists want and usually get all the benefits of being in control of a patriarchy without any of the adversities. They want forced affirmative action so that 50% of all professions such as doctors, lawyers, and academics are women; fine, use the same force also to make 50% of all soldiers, sailors, and first responders women.

 
One self-identity battle that is worth fighting is the self-identity politics of Whiteness and Blackness. Here we are 150 years after General Lee got in line beyond someone identified at the time as a Black man; it is universally accepted that race defined by skin color is an unnecessary social construct so that no man or any person should any longer be identified as Black or White; and yet concepts such as Blackness and Whiteness are still fueling all sorts of trouble and racism. They do so because race and racism not only are social constructs maintaining a ruling class but are also economic social constructs that make money for the ruling class and its intelligentsia thus not only conceptually but materially are empowering the ruling class. As I have written in other essays, sycophants and intellectual proletariats such as Ta-Nehisi Coates get rich and become ruling class elitists by complaining about race and racism and would be nothing without them; thus, they have no incentive to eliminate them, and they promote new school race and racism as the source of meaning for their lives. “Race is more than a biological category or a social category. It has become an industry, with its own infrastructure, branches, incentives and agendas.” — Sowell, Thomas. Intellectuals and Race. p. 128. Fighting both the old school racism of the past and the new school racism of the present new school racists such as Coates and the like is not an individual struggle of self-identity but class struggle that must be fought.

Water As A Person, Huh?

I recently inadvertently came across an article in the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law arguing for treatment of water as a person under the law in order to give it many if not all of the protections granted persons under the law. I skimmed it and had a good laugh but it then occurred to me how this article is a good exemplification or microcosm of the nature of modern language and of various topics in the philosophy of language such as the absence of any “meaning” for words other than their use and usefulness in any given context.

 
For the moment, water most definitely does not fall into any meaning of “person” except in an aesthetic sense created by poets or rhetoric. However, the same could have been said at one time for entities, concepts, attributes, or things such as corporations, unincorporated companies and associations, trusts, municipalities, states, and even the European Union which is now considered a “person” under much of European law. Hell, even rivers are recognized as persons in some African national legal systems and in tribal legal systems in other countries — even New Zealand does it for one of their rivers in respect of Maori tribal law worshiping a specific river as an ancestor. So, why not add water to the list of human and non-human entities recognized as persons by the law? Why stop at water? Why not treat fire, mountains, the sky, or anything else needing legal protection as a person? The Maori culture historically also worships ritual warfare, slavery, cannibalism, sexual abuse of women, killing of female children, and revenge killings, why does not New Zealand recognize any of these as persons needing respect under the law? Obviously, the cultural process by which words change meaning is convoluted yet it is amazing and impressive how smoothly and quickly such changes can occur when those in power want to change the meaning of words — even when the changes encompass or assume radical changes both in the background and in the foundation metaphysics and physics of reality. An obvious example of such radical changes in both metaphysics and physical conceptualizations of reality is the recent popular and very powerful adoption of radical changes in both metaphysical and physical meanings of the words “gender” and “sex” over a period of only the last few years. Despite this convoluted process, there can be described two universal aspects to this process of meaning change brought out by this simple example of water beginning its path to becoming a person: 1) it results from an teleological act of a will to power not from logical reasoning nor is it derived from sense experience; 2) the resulting change in meaning though it relies upon physical and metaphysical assumptions does not embody either physical or metaphysical foreknowledge — that is regardless of how ethically and thus aesthetically pleasing the change in meaning may be, the change in meaning will not necessarily change reality to meet the teleological motivations for the change so as to be pragmatically or even naturally true.

 
Reasoning does not care what specific premises, axioms, or whatever assumptions are used to begin one’s reasoning. Reasoning is at best a process or methodology for preserving truth however one defines truth not for gaining knowledge of truth. If one starts with true premises, axioms, or assumption, sound reasoning will preserve that truth and valid reasoning will assure it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. However, reasoning cannot guarantee one is starting the reasoning process with truth.

