Democracy – a New Anarchism?

Papers, Political

We’re all humans and there’s no reason why any one of us should be able to rule over any of the rest of us.

I understand that not everyone accepts this as a given, and I’m a little exhausted by that: people unwilling to use or presently incapable of using empathy. It’s nothing we can help. There’s a fateful inevitability to human proceedings that doesn’t make our lives any less interesting, but that does wear on you.

If you want anything big – some proper change – you have to make a pretty huge push in that kinda direction otherwise, like a ball tumbling downhill, society won’t turn round and go back the way you want. And big in this sense means involving large numbers of people, which in turn means that it can’t be something you want, it has to be something that we all want.

All human progress is about co-operation. This is clear and obvious. Various day-to-day facts make it hard for us to co-operate sometimes. The fabric of our society has been knitted wrong. We mistrust one another, we compete for false standing and stolen wealth, but that’s just how it is – I’m not criticising you personally. We all have to do it. Born into poor structures created by dying fools.

So if you’re looking at a goal, a place to work toward, a method of organisation that might work better and more efficiently for all than what we have now, well, it’s a totally co-operative society.

It’s what democracy should be, and that’s why the word democracy has been hijacked – because it promises so much. Communism was hijacked in the same way. Neither idea has generally been expressed with much eloquence or clarity. Instead, the powerful rhetoric and easy-to-follow sound bites have been on the enemy’s side. I say that wearily – there are no enemies except maybe something like the seven deadly sins and they’re not so much enemies as potentially harmful practices that the individual ought to carefully control within itself. I’m going to refer to people as “it”s at various points in this. That’s only because of my place in the whole gender pronouns debate. There’s “ze” I know, but I’ve not encountered any real consensus on neutral pronouns except “it”, which I know works and can be understood even if it’s clumsy. We’re all its, and then you can subdivide within that if you wanna.

Democracy is thought of as being a society in which leading figures within the state are elected on a regular basis by the majority of citizens. But democracy is simply “rule by the people”. No state, no elected representatives. What we have right now in much of Europe, America, the UK, for example, is elective oligarchy. That means rule by the elected few. Only it’s not entirely elective, since there are huge and influential business interests not subject to any kind of vote or other regulation from the mass of society. Hey, spending money on their shitty products doesn’t count. In fact there are huge and influential business interests that actively try to harm the mass of society, using societal corruption to feed their financial gain. But, like I say, we’ve all gotta make our way somehow.

Communism I believe is widely recognised by those who’ve read the founding texts as not being precisely defined. This is why it was so easy to hijack – supposed “Bolsheviks” took all the pretty semblance and cut the content. What content there was. Like disintegrating the person wearing a nice dress then putting the dress on a bear.

I’d just argue that the original sentiment with Communism, before disintegration, was peaceful co-operation and co-existence. The dictatorship of the proletariat thing is an old skool socialism off-shoot and well and truly fucked. It’s also something a lot of us run to in frustration “the benevolent dictator”. God, in one sense. Fucking Church. Don’t blame Christianity for that, it’s the Church’s fault. Supporting monarchs to further their own land grabbing and gold and silver plating. Scum.

I’ve styled myself as an anarchist for a few years now, believing that it was the purest expression of true democratic thought still widely available in the Western World, but even anarchism has had a really hard time staying true. Various nutters taking advantage of our peaceful ways and seeming love of chaos, turning that into excuses for terrorism and bomb threats. The only point to anarchism is not being organised like an ideology, not being some terrible thing happening in church halls and trade unions and over-attended rallies. The point is supposed to be that you just look at people as people, which really begs the question why do we even need to call ourselves anarchists at all? We don’t, and so I generally now don’t. It doesn’t add anything so we might as well cancel it out of the equation so to speak.

But in this very quick and likely unconvincing romp through a recent history of democratic ideas I’ve still not explained what democracy, what rule by the people, rule by individuals, rule by us…is.

