Saturday, October 31, 2009


“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. These facts few psychologists will dispute, and this admitted truth must establish for all time the genuineness and dignity of the weirdly horrible tale as a literary form.” —H.P.Lovecraft

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Popper's misreading of Hegel, continued.

""""No conception is bandied about more unscrupulously in the history of ideas than “Influence.” Popper’s notion of it is so utterly unscientific that one should never guess that he has done important work on logic and on scientific method. At best, it is reducible to post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Thus he speaks of “the Hegelian Bergson” (p. 256 and n. 66) and assumes, without giving any evidence whatever, that Bergson, Smuts, Alexander, and Whitehead were all interested in Hegel, simply because they were “evolutionists” (p. 225 and n. 6).

What especially concerns Popper — and many another critic of German thinkers — is the “influence” that the accused had on the Nazis. His Hegel chapter is studded with quotations from recent German writers, almost all of which are taken from The War Against the West by Kolnai. In this remarkable book Friedrich Gundolf, Werner Jaeger ( Harvard), and Max Scheler are pictured as “representative of Nazism or at least its general trend and atmosphere.” Kolnai is also under the impression that the men who contributed most “to the rise of National Socialism as a creed” were Nietzsche “and Stefan George, less great but, perhaps because of his homosexuality, more directly instrumental in creating the Third Reich” (p. 14 ); that Nietzsche was a “half-Pole” (p. 453); that the great racist H. S. Chamberlain “was a mellow Englishman tainted by noxious German influences” (p. 455); and that Jaspers is a “follower” of Heidegger (p. 207 ). It would seem advisable to check the context of any quotations from Kolnai’s book before one uses them, but Kolnai generally gives no references. Popper writes:

I am greatly indebted to Kolnai’s book, which has made it possible for me to quote in the remaining part of this chapter a considerable number of authors who would otherwise have been inaccessible to me. (I have not, however, always followed the wording of Kolnai’s translations.)

He evidently changed the wording without checking the originals or even the context.

Popper uses quotation after quotation from Kolnai to point out supposed similarities with Hegel, but never stops to ask whether the men he cites had read Hegel, what they thought of him, or where, in fact, they did, get their ideas. Thus we are told that the idea of “fame is revived by Hegel” (p. 266 ), for Hegel spoke of fame as a “reward” of the men whose deeds are recorded in our history books — which would seem a trite enough idea that could also be ascribed to scores of sincere democrats — but Popper goes on: “and Stapel, a propagator of the new paganized Christianity, promptly [i.e., one hundred years later] repeats [sic]: ‘All great deeds were done for the sake of fame or glory.'” This is surely quite a different idea and not trite but false. Popper himself admits that Stapel “is even more radical than Hegel.” Surely, one must question the relevance of the whole section dealing with Stapel and other recent writers; this is not history of ideas but an attempt to establish guilt by association on the same page — in the hope, it seems, that semper aliquid haeret.

It is also the height of naïveté . A quick dip into a good dictionary of quotations would have shown Popper a great many closer parallels to Stapel than he found in Hegel. Perhaps the most extreme, and also the most memorable, formulations are found in some poets whose influence would be hard to gauge. Shakespeare writes:

Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives, Live register'd upon our brazen tombs.

And though these lines occur in one of his comedies, Love’s Labour’s Lost, he certainly did not think meanly of fame. Ben Jonson even went a step further in Sejanus ( I, ii): “Contempt of fame begets contempt of virtue.” And Friedrich Schiller voiced a still more radical view — in a poem that many German school children learn by heart, Das Siegesfest, which deals with the Greeks’ celebration of their triumph over Troy:

Of the goods that man has cherished
Not one is as high as fame;
When the body has long perished
What survives is the great name.

For every Nazi who knew Hegel’s remarks about fame there must have been dozens who knew these lines. Does that prove Schiller a bad man? Or does it show that he was responsible for Nazism?

Besides, Popper often lacks the knowledge of who influenced whom. Thus he speaks of Heidegger and “his master Hegel” (p. 270 and asserts falsely that Jaspers began as a follower “of the essentialist philosophers Husserl and Scheler” (p. 270 ). More important, he contrasts the vicious Hegel with superior men “such as Schopenhauer or J. F. Fries” (p. 223 ), and he constantly makes common cause with Schopenhauer against the allegedly proto-fascist Hegel, whom he blames even for the Nazis’ racism — evidently unaware that Fries and Schopenhauer, unlike the mature Hegel, were anti-Semites. (important point. The aged Hegel supported abolition, a pan-african congress, and liberation of some type for jews, though objected to some aspects of jewish racketeering, and financial schemes)

Hegel’s earliest essays, which he himself did not publish, show that he started out with violent prejudices against the Jews. These essays will be considered in the next chapter; but they are not represented in Scribner’s Hegel Selections and hence were not exploited by Popper. Nor have they exerted any perceivable influence. When Hegel later became a man of influence’ he insisted that the Jews should be granted equal rights because civic rights belong to man because he is a man and not on account of his ethnic origins or his religion. (yes).

