Capitalism and Its Discontents: What Are We Living For?

The Left has been fragmented for decades. Liberals, socialists, communists, greens, and anarchists have all endlessly debated future models for society. One wonders, how many are just talking, and how many are willing to listen? There already are models for society to live sustainably and to prosper, very, very old ways: by following the paths set by the indigenous.

From William Hawes

“Whoever is not prepared to talk about capitalism should also remain silent about fascism.”
-Max Horkheimer, from the essay “The Jews and Europe”, December 1939

Aren’t we all tired of capitalism? Haven’t most of us gotten sick of the drudgery, the monotony, the exploitation, sucking up to our bosses and management who pretend to care about the average worker? The drive to consume more and more has degraded all art, values, and sense of community in the US.

Capitalists literally are holding the people of the Earth in bondage. As liberal democracy crumbles in the West, the risk of neo-fascism continues to rise in North America and Europe.

It’s worth examining why the US has TV shows like “Hoarders”, where people have problems collecting useless crap, and where viewers publicly shame and judge the afflicted. Yet, where is the outrage at the real hoarders, the billionaires, the banks, and the military industrial complex? This is serious hypocrisy, a cultural blind spot: a double standard that is not being addressed by our society.

Capitalists are Addicts

Why does society not ask arch-capitalists the obvious questions: when is enough, enough? Who needs a billion dollars? Once you can provide a comfortable life for your family, children, and grandchildren, what is the point of hoarding your money in bank accounts and lording over a monopolizing mega-corporation? Where does this endless desire for more come from?

It’s fairly obvious that a failure to confront death is closely linked to the bottomless appetite exhibited by capitalists. The perceived need to construct towers, monuments, mansions, and manufactured narratives of their own greatness is proof. Not to mention how many of the super-rich have chosen to become cryogenically frozen post-mortem: this is in outright denial of their own mortality, and the necessity of death so that future generations may live.

In failing to confront death, any object can be used as a crutch, an addiction. Addiction is linked to social isolation and lack of community, which the capitalist class creates by artificially creating specialized divisions of labor, alienation, and class differences.

Addiction leads to a disconnection from what some would call a “reality principle”, leading to further and deeper indulgences and lack of restraint. There are further similarities between capitalists and drug addicts: the impatience, the disconnection from others, the neediness, as well as a general childlike need to be validated and pampered.

Methodology and Treatment in an Age of Insanity

We see where capitalism leads: to a permanent crisis, a never-ending state of emergency. Since the 1970s, workers have increased productivity mightily with little to zero increases in wages considering inflation and other factors. Americans are also working longer hours; young adults are even having less sex partly because of this. There is a huge problem with prescription drug abuse (not just opioids), teen suicide is rising (sadly, at a 40 year high for teen girls in 2017), and child poverty isn’t being addressed properly, if at all, by our own government.

All of these absolutely tragic issues are connected to capitalism. When we are forced to compete against each other, in grades at school, for that raise or promotion in the workplace, this breeds a mindset of dehumanization.

I would also posit that the separation of young children from their parents when they begin schooling, either day care or pre-school or kindergarten or afterwards, is one of the first steps in life where the feelings of individual atomization starts, and collective social disintegration begins. Being ripped from your parent’s arms because they have to work just to survive, and the state/private/charter school substituting for the role of a parent, is one of the first deep tragedies inflicted on many of us by the “needs” of the modern world. I believe this suffering is lodged deep in our unconscious selves, and this is not being addressed publicly at all, and barely acknowledged in our private lives.

Treatment starts when we want to become free of the Great Beast of capitalism, the “Babylon system” as some like to call it. We must ground ourselves, and return to a deeper relationship with our mother Earth. Self-reliance is true freedom, and families and communities should begin to grow as much of their own food as possible. I understand the limitations for those in urban areas, or those stuck in jobs where time and effort cannot be adequately put towards farming, of course. Collectively, as a city block, a suburban neighborhood, a rural township, we are all going to have to learn to get together, share food and technology, and become independent of this beast. We must begin to develop a gift economy, an indigenous-based economy, based on reciprocity and trust, not exploitation and coercion, as Charles Eisenstein explains.

Other than that, a mass protest movement must be created so the resources that our federal government receives in taxes can be shifted from weapons of destruction to schools, health care, community projects, and renewable energy.

Analyzing a Popular Alternative

I believe it’s important to discuss some of the budding alternatives to capitalism that are developing around the globe. In the US, support for socialism has risen immensely, especially among the younger crowd, thanks to the work of Bernie Sanders (notwithstanding him not really being a socialist) and others. Yet how serious are most American socialists?

One of the most popular groups in the US is called Socialist Alternative (SA), led by the charismatic Seattle councilwoman Kshama Sawant. SA has some great ideas, and yet, some of their proposals make it seem as if they’re just going through the motions. Let me explain.

On their about page, a few things stand out. They write: “We see the global capitalist system as the root cause of the economic crisis, poverty, discrimination, war, and environmental destruction.” Very well put. Yet then, this is followed by the line below:

“As capitalism moves deeper into crisis, a new generation of workers and youth must join together to take the top 500 corporations into public ownership under democratic control to end the ruling elites’ global competition for profits and power.”

This sounds nice, but I wonder how much time was really spent thinking through the implications of this policy. What if democratic control only leads to redistribution of the companies’ wealth, and not fundamental transformation of the products, resource usage, and dangerous working conditions?  Where is the sense of urgency, the fact that deadlines are being approached regarding global warming, regarding the ecological damage being done by these companies?

One wonders, has SA bothered to take a look at the list of the 500 top companies? For some, perhaps they can be repurposed to make sustainable products. For others, maybe the factories and warehouses can be dismantled and recycled for public use. For a few, it might be feasible that they could be broken up into smaller entities and non-profit co-operatives.

Yet, we must realize that these companies have only been able to thrive due to government tax breaks, insider trading, off-shoring hidden wealth, and other financial chicanery. Further, these mega corporations rely on specialized division of labor, fueling worker alienation.

Also, the biggest companies choose not to compete against each other in entire sectors, allowing for large profit margins. What happens when “public ownership” leads to stricter competition and price wars, forcing many employees to be laid off? How will these companies be able to compete against Europe and China? Is SA committed to local and bioregional approaches to agricultural and socially responsible industrial practices?

For many of these companies, though, the only democratic thing I can think of to do is to vote on who gets to throw the first brick or Molotov through the empty building. These corporations have done irreparable harm to the planet. Some of them are simply not going to be able to be reformed.

The only way to transform these entities (the ones that can be saved) properly, with the proper protections, would be to rewrite the constitution to include environmental and social rights, as well as the rights of mother Earth, as Bolivia has done. Without a legal framework based on ecology, there is no way to make sure “democratic control” of a transnational corporation would actually lead to environmentally-safe production.

SA is notable for fighting for a $15 an hour wage. First, I want to say that I support this policy. It is a laudable goal, and may work soon in some of the nation’s wealthy, tech-savvy, coastal metro enclaves.

Yet we need to ask what would happen if this were enacted nationally, and what we should do to prepare if it ever does. The elites would pull their money out of the system, if only to spite the Left and the socialists who enacted the policy, and give them a taste of pain for disobeying capitalism. The neoliberal economy is designed around low-wage service work, and is so tightly interwoven, not to mention extremely monopolized, that a sudden wage rise would lead to high levels of inflation, and possibly to a severe economic recession or depression. Are groups like SA ready to organize outside the political structure, to make space for a civic society, domestically and abroad, which will need massive influxes of resources, food, and housing when shit hits the fan?

SA also wants to “slash the military budget”, which is great. SA does not clarify where that new money should go. SA also proclaims that they support internationalism. Allow me to make a proposal: money from the military budget should be given away freely to developing countries, with transnational groups, either under UN auspices or some new framework, helping distribute and allocate resources so they are not wasted by corrupt dictators and governments. Poorer nations will need massive influxes of revenue to help them develop and avoid using fossil fuels and habitat-destroying industry, in the realm of trillions of dollars over decades. The West has accumulated ill-gotten wealth from centuries of colonialism, chattel slavery, and genocidal policies towards the “Global South”, and now may be the last chance to give back, before it becomes too late.

Are US socialists committed to these sorts of radical proposals? Are SA and others ready to admit to its followers that real socialism will involve hard sacrifices, and almost certainly (in the short term, at least) lead to less material goods and privileges that Westerners have enjoyed for centuries? Are socialists as ready to support a living wage in China as they are in the USA? Finally, are American socialists committed to transforming the nation, or just promoting an ideology that is centered too much on human needs, and not enough on the needs of non-humans and future human generations?

Ecocentrism, not Anthropocentrism

The Left has been fragmented for decades. Liberals, socialists, communists, greens, and anarchists have all endlessly debated future models for society. One wonders, how many are just talking, and how many are willing to listen? There already are models for society to live sustainably and to prosper, very, very old ways: by following the paths set by the indigenous.

For instance: by living in the moment, and observing things as they really are, it becomes quite clear that humanity is facing huge challenges unlike at any other time in history. Just one hundred companies have pumped out 70% of worldwide greenhouse gases since 1988. Is the answer, as SA has posited, really just to democratize these corporations and hope for the best, or to shut them down completely?

Westerners are going to have to realize very quickly that despite our space technology, skyscrapers, and instant media, we are the children in the room when it comes to ecological knowledge, and the indigenous around the world are the adults. Native American tribes and various indigenous peoples worldwide have catalogued thousands if not tens of thousands of local plants in their local ecosystems, often with hundreds of different uses for each individual plant. Indigenous accept their own mortality and have constructed elaborate rituals, ceremonies, and initiations to help each other confront death. Also, and this is critical, indigenous tribes understand their carrying capacity in their local habitat, and so are able to regulate and rationally plan for their population levels. Overpopulation now threatens the world with ecosystem degradation, habitat destruction, global warming, resource wars, ocean acidification, plastics proliferation, pandemics, and mass starvation and drought.

The indigenous are plant people, and we can follow just a few basic ideas to help us escape capitalism: conserve what remains of the South American, African, and Southeast Asian rainforests, as many future cures from disease and chronic conditions will be found there. In the Americas, the milpa, a planting of corn, beans, squash, and various nutrient rich veggies allows for huge crop productivity in a small area. We can use hemp and legalize cannabis to make biofuels, produce paper, make innovate building materials like Hempcrete, and provide the masses with a safe, relaxing herb for recreational, medicinal, and spiritual use. Advanced technology in most scenarios will only make things worse. What is the best thing one can do to stop global warming? Not a solar array, but planting a tree. Slow down soil erosion? Plant a tree. What is resistance? Planting a community garden is a more socialist, a more significant thing to do now than attending another symposium on Marxism.

The indigenous are freer and happier than Westerners not by some innate abilities, but because they have chosen to work for their freedom: by co-producing food, tools, clothes, pottery, by hunting, fishing, and foraging together. Westerners have refused to resist thus far, because deep down, many know they are dependent on the system for survival, and don’t want to pull that plug, to bite the hand that feeds. It’s the only way, though. We are going to have to walk away from all this, and activists, protestors, and concerned citizens are going to have to metaphorically step into our own Lacandon jungle, and organize around ecology, democracy, and social justice.

Yet, we must realize that it is too late in the game to rely simply on voting. Citizens will respond to a mass movement to the degree that it represents the will of the people: to the degree it can articulate a political truth on a deeply visceral level. Most mainstream socialists (important exceptions being Ian Angus, Paul Burkett, and John Bellamy Foster) have so far been too committed to a flailing, abstract ideology; specifically, wrongly committed to a Eurocentric, technocratic, anthropocentric worldview; to capture people’s imaginations. Developing an ecological worldview, one that acknowledges our interdependence and interconnectedness with all species, is crucial.

Thus, as the 21st century progresses, Standing Rock will eventually be seen as having more influence than Occupy Wall Street. We are connected to our planet and the web of life more than we can ever know or attempt to explain. For instance, we won’t end warfare until we abolish factory farming: the two are intimately linked, as exploitation of man over animal allows fascists the ideological justification for exploitation and the killing of man by man. Ecology is the keystone science: it allows us to see the linkages between species, food webs, and provides the science needed to develop scale-appropriate, sustainable technology. Ecologists understand that an injury to one is an injury to all, and under capitalism, we’ve all been wounded, plant, animal, and human alike, even the rich, who’ve suffered spiritual decay and moral disintegration.

The only democracy possible is an ecological democracy, with a long-term planning, and rational, sustainably-oriented national constitutions, a 90-95% reduction in fossil fuel use within a few decades at most, and an international consensus which will guarantee safeguards against habitat destruction, even in the face of democratic majority opposition. If we don’t face up to these facts, and collectively and courageously organize, we may in fact be due for the Kali Yuga, as the Hindus prophesied.

Thus, perhaps we can update and re-phrase Horkheimer’s famous quote for the 21st century:
“Whoever is not prepared to talk about capitalism should also remain silent about the 6th mass extinction.”


