What’s My Class? Part II

The previous contemplated attributes of class and of working class posers are relatively minor, the big one is Doublethink ethics. Orwell’s Doublethink “means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them” as true. As contemplated previously, the ruling class in any social construct consists of those that can define what ought to be and force their normative reality on the remainder. However, they are not obvious in this use of force, it is hidden behind what they call ethics and its own Doublethink by which they hold two contradictory moral beliefs simultaneously, accept both of them as true, and force both normative realities upon others by violence if need be as true and moral. By belief here I am using Pragmatism’s definition of belief: beliefs are rules of action. The ruling classes in any given social construct come by Doublethink naturally and hide it naturally, so much so that usually they do not even know they are speaking Doublethink and would view anyone accusing them of speaking it as either insane or as immoral and unethical. The ruling class and posers pretending not to be in the ruling class of any given social construct use Doublethink ethics that can best be described by example.

 
I recently had the misfortune of being in a class at NYU in which Visiting Scholar Dawn Chan had the class read Dennis Cooper’s book review in Bookforum of Larry Clark’s book The Perfect Childhood as an example of good, ethical, aesthetically pleasing humanist writing. In this review, Mr. Cooper tells how this book reminded him of a young, “white-trash street-hustler”, homeless, derelict, young drug addict he used to pay for homosexual sex and how he can still taste him now in more recent casual sex he has. According to the book review, the white trash hustler died of an overdose at age 24. Not only did the class not see a problem with any of this, but they went on to examine how this “relationship” between the older Cooper and the young drug addict was probably important to both their lives and that it is more important to “have loved and lost” than never to have loved at all.

 
Now, imagine what would have happened if I had some old-school Asiatic fleet sailor write and read to the class a book review gloating about a young, Filipino, derelict, drug addicted, female, street hooker he used for sex who died of an overdose and how a book reminds him and gives him the taste of that sex? Would this be accepted as a relationship involving “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” or simply for what it was: an act of oppression and power but at least it was one occurring between two social equals in the misery of life. In Mr. Clark’s case it was an upper class older patrician using a young man he considered “white trash” purely for sexual purposes. Why is the former immoral and unethical oppression but the latter not? Not only was the latter acceptable, it was treated as a moral and ethical good.

 
Do not waste time trying to understand it; it cannot be understood. Contradictions held simultaneously allow for everything to be true and false simultaneously. There are an uncountable number of contradictions in this example and in ruling class morality and ethics that ultimately are simply ruling class ideology enforced by violence but that are all accepted and held as true. This Doublethink in ethics is not a sign of being insane but of being ruling class. One of the omnipresent contradictions in present ruling class ideology and ethics that they will enforce by violence whenever they can is that white males are by definition oppressors in all possible worlds unless they are gay in which case they are beautiful oppressed persons regardless of their acts and regardless of either the individual or social consequences of those acts.

 
Unfortunately, for the working class, most of our morals and ethics are inherited. It has to be. We are too busy trying to survive when we are young to start questioning the morality and ethics of the only persons who are trying to help us survive in life consisting of the small social group around us. As contemplated before, we cannot survive and battle the universe alone. Furthermore, we need to think rationally in order to survive; holding contradictions to be true so as to make everything true or false is great for aesthetic truth and its power but is worthless if you actually have work and a job to do that needs to solve problems and be done and accomplished at some point so that one can get paid. As the lyrics to the song “Working Class Hero” state, by the time you are old enough to do anything about your ethical inheritance, it is too late:

As soon as you’re born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool
Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules

When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear

 

The ruling class and its posers do not have this problem. For them, almost from their first acts of reason and language, they understand the world ought to be what they want it to be, and can have this understanding without it in anyway risking their chances of survival. So, for example, to our present ruling class the couple Barack and Michelle Obama represent an oppressed minority even though for eight years they were the most powerful couple in the world. Anyone that can Doublethink in this way and do it so naturally that they do not hesitate nor give any indication of doubt are truly either upper class posing as oppressed, completely class clueless, or one of their house servants kissing up to the Powers.

What’s My Class? Part I

It was always a fad in the United States to say that one worked their way up from the working class. Even President Trump tried it during his campaign but his inheritance of three thousand apartment units in Queens kinda ruined that, so he stuck to sounding as if he did — he does a great job of it. The latest fad is to be oppressed. Everyone is doing it. The point of this blog contemplation is not to promote class or classism as oppression or as an excuse for anything that goes wrong in society or in one’s life. My purpose is to describe class as it is as a fact of reality in the same way physics must accept the four basic forces — gravitational, electromagnetic, strong, and weak — as the means for describing physical interactions. Class is the foundation means for describing social interaction. Racism is a subset of classism. Just as physics may some day do away with the four basic forces to replace them with an alternate theory of physical interactions but it will always have physical interactions, some day we may eliminate racism to replace it with an alternate type of class subset struggle but we will always have class struggle. Unlike Marxism and its progeny, this contemplation does not include a means, belief, or contemplation for an eventual proletarian or other revolution that will eliminate class. My desire is for the United States to do what the Roman Republic and then the Roman Empire did: acknowledge class as a necessary attribute for social construct survival and explicitly incorporate it into our normative constructs such as the law instead of living the delusion we are classless and suffering the resulting waste of valuable resources and social energy on this delusion and its associated wasted hate instead of discovering, exploring, and conquering the universe. There are plenty of other things in the universe for which we need the power and clarity of hate other than for hating each other.