Fries, who was Hegel’s predecessor at the University of Heidelberg, has often been considered a great liberal, and Hegel has often been condemned for taking a strong stand against him; it is rarely, if ever, mentioned in this context that Fries published a pamphlet in the summer of 1816 in which he called for the “extermination” of Jewry. It appeared simultaneously as a review article in Heidelbergische Jahrbücher der Litteratur and as a pamphlet with the title “How the Jews endanger the prosperity and the character of the Germans.” According to Fries, the Jews “were and are the bloodsuckers of the people” (p. 243 ) and “do not at all live and teach according to Mosaic doctrine but according to the Talmud” (p. 251 ) of which Fries conjures up a frightening picture. “Thus the Jewish caste ... should be exterminated completely [mit Stumpf und Stiel ausgerottet] because it is obviously of all secret and political societies and states within the state the most dangerous” (p. 256 ). “Any immigration of Jews should be forbidden, their emigration should be promoted. Their freedom to marry should ... be limited... . It should be forbidden that any Christian be hired by a Jew” (p. 260 ); and one should again force on them “a special mark on their clothing” (p. 261 ). In between, Fries protests: “Not against the Jews, our brothers, but against Jewry [der Judenschaft] we declare war” (p. 248).

This may help us to understand why Hegel, in the Preface to his Philosophy of Right, scorned Fries’s substitution of “the pap of ‘heart, friendship, and enthusiasm'” for moral laws. It would certainly have been unwise of the Jews to rely on Fries’s brotherly enthusiasm.

Hegel’s often obscure style may have evened the way for later obscurantism, but Fries’s and Schopenhauer’s flamboyant irrationalism was, stylistically, too, much closer to most Nazi literature. It does not follow that Fries influenced the Nazis. He was soon forgotten, till, in the twentieth century, Leonard Nelson, a Jewish philosopher, founded a neo-Friesian school that had nothing to do with Fries’s racial prejudices. The one influential thinker whom Nelson succeeded in leading back to Fries was Rudolf Otto, the Protestant theologian, who is best known for his book on The Idea of the Holy. What makes that book so notable is its fine description of the “numinous” experience; but the confused discussion of “The Holy as an A Priori Category” and the romantic notions about “divining” are indebted to Fries.

Popper, though he has written an important book on Die Logik der Forschung, “The Logic of Research,” does not find it necessary to check his hunches by research when be is concerned with influences in his Hegel chapter. He simply decrees that Hegel “represents the ‘missing link,’ as it were, between Plato and the modern form of totalitarianism. Most of the modern totalitarians are quite unaware that their ideas can be traced back to Plato. But many know of their indebtedness to Hegel” (p. 226 ). Seeing that the context indicates a reference to the Nazis and that all the totalitarians cited in this chapter are Fascists, not Communists, Popper only shows his ignorance of this brand of totalitarianism.

Hegel was rarely cited in the Nazi literature, and, when he was referred to, it was usually by way of disapproval. The Nazis’ official “philosopher,” Alfred Rosenberg, mentioned, and denounced, Hegel twice in his best-selling Der Mythus des Zwanzigsten jahrhunderts. Originally published in 1930, this book bad reached an edition of 878,000 copies by 1940. In the same book, a whole chapter is devoted to Popper’s beloved Schopenhauer, whom Rosenberg admired greatly. Rosenberg also celebrates Plato as “one who wanted in the end to save his people [Volk] on a racial basis, through a forcible constitution, dictatorial in every detail.” Rosenberg also stressed, and excoriated, the “Socratic” elements in Plato.

Plato, unlike Hegel, was widely read in German schools, and special editions were prepared for Greek classes in the Gymnasium, gathering together allegedly fascist passages. In his introduction to one such selection from the Republic, published by Teubner in the series of Eclogae Graecolatinae, Dr. Holtorf helpfully listed some of his relevant articles on Plato, including one in the Völkischer Beobachter, which was Hitler’s own paper. Instead of compiling a list of the many similar contributions to the Plato literature, it may suffice to mention that Dr. Hans F. K. Günther, from whom the Nazis admittedly received their racial theories, also devoted a whole book to Plato — not to Hegel — as early as 1928. In 1935, a second edition was published.

Whether Hegel did, or did not, influence the Nazis may not be particularly relevant to Popper’s central theses in his book — but then most of his book is not. His often stimulating ideas are amalgamated with a great deal of thoroughly unsound intellectual history; and Section V of his Hegel chapter (eighteen pages) is representative of the latter. It is also representative of scores of similar attempts by authors who have less to offer ...."""

Hegel? Popper? Play-tow? Who dat? Cracker mutha-f-ers. ah got a bas-setball jones

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The spirit of PERVERSENESS

(EA Poe's "The Black Cat", continued)

"In the meantime the cat slowly recovered. The socket of the lost eye presented, it is true, a frightful appearance, but he no longer appeared to suffer any pain. He went about the house as usual, but, as might be expected, fled in extreme terror at my approach. I had so much of my old heart left, as to be at first grieved by this evident dislike on the part of a creature which had once so loved me. But this feeling soon gave place to irritation. And then came, as if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of PERVERSENESS. Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart --one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such? This spirit of perverseness, I say, came to my final overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the soul to vex itself --to offer violence to its own nature --to do wrong for the wrong's sake only --that urged me to continue and finally to consummate the injury I had inflicted upon the unoffending brute. One morning, in cool blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree; --hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart; --hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of offence; --hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin --a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to place it --if such a thing were possible --even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God.

The Black Cat reveals Poe's great talent at evoking a mood of near-hysterical terror in a few dozen tightly composed paragraphs. The Black Cat might not rank as one of his classic tales--the plot seems a bit contrived--yet anyone who reads the story carefully can hardly not be affected by Poe's complex rhetoric of pathology and psychosis. Poeian syntax itself sounds like eloquent terror, vaguely shakespearean perhaps: Poe's narrators may remind one of Iago, with his gallows humor and puns, though with a peculiarly American edge. Poe however is no noir hack working from police reports or criminal depositions, or working class slang: he wrote before the Victorian dialect-masters arrived (whether Dickens, or Twain, etc). Poe arguably invented the ghoulie genre itself, with the loquacious villains (as Vincent Price, and earlier Karloff), and strange clockwork mechanisms and objects. Poe also initiated the detective story, if not sci-fi as well--that scary dream The Masque of the Red Death gave birth to Lovecraft (who routinely blesses his master EAP), and probably Harlan Ellison as well.

