Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kabbala & The Dalai Lama


Dalai Lama


And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good. 
- Notice the three elements: speaking, creation, good. We'll get back to them.
- Ok.
- Speaking of old stories: every time I pride myself on discovering something new I find out someone has been there before me, usually thousands of years before me. I'd written about the relation between Kabbala, the tradition of Jewish mysticism, and anarchism, the political system of voluntary organization without central government*, and I thought that if Kabbala corresponded in some ways in its social implication, why wouldn't it also correspond in philosophical?
- By philosophical you mean ideas of freedom, property, universals.
- Yes, and I had this crazy idea that if I went back again and looked I'd see what no one before me had seen.
- But you'd find yourself wrong there too.
- Yes but I'd have my fun while it lasted. So I looked to see what was in the Kabballa in relation to property, freedom, universals.
- And what did you discover?
- The Kabbala like the creation story associates good, language, and creativity, with the consequence that doing good is necessarily associated with change. Rules, unchanging things, are revelations from god, an incommunicable individual experience. In the Kabbala - "tradition" or "receiving" - the rules are interpreted, put into new words and formulation, the so-called oral revelation to the world as it is here and now. The tradition changes and develops the rules in their application. Similarly we ourselves have our own rules and tradition. Our self, our "rule", hovers above the joining of male and female at our conception, and in every good deed we do we weave the robe of tradition of our self more and more complete, we tell our own story, or rather, we rewrite it with each good deed, as each good we do makes us capable of more. Rules are reinterpreted in the process of our intending to do good as our selves are developed in our good deeds.
- What is the connection to property?
- In an unchanging society with unchanging roles, rules are acquired individually, creatively, actively, but learned unconsciously in childhood, with the consequence that each individual, once he wakes up and thinks about it, has an incentive to break the rules if he can without getting caught. The Kabbala turns this upsidedown. If the act of reinterpretation in following rules is an act using language, then it depends on the agreement of all speakers of the language on the meaning of words and how the language is spoken. That agreement provides the foundation of universal principle.
- How does speaking the same language make me obey a rule it is my interest to break?
- You and me are the Jewish people, in our exodus out of Egypt. We meet on Mt. Sinai with god, who makes a deal with you, and makes a deal with me. Two deals, god to individual, but god's part in the deal is a promise to both of us, delivery to the promised land. Follow?
- Yes.
- Think about it. To speak a language individually and be understood we both have agree on the meaning of words and how the language works. To cash in on god's promise we similarly need to act in agreement.
- On what?
- God's rules, delivered by Moses a few weeks later. Each individual continues his own life, giving up nothing to the other individuals yet benefiting by being delivered to the promised land.
- Why giving up nothing? We have to obey the rules.
- We want to obey the rules exactly like we want to learn words. Do you complain about words taking away your freedom?
- I do, when they get in the way of expressing myself.
- That you have anything worth while to express is due to what you made of yourself through the use of words. You mean you don't want to use words when you don't have to.
- Maybe. 
- The act of reinterpretation of tradition works in the same way we speak, is an action with the same form, producing the same result, unity of purpose.
- Assume I understand. Where does property come in?
- Revelation gives us rules.
- God gave the Jews their rules.
- In revelation, which we can describe as the experience of god, we see how many things are really one. We come to know it is best 'in this situation, do that'. Property too is rule and revelation, but has a special, magical power.
- What do you mean by magical?
- Power enabled by a different kind of language, a destructive use of language. Property is the product of ritual, of language used repetitively, not creatively. In the Kabbala language is a creative act for doing good that comes from god, whereas property comes from the limited repetitive action of a limited group of people with each other at a limited time and place. We won't be able to find a universal principle of sharing if we start from property.
- Where do we start from then?
- The self that creates to do good in the company of others doing the same, who have received the same revelation 
not of the magic of property but of creativity, and reinterpret it in each others company.
- We share with each other because we are creative with each other. And as you've said before private property is a thought-through exception, the cases where sharing would not be creative but destructive.
- Universal principle, sharing, is the result of all three things god does when he creates the world: he speaks, he creates, he does good. It is in the creative act itself universal principles arise. Rules  cannot create actual agreement among followers of rule, as seeing the rule, a sort of revelation, is individual, and does not establish a relation between people. In Plato's Republic people have to be lied to to keep the rules, indoctrinated while still children to believe they are all close family.
- I'm beginning to see. We expect sharing, universal principles, to be fixed things, But the truth is they come from change.
- When the Dalai Lama fled with his people to Tibet the time came when he said to the Jewish people, "Tell me your secret of spiritual survival in exile". A group of Jewish scholars and rabbis was invited to visit him. Right at the beginning of their discussion the Dalai Lama raised the question, What is religion? and hearing that among the Jews that question was the source of much bitter dispute, he answered, If religion does not make people more compassionate what good is it? Property is a version of revelation, a kind of magic, that makes compassion impossible.
- The religious dispute because they treat their religion like property. And property is a religion that makes compassion impossible.
- But we don't call it religion, we call it a right. The magic revelation of property is not experience of god, found privately, that leads to speaking with others who've had the same revelation about how to make a good life together. Rather it is the product of acting with others in the group, depending on each keeping without change his place in the group. There is no room for compassion. Each is the agent to the others stability and power. The user doesn't see the tool, sees only what the tool is used for. There is gratitude each to each for giving to each his power, but no real sharing of life and experience. That is possible only when language, creativity, and good come together. In creative speech towards good we all have something to offer potentially and something to gain potentially from results. The man who builds doors has nothing in common with the man who builds windows until someone starts talking about building a good house.
- Compassionate religion requires universal principles. For universal principles we need to build a society that  protects and develops change, creativity, discussion and search for what is good. Sharing isn't really a universal principle, but results from applying other principles, from talking creatively with each other. Then we don't directly want to share with each other?
- We have minds set on higher things.
- What higher things? Not new revelations, discoveries, which you said you keep thinking you are doing but find out you aren't.
- I can hope my derivative discoveries respond to a world of different people and interpret ideas differently, better for the understanding of the people who use the same words I do. But anyway it is not revelation and discoveries, of sharing, justice, principles, whatever that are important, but what we do with them. As the Dalai Lama said, what we want from the right views, the right revelation, is compassion.
__________________

