January 15, 2013

Some Decidedly Unfriendly, Even Rude Observations

You know -- actually, most people don't, which is a hugely significant part of the problem -- if one were genuinely concerned with stopping violence and the murder of innocent human beings, one might focus one's energies on perhaps the greatest source of these evils: a culture which celebrates violence and brutality in multiple forms, throughout every aspect of its many manifestations, and a government which systematically and ceaselessly unleashes destruction and death around the world.

On the latter point: one might also find the time to criticize a State, which is to say the government of the goddamned United States of America, which claims the "right" to murder anyone, anywhere, anytime -- and which has already actualized that claim on a terrifying number of occasions. To say the government of the United States is one of the greatest sources of violence and of violent death in the world today is not to exaggerate in even the slightest degree: it is the unvarnished, goldplated, fucking, goddamned truth.

Therefore and thusly, to believe that one of the greatest sources of violence in the world today should be trusted to solve the problem of gun violence in America is to believe in self-contradictory statements which immolate themselves on a gigantic pyre of the most ridiculous, asinine, ludicrous notions ever imagined in the malformed, grotesque, nonfunctioning brains of the dumbest animal that has ever existed. Anyone who believes that gun control -- gun control devised and implemented by a brutal, endlessly violent, systematically murderous State -- will even begin to solve the problem of violent death in and by America is a fucking idiot. Moreover, to believe that the man who has lovingly embraced the principle of mass murder, and who proudly and repeatedly declares to the world that he is a serial murderer dedicated to continuing his murders into the indefinite future, targeting an ever-increasing number of victims, is sincerely devoted to ending even a single aspect of the problem of violence is so colossally, stupendously stupid that it defies accurate description.

HOWEVER. Ah, perhaps you suspected there was a "however." That may be because you are not a fucking idiot. I am not about to weigh in on this issue with regard to the details, to try to balance the pros and cons of various gun control measures, and blahblah fucking blah. No, ma'am and no, sir, I absolutely will not. And that is because I completely distrust both sides of this debate. On the right, we have many people who wail and moan about the destruction of rights guaranteed by the blessed Constitution, and memorialized in the sacred Bill of Rights. People must try to move beyond the civics primer they read in first grade. Seriously, people should at least try to reach, say, a fourth-grade level of understanding on this subject. I defy you to identify a single amendment in the Bill of Rights that has not been subverted, perverted, trampled, and ground into dust since the Constitution's adoption. That process began within a few years of the Constitution's ratification -- that is, while all those saintly Founding Fucking Fathers were still around. Moreover, the Constitution was not designed to implement the initial, tragically brief goals of the Revolution and fashion them into the structure of a State. Oh, no: the Constitution was designed to stop any genuinely revolutionary impulses dead in their tracks. As I've noted before, the Constitution was the indispensable means for the establishment of "a government of, by and for the most wealthy and powerful Americans -- and it made certain (insofar as men can make such things certain) that their rule would never be seriously threatened. The most wealthy and powerful Americans were the ones who wrote it, after all."

