October 17, 2017

Two Favorite Quotes


AKA, “No, you follow me.”

I measure “favorite” here by how often the quote comes to mind and I smile ruefully and say “that’s true.”

1.The all-time champion remains a line I read in some political column or essay many years ago. I can’t recall the writer, outlet, or what he was writing about, but this line has stayed with me, constantly coming to mind:
“America is not permissive, it’s just promiscuous.”
That sums up perfectly the average American and all US institutions: Grossly self-indulgent where it comes to their own whims and crimes (often including violence), indulgent toward the whims and crimes of others they approve of, puritanical and censorious toward anything they don’t like, and in principle dismissive of such values as tolerance, minding your own business, live and let live, living in peace, even as they scream like stuck pigs the moment anyone impinges upon their sense of entitlement to all these things.
2. The challenger is a line from Freud’s essay “Dostoevsky and Parricide”. In contradistinction to the often profound political and religious philosophizing of his fiction, when Dostoevsky moonlighted as a regular political columnist he regressed to run-of-the-mill right wing fulmination. In dismissing Dostoevsky’s political position Freud calls it “a position which lesser minds have reached with smaller effort” (p. 177 in this scan).
How often I recall this, when I see all the hyper-educated “experts” and “intellectuals”, all pompously proclaiming their participation in this or that millennial intellectual paradigm, whether it be scientism, technocracy, neoliberalism, establishment versions of environmentalism and other causes, and yet their social and political vision invariably boils down to the same flat-earth worship of the system of money, “jobs”, temporal power, including regurgitating the same lies any half-assed mainstream media columnist is paid to spew. I assume as an axiom that 99.9% of Mensa members have utterly mainstream, mediocre political opinions. (Opinions, not even thoughts, let alone values.) Almost without exception these persons submit to the exact same bounds of political partisanship which are dictated to them by the mainstream media. All their learning, all their alleged intellectual principles, do nothing to give them even a single new idea.
This applies to the great majority of self-alleged “radicals” as well. They too constantly renew their devotion to all the main ideas and institutions of productionism and consumerism, however much it pleases them to sneer at “bourgeois” ideology (but their own ideology is bourgeois to the core) and arbitrarily to separate productionism into the two flavors of “capitalism” and “socialism”.* Of course many of them, come time for the kangaroo election (they also have no ideas beyond electoralism), tell the people to vote Democrat. I think Freud would agree that it never required intensive study of Marx to reach the position of “Hope and Change…I’m With Her”. I personally know plenty of utterly uneducated people who reached the same position, or its “Make America Great Again” flip side, with zero effort.
Of course most of these pseudo-educated elites are “lesser minds” themselves, mediocrities who had the grinder aspiration and the money to go to school. I’m applying Freud’s quote more to their grandiose ideological pronouncements more than to themselves. The point is that such grand intellectual projects, if they really possessed any of the integrity, profundity, and altruistic impulse their adherents claim for them, ought to better the minds and spirits of those who participate. But we see every day how there’s almost an inverse relationship between the grandiosity of the ideal and the gutter quality, intellectual and moral, of its practitioners and fanboys.
To come closer to Freud’s example of the steep drop-off in quality from Dostoevsky’s fiction to his everyday political opinionation, even where it comes to the few writers today capable of the true eagle’s eye perspective, those who speak profoundly about the soon-to-go-fully-kinetic crises of economics, energy, and ecology, they’re still prone to insist on self-indulging in “topical” political commentary where most of them immediately regress to the level of cranky right-wing bloggers. A decades-long spiritual training and intensive reading about the profundities of the relationship of ecology to the economy leads one to Archie Bunker-level political spewing about “the left”? Yes indeed, much lesser minds often reach that position with much less effort. (For real criticism of the left as offering no alternative to productionism and technocracy, one has to come to a site like mine.)
Perhaps the greatest irony of this culture is how the “Progress” ideologues are the most hidebound, intellectually stagnant, politically retarded epigones who are congenitally incapable of ever actually progressing to a new idea, a new vision. For them the laws of the world are never anything but the status quo forever. In many ways “progressives” are, objectively speaking, reactionaries in how they desperately cling to revanchist fantasies for things which long ago were disproved and/or destroyed forever, not to mention how meager their fantasies usually are. (To fixate on “bring back Glass-Steagal” manages the feat of being simultaneously nostalgic and lame.)
I think their parents who paid for all those university degrees should ask for their money back. All that investment of money, time, effort, all that “thinking”, and look at what the modern intellectual/political class comes up with: Straight parroting of all the most gutter “values”, lies, and ideological precepts of Mammon and the corporations, every last one of these a thousand times refuted. The modern intellectual is hidebound, stagnant, and stupid. The modern expert is a prostituted liar. I say we the people can do better.
In case anyone thinks I’m exalting novelty or radicalism for their own sakes, no. My total opposition to thoughtless reckless promiscuous technological deployment sufficiently refutes both. Nor is that the case with ideas. I call for propagating and enacting the new and necessary ideas. What’s wrong with productionism isn’t that it’s an old idea and institution, but that it’s proven destructive to humanity and the Earth. What’s wrong with “progress” isn’t that it’s antiquated, but that it’s long been disproven as at best a religious fantasy, more often an ideological lie. What’s wrong with liberalism and “vote Democrat” isn’t that it’s the same old thing, but that it’s long been proven ineffective and a malign scam. Those who still adhere to these disproven notions, claiming to be finding something new and possible in them, are liars and/or idiots.
The necessary new ideas, most of all the great need to abolish corporate industrial agriculture and globally transform to agroecology, are those needed to overcome and transcend these failed and destructive old notions and actions. That’s the one and only real kind of progress.
*This morning I read another piece exalting “science” from a “left” perspective. That means one denounces “Trump” and is indistinguishable from a partisan liberal. For this kind of scribbler, what’s wrong with de jure climate denial is that it’s an affront to the authority of “Science”, a kind of lese majestie. In reality, what’s wrong with any kind of climate denial isn’t that it’s intellectually “wrong”, let alone that it insults the majesty of Science. What’s wrong is that climate chaos already is profoundly destructive of humanity and the Earth and will become far worse. Denial of this and obstruction of real mitigation and adaptation measures comprise a crime against humanity and the Earth. That’s what’s wrong with it, not the liberal vs. conservative culture war part of it.
Such misdirection highlights how the de jure deniers are just one minority faction among the deniers. Far greater in number are the de facto deniers, who may “believe in” anthropogenic climate change and often claim to care about it, but whose actions prove they want no change in the status quo paradigms which drive climate change. They only tell various lies and propagate various scams in order to pretend they care and are doing something. These are the climate crocodiles, crying crocodile tears over climate change. They include the liberal hand-wringers, as well as the scientific establishment and its fanboys such as the author of the typical piece I linked above. All these persons and institutions systematically do their worst to drive climate change, even as they deplore it with empty words. This kind of denialism is far more pernicious than the de jure kind, since it reflects a much deeper Earth-destroying inertia.
For the climate crocodiles this hypocrisy driven by destructive inertia causes them to fixate on “Trump” even though ecologically destructive policy and ideology is the realm where, more than anywhere else, Trump is nothing but the continuation of the Clinton-Bush-Obama paradigm. And here is the best example of the pathology I mentioned above, where “leftists” decompose to become indistinguishable from liberals, often to the point of touting the Democrat Party, thus demonstrating their own indelible bourgeois character, to use one of their own favorite curse words.
All that education and ideological pomposity, and one still decries Trump’s affront to the Paris accord or the “corruption” of the previously public-spirited EPA. So-called lesser minds usually reach those positions with much less effort. It’s taken a bit more effort to work out the new and necessary ideas for a human future. We’ll see how much effort it takes to propagate and then realize them.


