Sunday, May 3, 2020

Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 7: What Rough Beast Slouches Towards Washington and Beijing?

As the smoke slowly settles on the bucolic hills of my farmland community and many others, the Coronavirus nightmare may be far from over but the worst of it appears to be in the rearview mirror of the pickup. The worst also appears to be far less horrific than the self-appointed television experts had predicted, at least in the parts of the country already skeptical of such institutions, further dredging the chasm of trust between us simpleton country folk and the metropolitan slumlords who always seem to know better. Maybe if we had taken a page from Sweden and displayed a little more trust in our citizenry...  Nah, never mind such strategically fruitless distractions. Never mind the swelling police state behind the curtain. The important thing now is who do we blame? What monster of the week do we scapegoat to keep people from asking the annoying questions about transparent democracy and honest journalism?

After a good zeitgeist rattling catastrophe, America, like all propaganda-weaned state-subsistent sheople, loves a good boogeyman to blame for a complicated mess. The right in this country, now represented by not one, but two rapists headlining both major parties thanks in part to Coronavirus, has stuck to the tried and true strategy of blaming the filthy foreigner. Clearly, bark Jurassic candidates Trump and Biden on opposing commercials, this plague was brought to us by that fearsome red dragon clothed in the sun called China. Aha! Communism, an oldie but a goodie. And these syphilitic oligarchs aren't without a grain of truth, however blunt they may have rendered it with their nursing home grade racism. This thing did creep out of a city with a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory. The kind built curiously with US funding to keep up with Uncle Sam's post-anthrax lust for black death. But 'the brown guy did it!' still feels more than a little played out in this day and age, like some white suburban bluebeard in Salt Lake City wailing that the Dominican drifter is responsible for the blood on his Brigham Young sweater.

What's left of the Quixotic left after Bernie's latest screw-job has taken an admirably more thoughtful approach by laying the blame on a boogey with some actual fucking teeth; capitalism. But even their wails, that if only we had single-payer like, say China, none of this shit would have happened, falls a little bit flat. I know, I've been hanging out with too many libertarians again, drown me later, but I think the creature most responsible for this latest late-capitalist disaster is something far more ancient and complex. The errant decadence of soulless state-sanctioned crony-capitalism is but one symptom of it's malevolent presence, as is the bureaucratic industrial nightmare that has become of my old friend communism. I speak of a beast far more insidious than any one political ideology. What great poets have referred to as Moloch, Ozymandias, that rough beast which slouches towards Washington and Beijing to be born.

I speak of the rough beast who has disintegrated the earth's atmosphere and poisoned her oceans with mountains of plastic. I speak of the rough beast who created borders and prisons to contain the poor, and shitty trade deals and global banking monstrosities to free the worst ambitions of the rich. I speak of the rough beast who built a bomb that could wipe out all of mankind simply to prove it could, before unleashing its demonic fury upon another filthy foreign populace even after it had already surrendered, just to brag to the neighbors about its power. I speak of the rough beast who turned war itself into a competitive sport between industries far greater than the nations they razed. I speak of the rough beast who's death-belching smoke stacks stained the skies of Europe black while Ludd raged bravely if vainly against its twisting gears. I speak of the rough beast that brought us the progressive horrors of capitalism, communism, imperialism, globalism, and commercialism. That devious rough beast who first whispered in the savage's ear to drop his heavy spear and plant seeds in the soil that would grow property and all the genres of slavery that came with it.

The rough beast I speak of is modernism, the bane of humanities devolution that continues to be marketed as some kind of progress even as it destroys us all. The same malevolent force which has driven us from our rightful communities and into the raw isolation of the suburbs, where food only grows on box stores. We were warned, by sages on every side of an aisle reduced to two by the binary violence of the left-right paradigm. Christ, Mohammed, Marx, Malthus, Spengler, Heidegger, and Marcuse all warned us in their own languages. Lovecraft wrote stories, Blake made paintings, and the aforementioned Ginsberg, Shelley, and Yeats all wrote poems to warn us of the storm we reaped and reap we did. More current thinkers like John Zerzan, his enemy Murray Bookchin, and Kirkpatrick Sale were practically laughed out of academia for repeating such treasonous suggestions. Dear old Professor Kaczynski felt compelled to leave his hovel and speak with bombs just to be heard. But even bombs fell on deaf ears.