Because the state exists we can’t start from a clean slate. We have to draw over what already exists. For the purposes of this metaphor, imagine the new drawing in invisible ink that will be revealed when the paper slips and falls in a puddle and all the state ink just fades away. Sounding too communist already? Well, I’ll clarify if the early commies didn’t. Revolutions don’t work. Take a history class in them: violence is not the solution. Society is built on peace, and if you take away the order that makes that peace, then you’re opening Pandora’s Box, right, you’re signalling to everyone that there is no law for a while and so they can do what they want. Being so accustomed to limits on their freedom, members of society will then tend to go fucking insane, torturing, stealing from, extorting those who haven’t yet gone insane. Just because they can. And for a lot of people it’s the first and only opportunity in life they’ve had to really DO something. The first moment of meaning. The first moment they’ve lived.

I’ve got nothing against a kind of order, and sudden ‘limitless’ freedom is overrated. Having a stable society saves a lot of lives – I think life is important – and for you capitalist scum it saves property. So we all like a bit of order.

Besides, you don’t win an argument by killing the person you’re arguing with, or by hurting them – you just make it harder for them to continue to argue a point they still believe in. As long as they want to keep arguing, you’ve failed. Winning the argument is about convincing someone else that they were wrong, so they might change to more or less your point of view on the topic. It’s resource management, you don’t kill your comrades and workers. Even if you’re a capitalist it’s bad business – much better that people willingly co-operate.

This is how we will have to bring about a democratic society: by convincing the state that it itself is wrong. And we won’t do that just by writing stupid little essays like this.

The democratic society has to be built over the oligarchical capitalist one, not with isolated communes of fellow travellers, but normal villages, whole towns, cities, counties changing their practices and methods of organisation to the democratic. And what does that mean?

Basically, legally, reorganising ourselves into co-operative groups capable of providing completely for themselves. At base level, given our present level of technological advancement, everyone could be living without governmental support or reliance on utility companies or outside farms. We could make everything we need ourselves. It’d cost money and effort, but so does everything else, everything we already have, everything we’re building. All those new flats and skyscrapers in London.

The only reason that any more of an advanced level of society than basic small-group self-reliance should exist is luxury. Luxury or possibly evolution. Yeah, I prefer evolution. Nothing wrong with luxury as such, but there’s a lot wrong with a merciless pursuit of it to excess. Same goes for anything pursued to great excess really – never turns out well. Evolution on the other hand – natural. We should be getting better and changing as a species.

Luxury, in a modern democracy, would be found both in what you can make yourselves in addition to what you need, and in what other people want to give you. If the way you acquire what you need for survival is streamlined to the point at which it requires minimal maintenance, you can spend a lot of your life on anything you want. And being human, you’ll want some nice extras as part of that. Entertaining fiction, drugs, artworks, extra tasty food and drink. Maybe a car if that’s your idea of a good time. What you want you could make for yourself – you’d have the time to do it. And a co-operative, democratic social setup would mean you’d be making plenty of pals with the other groups of people around, to the point at which you might want to give them things and they might want to give you things. Or where you might want to work together on a bigger project. Plus we’re not luddites, there’s a lot of brilliant tech around that means you can get more or less what you want. Maybe not a Porsche in just the right shade of black, but a fast car for example – you can make those at home mate, and do your own decoration rather than factory regular.

I feel like evolution is still a better guiding principle at this point though. Even if we’re basically hedonists, we could be working together to make breakthrough medical advances, engineering advances and shit, thinking openly and (relatively) efficiently about making humans better. That’s all humans by the way. None of your racist bullshit here. It’s not even about race – we’re all the fucking human race. Racism’s about idiot people making gang uniforms out of skin colour and language. Like we ought to be able to see through Trump, we ought to be able to see right through those shitstacks. But as with all gangs, criminals – they’re just doing what they need to do to survive, as they see it. We’ve got to get in there and show them there’s a better way.

And veganism – veganism makes for much better land use, saving huge amounts of resources, nevermind the health benefits. And no-one has to go totally vegan as long as we stop the farming. I mean animals are going to hunt eachother anyway, so why shouldn’t we join the party on occasion? As we help ourselves evolve, leave them to their own evolution in pleasant reserves and parks and ting. We like nature – it’s pretty, vaguely mystical, vaugely dangerous.