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Liars & The Free Market


 

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

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

Further reading:
_________________
** See Monsters
*** For the creative alternative to "enactment of ritualized theories", see Killer Metaphysics and Noam Chomsky & Mental Things. It is worth noting that the creative element of free market practice has a limit: doing for the sake of doing, restless and fundamentally irrational, is destructive of the very springs of creativity. "To be clever enough to get all that money you have to be dull enough to want it." At the limit of futility, one of two things happen: either the free-marketer, evading awareness of self destructiveness throws himself back into practice of doing for the sake of doing, the pathology of compulsion. Or the free-marketer feels himself impelled against his will to become a participant in other peoples' rituals of doing for the sake of doing, the pathology of paranoia. See Capitalism & Compulsion.

Principle Of Sharing + Exception Of Private Property + The State = Class War


From an evolutionary point of view, higher intelligence seems to be maladaptive rather than adaptive. Biologically successful organisms have a rigid character and are well adapted to a certain environmental niche. If higher intelligence helped adaptation you would expect it to have arisen over and over again. However, it didn't. It arose in a single, not particularly successful organism, Homo Sapiens. And while the human population exploded, human societies developed in a way that has caused enormous damage to the environment. The human race could destroy itself and much organic life as a result. (Noam Chomsky, 1998 interview)

Continued from Killer Metaphysics

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

Killer Metaphysics


1.

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

Trader Joes, Beverly Center

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

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

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

Anarchist Metaphysics

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

The Golden Rule & The Deviant Path


1.

The Golden Rule

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

2.

