a W88 (475 kt) thermonuclear warhead is a tool

The second definition for tool in the OED is “A weapon of war.”
An issue this complex is never just one thing. However, we might lay significant blame at the feet of “education.” Education, as an institution, is, like every institution in society, designed to reproduce society (within narrow ideological constraints). Thus, education in America today is geared primarily towards the reduction of capitalism, middle managers, and wage slaves. This should not be controversial.
How many schools teach rhetoric? Critical/creative thinking is often written in to course objectives, but since the Gentleman’s A- is now becoming par, is the object ever significantly achieved? After all, everyone is entitled to their opinions and widely-believed facts, regardless of whether or not they rest upon fallacies. Who am I to deny your paranoia simply because it is not as well researched as mine?
One could lament education, or the echo chambers of the Internet, the increase in sectarianism and tribalism, the marketing of fear and catastrophe, biology, ideology, neoliberalism, and so on, and so on. Etc. &c.
But what would be the point? 

Lamentations don’t solve the problem. A problem that we can’t even agree exists.

Does life matter? Whose and how much?

All life? Human life? Human life plus our pets? Plus livestock because bacon?

And this is all presupposed on the ability to define life. To limit and delimit life. 
And who am I to demand that you not wallow in ignorance?
Yes, a gun is a tool. So is a fleshlight. 

Give me Certainty or Give me Depth

Tell it to me straight, doc. I can take it. 

I can tell you that there is no reason to believe in God. That God provides no explanation that cannot be otherwise explained with evidence. That the burden of proof should fall on the believer and lo, they are yoked to a heavy burden. But it is unlikely I will be able to convince you. Either you already doubt and disbelieve or you cling desperately to you faith (and the notion of certainty you define it to provide). We are all always already called by our neurobiology and ideology. 

I could assert that climate change is real, man made, and likely disastrous (but how disastrous? and for whom?). All available evidence indicates we are, at best, on thin ice and quite possibly already drowning. Of course there is room for doubt. The point of science is to be falsifiable. But not inaction. And doubting the role of man in creating God and the role of man in destroying creation are not equivalent.

The same could be applied to the lethality of guns, the efficacy of vaccines, the demand for hospitality. People with guns kill (people). That is what they are designed to do. Vaccines save lives. Immigrants are welcome. 

Certainty is impossible. 

Ask Heisenberg. 

Ask Gödel. 

And yet. And yet. 

And yet, so many insist upon it. Demand it lest they never rouse themselves from inaction. Is it laziness? Is it ignorance? Is it brain chemistry? 

Does it even matter?

We must give up certainly in order to glimpse the hope for a better world in the no future to come. 

On Gun Nuts & God Botherers

Something’s happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there telling me I’ve got to beware. 

– B.S.

What’s the point? 

The lines have already been drawn. 

The line, the drawing of the line, the demarcation of inside and outside, of self and other is the origin of noise, the origin of exclusion, exception, & the failure to understand. 

And no one is backing down (compromise is for the weak and we must never show weakness — think of the children — unique not special). 

We revert to tribal behaviors. I don’t believe that I am a fascist or a terrorist, thus my desires must be universalized. 

Kant wept. 

I learned it from you (people). 

And nothing is being done.

I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t believe the way I do (if only they saw the facts [as I see them]). 

While the capitalists count their money. 

Semantic arguments based on the failure to understand synecdoche. Incomplete and inconsisten comparisons. (I’ve got a definition of ‘tool’ for you.)

Because we only preach to our choirs, only ask after Echoes.

Neither Good Host nor Effective Parasite, ever failing our Guest Right. 

And the capitalists count their money. 

But it’s not my fault. I was born this way. 

Blame it on the brain. (Gotta blame it on something). 

God is dead, God remains dead, and we love a good zombie. (Here we are now, entertain us. Send money.)

I don’t seek or claim certainty. But there is no convincing those who believe they have it that there is no such thing. 

The more I sneer, the more you fear.

And the capitalists count their money. 

The greatest American liberty

The greatest American liberty is to be left alone to do and say as one pleases (ending at (just the) tip of the other’s nose).

You can call this religious liberty or freedom of speech or any other sociopolitical semantic construction you desire. What many of the conservatives in the room seem to be forgetting of late is that this live and let die policy demands that you don’t get upset by what you see if you insist on being a voyeur and spying on your neighbors.