Now, this is where we get to some kind of politics. Democracy doesn’t need voting, since everyone is involved in whatever decision is made. That can sound quite sinister, until you remember that there is no state in democracy. There is no legal power above you, the individual. You don’t need to vote for representatives if there’s no issue being decided elsewhere that you would want to comment on. However, the need would arise to organise bigger projects like hospitals, science labs, factories. Possibly farms. These would all need to be equally owned and maintained by all the people setting them up. No ‘leaders’ with administrative power. The administrative power would lie in everyone wanting to achieve the same goal, everyone recognising one another’s strengths, everyone being empathic. And I need to step out here for a talk about what it is to be human, because if you were interested before now, this is where you start to doubt.

I agree: “oh we’ll just love eachother” isn’t enough. Why won’t someone want to take all the power and fuck over everyone else? Well, before we get on to the philosophy, there’s something in the structure here. Organising society at its lowest common denominator, a group of people living together (NOT a conventional family) means that there is nothing to take over. All necessities being provided means there’s not much demand for most people to fight for survival or fight for the basics – everything is already there. All you could fight over would be luxuries. Not people. People you need to get things done, you don’t need people as objects. Some folks think they can have people as objects. For sex, for example. Or for entertainment. Not as labour slaves, since they’ll work better for you if they’re not slaves. Fact. Actually with all things, people do it better with consent, it’s fucking obvious. Agreement, co-operation. Not many of us want to own others. What most of us want is an excess of some kind of luxury, and a lot of positive attention from other humans. In a democratic society, you’d have loads of positive attention from everyone as a kind of baseline – mutual love and respect. And the luxury? Well, you’d have loads of people willing to work with you to achieve an abundance of it. Maybe not more than you could ever possibly use, as some people like to get now (fleets of cars, mountains of coke, impossible sums of money) but more than enough.

So okay, agree with me that maybe there is some slight quality to the organisation of this democracy, maybe, although it hasn’t been very well explained here. What about the baseline of mutual love and respect?

Well, you wouldn’t try and join and live in this democratic society without it. And you wouldn’t be able to work within democratic organisation without it. Co-operation and empathy being the key phrases. Without them, the whole scheme just doesn’t work. It only happens with people who are capable of such things. I think all people are, but even if they’re not, democracy can still work. It doesn’t offend anyone. It doesn’t break laws or harm people. It doesn’t try and dismantle the establishment. It just does life better for those who want to practice it. And working in small community groups as a baseline means, unlike now, you’ll get to know everyone around you, everyone who effects your core ability to survive. You’ll be aware if a problem’s likely to arise, you’ll have friends standing by to support you. Conflict just starts to be seen as unhelpful, unlike the current way of things where conflict is standard.

There’s a whole background of thinking built on human experience that leads you to democracy, and I have written and am going to write plenty on it. But basically, why do you want these idiots in, for example, McDonalds headquarters, changing how you live your life? Cut out from the society they dominate and exist in one that treats people as equal parts in a genuinely positive and beautiful whole.

“Oh, oh, but if this “democracy” you’re talking about is so good, why don’t we have it already?”

Well, imaginary detractor:

A long time ago, someone called Thomas Hobbes wrote a book about how life for humanity that didn’t involve kings and governments would be “nasty, brutish and short”. This attitude to stateless society has become somehow famous and widely accepted. Hobbes’ book Leviathan (he even openly recognises with the title that the state too is monstrous) was published in 1651. That’s a time when most people were dying young having lived nasty and brutish lives. Most people were farmers or other kinds of labourer working for a selection of ‘aristocrats’, nobles, priests, who claimed superiority. Hobbes managed to live a life much divorced from that of the masses who lived the kind of nasty existence that he claims the state protects us from. Basically, he’s saying in the book “I did well out of the state, fuck you all.” Diminishing his message to be simply: better to be with the bigger monster than one of the smaller ones.