Will we listen now? Now that this thing has slithered out of labs and wet markets to bite us in the night. Now that the seas are rising and the soil is carcinogenic. Will we finally realize that any species that cannot evolve at the pace of its own technology is in fact inviting a kind of suicidal devolution with the same devices? Even if we do, it is woefully likely that our "solution" will only deepen the problem. A globalist disease cannot be cured by world governance. A statist disease cannot be cured by an involuntary police state dressed in the clothing of full spectrum social welfare. The only hope we have left of even surviving this battle is retreat. Retreat to localism, agrarianism, communalism, tribalism, voluntaryism and mutual aid. A return to the verdant bosom of our scarred ancestral farmlands. I peer out my window, and even as the smoke in the distance settles, the only sign of hope my senses can grasp is the sound of chirping birds. Could this really be spring?

Take care of yourselves, dearest motherfucker. And take care of each other. If you don't, no one else will. Catch you on the next wave.

Peace, Love, and Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: Songs to Hum and Sing at the End of the Earth

*  Human Behavior by Bjork
*  Honey Bucket by the Melvins
*  The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
*  Sex Bomb by Flipper
*  The Bends by Radiohead
*  Sea Swallow Me by Cocteau Twins
*  The Universal by Blur
*  Ohm by Yo La Tengo
*  Gobbledygook by Sigur Ros
*  War Pigs by Black Sabbath
*  Cheerleader by St. Vincent
*  Violence by Grimes & i_o


  1. I had a fairly long comment and was unable to post it completely, so I am doing two replies after this initial intro so that it may be accepted. here goes:

  2. Good post.

    While I tend not to create an intellectual "package deal" (a la Ayn Rand), making all aspects of what you call "modernism" either completely necessary or to be avoided at all costs, I wish to make a few points:

    1. I am one of those "weaklings" who would not have been likely to survive past my 24th birthday without the benefits of modern technology, particularly medical technology.

    2. I recognize that technological advances are not all a bed of roses without thorns. In particular, nuclear (or even conventional) weapons, biological weapons, and (my own personal paranoid fear), the creation of a black hole from getting the physics a little wrong in ever more powerful particle accelerators, are not good for the survival of the human race.

    Any technology can be used for good or ill, and we must seriously ask the question: How does one maximize the benefits and minimize the downside of the use of any technology? And here is my somewhat paradoxical answer to this question: give up the thought of controlling people's development of any technology, or, for that matter, any human activity at all, by means of aggressive violence.

    The reason there are nuclear and biological weapons, and even the mass employment of conventional weapons (which have killed the most people by far), is not that more sophisticated technology is inherently more evil or dangerous than less sophisticated technology, it is because there are people who wish to control others, and it is simply accepted by many that using aggressive violence to achieve this goal is OK. We need to give up our mania to rule and control others. If we had done that 250 years ago, there never would have been a perceived need to create nuclear and biological weapons, nor to mass employ conventional weapons.

  3. Let us even go a little more nuanced and focus, not on WMDs, but on a subject you have written much about -- global warming. Let us, for the moment, assume that in fact global warming is caused by human activity, specifically, greenhouse gas emissions, even more specifically, CO2 emissions. Do you know which country has been most successful at reducing CO2 emissions in the last five to ten years? It is that great Satan, the USA! Why? It is my opinion that it is not Al Gore's wisdom and foresight, but simply (again, somewhat paradoxically), that the relative lack of controls on technology in this country allowed us to develop greener energy production technologies which allowed for more efficient energy production. Just think of the one issue where this becomes starkly evident: Imagine what would happen if the production, sale, and use of industrial hemp were completely unrestricted? Overnight, there would be an economically viable renewable energy source which would probably, within a decade or two, put the oil companies (and the Saudi killing machine) out of business.