William Hawes

William Hawes is a writer specializing in politics and environmental issues. His articles have appeared online at Global Research, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, The World Financial Review, Gods & Radicals, and Counterpunch. He is author of the ebook Planetary Vision: Essays on Freedom and Empire. You can reach him at wilhawes@gmail.com. Visit his website at williamhawes.wordpress.com


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Paganism™

We are pitted against an industrial industry which fabricates our dreams for us and insinuates them through our culture and our language. How can we dream when our vocabulary of symbols has only the nuance of newspeak? These are spectres of desire and though marked for sale, remain unattainable.
–Peter Grey, Apocalyptic Witchcraft

“But what if God himself can be simulated, that is to say can be reduced to signs that constitute faith? Then the whole system becomes weightless, it is no longer anything but a gigantic simulacrum – not unreal, but simulacrum, that is to say never exchanged for the real, but exchanged for itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.”

–Jean Baudrillard, Simulation and Simulacra

ONE: CIRCLES FOR THE STONE

Fast past villages with both English and Welsh names he drove us. She sat between us. I tried on her hat. It amused me. It amused them.

And then we were there, the top of an ancient high hill still wet from recent rains. We walked, speaking. I missed some of the threads of our conversation, distracted by the distant vistas. Eyes constantly drawn north: Gwynedd, Snowdonia, over which dark clouds gathered. The wind echoed a promise reminded, an oath I gave in one of those valleys.

In the remnants of a cromlech we stood, its stones worn down near nothing by wind and rain. From the centre to the tallest a line formed, extended towards those mountains. It felt important, that stone, that direction, a prehistoric compass directing the eyes to a place wherein something older than stones breathed and waited.

By the “offerings” arrayed at its base, others had thought the stone important, too. Baubles, pink plastic fairies, bracelets, a few slivers of quartz, the coins of empire.

“Neopagan trash,” my guide said, sweeping the offerings up in his hands. His eyes burned with something deeper than disgust, and something older. He flung them from the circle with a deft, calm rage. My eyes followed their flight through the air, then met his, then quickly turned away.

“They leave this shit everywhere,” he said.

Something about the innocence, or really the pinkness, of the proffered plastic fairy moved me. I imagined some child leaving it, or one of those addled-but-loveable Goddess-type women who are always telling you “we are all-one.” Misguided and naive, but their gesture of offering felt at least benign, harmless.

I said so.

I think I said, “There’s hope in their search for something authentic. They just don’t know what to do yet.”

My companions did not answer. They did not need to. As the words spilled out of me, the unbidden image of low-wage Chinese women stamping pink plastic into the form of cartoon-style fairies answered my objection.

TWO: DO WE DARE?

“People lose the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. They also begin to engage with the fantasy without realizing what it really is. They seek happiness and fulfilment through the simulacra of reality… and avoid the contact/interaction with the real world.”

Jean Baudrillard

A little more than five years ago I stood in an open field, staring into an abyssal sea of stars circling about me, speaking aloud the answer to a question.

Do you dare?

“Yes,” I said, losing the ground below me. “I dare.”

I cried. My mind shattered. I slept, I didn’t sleep. The smell of earth choked me, the stars above my tent screamed distant songs, wheeling as I tried to cling to the wheeling planet upon which I supposedly belonged.

I say five years ago; it might have been forty, the length of my life thus far. I stopped being able to count after that; calendars make no sense any longer, the procession of hours no longer relevant. Only season after season repeating means anything, but even then I cannot clutch to their movement like I once could. Time itself changed, or my place within it. I changed: broken, reforged, broken again, remade, remade, remade.

Before all this I was a chef and a social worker, a partner to a man, a citizen of a city, a denizen of a home. Before all this, Pagan was an identity, like ‘gay’ or ‘gamer.’ Paganism was something I liked, a shared interest, an aesthetic. After this, it became the only way I knew how to describe why I slept among stones, sat long nights on fallen trees in cold wet forests. Why I stood shirtless in winter upon a rock as dragon fire shone through a drop of rain falling from a branch, knelt in circles of crow feathers, bled upon an ashen blade, knocked on shields, lay down across rivers, pulled the beards of giants and fucked in moon-silver shadow of antler and branch.

Paganism is the word I’ve used to explain why I have sat at council with dead hooded men around fires, flew past a guardian into the blood of an enemy and there clotted those hidden streams, turned great edged wheels to grind down the mind of a dangerous fool, stood upon hills watching how some worlds end, why I stole glimpses of toads impaled on pencils and turned that sorcerer’s malice into his catastrophic downfall. It is the shorthand for why I have awakened a forest and watched smiling as strangers brought in their gods, ran barefoot through nettles alongside a river of blood, been summoned by children to a tomb across an ocean, argued with the angry hearts of mountains, learned to walk invisible through city streets, and spoken the names that plants call themselves.

But for all the wisdom I’ve since gathered from bodied and unfleshed teachers guiding me through thick bramble or dark forest, I still didn’t know why I called any of this Pagan.

THREE: PAGANISM™

Every word is an utterance for the inexpressible, but once uttered can become the thing itself.

To name yourself happy is to leave the moment happiness is meant to describe. Every mystic knows the moment words are found for the vision, the vision is over.

The land and stars which initiated me into the Other scream of a thing for which Paganism is mere translation. Like all sounds given to the pre-literate, pre-vocal thing-ness below what we call things, its expression can ossify in our mind, wall us from its world. So to name what I have lived and seen and been these last five years “Pagan” has been in some way to betray it.

Yet words waken. A call to arms, a shouted warning to watch out; “I love you” whispered in the trembling of night, “I’m sorry: she’s dead” from the lips of a doctor, “fuck you” and “help me”: these open gates to new existences even as they close others.

Were it only up to the poets and mystics, the word Pagan would always evoke, always call us outward. Were it only up to me, Pagan would be the sound I make to initiate desire into others, a beckoning into realms of vision and connection.

But it is never up to the poet or the mystic.

Like land that has become property, work that has become labor, and art that has become commodity, Paganism has been enclosed. Paganism is now mostly product, sign without signification, representation without represented. You can go to Pagan conferences, listen to Pagan music, buy Pagan products made by Pagan artisans in Pagan shops. You can read Pagan blogs written by Pagan writers published by Pagan publishers. You can apply Pagan like a label upon any thing you do or say or think, investing by every action and transaction into a Global Brand through which the “Pagan” capitalists draw dividends.

By calling all that I have seen and learned, all that I have written and created, and all that I have known as truth “Pagan,” I have inadvertently fed into this branding, improved its market reputation, and helped increase the profits of those for whom Paganism is a thing that can be sold, not become.

Yet under all this are still my experiences which cannot be sold, the moments of the Other inexpressible, for which I have no other word except Pagan.

The Pagan of the hotel dress-up convention or the pink plastic fairies littering ancient stone exists. We can point to such things, such brandings and say—here! Here is a Pagan thing. We cannot do the same for the trees at which I stared at as I first began to type this, trees beyond which lie the last remnants of the great Celyddon once covering much of Yns Prydein. That cannot be bought. That cannot be branded.

The Witchcraft of the glossy books or online-teachers can be regarded with certainty: this here is “witchcraft.” Not true, however, for the moments which I know as witchcraft. A few days ago on the Isle of Skye, encountering my accidental initiator ‘by chance’ upon a street corner just after thinking his name, both of us six thousand miles from where we last lived—that is the Witchcraft I know.

But it is not a thing I can show to you, nor is it a thing I can sell.

A refrain of a song never before sung yet we already, somehow, know the words. An echo from a past we have not yet lived, dreams which speak truth by measures for which we will never find metric. The reflection of sky in water which displays an additional dimension of perception in which we can not move except in dream: all these things I call Pagan, all these things are my witchcraft. All these things cannot be bought.

Witchcraft and Magic and Paganism exist. But they cannot be found through the very means by which we lost them.

FOUR: “THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH”

Perhaps because they refuse to shake off their Protestant culture, American Pagans are fond of speaking of the “big tent,” under which all the many of “us” gather: Heathens, Polytheists, Occultists, Wiccans, Reclaiming witches and Feri witches, Unitarian-Universalists and solitary practitioners, all crowded under a massive canvas  painted blue with white stars like some hokey wizard’s hat or, closer to the truth, a U.S. flag without the red- and white- stripes.

The “big tent” is supposed to be about inclusion or some rot, but since it’s the same phrase the Democratic Party has used to justify why anti-capitalists, environmentalists, and pro-corporate war-mongers should all be in the same political gathering, there’s likely something else happening here. Perhaps what they’ve always meant isn’t ‘tent’ at all, but corral, wall, or internment camp.

Because ultimately, the “big tent” benefits only the vendors of pink plastic fairies, the sleek white gaywitches with their laughable invocations to “The Dark Goddess,” the dottering old racist uncles hailing the ‘folk’ in Alt-Right rallies, the altars photographed and filtered in devotion to the #instawitch hashtag. It does not benefit you, but instead the right-wing Christian corporation that runs a Pagan blog site, the ‘community news’ organisation constantly skewing capitalist, nationalist, and ever-so-libertarian, and all the pay-to-pray traditions eager for your money and attention.

The ‘big tent’ isn’t a shelter, it’s a Market. Within the tent, Paganism isn’t a belief or a culture but an interest, spirituality just another thing for you to buy in a world that already has too much shit anyway.

But the story of how Paganism became a product is not just the story of opportunistic women and men seeking profit. It is the story of disenchantment itself. It is the story of displacement and colonization, the wakened horror from which spawned Empire and Nation, Race and Identity. More than anything it is the story of our divorce from land and ourselves, a sickness for which Paganism is sold not as cure but placebo for a necrotic wound we really ought to get checked out.

People seek Paganism to find magic or gods or authentic ways of being and meaning. But the magic and gods have never been gone: they are only buried deep below the asphalt over which they drive, the concrete upon which they walk, the steel and cement in which they live. The gods of rivers are buried beneath the cities, poisoned; we wipe our asses with the corpses of forest gods. The magic of human will and sense is psychologized, medicalized: “aberrant” perceptions of the myriad are disciplined or drugged out of us, then sold back to us on spiritual retreats.

The search for authentic meaning and ways of being which draws people to Paganism springs from a rejection of what else is on offer, a malaise of what is available to us by mundane, Modern means: 40-hour work weeks, concrete housing blocks, relentlessly mediated life in which too many of us only see breath-taking views of forests or communal celebrations on screens. Those depictionspixelated, fed and filtered through Instagram feeds; or used as mere backdrop for mythic television series like Vikings or Game Of Thronesserve not to draw us closer to what we seek, but push us even more distant from the world we have lost.

FIVE: MAGIC IS EVERYTHING BUT WHAT YOU CAN BUY

“And so art is everywhere, since artifice is at the very heart of reality. And so art is dead, not only because its critical transcendence is gone, but because reality itself, entirely impregnated by an aesthetic which is inseparable from its own structure, has been confused with its own image. Reality no longer has the time to take on the appearance of reality. It no longer even surpasses fiction: it captures every dream even before it takes on the appearance of a dream.”

Jean Baudrillard

We search for the authentic in the only place it cannot be found. We seek the gods and spirits not in the land around us but in empty symbols, poorly-written books and “mystery traditions” led by leaders for whom their unwitting initiates are their only way of getting laid.

We scroll endlessly through blogs promising to teach us how do magic, purchase special oils and candles to stave off the terror of modern life and maybe make us not feel so lonely. When none of that works, we try again, and again, forgetting that magic has nothing to do with what you buy or which online-tradition gave you a certificate of completion.

Magic has nothing to do with the teachers of magic, the vending tables at the con’s or the Etsy shop, none of which are much different from the pink plastic fairy left at the base of a stone.

Magic is you.

It has always been you, you and the world around you. Magic is the breathing forests, the scream of owl and raven as you wander alone through darkness. Magic is in the stars above and the stars you see after your eyes close, the wind from distant mountains and the loamy breath of the grave.

Magic is the stone, and it is also the circle, and especially in all the forgotten wisdom with which ancients living millennia before anyone called themselves ‘Pagan’ raised them.

Magic is what it has always meant to be human, before the makers of the pink plastic fairies and the ringmasters of the Big Tent set up shop.

Magic, connection to the earth, the experience of the Otherthese things the merchants of Paganism™ cannot sell us, and the fact that they try is proof they have never experienced those things themselves.

Let them be honest. We are all only selling books and candles, art and skills. Let these things be judged on those qualities, without the false promises and dishonest marketing.

And let us all be honest: The real magic is the world the capitalists have been selling off from under our feet, the real connection is our reclamation of the earth, and the real Paganism is resistance to all commodification of what it means to be human.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd Wildermuth is the managing editor and co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He trucks with Welsh gods and lives in Bretagne, or Dublin, or old Scottish port cities, or pretty much anywhere he feels like it. He’s a theorist, punk, nomad, anarchist, and all kinds of other stuff.

