Okay… this piece: I Fucking Dare You (part I) has touched some nerves and fostered some false assumptions. I thought it over the top enough that the truth of the matter clear. Not the case. The response has been surprising. Let me make this absolutely clear: I am not voting for Donald J. Trump. However, let me also be honest. I have expressed on two occasions, without hinting sarcasm that I will vote for him. Once as a kneejerk response to the DNC email scandal and again during a social media confrontation.
I want to categorize both of these instances as retaliations. That said, the piece is pure sarcasm. Extreme, cynical, sarcasm. There is not a single sentence in that piece in support of Trump, on the contrary, it is bloated with sentences in rebuke. I will not vote for him. I have never experienced any sincere intention to vote for Trump.
But while we’re here…
Let’s sit down, relax… take a look around…
Some will engage in actual philosophy and present conundrums like “If you don’t vote for Hillary, you are voting for Donald Trump” or “If you don’t vote, you are voting for Trump or HRC in absentia.” This is a work of masterful sophistry. And yet I’ve heard so many people I admire—Sam Harris one of them—present this phrasing. Many Ethicists and op-ed journalists are chiming in with well crafted arguments from the same angle.
People who have truly wanted to find a solution to the problem have already argued this dialectic in so many ways.
Sartre and Camus are the first to come to mind. Steven West did a great job recently of summarizing the debate on his podcast Philosophize This! Sartre plays the utilitarian ethics card we’re hearing today and Camus asserts his notion of philosophical suicide, to allow or condone the deaths of others for your own freedom is to ruin altruism.
Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump carry the potential for widespread death and destruction. We know this from their own words, “…kill their families.” - Donald J. Trump. “I will continue to expand on the foreign policy accomplishments of the Obama Administration.” - Hillary R. Clinton. Obama has dropped a lot of bombs, many of them at the behest of his secretary of state and they have killed many innocent human beings.
I stand with Camus. If you truly understand how precious life is, how important the pleasure of life with fellow human beings, how can you cast a vote for anyone who has guaranteed bloodshed on their watch? Sure, not even a Bernie Sanders’ or Jill Stein presidency could ever function without fatalities. This is America after all. At least they’ve made it clear that we have to stop fighting endless wars and killing innocent people, and generally suggesting that we should care for one another more than we fight one another.
I’m not voting for any of them.
“But… but… fascism and the Supreme Court?!?!”
This seems to imply that I have some heroic duty to vote against my conscience and take the reins on this pony (unicorn, if you prefer) and steer it out of this collision course with the Sun. YouTube broadcasts wastelands of spontaneous heroics. Anyone can be a hero. It is not uncommon but don’t command me to save the world. There is no duty to altruism otherwise you couldn’t call it altruism.
Beside all that, looks like yer in luck. 9 out of 10 Bernie voters will vote for Clinton anyway. http://www.vox.com/2016/7/26/12284960/bernie-sanders-voters-support-donald-trump-hillary-clinton
As for the ugly little argument, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” I leave you with a few words from my good friend Mr. Carlin…
UPDATE: Steve Bannon is now leading Trump's charge... all satire and philosophy aside, I voted Clinton. We cannot allow bold-faced fascists in the White House.
Such a pregnant phrase.
The very printed letter B appears gravid with promise.
In a slice of irony, Plan B is the contraceptive pop culture loves to jab in sitcom gags and talk show interviews..
“You need a plan B” is the phrase uttered by skeptics like parents and honest friends in attempts to sway you from ill conceived notions such as taking your solo burlesque/kazoo act on the road.
Plan B is better than plan C. So when plan A has failed, you are at least looking at something better than plan C. The looser’s plan. Plan C sucks.
All that said, let me hit you with a fully turgid and superior (to any plan C) Plan B.
We tend to think art or writing, music, accumulation of wealth, posthumous lore, or intelligent, honorable children will carry our legacies. Agreed. In general. However, where our ancestors stood on the heavy contemporary issues of their day have the biggest effect on our feelings for them. I’m white. There are slave owners in my lineage. Not cool. However, at least one of my ancestors released his slaves decades before the US forced others to do the same. Very cool. We judge the people of history by their relationships to pivotal moments and when we do, more often than not, we validate our judgment from the luxury of modernity. That grotesque 20/20 hindsight cliché rises again like one of those black and blue ghouls in Japanese horror films. Society finds much of its shame, fear, love, and humor in history. History is our revolving legacy.
Be on the right side of history.
Yes, experts can be assholes. Can’t we all? Experts can be arrogant. Can’t we all? It’s not the experts themselves that matter. What matters is the amount of real knowledge a dedicated group of arrogant assholes can accumulate. Evolution is one of those piles of knowledge. We argue the reality of evolution from hundreds of angles on hundreds of sub-topics but the most evident and relevant angle is medicine. Scientists in medical research and disease prevention watch evolution working in real time every day. Evolution is real. If you are remembered for your disbelief in evolution, you will be a joke.
Be on the right side of history.
Just some quick thoughts on some of the bullshit that has been squirting like diarrhea from the media tubes about Ferguson, MO, Mike Brown, and the militarization of the American police.
I heard this from journalist GW Shultz : “I interact with these individuals a lot, through my job. I know these individuals don’t wake up each day and set out to violate peoples’ civil liberties. There’s a lot of cops in the United States, thousands, who didn’t become police officers to ruin peoples’ lives. They’re well intentioned.”
I’m not denying any of what he said but it shocks me that a journalist can phrase any of it like this. Examine any villain in world history and you find very few who did what they did for the sake of evil. Believe it or not, (I originally made a refrence to Hitler here. I've removed it. Never any real need to mention Hitler. Unless your actually writing "about" Hitler. My apologies.) Charles Manson always claimed he did what he did to usher peace and love. Every Rwandan who hacked a baby to death did It for the good of his people. Darth fucking Vader’s entire vision was one of peace.
There are good people who are cops but that doesn’t mean they should be cops.
Online discussions always reap inspiration:
“Your mecca does exist. There is a place where the government is basically nonexistent. The few police have no power, whatsoever. People rule and are in charge of their own well being. It's called the DR Congo. I mean, sure, it's rape and murder capital of the world. Cannibalism is kind of a problem. Guerrilla warfare, sexual mutilation and kidnapping are pretty rampant, but the important thing is: they love anarchy, too! I think it's working well for them.”
How many years of religious (both ancient African and Christian religion) and colonial oppression have the people of Africa suffered? I don't suppose any of that has anything to do with the state if the Congo. As far as all the crime examples and violence, Detroit and Chicago are far more dangerous than certain parts of Africa. Do you know that in 1982, in Miami, Florida, USA, the entire police academy graduating class was dead or in prison a decade later? The majority of it the result of a drug war declared by...? You guessed it: US government. You can't blame crime and violence on lack of police or laws. In fact, logic says, if you don't pass laws, there is no crime.
“So your solution is decriminalize things such as murder and rape and then all of our problems are solved? That's logic? That's great. We can all escape murders and rapes on our unicorns. There was violence long before there were laws. That's human nature.”
I believe in consensus. Has law stopped murder and rape? Law has had roughly 150,000 years to prove it is a worthy of saving us from rape and murder... how's that working out for you? You know what has slowed ALL violence over its entire tenure? Education. Education creates empathy. Empathy leads to the realization of an idea that Buddha uttered over a thousand years before Christ: “Treat one another as you wish to be treated,” a simple idea wrapped around education and empathy. We live in a world becoming less and less violent. That is a fact. And the reasons are education and understanding. Human nature has nothing to do with violence. Human nature is anchored in survival and once we all abandon punishment (because science is learning that we really have no control over ourselves) and denial of resources due to lack of capital, we will be a better people.
I understand that to most folks who haven’t taken the time to study it at length, anarchy seems as ridiculous as evolution seems to those have yet to study and understand it. We generally consider ignorance pejorative. Please don’t look at it as such. Educate yourself.
In Defense of Anarchism by Robert Paul Wolff This is the quintessential introduction to the arguments against all other forms of governance and the ultimate defense of anarchism as personal philosophy.
Demanding the Impossible by Peter Marshall (not to be confused with an equally brilliant book by Slavoj Žižek)
Mutual Aid by Pyotr Kropotkin
Chomsky On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky, Barry Pateman
Anarchism by Daniel Guérin, Noam Chomsky
Let’s burn Voltaire. Let’s erase the visage and work of Jonathan Swift from history. Outlaw the works of Bill Hicks. Satire must be stopped. It’s ruining our lives. Stephen Colbert is ruining our lives, not just the lives of sensitive Asians like Suey Park but every single one of us, every black, yellow, brown, red, white and rainbow of us.
Colbert worships at the alter of that most insidious of entertainment genres, satire. Satire’s insensitive rampage has gone on far too long. Aristophanes’ satire killed Socrates. The poet Hipponax insulted the sculptor Bupalus so egregiously that he hung himself. Mark Twain was an obvious racist who furthered the belief in the superiority of the white man. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn ruined the lives of countless communists. Television character Archie Bunker unfairly characterized the blue collar working class of his day.
Why would we tolerate satire for so long? Why didn’t the Greeks nip it in the bud? Or the Romans? How in the hell did the Communist Russia allow the evils of satire to live? It’s everywhere and it starts with sarcasm. And who hasn’t met the sinister sarcasm? Doctors, nurses, lawyers, policemen, soldiers are often victims of sarcasm, they claim as a result of the nature of their work, all that human suffering and death and evil and other shit. They self-righteously claim sarcasm is self-defense, their pre-emptive treatment for depression and stress. Oh brudder… But we all know it’s rampant. You know the waitress is painting her kitchen banter with sarcastic descriptions of you and you beautiful children. There ought to be a law.
Stephen Colbert doesn’t want us to find some ironic connection in his racist jokes to some real-life lunacy. Why do that? What’s his purpose? He’s not even a real person, anyway, right? Either Jonathan Swift had a true hankering for baby meat or he was just some guy making jokes in hopes of enlightening his contemporaries to the poor and the orphaned. What in the hell would the latter serve? Bill Hicks’ suggestion that all marketing people should kill themselves couldn’t have been a call for more honesty in advertising or a warning to consumers. What the fuck, bro?
Would it be cynical to suggest that in the midst of selling you tampons and peanut butter, Stephen Colbert doesn't really give a shit about racial insensitivity? Would it be cynical to suggest that Swift wasn't truly concerned about the state of his city and the welfare of the poor as he spread his fame and sold his writing? Would it be cynical to remind you that Bill Hicks sold you a ticket or a DVD before he made us think about how corporations manipulate us through media? Yup. That's cynicism.
This is irony.
This is satire.
We all have those friends who automatically turn to phantoms when doors creak-open or cry conspiracy when some hairs-width of a connection materializes between terrorism and politics. We can sympathize with the notions but rationality and facts inevitably carry the day. That said, I willingly admit my suspicions about the historicity of Jesus or the death of Michael Hastings. But I also willingly concede that personal biases spice my thoughts on these subjects and my opinions may very likely meet their demise in light of the facts.
Coincidence is a strange phenomenon. Often a platform for bizarre assumptions, coincidence aims at our most basic human instincts for the supernatural or conspiratorial. Over the years, I have marveled at the subtle semantic connections between peoples’ names and the news they inhabited. Elian (sounds way too much like alien) Gonzales was a young Cuban boy forcibly ripped from his father’s home by armed US immigration agents in 2000. Bernie Madoff (pronounced made-off) made off with millions in Wall Street investors’ money several years ago. I caught myself laughing at an article about a man recently released from prison who found an amazing artistic outlet during his incarceration. His name is Jesse Krimes. It would appear that Stan Lee is in fact god. This vague synchronicity appears all the time. And it is exactly time (and a whole lot of complexity) that provides logical resolution. Sheer volume of names of people on the planet, the volume of words used to describe events and things, the mathematical billiard game of crisscrossing timelines and our own internal tendency to make leaps across rational gaps creates what we perceive as to-good-to-be-true coincidences.
I’m dragging all of this out today because of two very weird news items that appeared within days of each other. On the surface, my novel That Night Filled Mountain has two basic plot points. First, Marcus Hatchet robs a megachurch of nearly $200,000. Second, a Russian Imperial Faberge Egg plays the part of my McGuffin. Imagine my incredulity when I woke one morning this month to find Joel Olsteen’s church robbed of (you guessed it) $200,000 in cash. I had a good laugh to say the least. But the weirdness didn’t stop there. Only days after the Olsteen robbery, an actual Russian Imperial Faberge Egg emerged in the Mid-West, nearly sold for scrap. Not just one but two of my plot points reified in the real world.
As much as this all tempts me to write things into existence (world peace, abolishment of religion and money, a sad, sleazy porn career for Sarah Palin), I understand that weird shit happens all the time and I can marvel at coincidence with the same attitude that others marvel at ghosts and prognosticators.
I have read countless definitions of the word and most lose precision in an attempt to pre-empt all the various political arguments and historical examples against it. This is another reason I suggest In Defense of Anarchism. Wolff's conclusions are also echoed in the work of Edward Abbey. Whether one admits it or not, we all live in our own state of anarchy. We all go over the speed limit when we feel we can. We've all shunned a crosswalk. Those who have reason shirk their taxes or conduct repairs and improvements on their homes without the proper permits. Most of us have committed a form of assault. We all commit crime. But what is crime? A crime doesn't exist until their is law to make crime. In other words, a personal philosophy of anarchy seems to be the natural state of the human condition. Once we accept this, the laws of the authority and the punishment associated with breaking those laws truly become factors weighed into the decisions we make on a daily basis, a mirror image of nature. Man has not the authority nor the power to create laws as staunch an unforgiving as nature. Therefore should man have any authority at all? My answer is yes. Each man only has authority (absolute authority) over his own actions and this personal autonomy is challenged every day by the actions of the law. Utopian descriptions of democracy and communism are just as welcome in the land of fairy-tales as the utopian flavors of anarchism. My point is that nature rules all. Find your authority in nature and let the collective stupidity of men do what it does: rise and fall, ebb and flow. But protect your personal autonomy at all costs. It is all nature has bestowed you to live in this hostile world. No one can truly tell you what you can and cannot do. The consequences are yours alone to face.
Topical agents of anarcho-individualism: the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, self-proclaimed terrorist organization operating currently in Greece.
Historical agent of anarcho-individualism: Benjamin Tucker, publisher and contributor for Liberty, an anarchist publication in the late 1800's America.
Literary agent of anarcho-individualism: Edward Abbey, author of The Brave Cowboy and The Monkey Wrench Gang.
As levelheaded as we portend, with all our effort for rationality, we have all found ourselves on the wrong side of many issues, most commonly for one simple reason.
We are slaves to our emotions. This seething hurricane of emotions clears the field for nasty overreactions to highly charged issues. My latest overreaction occurred over guns. One of this nation’s most ironic subjects, guns have shattered both the imperial yoke with which our forefathers felt burdened as well as, some would say, the pursuit of happiness those forefathers promised us over 200 years ago. Loved and hated, these weapons have shaped human culture, particularly American culture. However, when we hear the word “gun” in the media, they consistently fail to analyze its status as a “weapon,” no matter how many times they call it a “weapon.” This word “weapon” holds the key to the question of “gun violence,” a term that means so very little. Unfortunately, the news media long ago abandoned the search for truth. Truth doesn’t sell pharmaceuticals and cars. Emotions sell pharmaceuticals and cars. Emotions sell everything.
Now that I’ve blamed the media for their disrespect for words, I’m going to blame myself for the very same thing. When the Newport shooting occurred, I didn’t need the media to push my buttons. I don’t watch television and the state of television news is closely related to my distaste for it but I didn’t need an endless carnival of photos and video of grinning, frolicking deceased children to fall victim to my emotions. I have no problem admitting fault here. After simply imagining the chaos and fear those children and the adults entrusted with their well-being must have experienced, I failed to wrangle my less rational side and instead spent my cognitive capital railing on guns and gun owners. Not to say most arguments in favor of guns aren’t just as shackled to emotion as the arguments for control. Neither side of the issue has addressed the real problem. It took me a few days to scrub off the emotion and truly examine the dilemma.
"If autonomy and authority are genuinely incompatible, only two courses are open to us. Either we must embrace philosophical anarchism and treat all governments as non-legitimate bodies whose commands must be judged and evaluated in each instance before they are obeyed; or else, we must give up as quixotic the pursuit of autonomy in the political realm and submit ourselves (by an implicit promise) to whatever form of government appears most just and beneficent at the moment. (I cannot resist repeating yet again that if we take this course, there is no universal or a priori reason for binding ourselves to a democratic government rather than to any other sort. In some situations, it may be wiser to swear allegiance to a benevolent and efficient dictatorship than to a democracy which imposes a tyrannical majority on a defenseless minority. And in those cases where we have sworn to obey the rule of the majority, no additional binding force will exist beyond what would be present had we promised our allegiance to a king!)" - Robert Paul Wolff 'In Defense of Anarchism'
River of Blood, a novel about anarchism, atheism, racism, violence, family, and corruption.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.