 
Nothing in reality or sense experience requires an axiom, premise, or assumption treating water as a person. If one believes water needs to be treated as a person, for whatever reasons one believes this, this set or context of beliefs gives one the teleological or normative goal of having the use and usefulness of the word “water” be the same as the use or usefulness of the word “person” within that context or set of beliefs. The ultimate goal is to give water the same power as a person in our reasoning. If this act of will has the power of violence upon others, especially a monopoly on violence such as the law, this act of will can be compelled upon others to force them to have the same belief in water as a person in order to achieve the teleological or normative goals for the change in meaning. For example, the argument for treating water as a person usually begins with the premises that water is necessary for all persons to live and to enjoy life and that the abundance and purity of water is being threatened by technological pollution of water thus threatening human life. These premises can be derived directly from sense experience. There are then an uncountable number of conceptual options for dealing with these empirical problems. One option is the teleological or normative goal of treating water as a person legally, ethically, or even pragmatically. This is a creative option that is both aesthetically and normative pleasing but is not derived from sense experience but derived existentially and conceptually in the same holistic way we derive “I am therefore I think” and “I think therefore I want more than just thinking” as I have contemplated in other essays. Acceptance of this creative option creates the law and ethics and even the facts to justify itself and not the other way around: the conclusion and supporting facts are created by the act of will wanting water to be a person in the same way any act of will is created. It is not the case that facts lead to the teleological normative goal but the facts are created to justify that goal. An explanation of the creation of this act of will is not something of which we can speak within any language wordgame other than that of intention and will because this existential act of will precedes language as I have contemplated in other essays

 

Even the simple act of will of raising my left arm at this precise moment cannot be explained empirically or conceptually in any way but as an act of will or intentional act. Science can talk all it wants about neurons in the brain being activated that then activate electrical and chemical signals in nerves that extend into my arm but none of these explanations describe why or how “I” activated the neurons to begin this process of raising my left arm nor the nature of this “I” that started this process of raising my hand.

 
Once our act of will successfully leads to a change in meaning, the change will not necessarily change reality so as to achieve the teleological or normative goal for making the change — though it might. Reality is still what it is and we cannot lose sight of this fact. Conceptually, at present “person” has more power than “water”. By making water a person, though this raises the power of water to equality with a person in our conceptualization of reality, because all power is relative this equality means reducing the power of person to the same as that of water in our conceptualization of reality. What effect this will to power for water at the expense of person will have on the pragmatics of our conceptualization of reality is an unknown. Just as when the Supremes in their wisdom made corporations “persons” for many constitutional purposes, this change in meaning strengthened the power of corporations but weakened that of persons in the sense that persons were no longer more powerful than corporations. Perhaps the best example of such distinction is abortion. Making a “fetus” mean the same as “choice” is a result of the teleological normative goal of giving a pregnant woman the power of life or death over a certain form of life. The reality of that form of life and its death have not changed by this change in meaning and the final effect of such a change in meaning upon a society that allows and enforces it by violence is unknown. As the philosopher Thomas Nagel said about evolutionary explanations for morality:

Even if we took the most optimistic view possible, and assumed that in general men’s consciences have been approximately molded by evolutionary forces, the best we could hope for is that they should lay down principles which have been useful. Unlike the God it has replaced, natural selection cannot be supposed to possess or to embody foreknowledge.

If the human race perishes in a nuclear war, it may well be (although there will be no one alive to say it) that scientific beliefs did not, in a sufficiently long time scale, promote “survival”. Yet that will not have been because the scientific theories were not rationally acceptable, but because our use of them was irrational. In fact, if rationality were measured by survival-value, then the proto-beliefs of the cockroach, who has been around for tens of millions of years longer than we, would have a far higher claim to rationality than the sum total of human knowledge.

 

We can see these two aspects present and being ignored in the recent and ongoing arguments for the meaning of “sex” and “gender”. Empirically, the word gender was taken from linguistics and incorporated into problems dealing with differences among the male and female sexes by psychiatrists dealing with individuals who were hermaphrodites, androgynous, or had other unusual sexual characteristics such as bodies that appear female but have XY chromosomes. As with all words, even the word “sex” commonly used to mean a distinct biological male/female distinction has some vagueness and ambiguity as is true of all words because language is a social construct whose meaning is dependent on the context of its use and usefulness. Empirically and scientifically, defining sex involves many factors of physical attributes, chemicals in the body, and even conceptual genetic combinations that are not as clear and distinct as is commonly assumed. We could have more than two biological sexes: 1) male; 2) female; 3) hermaphrodites; 4) intersex (androgynous); 5) gonadal dysgenesis (women with xy chromosomes); 6) infertile persons; and probably some more if we really wanted them.

 
No one wanted more than two and there was no reason to do so until the 1970’s when feminists picked up on this sex/gender distinction to try to break the association of what they considered to be socially constructed male behaviourial characteristics with the male sex and of what they considered to be socially constructed female behaviourial characteristics with the female sex. As with the water/person meaning change, this feminist theory had a teleological normative goal of empowering the female sex by eliminating what they considered to be an unequal power balance in favor of the male sex so as to supposedly equalize power between the sexes. Regardless of whether one disputes the soundness or validity of their arguments, in the last few years these arguments and their teleological normative goals have been accepted by the law, academia, and ethics along with the assumed metaphysics and physics that justifies the change in meaning of gender for now but eventually also for sex. As I wrote in my previous essay Not Utopian But Heavenly, the ultimate goal of this assumed dogmatic metaphysics and physics appears to be not a utopia but a heaven on earth socially constructed consisting of angelic humans equal sexually because there will be no sex. Thanks to this teleological process taking over the monopoly on violence called the law, such a genderless and sexless society in which everyone is their own gender creating their own sex seems to be our future for the foreseeable future absence some catastrophe or revolution.

