Monday, April 21, 2014

The Messiah



Continued from Karma & Kabbalah

- "Bring good out into the world". You talk about it like doing good was secret knowledge.
- It certainly is secret knowledge. I'll read you this: according to Nahmanides, 12th century rabbi and physician,
 In the prophetic vision, during which the soul is united with the objects of its contemplation, it is in this state of debhequth, that is, obtains a ''knowledge of God face to face." In this longing for its origin, the highest soul of man becomes capable of penetrating all the intermediary spheres and rising up to God by means of its acts—which, strangely enough, are united here with contemplation.* 
- Whatever.
- Not whatever. Knowledge. We see apparently civilized countries suddenly breaking out into the most vicious savagery, and then within a few years back to civilized again. We see the same with individuals. Do you know why?
- Do you?
- It's because we as individuals don't do as Nahmanides tells us it's possible to do: know how to get out of ourselves.
- To get with god.
- When we don't know what we do to get out of ourselves we take instruction from the people around us. Behind conscious self-instruction is knowledge. Behind unconscious instruction from others is violence. 
- Is that the secret? Is it even true?
- It might be true. And if it is true, we know from other things we do know for sure that though there is no necessity, there is a possibility that history might end and the messiah come.
- And that's the secret.
- There is a sort of dynamic, or logic, to the competition between the two ways of getting out of ourselves. They block each other: violence punishes love, love disdains violence. But it is not an equal battle. Violence grows out of ignorance and is always the same old thing, whereas love, growing from knowledge, knowing that violence is the product of unconscious activity in the group can alter the group to prevent violence from developing. The group can punish good, reward bad, get us to forget love and worship property, but if the group is modeled on knowing how to act to get out...
- How can a group be modeled on knowing how to get out?
- By seeing the world created as words spoken by god, by seeing the world as people creating their lives in the same way they use language, using words not knowing how the sentence will end but expecting it be good and what they want if they use language right. If our group tell us one thing only, and that is to do this for ourselves, if we take precautions to make sure this only is what our group does, then good prevails, and must. 
- Like our country spreads democracy around the world by dropping bombs on people.
- Is our country a group of people who learn consciously to see god? 
- We're all waiting for the messiah.
- Wait for the messiah and the devil will come. The messiah has to be brought down to us.
- And you know how.
- If the good we do stays in the world in the form of beauty, and beauty is no more than a model of the kind of knowing action that get us face to face with god, and the good staying in the world requires the obtainable protection of the people who speak to each other of beauty, and the people can speak to people in other groups, then ultimately a time will come when the battle is over. The messiah is the one who arrives to say, That time is here, prepare now for an entirely new way of life. No more will we betray each other in protection of our property, our god, our selves as possessions, no more will we act to get ourselves out of the world of betrayal and rest in the sight of beauty. Finally all of life, all those cycles of betrayal and recovery, exile and return, action and rest, will be gathered together as one long period of action in exile, and be over, we'll rest with god. His beauty will give us continual rest, but we'll act in our calm, act like a child acts in the protection of family, our difficulties enjoyable diversions, played through like games.
_________________
* Gershom Scholem, Origins Of The Kabbalah

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Karma & Kabbalah

India In Beverly Hills
There was a king who had a single son who kept misbehaving. One day he offended the king. The king said, 'I have punished you so many times and you have not [changed]. Now look, what should I do with you? If I banish you from the land and expel you from the kingdom, perhaps wild beasts or wolves or robbers will attack you and you will be no more. What can I do? The only solution is that I and you together leave the land.' So . . . the Blessed Holy One said as follows: 'Israel, what should I do with you? I have already punished you and you have not heeded Me. I have brought fearsome warriors and flaming forces to strike at you and you have not obeyed. If I expel you from the land alone, I fear that packs of wolves and bears will attack you and you will be no more. But what can I do with you? The only solution is that I and you together leave the land and both of us go into exile. As it is written, 'I will discipline you,' forcing you into exile; but if you think that I will abandon you, Myself too [shall go] along with you.*

1.

Corner of Beverly Blvd. and Doheny Dr., India in Beverly Hills.