One interesting aspect of the story concerns the narrator's insistence (do not merely read that as Poe himself) that his phantasm cannot be accounted for, as of by yet, by an "ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects."
The narrator is not merely a deranged psychotic, but he believes his Spirit of PERVERSENESS exists in some psychological realm which Reason cannot at present address. Reason--including science and logic-- cannot describe the primitive impulses of the human heart --yet for the Narrator (and Poe, one suspects) that Spirit comprises "one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man." The narrator's obsession with Pluto alludes to the ambiguity of motivation, or in contemporary terms, the problem of intentionality.

Black cats typically connote malfeasance, night, or witchcraft; cats were often killed along with suspected witches in the middle ages. In Poe's tale, the Narrator has given the name Pluto to his black cat: Pluto, god of the underworld. Jung would most likely have termed the Black Cat an archetype, and that seems in ways preferable to Freud's dream-maps, thought they both agreed that cats symbolized the feminine as well as sexuality. Pluto adds the dimension of death. The black cat lore may seem trite and "gothic" now, but in many cultures, even primitive America, a black cat was a portentous Omen, especially to the religiously orthodox. The narrator himself may be religious, possibly a zealot, given his concerns about "the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God". Could the Narrator, by torturing and then killing the cat--and then his wife--be combating what he interprets as the presence of Evil, driven by his own unconscious, sublimated religious code? That seems plausible, though a thorough explanation would require a more detailed analysis; suffice it to say, the narrator is obsessed with the cat. The Cat indeed equals the Spirit of PERVERSENESS to the narrator; the spirit being both manifest in the Cat, AND in the Narrator's mind--a type of immanence, really, which an "ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects" cannot account for. The Narrator-cat relation then becomes nearly a type of psychological pantheism (and human-primates and felines both belong to the order of Mammals). The cat serves as a symbol of something out of the ordinary, uncanny, troubling--even an Other of sorts, in Lacan-Speak-- to the narrator, and he must destroy it, yet it is part of him. By destroying the Cat, he will destroy the Spirit of PERVERSENESS itself...(to be continued)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

THE BLACK CAT features the dynamic duo of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The film has only a distant relation to the classic tale of Edgar Allan Poe, but fascinating nonetheless. Karloff stars as the villain--the screenwriter loosely based the character of Poelzig on the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley (--as in Crow-lee). There are also parallels to the rise of totalitarianism in 30's Europe: Dr. Werdegast (Lugosi) has spent 15 years in a concentration camp. Poelzig is the personal nemesis of Dr. Werdegast--Poelzig's actions resulted in Werdegast's incarceration. The two meet again when Werdegast and others are involved in a bus accident in Hungary one dark gothic night, and Werdegast unwittingly brings an injured femme to....Poelzig's Hungarian castle! Then Dr. Werdegast must match wits with Karloff to save the young lady's life, before Poelzig uses her in a ........infernal ritual. Ghastly!.

Do you chess with me.....for her? Bwahbwahbwahbwahbwah....

This movie features one particularly unsavory spectacle--one of the goriest scenes captured on film at the time. The audience doesn't actually see anything too bloody, however. Lugosi overpowers Karloff (SPOILERS, as they say) and straps him to a cross on Karloff's black mass altar--intended for the injured young lady. Yikes! Picking up a scalpel, Dr. Werdegast smiles at Karloff and utters: "There's more than one way to skin a cat." He then proceeds to skin him alive, although the entire scene is silohouetted against a wall, with screams and eerie soundtrack. Superb Hell-o-ween Phamily fare.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Occasionalism--Godly, and not-so-Godly.

""""[Malebranche's] Occasionalism is the doctrine that all finite created entities are absolutely devoid of causal efficacy and that God is the only true causal agent. God is directly, immediately and solely responsible for bringing about all phenomena. When a needle pricks the skin, the physical event is merely an occasion for God to cause the appropriate mental state (pain); a volition in the soul to raise an arm or to think of something is only an occasion for God to cause the arm to rise or the idea to be present to the mind; and the impact of one billiard ball upon another is an occasion for God to move the second ball. In all three contexts - mind-body, mind alone and body-body - God's ubiquitous causal activity proceeds in accordance with certain general laws, and (except in the case of miracles) he acts only when the requisite material or psychic conditions obtain."""

Malebranche's doctrine may sound strange or mystical, but we contend that ANY orthodox monotheist, whether christian, jewish or muslim, must uphold Occasionalism in regards to all events, physical or mental. Even if efficient causes exist (as they do), and natural laws seem to hold, the Believer must grant that God is "the only true causal agent". Thus, theistic Occasionalism implies contingency, in a sense. God would by definition know all, command all, at all times, and everywhere. Assuming He existed, He could, if He so desired, simply reverse Newtonian physics, and have a plane fall from the sky. He could also create miracles, by definition. Yet planes don't fall, and miracles don't seem to occur, at least on macro-level. The typical theist, at least the thinking one, may allude to continuity of a sort, or say something regarding regularity, or Design, possibly a Final Cause, read instrinsically: "The rose bush always produces roses, not marigolds, or the heads of snakes. Planes fly according to those sacred Newtonian constants. There is order, which is Godly", he says. Aristotle, and Ibn Rushd, perhaps even Deists might actually agree to that--Descartes and Malebranche would not.