As Terry Bouton writes (in Taming Democracy: "The People," the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution):
In Pennsylvania, the Revolution had been forged by elite and ordinary folk who insisted that a free government could only survive in a society with a relatively equal distribution of wealth. That belief had pushed the revolutionaries of the 1760s and 1770s to make wealth more equal -- or at least to repeal laws that made wealth more unequal. When many of the gentry decided during the war that concentrations of wealth were a blessing rather than a curse, they attempted to divorce wealth equality from the public's understanding of the Revolution. ... [T]he governments that emerged from the Revolution often fostered massive inequalities of wealth. At the same time, they redefined "democracy" as an ideal that could be reconciled with those disparities. By transforming democracy into a concept that encouraged uninhibited wealth accumulation rather than wealth equality, the founding elite (and subsequent generations of elites) tamed what they could not defeat. They turned democracy from a threat into an asset by making it into a concept that supported their own ideals and interests.
In brief: the Constitution was not the culmination of the Revolution. It was the end of the Revolution, once and for all. The history of the United States since the Constitution's adoption, including all the horrors that assail us at present, represents merely the playing out of the inevitable consequences of the Constitution's meaning and purpose. The ruling elite was hardly disposed to create a State that would threaten their power and wealth in any serious way; to the contrary, they devised a State, resting on the precious Constitution, specifically designed to protect their power and wealth, and increase them still more. You can read more on this theme in "Concerning the American Change in Management." In connection with these same issues, I must add that all those who collapsed on their fainting couches in response to this NYT essay reveal only what might be described, in an act of reckless charity, as an exceedingly naive faith in our "sacred" form of government. And here, "faith" is the only appropriate word: an informed knowledge and understanding of history proves the truth of my argument many times over (and not only in the United States). A fair amount of Seidman's NYT article is a recitation of facts; the balance of his commentary is notable only for how unremarkable it is, provided one is familiar with actual history (as opposed to what is in those first-grade civics primers most Americans cling to with such desperation), and provided one has some understanding of how societies in fact function. (On this and similar points, I am often tempted to say I only seem radical to many people because almost everybody else is so goddamned fucking conservative -- to say nothing of retrograde in a manner that even Cro-Magnon man would find shocking in its primitive quality.)

With regard to those on the right who loudly wail about their fun with guns being curtailed, I might be somewhat sympathetic to their plight but for one fatal failure on their part. And it is certainly true, as indicated above, that whatever gun control measures are enacted will have almost nothing to do with solving the problem of violence (however one conceives it), but everything to do with entrenching the State's power and control over the lives of all its subjects still further. But, with exceptions so rare that they are meaningless in terms of representing a countervailing force of any significance, the right has no objection to the State's assertion of power in the State's battle with its alleged enemies. The right does not object even to Obama's assertion of absolute power, that is, his claim of a right to murder anyone in the world, anytime he chooses. As long as such power is nominally tied to fighting terrorism or certain other specified evils, the right applauds it. The right almost never mentions these claims of power, even the claim of power over life and death itself. Given their contemptible, damnable silence on these issues, they should hardly expect anyone to come to their aid when they fear the State is coming for their guns. You're fine with absolute power, you ridiculous schmucks? Okay, you got it.

As for those on the "left," well, Jesus Christ. What can one say? "Oh," the "leftists" moan, "it is truly awful that Obama claims he can kill anyone he wants. What? Oh, yes, and he actually kills anyone he wants. Oh, my. Dearie me. And indefinite detention, endless surveillance of everyone all the time, rendition ... oh, dear, oh, dear, oh dear. Just dreadful. Still, no reason not to vote for and support the Democrats! Because, well, ah, um ... oh, yeah: CRAZY REPUBLICANS!! Aaaaaaiiiiiiiieeeeee!!!" Consult "Accomplices to Murder," and especially Part II, for examples of this eloquent argument. Needless to say, those on the left have no problem with a serial murderer who has adopted the principle of mass murder taking on more powers to "solve" the problem of gun violence -- because they have no problem with him being a serial murderer who has adopted the principle of mass murder, at least no problem that anyone needs to be upset or concerned about.

To sum up my attitude toward all those on right and left who have no measurable concern with the State's claim of absolute power or with many other associated claims of power (which is almost all people), and who now so frantically announce their passion for or resistance to gun control, and in my unstinting effort to be entirely truthful, I can say only: they can all go fuck themselves.

I offer an additional point of special importance. One of the central, intractable problems on both right and left is that, with regard to any allegedly serious problem that arises, the default reaction is always to appeal to the State for the "solution." This phenomenon may be more easily noticed on the left, which displays a fundamentalist fervor in declaring that virtually everything, from food and diet, to construction (of anything, highways, homes, schools, you name it), to making the "free" market actually "free" (by government edict, to be enforced by violence as necessary, by means of a vast array of punishments), and so on unto the ends of the universe (and the space program, too), can only be made to "work" through State control and intervention -- but as I've indicated, the State is the default solution on the right as well, whenever the supposed problem concerns a threat they deem suitably scary. And here, I will reprise an excerpt from Albert Jay Nock's Our Enemy, the State. It is not at all coincidental that I first offered this passage in an article about the killings at Virginia Tech, almost six years ago: "The United States as Cho Seung-Hui: How the State Sanctifies Murder."

