Friday, January 31, 2014

Paid Weapons Worship

        Paid Weapons Worship

          A Modest Proposal

          I was contemplating the spectacle of America’s gun culture, and I thought; why not cut out the middleman and just have a Weapons Church? With a rifle over the altar, other deadly holy relics on display, red-themed stain-glass, everyone armed, and every sermon about the  divinity of weaponry? It can claim protection under First and Second Amendments! 

          I don’t mean worship of Mars or any conventional war god; I mean worship of the weapons themselves. Of the godlike power of life and death. 

          There is precedent: the Japanese have been known to build shrines to their swords. Let the Weapons Church adopt this custom. One of the shrines will bear a katana; they’ll burn incense to it, and address prayers to it, “following ancient Japanese custom”. The Weapons Church will have other shrines. 

          This Modest Proposal combines well with another notion of mine; the paid-worship church. The devout walk in, punch their time card, then chant, dance, speak in tongues, etc.; then punch out their time card and go home; and every second week get paid. Attendance will be good, but where does the money come from? Ideally from the god; but short of divine intervention such a church would depend upon it being a tax writeoff, or a faith-based welfare program, or a monument to some rich sponsor’s ego, or sales of CDs of the singing, or laundering crooked money.

          Technically, all churches are paid-worship; but the innovation I propose is for the worshippers to be paid, rather than for them to pay. Technically, this makes the worshippers prostitutes; an accusation they embrace. “You sheep get shorn, but we bitches get paid.” In a sense, then, paid worship is a more honest system than the usual.

          But where does the money really come from? The paid-worship church will credit its god, of course. The check cleared; it’s a miracle! I have already noted the real sources; untaxed charity, plutocratic ego, tax-supported welfarism, song and art sales... and money laundering. The last is the big bux, of course, and hardest to prove.

          Which brings me to the weapons church. This fits shady dealings like jelly fits peanut butter. Paid weapon-worship; any combination of church, state and market this toxic is bound to be a huge success.

          Something tells me this could work. The same something tells me that you’d have to be like L. Ron Hubbard to make it work.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Conspiracy Dilemma

          Conspiracy Dilemma

          I am skeptical about the effectiveness of secret machinations in general. Note the following xkcd web-comic:
          He petitions all the secret conspirators, from Knights Templar through the CFR to the Lizard People, to “get your shit together. This is embarrassing.” 

          I think conspiracies do exist, and are powerful, but they are in conflict and tend to cancel each other out. Also the secrecy of conspiracy lowers collective intelligence. To have a lasting effect requires open cooperation. This is a dilemma for elites; either they work in secret, to their own aims, but battling in the dark; or they work openly, with information and cooperation from others, but at the price of compromise. This is the Conspiracy Dilemma.

          This resembles the Education Dilemma: shall the elites educate the masses or not? The latter, ‘closed’ solution yields a docile but unproductive populace; the former, ‘open’, solution yields a productive but defiant populace. Also there is the Snowden Dilemma: shall the conspiracy share its internal information openly or not? If the latter, then collective conspiratorial intelligence drops; if the former, then eventually a Snowden leaks vital files. 

          Closed control collapses, open control explodes. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Collectivist Individualism

             Collectivist Individualism

             Elsewhere on this blog I have called into question the existence of money. I call this philosophy ‘aplutism’; it calls money an illusion. Any money system’s reality is at best social; money’s value is determined by a market, which is by definition transpersonal. Therefore there is no such thing as “my” money system; it is by definition “ours”.

             Therefore money is collectivist! It has to be, otherwise it wouldn’t be fungible. The same goes for language. Words have to have shared meanings, or they have no meanings at all. Or take Reason; there is certainly no such thing as “my” rationality, distinct from “ours”. If anyone has Reason, then Reason is the common property of all mankind.

             (Once Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes, was told to answer a test question “in your own words”. A loophole! So he answered in gibberish.)

             A curious political paradox emerges. Money, speech and Reason are the gods of libertarian individualism, but they’re also as collectivist as the fire department! Money, speech, reason and much else (for instance the Rule of Law) is collective by nature. We all have rule of law or none of us do. In such a situation the only rational policy is to build government relating to such things on collective principles.

             The money that you make is yours; but it is denominated in terms that are ours. Your speech is free, you may say whatever you like, but you’d  better use English, and not some private language of your own, if you wish to be understood. You have your individual rights under the law; but the law is a creature of the State. And so on.

             The individual and the collective are interdependent; they only make sense in terms of each other. Yin and Yang.

             The paradox works in the other direction as well. Every collectivist movement ends up being run by a powerful individual, usually an alpha male. The army needs a general, the church needs a priest, the commune needs a manager.

             The human dilemma remains; we are individual but social. Monty Python phrased the paradox in this passage from their “Life of Brian”:
             Brian to crowd: “I mean, you’re all individuals!”
             Crowd: “YES, WE’RE ALL INDIVIDUALS!”
             Lone man in crowd: “I’m not!”

the illusion of the individual Nathaniel

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Accidental Prophesy

      An Accidental Prophesy

         Awhile back I wrote to a friend:
         “... the plutonomy is run by primitive Marxists of reverse polarity. They believe in class struggle, mass immiseration, and all that Marxist mythology, but their personal loyalties are on the other side. It’s like a church whose preacher is a Satanist. He believes the same stories as the congregation but he’s rooting for the other team.”
         After writing that, I noticed a problem. The trouble is, I have a history of making jokes that turn out to be literally true. When I snark hard enough, sometimes I accidentally prophesize. It’s a gift/curse, and not my fault; it’s reality that’s absurd. Anyone can do it, you just have to think one more step than is polite.
So... along with family-values adulterers and pro-war draft dodgers, expect a few Satanist preachers.
You read it here first.

Monday, January 27, 2014

As Inspirational as 1984

As Inspirational as 1984

        For some time now, for some reason, I have been getting inspirational quotes in the email. At first I found them only mildly irritating, but then one day I got this:
     “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
             -       George Orwell

      An Orwell quote? From 1984? About reality control? Called inspirational?!
      The email had a link for people to suggest other  inspirational quotes. I thought, if that’s what they call inspirational, then what else? The possibilities were endless! I settled upon a kind of gargoyle optimism, ideally as absurd and monstrous as Orwellian doublethink.
       I briefly considered, then rejected this quote by Joseph Stalin; “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” Instead I sent in:
 “Who says nothing is impossible? Some people do it all day!”
     -       Alfred E Newman
Since then I have sent in the following:

    “It is not sufficient that I succeed, all others must fail.” 

         -       Genghiz Khan

    “My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?”
            -       Charles Schultz
    “To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble.”

            -       Mark Twain
    “When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front-row seat.”
            -       George Carlin
    “Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.”
             -       Ambrose Bierce

     “The truth is usually just an excuse for a lack of imagination.”
             -   Garak the simple Tailor, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

    “Bela Lugosi is my co-pilot.”
             -       Zippy the Pinhead

If Orwellian doublethink is inspirational, then so are these!