Untouchables live and die on two bus-stops facing each other on either side of the street, in front of the supermarket on one side, in front of the more expensive supermarket on the other.

- I've seen you around. You give away money.
- I've seen you too. You read. What have you got there?
- Kabbalah.
- The Kabbalah is simple. I'll tell you all you need to know. Compassion. Do good. I don't talk, I do. I see people who need help, and I help them.
- How do you help them?
- If they need food I buy them food. If they need money I give them money.
- What makes you think that is doing good?
- The Rabbi says you have to be careful in how you give. Respect people's sensitivities.
- Do you pay attention to what happens after you do good?
- How do you mean?
- Do the people you give money to have better or worse lives after you give them money? Do you know?
- That's god's business, not mine.
- They'll see you are treating them as things.
- I don't.
- They'll see you've done this before and you'll do it again. That they are a tool in your hands, a thing you use, an instrument for your doing good. You shouldn't operate on people like a technician.
- How should I operate on them?
- Like god. According to Kabbalah, the world is not simply something, some thing he made, but something emanated from him.
- What's the difference?
- When you look at the world you see god, at least that aspect that can be seen in the world. Because we are created in god's image, we too have to create like god in every thing we do. Kabbalah tells us how god created the world, and we have to do it the same way if we are to follow god.
- How did god created the world?
- With wisdom and through beauty. We have to follow in his footsteps. That means, in practical terms, start our operation by reminding ourselves what god has done. We do that by seeing god in the world, and we do that when we recognize, we experience beauty in the world. Beauty is a sort of karma, but unlike the Indian version that simply goes from our action, good and bad, through the world back to us, this Karma stays out in world, visible to us and capable of being built upon, of inspiring good deeds that create more beauty. In Kabbalah beauty is joined compassion and judgement, as befits its being the product of wisdom. Beauty is drawn into marriage with the world, and the progeny of that marriage is more beauty.
- I told you. I leave all that useless reasoning and talk to others. I go out and do something.
- And botch the job. Do something ugly. Not beginning from beauty you don't produce beauty. To do good in the world requires you first see the world as beautiful. Seeing the beauty of the world is knowing god made the world and made it well. Not made well the entire world, which you know nothing about. But that part you are looking and thinking about now, that you identify by means of the language you've learned among the people you live with. The beauty of the world excites your judgement and compassion, draws you to respond to it and gives birth in you to another beautiful good deed. Beauty is both judgement and compassion, not one or the other. Beauty won't be created out of good deeds done by rule, by judgement only; won't be created out of good done out of thoughtless feeling, compassion alone.
- How is beauty drawn to beauty?
- Judgement and compassion is brought to bear on the world, and out of that marriage is the good deed born, beautiful in itself. The beauty that inspires making more beauty works through language. Beauty is recorded in the world, gets its persisting, foundational karma, from our ways and habits of using our language. A story once told inspires more stories. Language lives through its community of speakers. That's why in Kabbalah the Jewish people are identified with the world which also is god, not merely his product.
- The Jewish people is god, the world is god. Language is god. And I am to act like god. Everything is god.
- Everything would be god if we all acted with god's wisdom. God creates with wisdom, through compassion and judgement, bringing his wisdom to bear on his own creation. Made in his image we have to do the same. As a people we tell each other stories of how this is done, and we see the world through these stories. The beauty of the world seen through these stories inspires us to make beautiful stories out of our lives.
- But it is not just the Jewish people I help. I think that's wrong.
- The Kabbalah reached its high point of development and probably acceptance at a time the Jewish people were excluded from most activities in the lives of the people they lived among. When restrictions were lifted in the Enlightenment, the time of the French and American Revolutions, the rabbis declared the Kabbalah dangerous and to be studied by only a select few. Do you know why?
- Why?
- If god is known in the world and the world is known through language and language is carried on by a community of speakers, when that community is freed to speak to others outside, there is no reason to exclude anyone from that community. Doing good would have to be directed also to those outside. The rabbis wanted instead to take advantage of the practical gains the new social freedom allowed, but keep the doing good within their communities. Gershom Scholem, the German Jewish academic who begin the modern study of Kabbalah, explained that a non-practicing Jew like himself found himself drawn into the study of mysticism by its political implications. He was a Zionist, and the return to Israel was a way to make a secure foundation for the Jews from which they could safely bring good out into the world.