You can follow him on Facebook or Instagram, read his primary blog here, read his true sex stories here, and if you really like him you can support him on Patreon.


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When is Paganism not Paganism?

From Emma Porter: “what Capitalism tries to hide from the seeker, is that Paganism is free.”

When it’s paganism with a small p, that’s when.

What can that possibly mean? Well, let me try and explain. Recently in a well known pagan fb group (at least well known in good old Blighty), I stumbled upon a discussion on what Paganism means to the individual in terms of deity and beliefs. I was struck by a response that seemed to be quite popular, and it was along the lines of having atheist beliefs but living the pagan lifestyle.

This is when paganism is not Paganism, at least to me. Is this what our spirituality has become? A lifestyle choice? Online debates about the reality of deity? Oh no, hell no!

Surely as Pagans, the Earth, nature herself, is sacred. You can feel it, can’t you, when you’re outside in the wild with the wind in your face, the rain on your skin, the heat of the sun or the cold of the snow. Surely this is the very essence of Paganism, our connection to and our own place in this, the web of life. “A pagan lifestyle” without any of this is empty and meaningless.

I would like to think that the contributor to said Facebook discussion simply meant that her path does not necessarily revolve around the worship of deity. Worship of and to deity is a personal choice, a personal belief, and I do believe that one can truly have a meaningful Pagan practice without deity, literal Gods and Goddesses.

But what if this isn’t what she meant, and indeed she meant what she said? What is a pagan lifestyle without the spiritual side?

I love the idea of a witchcraft shop that sells herbs, parchment, inks and the like;however, most of the shops I have encountered have been massive disappointments, selling the usual array of crystals, candles, synthetic incense and angel ornaments. This is what I think of when I think of paganism as a lifestyle without the spirituality.

And what’s wrong with that? you may well ask. Well nothing….if you just so happen to like the smell of incense, even if it’s just chemicals and perfume, or the shine of crystals, mined from the earth. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you like (well there is, but that’s another article for another day). But it is not Paganism. Do not be fooled.

This is the work of a system that seeks to keep us dulled down, that seeks to keep us busy with mindless, empty, cheap shit that has no practical or spiritual purpose. When mothers and fathers have to work full time jobs and still ends cannot be met, here, have some cheap shit to take your mind off your own slavery, slavery to a system that many within it, even those at the bottom, defend.

We Pagans are not exempt from this lie either, are not exempt from the self delusions that enable this lie. We’ve all fell for it, at the beginning, when we first start out on the Pagan path. It’s a difficult pitfall to avoid, when you’re new and everything seems so beautiful and shiny. But then you take home your crystal, your incense, and display them and burn them, but what then? Nothing, that’s what, and after a while you see that these trinkets, whilst look the part, add nothing at all to your practise.

And so you head back out to the New Age shop or market stall and you buy something else in the hope that it might make you feel more of a Pagan. And so it goes on and on, in a cycle, until you are ready to break that cycle. Some never do, and some don’t want to, they are happy with their illusions.

What the system, what Capitalism tries to hide from the seeker, is that Paganism is free. You do not have to spend a penny. However capitalism serves the lazy pagan. Why go out and connect with the earth when you can buy this or that to make you feel more pagany? It makes the person with the most money, able to buy the biggest pentacle ring or necklace or crystal seem holier than thou, more genuine and authentic. It is everywhere in pagan culture. Look how much fellow seekers charge for their works. The poor are often priced out.

This isn’t to say that Pagans must give up money, or give freely their own works and endeavours – I’m all for a fair wage for a fair day’s work, but as someone for who, especially in the past when my own children were young, has nothing left at the end of every month, thirty pounds for a working or for supplies is unheard of, a luxury to be dreamed about but never realised. What about those in that situation? Are they to be left out, forgotten? Is their belief and spirituality less than someone who can afford all of the trappings? Yes, if the pagan lifestyle is empty of spirituality, another prospect for capitalism to take people’s hard earned cash for things made in China for as cheaply as possible.

Pagans can no longer afford to be lazy if we want our spirituality to mean something. This earth is our home, and so our paganism must be nature-centred. It is simply not enough to say that we are a part of this universe and that the universe returns to us what we send out, as a well known New Age book seems to think. It is not enough to be grateful, not today when this precious earth of our, when our Mother Nature, whom we worship as Pagans, is under constant attack. Untold damage is wreaked on this earth in the name of capitalism, in the quest for newer and more efficient ways to separate the people from their hard earned money.

I too have been guilty of this. It is a relatively new aspect to my craft, environmental activism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m big on recycling and reusing and reducing my waste and carbon footprint and the like, but it isn’t enough. There’s more I need to do, but I’ve started, and that’s the important part, the hard part, finding your voice, your confidence to speak out against injustices perpetrated by the strong against the week.

Part of what prompted me to act is the fracking of local beauty spots and countryside, but that’s not all. I’m tired of feeling helpless as I watch the destruction of the very nature I worship, all for the sake of profit, profit that benefits the few and leaves the many grateful for whatever scraps they are thrown. Everyday, that part of myself grows stronger, more self assured and confident, and it will for you too. Taking the first step, the first real step, is hard, but each successive step becomes easier.

We Pagans must act, and our actions must serve and protect nature. The alternative is paganism as a lifestyle, and that isn’t worth a damn.


Emma Kathryn

My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magick, of course!


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Rage Against the Modern World

This is the second part of Wolves In the Interregnum, a series on Jack Donovan, Paul Waggener, and the Wolves of Vinland.

Author’s note: In my previous essay, I focused extensively on the aesthetic on Jack Donovan and the Wolves of Vinland, while heavily critiquing the moralistic reactions against that aesthetic. For some, this may no doubt seem unfair, if not outright antagonistic to the very tendencies which attempt to resist fascist movements. Why criticize American social justice and bourgeois/liberal feminism in an essay about a rising fascist threat?

The reason for such an apparent inversion will be made quite clear as we look at how the Wolves and others have rather brilliantly occupied the anti-modern and anti-globalisation politics abandoned by ‘The Left.’

Another World Was Possible…

In the last part of the 1990’s and the first few years of the 21st century, massive manifestations filled the streets of major cities of the world. These protests were part of what was called the anti-globalisation or alter-mondialiste movement, and had the astounding ability to unite people across wide spectrums of political orientation into a common struggle. Environmentalists, immigrants, labor unions, indigenous-rights groups, and even many people traditionally seen as right-wing arrived in major cities throughout the world to fight against governments, multi-national corporations, and global finance organisations.

While it is impossible to distill the myriad of political goals of the protesters, we can more easily summarize the changes in international governance, political distribution, and the regulations of global capital against which they protested.

Brokered by nations and corporate leaders, international trade agreements such as NAFTA and the GATT reduced the power of local governments, communities, and unions over the economic, environmental, and cultural activities of the people which composed or were supported by them. Meanwhile, large international monetary orgaisations like the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank used economic crises to force austerity and privatization policies upon nations in the global south, effectively nullifying the popular will of the people through the use of weaponized debt.

All of this was happening at once, all over the world, and the consequences have been myriad. Environmental degradation in South America and Africa, mass suicides of farmers in India, famines, explosive immigration from poorer countries to richer ones, collapses of entire nations, the reduction of diversity in agriculture and the extinction of species, the weakening of trade and labor unions throughout the world, and the destruction of countless communities as local industries were destroyed and factories shut down….all of this is just a part of what the anti-globalisation movement fought against.

Partially due to the all-too conveniently-timed ‘war on terror’ and systematic counter-revolutionary actions, the mass mobilizations of the anti-globalisation movement are long-gone, and few of the critiques remain in the political platforms of any leftist or liberal movement in the United States or the United Kingdom.

However, the damage done did not simply disappear when there was no movement to fight it, and much of the current political turmoil in which we find ourselves now is a consequence both of globalisation and the left’s abandonment of that fight. The rise of fascist, Islamist and nationalist movements, acceleration of climate change, increasing poverty, mass displacement, and countless other crises can be linked to the spread of global capital. The closure of factories, the shift of investment from manufacturing to finance and internet technology, and the obliteration of local economies happened just as the protesters feared, but as with much else, rage against this destruction resurfaced as part of the platform of the fascist right, as well as featuring heavily in the political campaign of Donald Trump and the exit of the UK from the European Union (Brexit).

Just as with other elements of leftist abandonment, the political platforms of the anti-globalisation movement didn’t go away: they are now being wielded towards new goals by fascist, nationalist, and authoritarian movements against which antifascists now find themselves in a losing battle.

One of those groups? The Wolves of Vinland.

Crumbling Empires

As with their aesthetic, The Wolves present an anti-modern ideology, one that rejects Empire (or in Donovan’s words, “The Empire of Nothing”) in favor of societies formed around tribal affinities and self-selection. Crucial to such a transition is the rejection of the hegemonic rule of Liberal Democracy not just over individual and group actions, but also over self-perception and our own modes of thought. As the manifesto of Operation Werewolf puts it:

“It is not a political statement, but a bloody fist shaken in the face of all institutions of control- a furious bite to the hands that seek to leash or enslave. It is not right or left, but free of these shackles of modern dualistic thinking- it operates under the assumption that the Kings of this world have become so through the forked tongue of finance and fear, and it rejects their offerings. The warriors who make up Operation Werewolf know that the true heroes are those who are self made, physically and mentally strong, free thinkers and free doers who are both untamed and unrepentant.”

While Waggener gives very little time to political analysis, Jack Donovan does much more (it was he, after all, who was invited to a European New Right think tank). Operation Werewolf functions primarily as the self-improvement wing of The Wolves, while Donovan’s writing focuses much more on political theory. Consider Donovan’s response during a Reddit ‘ask me anything’ to a question regarding why tribalism has “a bad rap”:

“The anti-tribalist/anti-racist hysteria promoted by the progressive media is too convenient for wealthy elites.  They are, for the most part, protected from the negative consequences of the “melting pot.” The wealthy can afford security, and they can afford to live wherever they like, and they can afford to send their children to whatever schools they prefer. The representatives from other groups that they and their families interact with most are often going to be very well socialized or very successful. It’s the lower and lower middle class proles who are forced, whether they like it or not, to interact with groups of people who have radically different values or cultures.

Tribalism is inconvenient for wealthy globalists. To begin with, it creates instability that can threaten their investments. They can also make more money when they are free to outsource labor, move a factory, or import goods made in places with a lower standard of living.

If people are convinced that they are “world citizens” and shouldn’t expect any kind of local or national loyalty, globalist elites won’t have to be confronted with any sort of crisis of conscience when they sell out their neighbors and countrymen.”

Any reader who was politically-active during the WTO protests or any of the other manifestations comprising the anti-globalisation movement will recognize much of this rhetoric. For The Wolves, Empire is almost identical to what (anarchists) Hardt and Negri outlined in their books, as well as what most autonomous Marxists, post-colonialists, many Green Anarchists, and anti-civ theorists criticize: Liberal (Capitalist) Democratic hegemony. But also, something is obviously off, racialized, about their rhetoric.

Immigrants As Victims, Immigrants As Weapons

First, let us acknowledge the core problem which Donovan cites in his response: the mobility of global capitalism has made it impossible for local politicians and small communities to fight capitalist policies. No matter how strong the local resistance to the closing of a factory in the rust belt of the United States is, as long as the owner of that factory can re-invest their capital in another market, local protest—even violent protest–is useless. As long as cheaper labor can be found elsewhere, and provided no punitive tariffs on re-imporation are levied by governments, it will always be a good business decision for a corporation to move its production to a cheaper labor market. Because of the success of capitalist globalisation, no local political movement can effectively exert control over global capital.

Simultaneously, so-called ‘Free Trade’ agreements destroy the local economies outside the United States even more than within. The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed into law in 1994, ravaged the economy of Mexico, leading to massive spikes in immigration (‘legal’ and otherwise) to the United States. For instance, in 1990, the amount of Mexican nationals living in the United states was 4.3 million; in 2000 on account of Liberal capitalist policies, that number more than doubled to 9.17 million.

It is impossible to understate the effect that adding so many more workers into the United States had both on wages and on unions, as well as the ‘cultural’ disruption 5 million more people (in a country of 280 million) would represent. Similar changes occurred in Europe as well.

Here, though, we must make a distinction between the far-right analysis of such events, the liberal one, and the (currently abandoned) leftist understanding. While the right often sees the immigrants themselves as the problem, a liberal sees only the anti-immigrant racism of the people (white, Black, or otherwise) in the communities into which they migrate as the problem. Both focus entirely on the matter of the immigrants themselves, rather than the forces which cause people to become immigrants in the first place.

PEGIDA, one of the many far-right nationalist groups who have risen to prominence in Europe.

From a Marxist view, immigrants are doubly-exploited people who function both as victim of oppression and political tool for the capitalist. Liberal economic policies (and foreign military actions) destroy the economies of other nations. Those people make the obviously difficult yet economically-inevitable decision to leave their countries to find work elsewhere. Yet when they arrive, they then function as a ‘reserve labor force’ to drive down wages in the country to which they moved, breaking the power of organized labor.