But to be fair, that’s not all he was trying to say, and that’s not all his life was about. Like Machiavelli and Aquinas in their essays to princes and Kings, Hobbes has underlying points beyond defence of the establishment. Some points about liberty, social contract, mobility of a kind. Everyone becomes complicated when you dig deeper than a famous quote. Complicated doesn’t save the state though, just explains it.

We’ve reached here and now because the early stages of human existence were hard. We pulled ourselves up to what looks like the top of the world, but it only looks that way to the people who aren’t still fighting to survive. Since the beginning of humanity and even now, people are fighting for basic survival, doing all they can just to get food on the table, just to avoid taking a beating or a bullet, to avoid seeing their loved ones, their friends, their family, suffer and die. For these people still struggling – most of the world’s population – life continues to be nasty, brutish and short. The sort of leaders they produce are made by the experience of struggle, of a basic lack of human essentials. And once they’re leading it’s like celebrity, being catapulted from nothing into a position of seemingly ultimate power. More than that it can be like minor transcendence or deification. For example, becoming the person who controls exactly the force you’ve all been fighting against: death.

There’s an ocean of pain and suffering in human cultural history. Much of our culture still has its roots there: in that kind of miserable competition. Slaves killing eachother for scraps of rotten food.

It’s easy to get distracted by all that pain (especially seeing as it hasn’t been eliminated pretty much anywhere) and so think that humanity is somehow evil in its nature. No, our circumstances are hard. Nothing is particularly evil. The world doesn’t judge, the world doesn’t have morality. We made morality in an attempt to better organise ourselves against one another and the corruption wrought on us by our very existence. But of course, in a sense, corruption isn’t corruption. It’s just another response to every-day necessity.

Morality isn’t the world, it’s just a response to the world.

I can’t accurately say that the horrific shit we’ve done to get to where we are today is wrong, but I can say there’s a perfectly good alternative that we could just start using, start living. And if it is really better, then why not? It’s not even a matter of morality, it’s just survival efficiency. If we can eliminate the basic need to survive, we can evolve into the next thing as a species. We often act – in popular culture – like we’ve already separated ourselves from the animals and the rest of nature. No, we’ll never separate ourselves from the very fabric of our existence. But if we organised ourselves such as to remove the elements of our lives that lead to destruction and death, we’d be pretty damn close to classifying ourselves as something other than animal at least.

I mean, I don’t think I’ll have you convinced from this little attempt here. Maybe I’ve got you thinking though. Check out some more various sources, some old-skool counter-culture, see what’s been accepted and what was held back. Look at the rise and fall of Rome, the history of Western Christendom, the Industrial Revolution – it’ll probably only take a year’s hobby reading to get a decent span of European history. I’m assuming you’re European, you might not be. Find what you need to find, get your historical context straight, get your Ivan Illich, some weird Henri Bergson philosophy, some Marx, some Hegel, some Aquinas, some More, Machiavelli for practicality…or don’t. I mean the historical layout gives you the material you need to see what’s wrong now. But fuck, if you can already see what’s wrong now then you’re right where you need to be. Add an open-minded, primarily peaceful outlook on the world and you’re probably already a little democrat working for a better future.

We just need to talk to eachother, work with eachother. Man this is why I love wordpress as a blogging community. So much room for discussion and chat, much less desire for the filthy realities of dagger-drawn combat. I can just put this out here, and we can do the communication thing. It’s beautiful.

The Excuse

About

I’m saying what I believe is that existence is true. That stuff exists. And that, at the end of the day, past all the beautiful colour of language, life and opinion, that’s all I believe.

My disclaimer, you see. I plan on doing and saying lots of things that certainly won’t be taken under proper consideration – that’s part of the fun, you see. In a world of headlines, there are only a few ways to grab the headlines and related iconography. And on the off-chance that I operate one of those routes to acknowledgement, I’d like a place to fall back to. A little redoubt that says at least I tried to tell you. History is thick with people admirably defended by truth and purpose – having a heart, having a kind of statement unspoken. Well, this is my statement written.

I have a very simple view of the world, and one that I’ll endeavour to explain over the next lifetime.

