Philosophical Musings #2

4. Freedom from fear, the only real freedom.

Political scientists try to rank countries based on their levels of “freedom”, frequently arbitrarily defined and applied (Freedom House, Economist Democracy Index, Polity IV, etc). Yet despite the inconsistencies and difficulties with quantifying something as abstract and intangible as freedom across cultural and civilization borders, for all but the most committed postmodernists, it nonetheless seems safe to say that North Korea, say, is less “free” than the US – for example, in that in the former there is no prospect of me publicizing this text.

That said, this does not mean that the US is necessarily free either, or more specifically, that the majority of its citizens are free. Yes, it has many blowhard radio “pundits” and angry blogger people, but they mostly vent their feelings in favor of the status quo, the System (and those who don’t usually post anonymously anyway).

But there are plenty of examples of people who are too afraid of giving their 2 cents. Some people I know were paranoid about me even replying to a Facebook contact from the Bay Area National Anarchists* on the theory the FBI might be watching them. American journalists too afraid to report anything contrary to the bipartisan party line (though the culture war certainly gives a good illusion of diversity, albeit on ultimately inconsequential matters). Employees, especially unconnected foreigners, who are too afraid of the sack or consequences for their career to stand up to managerial tyranny, corruption, and incompetence – I know plenty of such cases.

But ultimately these fears are all false, a false consciousness foisted upon us by the System. As long as one remains free in the spirit, nothing that happens on the material plane – not even imprisonment in a North Korean gulag, let alone the termination of 80-hour / week office slavery and associated perks like alternating your living arrangements between a McMansion coffin (suburbia), a Machine coffin (the SUV), and a Mammon coffin (Wal-Mart) – really matters.

Because one’s freedom from fear is the only real freedom.

Our world, our Brave New World, a world in which sparkling baubles have become the highest value, is far more effective at concealing this truth than anything dreamt up by totalitarians or inventors of totalitarian dystopias. For when the flesh is imprisoned and beaten, spiritual freedom is most appreciated. Slavery really is freedom.

* The contact was unsolicited and I don’t agree with most of their platform.


5. The problem is not with the American Empire, but its self-denial

Empires existed throughout history and are a natural product of human social organization. As such even the most brutal and oppressive empires can be treated with respect.

The problem with American empire (and the late Soviet empire) lay in their denial of their own imperial power; they both cloaked their imperialism in the language of universalism (democracy, liberalism, socialism, etc). Thus their conquests were not only material; they were profoundly spiritual.

Arguably, the American empire is the most postmodern one to have ever existed (challenged only, perhaps, by the EU – but the EU is more of an “impire” than an empire).

I believe it is this spiritual assault on the global community is what is the root cause of the ressentiment towards the US today, rather than its empire per se. America should relinquish the language of universalism and rule the world with an iron fist; the peoples of the world will recognize their true master, and will kneel before it.

6. Socialism Now! – if you want to live

Limits to growth are reality. Business as usual will bury us under an avalanche of resource depletion (peak oil, plummeting EROEI, mineral shortages, etc) and pollution overload (global warming, topsoil erosion, fisheries depletion, desertification, inundation, etc), as we overshoot the planet’s carrying capacity and trigger a Malthusian dieoff. No technological silver bullet or free market voodoo is going to save us.

Coercive reduction of material throughput is now probably the only escape from industrial civilization’s predicament*.

Is having lots of glittering lights and increasing your CO2 emissions really the road to happiness?

Cuba is the world’s only sustainable society, qualifying as a developed nation in terms of its HDI (human development index) and possessing an ecological footprint per capita that, if extended to all 7bn humans, the Earth could, just about, accommodate.

Green Communism is the future.

* The pampered Greenpeace activists and “Earth Day” sheeple – most of whom no doubt have an ecological footprint well above the per capita level of sustainability – are so pathetic. The actions are purely symbolic and contribute next to zero in solving problems; just a way of assuaging their guilt by pretending to solve these problems.