  1. “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    – Upton Sinclair

    “The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.”

    – Utah Phillips

    “Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

    – Cree Indian Prophecy

    Comment by Anonymous — October 17, 2017 @ 11:01 am

    • If it does come down to that third one it’ll be too late. But I think Gaia will rouse itself to impose the necessary correction. It always does against any biological infestation which gets out of control, even if this sometimes seems to take awhile. And that’s in addition to the hard limits of fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources. The Earth will overcome and heal, even if so-called homo sapiens doesn’t wake up in time to save itself.

      Comment by Russ — October 17, 2017 @ 11:28 am

  2. Americans are brain dead. This is a really, really hard thing to accept, because of the enormous consequences it has for the nation and the world. Think WW3, WW4, WW5, onset of new dark ages, that sort of thing. That’s how huge the implications really are. It’s also why nobody out there wants to challenge the system other than the crazy Islamic terrorists, North Korea, and other assorted nobodies with little to lose. Everybody else realizes, holy shit, this is a really big deal, including China, for instance, which is desperate to keep the hologram of American power going.

    Whether Americans were brain dead at the beginning, or made that way by the corporate state, is irrelevant at this point. What matters is the facts of the present state of affairs. And in the present, Americans are unable to see past the next fast food meal, paycheck whether big or small, hollywood movie, and sports game.

    You can no longer count on such people to administer the world. There are no intellectuals in America, by definition, since to be an intellectual is to question, and Americans don’t question anything. America is already the past, we are just waking up to this, that we are in the endgame.

    Comment by dolph — October 17, 2017 @ 4:21 pm

    • Agree completely that whether things were ever “better” is a moot point. What matters is the evil of the day and how to work for a better future, yeah more a good future.

      It’s endgame for the extreme energy system, an ahistorical blip. The sooner the more people wake up to this or are woken up to it, not just to accept it but affirmatively to avow it as a great new beginning, the better chance there is for a human future.

      Comment by Russ — October 17, 2017 @ 5:18 pm

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