1. All things are of equal value, if divergent in semblance.

2. Everything is trying to exist more and/or exist better. Evolution, kidder.

3. Everything is stuff that exists.

The weird thing is that those three points are actually just the third one. All you need to know is that stuff exists, and the rest seems to follow unavoidably. It’s terrifying, brilliant, and maybe a little disgusting. That’s philosophy for you, or thinking or whatever it’s called these days. You do it proper and you’ll almost wish you hadn’t. Almost.

I have other, personal, viewpoints that seem to follow from the basic three. Maybe they can help to explain. I believe in non-violence: I believe in getting rid of compulsion in the most absolute sense of one person forcing an action on another, unwilling, person. But I also believe that all viewpoints are right and, for various reasons, of equal merit at the time of their being held. Though there are ‘better’ viewpoints that will eventually replace ‘worse’ ones, this is a process of constant change and improvement that happens on an individual level. At any one time, any idea being held will be the best that that individual can come up with: at any one time, everyone will have the best idea. Best for them, at least. And you can’t ban a thought, so don’t try.

In other words, people will keep on doing what they individually need to do whether you like that or not. No only whether you like it or not, but in a total, truthful way. People have to live their lives. Yes, that includes the ‘worst’ people. And don’t get me wrong, I personally hate murders, rapists, evil-doers of all kinds. But this isn’t entirely about what I think. It’s about the broader fabric of things. We all live in our own heads and can only understand things as we individually come to understand them. So yeah, if you don’t want to get killed by a murderer, defend yourself as you think fit. Just don’t go pretending that the murder is some inexplicable force of evil. He or she is (was if you then killed them) a human being, exactly like you in core functionality. We all exist, we all want to make the most of it, we all do our best to achieve that end. This is the sense in which we are all the same. Some people will think that robbery, rape and murder will help them get the most out of life. Those of us who disagree should try and convince them of our alternative ideas, while also (if we want to protect ourselves – we don’t have to) making sure these others don’t cause too much damage in the meantime.

Essential concept for me: we humans (almost) always operate as individual units. Even when we’re working together, it’s still a bunch of individuals as well as the group they form. The existential self does not disappear, it keeps working. It never fully stops working until death. And every moment of work forms that person. Every moment of your existence contributes to who you will be, and not everything that happens to you will be easily within your control. Not all of it will be familiar. In fact, most of it will be largely out of your control and will be unfamiliar at first. You have to learn patterns, you often have to learn to influence your life rather than try to control it outright. Life is bigger than you. Life won’t bow to your whims. But it will listen to you, and it will respond to what you do. And you will respond to it. That goes for every one of us, ‘best’ and ‘worst’.

Like what I say above, that what I do won’t always be taken under ‘proper consideration’, all I’m strictly saying is that not all of you are me. And why would you be? It’d be boring (amongst other things) if we were all that kind of similar.

An important point, right: if you believe something you should really believe it. So if you want to go non-violence for example, then you really need to be trying hard to make sure that you never need to deploy violence. Don’t just say you’re a pacifist without thinking about it. Adhere to something meaningful to you, not a hollow puppet made only to entertain the kids. At the same time though, humans are not ideal beings. We can consider ideas, but we can’t always keep to them perfectly. It’s not what we’re made for. We’re made to survive and thrive (as a species) in most environments on the Earth’s surface, and we continuously remake ourselves as time goes on. One day, we will probably become strange non-human beings of perfection or near-perfection. I mean obviously we’re going to take evolution into our own hands. However, since we’re not at that day yet, I can’t say what that will be like. I’m one of us, and so also not perfect. All I can say is that knowing some kind of truth, knowing some kind of good idea, means that you should try and follow that good idea, and teach others about it.