The Deviant Path

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

Continued at: Killer Metaphysics

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

Addiction & Property



- The internet addict sits at his computer. Click. A girl. Click. Another girl. Click. Click. Click. Why isn't the first good enough, why isn't the second? Why doesn't he keep looking at the same girl? Does the pleasure or whatever it is of looking wear off, like effect when taking a drug?  
- When I drink wine in a good mood I feel better. If I am in a bad mood, I feel worse. Are you the same?
- I am. 
- Being in a good mood means being normal. Creative, responsive, imaginative, pleased. You take the alteration of experience in stride. Maybe you laugh at what you're doing to yourself, maybe you take advantage of the relaxation to remember what you didn't have time for during the day. In other words, the deliberate modification of the way you experience the world is in your control. Drinking the wine makes you worse at some things and better at others, but there is nothing in it that detaches you from the world as a whole.
- And when I drink wine when I'm sad?
- You are doing something unnatural. If you are sad it is because there is something wrong that needs to be taken care of. Maybe a good sleep would do it. But if instead you drink a glass of wine, you are taking a step along the path of addiction.
- One glass of wine.
- Remember when we talked about lying*, how telling a lie makes it necessary to tell more lies to keep consistent, and how telling each new lie limits further the world you can talk about and limits how much of the world draws your attention? The boy sitting at the internet looking at pictures of girls is like you drinking wine when you're sad, or the liar forced to tell more lies with each lie he tells. The boy wants to be with a girl but is instead with a picture of a girl, You want to be happy again but instead have made yourself forget your unhappiness, the liar wants to speak the truth, because that is what language is for, but afraid to be caught in his lies he tells more lies, with the world that can be talked about shrinking to his attention more and more.
- An addict wants more and more what he can resist less and less, begins in unhappiness and goes on from there. Ok. That is what addiction is. Many people have said that. But why does someone get addicted?
- We give our sadness an unnatural treatment, aware of doing which makes us more sad, and we give ourselves again unnatural treatment... 
- The boy at the computer looks at the picture of the girl. She's really something. Then, you say, he doesn't close his computer and get up  and go out to real life but clicks again to see another girl. He does this because he felt bad looking at the first?
- Yes. Let's go back to me and my wine. If I drank knowing life was good, I'd feel good. If the boy had many friends, both girls and boys, he'd probably shut the computer and laugh about what he'd seen with them. If the boy however looks at the picture and his first response is that he'd love to laugh at what he'd seen but no one is around and he doesn't know when anyone ever will be around, he goes back to the picture as an unnatural substitute disconnected from his life as a whole. The more time spent solitary the less experience and confidence born of experience he'll have in company, and as company becomes something he doesn't know how to deal with he loses interest in it.
- The unnatural treatment works when there is some happiness to make something of it, reflect on it, incorporate it in a story. But when there is no happiness, when the forgetting is over we remember what we did to forget, we feel the unnaturalness of it, and to forget this unwelcome news we have recourse again to our drug. That makes sense. Do you know what people are saying is our biggest addiction these days?
- What?
- Business. Making money.
- Sure. Buyer and seller are enemies trying to get the better of each other. Every act of enmity in the midst of cooperative social life is unnatural. We take pleasure in the profit from the transaction, but aware of the unnaturalness don't stop when we can but go back again to money making. The only way we wouldn't be addicted to money would be if we made a habit of taking a step back in our happiness, a life not based on making money, saw what we had been doing all as some kind of joke. But the addict goes on making money, transaction by transaction treating everyone as an enemy, forgetting the misery of having to live at war with his fellow human beings in the joy of profit. When that joy fades he feels uneasy with what he's done, which has made it more difficult for him to return to the world outside money where people are not enemies. He throws himself back into money making to forget his inner uneasiness and growing disinterest in the world outside. 
- Would you say that not just making money is an addiction, but holding property itself?
- Making money is an addiction, and acquiring property is an addiction. The attachment to property itself is an addiction. Property is not sharing. Happy people share. Children share. Not sharing is unnatural. 
- You've said before ** that property was a ritual of imagination. We imagine how this and that person is impressed by our possession. When I imagine that guy over there impressed by my car, I feel safe for a moment. But then I don't really know that guy, if he is really impressed or pretending, what about that woman, yes, she'd be impressed by my car.
- We embark on this sequence of imagination because we are addicted to the idea of impressing people with our objects. We possess an identity, a social role, which like our physical possessions is also the product of addiction. An ape that makes the ugliest face, grunts louder, jumps higher scares the other apes into submission, establishes himself as master and the others as servants. All the apes stay, make and witness gestures again and again, the more frightening and the more frightened, because once they've discovered the possibility to stay securely together and continue with the unnatural repetition of the same gestures, the conditions of addiction are met. 
- Why don't the frightened apes run?
- Run from sight of their own weakness? Why, when knowing something is wrong with what is producing security is the essence of addiction. Every participant in a ritual is an addict to ritual, not just those who end up with more powerful position in a hierarchy.
- Addiction on top of everything else produces hierarchy. Our identification with our property, our mysterious attachment to things is imaginary, but at least this additional addiction produces something real, a role in a hierarchy is some kind of social act. 
- The kind that make us all unhappy because it is unnatural and sets us out to new addictions.
- What a mess.***

