Saturday, February 2, 2013

More Fun With Dialectical Materialism

When I sent yesterday's post to a friend who then looked up the SWP, the "Socialist" Workers Party,  he recommended the Wikipedia article, saying it was a perfect example of what I was talking about.

While it's Wiki and, therefore, of unknowable accuracy, it seems plausible as a history typical of the communist presence in the United States in all of their "scientific" self-important silliness, impotent uselessness, baroque factionalism, adolescent and entirely non-idealistic jockeying for dominance, petty jealousy,  and just about complete failure to do a single thing other than those.   The parts about the various attempts at infiltrating and taking over various groups, including, disastrously, actual unions, is typical of communist groups.  I can think of nothing that would have hindered unions more than becoming wound up with the eternal, divisive idiocy of the communist parties.  "Union makes us strong" has not been the practice of the communists at any point in their history.

You can read it for yourself and ask yourself what sane person, looking at that kind of stuff wouldn't conclude those people were nut cases.   Look at what they're up to today, no, what they're talking, not doing.  They don't do much else.  They've learned nothing from the lessons of their own history, odd where their "scientific" view of history has led them.

Friday, February 1, 2013

From an Old Blog Post Apropos of Today's

A rule of thumb:  any political party that has produced more splinters than office holders defines “politically failed”.

On A Venerable Beau

Still hovering round the fair at sixty-four
Unfit for love, unable to give o’re.
A flesh fly, that just flutters on the wing,
Awake to buzz, but not alive to sting;
Brisk where he cannot, backward where he can, 
The teasing ghost of the departed man.

David Mallet 18th cen.
Sim troll was a scribbler in ink,
Without a  requir'ment to think
Then paper got pricy,
Paid scribbling's got dicy,
It's so odd those pixels still stink.

Being Done With The Sterile Strife of the Communists

Expanding on a theme I touched on the other day,  let me break this to you, after more than a century of efforts the myriad and eternally splintering array of communist parties in the United States have never produced and will never produce anything of use to working people and poor people.

Their use has been entirely to the benefit of the enemies of workers and the poor, as an all too willing weapon against progress.  I say "all too willing" because much if not most of the material turning them into weapons against progress have been provided by the communists, themselves.

Other than that the one and only thing that the communists have achieved is their own victimhood during the red scares of the past century.   Yes, they were the victims of a violation of their civil liberties by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, Red Channels, the American Legion, the Hollywood Black list and many others who targeted communists and anyone they could tar with an association with communism. I grew up on stories of that victim hood, deplored the members of the HUAC and Judge Kaufman and Irving Saypol and, especially David Greenglass.  And I still do, though I also deplore the role that Julius Rosenberg had in nuclear proliferation, as well.

That victimization is certainly wrong but it is certainly not on the same order as that of racial, ethnic and other minority groups.   And a lot of it was the results of provocation.   Their idiotic, futile, counterproductive agitprop handed their enemies a gold mine of quotations to use.  And that junk  always was obviously futile and stupid.  It was and is designed mostly to get attention for one tiny faction of communists or a single communist from other members of tiny cults of communism.   Looking at a lot of the websites of various communist parties,  I see the same old absurdly overblown wind that is more likely to elicit rolled eyes than progress that has marked communist rhetoric since Marx wrote his failed manifesto in 1848.  For example:

The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has taken on the responsibility to lead revolution in the U.S., the belly of the imperialist beast, as its principal share of the world revolution and the ultimate aim of communism.  This Party is built on and takes as its foundation the new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward through the body of work and method and approach of Bob Avakian.  Its members are united in their profound desire for a radically different and better world, and their understanding of the need for revolution to get to that world. They have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to revolution, and on the basis of that they channel their individual abilities and passions to the cause and needs of this revolution.

Let it be asked, aren't you reassured that they've taken on that responsibility?   If you want to go to their website for even more absurd, empty and futile rhetoric, they're easy enough to find.  I'd especially recommend looking at the link to Bob Avakian "The Vision, The Works, The Leadership for a New Stage of Communist Revolution",  and then comparing it to the rhetoric of the LaRouche cult, remembering that Lyndon LaRouche began as a Trot and a member of the SWP.

You could look on just about any other communist party site in the United States and other English speaking countries and reproduce the tedious experience  of reading the absurd blather dozens of times over.   I have not found any record of success in even those parties that have either been in existence for decades not to mention in those tiny cells that viciously and vituperatively split from them to assert their  higher correctness and right to lead the revolution.   Some come with long atheological arguments based in Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, etc. etc. etc. proving their case with admirable and excruciating citation and explanation.   I'm unaware of any medieval theology that quite matches some of those in absurdly detailed assertion.

Other than the litanies of the historical victimhood, the other thing that the communists have consciously achieved was gulling the left into feeling sorry for them and championing their rights in all of their anti-democratic,  dictator promoting,  divisive futility.   In one of my earliest pieces I said I won't be fair to fascists, I won't be nice to Nazis.   You can add that I won't cooperate with communists, I won't be co-opted by them.  The Revolutionary Communist Party is a Maoist party,  Mao was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people and the enslavement of hundreds of millions.  His incompetence in dictating agricultural practices on the basis of his theories was a total disaster.   Others among the communists are Leninists or Stalinists or Trotskyites, all men who either had oceans of blood on their hands or would have if they'd not been shoved aside, in the case of Trotsky.  There is no reason to ignore that, there is every reason that acknowledging it is as much a moral requirement as acknowledging the crimes of the Nazis and fascists.  