But this is not just about people. This is about all of existence – life isn’t just humans. All of existence is trying to do what’s best, is continuing to exist. It’s all doing what it believes is right, so to speak. We’ve only come to be in the first place through those kinds of existential forces. Things that don’t give a fig about our daily joys or tribulations, from atoms and whatever else, swapping electrons n’ all, up through your bacterias and animals. Even rocks are doing what they’ve gotta do, and the universe, the existence is dependant on all of that doing and having done exactly what it did and does. It’s mind-boggling. Let me tell you, there are times when I wish I was a future being capable of dealing with this, and there are times when I wonder if I’d be better off not knowing. But bollocks to both. I’m here right now, I know what I know, I am what I am, and it’s important.

So that’s my mission statement. My core belief is in the truth of existence. Alright. Every part of existence is there together. I can talk in religious language, scientific language, atheistic language. Whatever language you want me to talk, I can at least try and learn it and do that for you. I don’t mind language, because a truth – if true – should hold steady in any language. That’s why in ideas terms I don’t like bashing anyone for the group they belong to. The only issue is the veracity of their guiding principles, and it’s in the nature of the truth for us to want it, for us to want to be right in a complete sense. So everyone will be trying to get to truth in their guiding principles. And that’s the same as me. So there will be room for us to work together to get to that truth.

Every group is trying to get to the same thing as every other group. All they end up fighting over is misinterpreted looks and sounds. And if you get it in your head that we are all looking for the same thing, maybe it’s easier to forgive a misinterpretation, and maybe it’s easier to understand others. Maybe the fighting lessens because it doesn’t help. And then maybe this would’ve been an introduction rather than an obscure disclaimer.

Stuff exists. Deal with it.

Does anyone else get tired of labels?

Papers, Political, Prosaic

I’m thinking ideologies and religions and politics and genders and all that stuff, but maybe some shopping labels too. I mean we wouldn’t need traffic light nutritional guidelines if all the food was in its freshly farmed or slaughtered form, or prepared by a trustworthy authority that’s not trying to pump us full of tasty tasty fats and sizzling stimulating sugars. Bastards.

I’ve been spending some time trying to work out what femininity is, and I’ve mostly been avoiding the masculine. I know enough already, I figure. But really, all you learn in research is that both terms are unhelpful. They’re social groupings that just don’t matter. I mean, grand scheme don’t matter. Like sure walking down the street right now reading this on your phone, or maybe sat at home listening to a loved one do something in the next room, or lying in bed listening to some filthy Lou Reed…then maybe it matters a little bit. But still not really. It’s not an important part of who you are, it’s just a filter that other people will try and feed you through, if and when they can. It’s not something you have to participate in.

I do it for fun, sometimes. I make myself a science experiment, probably way too obviously. I become the shy girl or boy walking into that club, that bar, that coffee place for the first time. That lecture hall, that fashion outlet, that library. I make myself look ‘interesting’ and do ‘interesting’ things, and I wait for people to respond. Sometimes I get real chats – people who find and love the opportunity to sincerely be themselves with another individual. Sometimes I get fake come-ons, brusque and lustful slurps of kisses or coffees, raised eyebrows, scowls, or timid and tender requests for books to borrow, seats to steal.

The identities I put on are not identities, they’re labels, uniforms. And I find it really…sad, that we have to act this way, or that we choose to act this way. That we get lost in posturing.

So much of what I read about masculine and feminine identity, for example, comes down to physical features and behaviours. But it’s like trying to say someone is bald – that semi-famous philosophical problem – how many hairs does it take? Because clearly you can be called bald even if you have some hair. It’s a vaguery of quantity and presentation that seems to defy conventional logic: the point at which someone becomes bald is relative to who’s looking, or who’s wearing or not wearing the hair. But mainly who’s looking I guess. It’s not so important to the one with the hair, they just feel more or less of a breeze. They probably don’t have much need for a name for how they look. They have other words, pictures, sounds, for their experience, what they think, how they feel.

So with masculinity and femininity – it’s a vague labelling to help other people understand who you are, and how they see you. It matters to them whether you walk how they want or have the curves they want, or the muscles they need you to have, the job they want you to work. In a sense, therefore, it’s not something you need to worry about at all. It doesn’t matter to you, you just have to be yourself and, hey, why not enjoy being yourself while you’re there? So what if someone else doesn’t like it? If they’re not involved in your life in any meaningful way, it shouldn’t matter. If they are involved in your life seriously…then why aren’t they taking you seriously?