Racial tensions greatly help this process. When Black or white workers in the United States begin losing jobs or finding their wages stagnating, they accurately note a relationship between their deteriorating economic conditions and the sudden influx of immigrants. However, they miss the larger processes which entrap both the immigrants and themselves, and they can be somewhat forgiven for this failure: relentless media hype about illegal immigration, conservative politicians happy to employ racial fears for votes, and liberal politicians eager to dismiss white workers’ complaints as anti-progressive or downright stupid, all helped to insure neither the immigrants nor the workers united against the primary cause of their common suffering.

To understand how this process works, consider the plight of Russian Jewish immigrants fleeing violence to Israel, where they are then given land in occupied territories and used by the Israeli government as a buffer against Palestinian rage. Or, further back, Europeans fleeing Capitalist enclosure of land to America, then given “free” land in return for helping to kill Native Americans. In both cases, the initial displacement which victimized the people who became immigrants was later wielded to turn the immigrants themselves into weapons of Capital.

None of the current political movements accurately address quite what is happening. Unfortunately, the social justice framework is particularly shallow here: it sides with immigrants not on economic grounds, but on the field of identity and oppression (precisely as the far right does, but in inverse). While immigrants absolutely face racist oppression, the social justice political strategy ignores that this oppression is a continuation of their economic exploitation, rather than a mere moral issue. The economic exploitation of immigrants is bound-up in the same capitalist machinations which deteriorate the economic conditions of the working-class whites which Social Justice activists see as the alpha-oppressor. So while the Left stopped addressing the economic suffering of whites as the ‘working class’ (in favor of focusing on social oppression), their economic suffering continues regardless, making them a ripe field for harvesting by far-right ideologues like Donovan.

Here we can see that, as in so much else of his writing, Donovan is not really wrong in his analysis. The ‘wealthy elites’ to whom he refers do not encounter the refugees and immigrants displaced by their policies or for their profit. None of the politicians who voted for NAFTA, none of the executives of multi-national corporations, and none of the finance brokers of large investment banks experience the direct effects of their decisions, cultural or otherwise. Neither, though, will the investors who reap dividends from those moves, nor will many of the urban liberal bourgeoisie (be they tech workers or hipster business owners) even encounter the immigrants or the disgruntled working-class who directly experience these shocks except as the house-cleaners, construction workers, janitors, or the countless other manual servants who support their lifestyles.

Donovan is not really wrong, but he is also not really right, either. The ‘wealthy elites’ against which he warns benefit both from anti-racism and racism alike. “Elite” (Bourgeois) liberals and conservatives both manipulate the poor beneath them; the Capitalist class wields racist rhetoric to manipulate poor whites against Blacks and immigrants at the very same time that it wields identity politics against those whites. With both hands, the capitalists ensure those upon whom the entire system is built never unite against them.

Conservative-inspired white violence against immigrants ensures that those immigrants remain passive and compliant victims of global capital; Liberal social justice identity politics makes sure that the circumstances and primary cause of that violence is seen not as a result of capitalist policies, but as a result of the white (cis/able-bodied/hetero/male) it identifies as alpha-oppressor. It is a game in which capitalists have bet on both teams, and while the Left stands in the stadium slack-jawed, Donovan has been picking their pockets.

The Violence of the Gilded Age

It is here where we can begin to see that the threat the Wolves poses to antifascists is not what any of his critics think. It is not his virulent brand of misogyny, nor his intoxicating aesthetic, nor even his increasing influence and popularity. Rather, it’s that he’s beating the Left at their own politics, occupying ideological and intellectual territory they forgot they even once possessed, and building a racialized movement with the tools we left behind.

Nowhere is this best seen than in the speech he gave at Schollenrode to a New Right think-tank in February. The 20 minute presentation, called “Violence is Golden,” outlines his primary critique of Liberal Democracy and the modern world.

“We all live by the sword. Every law is a shaking sword, a glock at close range, a hungry pair of handcuffs. Every hate speech law, every anti-discrimination law, every tax that extorts the money you earned and gives it to someone you would never willingly help, who may even hate you, is backed by the threat of violence. IThe people who say they want safe spaces and peace and love will send men with guns to threaten to kill you if you do not do what you want.”

“The prevailing narrative of the Empire of Nothing—the phrase I use to describe the network of governments …is that ‘violence is evil, violence is something others do, violence something that outsiders do, something that criminals and outlaws and sick people do, violence is a disease some kind of affliction that can be cured…they believe it is a symptom of ‘toxic masculinity.’

…old rulers were proud of what they won.and defended using violence…those that give names in modern democratic states obscure that violence…

State violence is euphemized and obscured by terms like law enforcement when a criminal shoots someone its violence, when the police shoot someone its law enforcement.

Democratic violence must be presented as a reluctant, nurturing correction When acts of violence are morally sterilized in this way, good, modern civilized people can absolve themselves of the reality that the laws and regulations they depend on are obeyed only because wielding tasers tears gas batons and firearms. When you accept and internalize this narrative that violence is evil done only by outlwasd what the state does is something else, you wash the blood from your hands. It is easy to convince yourself that you live nonviolently, that you have evolved beyond violence.”

If many of these statements sound in any way familiar, they should. They are the same arguments once used by the Black Panthers, by indigenous resistance movements, by insurrectionist anarchists, by autonomous Marxists, and by every other leftist critic of Liberal Democratic hegemony in the 20th century. They are the core analysis of state violence inherent in anti-civilationist critics and the essential thrust of Ward Churchill’s deconstruction of liberal ‘nonviolence.’ You can find variations of the same statements in the work of European critical theorists like Zizek and Badiou, as well as in my own writing. In fact, last year I wrote critiques both of the way social justice relies on state violence to enforce hate crime legislation as well as how we help Liberal Democracy obscure the violence it commits on our behalf.

Whether or not Jack Donovan reached this analysis through exposure and study of leftist revolutionary theorists or came upon it through his own path, the fact remains that he wields it better than what passes for the Left in the United States. Mass movements such as Black Lives Matter, Occupy, and the mobilizations against Trump and white supremacy expend extraordinary effort to avoid direct criticism of Liberal Democracy, contorting themselves into almost absurd positions. A coalition of activists involved in Black Lives Matter, for instance, produced a platform that skirted completely the connection between the police and liberal democratic violence, offering police reform as their most radical position. Even the manifestations against white nationalists and alt-right groups by antifascist coalitions refuse to make the connection between the police who protect the fascists and the urban ‘progressive’ social order which prosecutes hate crimes on their behalf.

While anti-fascists heavily rely on ‘no-platforming, this complete leftist abandonment of revolutionary attacks against Liberal Democracy actually gives the far-right their platform. It is as if Leftists built a stage, set up a mic and speakers, and brought in a massive audience, but while they became distracted by Liberal Democratic crises (the war on terror, the 2016 presidential elections) and glittering distractions (gay marriage, identity politics), men like Donovan stumbled upon the script and the live mic and began improvising before an eager crowd.

Because while Jack Donovan and the other theorists of the New/Fascist Right are deeply intelligent, their ideas are completely derivative. They are experts at salvage and refurbishment, but aren’t actually able to create anything new. In this way, they are hardly much different from the Nazis who borrowed endlessly from whatever mythic past they could find, repurposing Leftist critiques and even Liberal Democracy itself, into a deadly configuration.

The Gods Are What Has Failed To Become of Us

Most important of the Wolves’ work—and least understood by their critics, is their reclamation of a mythic, anti-modern spirituality in the form of Heathenism. Antifascists, liberals, and conservatives alike tend dismiss these aspects as mere oddity or primitivist nonsense, missing that it is from there they derive their true power.

It is useful here to remember first that before Jack Donovan was a hyper-masculinist Heathen, he was Jack Malabranche, a Satanist who spent much of his time in endless troll-sessions with trans women on internet sites. Those who remember him from that time recount a completely different man, one so insecure with his masculinity and beliefs that he could become enraged at the slightest friendly jab about his figure or perceived intelligence.

In his Heathen incarnation, Donovan finally found a milieu in which he could operate, a mythic system more easily-accessed, and something that Left-Hand path work couldn’t offer: a framework of community. Unlike most Pagan, Witch, and Magician paths, Heathenry in the United States emphasizes familial and friendship bonds, a complete moral code of tribe-based solidarity, and a pre-existing masculinist aesthetic into which even the most awkward, socially-inept man can find a sense that he is something more than just a capitalist failure.

Like the rest of his ideas, Donovan’s Heathenry is largely derivative. The tattoos on his chest are standard: the Black Sun, Icelandic staves: nothing every Black Metal-loving suburban kid doesn’t get by the time he’s 19. His occasional quotations of the Eddas or recounting of Odinic tales to illustrate a point are almost awkward to read: they have a greeting-card quality to them, rather than of someone actually initiated into Odinic mysteries.

Paul Waggener and Operation Werewolf are the more dominant influence. Waggener’s esoteric work, however, is more aesthetics than serious magic—for instance, Vakandibok—a Taufr of Awakening, is frankly not much different in scope than the useless drivel that comes out of major pulp-occult publishers like Llewellyn. However, aesthetically it is significantly different: darker, more primitive, and with significantly less New Age ‘bullshit.’ It also offers a cultural aesthetic far less worshipful of hyper-capitalist modernity than most of what non-racialized Paganism offers.

Ultimately, however, the “ancient” spirituality of the Wolves is a political aesthetic. Here we must remember: it’s too easy to dismiss the aesthetic of romanticist primitivism used by groups like the Wolves of Vinland as “mere” aesthetic, as if aethestic had no power. Vikings, European tribalism, return to simpler and more embodied ways of relating to the world, unsubstantiated and patently false notions of racially-pure pasts cannot be dismissed merely because they are aesthetics divorced from historical fact. So, too, the pretensions of modern life, the religious assurances that technological progress, endless growth, and hyper-consumerism have brought peace and equality are likewise mere aesthetic with no reference to truth. Its falsehood is irrelevant to the truth it creates.

What the Wolves are creating through their spiritual aesthetic is of course not a return to ancient ways of being, but an aesthetic of ancient return against a wholly-alienating capitalist, modern present. Whether they believe themselves to be returning or not is not the point; only that, given enough power, the return will happen in their (false yet now-true) ancient way.

Baudrillard’s point that it is impossible to rob a bank in an ‘inauthentic’ way is important here. You cannot simulate a hold-up: regardless of whether you really mean the gun in your hand, you were honest in your written note to the teller, deeply and truly meant to kill hostages if the money were not delivered, or truthfully meant to return the money afterward, the bank is robbed regardless. Authenticity and faithfulness to the original do not matter: everything is always reproduction of an unapproachable and missing original.

Against The Modern World

Thus, whether or not the Wolves are faithfully copying ancient Germanic religion and culture is a question only a liberal (themselves forgetting that Democracy is likewise inauthentic) might find relevant. For the rest of us, the primitive return to Odinic rites and sacred warrior brotherhoods that the Wolves propose must be seen as a wholly political aesthetic akin to the Marxist creation of the proletariat or the Nazi fabrication of the volk, as well as the social justice creation of the oppression identity. Nation, Race, Gender, and Religion are all likewise political aesthetics whose power is undeniable.

The question thus isn’t whether or not the primitive, Heathen aesthetic of the Wolves is true, but why it has power. Here is where we see yet again another deep failure of the Left, a great abandonment of territory occurring at precisely the same time as the Left largely abandoned anti-globalisation. The globalist (neo-liberal, or actually just Liberal) political transformations that have occurred in the last two decades have done for societies now what Marx noted was accomplished by the bourgeoisie in the 19th century:

“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.”

Alienation of the body, destruction of local cultures and communities, destruction of religious systems and moral frameworks around which people cohered: these are all the effects of capital’s globalized spread in the name of civilization:

“It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”

Whilst Marx and Engels argued that such transformations were inevitable and would lead to worldwide class revolt, the Messianic promise never manifested. The industrialisation of work under the religious banner of modernity nevertheless succeeded in disrupting every social relation, destroying every cultural form which stood in its way (indigenous, ancient, or otherwise).

The recent rise of new-old religious and cultural forms (such as the Wolves’ anti-modern Heathenry), then, is a political reaction to global capital, regardless of whether or not they identify it as such. There is nothing actually fascist about such reactions; the Left mistakes anti-modernism as fascist only because it has drank the bloody offerings at Capitalism’s altars of progress. Walter Benjamin noted this in his criticisms of the bourgeois-left political formulations in Europe against which the Surrealists fought, especially their dogmatic belief in the conquest of nature and the march of history:

“Marx said that revolutions are the locomotive of world history. But perhaps things are very different. It may be that revolutions are the act by which the human race travelling in the train applies the emergency brake.”