 

History is class struggle; eliminate the struggle and we eliminate history. Regardless of any hate I have for specific humans, I do not hate humanity to the point of wanting its historical annihilation. So, I am forced to accept class structure and classism as a necessary part of life. All the known forces of social construction of either quantitative or qualitative progress can be traced to class struggle interactions. There may in fact be a loving God who loves humanity because this is the only ontological means by which to explain how humanity continues to exist and prosper despite having no epistemic and metaphysical clue as to what is going on or what we are doing including being completely ignorant as to the meaning and purpose of our existence. However, it is also undisputedly true that this loving God proved by this existential ontological proof loves some of His creations more than others. Which is fine, He is God, He can do whatever the f__k He wants to do. Ultimately, God is Power. Why God hates the poor is a question contemplated by a separate podcast at Sand Pebbles Podcast / Theology. It is only their hijacking of Christian ideology telling us that God loves us that has given patricians the arrogance to question God by their moral and ethical standards. If one is going to judge God, my demand would be at least to do so with the integrity and honesty of doing it out of the will-to-power clarity of hate and its morality deciding it is better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven instead of hiding behind hidden Christian ideology. The problem with such integrity and honesty in morality and ethics is the same problem that honesty and integrity create in all social constructs: it defeats the will-to-power. It is much easier to achieve power by pretending one does not have a will-to-power.

 

So, everyone wants to be oppressed in order to oppress. We need to find a means, attributes, method, or technique by which to separate the posers from the real thing. In one sense, this is impossible because everyone can find some item of oppression in their lives — even patricians have some misery in their lives. So I must limit myself here to oppression by class. At present in the Eastern world, this is easy to do by economics. If one is still suffering unnecessary famine and disease and living on subsistence farming in the 21st Century earning a few dollars a month, one is by definition oppressed. In the United States, even the poorest live better than most of the world, so this attribute is not a universal but is definitely an accurate one when it applies. Until law hijacked Christian theology, we could use the law as our guide. Chattel slavery of and by all races is an obvious example but there are an uncountable number of means by which the law in history intentionally protected and maintained class oppression. In fact, this is the entire purpose of law, to maintain order and the status quo in the historical class struggle. The oppressed only achieve temporarily victories by illegal acts with the class war always eventually lost to the law; no need for me to quote again Orwell’s 1984 description of the omnipresence of the High, Middle, and Low as I have done previously. The question is what attributes, method, or techniques will give us this needed guide for differentiation? I am going to try to review some specific examples of posing to see if there is a pattern.

 

Coates is a bad example to analyze because he is such an obvious fraud. Even a basic cursory review of his writings and history shows him to be a poser as I have done in previous essays and as many other writers have done. He is only relevant to the extent he serves as a specific attribute of being a poser: anyone that thinks Coates is or has been oppressed is clueless as to the reality of class struggle and thus must be from a patrician class. We need more general guidance.

 

I have recently come across a more subtle example of posing as the oppressed consisting of a speech given by my classmate from Harvard Michelle Obama at a Tuskegee University commencement. The speech contains the usual commencement posturing and nonsense in which Ms. Obama, a Princeton and Harvard Law graduate who grew up upper middle class with educated parents and who after working as a corporate attorney for ten years decided to retire to be the wife of a rich man, gives advice to supposedly oppressed college students that has very little to do with reality but at one point states the following paragraph that can help us:

Instead they will make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world. And my husband and I know how frustrating that experience can be. We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives — the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the “help” — and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country.

Let us go over the “sting” of those “daily slights” suffered throughout their entire lives.

 

“[T]he folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety”. Do not know what neighborhoods she grew up or lived in but it was not any type of working class or other lower class neighborhood of which I have ever known or studied; must be some upper middle class — white, black, or whatever — neighborhoods because they are the only ones that fear black people. Rich white people including those that are black might fear black people but not in my neighborhood. If she or her husband had come to my neighborhood, people would cross the street to confront them, tell them to leave, and physically threaten them if they did not. True racism does not involve fearing blacks or any race, it involves hating them. The same would happen if you had the wrong street colors on or where from a different ethnic neighborhood than the one in which you were in. Growing up, I wanted and wished that greasers and bigots would have had crossed the street when they saw me, it would have made my life much easier. If she really wanted to help the oppressed than she should encourage such fear of them by the oppressors because fear by the oppressor of the oppressed is a good thing; it gives the oppressed leverage to get concessions from the Powers-that-be. Thus, we have the first attribute of posers: if your alleged oppression consists of passive/aggressive acts or of simple verbal abuse, you are not oppressed — oppression must involve physical violence.

 

“[T]he clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores.” If the close eye was not a compliment because she was a good-looking woman but was something insulting or threatening than why did she not say something or at least stare back? Thus, we have the second attribute of posers: they expect others to fight their battles or do their killing for them.

 

“[T]he people at formal events who assumed we were the ‘help’”. I and my family are the help. Despite my present Harvard degree and my having worked my whole life, I still am the help, and I am treated as the help by corporate lawyers like Michelle Obama and her spoiled rich kid patrician husband and now most likely by their children at their private upper class schools. I respect the “help” and being compared to hard-working working class families who have worked their whole lives to support themselves and their families by being the “help” is a compliment not an insult — so f__k you. Thus, we have the third attribute of posers: they have nothing but contempt for the oppressed they pretend to be and pretend they want to help.