2.

- "Bring good out into the world". You talk about it like doing good was secret knowledge.
- It certainly is secret knowledge. I'll read you this: according to Nahmanides, 12th century rabbi and physician,
 In the prophetic vision, during which the soul is united with the objects of its contemplation, it is in this state of debhequth, that is, obtains a ''knowledge of God face to face." In this longing for its origin, the highest soul of man becomes capable of penetrating all the intermediary spheres and rising up to God by means of its acts—which, strangely enough, are united here with contemplation.** 
- Whatever.
- Not whatever. Knowledge. We see apparently civilized countries suddenly breaking out into the most vicious savagery, and then within a few years back to civilized again. We see the same with individuals. Do you know why?
- Do you?
- It's because we as individuals don't do as Nahmanides tells us it's possible to do: know how to get out of ourselves.
- To get with god.
- When we don't know what we do to get out of ourselves we take instruction from the people around us. Behind conscious self-instruction is knowledge. Behind unconscious instruction from others is violence. 
- Is that the secret? Is it even true?
- It might be true. And if it is true, we know from other things we do know for sure that though there is no necessity, there is a possibility that history might end and the messiah come.
- And that's the secret.
- There is a sort of dynamic, or logic, to the competition between the two ways of getting out of ourselves. They block each other: violence punishes love, love disdains violence. But it is not an equal battle. Violence grows out of ignorance and is always the same old thing, whereas love, growing from knowledge, knowing that violence is the product of unconscious activity in the group can alter the group to prevent violence from developing. The group can punish good, reward bad, get us to forget love and worship property, but if the group is modeled on knowing how to act to get out...
- How can a group be modeled on knowing how to get out?
- By seeing the world created as words spoken by god, seeing the world as people creating their lives in the same way they use language, using words not knowing how the sentence will end but expecting it be good and what they want if they use language right. If our group tell us one thing only, and that is to do this for ourselves, if we take precautions to make sure this only is what our group does, then good prevails, and must. 
- Like our country spreads democracy around the world by dropping bombs on people.
- Is our country a group of people who learn consciously to see god? 
- We're all waiting for the messiah.
- Wait for the messiah and the devil will come. The messiah has to be brought down to us.
- And you know how.
- If the good we do stays in the world in the form of beauty, and beauty is no more than a model of the kind of knowing action that get us face to face with god, and the good staying in the world requires the obtainable protection of the people who speak to each other of beauty, and the people can speak to people in other groups, then ultimately a time will come when the battle is over. The messiah is the one who arrives to say, That time is here, prepare now for an entirely new way of life. No more will we betray each other in protection of our property, our god, our selves as possessions, no more will we act to get ourselves out of the world of betrayal and rest in the sight of beauty. Finally all of life, all those cycles of betrayal and recovery, exile and return, action and rest, will be gathered together as one long period of action in exile, and be over, we'll rest with god. His beauty will give us continual rest, but we'll act in our calm, act like a child acts in the protection of family, our difficulties enjoyable diversions, played through like games.
__________________
* From the Zohar (Hebrew: זֹהַר, lit. Splendor or Radiance), the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah.
** Gershom Scholem, Origins Of The Kabbalah

Night, Beverly Hills



1.