    And this is where I profoundly disagree with Ted Kaczynski. You know a lot more about him than I do, but my basic viewpoint, from what I do know, is that his whole paradigm is just as wrongheaded as that of Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, or Dick Cheney. All of them have goals, and none of them feels they can achieve their goals without trying to control others through aggressive violence. And THAT is the crux of the problem.

    We reap what we sow. I am getting toward the end of my life, and I have royally fucked up my Karmic balance by the things I have thought and done earlier in my life. I can see it, almost like the slow-motion evolution of a dramatic play, and it is scary, because I am not certain most of the damage can be undone. My advice to you is this: do not make the mistakes I made. Keep on with your volunteer work, and when you get the urge to wish ill on someone, try your hardest to understand and forgive them. It is what the world needs much more of. I am of two minds about some of the stuff I see posted on AWC: While I believe the anger at the warmongers is understandable, I think we may be falling into their trap, by seeing other people as the enemy, rather than the concept of judging others harshly and feeling like we could control their evil with our hatred.

    There may be no perfect solution, and good intentions are not enough, but intentions do count. If we can simply give up our hatred and try to understand and forgive others, we may very well be able, to paraphrase Tolstoy, to create a Kingdom of Heaven within us.

    1. OK, there's a lot to unpack there. I wish I had time to address it all, but I'll try to cover the major stuff. My feelings regarding Mr. Kaczynski are quite complex. I believe he is one of the most important minds of our age even though I am completely opposed to the methods he resorted to. I, much like you, am a committed voluntaryist and a strong believer in the principle of non-aggression except in self-defense. I do think that it is wrongheaded to look at Mr. Kaczynski in the same light as the neocons though. A much better comparison could be made to organizations like Hamas and the Taliban. Ted attempted to drop out of the modern world and live like Thoreau in the Montana countryside. The modern world interfered on the peace and solitude that his mental impairments depended on. In his cracked frame of mind he was acting in self-defense. He was wrong. But he wasn't Pompeo wrong.

      Personally, I prefer the approach of the Anabaptists like the Mennonites. They choose to peacefully coexist with the modern world while voluntarily rejecting that which they find harmful to their communities. The idea isn't to stop all progress, some of which I agree is necessary. The idea is to slow it until mankind can evolve to the pace it is currently moving at, which I believe, unaddressed, will kill us all.

    2. "The idea is to slow it until mankind can evolve to the pace it is currently moving at, which I believe, unaddressed, will kill us all."

      I am not certain humankind even is evolving any more at this point, and as you imply if that is the case, the issue will be unaddressed. Unless there can be some type of natural selection for non-violent frames of mind (which is probably not determined genetically anyway*), it doesn't seem to me that there is any hope for any type of positive biological evolution.

      Societal and cultural evolution, now that is a different story. There have been many periods in human history where a beneficial social and/or cultural change has occurred (although sometimes quite gradually) almost spontaneously, such as opposition to chattel slavery. And such evolution we should definitely be encouraging with our efforts. It just seems like right now, though, that we are headed in the wrong direction, with belief in the benevolence of the violence of the state seemingly exploding across the globe. Much of the abolitionist movement in this country was driven by religious forces, but today Christianity has seemingly been captured by the warmongers, and there seems to be little (at least in numbers) in the way of a Christian peace movement.

      If you have time and energy, please respond with an elaboration of exactly what you mean by human evolution. Honestly, I am interested in hearing your point of view.

      *Note that the country of Australia was founded as a British penal colony, but that modern Australians are considerably less violent than modern Americans. This would seem to put to rest the conservative theory that criminality is determined genetically.

    3. I follow Peter Kropotkin's take on Darwinism, that teaches that all intelligent life has evolved communally, which is why the most intelligent creatures all operate within the frame of strong and small communities (whales, prime apes, dolphins etc.) I believe humanity has been on a path of devolution since divorcing themselves from these communities in favor of the blind pursuit of individual monetary greed. I also agree with Timothy Leary that if humans are to evolve any further, it will likely be the product of a great spiritual awakening through higher forms of consciousness. Technology could help us to achieve this, but not through AI and automation, which only further disconnects us from any sense of community necessary to make this next step. Basically, we have to take a step back to take two steps further.