 

“[T]hose who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country”. Given the above three attributes, unless you are doing them intentionally, we should be questioning your intelligence and honesty. As to “love of country”, this raises a subtle issue. Patricians are really citizens of the world; ultimately, they all have the same interest of maintaining their power regardless of their country of origin. However, if one of them breaks this code of power, they are also very willing to kill each other to maintain it; or, at least that is how it used to be before modern Technological Society. Now, they no longer need to lead from the front and kill each other off; now, they just kill the citizens of their respective countries and do so from a safe distance using either machines or professionals. President Obama even had no problem with using drones to kill off United States citizens, so he is definitely a citizen of the world. So, I am unclear as to whether this is an attribute, means, method, or technique of patrician power. This question of love of country for the moment is an open issue.

 

So, we have at least these three attributes by which we can distinguish the oppressed from the posers. There may be more, and I will continue to contemplate and look for attributes, means, methods, or techniques for distinguishing posers from the real thing.

No Respect but Fear

One big difference between working class and non-working class and between old school blue collar working class and the modern white collar working class is the present respect and expectation of law and police as being a good. This difference is also one reason I know cosmic justice organizations that are blaming racial problems on institutional racism and white privilege are really a technique by upper class privileged and their intelligentsia to strengthen their power and classism.  Only the non-working class looks at the police and the law as a good to be respected and from which good is expected. As far back as I can remember in detail, I never respected the law nor the police just as no working class person should respect it. I feared it as any working class kid should but never respected it as no working class kid did or should — even in the present white collar working class. This is one major difference between the old school blue collar working class and the new white collar working class. If I ever had any hope for justice, it was for justice in the next life not in this one. Usually, I had no hope for justice just for peace. This is not because the working class is a bunch of dump hillbillies who did not know any better as falsely marketed by a new friend of the upper class J.D. Vance in his book Hillbilly Elegies telling the upper class and its intelligentsia what they want to hear (that the working class is dysfunctional). Our conclusions on law and the police were and are very rational and based on the reality of working class life. I write here as a summary of my life experience.  For a working class person’s analysis of Hillbilly Elegies that is not intended to say only what rich people want to hear, there are critiques such as The Self-Serving Hustle of “Hillbilly Elegy”.

The law was not and is never there when workers need it and when it was there it usually did and does make things worse. Some of this was a technology problem. We did not have 911 growing up. To my memory 911 was not added in Chicago until the early 80’s. So even if you had a burglar breaking through your window in the middle of the night with a gun, your first option was not to call the police. Even if you had memorized the number, which I never did nor knew anyone that did, picking up the rotary phone and dialing seven numbers with the clicking of the dial being heard all through house including the burglar was a fairly stupid option. Unless you had a gun yourself and were willing to use it and risk getting shot yourself or killing someone, the options involved running away, staying quiet hoping they take what they wanted and leave, or yelling to wake up the neighbors hoping one of them would call the police — at which point a rational burglar would leave. If someone jumped you in an alley, you could not pull out your cellphone and call the police. You either avoided the alley, fought back, or gave in. Now the law and police are everywhere and the average person commits three felonies a day without even knowing it. Worse, everyone is accustomed to having this Sword of Damocles the police everywhere and anywhere anything social is occurring.

More important, socially, the police were just another working class group fighting for the same resources we were. They had their turf just as the greasers (gangsters) had their turf. Smart thing to do was just to leave both of them alone as much as possible. If a cop with a gun told you to do something, you did it in the same way you followed the orders of a gangster with a gun. We did not expect reasonableness from either. Many police were former greasers; for many greasers as they got older, it was a choice between being a criminal and being a cop. The smart ones mostly became cops and the dumb ones criminals. That is pretty much how they investigated matters. The cops knew who the bad guys were, it was just a matter of waiting until they screwed up and they eventually always did. Being a cop was much safer though it did not always pay better in those days but the smarter ones found a way to make it pay better as I wrote in my previous blog essay on ethics. We did not have anything to steal and since we did not take vacations there was always someone at home and we did not have to worry about burglary. The big problem was violence inside the home and street violence. The police could not help with the family violence and still cannot except by destroying the family. As far as street violence goes, as long as you did not go out looking for trouble at night (as Ta-Nehisi Coates clearly did in his desire to be a big man in the neighborhood by beating up others and his teachers), you were not completely but fairly safe in terms of criminal violence. The smart and disciplined knew where the trouble was and worked around it or with it. The police and the law were the last not first option if one did need help.

Luckily, I grew up before the upper class introduced illegal drugs into working class communities, so I did not have to watch entire families being torn apart and generations of men jailed for something that should be legal and taxed with medical aid going to the addicted and their families.

Also, by the time I got to high school, I knew enough history to know that most of the good things we and the working class had in life consisting of the eventual union job for my Dad with its better pay and benefits and even basic concepts such as a 40-hour week, weekends, and over-time, double-time, and golden-time pay plus health insurance and a union pension were not the result of the law but of hard-fought physical fighting against the law — almost all of it involved illegal fighting, some of it done with the help of organized crime that was organized enough to take on the law. In fact, most of the successful union organizing and strikes were considered organized crime in their fruition and were prosecuted as a criminal conspiracy by the majesty of the law in the early days of union organizing. This is true throughout history. Capitalism maintains that humans are naturally greedy and compete and thus through this competition in a free market that wealth is created. The problem is that in practice what this means is that it is good for the rich to be naturally greedy. Just like the immigrants who are supposed to come to this country for truth, justice, and the American way not just for material wealth, workers are expected to be simple altruists: being a greedy materialist worker is simply being a greedy materialist worker not a good. Capitalism without doubt does create wealth, but the wealth is not and was never voluntarily distributed in any significant amount to the working class: they took it by violence. I wrote about this history in a previous blog essay dealing with the Haymarket Square riots and the resulting worldwide May Day celebration ignored in the United States.

