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Capitalism is killing us. Socialism can’t save us. Anyone have any bright ideas?

January 31, 2011

This week, we are all thinking of Egypt. After Tunisia, many commentators wondered if the ‘infection’ would spread, if strategic areas like Saudi Arabia would be susceptible to ‘contagion’. The story-line was Rebellion as a Virus. On the internet, the Al-Jazeera images immediately ‘went viral’.

from Al-Jazeera

We can think of the rebellion as social and political, and of course it is. We can say it is the eventual reaction of masses under police-state repression, and of course, it is. We can say it is essentially economic, like more food riots, and it partially is.

We could also look at it in the larger context of generalized linguistic madness, the result of a madness that exists at all times of both stability and rebellion, in all areas of human habitation. That is, a collective madness that expresses itself as various pathologies of belief, particularly the belief in dogmatic systems, be they religious, cultural, national or ideological.

It seems to me that our brain’s language anatomy, the Broca, Wernicke and other areas near the Sylvian fissure, is in an intermediate evolutionary stage, a stage in which its development is producing both positive and negative outcomes which have as yet to be selected out. Our eyes and ears work fairly well, and we have a good idea of what to do with them. But it may be safe to say that the eventual development and proper use of our language faculty is yet unclear. In this stage, language is out of control, producing a kind of collective schizophrenia. In this stage, the most sane linguistic expressions are in song and poetry, the most dangerous expressions are in ideology and dogma; systemic forms.

With this in mind, let us remember dear friends, that our mission in this life must be both limited in scope and clearly focused. We should eschew all talk of political ‘left’ and ‘right’ as if this were some actual reality. We should understand the role of the State to be that of ‘governor’, to regulate and police. We should understand the nature of the global economy as an autonomous system, or organism if you like, which employs the mechanisms (and officers) of the State for its defense.

“Despite disparate aims and personnel of its constituent members, the underground is agreed on basic objectives. We intend to march on the police machine everywhere. We intend to destroy the police machine and all its records. We intend to destroy all dogmatic verbal systems… To put it country simple, we have heard enough bullshit.”  W. S. Burroughs

To put it country simple, we must refuse to accept the existing parameters of the common discussion. To participate in the approved dialogue is to perpetuate the system that is killing the planet.

There is something to be said, as it were, to being silent. But that is not our nature. If we are not to be completely mute, what then, is the language of survival? It is dumbstruck poetry of wildness and the vast expanse, the compassion of love and loss, the disruptions of senseless joy, the great sadness of impermanence. It is the verbalization of what is real, and the unconditional rejection of any ideological concoction that masquerades as valid. There is no word for what comes next.

This, I suggest, is the natural development of consciousness, having been rudely awakened by a knock on the door, 40 years ago, by the Nova Police.

“The purpose of my writing is to expose and arrest Nova Criminals: In Naked Lunch, Soft Machine and Nova Express I show who they are and what they are doing and what they will do if they are not arrested. Minutes to go. Souls rotten from their orgasm drugs, flesh shuddering from their nova ovens, prisoners of the earth to come out, With your help we can occupy The Reality Studio and retake their universe of Fear Death and Monopoly” (Signed) INSPECTOR J. LEE, NOVA POLICE


6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2011 10:39 am

    Despite the title, this does not strike me as a call for bright ideas. To me the piece simply points at the floor, the terrain we stand on, and says, crossroads, juncture, peril. We are asked us to see clearly, hard as that is, the way things stand, and how we got here.

    So here I am, your lone commenter, agreeing with you, but agreement does not get us very far at all. Somehow the poetry and song you reference, the building rage at the spiraling decadence, must lead to a new consensus. Thus far myth and propaganda have been consensus’s glue. Will it always have to be that way for us brilliant beasts? I like to think not, that a far more mature and open arrangement is possible, that we can indeed grow up collectively and learn to wipe our own noses and arses without the gloved hand of the state doing it for us. The ideas coming from people like Jacque Fresco, Charles Eisenstein, Franz Hörmann, John McMurtry, and others, seem to me the beginnings of something healthy enough to enable us to be adults all.

    • Stephen Malagodi permalink*
      February 2, 2011 9:59 pm

      Dear Econo,

      I do thank you for your comments, always intelligent.
      It’s quite true that the title perhaps didn’t reflect the piece. I almost changed it at the last minute to ‘There is no word for what comes next’ which may be closer to what I was trying to express.