At the same time, God or spiritual forces do not appear to intervene during various types of nightmares--say world war, or plagues. God could have, granting the occasionalist premise, prevented trench warfare, or panzer divisions: that is assuming He thinks he made a mistake, yet Occasionalism also implies God can change His mind. But he chooses not to. Some believers insist, of course, that God does create miracles, and indeed intervene. Prayer is commonly accepted as legitimate, as bringing about change. Prayers did not stop trench warfare, however (and certainly many mothers did pray for their soldier sons). Per the law of excluded middle, it must be that miracles are possible, or they are not possible. If we grant they are possible, then it would seem an omnipotent, just God would intervene during horrible events, such as war. Yet the only time God does create miracles, they appear to be of the mystic, and somewhat trivial sort (appearance of Mary, bleeding statues, perhaps a person coming back from near-death experience etc). So God, if he can create miracles, only chooses the trivial (at least over last few centuries), and does not offer the biblical sort. And the reports of even "trivial miracles" could be mistaken testimony, or unreliable, ie bogus. Thus, that would confirm God either does not exist, OR is an amoral force: assuming He existed, He chooses to produce bleeding statues (supposedly, ie maybe), but not angels stopping panzer divisions, or preventing stalinists' from killing Kulaks.

Ergo, an omnipotent, Just God probably does not exist, since no miracles occur during horrible events or atrocity, though by definition at least, and per Occasionalism, he could bring about miracles. Barring belief in a tyrannical or demonic force, an omnipotent God most likely does not exist, and Malebranche was in error. An impersonal, non-spiritual Nature, not God, is "the only true causal agent". Many religious, and non-religious thinkers have rejected the possibility of miracles--whether of the bible, or occurring in ordinary reality. As Wl Craig says, "Voltaire's God, indeed the God of all Deists, was the cosmic architect who engineered and built the machine, but who would not be bothered to interfere in the trivial affairs of man. In this light miracles simply became unbelievable." That may be, but by doing so, doesn't Voltaire also reject the very possibility of an Omnipotent God? It would seem so (and having read Candide, I am quite sure Voltaire did intend that). Deny the possibility of miraculous intervention, and you thereby deny the possibility of a God.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Virginia Woolf in Hell

Nietzsche on women (von Jenseits Gut und Bose (BGAE)):

Woman wants to become self-reliant—and for that reason she is beginning to enlighten men about "women as such": this is one of the worst developments of the general uglification of Europe. For what must these clumsy attempts of women at scientific self-exposure bring to light! Woman has much reason for shame; so much pedantry, superficiality, schoolmarmishness, petty presumption, petty licentiousness and immodesty lies concealed in woman—one only needs to study her behavior with children!—and so far all this was at bottom best repressed and kept under control by fear of man. Woe when "the eternally boring in woman" —she is rich in that!—is permitted to venture forth! When she begins to unlearn thoroughly and on principle her prudence and art—of grace, of play, of chasing away worries, of lightening burdens and taking things lightly—and her subtle aptitude for agreeable desires!

Even now female voices are heard which—holy Aristophanes!—are frightening: they threaten with medical explicitness what woman wants from man, first and last. Is it not in the worst taste when woman sets about becoming scientific that way? So far enlightenment of this sort was fortunately man's affair, man's lot—we remained "among ourselves" in this; and whatever women write about "woman," we may in the end reserve a healthy suspicion whether woman really wants enlightenment about herself—whether she can will it—

One does not have to agree with all of this to appreciate Nietzsche's honesty. Schoolmarmishness--javoll. Even rational feminists (a rarity) might discover something of value in Nietzsche's comments on the fairer sex.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Town and Country
(from the German Ideology, Karl Marx)

"""The greatest division of material and mental labour is the separation of town and country. The antagonism between town and country begins with the transition from barbarism to civilisation, from tribe to State, from locality to nation, and runs through the whole history of civilisation to the present day (the Anti-Corn Law League).

The existence of the town implies, at the same time, the necessity of administration, police, taxes, etc.; in short, of the municipality, and thus of politics in general. Here first became manifest the division of the population into two great classes, which is directly based on the division of labour and on the instruments of production. The town already is in actual fact the concentration of the population, of the instruments of production, of capital, of pleasures, of needs, while the country demonstrates just the opposite fact, isolation and separation. The antagonism between town and country can only exist within the framework of private property. It is the most crass expression of the subjection of the individual under the division of labour, under a definite activity forced upon him — a subjection which makes one man into a restricted town-animal, the other into a restricted country-animal, and daily creates anew the conflict between their interests. Labour is here again the chief thing, power over individuals, and as long as the latter exists, private property must exist. The abolition of the antagonism between town and country is one of the first conditions of communal life, a condition which again depends on a mass of material premises and which cannot be fulfilled by the mere will, as anyone can see at the first glance. (These conditions have still to be enumerated.) The separation of town and country can also be understood as the separation of capital and landed property, as the beginning of the existence and development of capital independent of landed property — the beginning of property having its basis only in labour and exchange.