Further Reading:
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*** "Friendship, real esteem, and perfect confidence are banished from among men. Jealousy, suspicion, fear, coldness, reserve, hate and fraud lie constantly concealed under that boasted candor and urbanity, for which we are indebted to the enlightened spirit of the age.(Rousseau, Discourse On The Arts And Sciences)

A Spiritualist Campaigns For Congress, An Anarchist Attends



(Meeting Room, Beverly Hills City Hall, March 14, 2014)

- You're not staying for questions. You didn't like what you heard?
- Marianne Williamson is a nice woman, who knows, but what I saw in there was a politician giving a speech. Elect her to congress and she promises she'll work to get the money out of government. The people in our country aren't bad, she praises them, but the government is bad. If we work together we can change that.
- You don't agree?
- When people ask her, she said, what can we do? what hope do we have? she answers, look at the civil rights movement, the abolition movement, look at feminism, the anti-Vietnam war, all successes in full or part.
- That's right.
- No, the comparison is false. Our country is a democracy. From its beginning democracy has been the form of politics which does not express any one idea of human nature. We don't say the best people govern us, we don't say the workers govern us. Instead we say let everyone fight it out in words and ideas, and in general the results will be better than the alternatives. This is simple political theory. Do you understand?
- Yes.
- Good. From the beginning, I'm talking about Aristotle here, two and half thousand years ago, concentration of wealth was identified as the enemy of democracy. The compromise between scattered different interests breaks down when wealth forges agreements between people of different views, wanting more money being something they all have in common, buys them out and then takes control. Since the civil rights, feminist, anti-Vietnam war movements' successes the entire middle class of the United States has been wiped out. From an average net worth for an American family, the value of all their possessions if they were cashed in and all debts paid, of 170,000 dollars in the 1970s, we now have a negative average net worth, meaning the average American family has nothing, owes money, is in debt.
- Even here in Beverly Hills you can see the middle class has gone.
- Say Marianne Williamson gets elected to House of Representatives, becomes the only independent there. What do you think she can do? She says she'll call for a constitutional amendment banning the influence of money on politics. What power does she have to get the government, all the other elected and appointed officials, to listen?
- The people have the power.
- The people don't have power over those elected and appointed officials. Money has power and they don't have money. They let it be taken away from them.
- We have to do something. What's your plan then?
- Throw them all out.
- That's not realistic.
- It is realistic. Imagine that Marianne Williamson came to me and asked me what she should do when she got to Congress, since I know everything. Do you know what I'd tell her?
- What?
- I'd say, address the people of the United States in these terms: Our elected and appointed officials have been corrupted by taking bribes. I call on you, the people of the United States, to demand all elected and appointed officials resign and new elections be called. I'd have her then explain to the people the truth, that the American people can't compete, literally can't afford to bribe their elected and appointed officials to act in their interests. They have no choice but to throw them all out. That's all their budget allows.
- It will never happen.
- And there are not revolutions going on as we speak in South America and Eastern Europe? Wake up. General strikes, massive non-compliance, withdrawal of consent, they all work. Governments are overthrown. The problem I have with your Marianne Williamson is that she's not ready. You aren't either.
- Because if we got a new government it would be just like the old. Consciousness has to change. That is why people like Marianne are important.
- The consciousness of people changes when it is given a chance to change. People fighting each merely to survive are never going to be gurus on a hill. You might as well ask us to commit suicide, because that is what results from being gentle and loving in the midst of maddened beasts.
- But if your fantasy came true and the government resigned, new people were elected, they would be same people with the same low consciousness and it would be the same old story over again.
- Let's make the story even more fantastic. I'll tell you that story, then I've got to go. Politics makes me sick. Here's the story:

     'Marianne Williamson, spiritual psychotherapist and talk show regular is elected to the House of Representatives. She calls on all elected officials to resign, and new elections be held.
     All comes to pass. We get a whole new gang in office. We use existing laws of taxation and financial penalties for criminal acts to take back all the wealth stolen by those who bribed the government into eliminating the middle class. I emphasize here existing laws. No change to basic institutions, no new laws.
      Now we are back to where we left off in the 70s. We're like doctors who've cured our patient's symptoms and ask, how are we going to prevent their recurrence? We've recovered the money stolen from the middle class, and we're going to give it back to them. We're going to do it with a couple new rules.
     Marianne Williamson says she wants people to raise their consciousness. Doing yoga on a mountain top, getting Marianne to do psychotherapy on them might help. But wouldn't it be better for people's consciousness not to make them into slaves?
     The government has taxed and confiscated back from criminals the trillions of dollars stolen and uses it to guarantee everyone a place to live and food to eat forever. Forever and forever. The government, representing intelligent understanding of human nature, understands that people who have the basics in life securely taken care of prefer to do something rather than nothing. They want to work and want to work creatively. People don't need to be made into desperate killers to get them off to work and out of bed in the gutters where our present government destines them if they don't willingly enter into slavery to criminals.
      No. Our new government uses a very small amount of its new wealth to give everyone the basics of life. And then says, submit your applications. You are now all entrepreneurs. Tell us who you want to cooperate with, if anyone, and on what, and we'll hand you the money if we like your proposal. We've got lots of money! But there are two conditions. No wage slavery. Slavery destroys the spirit. Our democracy can't take it, and it makes people uncreative. Everyone has to be an equal partner. If you don't like the rule, stay at home. Sit and look out the window. We'll leave you be. If you're right that people only work under threat of death you'll be very happy.
     If you want to work together creatively and voluntarily with your fellow human beings you'll share in the results. But there's a condition here too, the second rule. There is a disease called "doing for the sake of doing", making money for the sake of making money. The corporation is an economic entity exactly defined by this disease. Doing for the sake of doing leaves out spirituality. We have learned our lesson and we can't allow that disease to return.
     We do things for a reason, a good reason. We don't do things to do things. We do things to make our lives better, love each other, love the world, be happy. If we are to prevent this disease from recurring we have to prevent people from using wealth they accumulate for the sake of accumulating more wealth.
     So the government will tax away all wealth not used, not immediately placed at the disposal of new enterprise.
     This is the government's new health regimen. We've treated the symptoms, returned the wealth to the people. We've diagnosed the disease that's been depriving the majority of people of their spirituality, making them slaves, and that's been allowing the minority of people deprive themselves of spirituality in their doing for the sake of doing.
     Outlawing employment of servants by masters, and outlawing possession of unused wealth are our two preventative measures.
     Although not completely untested - there have been large scale experimental trials - the treatment is unproven. But our choice is to do nothing, allow things to go back to how they were before, or do what we human beings do best and one way or another better our lives together.*
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Anarchism is no patent solution for all human problems, no Utopia of a perfect social order, as it has so often been called, since on principle it rejects all absolute schemes and concepts. It does not believe in any absolute truth, or in definite final goals for human development, but in an unlimited perfectibility of social arrangements and human living conditions, which are always straining after higher forms of expression, and to which for this reason one can assign no definite terminus nor set any fixed goal. The worst crime of any type of state is just that it always tries to force the rich diversity of social life into definite forms and adjust it to one particular form, which allows for no wider outlook and regards the previously exciting status as finished. The stronger its supporters feel themselves, the more completely they succeed in bringing every field of social life into their service, the more crippling is their influence on the operation of all creative cultural forces, the more unwholesomely does it affect the intellectual and social development of any particular epoch. (Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism)