Category Archives: War

Maslow, Law & Grace, Reactionary & Revolutionary

Figure 1 – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow captured a moment in human evolution which, in the Enlightenment tradition, summed up the need for meaning from an individual perspective. What is perhaps understated to some degree by his model is that the Latin idea of nātūra (nature) and the more radical Greek notion of φύσις, εως, ἡ (phusis, physics) was our tutor and guardian. The dance of environment and individual conspired together to bring us to the next stage of human evolution. Basic needs demanded and required, upon the pain of death, obedience. The height of individualism was addressing the need for human meaning and personal fulfillment. Just as human individuality, from the physics of space-time, essentially entails ‘from a past’, ‘in a present’, and ‘to a future’ so meaning is derived from origin, to presence, and toward telos, a goal or culmination. In Aristotelian terms,

In Metaphysics Α.1, Aristotle says that “everyone takes what is called ‘wisdom’ (sophia) to be concerned with the primary causes (aitia) and the starting-points (or principles, archai).” (Cohen, 2020)

Furthermore, Aristotle writes of dunamis (potentiality) and entelecheia (actuality) or energeia (activity),

Since Aristotle gives form priority over matter, we would expect him similarly to give actuality priority over potentiality. And that is exactly what we find (Θ.8, 1049b4–5). Aristotle distinguishes between priority in logos (account or definition), in time, and in substance. (1) Actuality is prior in logos since we must cite the actuality when we give an account of its corresponding potentiality. Thus, ‘visible’ means ‘capable of being seen’; ‘buildable’ means ‘capable of being built'(1049b14–16). (2) As regards temporal priority, by contrast, potentiality may well seem to be prior to actuality, since the wood precedes the table that is built from it, and the acorn precedes the oak that it grows into. Nevertheless, Aristotle finds that even temporally there is a sense in which actuality is prior to potentiality: “the active that is the same in form, though not in number [with a potentially existing thing], is prior [to it]” (1049b18–19). A particular acorn is, of course, temporally prior to the particular oak tree that it grows into, but it is preceded in time by the actual oak tree that produced it, with which it is identical in species. The seed (potential substance) must have been preceded by an adult (actual substance). So in this sense actuality is prior even in time. which it is identical in species. The seed (potential substance) must have been preceded by an adult (actual substance). So in this sense actuality is prior even in time[1]. (Cohen, 2020)

From Aristotle’s perspective human individuality is not self-identical but essentially interwoven in phusis. Actuality and potentiality are both fundamentally constituent of reality[2]. From the Latin world and Roman Christianity, the individual emerges predominately in the landscape of phusis. This brings us to law and grace.

The law, as what Christianity deems the ‘Old Testament’, was a tutor and guardian until grace, what Christianity deems the ‘New Testament’, would transform the individual in the same way Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs transformed needs. Needs in the fight for survival was unforgiving and ruthless to offenders. Transformations to psychological needs and to higher needs of self-fulfillment also resulted in a kind of reprieve from more basic needs. While Judaic laws required, upon pain of death in certain instances, obedience; grace writes the law in the heart. So, for grace the law is no longer fundamentally wed to phusis but becomes a kind of phusis unto itself in its transformation. This is how individuality emerges from phusis.

Underlying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the background of phusis. The individual finds meaning by moving from the law to grace, from mere survival to self-fulfillment, self-determination but cannot end in the laws of individuality but move on to the contextual, potentiality, which is determinate of the metaphysic of individuality. This movement is dependent upon fulfilling the earlier requirements of biological dependence on phusis. However, the individual has the potential to transform itself to a higher level of meaning and purpose than mere servitude to phusis and the truncation of contextuality into actuality.

Capitalism is the economic expression of individualism. Capitalism holds the stick of phusis but also raises the carrot of higher individual potentiality. However, it proposes not a grace of human individuality in which the individual attains a transformation of meaning but a domination of phusis. By conquering the slavery of mere survival, ideally, we can put phusis into the position of bondage and subjugation to affluent needlessness. In this then, we find the Error of the illusion of power and the reality of phusis. In Karl Marx’ terms the problem of capitalism is the creation of artificial needs, otherwise called marketing. We must have the next smart phone. In this sense, meaning is accomplished by the myth of Sisyphus. In cheating phusis Sisyphus was forever condemned to push a rock up a hill only to have it roll down once again. The promise of capitalism could never deliver us from phusis but could only forever require our aspirations which, for most, was doomed to fail. Even the most successful capitalist must give way to phusis in death. Furthermore, conquering phusis turns out to merely produce climate change and not the end of phusis but the end of humanity – eternal death of human.

This is how individualism has played itself out through history. However, another marginalized narrative has also held the potentiality of grace through cooperation with phusis. Cooperation does not spring forth from absolute individualism but from collectivity and responsibility. Human meaning is not obtained through the desperations of individualism but through the graces of maturity. Maturity recognizes our dependence upon phusis and each other. We no longer actualize the dynamics of power and subjugation built into the metaphysics of individualism but allow, make way, for the gift of the other; the other as phusis and as the he or she we face. When we give way to the other, we take responsibility for our obligation, our indebtedness to what we are not. We integrate and harmonize, make peace, with reality instead of a pitched battle with it. We no longer blame the other for our lack of power but take hold of our responsibility to the cry of the other. This does not take us back to manufactured needs of self-justification in the form of individual merit.

The bourgeoisie labor in self-adoring-adorning will imputing their metaphysic of failed individualism upon the proletariat. They absolve themselves of responsibility to the higher call of action in care. Democracy is based in a call higher than the metaphysics of individualism can understand. It places political responsibility on the individual to respond to the call of collectivity and the other. By the ‘other’ I mean phusis and the he or she. As long as we lapse into individualism, we absolve ourselves of the phenomenological reality of language.

Language is not private and individual. Language is not something we manufacture for the purpose of creating artificial needs which enrich its producers. Language is an archeology, an origin which we did not create, which preceded us from those we never knew. It is not merely a tool but a history-scape which informs us before we become cognitively aware of it. Self-realization cannot happen without others who have long since receded into language’s background. Even as eyes and ears are filters which let us make sense of the world, language functions as filters we call ‘reality’ in which ‘I’ as an individual never created or became the origin of. In this way, we are ‘individuals’. We name ourselves and bestow on ourselves the title of identity as if we were some kind of self-unification. Insanity is what we call those who have a private language and found identity upon it.

Democracy requires a perspective and a horizon in which each individual has place. ‘Place’ here is not a badge of individual merit. It is bestowed from how we actually are. We are bound and indebted to the other, to phusis, to any such thing which we call reality. While this can be denied in favor of autocracy, whether individual or political, it is ultimately self-defeating as it vaults the individual to heights which can only be maintained by the very opposite phenomenon it employs to create its artificial, virtual reality. It uses language to deny how language is, how it emerges from an exteriority which cannot be solipsistic. The eternal recurrence of the same in linguistic filters are fabricated to protect and destroy the myth of power. The endless repetition of simulacra and re-simulation are doomed from within because they cannot hear the still small voice of phusis. They can only result in the rise and demise of civilization and our environment. This is where reactionary and revolution find relevance.

Reactionary is a throw back to a fabricated past the never was. It is the wild west of individualism. There never was a John Wayne of individualism. It was created, manufactured, re-produced to protect the few violently. However, there is no evil genius here. Rather, it is a result of a linguistic history which advocates against itself. The heroic defies reality in favor of its own phantasma of who it is. It creates a past in which it is its own origin. It is self-caused. It is the creator of heroic and horror-ic values. It is the law in the garb of self-identity.

The Judaic law was given by God not man, but the new version of the law is the created simulacra of man, of a history which wishes to be but cannot be. Reactionaryism can only produce the reality of Sisyphus, an eternal recurrence of the same, reproduction of something that never was. It is wish-fulfillment which attempts to renew itself in itself and by itself. Revolution welcomes the new but all to often fails in the linguistic sanctums of power.

Revolution, as the new which never was, looks toward a future which has never been but is all too often doomed by its self-sufficiency in the phantasms of language which pull it back into the gravitational orbit of self-identity. Just as the revolutionary idea of democracy has lapsed in the United States back into the reactionary simulations of authoritarianism, revolution cannot succeed if it utilizes tools from our linguistic past which were devised to protect the illusion of power. What we need is to re-think language in terms of phusis. Our situatedness in history and phusis is not as masters of power but fundamentally dependent upon that which is not-me. Revolution can only find a higher transformation when it lets the ghost of power and absolute individualism fall into the dust bin of failed, phantasmas of a past that can never be. We must find an ethics which is participatory and essential to the responsibility towards the other. As human we are all part of a pluralistic, heterogenous reality-scape which offers many abodes that can never be commensurate.

Those that revel in power and self-identity have fashioned for themselves a simulacra, a golden calf, which can only be repeated in reactionary violence. The cry of the other, the suffering of the other. The relegation of oppression and self-absorbed denial of who we are and not who we imagine the ‘they’ are is the revolution which will usher in a transformation with ourselves and our environment. Transformation from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Individual Needs must give up the ghost of labor which can only toil in eternal repetition of the same. This is not a new hierarchy. This is an acceptance of responsibility and obligation to the other, to phusis. We cannot arise at the expense of the other and our environment. We must have the grace of making place for the other. We must allow the content of phusis and the real needs of the other to call us to responsibility. The individual does not disappear in collectivity as drop of water in the ocean. This is another illusion built on the mirage of individualism. Responsibility places us as situatedness to that that which we cannot efface and calls us to actualize our responsibility to that call. In this untapped potential for what it means to be human we find cooperation and concern for what we cannot erect a phantasma of. It is founded in a language and history which we cannot have power over but can recognize our absolute limitation in the face of radical alterity which requires our responsibility not our violence in its defacement.

References

Cohen, S. M. (2020). “Aristotle’s Metaphysics”. (E. N. (ed.), Ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2020 Edition). Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-metaphysics/

[1] Interesting to note that Aristotle’s notion of actuality and potentiality seems to me to have some reverberations in modern chaos theory. Chaos theory does not deny order or actuality. Instead, it tells us that order is a co-determination of chaos. Order and chaos are not diametrically opposed as subject and object. They have an essential relationship. The universe is structured as self-organizing as fractals. Fractals have the unique capacity to be both ordered and chaotic infinitely. There appears to no limit to the patterns they can make in the same way as each snowflake is absolutely unique. This is what is called self-organizing. In the chaos theory the universe is self-organizing. There is no limit to the nature of how it organizes. A butterfly’s wings can spark a tsunami on the other side of the world. This makes the outcome essentially unpredictable. Likewise, actuality or energy emerges from potentiality as limitless patterns emerge from fractals. Actuality emerges as particular forms just as language emerges as particular histories, invocations of reality and absolutes. The are uniquely particular and ordered but their origins are not in the absolute of their actuality, of their content, or the mystery we call reality, but in the absolutely unpredictable outcomes of potentiality. Additionally, they are intimately the subject of absolute unpredictable, chaotic changes. Therefore, cause and effect are not a reality but an observation of a commonality, a particular fractal pattern, which emerges in language and history.

[2] I use the word ‘reality’ here on the context of its philosophical history which I cited in my previous post, Maslow, Law & Grace, Reactionary & Revolutionary. Reality is not the simplicity of an object related to a subject as philosophy starting in the 19th century has argued culminating around the same time that Einstein’s theory of relativity was taking off at the beginning of the 20th century. Reality is a chaotic and ordered process of language and its other. It is not self-evident except in supposed, assumed and metaphysical histories. It is interactive and chaotically potential in its actual forms. One simple example is the relativity of space-time. As an individual human we have mass. Since we have mass, we create small but not insignificant distortions of space-time around us. Additionally, time runs faster on the top of a mountain than in a valley (gravitational time dilation). Each individual is wrapped from birth to death in their space-time continuum. Additionally, this space-time continuum has stretch and minute variations which directly correspond to relative masses and speed called frames of reference. It is wrong to think of time and space as static, universal and absolute. Similarly, it is wrong to think of individuality as absolute as it is determined by the other of history, language, phusis, and the he and she. All of this is dynamic and chaotic, its capacity for predictability. Closing down individuality into an absolute is death. As Heidegger tells us, “Death is the possibility of the absolute impossibility of Dasein (human being or more precisely the ‘there’ of being).” The impossibility of individuality emerges in language and history as an absolute impossibility or as Heidegger calls it the “they-self”. The they as a self is immediately contradictory and unsustainable as it is a self-contradiction. Similarly, absolute individuality cloaks it contextual histories which are relegated to its margins. This does not negate the form of the individual but places it in relative context with it’s ‘not’ as a pattern in fractals does not deny it’s infinite, unpredictable, and chaotic patterns but emerges from them. However, the not is not a negation but an affirmation of an absolutely ‘other’, even as death is a possibility in its absolute impossibility. The fear of death is actually the fear of life since no one will ever experience death as Epicurus tells us,

“Why should I fear death?

If I am, then death is not.

If Death is, then I am not.

Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not?

Long time men lay oppressed with slavish fear.

Religious tyranny did domineer.

At length the mighty one of Greece

Began to assent the liberty of man.”

Thoughts on the Afterlife and Other Tales

Part of the beauty of life is not knowing. ‘Knowing’ has a tendency for reduction. It can dampen basic questions of existence. It can provide an answer, at least a contingent answer. It has the allure of solace, comfort, and security. While it does dampen the angst of existence, it also dampens the intensity of passions; of beauty, wonder and awe. It also squelches creativity. Creativity is the catalyst which made science and our present lived-world possible. In religion, the lack of distance from God undermines the passion of the Holy. It gives ready-made answers in lieu of faith. God talks to devotees in regular and daily conversation which they all too happy to tell us about. Whatever happened to the passion of faith was a problem Kierkegaard brought to our attention. Kierkegaard tells us that we do not need faith to believe that 1 + 1 = 2. We have no real stake in the daily and absolute knowledge of a God we know and understand with absolute certainty. That is not faith but the mechanical garbs of science without the objectivity of facts and instead, the subjective experience of knowledge which has become an unfalsifiable fact, which is intolerant of doubt. What we have in this case is the inception of extremism that can solipsistically know no other. What this really brings to the surface is a uniquely historic, 19th century, worldview in which absolute time and space came into fruition with the Industrial Revolution. This is why religious modernity and capitalism have become cozy bedfellows and why anything such as a ‘Trump’ was made possible in the vestibules of faith. All the resentment in religious, reaction to enlightenment is,

“Wokeism makes you lose, ruins your mind, and ruins you as a person”

which Trump tells us is why the US soccer team lost. Enlightenment as the result of unbridled positivism in an empirical reality of objective science has in religious modernity become a battle cry for God-Enlightenment. Science is no longer needed; education has become a vehicle for radical “Wokeism” in which one knows all especially about “two Corinthians”.

The path of religion in post modernity is riddled with extremism, danger and desperation. Kierkegaardian passion of faith has been replaced with social media’s fanaticism to indoctrinate and dominate more and more adherents to ‘Sleepism’. Anti-enlightenment is the new battle cry of those who will not settle for anything less than total and absolute submission to the social, economic, political, moral theory of everything which grows as a cancer in the rapidly evolving dogma of religious groupthink. Religion has been replaced with Mephistopheles’ ‘hell of a deal’ when you accept Jesus Christ as you Lord and Savior. You are welcomed into the on-line group where you all become one in everything you always wanted to know about; everything with rapidly evolving answers of salvation, politics, morality, economics, “Wokeism” in general. In all this we see a radical conformism which consumes without cessation. Has this become the actualization of Nietzsche’s “last man”? What we see in ‘sleepism’ is lucid dreaming which can only end in nightmare. The looming problem of ‘sleepism’ that it robs us of what made religions a reality in the first place. Religion was not born of ready-made answers although, like manna from heaven which was miraculous edible substance, decays in institutionalism and even faster now with virtual reality. Could it be that ‘mana’ has been replaced with manna:

Mana is the spiritual life force energy or healing power that permeates the universe, in the culture of the Melanesians and Polynesians. Anyone or anything can have mana. It is a cultivation or possession of energy and power, rather than being a source of power. It is an intentional force. (Wikipedia)

In the interest of provoking some whimsical and perhaps more fresh questioning on the topic of an afterlife, I would like to attempt a thought experiment.

We know that the universe has memory to an exquisite degree. Scientists call this information theory. Entropy is key to information theory as it is a predictor of more and less information. Physicists have traditionally shown that information is encoded in the most intricate and exquisite workings of the universe. Stephen Hawking went against this knowledge base in showing that information might be lost in the long death of a black hole which is called “Hawking radiation”. A long and intense battle with physicists Leonard Susskind and Gerald t’ Hooft ensued in 2008 and ended in the “Susskind quashes Hawking in quarrel over quantum quandary” with the holographic principle. The holographic principle shows that radiation receives quantum corrections which encodes information about the black hole’s interior and thus retains information. Later theories offer further alternatives to the loss of information in non-unitary time evolution. The point here is that the universe has an exquisite memory. Even if other universes exist with vastly different ‘laws of physics’ (coined and piggybacked in Latin Christianity as ‘natural laws’), information theory is still an absolute necessity as only the Hesiodic theory of chaos would be the absolute loss of information…more about this later. Information is also clearly exhibited in chromosomes and the evolution of species. Instinct is also another evident form of information theory.

If the universe has memory in the form of information, it is not hard to understand that information theory is the retention of memory. While I personally am 50/50 on the certain knowledge that an afterlife is possible, I do find that apart from religious concerns, it is not hard to make the uncertain leap from information theory to a thought that information could be retained in the form of memory in other realities. I think this not so much from a personal desire for any kind of ‘proof of an afterlife’ but more from a non-mechanical, 19th century, basis which finds truly astounding and quite unmoored observations in the recent century of Continental and Analytic philosophy trends. Even in the 19th century, in Hegel there is a foreshadowing of information theory in his notion of Concept. Metaphysics, a Latin term not ancient Greek, is a tradition which counters what philosophy and science is telling us about what we [metaphysically] ‘think’ as reality. The question of objectivity and subjectivity are both brought into fundamental question. This Cartesian dilemma which encapsulates much of modernity in historic certainty has truly been overcome in recent trends in philosophy and physics. We see this most clearly in Phenomenology, Structures and History of Language and physics starting in the early 20th century in Einstein’s Relativity Principle. What all this is telling us is that what we think we know is more about who we are and less about reality.

I would not be surprised in the least if there was an ‘afterlife’ which retained the intimate information of what we think as ‘my life’ or ‘our history’. Knowledge does not have to be Blanchot’s unescapable impossibility of death or Sartre’s horror of No-Exit. Neither does it have to be absolute extinction into the impossibility of nothingness. Knowledge itself may be a clue, a bread crumb, to a retention intrinsic to the universe. In Hegelian terms perhaps the universe itself is a retreat from what he deems ‘Absolute Concept’. The larger point for the purposes of this post is to attempt to unmoor ourselves from the supposed history we think as reality and point to a confluence of fundamental inquiries which do not ‘add’ to our current understanding of reality but actually and radically transform our ‘sleepism’ into a ‘wokeism’ which cannot be escaped except into deeper sleep. In sleep we find the brain escapes into non-sense. Perhaps the brain’s cure of too much apparent sense is to counter with a truth of its own; to what may point to an other, a radical other from all our Platonic Forms which history has made static and a kind of living death. Levinas called this static-sation, totalization. Totalization has been saturated through and through with the notion of being, what philosophers call ontology (the study of being). Totalization reduces absolutely. It denies the face in Levinas’ terms. The face absolutely counters the concretization in which sleep-fully determines who and what the other is. Truly totalization is Blanchot’s death of language, Satres No-Exit, and Levinas’ “there-is” in which the ‘I’ entombs itself as if to find relief from the radical alterity of the other. We have devised intricate, historic, linguistic escapisms to give us certainty or apparent certainty in the face of radical otherness. Our dreams tells us that our waking life is fundamentally contradictory and inadequate. Hesiod tells us that chaos or more precisely the ‘yawning gap’ is the face of the-an-other which we tirelessly want to retreat from. We have fashioned for ourselves an oasis in the chaos which we think is dry land but firmly rooted in sub-atomic particles popping in and out of existence in which the vastness a subatomic space implies infinitely more space than matter (if there really is such a thing) – gap, is the root of our realities and incessant daydreams. Perhaps waking up is discovering what we do not know, what inspires creativity and wonder, is vastly more meaningful than what we think we know. All the while an other, the other, which requires ethics, decision, to counter the incredible smallness of our certainties; to actively hold open the beauty of infinities which we behold every day in waking sleep.

On Death

Death is not something that happens at the end of life. As Blanchot mentions in the quote at the end of my recent post,

As long as I live, I am a mortal man, but when I die, by ceasing to be man I also cease to be mortal, I am no longer capable of dying, and my impending death horrifies me because I see it as it is: no longer death, but the impossibility of dying…. I have no relationship with it, it is that toward which I cannot go, for in it I do not die, I have fallen from the power to die. In it they die; they do not cease, and they do not finish dying ― Maurice Blanchot, Literature and the Right to Death.

The only way I experience death is through life. Death is strictly a phenomenon of life. The fear of death is a fear of life as life and death are inseparable. The death of my son in 2017 is not ‘his’ death. He is not experiencing death as he is not mortal any longer; not living. Chris is not human now. He was a beautiful, young, and amazing human but now his humanity is in my heart, my memory, my pain. This is where he dwells now in me and those who knew and loved him. The pain of death is the pain of living. It is not optional but essential. The question remains, how shall we live in the essence of death?

Death is a zenith. It is where life disappears into the infinity of horizon. It is not the horror of hell or bliss of heaven. It is the gate of the infinite. Mortality cannot pass through its gate. The absolute fluidity of this universe breaks upon the shores of death in which there is no return. Does death start where it began as if some universal law of physics requires it to do so?

What we know of physics is that there is a vast multitude of possible and actual physics. The laws of physics in our current universe are themselves a zenith of time and place. The ‘laws’ are an invention of circumstance. According to physicists, they were radically different at the beginning. If not for slightly more matter than antimatter after the ‘big bang’ or the ‘big bounce’ we would not be here at all. As to the question of what’s ‘outside’ the universe we are told two things: 1) Outside is a conventional notion we have derived from this time, this space, this circumstance and says nothing about this mythical notion of an outside to the universe, 2) If there are other universes, they have radically different physics. They would have absolutely no necessity placed on them to mimic our space/time physics in this singular moment of our circumstance.

So, this tells us that even this moment we call ‘life’ is itself a zenith caught on the brink of infinity. We stare infinity in the face every moment of our existence and found or are found by language as history to pacify our delusions of security as we draw in the breath of ‘I’. We forget the boundless ocean of eternity we stand on the shores of. We rationalize and sanctify and flee in the face of this awe and beauty and wonder which is the essence which can no longer be thought as ‘essence’. There is no ground beneath our feet only instantaneous, massless ‘particles’ better thought as infinitesimal force fields which pop in and out of existence and declare, “I am”. What we need in the face of eternity is perspective not absolute determinations.

We breath ‘we’ in this eternity of temporality. Sure, we have individual bodies which are really a communion of organism, cells, molecules, atoms, infinitesimals popping in and out of existence but somehow organizing themselves as an illusion of a whole, a body, my body. We communicate with language which we did not invent but in some undeciphered way acquired from a history we never knew or experienced. ‘Understanding’ is not a something but an acquisition of a ‘not me’, a gift given without merit or even existence as ‘mine’. We think ‘me’ from ‘we’. The ‘me’ that protests, that complains, that judges is a construction of the ‘we’ of language which speaks and has spoken and will speak with and without me, my existence. In all our languages we face plurality of other languages. Not just human but also animal languages, plant languages (actual science behind this). Existence is language. It is communication. It is the physics of interaction. It is the boundary conditions. It is the face. The face is not just a ‘presentation’, a presence. It is an absence of infinity which cannot present itself except as the boundary conditions of this moment, this interaction, this ‘idea’ of reality.

‘Idea’ informs us of notions which give reason, promise meaning, promotes sense and sensible. We even have the notion of ‘absolute’ which finds no home in infinity except as ‘idea’. What is more, ‘idea’ is what Hegel believes is all that faces us. There is no exterior ‘thing’ out there. The ‘thing’ is the idea. There is never a ‘thing’ without an idea. So, in Hegel’s estimation idea ‘is’ infinity and finite, it is ‘isness’. The face of which I spoke is the idea of face, nothing more, nothing less. For Hegel, the ‘notion’ exceeds other notions as being and nothingness and finds place as ‘Concept’. Concept is the embodiment of place, of divine, of me and us, of face. The other and the same cannot remain as they are but must be taken up by the necessity of self-consciousness. There is no self as a notion without an other as a counter notion. The same and the other are the necessity of a self, a me. Even the notion of space and time is a requirement of particularity. We must be a ‘we’ by necessity of Concept not by some exteriority which makes it so. For Hegel this does not do violence to the other as another person for example but requires us to look further into exactly what we are talking about and referring to; to fundamentally question the very fabric of isness and how Concept becomes the necessity of isness.

This leads us to choice. There is no way in my estimation to prove Hegel wrong. He may well be correct that Concept is essentially ‘is’. For Hegel this does not end in some kind of essential narcissism but in a foundation from any such thing as narcissism. Hegel is not bestowing sainthood on individualism and such notions as chest-beating ‘capitalism’. He is certainly providing a foundation for their existence, for existence itself, but not some modern right-wing notion of ultra-conservatism. In any case, there is a question Hegel poses which must be faced, a choice must be made.

I started this post with the notion of infinity. In due course, we have found that infinity and finitude may have and certainly, in some yet undetermined sense, has a basis in Concept but is that the end of the story (or perhaps another beginning)? Even if Hegel is correct, is there an ethical necessity placed on us to face the other, to face my son without Hegel’s face? Are we to abandon ourselves to the necessity of Concept and if so, how does that effect my orientation to the other, to the infinity of the face, to the requirement of my son’s life and living death which I must endure? Even more, what of the suffering of the other? How shall I face this lifetime of suffering which I must endure, my suffering and the suffering of the other? Should I find some kind of solace in the absolute fact of ‘Concept’? Should I think infinity as a necessary condition of finitude? Have I violated something other than my own biases and misunderstandings of Concept? Isn’t ethics just another requirement of Concept, of self-consciousness?

This is where choice determines eternity. I have no basis external to the requirements of self-consciousness for choosing an exteriority which cannot be thought only or more precisely determined by thought. I can choose to found self on Concept and call that ‘isness’. I probably have more reason to do so than not in Hegelian terms. I see many folks who use Hegel (and less intellectual achievements) as a kind of license to justify whatever they want to do to whomever they want to do it to. Perhaps, Hegel’s philosophy is not ready for mere mortals or vice versa. However, I do have to live in the face of the absolute, unsubstantiated abyss of existence. I have to wake up every day with my death, the death of my son, the death of innocence from bigotry, greed, injustice and I have to face it on an ongoing basis without any justification for why it must be so from Concept. In all this I must act and I must make choices not because I am that Concept but because I suffer and I am with those that suffer. My choice is to be self-determined or, without necessity, to heed the cry of the other.

To conclude, I would like to add a bit of speculation, highly speculative. We see in nature and physics (whether it is pure Concept or not) a return to regularity, order, instinct; to repetition in some degree. We did not proceed from Concept to birth but from nothingness (certainly with regard to consciousness) to birth. Somehow, I and we popped into existence. Is there a regularity in ‘popping into existence’? Perhaps, we don’t know. However, one thing we do know is that we did become but from what? We can call this Concept and satisfy the need for origin. However, I prefer to leave that to what Hesiod referred to as chaos (really the yawning gap). There is a gap of not knowing which we can choose to reserve. There is also the observation that phusis or physics, biology, ‘isness’ might like to repeat itself. We are gift standing from infinite abyss facing eternity with language and consciousness that is not our own. Who is to say that that gift cannot find repetition, increasing wisdom and another moment when what I did, how I acted in the face of the other; who is to say it is not the foundation for something I know not what…choose wisely.

A Case for Bashing the Democrats

Here is one issue I can actually agree with Newt’s recent comments concerning President Obama apologizing for burning the Quran. I do not think we should apologize, I think we should get the hell out! Why are Democrats and Republicans for the most part not saying what Ron Paul has said – what the hell are we doing there? In this case, the Democrats are justifying a war that the Republicans started AND continuing the error they made. This is the kind of thing that gives Democrats a bad name.

JFK (a Democrat) continued the ridiculous war that Eisenhower (a Republican) started in Vietnam. As a result many folks now think that JFK started the war. Historically speaking, JFK took ownership by continuing the domino theory, Republican rhetoric of the day for a tragic war that killed 50,000 Americans and maimed many more. This certainly reinforces the communist idea that liberals only serve the interest of the bourgeoisie by diluting and dulling the narrative that conservatives weave. At least it could be said that the effect is the same – the war is adopted, taken over, justified and thus, becomes a Democratic war.

A war is no small issue – the Republicans and Democrats owe us, the American people, an apology for starting and continuing an enormous mistake and human tragedy. We cannot afford the lives or economic cost of this insanity – STOP THE WARS NOW!!! I speak of wars because we still have active troops and ‘contractors’ in Iraq with casualties. Both Iraq and Afghanistan HATE OUR GUTS. We are occupying their country. Just think if Iraq or Afghanistan invaded our country to stop the anti-Islamic hatred in this country. Would we see them as liberators or occupiers? We are doing exactly that to them – HELLO, they hate us and do not want us over there. We have way overstayed our welcome and have only aggravated the problems inherent to their countries. We cannot make them ‘little Americans’. They have a history that has nothing to do with our history. We are imperialists and colonialists. We are wrong and everyone that is continuing our error is part of the problem. If Ron Paul could handle foreign policy and President Obama domestic policy, I would vote for them.

I do like the way President Obama handled the Libyan (and covert Egyptian aid) issue. We gave assistance to NATO and the Arabs, got in and out with the good guys in Libya (and Egypt) winning. I like his restraint with the ‘Arab Spring’. I think we need to support NATO and the rest of the world when and how they resolve to intercede but unilateral or effectively unilateral actions on our part always backfires on us – we make more terrorists by far than we kill – this is not success or winning folks. I have more comments in this essay that I wrote a while back.

Oh, one more rant, I hate and have resented all along that I have to pay taxes for someone else’s political insanity. Republicans talk about paying for ‘Obama-care’ – at least ‘Obama-care’ does not senselessly, in mass, massacre innocent elderly, women, children, kill our kids, and drive our economy into debt like these two crazy wars (the cost of these wars is much higher even in purely economic terms than ‘Obama-care’ – actually, according to the CBO ‘Obama-care’ saves us 100 million dollars over 10 years). These wars will not help anyone, only prolong misery – at least ‘Obama-care’ has the hope of perhaps, actually doing some good.

Something I blogged on the Huffington Post…

“Class warfare has been going on for decades. Republicans are really good at propaganda. However, they have finally deconstructed themselves. They could only talk generally for so long about cutting the size of the Federal government before their rhetoric caught up to them. Now that their own people are demanding that they walk the talk, the folks that are in the “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” syndrome will find that their leaders have been picking their pocket to sell them their own watch. The Republicans must put up or shut up and this will be their demise. Yes, they would love the Democrats to do the fate fatale for them so they could sophistically blame that on the Democrats as well (as they try to blame their failed economics on the Democrats) but Obama has caught the fox in his own trap – His populism actually works and helps the middle class (Proof: http://www.mixermuse.com/blog/2012/01/06/all-you-need-to-know-about-politics-1-6-12-2/) while their populism, as is typical, does exactly what they condemn the Democrats for – split the American public (religious, crush the middle class, attack immigrants, destroy the government they say the love, change the constitution they say they want to uphold the ‘original’ intent of, etc.) . The ‘populism’ of Obama as understood by the right is finally the courage that brings into the daylight the right’s own secret class warfare against the non-elite. As is typical, the right does the damage and blames it on the Democrats (i.e., lose of AAA rating). As a an ardent socialist in the industrial revolution (corporatism on steroids), Orwell is falsely revered by the right for “Animal Farm” but Orwell would have been much more sympathetic to this, http://www.mixermuse.com/blog/2012/01/06/the-fox-and-the-hen-house/, than the unmitigated proponents of capitalism.”

After a little more thought…

There has been a ‘secret war’ going on for decades on the middle class that every economic study has shown for many years. The latest census data tells us 1 out of every 2 Americans is in poverty. Yet, we get the right’s self-righteous shrill proclamations about the newly formed class warfare project from President Obama. Republicans really merit study for the copulas conjunction of the subject, President Obama and the predicate, class warfare. Republicans have well understood “The Little Prince” and the war of all against all. The best war is the invisible war; the war that takes the moral high ground while simultaneously erasing the enemy all the while producing its dominance. In this case, policies that prefer the rich and impoverish everyone else, are ‘capitalism’, the aspiration that any old fool could be rich too and corporatism would be their self-crafted philosophy, the philosophy that reifies the exception and punishes the accidental. If the old fool was rich he would be a king and the bourgeois jester of the noble would speak with Republican lips. The drama of the fool is more powerful than his poverty. Now, these new leftists come along and tell the fool that he is dreaming; that the jester lies as sirens sing. How dare the leftist disturb the fools slumber, let him dream. The leftist is the true enemy. These nag flies get in the way of baseless dreams, the opium of truth. I must say that it is ingenious along the lines of Nietzsche’s idea of Christianity. The truly powerful is never seen. It never becomes obvious. It hides in un-thought hermeneutics. It is the only proper language. It is the language that establishes and maintains truth and excludes madness (“Madness and Civilization”). Without the proper, the fool will fail but the fool fails anyway. Here resides the aporia, the riddle. When the riddle, the conundrum, the paradox is solved it loses its passion. In this therefore, existence loses. The end of the proper announces the beginning of anarchy, the victory of chaos – but how could anarchy have a beginning – can a circle be a square? When riddles multiply, mystification abounds and canon subverts its undoing. The past is lifted into the future as revised, continually re-established in service to unseen manipulation. The horror is the actual life I live and the sacred is the one I aspire to. The taboo is my inability to buy bread and the totem is the feasts I will have when I am rich. To understand what it means to be human must think the desire for fantasy. The elite Republicans know this well and count their riches on it. Truth in a void that can only endlessly turn on itself, eat itself, to obtain its ends must hide the producer at all costs. Obama is the evil Marxist spokesman of class warfare not because he did it (class warfare) but because he said it. He spoke the profane, the improper and therefore must die in his sin…and we wonder why there was a need for postmodernism?

Going Home Again By DAVID BROOKS

My comments regarding the New York Times story…

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/opinion/going-home-again.html

The story about Rod’s sister is certainly a painful tragedy. Emmanuel Levinas, a French philosopher, was a concentration camp survivor. He thought of the other as an absolute singularity and the death of the other as an unrecoverable loss. I am a Dreher also from Louisiana and have experienced this pain with the long painful loss of two older brothers. My brothers were lost in the Vietnam War. They both returned but left their young spirits in the jungle. They suffered intensely and were never the same after they returned. One recently died. He told me he woke up many nights with the Vietnamese women and children he had to shoot from his helicopter standing around his bed even after he was fully awake. The enemy shot at their helicopters with the women and children surrounding them. The other has been almost totally a hermit since he returned. Since Vietnam, he has never been ‘normal’ in any since of the word. While they were not counted as part of the body bag count they and our family’s life was never the same after they returned from Vietnam. Rod’s sister tragically died from cancer. Cancer strikes the victims loved ones as well but as helplessness. We each die inside when our loved one dies and cancer only reminds us of our absolute finitude and vulnerability. War is a human act. War can be prevented in many cases. When our loved ones are victims of war we feel pain and helplessness but we also feel anger. When our politicians start wars that are clearly not a matter of absolute and imminent necessity for survival or by mistake, this error may be abstract to most Americans but to those of us that directly experienced the resulting pain, we are angered by the glibness of such abstractions and everyone that made such tragedies possible from voters to political decision makers. Rod and I are on opposite sides of the political spectrum but pain is universal for mortals. We will carry our tragic losses every day for the rest of our lives but PLEASE folks do not think of war as one political issue among others, it is horrible tragedy that we can prevent – If you are grateful to our veterans please take our pain to the voting booth.

Wars Started by Republicans Including Vietnam

Eisenhower, Republican, started the Vietnam war and spent a huge amount of money (for the time) on covert operations…it just takes a little research to shoot down most of the Republican myths on the internet.  I would use the word “lie” instead of “misstatement” but I do not think they know better so it is not an overt lie…

 November 1, 1955 — President Eisenhower deploys the Military Assistance Advisory Group to train the ARVN (South Vietnamese Army). This marks the official beginning of American involvement in the war as recognized by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role_of_the_United_States_in_the_Vietnam_War

Here are more wars started by Republicans (I am not implying all were wrong)…

American Civil War: Abraham Lincoln, Republican; First fought to preserve the Union(the right to secede is still debated to this day) later to end slavery.

Korea(1876); Ulysses S. Grant, Republican; Called Choson at the time, the country attacked and destroyed an American Navy Vessel. The war was fought with similar motives as Perry’s visit with Japan.

Spanish-American War and Phillipine Insurrection: William McKinley, Republican; American Naval Ship Maine sent to monitor alleged mistreatment of the civilians of Cuba and protect American economic interests. The ship was destroyed and the press (the real instigators of the war)of the time placed the now doubtful blame on the Spanish. US fought the war to free Cuba. McKinley announced that giving the Filipinos Independence outright would be like simply handing them over the Germans or Japanese(because of the geographic position) and harm American economic Interests.

Nicaragua: Calvin Coolidge, Republican; Like Haiti the objective was stabilization.

Grenada: Ronald Reagan, Republican; When a Communist government took over the country, it persecuted the American college students studying there.

Panama, Persian Gulf War Operation Restoring Freedom: George HW Bush, Republican; Noriega, leader of Panama was charged with drug traffickingand through Noriega’s power, Panama would declare war(Though retaining the Canal is alleged to be the real motive). Persian Gulf War was fought to Liberate Kuwait from Iraq and protect Saudi Arabia from an Invasion(also to protect oil interests). Troops were sent to Somalia to assist in the feeding the hungry after guerrillas shot up UN aid convoys.

Afghanistan and Iraq: George W. Bush, Republican; Invasion of Afghanistan was the result of the Taliban ruled government’s refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden. Iraq’s invasion is still under debate.

Ken Buck and “Pro-abortion”

Ken Buck made a comment last night that he makes a distinction between pro-choice and pro-abortion folks. Just as “pro-life” is an intentionally manipulative misnomer so is this distinction. I have made the case on my blog (http://mixermuse.com/blog/2010/01/29/the-greater-good-and-scott-roeder/) that “pro-life” folks are not “pro-life” as they would have you believe. They are really anti-abortion folks that maintain a radical, fundamentally religious position if they oppose abortion under any circumstances. Additionally, if they really believed that all life was sacred they would oppose the death penalty, oppose war and favor a radical solution to health care. In any case, my intent with this post is to suggest that the argument that Ken Buck and the other anti-abortionists make that assumes there are rabid “pro-abortion” folks out there are really a deflection of their own radical views.

It is nonsensical to suggest that pro-choice folks really want people to get abortions. It is ludicrous to think that most sensible folks would want to push abortions on people. Why would anyone in their right mind insist that someone get an abortion? The only way I could see that someone could arrive at this position would be if they wanted to target an ethnic group on the grounds of some extreme genocidal position. Does Ken Buck think that these “pro-abortion” folks really want to target an ethnic group? The anti-choice folks have made these claims in the past about historical, pro-choice people but these days that claim only makes them look like lunatics to those of us outside their club. What other reason would someone be radically “pro-abortion”?

What he calls “pro-abortion” is really only people that think abortion should be an individual choice and not a big-government call about what should be a personal issue (to put it in Ken Buck’s terms). What really bothers me about this tactic is that it re-directs the real extremism to a fabricated extremism. Psychologists call this “projection” but in sociological terms it is really an attempt at mass manipulation. The real radicals are the ones that believe abortion should be outlawed under any circumstances (rape, incest, to protect the life of the mother, etc.). However, if they can re-define their extremism as the more “sensible” position then their position feigns the appearance of less radical and thus, more moderate. Thus, the “right” is never “right enough” and the left is always increasingly just left of the radical right. If the position that the government should not intrude on people’s personal choice for an abortion is shown to be “pro-abortion” and radical then the anti-abortion folks make their extremism more palatable. If people see through this, their feeble attempts at manipulation are ineffective and the real zealots become apparent.