There ain't no Jesus gonna come from the sky
Now that I found out I know I can cry
(verstehen zee, Hossronius? NO Brigham Dung, or Muhammed, or Moses either)

In the towns which, in the Middle Ages, did not derive ready-made from an earlier period but were formed anew by the serfs who had become free, each man's own particular labour was his only property apart from the small capital he brought with him, consisting almost solely of the most necessary tools of his craft. The competition of serfs constantly escaping into the town, the constant war of the country against the towns and thus the necessity of an organised municipal military force, the bond of common ownership in a particular kind of labour, the necessity of common buildings for the sale of their wares at a time when craftsmen were also traders, and the consequent exclusion of the unauthorised from these buildings, the conflict among the interests of the various crafts, the necessity of protecting their laboriously acquired skill, and the feudal organisation of the whole of the country: these were the causes of the union of the workers of each craft in guilds. We have not at this point to go further into the manifold modifications of the guild-system, which arise through later historical developments. The flight of the serfs into the towns went on without interruption right through the Middle Ages. These serfs, persecuted by their lords in the country, came separately into the towns, where they found an organised community, against which they were powerless and in which they had to subject themselves to the station assigned to them by the demand for their labour and the interest of their organised urban competitors. These workers, entering separately, were never able to attain to any power, since, if their labour was of the guild type which had to be learned, the guild-masters bent them to their will and organised them according to their interest; or if their labour was not such as had to be learned, and therefore not of the guild type, they became day-labourers and never managed to organise, remaining an unorganised rabble. The need for day-labourers in the towns created the rabble."""

Division of labor, property, the landed gentry, class divisions, history of agriculture vs urban, the power of capital: Marx's German Ideology presents leftist economic critique in a nutshell. The usual consumer-narcissist may not care for that sort of stark realism, but Marx does present an accurate, fact-based description of exploitation ranging over centuries. Marx may not sufficiently quantify the exploitation here (and may be guilty of overgeneralizing at times), but does describe it in great detail, and Marx and Engels often make use of data, regarding wages, rents, incomes, finance. Marx opposes metaphysics, yet has the conceptual knowledge that philosophy provides (from Hegel, but also due to his reading of empiricists and classical economists) which allows him to point out relations that a Charlie Dickens or the usual liberal moralist cannot. Rousseau and the encyclopedists also played a part in that as well. One might wax Nietzschean for a few nano-seconds (no one is ordering you to believe Marx as you do Jeezuss)--who cares about rabble, about the slave morality of socialism. Marx anticipated that sort of romantic rogue-philosopher--or Aynnie Rand like morons-- as he wrote: whether you care or not, the rabble, the chandala, les miserables plot against you 24/7. (and no "object petit a" needed).

Saturday, October 17, 2009


G. Shearing. Sabroso
Bankers’ dominance of Washington


"Smart investors have certainly had plenty of opportunity to make money lately. Gold is up twenty percent. Oil has doubled. The Dow roars through 10,000. But one investment has far, far, outperformed all others in epic returns: politics.

Wall Street balance sheets make this very clear. Last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, major banks and other financial institutions in receipt of $295 billion in TARP money pumped $114 million into Washington in lobbying and campaign contributions. As a stand-alone figure, $114 million sounds like a lot. Set against the torrent of cash flowing in the opposite direction, it is minimal. At 258,449 percent it has been called “the single best investment in history.” Our elected representatives are giving it away.

No one should be surprised at the bankers’ dominance of Washington. They even boast about it. Hailing a further emasculation of the powers of the proposed Consumer Finance Protection Agency, the American Bankers’ Association recently issued a press release commending lawmakers for removing “the unworkable requirement that communications with consumers be ‘reasonable.....’”"

* * *

The teabaggers got it wrong. Kid Obama's no red--just another corporate liberal, bringin' home the bacon for Investors, Inc. Crude and gold--the dee-eep pocket's table--have been roaring in nearly Reagan-era style. A 20% move in gold or crude oil on the commodity market may sound meaningless to Ma and Pa McTeabag. In reality that means massive profits, in the range of 200% to 300% (a Shekelsmeister's 100 grand becomes 300 grand in a matter of weeks) to those who got in at the right time (go count the clicks yourself when taking lunch at boilerroom hell)--for doing nothing, except having the shekels to pay a broker at the precious metals or energy casino. That's the reality of commodities in finance cap: No Todestrieb or Dasein chants needed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tejon National Park

"""The 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch, between Los Angeles and Bakersfield in California’s Tehachapi Mountains, features extraordinary ecological resources: ancient oak groves, Joshua tree and pinyon pine forests, and 80 imperiled species, including the California condor.

Its owners and some environmentalists have cut a deal to put 90 percent of the ranchland into a private conservancy in exchange for allowing intense development on the remaining 10 percent. But here’s what hasn’t been seriously considered: Protecting this precious area as a national park for the benefit of creatures and people in one of the nation’s most densely populated regions.

National parks have been deemed “America’s best idea,” in writer Wallace Stegner’s phrasing, and they are celebrated as that in a Ken Burns documentary series airing this week on PBS. Yet, oddly, America’s national park system is largely perceived as a fait accompli, like the great Gothic cathedrals in Europe. But national parks should be as much a part of our future as they are of our past."""

* * *

Ken Burns' documentary on the National Park system provided some restful info-tainment, and should remind us of all the sound reasons for federally-protected wilderness. Unfortunately, one of the largest areas of wilderness in California, the Tejon Ranch, does not have National Park status. Tejon Ranch encompasses most of the Tehachapi Mountains and borders on the San Joaquin valley to the north, and stretches to the mojave desert to the south and east; to the west lies Mt. Pinos and the coast range--chumash territory.