My Dad’s Local in the Labors’ International Union was well known to have mafia connections and I do not doubt it did. As I stated before, I think the mafia is a bunch of scum. Admitting their involvement in union organizing is not meant to be praise. Their involvement in union organizing was not based on any altruism but purely on economic opportunity. It is not a coincident that union membership, strikes, wages, the 40-hour work week, job security, and the imposition of what is essentially a 24/7 on-call workweek for many white collar workers is occurring at the same time as the disappearance of unions and criminal enterprises strong enough to aid unions to take on the law. I am not saying it is directly associated but it is part of the same process. At the height of labor organizing in the late 19th and 20th Century there were thousands of strikes each year. There were 11 in 2014. There was a time when 30% of the labor force was unionized; it is down to 6% now with most of that government employees such as the police. The anti-union marketing and outright brainwashing have gotten so bad that white collar workers think worse of unions than they do of the law that is creating wage slavery to replace its chattel slavery.

Think about what would have to be accomplished if Millennials, Generation X, and others got tired of burning to death living in old warehouses (as is occurring in Oakland CA) making minimum wage because they could not afford decent apartments and decide to start a union. So, how do you organize one? Where do you get the money to do that? Private equity or venture capital? Unless you have a trust fund that you are willing to risk, there are no legal options for getting financing. Then what? No one cares. You move on anyway. Instead of putting on a mask and going to Berkeley to beat up on each other over gender identity, you go on strike and block the entrance gates of your employers’ place of business and prevent the hiring of new employees. How long do you think that will last? A few hours, a few minutes? You are now terminated from employment; cannot pay your rent and have no money. You do not even qualify for unemployment because you were terminated for cause. Your union and the strike are essentially over a few minutes after it started. Labor organizing is a risky business even in the best of times; there were hundreds of annual strikes during the Depression. Not only were the union organizers facing financial ruin but also facing the police and the army if necessary as strike breakers putting union members in jail not the employers. Both for money, personal protection, and for leverage, many times the only option those union organizers had for help with these necessities was organized crime. In theory, any private contractor in the Chicago area could have hired non-union construction laborers any time they wanted instead of hiring them from the Laborers’ Union. Some did. It was usual for that contractor to shortly thereafter suffer an office fire, the construction equipment stolen or destroyed, and the construction sites suffer fires and other vandalism. Predictably, when the contractor hired union labor, the problem stopped never to occur again. Lesson learned.

The working class is not made up of idiots. As with everyone else, 90% of them would probably have done nothing and taken whatever crumbs were given to them by the upper classes. Ten percent would not. When that 10% by luck were able to get the other 90% united with a will to fight, they all fought hard for what they got as they have throughout history.

Without doubt as everyone is quick to point out many of these unions were divided along ethnic, racial, trade, locality, and many other differences that caused them to fight each other as much as they fought their employers. At least they fought. As my life and the lives of many other in the working class establish, a solitary individual cannot fight the law and is simply a criminal. It takes social support: an extended supporting family, a group identity, an ethnicity, or anything to create a social unity and force strong enough to take on the law — legal or not. The first strike in America was by Polish workers: Jamestown Polish Craftsmen’s Strike of 1619. The strength of the first successful black union consisting of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was successful because it could count on 100,000 black members to act in unison in an economic fight against the Powers. Do you think anyone could get 100,000 of anyone these days to act in unison against the law on anything? Or even suggest it without being arrested and jailed? If the new generation of white collar workers now wanted to take up the fight against the Powers, what social support would you have? Family? Maybe, if you have more than a single mother as family, but that is it. Fellow Polish, Italians, whites, blacks, the village, the neighborhood? Who? As far as I can see, the future that the new school working class wants and will get consists of unisex, homogeneous, culturally stagnant, one color, paper-cutouts of each other living solitary lives of temporary jobs without family, community, or other social support except for the handouts they get from Big Brother. Well, good luck with it. At least you will find the peace I always hoped for in this life.

Existential Philosophy of Law

A slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn. — Albert Camus, The Rebel

This essay is a continuation of my closing thoughts in Why Tolerate Law available on the attached Blogroll. Blind loyalty to patrician Hegelian reason and state worship in the form of law as meaning in life is different in degree but not in substance to the theocratic state worship of the East and is a surrender to cowardice not an existential leap from it.

This is a contemplation of the meaning of the universal “law” in its modern sense of nonscientific law: in the universe of language discourse that results in decisions of legality and illegality. There seems to be more to the meaning of “law” than simply a set of rules. For one, calling something a rule instead of a law requires knowing the difference between rules and laws. Second, unlike most sets of rules such as games, one can leave the game to make other games. This option does not exist with law; if one leaves the law or legality, one is either in lawlessness or illegal. I will further contemplate whether this universal can be naturalized to scientific law and seek to determine whether such meaning and naturalization are or can be an existential philosophy of law. This contemplation will require contemplating the attributes of existentialism as they exist in plebeian lives that includes nihilism and not solely from the more popular academic patrician existentialism that excludes nihilism. I do not want this contemplation and any existential philosophy of law to be just another academic -ism, it was have pragmatic value for the plebeian portion of the class struggle that is history.