 
What effect will these changes in meaning for sex and gender have upon reality? Despite everyone involved pretending to know, just as no one knows what the result of making water a person will be, no one really knows what the result will be of  changing the meanings of sex and gender will be. Despite our inability unambiguously to define “sex” empirically as is true for all definitions because all words are vague social constructs, in all known sense experience there are two and only two sexes for purposes of reproduction which is a fairly important aspect of reality. These two — male and female sexes — are necessary for persons to reproduce and thus for societies to continue living. Heaven may be sexless but heaven does not need physically to reproduce. Even for test tube babies we need a male and a female contribution to the tube. Of course, life was not always divided into male and female. For hundreds of millions of years and perhaps billions of years, life consisting of single cell and even multiple cell individual lives reproduced and prospered without two sexes or any sex, there was only individuals. This seems to be the future desired by those who presently control our social will to power to change meaning in the wordgame language of sex and gender: a world of individuals defining their own sex and gender. The Powers have the will to power to achieve this just as they soon will be doing with the wordgame language of water and person, but will this change in language succeed in changing reality? If reality does not go along with our language telling it what to do, what then? Maybe the proto-beliefs of the cockroach will give them the last laugh on all of us.

Charity Not Love

The word love is everywhere these days. From the actual and seriously taken presidential campaign of Marianne Williamson to all popular secular and religious philosophies. (Personally, I loved Williamson’s campaign — for great comic relief if for nothing else. She seem to be the only real person in the whole bunch.) Love is seen as the answer to all problems involving human relations in almost any form. So, why is not “love” listed in any of the classical virtues going back to Plato’s Republic nor in the list of Western theological virtues? These two sets of virtues total seven and consist of prudence, justice, temperance, courage (or fortitude), faith, hope, and charity. It is with good reason love is excluded and I am getting tried of hearing about love as if it is a cure-all. When everyone seems to agree on a concept, one should immediately be suspicious of it as either a delusion or a con.

 
As I contemplated in my essay asking Why Does God Hate the Poor: Can God Love? Part III , love is a self-centered act and one side of a two sided coin in which hate is the other side. One cannot know love if one does not know hate and the reverse. Love is the relationship we have to that which gives meaning to our life; hate is the relationship we have to that which denies meaning to our life. Love is the answer? To what? What is the question? So, love of money, power, sex, rape, child molestation, your tribe, or the almost uncountable number of acts most people would call evil and which the evil love are answers to evil? If you love your neighbor must you not hate if not the evil person who hurts them but the evil acts that hurt them? Must you not hate evil acts? According to those who preach love is the answer, you must hate and punish racism, sexism, fascism, and much more in order to be a truly loving person. Love is not the answer but only an answer to certain specific problems. Even assuming it is somehow possible to love your enemies, loving their evil acts only helps your enemies do evil to you and to others and to spread their evil acts — however you define evil. By definition, to love truly, you must hate the evil acts of those you love to help them see the Good.

 
As is often true, the Ancients and the Medieval Scholastics were wiser than much of modern philosophy in their contemplations and so they intelligently left “love” out of their list of virtues to instead include Charity. Charity is considered a theological virtue because supposedly it cannot occur naturally, it is a gift from God in which a person sees God and other persons not as a means to an end — such as achieving meaning in one’s life — but simply as an end-in-itself. It is not a two-sided coin as is love and hate. Its absence is not uncharity or the state of being uncharitable but is simply its negation or absence — just as nothingness does not replace being as an state of existence but is simply nothing regardless of what Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, or their worshipers otherwise preach in their aesthetics.

 
Is Charity a meaningful concept existentially or in any pragmatic form or is it itself simply aesthetics? Is it used and useful only in the same way as the words “Pegasus”, “the Self”, “the Other”, or any of the other uncountable amount of words available for preachers of certain ethics and moralities to use to promote their self-centered images of how the world ought to be? Does it have pragmatic value for nihilism? Maybe. At a minimum, it gives us a word to use and is useful for pointing out the absurdity and the shallowness of the omnipresence of “love” in present society as another false god. Nihilists can do better than love.