The Tejon Ranch consists mainly of California chapparal: oaks, digger pines, and grass-covered hills, blanketed by wildflowers in the spring. Above five or six thousand feet one encounters ponderosa, sugar pines and firs, a few small lakes, and year-round streams (the pinyon pine mentioned by Miss Atlanta are a Great Basin pine found above 5000 ft. or so--like in the Inyo Mountains (INYO, the Paiute Geist). A few pinyon may grow on the eastern side of Tejan Ranch towards mojave, but rare). Red tail hawks, golden eagles and, rarely, condors are seen. Whitetail deer, a few black bears, coyotes, the occasional lynx and cougar may be sighted. Some rumors persist that a few wolves still haunt the Tehachapis--unlikely. The last grizzlies of California were gone, hunted to extinction, by 1900 or so. "Tejon" means badger in spanish. Legend holds that early jesuits witnessed a badger fighting a grizzly and designated the pass "del Tejon." Ft. Tejon in fact pre-dates the Civil War; a young Ulysses S Grant spent some time in the area.

The Kawaiisu were the main tribe centered around the Tehachapis--the southern-most end of the Sierra Nevada--though various tribes traded in the area, such as the Yokuts from the great valley, and paiutes from the owens valley area, and the desert wasteland southeast of the sierras. The US Army in fact came out to California to protect WASPs settlers from the paiute raiders (though the Paiutes thought differently). The Tehachapi valley itself was a sort of pow-wow area. Like the chumash, the Kawaiisu at times left pictographs in the foothills near springs and rock outcroppings. The Kawaiisu Tribe now opposes the Tejon Ranch company and their proposed development plans.

Tejon Ranch owners and managers rate among the most conservative land barons in California, if not the USA. They are pals with the Big Oil boys in Kern and regularly hang out with Kali-Klown-Kommando Ahhnuld Schwarzi as well. Dick Cheney swings by the Tejon Ranch once in a while, after paying respects to his cronies in the petroleum biz residing in the country clubs of west Bakersfield. Ed Jaggels, infamous, crypto-nazi Kern DA and the Kern redneck sheriffs party at Tejon Ranch. When in need of some R & R, LA's corporate nazis right-wing elite also head to Tejon to hunt and hoist a few brews and study Zig Ziglar or somethin' in one of the TR's private lodges.

Yes, Tejon Ranch management may have expressed some interest in environmental issues, but that's mostly just for image and political gain; they want to keep the Tejon Ranch in private hands as a secluded hunting range for hicks GOP insiders. Perhaps the few remaining progressives in the House or Senate could prevent that--don't hold your breath.
Columbus's crusade

""""In his “Journals,’’ Columbus’s report to his royal sponsors, he declares; “Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians and Princes devoted to the Holy Christian Faith and the propagation thereof, and enemies of the sect of Mahomet and of all idolatries and heresies, resolved to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the said regions of India, to see the said princes and peoples and lands and the disposition of them and of all, and the manner in which may be undertaken their conversion to our Holy Faith, and ordained that I should not go by land (the usual way) to the Orient, but by the route of the Occident, by which no one to this day knows for sure that anyone has gone.’’

As for the gold that Columbus hoped to find for his sponsors, he knew that it was not merely for their enrichment. He wrote, “I declared to Your Highnesses that all the gain of this my Enterprise should be spent in the conquest of Jerusalem; and Your Highnesses smiled and said that it pleased you.’’

For Columbus, achieving Jerusalem was not merely a matter of releasing the Holy Sepulcher from the age-old Muslim bondage. Like millennialists before and after him, he seems to have believed that the final restoration of the Holy Land to Christian dominion would usher in the Messianic Age. “God made me the messenger of the New Heaven and the New Earth,’’ he wrote in about 1500, “of which he spoke in the Apocalypse of St. John . . . and he showed me the spot where to find it.’’ An apocalyptic impulse informed the New World project at its birth; the project assumed hostility to Islam; and its ultimate purpose involved Jerusalem. Those three facts remain pillars of the American problem today.""""

Paraphrasing Hegel, historical process is manichean.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


""""" ....For Edgar Allan Poe, 2009 has been a better year than 1849. After dozens of events in several cities to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth, he's about to get the grand funeral that a writer of his stature should have received when he died.

One hundred sixty years ago, the beleaguered, impoverished Poe was found, delirious and in distress outside a Baltimore tavern. He was never coherent enough to explain what had befallen him since leaving Richmond, Va., a week earlier. He spent four days in a hospital before he died at age 40.

Poe's cousin, Neilson Poe, never announced his death publicly. Fewer than 10 people attended the hasty funeral for one of the 19th century's greatest writers. And the injustices piled on. Poe's tombstone was destroyed before it could be installed, when a train derailed and crashed into a stonecutter's yard. Rufus Griswold, a Poe enemy, published a libelous obituary that damaged Poe's reputation for decades.

But on Sunday, Poe's funeral will get an elaborate do-over, with two services expected to draw about 350 people each – the most a former church next to his grave can hold. Actors portraying Poe's contemporaries and other long-dead writers and artists will pay their respects, reading eulogies adapted from their writings about Poe.""""""

Baltimore thugs assaulted EAP when he was a bit strung out, say some.

The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year:
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir—
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

(from Ulalume)
Ludwig van

Friday, October 09, 2009

Warmonger Wins Peace Prize

Uh oh: thinking "out of the box" as HuffPo corporate liberals might whine.


It took 25 years longer than George Orwell thought for the slogans of 1984 to become reality.

“War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength.”

I would add, “Lie is Truth.”