The world of global capital means more environmental, social, and cultural destruction in the name of progress, modernity, and civilization; thus an anti-modern political aesthetic such as what the Wolves utilize is essentially a reaction to capitalism. But it is not quite an anti-capitalist politics, or isn’t any longer now that these critiques are abandoned by the overly-credulous and hyper-modern Left.

These critiques originate in anarchist, socialist, post-colonialist, and anti-imperialist thought, and were once a primary feature of mass movements against global capital. Anti-imperialism, particularly in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America has always made as one of their foundational critiques the overthrow of French, American, and Anglo attempts to ‘civilize’ the conquered natives. Marxist and Anarchist theories, stripped of their European exceptionalism, transformed alchemically into autonomous movements embracing traditional and indigenous ways of being, and where they became strong enough to influence or transform government (as in Bolivia), their aesthetics were ultimately anti-modern (as for instance Evo Morale’s enshrinement of Pachu Mama as an entity with legal rights).

As with the questions of gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy mentioned in the previous essay, the Wolves and other fascist groups have merely squatted aesthetic political territory ceded by the Left.

Here, much more than elsewhere, American Leftists deserve the fiercest of criticisms. A peculiar sort of American urban exceptionalism has arisen which belittles those who do not partake in bourgeois hipsterism. Those who are not part of urban realities, who do not know (or care) about the latest social media frenzy, who experience the modern as relentless alienation and are slow to be educated into the latest pronoun-shifts or poly-bi-non-pan sexualities are ultimately written-off as reactionaries, just as the political cries of those whose material existence has been shattered by global capitalism’s destruction of factories and communities are dismissed as backward or inherently racist.

Stealing Back What’s Stolen

With no leftist alternative to the relentless death-march of globalisation, what the Wolves of Vinland propose is actually an attractive option. A new-old ancient aesthetic built around familial ties, moral codes, re-approach to the land, tribal community, and ethics of self-fulfillment and the reclamation of the body is precisely what Capitalism cannot promise but what resistance to Capital requires. With the exception of Green anarchist, primitivist, anti-colonial, and indigenous movements, the left dismisses such political aesthetic as fascist or least reactionary. But it is neither, except that it is a ceded territory now occupied by fascists.

The primary weapon of anti-fascist organising in the United States has been the use of protests and disruption to silence the voices of fascists and white supremacists. Such tactics, however, can only suffice if those doing the silencing have something equally compelling to say. Unfortunately, few if any of the political aesthetics antifascists offer speak any longer to the crises caused by these new expansions of global capitalism.

It is not enough to say that immigrants must not be discriminated against. Without a conceptual framework which acknowledges how the economic destruction which causes mass immigration in the first place is tied to global capitalism and the policies of the Democratic party in the United States, the left, by focusing their energies only on the racist aspects of anti-immigrant sentiment, is only treating a tertiary symptom of a systemic disorder. Both the horrible economic plight of the immigrant as well as their structural exploitation as weapons against community coherence must be addressed simultaneously, directing our politics back against the capitalists who initiate and maintain the cycle.

So, too, the left can no longer hope that condescension and belittling of anti-modern politics will suffice to stop those politics arising in the first place. Social alienation, the reduction of the human to worker and consumer, the flattening of urban and non-urban life into a great worldwide market in which the same products and same cultural forms annihilate local difference: all these cultural and societal destructions caused by global capitalism will not go away just because urban leftists have made peace with their Instagram accounts and daily lattes, their iPhones and hip clothing made possible by capitalism’s conquest of the entire world.

Particularly the refusal of American leftists to make connections between the police and military violence which gives them access to the resources of the world must be acknowledged and then fought. The hyper-modern urban existence, cluttered with the technological spoils produced by the very same Capitalist exploitation which destroys both indigenous cultures in the global south as well as those of the poor white worker in the United States, must be abandoned. No longer can we pretend inter-connected existence through Facebook and Twitter are adequate replacements for the resilience of local communities and distinct cultural experiences which they displace.

From there, a solidarity can arise with the colonized peoples who have been fighting to preserve their land, culture, and distinction against Empire’s commodification of the world. From such a solidarity, racist and nationalist rhetoric will be easier to fight; when a Mexican immigrant or a Syrian refugee is seen as an ally of the out-of-work American worker against global capitalism, we will no longer need to silence fascists: the poor white worker will no longer have a reason to listen to them.

Unfortunately, we have few examples of what a re-invigorated, anti-modernist, anti-globalist political aesthetic might look like in America except the Wolves of Vinland, and they are not a model we should emulate, but rather a warning of what is replacing us because we fail.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd is the managing editor and a co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He is a poet, a writer, a theorist, and a pretty decent chef. He can be supported on Patreon, and his other work can be found at Paganarch.

He lives in Bretagne.


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ART MANIFESTO: Utopian Fevered Dreams

“If you are unwilling or unable to create your own Utopia, you will inevitably live in someone else’s.”

From Patacelsus


I have it on good authority that good art manifestos start with a declaration denouncing all previous art movements and putting them on notice that they have been found out to be hacks concerned only with money. In keeping with that fine tradition that may or may not even exist, I am putting the leaders of all previous human societies on notice, we have found out that you are run by hacks concerned only with money. Most leaders who are dead are safe from the embarrassment of being found out. Those leaders currently alive don’t seem capable of shame, so for now lets just end the ritual formality of denunciation and get into it.

But what is Utopia exactly? It’s heaven, heaven on Earth. A heaven built with one’s own two hands. Everyone is in the Utopia game. Since Ur and Babylon, all of civilization has been an imitatio in divinus. Everyone wants to build “their” Utopia. Guess who’s Utopia we are living in now?

Why Art Manifesto and not An Art Manifesto? Well, to put it quite plainly, I’m not just talking about art, or the arts, I’m also talking about THE ART, the only Art really. All of the rest of it is just practice in technique. Some people are technically amazing, and an even smaller slice of people actually achieve Art without ever intending to. Many who practice The Art have no artistic technique to speak of and yet still make it work. But many, many, many, who aspire to art or The Art, fail, miserably. Because they never even try.

If you are unwilling or unable to create your own Utopia, you will inevitably live in someone else’s. Many create their own Utopias, but have neither the means or the will to build it very far outside of their imagination. This is the consequence of the Capitalist Utopia we all live in. Our Utopias either stay locked in our imagination, never breathing free, or quickly bankrupt us, or sometimes, get us locked away behind bars, either in a jail or a hospital.

Then there are some who have technique, they achieve unto The Art, and spend their lives churning out baleful anti-art, which like the flaming eye of Sauron, seeks out imagination, creativity and freedom, and burns it out of a person, replacing it with product jingles, corporate logos, and asinine TV/video ads. The products of these anti-art da Vinci’s go on to live their own lives in the ether, astral plane, noosphere, collective unconscious, whatever you like to call it.

But imagine having the means and the will, and choosing not to create a Utopia. What does one call that? Imagine not having the imagination to create a Utopia. That is the beginning and end of poverty. The Capitalist Utopia has broken your body, and hence, your mind. Or it has broken your mind, your body is soon to follow. The Capitalist Utopia is a meat grinder, and Mammon turns the crank.

What kind of art can you make these days that some jackass isn’t looking to commodify and sell? Or would it be better to say commode-ify? What kind of art resists best this trend of the endless shit torrent of “content”? What medium aesthetically and physically resists being owned and sold?

While we’re on the topic of demonology, why do Capitalists get all the fun? Belphegor is in Peter Binsfeld’s demonology too. He is the demon of sloth, and teaches mankind ingenious devices. Seeing him inside out, he encourages mankind to cast off drudgery and instructs in tools designed to eliminate work. He was known to the ancient Middle-East as Baal-Peor, his symbol was a phallus and he was associated with orgies. The Kabbalists know him as the disputer, would that more people in a labor dispute had made friends with him. What better demon to evoke for a Utopia? What better demon to preside over the end of someone else’s Utopia?

In Tibet they have a tradition of art called sand mandalas. There was once a team of monks making a sand mandala in a museum, after they had left a small child decided to play in the pretty sand, the mandala was gone in an instant! But I do not suggest you take up making Art in sand. No, instead I suggest you take up Art with chalk. Lasts just long enough, but not too long. A medium burn in a universe on fire! Let your Art adorn every surface! Let every McDonald’s arch face down with the orison of Papa Guedhe! The local block looking drab? Cook up a special haunt and make it interesting again, seal the deal with a Seal of Solomon! Chalk is cheap and so is talk! Get out there and make street Art!

(Chalkable…)

Strikes and slowdown’s were once the tools by which worker’s unions twisted the arm of capital to get what they wanted. But the union slowly became a tool of the establishment. Wages have been stagnant since the 70’s, and yet worker productivity has risen since to over 70%. The eight hour workday is an idea that goes back to 1810. Eighteen hundred and ten! We are living in the world of the future according to those people, now long dead. In the duration since, repeatedly it has been promised, more often than not in the contemporary discourse, that in the world of the future drudgery would be gone, post scarcity would render society radically differet. So what happened?

Why chalk and not spray paint, or something else more permanently defacing? Well, in the case of paint, it no longer permanently defaces like it used to. Society has become accustomed to it, works around it. In other words, paint isn’t permanent as it used to be, and permanence isn’t the point. This universe is a burning house, everything is impermanent. Chalk then is the perfect medium as message, as well as resisting attempts to commode-ify Art. Most taggers tag in paint to see how long a run they have before their tag gets painted over. As well, most tags are just names written in elaborate, barely readable script. A bunch of latter day Andy Warhols, signing their name on civilizations concrete coral reefs. Boring!

Murray Bookchin, in his book “Post-Scarcity Anarchism”, a book written in 1971, seemed to be of the opinion that a post-scarcity that provided a high quality of life, as well as a harmonizing with the environment, was possible. That was in 1971. Some might argue that we weren’t there yet, but are today. Some might argue that we are almost there, but maybe tomorrow. Many anarchists are jaded with the notion entirely, convinced that the long promised technology will never manifest, that it was a fever dream that distracts from the revolution.

The reality is startling and may cause you to shit yourself from seizures; the shock from this revelation will be overwhelming. It was the Capitalists that promised the future of post-scarcity. They lied.

Spray paint has become passé, something to be ignored on the urban landscape, not pretty enough or weird enough to grab attention. Permanent enough that it is an annoyance to the particular “owner” or caretaker of whatever bears the mark, but not impermanent enough that it becomes worth looking at simply because of its short life. “Tagging” artists have also partially pushed into the mainstream, it is no longer the universally hated pastime it was in days gone by. In contrast, chalk is too ephemeral in its duration to be worth hating or accepting. The simple fact that it is still there makes one curious enough to look. Though it is imminently destructible, no one bothers, it’s chalk, let the rain handle it.

Oh, they didn’t lie about the technology, that’s for sure. If we didn’t have it in the 70’s we definitely have it now. No, they lied about using it. They had no intention of ever improving the quality of life with it. No transformation of society was going to happen, regardless of whether or not the tech was real. The point of Capitalism isn’t the greater good, it isn’t the most benefit to the most people. It is about getting that mutha fuckin’ money. Every single other thing that a Capitalist does is auxiliary to that. Give up all that money and power so that people can live in dignity and without fear of having basic needs met? “Fuck that bullshit”, says the Capitalist. The point of a Capitalist society is so that the most sociopathic and ruthless can get more. It’s an asinine way to run a civilization, if you want it to last for more than a few hundred years, and not collapse into ruin.

How complex your works need to be is entirely up to the artist and their skill. You can go for the fully utilitarian mode of sigil work, or create murals that will wash or blow away within the week. What matters is your intent, and how much life you breath into that intent made physical. You might even find that as you make more works, that your technique and your ability to bring these works to life, to Art, grows and takes on a life of itself, that’s real Art.

And if our leaders are asinine, then why work so hard for them? It’s one thing to show up because you need a paycheck, its another to let yourself be goaded into working as hard as you can because you’re afraid one of the salarymen is going to call you lazy! Constantly on the media streams, these assholes get up in front of everyone and the gods to either implicate or out right accuse the citizenry of laziness, despite all research asserting the opposite. You have a 70” LCD TV that you bought on credit, what do you need with all that health care and minimum wage anyway? Right!?!

Not only will your works take on a life of their own, but they are also embedded there in the moments they occupy, there for any being with eyes to see them. The beings we (and I’m just going to assume that since you’re reading this you are one of those types who talks to spirits, gods, demons, etc.) talk to exist on another plane, sure, which is another way to say higher dimension. Just like the floating silvery orbs often seen over populated cities might be aliens, sure, but are more like cross sections of hyper dimensional shapes being rotated on their 3+n D axes, and less like beings from another planet in our “volume sliding along a duration” type of existence. That means that the chalk is actually not just an aesthetic statement about anti-commodification, but also an effective way to conceal your works from the mundane peoples.

Look, in the past it was sabotage, strikes, and slowdown’s that twisted the arm of capital. But punctuated events have become easy for the Capitalist and his Statist cronies to deal with. Instead, why not provide the ultimate slowdown? Belphegor makes sense as an adopted comrade spirit in these times. Corporations are now more than ever trying to foist as much work for as little pay as they can on the worker. If it isn’t overtime due to under-staffing and high volume, then it is pursuing your personal GOALS, which must meet the SMART criteria, and though they are refereed to with various anti-prose euphemisms such as employee enrichment, what they are friends and fiends is extra work. Extra fucking work, as if the shit they have you doing for a whole third of your life wasn’t enough.

I have a confession to make, I don’t think the revolution will happen soon. I do not mean to say that we should not make the attempt, or struggle in other ways. What I mean to say is that until there is a collapse, the kind that normally happens when a society spins off into massive inequality in wealth and environmental degradation, that the inertia of our collective history will deflect naturally such efforts. We should struggle anyway, however, because the attempt itself plants seeds that can be watered later, to grow in the fertile corpse of our current context. I would not deny anyone that demands “revolution now” the opportunity to make it happen. But in the succession of “nows” that pass, why not engage yourself happily? Why not make Art? Why not paint this soon-to-be corpse of a civilization, like a cemetery mortician putting make-up on someone’s gran-gran, in runes of struggle, revolution, liberty and community? If you have better things to do, then feel free, certainly, to get on with it. But if not, why not pick up a stick of chalk, and paint the world mad?

They don’t lift a finger except to count their money, and they vilify us, these scoundrels, for not wanting to drudge in a world where drudgery could be done away with. It keeps us tired, unable to absorb information as fast, and closer to docile than not. It is not a lack of technology that prevents Utopia, it is the fear of the privileged, and indeed today they enjoy such “private law” that has not been seen since the days of aristocracy. The slick haired, over perfumed, chemically tanned aristocracy of money want you working hard so they can continue to enjoy the privilege that comes from their money. Ready to play hookie yet? Ready for an, ahem, “sick day”, full of fun and adventure?

Indeed, if I should be so bold, I might suggest that one’s whole life should be a work of Art. A magical statement to echo down the ages, heard only by ears that can hear such echoes, and yet the waves of which affecting those who can and can’t nonetheless. Like Nietzsche suggests to us, “What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.’” If indeed your life were to occur repeatedly in such a manner, would you want a third of that time spent drudging for a douche-bag with a watch collection worth more than hundreds of thousands of families incomes? Many think when they die the drudgery is over, and if it isn’t, would this not then be hell?

“What kind of adventures”, you ask? Well, you could do a lot of things, with free time comes choice, a thing most at least dimly remember. I could make a suggestion, why not art? Paint the town red as they say. And why not magical art, or as they used to call it, The Art. An abattoir of Art, the concrete deserts of the worlds cities blooming on a spring, summer, fall, or winter day. Any time of the year is good. Not a bad suggestion if I say so myself. I should write a little primer, a wee little Art Manifesto to rouse my glorious fellow rabble into acts sacred and profound. Why not an Art Manifesto, I don’t have much better to do. I wonder if anyone knows anything about Art Manifestos?

Who wants to live in hell on Earth? Why not then use Art to make a Utopia? Nothing fancy mind you, this present context is two breaths away from being a rotting corpse. Perhaps then we should just plant dreams in the subconscious minds of our fellow humans, and nightmares for Capitalists who hope we all stay sleeping. But whether or not we bother to plan our Utopia or with Jovian profligacy spread our Art like so many weedy species spill seeds into the wind, we should at least have a talk about Utopia. If you could live your life as a work of Art, in a civilization that was a work of Art, that might be Utopia, if you were into that. But definitely, lets talk about Utopia first.

 


Patacelsus

mal1A Discordian for 20 years, Patacelsus finally got comfortable when the 21st century “started getting weird.” When not casting sigils, taking part in Tibetan Buddhist rituals, or studying the unfortunate but sometimes amusing stories of the dead, he’s been known to wander the hidden ways of the city, communing with all of the hidden spirits one can find in a city. As Patacelsus sees it, we’re all already free; after completing the arduous task of waking up to that we can then proceed, like a doctor treating a patient, to try to rouse others from the bitter and frightening nightmares of Archism. He laughs at Samsara’s shadow-play in lovely California, in the company of his wife, two cats, and two birds.

Lies That Capitalists Tell Us

 

While idiotic supporters of our two-party system wring their hands over the sensationalist nonsense reported by the mainstream media, we thought it might be worth touching on the most dangerous lie of all-time: capitalism. It’s an all-encompassing delusion, including: the myth of continual technological progress, the mendacious assumptions of endless economic growth, the lie that constant bombardments of media and consumer goods make us happy,  and the omissions of our involvement in the exploitation of the planet and the resources of distant, poorer nations, among other things.

We’ve taken the time to hash out some of the most pernicious mendacities we’ve come across in our (relatively) young lives, in the workplace, in our private lives, and in the media. ***

Please share these counter-arguments far and wide, in order to educate your fellow citizens, and, if necessary, to provide the intellectual beat-downs needed when arguing with pro-capitalists. So without further ado, here is our list of the most devious “Lies that Capitalists Tell Us”:

1) Wealth will “trickle down”

It’s hard to believe an economic policy that conjures images of urination could be wrong, but the idea is as bankrupt as the lower classes who have been subjected to the trickling. Less than ten people now have the financial wealth equivalent to half the planet, and the trickling seems a lot more like a mad cash-grab by the (morally bankrupt) elites. Rather than trickle down, the 1% and their lackeys have hovered up the majority of new wealth created since the 2008 crash. After 40 years of stagnant wages in the US the people feel more shit on than trickled upon.

It’s not a mistake that the elite reap most of the profits: the capitalist system is designed this way, it always has been, and will be, until we the people find the courage to tear it down, and replace it with something better.

2) I took all the risks

It can be argued the average employee takes far more risks in any job than the average person who starts a business with employees. The reason being is that the person starting a business usually has far more wealth, where most Americans can’t afford a 500 dollar emergency. Meaning if they lose a job or go without work for any stretch it means some tough decisions have to be made. A person with even a failing business cannot be fired, but the employee can be fired for almost any reason imaginable, they are operating without a net at all times.

The capitalist uses all sorts of public infrastructure to get his/her company off the ground. From everything to the roads to get you to your job, colleges, public utilities, tax breaks, electricity, etc. Even the internet itself was created from public research. Yet still, elite business owners still have the audacity, and are so full of hubris, that they believe in the hyper-individualist, macho, rugged-cowboy/pioneer façade they affect.

3) I could pay you more if there were less government regulations

Many capitalists argue that layers of government bureaucracy prevent them from paying their employees a fairer, living wage. This is a huge whopper, as our regulations (like no child labor, a minimum wage, disability and worker’s compensation, basic environmental impact studies, etc) actually provide safety against the worst type of exploitation of workers and destruction of the land by corporations. Without these minimum regulations, an age of even more outright neo-feudalism would occur, where employees could be layed-off and rehired ad-infinitum, based on downward market wage forces, at the wishes of ever-more capricious owners, management, and CEOs.

4) If you work hard, one day you can be rich like us (We live in a meritocracy)

America is not a meritocracy, and no one should think it is. There exists no tie to the intelligence of work done or the amount of it that guarantees success. Rather to be rich depends more on either being born into it, or being exceptionally good at exploiting others so one may take the bulk of the proceeds for themselves. This is the magic formula for wealth in this ever so “exceptional” land – exploit, exploit, exploit.

Inheritance & exploitation is how the rich get rich. To understand the exploitation aspect takes some understanding of how the rich function. Next to none of the super rich become that way solely by meritocracy. Their income is created through complex webs of utilizing leverage usually to extract some form of passive income. They are the rentier class or con artists, or both.

You only have to look at what the rich are dabbling in. Like Robert Mercer for instance, who made his money via “a hedge fund that makes its money by using algorithms to model and trade on the financial markets.” . Skimming money off corrupt financial markets hardly seems like a worthwhile activity that contributes anything to humanity, it’s a hustle.

Or take Bill Gates, who did some programming for a few years, poorly, and became rich by landing a series of deals with IBM initially, and then by passively making money off the share values of Microsoft. The late Steve Jobs may have been one of the more hands-on billionaires, but even he required thousands of enslaved asian hands to extract the kind profits Apple was able to make.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson almost certainly has organized crime links, as if owning a casino wasn’t enough of a con to begin with.

Rich DeVos became a billionaire by running a pyramid scheme most are familiar with called Amway.
The Walton family, owners of Wal-Mart, pays a median wage of 10 bucks an hour (far below a living wage), they strong arm vendors, and also rely on products made with working conditions that resemble old world slavery, while having more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans.

There’s just no way to make that kind of money without having a major market advantage and then profiteering off it. Lie, cajole, coerce, manipulate, bribe, rig, and hustle. These are the tools of the rich.

No one is worth this kind of money and everyone needs each other’s help to function, but in the minds of the rich they consider themselves the primary cogs in the machine worthy of their money for doing not much else than holding leverage over others and exploiting it.

5) This is as good as it gets (there is no alternative, TINA)

Through a process of gaslighting and double bind coercion the choices we are fed are propagandized via controlled media outlets owned and operated by elites. We are told our choices must be between the democrats or republicans, attacking the Middle East or face constant terrorism, unfettered capitalism or state run communism. We are given binary choices that lack all nuance, and nuance is the enemy of all those who seek to control and exploit. They feed us a tautology of simpleton narratives which unfortunately do exactly what they hoped, keep people dumb and biting on their red herrings.

Capitalists make it seems as if there is no alternative because they hoard all the money, have all the hired guns, and pay off teams of servile lawyers, judges, and lobbyists to write and enforce their anti-life laws. Capitalists demand “law and order” whenever their servant classes get too restless. In general, the most hardened, dogmatic capitalists exhibit bewilderment and/or disgust at genuine human emotions like joy, creativity, spontaneity, and love. Many capitalists have an unconscious death wish, and want to drag the rest of us and the mother Earth down with them.

Capitalists have stolen all the farmlands, hold all the patents to technology, and don’t pay enough to mass amounts of citizens to get out of the rat race and get back to the land, to live off of. The screws are turned a little tighter every year. If we are not done in by massive natural disasters or an economic collapse, expect a revolution to occur, hopefully a non-violent one.

6) We give back to the community

Corporations set out to create non-profits as a public relations move. They cause the problems and then put small band-aids on the gaping wounds they have directly contributed to and use the charity as a source of plausible deniability to obscure the fact that they are exactly what we think they are: greedy.

Handing out bread-crumbs after you’ve despoiled, desecrated, and bulldozed millions of hectares of valuable habitat is not fooling anyone. The elite one-percenters are the enemies of humankind and the biosphere itself.

7) The system (and economic theory) is rational and takes into account social and environmental costs

People tend to think someone somewhere is regulating things to keep us safe. They look around and see sophisticated technology, gleaming towers in the sky, and what they believe to be is a complex intelligent world. But in truth no one is running the show. The world functions as a mad cash grab driven by neo-liberal ideology. Our leaders are driven by power, fame, and money, and exhibit strong psychopathic, sociopathic, and narcissistic traits.

The problems of modern industrial capitalism and its impact on the world is clear – our exploitation of the resources, people, and other species are a direct result of our consumer based infinite growth model. Just a few of the problems we face are species extinction, climate change, ocean acidification, and a toxic carcinogen filled trash dump of a planet that reached population overshoot decades ago.

If the system was rational, we would begin planning to lower birth rates to decrease the world’s population, and voluntarily provide education, decent, dignified jobs, as well as birth control and contraception to women worldwide.

We live by money values, and think in money terminology. When we discuss healthcare the topic arises about how to pay for it before nearly anything else. The priority isn’t on saving lives but how to pay for things. Yes, how will we pay for healthcare when banks can create money on a computer through the magic of fractional reserve banking, which they often use to bail out their crony friends. The money isn’t real but the implications of restricting it from the populace are. Money is created out of thin air by the magic of the Federal Reserve, yet we have all heard our bosses, and the pricks in Washington complaining that “we don’t have enough money for that” when it comes to healthcare, improving schools, and humanitarian relief for the poorest parts of the world.

Again, if the system was rational, world poverty would be solved within a few short years. Money destined for weapons and “defense” could be used domestically as well as abroad to Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, and there is more than enough money (75 trillion is the annual world GDP, approximately 15 trillion in the US alone) to pay for a good home, clothing, and food for every family worldwide, with an all-renewable powered energy grid.

8) The future will be better

When Trump’s slogan make America great again was on the lips of every alt-right fascist, most of us stopped to ask, when was it great? The truth is that politicians have been promising something better since the inception of this country and better has never arrived.

There is always another expensive war to fight and another financial meltdown occurring on average every eight years. Wait, you might say, what about those sweet post-WWII growth years brought about by the New Deal? The sad truth is those years were only materially beneficial to white, middle-class men, who were highly sexist, racist, and complicit in incubating today’s consumer-driven Empty Society.

The post-WWII era was an aberration in our history and the result of having more jobs available than people, but as the country rapidly exploited its natural resources and reached the limits of linear growth while the population exploded the leverage that allowed people to have higher wages receded. Even though efficiency increased enormously, the people lost leverage to demand higher wages.

Without leverage held by the people capitalism will return to its status quo goal – exploit, and that’s just what it did. In the US, corporations grew richer and the people grew poorer starting from the mid 1970’s to the present.

9) It’s Just Business

Employees devote years of their lives to companies and when they are let go they are told it’s nothing personal, it’s just business. This is how all bad news is delivered even when personal, it’s says we are cold-hearted organizations that adhere to a bottom line first and human needs second. So know when they say “it’s just business” what they are saying is understand we are sharks, and acting like a shark is just what we do.

This is also the logic behind defending war crimes and similar atrocities. Nations like the US claim they have a “responsibility to protect” civilians from terrorists. Then, when American bombs kill civilians (or their proxies use US-made weapons), they are referred to as “collateral damage”.

10) Financial markets & debt are necessary

The health of the entire economy is too often gauged by the stock markets. But the reality about financial markets is they are extraneous gambling machines designed to place downward pressure on companies to post good numbers to elevate share prices. These financial markets funnel capital to a smaller and smaller number of multinational corporations every year, and perpetuate non-linear economic growth (and therefore more pollutants, CO2, pesticides, strip mining, razing of forests) that is killing the planet.

Debt is the most fundamental lie in our economy. Money is only supposed to be a tool to move goods efficiently around a market, but for money itself to be a wealth engine is a Ponzi scheme. And we all know how that ends.


William Hawes

is a writer specializing in politics and environmental issues. He is author of the ebook Planetary Vision: Essays on Freedom and Empire. His articles have appeared online at CounterPunch, Global Research, Countercurrents, Gods & Radicals, Dissident Voice, The Ecologist, and more. You can email him at wilhawes@gmail.com. Visit his website williamhawes.wordpress.com.

Jason Holland

is a writer. Visit his blog Reasonbowl.com. He can be reached at jason.holland@reasonbowl.com or follow him on twitter @ReasonBowl. Watch him on his Youtube channel at Reason Bowl Radio.


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Red Hot Cannonballs and Bloody Knives: Why Fanon Still Matters

From Jesse Brent


This past March, I attended a speech at the NYU Law School by Kathleen Cleaver, the law professor and former Communications Secretary of the Black Panther Party. After a dialogue with two young activists, whom Cleaver cautioned against the effects of non-profits on political movements, Cleaver responded to questions from the audience. One student asked Cleaver which books had influenced her the most politically. She responded by saying that the official Black Panther Party Book List is available online, but the most important title for herself was The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon. Another student asked if Lenin was an important influence for her. She responded with a simple “no.”

Frantz Fanon was a psychiatrist and revolutionary philosopher from Martinique, who lived in Algeria during the country’s anti-colonial war against the French. Fanon joined the revolutionary movement and contributed to El Moudjahid and Résistance Algérienne, official publications of the FLN (National Liberation Front). He also treated patients, both revolutionaries and non-combatants, who suffered from PTSD after being tortured by the French army. Fanon’s writing incited and inspired revolutionaries around the world, including Cleaver and other members of the Black Panther Party. Indeed, along with Malcolm X, Fanon is the only writer listed twice on the Black Panther Party Book List that Cleaver mentioned.

Fanon vividly describes colonialism as a system of oppression and misery, which justifies land appropriation and economic exploitation through a racist ideology that denigrates the culture of the colonized. He also insists on the necessity of using violence to overthrow colonialism. For both of these reasons, Fanon remains one of the most relevant philosophers for today’s society, both in the United States and around the world.

Fanon minces no words in the opening chapter of his deservedly famous masterpiece The Wretched of the Earth. The chapter itself is called “On Violence” and Fanon writes, “In its bare reality, decolonization reeks of red-hot cannonballs and bloody knives.” Though Algeria was one of many countries in the so-called “Third World” to gain independence in the mid-20th century, our world today remains thoroughly colonized. As Fanon points out, after independence, members of the local bourgeoisie replaced the role of foreign colonizers in many countries around the world, and resources remained in the hands of a small elite, rather than the population as a whole.

Many in the United States never consider that they are living in a colonial state. Yet not only does the United States continue to practice a blatant form of colonialism in Puerto Rico, resulting in the territory’s bankruptcy, but the United States is itself essentially a colony that has brutally oppressed its indigenous people through genocide and land appropriation. In A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn estimates that at the time of Columbus’s arrival in Hispaniola, 25 million people lived in North America. By 1844, fewer than 30,000 indigenous people remained east of the Mississippi. Fanon writes of the United States as “a monster where the flaws, sickness, and inhumanity of Europe have reached frightening proportions.” While both liberals and conservatives today embrace patriotism and American exceptionalism, Fanon’s words remain true. America is exceptional, not for its virtues, but for its horrifying legacy of genocide and slavery, and its ongoing racism and imperialism.

Worldwide, neocolonialism is rampant in countries that are no longer officially colonies. As one recent Al Jazeera article pointed out, sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world of $41bn. Few people in countries with abundant natural resources actually benefit from those resources. At the same time, neoliberal economic policies, coordinated between national elites and multinational organizations like the IMF and World Bank, continue to encourage tourism and major development projects, while cutting down on education, healthcare and social services.

Fanon identifies the police officer or the soldier as “the official, legitimate agent, the spokesperson for the colonizer and the regime of oppression.” Around the world, cops continue to act as the enforcers of state power, colonialism and capitalism with virtually no accountability for their frequent murders of poor and otherwise marginalized citizens. Practically every day, stories such as the recent murder of a mentally ill man by the Tulsa Police demonstrate the fact that police departments do not protect and serve, but rather terrorize communities.

While America has always been fundamentally colonial, we have entered a particularly reactionary era, as our current president openly courted racist voters with a message of nostalgia for the bygone era of Jim Crow. Prominent alt-right personalities like Gavin McInnes proclaim their “Western chauvinism,” while maintaining ties with unabashed neo-Nazis. This “Western chauvinism” may sound less threatening than fascism, but as Fanon writes, “when the colonized hear a speech on Western culture they draw their machetes or at least check to see they are close to hand.” This is because the idea of Western “cultural superiority” reflects a racist worldview that dehumanizes non-white people and justifies their economic exploitation.

Fanon is also immensely relevant for his attack on bourgeois nonviolence. He introduces the concept by writing, “At the critical, deciding moment the colonialist bourgeoisie, which had remained silent up till then, enters the fray. They introduce a new notion, in actual fact a creation of the colonial situation: nonviolence.” As anarchists ushered in the Trump era with smashed windows, a burning limo, and one punched Nazi, liberals have responded aghast to the attacks on property and violence against a man who calls for “peaceful ethnic genocide.” Many liberals responded to the punching of Richard Spencer by saying that this act of violence made anti-fascists no better than the Nazis they oppose, echoing the alt-right trolls who call antifa “the real Nazis.” While liberals rarely seem to care about drone strikes, ICE raids, or police brutality, they are horrified by a smashed Starbucks window. Just as it was at the time Fanon was writing, nonviolence remains a counterrevolutionary sham, favored by bourgeois elites, who have no interest in changing the oppressive system that they benefit from.

Fanon also wrote critically of the political “party machine,” which “tends to resist any innovation.” As liberals cling desperately to the fiction that the Democratic Party will save them, Fanon’s words ring more true than ever. The Democratic Party ran a candidate who would not offer a fifteen dollar minimum wage and could not even pretend to relate to working class Americans. As Fanon writes, “the unpreparedness of the elite, the lack of practical ties between them and the masses, their apathy and, yes, their cowardice at the crucial moment in the struggle, are the cause of tragic trials and tribulations.” We must put our hopes in ourselves and not in politicians if we have any chance of finding true liberation.

In one footnote in The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon comments on the connection between colonialism and fascism. He quotes from his own article in Résistance Algérienne, commenting on the spread of fascist militia groups formed by French colonizers in Algeria. Fanon writes, “at the level of the individual and human rights what is fascism but colonialism at the very heart of traditionally colonialist countries?” Many of the horrific practices that are associated with fascism were first implemented against colonized people. This is why it is so important for anti-fascist organizing to also be anti-colonial. Struggles between water protectors and gas companies at Standing Rock are related to battles between anti-fascists and the alt-right in the streets of Berkeley and Portland. In both cases, the state sides against those fighting fascism and colonialism.

Fanon is stern in his appraisal of Europeans, but he does not he does not rule out the possibility for solidarity between the European working class and colonized people. He writes, “This colossal task, which consists of reintroducing man into the world, man in his totality, will be achieved with the crucial help of the European masses who would do well confess that they have often rallied behind the position of our common masters on colonial issues.” Fanon rejected Enlightenment philosophy as thoroughly hypocritical and empty. As he puts it, “Let us leave this Europe which never stops talking of man yet massacres him at every one of its street corners, at every corner of the world.” However, Fanon does not give up on humanity. He rather proposed a new form of humanism that is committed to revolutionary anti-colonial and anti-racist struggle.

In one of the most vivid sections of The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon writes that the “salvation” of the Algerian people “lies in their solidarity, in recognizing their interests and identifying their enemies. The people understand that wealth is not the fruit of labor but the spoils from an organized protection racket. The rich no longer seem respectable men but flesh-eating beasts, jackals and ravens who wallow in the blood of the people.” Today, just as during the Algerian Revolution, any chance for revolutionary success depends on building bonds of solidarity between various communities and instilling consciousness of our common interest in the overthrow of capitalism and other forms of oppression. The more that people join together to support one another in struggles against capitalism, racism, colonialism, and fascism, the more prepared we will be to build a new and better society.


Jesse Brent

Jesse Brent is a writer and radio producer, currently living in Brooklyn. He recently completed a master’s thesis on cultural hybridity and liberation in contemporary Moroccan music, and is currently working on a new podcast about radical politics and underground music from around the world.


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The Establishment’s Mistake: Ignoring the Youth Vote

If you’ve been paying attention, election results aren’t turning out the way that the pollsters and the pundits expected them to in four of the most high-profile recent elections in Western democratic countries.

In the highly contentious 2015 Canadian federal election, at the beginning of the campaign it looked as though people were angry enough that they were ready to oust the Conservative government under Stephen Harper that had reigned for a decade, but the NDP was clearly the front runner.  By the beginning of August, Maclean’s Magazine, a middle-right leaning magazine that is highly respected in Canada for its analysis of business and politics, said it was anybody’s game.  And of course, at the last minute, what actually happened was that the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau swept in to claim the victory.

In the 2016 United States Presidential election, it was clear to everyone that Hillary Clinton was going to win, and by a landslide.  Of course, though she did win the popular vote, that’s not what actually happened.

Most pundits were refusing to call the 2017 French election.  But of course most of the world breathed a sigh of relief when Emmanuel Macron beat far-right Front National leader Marine LePen.

And in Britain just this past month, Elizabeth May and the Conservative Party of the UK called a snap election, smugly confident that this would result in the vast majority needed to give them a free hand in Brexit negotiations.  But it didn’t turn out that way.  The Labour Party under democratic socialist Jeremy Corbyn showed so well that they stole the Conservative majority, endangering their control of government to the point that they had to make a devil’s bargain to keep power, and most pundits treated it like a victory for Corbyn, rather than May’s defeat.  This, despite the fact that the Conservatives won their highest vote share since 1983, rivaling their results under the Iron Lady, and despite sabotage within Corbyn’s own party from people who thought he was running too far to the left.

So what gives?  How could these expert opinions have been so wildly inaccurate?

I believe it comes from an Establishment tradition of underestimating the youth vote.  This has been exacerbated in recent years by the difficulty of polling young people, who do not participate in traditional models like phone polls, and whose voices on social media are being drowned by fake accounts and internet bots.  But in part, it’s deliberate.

It is not in the Establishment’s interests for the youth to vote.  They engage in a policy of denigrating the importance of the youth in election results.  They project the impression, furthered by the media, that the youth do not care about politics, and their vote won’t matter anyway because they’re so outnumbered by other demographics.  Conservative and right-wing parties, knowing that they don’t do as well when more people show up to vote, institute policies when they’re in power that make it more difficult to register, such as requiring ID under the pretense of “voter fraud,” something that is more difficult for young and poor people to acquire.

This policy is threatening them at the polls.  Galvanized by consistent policies that our youth rightfully see as contrary to their values and destructive of their future, there is a huge movement in today’s youth to be more politically involved.  If the system is the only way to change the future, they will engage, and when they do, sh*t gets real.

The voter turnout at the Canadian 2015 election was the highest in 2 decades.  New voters and the youth demographic were considerably more involved than in previous years.  And they were overwhelmingly behind Justin Trudeau.  Some cynically claim it was because of the Liberal position on legalizing cannabis (and there may be some truth in that); others think maybe it was just that Trudeau was the youngest of the candidates; still others believe it was genuinely because the Liberal Party made an effort to engage young voters.  Whatever the reason, it worked.

In the UK general election a massive surge of young voters almost turned the tide completely in the Labour Party’s favour.  More than a million new voters registered in the month that Ms. May and the Conservatives allowed before the UK election.  The youth turnout was the highest in 25 years, according to the statistics, and they were mostly behind the Labour Party and its socialist platform.

On the other hand, in some places, youth engagement and this policy of ignoring the youth vote seemed to benefit the New Right more than the left.  Early polls suggested that almost half of France’s youth vote supported LePen and the Front National (though later this was amended to 34% of the youth vote, just a little more than her typical support level across the voting spectrum.)  And of course the American election remains a tangled, ugly mess, vote tampering from outside forces aside.  But it’s clear that one of the factors that influenced that election was that the youth supported Bernie Sanders, felt he was cheated of the Democratic nomination, and decided to cast their votes on third parties or on no one instead.

Speculation runs rampant among political pundits as to why the youth supported one candidate or party or another.  Some say that the parties who engaged the most with social media did better among the youth than those who did not.  If you discount the fact that Trump may have won because the millennials opted out of Clinton, this would seem consistent.  And this could also be confusing cause with effect.  Young people drive social media, so more young people are going to be engaged by definition.

Others disparagingly observe that “populists” are doing better among younger voters.  I think this is an oversimplification.  The truth is that young people are angry.  They know that not only is the existing system not working, it is rigged against them and is selling away their futures.  They have no loyalty to their companies because they know their companies have no loyalty to them; and I think the same holds true in politics.

But does that mean they will jump on any populist parade that comes along?  I don’t think so.  The election results in the US tell us that.  When given the best of bad options, they’ll choose not to choose, and without the youth to help contest them, that allowed the core right wing supporters to take the victory.

The political wisdom suggests that middle-centrists are the best the left can do in a popular vote.  But remember, the political pundits are paid mostly by multi-million dollar media corporations, who are clearly invested in the Establishment, corporate interest.  Left-wing policies cut into their profit margin.

When given the option, young voters choose the candidate they perceive as being the most Progressive, as evidenced in the Canadian and UK federal elections.  They want change, and they overwhelmingly vote in a way that suggests that they value progressive change.

So, what can the Establishment do to win over young voters, which is becoming a more and more significant demographic with every passing year, as slowly the Baby Boomers fade into the sunset?  They can run on more Progressive, left-wing platforms, and then do the things they’ve promised when they get elected.

And if you’re a young voter reading this, and you’ve been feeling despair, I hope if nothing else this shows you that the path to victory is to get involved in the process at a grassroots level.  Primary your Senators, register to vote, join movements like #Resist.  Because you are a far more powerful force than you know, and our hopes for the future rest upon you.

 

The Problem(s) with Science

A lot of “science educators” lately have become worried about people’s lack of trust in the scientific community, citing poor science education and misinformation as the chief causes. Herein, I will not address these concerns though I think they are valid concerns for anyone actually. Instead, I will suggest that there are more central problems with the scientific community and how it goes about the pursuit of science. Problems that inevitably involve Capitalism, and a little bit of philosophy, and are much more responsible for the down tick in trust levels.

So strap the fuck in, we’re going to have a long and boring conversation about people that will likely never find this article; so this technically counts as gossip!

We’re going to start with the philosophy though, because dangling a promise of a conversation about Capitalism in front of you is probably the only way to actually get anyone reading about philosophy. Most people don’t like talking or hearing or reading about philosophy at all, because as bad as science education has gotten, philosophy education has been shit for a very long time in comparison. But before we start hard with the sophy of some philo, we should probably start by rhetorically asking and answering the question, “What exactly is science anyway?”

Most fancy Latin or Greek names usually give away what the thing named is about, but not the proper noun “Science.” Science comes from the Latin Scientia, which means knowledge. This is no way tells any of us a damned thing about what is going on. But we’re in luck, the German word for science, Wissenschaft, tells us the whole story. Wissen means knowledge, no surprises there, and Schaft, can mean so many things (and there’s no need to get your head out of the gutter, it means ‘long pole’ as well), but here it means to create, produce, establish, etc.. Wissenschaft transliterated means “Knowledge Creation,” and therefore should probably be a verb, but in both English and German, it is a noun.

But science is not just any kind of knowledge creation, it is both systematic and communal.

It is important to keep that in mind as we go forward, but for now this releases us to take up the discussion of the philosophy of science: for now that we know what it ideally should be, we can see how it is not living up to that idea. How it is not living up to that idea is found in the interplay of ontology, which I insist on calling metaphysics (all modern attempts at re-branding metaphysics be damned) and epistemology.

Metaphysics, put simply, is about the nature of being; epistemology is the study of how we know what we know, or to put it another way, the study of the difference between knowledge and opinion. But how is the practice of science different from other ways of knowing or creating knowledge? It is in the very fact that science eschews metaphysics as the foundation to build on. In other words, a metaphysics is not assumed when we start asking the questions, and all lines of inquiry are therefore valid, save for the caveat that the possible answer to a question can be proven false.

“The Scientific Method”

Building on this, then, is the scientific method. I have an idea about how something might work (a possible answer to my questions about the world), called a hypothesis. I do activities which test this hypothesis in a systematic way, trying to get information. That information provides a more detailed description of how things work, and we call this a theory. Other people do those same activities, called experiments, and then say, “The same things happened again, there may be something to this”, or, “I got something completely different, I think you made a mistake in your thinking or experiments.” This is the ideal called the scientific method, and it is one of the most sacred myths about how science happens.

It is also not how science happens.

Paul Feyerabend was UC Berkeley Professor of Philosophy and Professor of the Philosophy of Science at the Federal Institute of Technology located in Zurich. His book “Against Method” stands with “The Logic of Scientific Discovery” by Popper and Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” when it comes to books about the philosophy of science. Of his book, Feyerabend had this to say,

“Neither science nor rationality are universal measures of excellence. They are particular traditions, unaware of their historical grounding. […] History is full of ‘accidents and conjunctures and curious juxtapositions of events’ and it demonstrates to us the ‘complexity of human change and the unpredictable character of the ultimate consequences of any given act or decision of men’. Are we really to believe that the naive and simple-minded rules which methodologists take as their guide are capable of accounting for such a ‘maze of interactions’? And is it not clear that successful participation in a process of this kind is possible only for a ruthless opportunist who is not tied to any particular philosophy and who adopts whatever procedure seems to fit the occasion?”

Feyerabend’s essential point is that in the actual pursuit of science, the only method that does not hold back that pursuit is “anything goes.” Also, despite the process described to us as children called “The Scientific Method,” the reality is born out in history that “The Scientific Method” is a myth. Essentially, when the “anything goes” approach is abandoned for myth, when metaphysics sits atop epistemology and directs it and constrains it, you eventually stop getting new information, new ideas, and new theories.

This is where Materialism enters the fray. Materialism is actually an old monism that goes back several millennia. There are passages all through the Buddha’s teachings on the subject, there are ancient Chinese documents discussing the idea, the Romans had a version of it, and it has continued down on through the ages. It was readily taken up in the 19th century by the scientific and intellectual communities of the day, and should have died with the formalization of quantum theory; and yet it didn’t.

Most scientists that are of the loud and proud materialist persuasion would like you to forget that Isaac Newton was an alchemist: he made up a whole color so that the spectrum he saw shining through his prism would match the seven classical metals and planets of alchemy, he also claimed to discover an alloy of metal called hepatizon that hasn’t been made in possibly millennia if not centuries, since he left behind no ingots to prove he had figured the riddle of its manufacture out. Those same scientists would also deny that Rene Descartes had a dream in which a luminous angel told him that, “The conquest of nature is to be achieved by number and measurement.” Nor would they care to admit that he sought out the Rosicrucian Order with the intent to become a brother of that order.

Science is Magic

“What of it?” you might wonder aloud, your eyes ready to roll in the expectation that I will claim that “Science” is another religion, like so many creationists do. In fact, I will claim no such thing, put your eyes to rest. I will also not claim that “Science” is some gorgon like anti-religion. No no no.

What I will say is that scientists are actually like us. They are wizards, sorcerers, miracle workers and healers. In the beginning of the Lemegeton Clavicula Salomonis, a single quote illustrates my meaning,

“Magick is the highest most absolute and divinest knowledge of Natural Philosophy advanced in its works and wonderful operations by a right understanding of the inward and occult virtue of things, so that true agents being applied to proper patients, strange and admirable effects will thereby be produced; whence magicians are profound & diligent searchers into Nature; they because of their skill know how to anticipate and effect which to the vulgar shall seem a miracle.”

Or to paraphrase it, “Our technology is so advanced it is indistinguishable from magic.

They are us! But, they are in deep denial of that fact, of their origins, even of the way in which they truly go about creating knowledge. This deep denial manifests as a psychospiritual cyst, filled with a profound disgust, projected at all those who remind them of their origin and their identity. We are the boogeypersons they fear in the night, hiding under the bed, or in the closet.

Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but the disgust is real. It is the reason that Materialism is clung to so steadfastly in a world of macroscopic objects held in quantum states: a world in which the oldest and now only paranormal research lab in America still churns out research needing verification but receiving none; a world in which one of their most popular demagogues can cough up an idea like “meme”, and then rapidly retreats from it once it has taken on a life of its own and is busy reminding us all that ideas are alive and divine, just like people are.

This denial and deeply buried self loathing makes our brothers vulnerable. Vulnerable to the ravages and exploitation of both the Capitalist and the Prince.

Science For Sale

Anyone familiar with academia, especially in the United States, is familiar with the pressure to publish. Published professors, and the prestige that goes with employing such professors, is one of the legs of the business of higher education. Published professors bring in students and their tuition, and more importantly bring in research grants from both the private sector and government programs. In 2016 alone the Department of Defense granted 23 awards totaling 162 million USD.

Make no mistake, universities are big business, and the employees they exploit include our lost brothers.

The pressure to publish or perish has begun the slow process of eating the scientific establishment from the inside out. It has led to the creation of journals that publish trash science, made-up crap that is only created to look good on a curriculum vitae, not the delicious and spirit nurturing “made up crap” that a magician brings back with him after ascending to the heavens with the intent of stealing knowledge. (I include modern scientists in that latter category, both in the knowledge stolen and the image of the magician doing the stealing, sons of Hermes all.)

The true, unacknowledged winners of this game of shame is the publishing industry itself. Like dialysis clinics swarming over a kidney failure patient, trying to suck out as much cash as possible before death, journal publishers pop up and swarm over professors who are forced to publish or go back to join the rest of us clods drudging away in front of a register instead of a university computer. A shit job of drudgery in writing spurred by the threat of even more mind-numbingly shitty drudgery should you decide you don’t want to play along.

Remember when being a scientist sounded like an alright job? I do, but I’m also old. They may not be dying of starvation at age eight somewhere in the Sudan, but my heart goes out to them all the same.

But what about those “lucky” few scientists that get to work directly for the government doing research? Well, what about them? They work either for government programs that are likely to be underfunded soon, or they work for DARPA and its many cousins in the governments of other nations.

If they work for DARPA, then they are truly damned. These are the damned souls who use Art to create weapons, either to suppress the peoples of foreign countries or to suppress the citizens they would call their fellows. “I have become Shiva, destroyer of worlds”, the words spoken by a man truly cognizant of what he had just unleashed with the Art that was supposed to benefit mankind, not turn it to ash and cinder, and who knew in that moment his damnation, not a hell of fire and torture after he dies, but a living hell of guilt and regret.

Denial of the past, denial of the present, denial of the future. Identity crisis, cultural crisis, economic crisis, ethical crisis. The problems that besiege our lost brothers are numerous, in big part because our lost brothers are willfully ignorant of these problems and their origins. They complain of lack of funding, they complain of lack of trust. They complain of lack of “scientific literacy.” And yet they would have none of these problems if they could look in a mirror and speak honestly of what they see.

If they could turn away from the promise of big money grants dangled in front of them like a scratch-ticket bought from a 7-11; if they demanded that their own brothers not turn away from human ethics; if they turned once again to true science, eschewed the concerns of metaphysics, and pursued knowledge without philosophical, economic, or political borders, they too could stand in the light of that sought knowledge, steal if from the gods, and bring it back for that good and sake of mankind! They would once again receive the support that they would then have all the right to ask for.


Patacelsus

mal1A Discordian for 20 years, Patacelsus finally got comfortable when the 21st century “started getting weird.” When not casting sigils, taking part in Tibetan Buddhist rituals, or studying the unfortunate but sometimes amusing stories of the dead, he’s been known to wander the hidden ways of the city, communing with all of the hidden spirits one can find in a city. As Patacelsus sees it, we’re all already free; after completing the arduous task of waking up to that we can then proceed, like a doctor treating a patient, to try to rouse others from the bitter and frightening nightmares of Archism. He laughs at Samsara’s shadow-play in lovely California, in the company of his wife, two cats, and two birds.

 


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