- Hey, come on the number 4 bus with me. Two in the morning, just the right time. You'll get an education.
- In what?
- You'll board a kind of circling hotel, a dozen or so shapeless figures sleeping hunched over, sprawling out of their seats, in rags. When you get on the bus the driver averts his head so he doesn't have to look at you.
- Doesn't know what he'll see!
- That's right.
- Free market economics in action. Thank you, I can doing without seeing more of it. Do you think the madness will ever end, or we are approaching the end of the world? I mean, from here on out the world will be stuck in this groove until the end of time?
- I see signs.
- What signs?
- From Anthropology, a distant star of science. Science is our problem, of course.
- Of course. Why of course?
- Levi Strauss, Claude, not the blue jeans maker, invented what he called "structural anthropology". Rituals, myths and customs involved elemental oppositions, life and death, individual and society, man and woman, day and night, which could be arranged in many patterns. Individual people and things were in many categories at once. And there were obligations to be performed by those in one category for those in another. The result was balance of exchange between individuals and stability of the society as a whole. A kind of unconscious art went into the construction of the systems of class associations and exchanges between classes which showed great discrimination and observation of the things in the world and types of people, differing from our science in one important respect. Our science proposes new structures or arrangements, new models, in addition to present elements and relations. These proposed structures are hypotheses, then tested by experiment.
- So the primitives were stuck at one level.
- Yes. But they had a great advantage over us and our science.
- What?
- The practical purpose they used their science, their social art to achieve was social stability. The art expressed, taught, reminded of exchange and reciprocity. Our science, aiming at more knowledge of the world, expresses progress in place of balance.
- Science also has a practical purpose. You've told me many times there's no reason it couldn't be put to use to create reciprocity and stability and balance.
- The distant star science of anthropology seems to be moving in that direction. After collecting for hundreds of years information on these primitive societies, finding that things were never exchanged one for another, but instead as gifts made in the general structure of balance and reciprocity, finding the total lack of markets within communities, now anthropologists are asking simple obvious questions. For example, now that we know we moderns are pretty much on our own in having markets for free exchange, is it true that we are also alone in fighting wars?
- Primitives don't fight wars?
- Strangely counter to our prejudice, right? This hypothesis, new model, has now been tested against all the available evidence.
- And?
- Almost never was there a war tribe between tribe, army against army. Violence was local and individual, in retaliation for theft, for taking away a husband or wife.
- You're suggesting then that wars of armies against armies are wars of progress, on the model of modern science?
- Yes. It seems like warfare is an art that is formally identical, involves the same model of progress, of acquisition, as that of our science. Without our science, we'd be without wars.
- I don't think we're going to give up doing science.
- Science though can be turned to the practical use of understanding ourselves.
- We can't arrange knowledge in the stable patterns like myths and rituals and customs.
- We don't have to. We shouldn't anyway. We need a kind of scientific knowledge we can use to protect ourselves from the art of science, from the idealization of progress and acquisition that the practice of science otherwise teaches. We need to break science's monopoly, using against it its very own results.
- Go back to nature because science tells us we must?
- Primitive societies are fixed, to us with our scientific spirit arbitrarily and unacceptably fixed, stable because of balanced exchanges, but also almost always with some elements of hierarchy: upper, middle, lower, reflecting ritual: those who direct, those who follow, those who decide which ritual when.
- Then science is an example of directing which rituals when? Of upper class role?
- You can look at it that way.
- Do you look at science that way?
- As it is now, science in fact is not progress, not social progress. It has fit itself into the basic three class hierarchy, hierarchy being the only truly primitive element of the so-called primitives' arrangements. On the basis of this primitive hierarchy scientific society achieves stability. No matter how much equality we establish in law, what balances we try to establish in relations between people, tolerance, equality of races, religions, sexes, we turn those relations, under the hierarchical control of science, to progress and acquisition. We leave people free to make exchanges or not, and if not, we let them ride the buses in a circle all night.
- An ugly world we've made for ourselves. Go on. Tell me something positive, what we can do.
- Use science to find the rules to prevent wars. Begin with the two rules of the 19th century political theory of anarchism outlawing employment as part-time slavery and invalidating ownership without use. There certainly are other rules. We have to look for them and also, this is very important, we have to stop looking, know that the purpose of life is not progress and endless acquisition, but the good we progress towards and acquire things to get a hold of.
- What good? Did the primitives have it? Some at least?
- They must have. But, as the song says, love is the only thing there is too little of.

2.