The Nobel Committee has awarded the 2009 Peace Prize to President Obama, the person who started a new war in Pakistan, upped the war in Afghanistan, and continues to threaten Iran with attack unless Iran does what the US government demands and relinquishes its rights as a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty.

The Nobel committee chairman, Thorbjoern Jagland said, “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”

Obama, the committee gushed, has created “a new climate in international politics.”

Tell that to the 2 million displaced Pakistanis and the unknown numbers of dead ones that Obama has racked up in his few months in office. Tell that to the Afghans where civilian deaths continue to mount as Obama’s “war of necessity” drones on indeterminably.

No Bush policy has changed. Iraq is still occupied. The Guantanamo torture prison is still functioning. Rendition and assassinations are still occurring. Spying on Americans without warrants is still the order of the day. Civil liberties are continuing to be violated in the name of Oceania’s “war on terror.”........


Well put, PCR.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Algernon Sidney Day

Thomas Jefferson once claimed that the ideas of the American Revolution followed from "Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, and Sidney. etc.". By Sidney, he meant Algernon Sidney, a 17th century English Whig who opposed the divine right of Kings in any form. Sidney was brought to trial for treason (false charges, most likely) and sentenced to death by that royalist par-tay animal Charles II. Historians and writers often depict Charles II as the noble, sophisticated monarch of the Restoration, opposed to the crass ruffians and rogues of Cromwell and the Interregnum; Hollywood did the same with the Restoration flick a few years ago. Unfortunately, that is not an accurate reading of the Stuart regime.

Reading the history of the Stuarts closely, one can't help note the tyrannical and capricious aspects of Charles II. David Hume, not one for liberal sentimentality, supported the Stuart succession, yet criticized the despotic elements of the reign of Charles II. Charles II may have had a swinging court (then many European kings did), but he had no problem shutting down Parliament when it appeared they might oppose him. He and his royalist henchmen killed anyone suspected of helping the dead usurper Cromwell (Sidney eventually criticized Cromwell). Charles II persecuted scientists and experimentalists as well; the young Newton and Locke (a medical doctor as well as philosopher) vehemently opposed Charles II.

This is an excerpt from a speech--a classic of secularism, and quite free of outright religious moralizing-- which legend holds Sidney delivered a few minutes before his execution :
Thus his testimony being laid aside, the whole matter is reduced to the papers said to be found in my closet by the King's officers, without any other proof of their being written by me than what was taken from suspicion of similitude upon a hand that is easily counterfeited, and which had been lately declared in the Lady Carr's case to be no lawful evidence in criminal causes. But if I had been seen to write them, the matter would not be much altered. They plainly appear to relate to a larger treatise written long since in answer to Filmer's book, which by all intelligent men is thought to be grounded upon wicked principles equally pernicious to magistrates and people. If he might publish to the world his opinion, viz. that all men are born under a necessity derived from the Laws of God and Nature to submit to an absolute kingly government which could be restrained by no law or oath. And that he who hath the power, whether he come to it by creation, election, inheritance, usurpation or any other way hath the right. And that none must oppose his will, but the persons and estates of his subjects must be indispensably subject unto it. If he might publish such a book, I know not why I might not have published my opinion to the contrary without the breach of any law; and as freely as he have publicly declared my thoughts and the reasons upon which they were grounded.

And I am persuaded to believe that God had left nations to the liberty of setting up such governments as best pleased themselves, and that magistrates were set up for the good of nations, not nations for the honor and glory of magistrates. That the right and power of magistrates in every country was that which the laws of that country made it to be. That these laws are to be observed and the oaths taken by rulers to be kept. And that having the force of contracts between magistrates and people, they cannot be violated without danger of dissolving the whole fabric. That usurpations can give no right. That the most dangerous of all enemies unto kings are they who raising their power to an exorbitant height allow unto usurpers all rights belonging to them. For usurpations being seldom compassed without the slaughter of reigning persons and their families, the worst of villanies should thereby be rewarded with the most glorious privileges. That if such doctrines were received they would stir up men to the destruction of princes with more violence than all the passions that have hitherto raged in the hearts of the most unruly. That no magistrate could be safe, if such rewards were proposed unto any that could destroy them. That few men would be so gentle as to spare even the best, if by their destruction vile usurpers could become God's anointed, and by the most execrable wickedness invest themselves with that divine character.

"magistrates were set up for the good of nations, not nations for the honor and glory of magistrates". Das stimmt.

Monday, October 05, 2009

American Needle vs NFL

“There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one”

The upcoming Supreme Court season features an interesting anti-trust case, American Needle vs NFL. The Court recently granted certiorari (ie, the Black Robe Posse deigns to grant the case) on the following question:

"Should the National Football League and its member teams be treated as a single entity that is exempt from rule of reason claims under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, which outlaws any "contract, combination ... or conspiracy, in restraint of trade," because they cooperate in joint production of NFL football games, while at the same time they may have competing economic interests, have the ability to control their own economic decisions, and have the ability to compete with each other and the league?"

As with most Anti-trust cases, American Needle involves some rather complex legal and economic issues. The NFL hopes to circumvent the Sherman Act--and American Needle's lawsuit-- by claiming that it is a single entity (like a corporation). As a single entity, they claim they have a right, similar to a union, to act as one unified body, and award all merchandizing to Reebok-Co. Most legal experts think that a majority of the Scalia court will affirm, i.e. side with the Sports corporations, given its pro-business history, and thereby put another loss in the column of the Antitrust movement.