Exponentially worse than the linguistic decision to allow literally (because of such rampant misuse) to also be defined as figuratively, is the application of law to enforce ‘religious’ liberty. Liberty is based on what one can be forced to do or kept from doing (or, rather, the absence of that force). It is not (in any way) based on what one can be asked to tolerate, to accept, to understand, to learn about, or to accept as fully human. Religious liberty (or liberty of any legally enforceable kind) is unrelated to what one may or may not agree with (despite deeply held beliefs). Otherwise my religious liberty invalidates your capitalism and willingness to destroy the planet.

Given that so many of those ‘deeply held beliefs’ are based on modern interpretations of ancient, translated writing  (mythologic, figurative, and often marked by extreme poetic license) the claim becomes even more tenuous. Social reality is based on consensual construction and shared meaning. Liberty is not, and cannot, be based on the attempt to force shared meaning, especially such culturally specific (in this case evangelical) meaning. The inability to accept that meaning is constructed or the inability to believe that history did not happen the way one wants to believe it did is not a basis upon which to insist that others blindly follow the path of ignorance. One is entitled, in America, to be ignorant and useless. One is not empowered to insist that the government protect that ignorance or force it upon others.

Powering Down: towards equalization

Knowledge only becomes power in the absence of power.

 

Power, as exercised through force be it violence, coercion, ideology, money, or influence, is not an exercise in ignorance, is not without knowledge. But the truism ‘knowledge is power’ is false so far as it concerns the pursuit of knowledge as such, knowledge in the form of science or philosophy or education for education’s sake (and not the sake of employment, etc.). Consider this: scientists overwhelmingly know that the globe is warming, that the climate is changing, that the oceans are acidifying, that more are more species are going extinct. This knowledge has not, in any real sense, given them the power to change policy to actually do something about it.

Knowledge should directly translate to power and thus education to empowerment but at present it does not. And changing an ‘ought’ to an ‘is’ is no small matter.

Instead, force is power. Force, like knowledge, is currently unequally distributed. Force, unlike knowledge, is not well suited to equal distribution. The solution is not to give everyone nuclear launch codes or even their own gun but instead to reduce the individual and collective capacity for violence across the board. And then to move from a power economy based on force to one more adapted to knowledge – a ‘commodity’ (not that I like to think of it as such) far more suited to equal distribution if efforts were made and resources made available (combined with a completely revised philosophy of education and its purpose).
As an interesting digression, one might be compelled to speculate as to whether human technological advancement has actually hindered our biological evolution. Technology, in a significant majority of contemporary cases, is created to solve social needs and problems created by previous technologies not biological needs. What biological purpose do guns serve? Certainly, as a ranged weapon, they extend the lethality of the human body in hunting and the pursuit of food. But the capacity of firearms to hunt actually exceeds the human need. It might be noted here that the current human population of earth is only supported through advancements in technology (agriculture, etc). But that begs the question of the current human population vs. overpopulation/the carrying capacity of the planet for human life. Is 7.2 billion sustainable? Or the projected 10? Sustainable for whom? For what? And in what sense? One might also question modern medicine. Certainly medical and hygienic advances have extended the length and raised the quality of human life. But much medical advancement has been in areas that industrialization, pollution, and technological advancement have directly caused.

What evolutionary benefit has technology offered vs what they have hindered? (“so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should”)

I think it is fair to say that media are the extensions of man and we have become over-extended. Our reach has exceeded our (and the planet’s, and our fellow living creatures’) capacity to adapt. Our rate of (technologically enhanced) change is matched only by those species that have coevolved with us – maize, rats, toy dog breeds, superbugs. Perhaps future of the Anthopocene will be humans living in disinfected bio-enclosures (both terrestrial and orbiting) with our HFCS and miniature pugs while superbugs and rats enter an evolutionary arms race for who will dominate the hot sweltering open air.

 

This circles back to the original thought. Power as force and the capacity for force needs to be reduced and eliminated. The concept of political empowerment and enfranchisement should not focus on extending the individual and collective capacity for force to more and more people but on reducing that capacity overall. The capacity for annihilation should not be possessed, desired, or sought (“I suppose I could part with one doomsday device and still be feared.”). Moreover, incidental or accidental annihilation (antibiotics have created superbugs and carbon emissions are driving climate change) needs to be better understood and equally avoided. Through knowledge and the power that it would convey in the absence of force.

borrowed words (power of the commons)

reagan's 3rd sotu

reagan's 3rd sotu2

reagan's 3rd sotu3

reagan's 3rd sotu4

reagan's 3rd sotu5

reagan's 3rd sotu6

reagan's 3rd sotu7

reagan's 3rd sotu8

reagan's 3rd sotu9

reagan's 3rd sotu10

reagan's 3rd sotu11

 

 

 

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The source text used here is Ronald Reagan’s Third State of the Union Speech (delivered on January 25, 1984). Nothing has been added. This is not an effort to create a strawman Reagan but rather an experiment to show the creative, poetic, and theoretical potential within contextomy. Reagan was used because he remains a polarizing figure but also because State of the Union addresses are in the public domain. The power of the commons.

 

On not being special: privilege, flags, religion

 

You are not special.

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My thought is a wide ranging mélange of conflicting, contradictory, dissonant ideas juxtaposed to bring out the beauty of noise. There are reasons I study what I do in the ways I do it.

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Recent events (do I need to bother linking to whichever version of these stories you have/haven’t read yet?) have once again brought (White/cis/male/hetero/American/Western/capitalist/human/etc.) privilege under attack. Deservedly. Privilege needs to be continually acknowledge and its dismantling is not an easy or straightforward process but a necessary one. What privilege essentially claims is that you are special, you are exceptional, you are exempt, you are good-better-best. This is simply and obviously untrue. For numerous reasons. I will note here, briefly, one that stands out to me, that fits with my perspective and position as a knowing bearer of privilege, aware and desirous of its decay.

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Privilege requires power to be implemented and there are plenty of sources in which one can research the forms of power (institutional, ideological, religious, historical, martial, etc.) and how they have been and continue to be used to establish zones and forms of privilege and exception. This is an example of those who make the most noise, who have the power to make the most noise, are allowed (or allow themselves) to make the most noise.

Privilege requires authority, though, if it is to be conceived, if it is to be thought and articulated as a political/philosophical position. Appeals to god(s), Science, Nature, Force, etc. are used to develop and explicate this necessary bedrock of authority from which privilege and exception (and violence, and oppression) can emanate.

However, as a nihilist, I acknowledge no authorities-as-such. There is no purpose, no prima causa, or principle of sufficient reason to the universe. Things exist. Indifferently. Thus, we (and this ‘we’ can include any grouping of anything) are not special. We are unique in that everything is unique and hyperdifferentiated. It doesn’t matter.

If there are no transcendent authorities (no gods, no monolithic True Science, no actual Pristine Nature) and Force maintains a tenuous grasp once decoupled from mythos, then there can be no privilege. I am no better than, no more important than, the couch I am sitting on, the river I can see from my bedroom window, the molecules that make up the air I breathe. Note here, even in my posthuman musings, I am still bound to a certain anthropocentrism. I am human; I can only think and act as human. It is my effort to push my thought (and actions) away from privileging my status and standpoint (as white, as male, as cis, as human, etc) but those categories remain and (some are not fully escapable, constructed though they may be). But I will never be able to know how a rock (or a Vampyroteuthis infernalis) thinks, understands, or æffects the world (note how anthropocentric the terms of relation already are).

After that, perhaps distracting, digression into a vague ontology, let me bring this back to what set this post rolling.

Breitbart (who don’t need more links) has a post up demanding the taking down of the Gay Pride flag because it is “Fascist” and “Anti-Christian.” I am sure that they believe that this is a very apt and clever response to the demand for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from state and federal property. The fact that it isn’t should be more than obvious. A symbol of struggle against oppression is not the same as a symbol of oppression. Funny how phrases that use some of the same words don’t always mean the same things (that is why I like to work with contextomy as an attack on authority and entrenched power but it doesn’t work as well as a straw man argument). But what the claim surrounding this retort amounts to is that these conservatives and christians want to be treated like they are special, like their hurt feelings matter regardless of their position as privileged.

Now, you might begin to see a slight flaw in this argument. I noted its potential and am thus now, again, digressing. If all things were equal, the desire to remove the Confederate Battle flag would be just as much a claim for a special exemption as the desire for the removal of the Gay Pride flag. All things are not equal. No one starts the race from the same point. This brings us to a question of values. As there are no inherent values in an indifferent universe, societies must choose and establish values. For me, the drive towards equality is an important one. If everyone were equal, had equal opportunity and equal access, got equal pay, and was treated as equally human we (as a human society) would be a lot better off and arguments about flags and racism would be irrelevant. But we are not equal and pretending that we are does not erase that fact. Pretending that racism is gone is something only those in a position of privilege can think that they do (even as they exercise the privileges established by institutional racism).

It is because there are no authorities that we have the freedom (and duty) to make a better society. It is also why we have the freedom and duty to make a better world (which would require denying human privilege and exceptionalism, but perhaps that is another post). Of course it is also why we have the freedom to be colossal fuckups using force, violence, oppression, and mythology to establish unequal societies that rape and pillage the land, the planet, the Other, the environment, etc. etc. etc.

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We are not special. We are to blame.