Nock identifies the nature of the State, any State, as follows:
The positive testimony of history is that the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation. No primitive State known to history originated in any other manner. On the negative side, it has been proved beyond peradventure that no primitive State could possibly have had any other origins. Moreover, the sole invariable characteristic of the State is the economic exploitation of one class by another. In this sense, every State known to history is a class-State. Oppenheimer defines the State, in respect of its origin, as an institution "forced on a defeated group by a conquering group, with a view only to systematizing the domination of the conquered by the conquerors, and safeguarding itself against insurrection from within and attack from without. This domination had no other final purpose than the economic exploitation of the conquered group by the victorious group."
And Nock says the following about the "mass-man" who is the citizen of the State:
The mass-man, ignorant of [the State's] history, regards its character and intentions as social rather than anti-social; and in that faith he is willing to put at its disposal an indefinite credit of knavery, mendacity and chicane, upon which its administrators may draw at will. Instead of looking upon the State's progressive absorption of social power with the repugnance and resentment that he would naturally feel towards the activities of a professional-criminal organization, he tends rather to encourage and glorify it, in the belief that he is somehow identified with the State, and that therefore, in consenting to its indefinite aggrandizement, he consents to something in which he has a share -- he is, pro tanto, aggrandizing himself. Professor Ortega y Gasset analyzes this state of mind extremely well. The mass-man, he says, confronting the phenomenon of the State, "sees it, admires it, knows that there it is ... Furthermore, the mass-man sees in the State an anonymous power, and feeling himself, like it, anonymous, he believes that the State is something of his own. Suppose that in the public life of a country some difficulty, conflict, or problem, presents itself, the mass-man will tend to demand that the State intervene immediately and undertake a solution directly with its immense and unassailable resources ... When the mass suffers any ill-fortune, or simply feels some strong appetite, its great temptation is that permanent sure possibility of obtaining everything, without effort, struggle, doubt, or risk, merely by touching a button and setting the mighty machine in motion."


The unquestioning, determined, even truculent maintenance of the attitude which Professor Ortega y Gasset so admirably describes, is obviously the life and strength of the State, and obviously too, it is now so inveterate and so wide-spread -- one may freely call it universal -- that no direct effort could overcome its inveteracy or modify it, and least of all hope to enlighten it. This attitude can only be sapped and mined by recurrent calamity of a most appalling character. When once the predominance of this attitude in any given civilization has become inveterate, as so plainly it has become in the civilization of America, all that can be done is to leave it to work its own way out to its appointed end. The philosophic historian may content himself with pointing out and clearly elucidating its consequences, as Professor Ortega y Gasset has done, aware that after this there is no more that one can do. "The result of this tendency," he says, "will be fatal. Spontaneous social action will be broken up over and over again by State intervention, no new seed will be able to fructify. Society will have to live for the State, man for the governmental machine. And as after all it is only a machine, whose existence and maintenance depend on the vital supports around it, the State, after sucking out the very marrow of society, will be left bloodless, a skeleton, dead with that nasty death of machinery, more gruesome than the death of a living organism. Such was the lamentable fate of ancient civilization."
With regard to the State (and its Constitution), and the mass-man, the tragic process in which we are now enmeshed is that identified by Nock: "all that can be done is to leave it to work its own way out to its appointed end." In that article from 2007, I said: "[B]arring a fundamental change in direction, this is the course upon which we long ago embarked."

We can, we should work toward that "fundamental change in direction"; that is certainly the purpose of my own writing, as unimportant in the scheme of things as it is. But if we are to be truthful, history offers little hope that such a change can be effected on the required scale, and with sufficient speed.

Still, there is always a first time. So we shall have to hope for that.