Existentially, life will always be meaningless and whatever social meaning it has will be forced upon the many by a few. For those few with the power to make their meaning in life the meaning of the group’s life, existentialism gives their will to power freedom to act and makes their struggle existential and aesthetically beautiful. However, for the many upon whom the few force their meaning, existentialism not only fails to give their will to power this same freedom but instead binds it and leaves their struggle to be existential and ugly. Patricians have the luxury to pine for meaning through their aesthetics and then violently either through law or directly to force that meaning on the remainder of humanity, but the plebeian existential absurd hero must not only fight and survive the absurdity of the universe but also this patrician will to power that forces the meaning of their lives upon the universe and all outside their class. For all known history and at present, both struggles eventually involve use of violence, but at least for the moment, the violence aspect is hidden in the behavior modifying techniques of Technological Society. As the plebeian existential absurd hero Don “Wardaddy” Collierand through Brad Pitt ad-libbed: “ideals are peaceful, history is violent”. Empirically, given that class struggle is an unavoidable inherent attribute of all social constructs, plebeians must ask whether it is better to suffer an existential struggle with the universe while governed by the few while living in material poverty in pre-Technological Society or while living comfortably in Technological Society with free time for contemplation of philosophy.

If an existential leap to morality is made, eventually that morality will run into the status of law as an unopposed normative power in the West as the present reality that must be confronted and then accepted or opposed as a good or an evil.

I do not intend to promote or criticize any particular social construct of Technological Society, either political (so-called conservative or liberal versions) nor any of the countless academic myopic constructs pretending to be history varying from feminism to classism to libertarian to post-structuralism to race studies and so forth nor its economic constructs such as capitalism, socialism, and so forth. My contemplation is only to describe the social construct called law that is a universal in all social constructs as a final arbiter of their normative statements. From the plebeian perspective, criticism would be stupid. Modern plebes irrespective of their status as wage slaves or not, of all sexes, kinds, and lives in Western Technological Society, live the finest material and least violent lives in known history. Money may not buy happiness but it buys everything else. At the same time, however, it would be stupid to promote Technological Society because it still maintains the same class distinctions and unequal will to power that all social constructs throughout known history have maintained. Patricians will promote it on their own without our help — despite their pretending to despise it. However, patricians despite complaints to the contrary, will promote it as static condition to remain forever as the ultimate social construct meaning for life in the same way they promoted chattel slavery, feudalism, bullionism, mercantilism, and all the other -ism’s that came before capitalism and socialism and any other social constructs they presently promote. If there is a next progression for Technological Society, it must come through plebeian existential struggles with patricians and not from any patrician existential struggle among themselves. Regardless of whining about despair, patricians are just fine as they are, were, and will be.

Cosmic Justice and Classism

The economist Thomas Sowell is a true working class hero. He was born in the Jim Crow South in 1930 with his father dying shortly thereafter leaving his mother, a housemaid, with five children to raise. As a child, his encounters with white people were so limited he did not know blond was a hair color. He and his extended family eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina then to Harlem, New York City. After serving in various manual labor and other odd jobs, he was drafted into the military in 1951 during the Korean War and was assigned to the Marine Corps. After his honorable discharge, he went on to use his G.I. Bill and subsequent educational opportunities to attend Howard University, Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of Chicago to get his Ph.D. in economics. He is now at Stanford University.

 

In many of his essays and subsequent books, he argues against the concept of cosmic justice that is required talk throughout the American upper class, its law, and its intelligentsia — its social justice warriors — to hide its will to power. He defines cosmic justice in relation to traditional concepts of justice as follows:

For those with this view, “genuine equality of opportunity” cannot be achieved by the application of the same rules and standards to all, but requires specific interventions to equalize either prospects or results. As Rawls puts it, “undeserved inequalities call for redress.” A fight in which both boxers observe the Marquis of Queensberry rules would be a fair fight, according to traditional standards of fairness, irrespective of whether the contestants were of equal skill, strength, experience or other factors likely to affect the outcome– and irrespective of whether that outcome was a hard-fought draw or a completely one-sided beating. This would not, however, be a fair fight within the framework of those seeking “social justice,” if the competing fighters came into the ring with very different prospects of success — especially if these differences were due to factors beyond their control.  “The Quest for Cosmic Justice” by Thomas Sowell

I have spent most of my life disagreeing with him, but I must now admit at least partial error in my disagreement. Gradually, as I have gotten older and fortunately or unfortunately my idealism has been diluted by pragmatic reality, I have learned to agree with him but only to the extent of rejecting cosmic justice in the rule of law but not as a normative goal through social and cultural goals that existentially may never be achieved. The existentialist absurd individual who has made a leap into morality as an individual dealing with other individuals in daily life must continue to struggle for cosmic justice as an end in itself with its own independent meaning. As I have argued before in this series of essays, social economic classes are a necessary part of human social group struggle against the universe. We need to admit their existence in order to minimize their unfairness and for society to prosper even though existentially I will always protest their existence in reality.

 

One objection to Sovell’s arguments is that even traditional concepts of fairness such as those exhibited by the rules of sports incorporate pragmatic means outside the rules to make them fair. For example, in boxing there are weight classes. It would not be considered a “fair fight” for a 135 lb. lightweight to be matched up against a 235 lb. heavyweight. These types of class distinctions are made in all rules of sports varying from baseball with its various levels of amateur and pro playing to golf with its handicaps and onto Formula and Moto racing with classes based on engine size. Mr. Sowell seems to admit to the validity of this objection in some of his other writings and implies the need for a social equivalent to sports classes. For example, in his criticism of affirmative action, he argues it disadvantages the lower classes because they cannot compete on the same level as upper class college students and thus drop-up at higher rates; he argues they would be better off attending a college with others of their class thus allowing them to graduate and work up to upper class education. “”Affirmative Action Around the World” by Thomas Sowell.

 

Furthermore, as a young man, I objected to his argument because I took on as a moral code the classic so-called Warrior Ethos: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” Why should I leave any fellow workers behind in my battle for victory over the powers-that-be, especially if I win the battle or the war? Is that not also the Christian Ethos: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves”? Romans 15.

 

My first step to agreeing at least partially with him was my military service and reading of military history. Turns out warriors leave their comrades behind all the time. The trials for cowardice of the Battle of Arginusae generals for leaving stranded drowning sailors behind and the Marines dragging their frozen dead with them as they retreated from the Battle of Chosin Reservoir were a rarity in military history including Marine Corps history and for all military units in world history, on land and on sea. During hasty retreats, leaving behind the wounded, the dead, and the equipment while running like hell was much more common.

 

Next, I was changed by my years spent in the American system of injustice. In it, though one might occasionally win a battle against the powers-that-be, in the end, one always lose the war. The law is full of talk of diversity, victims, and social justice but the end result is the same as in all systems of injustice throughout history: maintain the power of the status quo. The reality of cosmic justice at work in the law is twofold: 1) changing from time to time whom it advantages and disadvantages so as to keep competing social groups including the male and female sexes in constant conflict; 2) transforming being a victim of injustice, including its own, into a culture of victimization that gives meaning to victims’ lives and to those who want power over them so they do not become motivated to force real change in life. In fact, many cosmic justice warriors and their camp followers are more happy in their culture of victimization and poverty than I have ever been or will be in fighting to avoid it; so much so that they are willing to promote and procreate their myth onto messing up the lives of posterity.

 

One clear example of this process at work is American Indian culture — a fabricated culture that does not really even exist. If there is any meaning to the words “American Indian” other than to give upper class Americans and their intelligentsia something to pity, it would be only to reference a particular trial culture, i.e., Cherokee, Navajo, and so forth. However, these tribal cultures died out long ago with the best and brightest individuals of those cultures long ago having mixed into American culture as all other immigrant groups of the past have done and as occurred throughout history between conquerors and those conquered. What remains of those dead tribal cultures consist of a bunch of modern day Americans pretending to be tribes as a source of meaning in their lives and as a means to get government assistance. American Indians are the most impoverished social group in the country and statistically lead in single parent households, mental illness, child abuse, crime, drug problems, and education dropouts with a resulting lead in juvenile crime. Yet, their so-called leaders with their will-to-power need to protect their fiefdoms of power on government provided reservations continue and foster the farce of American Indian culture. At any level of power, those in power, including the big fish in the small pond of American Indian reservations, will convert any intentions — either good or bad — into a means of power as an end in itself, even intentions of cosmic justice. No good deed will go unpunished by the powers-that-be if they can use it as a means of maintaining their power or of obtaining more power.

 

A future example of this culture of victimization will be the black Americans left behind by their upper class brothers and sisters using new school racism as a means to get and stay upper class. Please see my previous essays on New School Racism. As I predicted in those essays and in greater detail in “Between the World and Us” (that is already coming to life by the demands of black Harvard University students for a separate graduation ceremony for black graduates), the solution for racism by Ta-Nehisi Coates and other black members and friends of the upper class is: establish a separate but equal education system for “black bodies”, letting black men commit self-genocide by continuing to kill each other, letting black women raise families by themselves, and creating black ghettos with the help of a new 21st Century slave master: government. Thus, thanks to cosmic justice warriors, we have come full circle: the solution to racism will be racism.

 

For any working social construct concept of fairness to be useful to humanity’s struggle with the universe to survive, as with fairness in rules of athletics and other sports, it must accept the presence of social economic class struggle as a present and future necessity. This presence is not a basis to create laws giving preference or preventing discrimination among class as occurs with all preferences present in civil rights laws serving only to hide class conflict while aggravating it. The acceptance of the necessity to have class conflict is necessary as a basis to eliminate and negate such law in order to allow classes to work and struggle within themselves for individual success and to compete with each other for overall social success. Civil rights laws result from the arrogance of the Orwellian High who view workers as hopeless idiots doomed to a life of misery, drug addiction, violence, and meaningless deaths without their aid and control. Billions of Orwellian Middle and Low throughout history have loved and been loved and have struggled and triumphed in every day struggles for life, property, and liberty. These struggles have created modern Technological Society. As basic fairness, this Society must allow us the freedom to continue our struggles among ourselves to control the present and future of the Technological Society our struggles have created.

 

A cosmic justice concept demanding illusionary equality for all enforced by the law’s monopoly on violence at the expense of equity for all through social and cultural pragmatism helps only the powers-that-be. The first stumbling block for application into Technological Society of Sovell’s “genuine equality of opportunity” with social economic class acceptance will be the law. How can we bring this pragmatic concept of fairness to life in the present delusional reality of the American system of injustice in which law negates and then demands a monopoly of violence for its power of negation of all social and cultural norms other than its cosmic vision of justice?

To Be An Ethical Person Or To Be A Good Person, That Is The Question: Part IV

So, finally, what should a person do, be an ethical person or be a good person? At this point, the only solace I have is that I am not alone in not having an answer. The working class hero Albert Camus spent a serious part of his unfortunately short life asking various forms of this question in such writings as The Fallen, The Plague, and The Rebel, but even he was never able to answer it. In the end, all he could say was “The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown.” The problem with the question is the subtlety of the problem that like the tip of an iceberg hides the enormity hidden beneath consisting of a defect in the human soul.

 
As I have written before, the power of law and the classism it maintains and enforces seems to be a necessity part of reality because of humanity’s inherent struggle for survival with the natural world trying to kill us. In this battle to exist with the universe, humanity needs to be organized in an efficient hierarchy in the same way any community involved in a battle would need to be organized to win. This need for efficiency is the foundation and source of all of our historical, material, and economic progress. This was Plato’s argument against state rule in the form of a democracy: it is simply too slow and cumbersome to work efficiently when democracies are confronted with tragic problems of survival, and thus democracy will eventually become anarchy and then tyranny. So far, history has not falsified his theoretic predictions for the path of democracies. Fine, so we will always have laws and a legal system to maintain the necessary injustice in life of social and economic classes regardless of whether it be a democracy or a tyranny or anything else. Thus, for workers the question of whether to be law-abiding or a law breaker is analogous to asking whether one should or should not comply with the orders of someone holding a gun to one’s head. It is a question of how suicidal your situation has become or of how lucky one feels. For workers and for everyone except for the minority at the top of any society’s class structure, it is an obvious problem with obvious options: work or go to jail.

 
With ethics, the problem begins with the first thought of it being a problem: questioning ethics implies you are a bad person, even when the ethics is simply a fabricated set of rules by a small group designed substantively only to maintain that small group’s power with little or no connection to any pragmatic reality except for maintenance of that power. Ethics is a religion that denies being a religion which makes it worse than a religion. At least with the major Western religions, a person can be virtuous and moral by good intentions though they do not act upon the knowledge or intent. “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum” (Love the sinner but hate the sin). — St. Augustine, His Letter 211 at 424. This is not enough for ethics. Ethics is personal. It is a scarlet “E” placed upon sinners indicating to all one is unclean.

 
Ethics is a choice of work or no work that in some ways is worse than jail since individuals trying to be and to do good in life need either work ties or social ties to give meaning to their lives. Karl Marx saw work as a source of alienation for workers, however, being unemployed because one is “unethical” with no resources to strive, to contribute to society, or to enjoy one’s leisure time by some form of creativity is a mental prison for good persons as bad as imprisonment and worse than any alienation caused by work. Furthermore, ethics is enforced not by the hacks that visibly and directly make up the legal system and therefore are an enemy one can see and fight but by fellow workers — again just as is a community’s religion. It is a Western form of being made an outcaste only without a formal caste system and thus without the social support of other outcastes. Thomas Sowell’s book “The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy” calls this modern ethics based view on what should be pragmatic considerations a “vision of the anointed”; he calls it a cosmic view of virtue as a basis for policy decisions instead of using the reality of dealing and solving problems. He directs his accusations to the American liberal intelligentsia but it could just as easily be applied to the right except for the fact that the polemics of the right are at least honest about their cosmic visions of virtue being religious.

 
A simple answer would be to comply with any given rules of ethics, keep one’s job, and do not make trouble. Following orders and doing what one is told to do without question, there is an answer that has always worked out well for being a good and moral person — not.

 
My only answer is: empathy. Unlike the thousands of new laws enacted and enforced upon us anew each year in addition to the libraries of law already out there by the Inner Party and its Outer Party house servants, ethics is enforced by workers upon workers. In our modern Technological Society rule of law, the average person commits three felonies a day without even knowing it. (See generally, “Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent”, Encounter Books (June 7, 2011.)) Any time the law wants to get us, any of us, it can. We are all in the same unethical boat. Remember this next time you want to look with disdain about the “unethical” practices, conduct, views, or acts of fellow workers regardless what may be the employment, social, or political situation. More than ever, if we are to be judged by a secular religion called ethics, the religious advice “he who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone” is more important than ever.

To Be An Ethical Person Or To Be A Good Person, That Is The Question: Part III

Despite their inherent dishonest and fraudulent nature, the popularity and quantity of codes of ethics have grown during the last few decades seemingly exponentially. They are omnipresent everywhere in all aspects of government and private sector organizations of any type. Why? During these same decades, local, state, and federal agencies passed 5,000 to 6,000 new regulations a year with some years going as high as 13,000 to 16,000 new regulations in one year. With these new regulations, there have been added thousands of new government agencies, millions of additional government workers, and billions of dollars more spent on enforcement and prosecution of all these various versions of new laws. These legally enforced normative “ought” statements tell us what we “ought” to be doing in every conceivable area of human private and social conduct varying from age discrimination to zoo-keeping. Every moment of our waking and sleeping lives are directly or indirectly affected if not usually outright governed by numerous laws. The average person commits three felonies a day without even knowing it. So, what could possibly be the need and source of demand to add ethics “ought” codes — and thus ethics code interpretations — to this omnipresent and ever presence mess of “ought” rules by both government and private entities.