- A lot of this I don't understand. Primitive societies are complex. Something created that complexity. And they are knowledgeable, right? About medicinal herbs, etc? What happened to the science, experiment and observation, that they used to gain their knowledge, make their societies?
- It was lost. Like we lost the philosophy, arts, theater of the Greeks and only began gaining it back 2,000 years later.
- Ok. And our free market: you say it is part of the hierarchy where science plays the role of upper class. Explain that some more.
- Free market economics says to the scientists: hands off our hierarchy!
- Who says?
- Ritual. We learn to do things without knowing why, and then when someone asks why we do it, we answer, that's how it's done. We do it because it makes us feel safe and powerful.
- So we got back our creative science, and at the moment it might have been turned to society, to creating what you called a technology of good, the ritual of the free market arises to block that development.
- Unsuccessfully.
- Yes. English, American, French revolutions came one after another. Science is at war with itself. And now?
- We have our leaders in politics, in the Universities, practicing the free market hierarchical science, allowing themselves to investigate everything but how people trade with each other, how people like or don't like each other. The results might hinder the regular function of the other two classes, those who work and those who manage workers. What workers and managers do must be left as it is now, unconsidered, learned without knowledge, learned ritually. Meanwhile, we have real science teaching us how free trade in primitive peoples is exceptional to their ordinary life of gift giving, done only between enemies, that only scientific hierarchical societies like ours, where managers and workers, buyers and sellers deal with each other in a constant state of enmity, fight wars.
- Do the leaders know what they are doing? Don't they care they are ruining people's lives?
- At the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the infamous manager of transportation for the Nazi's final solution execution of millions of people, the prosecutor forced him to admit he'd been taken to a concentration camp to watch through a peephole the mass gassing of hundreds of naked men women and children. He said he fainted. Then went on to do what was his job and he was proud to do. The prosecutors wanted to get him to admit that at one point at least he had done the bad his group participation demanded of him and rewarded him for while he knew absolutely that what he was doing was wrong. Suppressing individual knowledge of bad in exchange for rewards from participating in a group is one definition of evil. With time and distance, however, the individual resistance is overcome. Not forgotten. No. Every element finds its place in the repetition and hierarchy that is working out so well and creating so much power for its scientific directors.
- So they don't care about destroying people's lives. They don't think they are. The system is responsible, the hierarchy. It's just the way things are. They aren't evil.
- Do they look evil to you?
- No.
- Do you believe they themselves feel evil?
- No. But you imply with your Eichmann story that they do know what they are doing.
- They do. There's not the slightest doubt about that. In the U.S., in the European Union, our own economists tell our leaders the economic theories they put into effect are false, but they do it anyway. The free market is off limits. The hierarchy exerts its authority. Existing relations between people, as enemy to enemy, cannot be challenged. Ritual does its work. The stability of society technology creates helps them accept as inevitable, as "what's done", accept all that in the life of enemies living among enemies once long ago terrified them. The ride on the bus is long past. All is well in this best of all possible worlds.*
- So what's next? Will science free itself from the hierarchy?
- How should I know?

*Further Reading: A Big Mistake

Friday, April 11, 2014

Kabbalah & 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 Kabbalah, the tradition of Jewish mysticism, and anarchism, the political system of voluntary organization without central government*, and I thought that if Kabbalah 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 Kabbalah in relation to property, freedom, universals.
- And what did you discover?
- The Kabbalah 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 Kabbalah - "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 Kabbalah 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 Kabbalah 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.

(further reading: Karma & Kabbalah)
__________________
* See Minimum Viable Product

Thursday, April 3, 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.****

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

Further reading:
The Game Against The Game
There Is No Conspiracy Because There Are No People
_________________
*Liberté et Patrie - Jean-Luc Godard
** For the intoxicated action, vain thought of ritual, see Physical Things.
*** See Monsters. Left off the list of ritualized science is the no longer fashionable psychology of unconscious forces. The more natural science became myth guiding ritual, the more the mysterious forces of psychology - from the beginning a division of natural science - became an embarrassment. Force related to human behavior, erotic or aggressive, is disturbingly questionable; better to hide force somewhere in the brain within atoms or particles.
**** 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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

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.
_________________
* The Golden Rule & The Deviant Path
** Addiction & Property
*** 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
What Is Debt?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

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.**
________________
** Monsters

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.
__________________
** Addiction & Property
*** 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

Sunday, March 23, 2014

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:
A Spiritualist Campaigns For Congress, An Anarchist Attends)
Einstein & Intellectual Physics
Peanut Butter Entropy
Cohorts (A Walk With Technology)
Minimum Viable Product
_____________
Property Is Silence
** On Humanism And Morality, Noam Chomsky