It seems odd that the Sherman Act might allow an anti-trust suit in theory by considering the NFL a non-unified entity comprised of separate teams, but not when the NFL is considered a single corporation (even though individual teams are certainly distinct corporations). By not being unified, teams would seem to be competing, and thus allowed to award merchandise rights to whatever company they choose. By considering the NFL as a single entity competition has arguably been reduced.

The NFL should be held accountable either way, and the Feds should break up the Reebok racket (then, one might say, ala DeTocqueville's occasional cynical rumination on judicial power--or Jefferson's--that the House or Senate could handle Anti-trust cases, or anything related to economics and regulating business...Liberte, egalite, fraternite). The quasi-unionist argument doesn't really work either. Athletes are not workers, at least not of a normal sort. They are entertainers--though perhaps closer to circus clowns than to musicians, or ....thespians, the scab-kings.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Magic Christian (Terry Southern)

Southern's satire of 'Merican business and boosterism, The Magic Christian features Guy Grand as a PT Barnum-like millionaire who suspects rubes will do anything for a buck, and he proves it by pandering his way across the world. Southern wrote a spare, tough prose, but it's not trite, Spillane hardboiled style. Vonnegut-like, but smarter and jazzier. The flick did not do the book justice.

"I started reading The Magic Christian and I thought I was going to go insane... it was an incredible influence on me." — Hunter S. Thompson

(Bantam H2917)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Eisenstadt affair

"For the man who loves truth, and is truthful where nothing is at
stake, will still more be truthful where something is at stake; he will avoid
falsehood as something base, seeing that he avoided it even for its own sake;
and such a man is worthy of praise." (Aristotle, Nico.Ethics).

A year or so ago, the MSM circulated a report that Sarah Palin did not know Africa was a continent. I objected to Ms Palin's politics and to her born-again christian aspects and did not support McCain/Palin (or the Obama campaign, for that matter). Regardless, at the time, I found it difficult to believe that Palin would not know that Africa was a continent--the sort of basic geographical knowledge known by most
6th graders. Later, it was discovered the report was bogus--not merely a mistake, but a deliberate falsehood.

The story was originally attributed to one "Marty Eisenstadt," supposedly a low-level McCain staffperson. As most in Consumerland now realize,
Marty Eisenstadt never existed. An actor purporting to be Marty Eisenstadt appeared in a few videos (widely circulated on Youtube), and had a blog of sorts, but the character was pure fiction: two obscure filmmakers, Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mervish, created the character of Marty Eisenstadt. Some of the leaks, including the "Africa is not a continent" ruse, may have started with other sources, but the Eisenstadt character made them popular and claimed to be the original source of various odd and defamatory comments. He spread the virus so to speak.

For a few months Eisenstadt was a near-pundit, offering his insights into the campaign battle with an anti-McCain/Palin slant. Even those who detested McCain't or Sarah Klondike should realize that "Eisenstadt" was lying, and engaging in a rather sophisticated type of defamation via media--or, rather, Gorlin and Mervish, politically leftist, spread lies, but used a phony character to do their dirty work. After Gorlin and Mervish were exposed, most Democrat regulars on the usual big Demo-Reg blogs like KOS and DU chuckled at the prank and applauded their skills at deception.

The democrats' acquiescence in the media-sabotage of Gorlin and Mervish was dead wrong. Anyone who values responsible politics should consider the Eisenstadt media-hoax a serious crime, bordering on a KGB or Goebbels-like misinformation spreading. A few demos argued, incorrectly, that the Eisenstadt hoax was a type of comedy or guerrilla satire, ala SNL or the Onion. That is not the case. We should support the right of comedians to engage in SNL-like satire, though SNL may verge on a type of misrepresentation at times. Gorlin and Mervish did not intend to entertain or satirize; they intended to deceive the public for personal and political gain (i.e. helping Obama/Demos win), similar to how a Madoff deceived investors into giving him millions for bogus investment schemes.

Liberals routinely insist they are the good guys upholding the party of liberty and justice for all. The Eisenstadt hoax shows otherwise. The Eisenstadt hoax shows that people with access to media power, including liberals, engage in machiavellian power-politics (ie winning is all) and fraud when it suits their needs. Fraud isn't satire. The authentic democrat should protest Gorlin and Mervish machiavellian tactics and also object to the hipsters who approve of the Eisenstadt hoax; the authentic democrat should, in fact, support the prosecution of Gorlin and Mervish for defamation, misrepresentation, and media-hijacking.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

William Rehnquist: maverick, poet, barbituate user.

"But ask [Justice Rehnquist] to bet, play poker, or talk books and poetry, and Rehnquist was all smiles. His passion was betting. Usually $1 bets, but on serious issues like the 2000 presidential race. On Supreme Court stationery, he faxed bets back and forth to Obermayer, eventually picking Bush in an Electoral College blowout. When it didn't happen and the Florida recount headed to his court for a final decision, he typed another note: "I therefore feel obliged to cancel all my election bets in any way dependent on the Florida vote."

Rehnquist, 4-Stripe Justice--his stripes a first in US History--and Steinford boy, felt obliged to cancel all his election bets in any way dependent on the Florida vote, at least until he, Scalia and their cronies could fix things up, and find a way to prevent a presidential election recount. You may or may not care for Al Gore (I don't), but the Gore camp merely wanted to double-check the Florida count. Let's not forget Florida was Jeb Bush territory. In effect, Rehnquist/Scalia rejected Truth because of a technicality. Rehnquist: still dead, and lovin' it.

American Caiaphas

(don't even bother, putzonius)
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