Okay, sometimes being yourself will get you into trouble with the onlookers. They can imprison you, harm you, bully you. Sometimes. Basic line of defence there is the same: fuck them. You’ve got one life being you, so don’t let anyone shit that up. Being yourself can hurt but unselving is worse. The middle ground is, I guess, hiding in the labels people like without adopting them. The safe place, maybe, mostly, is that. Understanding the labels other people use, that you probably also have to use, remembering that a label is just that. Remember the you behind that peelable sticker. Behind that loose dust jacket.

Identity is something far more personal, and so far more nebulous than label. No name can fully describe, no traits, no long videos, books, audio recordings, nothing can quite encapsulate it fully except you having yours, you being you. And heck it’s something you can’t avoid. Unselving just hurts worst, it doesn’t actually break you. You continue being you, and having been you.

Sometimes I think labels are a way of people escaping their own totality. I’ve done a lot over the years I’m unhappy about, and that stuff doesn’t go away with time. Forgetting it for a while doesn’t wash it out of history. But hey, that doesn’t determine who I have to be, what I have to do, how I have to feel. It’s stuff I have to come to terms with, and carry on in spite of. And hiding, pretending, putting it off…that’s just running away from creaks in the floorboards, rustles in hedgerows, the call of the Moon. Life is something you have to live, you know. It’s weirdly self-fulfilling like that. All it asks is that you get properly involved in being…and being you.

Now, maybe I can’t make this properly engage with the debate on “identity issues/politics” but that’s because I don’t like having to be part of that warzone. I’m peaceful, I want happy, functioning folk, not holy corpses. Most of any debate seems to have become people demanding obedience and adherence from people who demanded that from them, because people demanded that from them, because people demanded that from them…ad nauseam. It’s a minefield in which most any opinion is wrong for someone. I just wish we could get back to the reality…you don’t need to have such a strong opinion about someone else’s life. Beyond wanting them not to shit on you, they’re really not your problem. And most people don’t want to shit on you. Scat porn is relatively exclusive like that.

It’s so frustrating as politics descends into nonsensical exchanges of buzzwords that have lost all meaning, discussions of gender, sexuality, patriarchy, identity, dissolve into a mess of offended males and females fighting for their right for other people to call them male or female…and that we seem to be unable to say “rape is wrong” and have everyone understand. We seem unable to say “racism is wrong” and have everyone understand. “War is wrong. Violence is wrong.” Or worse, we know these things are wrong, but in despair we suffer or indulge them anyway, the incomprehensible spewing mess of our existence drowning so many fractured minds…

I think we’re ordering. I think bit by bit humanity is helping itself to calm down and recognise a fair and universal understanding almost beyond description, but well within grasp. And on the one hand it’s so beautiful to feel that hope, more, that knowledge. But on the other, I am human and I am impatient.

Fifteen

Papers, Prosaic

The Flammarion Engraving. People have been aware of weird shit since before 1872, but this picture feels like a good illustration of what I’ve been feeling lately. There’s a point in any stage of society where the society’s members reach out for things they don’t understand, like space. Broadly speaking the engraving is about people theorising the existence of things beyond the sky. If we didn’t have astronauts and big-ass telescopes, that’d be quite a scary concept, no? A strange, unknowable existence beyond existence?

Well, here’s the thing: the problem doesn’t go away with the Great Humongous telescopes. We may have stretched perception even to the edges of the universe, but there’s still the barely appreciable question of what lies beyond that. Or beyond the multiverse. Or about the nature of infinity. And the idea of all the significant shit we don’t know has really been messing with my head lately. It’s not even about death yo, I’m just worried that when I die my capacity to work this out will be substantially reduced. I wanna know what’s going on. I want the next answer in the infinite chain of “Why?” questions we can ask.

Gah. I feel like the dude in the engraving. I’ve just poked my head and arm out into space and I’m taking these heaving breaths of nothing, it’s inflating my skull to pop territory and maybe I’m even burning from the fictitious fires of the Firmament.