What I take away from Ken’s comment is that he is content to surround himself with extreme right positions and he is willing to make everyone else look like the extremist he really is. If one adopts an ideology that can never directly be stated but only pointed at in “code words” it is because the ideology cannot stand on its own, in the light of reason and reasonable folks. I get the feeling that a lot of the right wing rhetoric is dishonest, pointing to ideas that they cannot express directly except in their inner circle. Thus, comments border on elitism, support for the rich and big business, racism, sexism, and homophobia but never quit get there in public discourse because that light would be too revealing. I know there are conservatives that have direct, honest and well thought out positions but this trend on the right is a little disturbing. I do all I can to make my ideas direct and without any need to ‘paint lipstick on a pig’. The question voters need to ask themselves is, “Is this the kind of person we want for our Senator”?

Why We Still Sacrifice Our Young

Barbaric ancient cultures ritually sacrificed their young to appease the gods. In the remoteness of those behaviors we cloak our own ritual instincts to sacrifice our youth. First, let me say that my own personal perspective on this has been shaped by first-hand experience of the Vietnam War that effectively destroyed both of my older brother’s lives. I am fascinated with how we sabotage ourselves in our truths and guarantee that our nemesis will once again rule the day. How do we sacrifice our young?

Watching Vice-president Biden yesterday talk about love of country in the heroic sacrifice of our warriors enraged me. The mistakes of President Obama’s predecessors have been blessed and sanctified in his administration’s current support of the Afghanistan war. These mistakes are no longer thought in terms of Bush administration tragedies but the old mantle of “defending freedom” has once again been cast over the irrevocable tragedy of state sanctioned killing of our youth. In Vietnam, the thought of a tragic mistake was the elephant in the room that our rhetoric always had to maneuver itself against. Just as the Catholic Church has never officially acknowledged that the earth is round but killed it with centuries of rhetorical hubris, the tragic sacrifice of our young in Iraq and now Afghanistan, started by Bush’s admitted mistake in Iraq, has been rhetorically redeemed into a “defense of freedom”, a “heroic sacrifice for the survival of our country”. The very same politicians that propagate these tragedies are the ones that gush their priestly, sanctimonious justifications for why these sacrifices had to be.

The truth, the elephant would speak if we let it, is that we blundered into nation building and forcing our values on cultures that at best have ambivalent judgments about our occupation and at worst fuel the fires of the holy war against the great satin (us). Our politicians tell us all the theological edicts that sanction our violence by a loving god and a country that stands for unquestionable truth. We lure our young into the military with commercials that play on their heroic fantasies and need for a job. They naively enter a machine that dashes their youthful ideals and deposits them in an alien culture with weapons and a mantra of kill or be killed. Families are torn apart and destroyed for generations. “Collateral damage” is the name for the rhetorical elephant that kills hundreds of thousands of women, children and “non combatants”. Many veterans that return find they must justify themselves and get locked into war hawkish justifications for future conflicts. They find conservative, Republican ideology as their life-long companion. The church ensures its future and brainwashing propagates into its young. The business of war is sealed in a tomb of sanctimonious rhetoric.

We could never admit that we have wasted our children’s youth and futures on a lie. That would rob our false god of its fire and fury. We would have to live in the shadows of Mordor, the dole drums of the under-world, the loss of meaning, the emptiness of nihilism. Nihilism is the result of the bankruptcy of our truths, our metaphysics, and our reasons for being. The chasm of our underside is opened by the radical belief in our holiness. The negative fascination of our truths stares into the void and the void stares back into our truths. We must continually feed the dragon or it will eat us. The gods must be appeased and our youth are our sacrificial lambs.

I have written elsewhere (http://mixermuse.com/blog/2010/01/08/war-on-terrorism/) on this blog how I think criminal situations could be dealt with that are propagated and fueled where no law exists, both best case and worst case, without playing these psychological-sociological games on ourselves so I will not re-state how we could deal with Iraq and Afghanistan in a saner, rational and targeted approach. In this essay, I simply want to expose how we symbolically and symbiotically feed on ourselves by a lack of philosophical, critical reflection. Folks, if our gods could save us from ourselves they would have centuries ago. The truth is, as Nietzsche prophesized, is that our good and evil is hopelessly enmeshed in a historically destructive dance that can only be compared to an act of god, an non-human tornado, a thirst that can never be quenched but will drink itself into oblivion on the sands of the desert. Will the United States be remembered thousands of years from now as a step away from humankind’s barbaric past or just another historical example of an Egypt or Rome that lost itself in its own dizzy heights and crashed into yet another heap of historical ash? All the while there are those of us that live in the shadows of death of our loved ones while the politicians blather on about our virtues and continue to tragically and mistakenly feed the beast.

The Democrats Filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Performed Southern Lynching

Next time you hear this please do NOT let them get away from the “rest of the story”.  Both statements above are true.  After the Civil War, Southerners hated Republicans (remember Lincoln).  They also fought against blacks in the Civil War.  The Union used Northern blacks and Southern blacks that escaped slavery.  This is why Southerners were Democrats after the Civil War in large numbers.  In 1964, the Dixiecrats (Southern Democrats) hated integration (remember busing).  They opposed Civil Rights in large numbers.  The real issue with Civil Rights was NOT Democrat versus Republican – it was North versus South.   See the numbers folks: http://mixermuse.com/blog/2009/12/15/of-all-the-varieties-of-virtues-liberalism-is-the-most-beloved-aristotle/ .

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Dixiecrats joined the Republican Party in mass.  Why do you think they did this?  They found their true ideological home with the Republicans.  The big, bad, evil Federal Government was forcing their kids to go to school with blacks.  Many states in the South are still very Republican.  If Civil Rights happened today without everything that has happened since 1964, the Republicans in the South would oppose it.  They might know how to keep their mouth shut now but speaking as one from Louisiana, the Dixiecrats are Republican now and have learned to keep their bigotry to themselves.