 
According to many historians, the ethics code fad in the United States started in the 1970’s with the Watergate scandal during which the Washington Post and then it seems everyone else in the United States and the world decided in the paraphrased words of Captain Renault from Casablanca, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that [dirty trickery] is going on in here” in the White House. They were shocked because apparently the Washington Post and the other powers-that-be involved had never bothered reading the history of past political dirty tricks, lying, bribery, perjury, fraud, destruction of evidence, obstruction of justice, and much more (such as trying to kill the opposition and actually killing the opposition as in the famous Burr-Hamilton duel) reported and contained in the Washington Post and its archives. Whatever, for reasons beyond the limitations of this essay, President Nixon’s dirty trips were considered unacceptable. To prevent it from ever happening again, the powers decided we must have ethics codes for all government officials and employees especially government lawyers and then this fad escalated into having ethics codes in all private sectors jobs and job training — to have ethics codes everywhere and anywhere.

 
Why would Watergate cause such a fad? President Nixon had to resign (first President in United States history to do so) and only avoided jail because his chosen successor gave him a full presidential pardon; he went from being considered historically one of our most intelligent and competent presidents both for domestic and international affairs to being considered a fool and demon. Everyone else involved suffered one to all of the following: prison, lost their jobs, divorce, lost their families, and loss their life ambitions and hopes. Their lives were completely ruined except for the few who were upper class enough to rebuild their lives once released from jail or who “found Christ” in jail and thus are out now lecturing us on what we ought to be doing. If these results and the risk of suffering such results did not, do not, or could not prevent a repetition of political dirty tricks, how can ethics codes do it? If the thousands of other laws, law enforcement personnel and agencies, and legal and political risks associated with “dirty tricks” do not stop them, how can it possibly be the case that ethics codes would stop them?

 
They will not and do not. There is no evidence nor any basis in all known human history to believe that whatever improvement has occurred in government and private honesty, ethics, or morality is in anyway due to dishonest and amoral (at best) ethics codes. Take away the technological and material progress of the last few decades and any remaining ethics codes (and even most of the laws passed during these times) would be as farcical as talking about the glory and honor of the Roman Senate and Emperor at the times the Praetorian Guard was selling the Empire and the emperor’s crown to the highest bidder.

 
Parenthetically, I doubt if there has been any substantive change in the honest, ethical, or moral nature of humanity and society since the 1960’s with or without ethics codes or anything else. As sociologists such as Jacques Ellul have pointed out in critiques of technological society, technology and material progress reduces the need and options for individual moral choice and thus society appears morally better since everyone must follow orders and not make waves to maintain and continue technological and material progress. Not having the opportunity to sin assures that one will not sin but does not make one any more or any less a sinner. The only substantive change has been in the sophistication and subtlety of political and private sector dishonesty and the degree of adverse or beneficial effects that any individual can make on society. Consider the following two examples.

 
These days, if my illiterate Dad were around and starting out in the same situation as he did in the 1960’s, it is true he would not need to bribe a government official to pass the drivers’ examination. He would be allowed to take it in his native language and pass it legally. However, other than further eroding the nature of the United States as a melting pot, such advantage would make little difference to my Dad and makes little difference to any modern lower class immigrants or working poor since now it is not worth getting a driver’s license because they could not afford to legally drive a car anyway. The costs of new sales taxes (one of the most regressive taxes), new inspection fees, mandatory insurance, more and higher registration fees, higher maintenance costs, and even simple costs such as parking tickets requiring a half-day of minimum wage work to pay off, all make legally owning and driving a car for the working poor practically impossible. (Raising fees sounds nicer to the powers than raising taxes despite the regressive adverse effects of such fees on those least able to afford them.) As a result, if they unavoidably must own and drive, they do so illegally. Such illegal use avoids having to prosecute a government official for bribery but the end result is the same. Criminal and thus unethical  behavior is still needed for survival and especially for improvement out of the poor and working classes into upper classes for all but a rare few.

 
John Dean, the supposed “master manipulator ” of the Watergate scandal and the upper class snitch who received immunity from prosecution in exchange for his cooperation on those who did the dirty work for him while he kept his hands clean, has kept his upper class audacity to tell others what they ought to be doing. In a statement to Solon.com on 3 October 2003, he gave a rare insight into the workings of our 1984 Outer and Inner Parties and of his class:

I thought I had seen political dirty tricks as foul as they could get, but I was wrong. In blowing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame to take political revenge on her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for telling the truth, Bush’s people have out-Nixoned Nixon’s people. And my former colleagues were not amateurs by any means.

 

Thus, there is the appearance of progress in social ethics but really no substance to the progress. As always, all social and economic classes are relative to the times, but as the Good Book says at page 542, “the law given and the law taken away, as it was in the beginning, and now, and ever shall be.” Personally, I think we would have more success in controlling ethics between government officials and private powers if we went back to  allowing them to duel among themselves as in the days of Burr and Hamilton.

 
So, what could possibly be creating the demand and proliferation of dishonest, unethical, and amoral codes of ethics that serve no useful purpose? I could not answer this contemplation until I went back to my secular bible, George Orwell’s 1984. “Power is not a means it is an end. … The object of power is power.” How stupid of me. As usual in my working class naivete, I assume all work is toward a goal or a purpose. The powers-that-be by definition are those that can enforce what they think “ought” to be on the rest of humanity. Codes of ethics spitting out verbiage for no purpose other than to fraudulently talk about what “ought” to be are perfect wordgames to engage their time when not engaged in the wordgame of being the law.