      I recall a recent report I read about a neuroscientist who, after much grant-funded study, announced the results of his research to be that the human mind was more suited, structurally, to stories rather than logic or empiric analysis. My immediate reaction was that this was rather apparent in our behavior and hardly a revelation.
      This is why I think it important to recognize that the language faculty, which is evolutionarily very, very young, is still very much in an immature state.

      What you say about story and myth being the glue of consensus is true (though I probably wouldn’t use the word consensus which implies a conscious act), having developed to a degree that allows the formation of large communities. The downside of that is what I call the pathology of belief in which these narratives, often without any basis in fact at all, are more ‘real’ and important than actual needs, like compassion. These mythologies which enable the ‘consensus’ of shared religious faith and the nation-state, also produce a common madness which to me resembles schizophrenia. It is a common question to ask how the good people of Germany could, en masse, be accomplices to genocide. To me this is a clear example of pathological belief, made possible through propaganda techniques. Orwell obviously wrote about this, not just in 1984.

      I appreciate your remark about the piece ‘pointing to the floor’. That’s quite accurate and well-expressed. It reflects very well my mood, one of feeling it constantly necessary to ‘point at the ground’ that we stand on, as I see it. The wider expanse exceeds my powers of description.

      • February 3, 2011 4:43 am

        Does consensus imply a conscious act? The process must be collective by definition, and there unconscious elements are the more powerful, surely. Certainly at the level of culture. Good propagandists are expert at manipulating story and myth, but brand new stuff is beyond them. They have a preexisting trove to plumb, they do not consciously create the new from nothing, then lead the masses where they will. No one can do that.

        As to language and the brain’s language centers as evolutionarily in their infancy, that is kind of a new thought for me, and one that pricked my interest when I read it. I’m very fond of dwelling on the youthfulness of humanity as opposed to the worn out, ‘end of history’ crap that still so pervades, that poisons with its rootless cynicism. What are your sources for this observation? Have you read Julian Jaynes’ “The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”? Sea changing brain evolution is part of our recent past (a few millennia ago) according to Jaynes, so there’s no reason to suppose we are not in the midst of another such change now. I strongly suspect phenomena such as telepathy are going to emerge into the mainstream as topics of serious study any moment now.

        All in all I’m still with C G Jung on this (who saw Nazism coming before most). We need to grow up, to individuate, recognize consciously how susceptible to meaning, myth and story we are, and work with that understanding openly in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. If we don’t, we go the way of the dodo.

    • Stephen Malagodi permalink*
      February 3, 2011 8:46 am

      For a quick look at mammalian brain language;
      For a much more comprehensive but readable overview;

  2. February 11, 2011 7:49 am

    maybe this is a part of the answer…

    I’ve always had faith in individuals and small cooperative groups.

    • Stephen Malagodi permalink*
      February 11, 2011 3:41 pm

      Thanks for the link.

      Interesting article in that it’s about economists beginning to look at economic models that account for individual value-added contributions to the collective economy.

      Allen Ginsberg asked this question in a humorous way in his 1959 poem “America” when he asked “When will I be able to go into the supermarket and get what I need with my good looks?” In other words, when will I be of some economic value as a human being not determined by the value of my labor.

      I have been saying for some time ~and that means others have covered this much more completely than I~ that for the first time in human economic history, labor is no longer necessary for the production of goods or the accumulation of wealth. If that’s the case, and I think we see the evidence emerging all around us in situations like the so-called ‘jobless recovery’, then we are going to have to completely re-engineer the current economic systems to allow for different ways of valuing human beings.

      Of course our religious and moral (legal) systems put a cultural value on human beings per se, but only this only crudely translates into economic worth. Economic worth on the cultural level is pretty much determined by race and class.

      But if we are going to figure out a more accurate economic worth of people when their ‘labor’ as such is worthless, when ‘wages’ become increasingly rare, it’s going to require some very radical economic changes, or some very radical genocide.

      But we did it when we adopted agriculture over hunting as an economic base of civilization, and we can do it again. It’s interesting to note that there appear to be genetic changes that occurred at the same time that some are calling the ‘morality genes’ which accompanied the rise of religion, and the moral rules that allow non-violent interaction among large groups needed for agriculture and cities.

      One emerging technology that interests me a lot right now is the developing usefulness of cell-phone economic transactions. This technology is spreading like wildfire in ‘underdeveloped’ countries including those seemingly hopeless cases like Haiti, and it solves enormous problems that cash systems present for poor people. This, and micro-technologies like Square that allows nearly everyone to bypass the current banking system make for a lot of new possibilities.

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