I love what I do – philosophy that is – but really. This is the worst. The worst feeling ever, you know, when you reach a little too far and get off balance. I mean fuck. I’ll get over it but in the meantime I been dazed and confused so long it’s not true (wanted an answer, never bargained for you).

Here’s how it is:

Existence is self-justifying. In human terms anyway. It’s ironically similar to the Christian God as described by various medieval and early modern theologians, except it definitely isn’t a man, nor human, nor particularly comprehensible. Our slice of it is what’s comprehensible, the rest is clearly way out West. I mean, banditos ride through it regularly and burn down evidence of the crime. Tom Waits is there, getting money – they’re giving it away. It’s chaos, man. It’s so chaotic that all metaphors are borderline mockery, if it could be mocked.

Existence is more or less infinite. We can’t really look at infinity to check, but logically it makes sense. In the way that it made sense to various Greek scientist-philosophers that the world might be made up of small particles, the world might be round, the world might orbit the sun…that kind of thing. The way that Flammarion has someone poking their head through the Firmament. People who have no idea what they’re talking about, but 200, 3000 years later, someone exonerates their account. Kinda. Given the limits they were working under.

In short, your being aware – of anything at all – means that something is happening, something exists. If something exists, very quickly any kind of non-existence starts to seem impossible. Which, by definition, it is. Don’t forget that.

You want to quote the philosophy that says nothing exists except when you’re there to experience it? Get all Burroughsey on me? I’m going to Occam’s Razor that shit. What, the entirety of existence pops in, consistent, rational, scientific, just because you move your head? Or just because your ear develops as part of the natural course of things – which are what by the way? – and you can hear a little further so a few more noises have to exist? Sure, it’s possible. Likely however…I’m not convinced.

The point of that whole thing is quantum mechanics. Broad strokes: a thing (an electron I hear) could be anywhere until something measures it. But it doesn’t pop into existence, it exists somewhere, or exists everywhere and gets measured somewhere. Weird, but not temporary un-existence.

You’re going to have to do your own research and soul-searching on this but it’s probable that things exist, just because existence is the way of things. Linguistically for sure,  but it checks out in all that we know about human reality. We live, we die, when we die our parts are re-distributed through natural processes. No matter is created or destroyed. The big bang might have happened, and if it did all the contents were already there. Human existence…our little lifetimes, our big lifetimes: nothingness is pretty much irrelevant to us as humans. Us as matter…maybe it’s relevant. Maybe even to us as conscious entities. But in our capacity as humans it looks as though everything is in its right place. Suck it.

We are part of an expanding universe, and our interest in that is to further a stable expansion or evolution. Broad strokes. If you want to put that in God terms, we’re building the Kingdom of Heaven. Brick by brick but hey, better than nothing right? Never say I exclude y’all religious folks.

Good and bad, there are absolutely efficient decisions which tend to fall more or less along traditional moral lines. Killing is usually bad for example. It hinders the progress of evolution because we’re destroying when we can modify or redirect.

This stands up under scrutiny even if I’m not doing it justice right now. Once you get past the irritatingly subtle “the point of existence is to exist more” or “morality is just about getting better”, it really looks like it has legs. More so than most other propositions of an absolute philosophy or morality. Humans kinda are that simple.

And yet the point of the beginning of this post: it’s not enough. We might get the validation we’re looking for as humans, great. I’m terrified of not getting my “why”, the understanding, validation, value as a conscious being, or as the caretaker of billions of atoms that make up my body, if that’s what we are. The bigger, non-human question which probably extends beyond human understanding so…fuck. End of the tunnel? Where are the limits of existence or if there aren’t any then why the fuck? Infinity? Really? We start again at the end? We just exist in Aristotelian Prime Mover bliss?

I don’t know. Head sticking out here, my eyes haven’t adjusted to the dark yet, maybe I’m about to breathe in a vacuum. Goddang Flammarion has more to it than initially appears.

Let’s just take solace in the possibility that there are the equivalent to answers out there, and we just don’t have the capacity to know them…yet.