And for all of that liberals of the past and today are stupid to give them a single second more or our efforts.   Just as I hold that we owe Nazis nothing and they should assert their free speech rights to advocate murder and slavery and war without our time and resources, I hold we owe communists nothing more as they advocate the same, exact things.  I don't think we owe them so much as the bucket of spit that so many an amicus brief to the Supreme Court has been.

I am a socialist, I believe that the workers, those who produce wealth, should be the sole owners of the means of production.  I hold that is a fundamental human right and the privileges of capital are nothing but a form of legalized theft.   It is as a socialist that I particularly resent the position of the communists in the history of the past two centuries.  They've done more to discredit socialism than all of the capitalists put together.

A Note About The Last Stalinist

During the Senate campaign of Ned Lamont against the putrid and thankfully gone Joe Lieberman, Lieberman's supporters and the official Republicans went after him due to him being the unfortunate nephew of the late Corliss Lamont.   I read on several blogs the assertion that Corliss Lamont was not a Stalinist, presumably because the people bringing that up weren't credible.  Unfortunately, there was no honest debate to be had on that.  Corliss Lamont was probably the last Stalinist in the United States,  active in denying the atrocities committed under Stalin right up till he died and the Kremlin started denouncing his crimes.   As late as 1952 Corliss Lamont was publishing The Myth of Soviet Aggression, no doubt for  the fertile grounds he imagined existed in the U.S.   Of course Ned Lamont had no responsibility for his foolish uncle, the trust fund baby Stalinist.  But any leftist who misrepresents Corliss Lamont is responsible for lying about history.  It also requires asking if there isn't a corrupt motive in pretending his record isn't what it so obviously is.

Corliss Lamont's hands are all over all kinds of groups which he more or less bought or bought influence in with his money,  Including the ACLU and the Humanists for a good part of their history.   Any group that had a major association with a supporter of a fascist dictator would rightly be seen as  needing to distance themselves and explain themselves.   On the basis of the moral imperative that  someone who is responsible for a genocidal mass murder is a genocidal mass murderer and those who support them are supporting genocide,  those institutions that had a major association with Corliss Lamont really need to clarify things.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Political Identity As If People And Other Living Things Mattered

Someone has asked me why I'm always going on about people being considered as objects, so I'll go into this again.

It was about a decade ago, shortly after I went online and started visiting leftish websites, reading, sometimes in horror, some of the things that I read there.

One day, reading a comment by an old-line lefty who I guess was about my age, to the effect that science had proven free will is a myth, I realized that was a belief which was fundamentally destructive of anything that can usefully be considered to constitute liberalism.   If people are merely objects then there is nothing wrong with treating them unequally, in terms of usefulness, of exploiting them for any and all purposes.   If people are held to be merely objects then the only rule which will prevail is what stronger people in any situation can get away with doing to them.  People will be subjected to the same legal and social rules that have governed peoples' use of animals and plants.  That is unless something higher than objectification and utility is forced on those who are reluctantly required to treat them as more than that.

I suppose  another thing that led to that moment of clarity came from being exposed to more porn than I'd ever seen in my prior three-plus decades in the gay community.   Which explains my presumed apostasy on that issue as well.

There is something seriously wrong with an analysis of political identity which would allow someone allegedly on the left to maintain positions that are identical in their effect on living beings to those of Nazis and fascists.   I have heard people held to be on the far left who have not only denied the mass murders, attempted genocides and slave labor under various "leftist" governments, on some occasions I've heard such "leftists" admit those but excuse them as having served some kind of progress.   As reasonable a lefty as  the late, lamented Alexander Cockburn  excused Stalin as not being as bad as Hitler because you could serve in the Red Army while being Jewish.   I'm not aware of him ever going over the "Jewish Doctors Plot",  Stalin's last paranoid attempt at genocide, cut short only by his death. Even the Soviet government had to publish an exoneration of Jewish doctors on that one, several years before Khrushchev's denunciation of the decades of murders by Stalin.  That famous speech was delivered much to the horror of so many Marxists in the West who had spent those decades denying that those were happening.   Why that, alone, didn't discredit them as much as the revelation of the Nazis massive war crimes did his apologists strikes me as being a crucial issue in why liberalism has failed for so long.  I believe that there is a lot about how we need to change things to be learned in that history.

Marxism  and its various sects as the final destiny on the ray pointing left from the political center has always been an ideologically fraudulent ruse, useful to both the Marxists and the far right, damaging mostly to those who legitimately hold that position.   The fraudulence is based in the fact that both Marxists and fascists hold the same basic ideology that people are objects.  From that position their entire, real world, political identity unfolds.   Both will make some kind of weird, quasi-mystical pronouncements about "the people" in terms of nationality or as a mass but only as a physical force of nature which might be diverted in this or that direction,  Expending many individuals within that mass to accomplish their ends is seen as a good, which also turn out to be not all that different when it's goal is a dictatorship of "the people" or rule by a centralized power.   Marxists who hold that the tens of millions of murders BY MARXISTS, under Stalin or Mao somehow serve a more important purpose have a vision of the ultimate goal that isn't much different from what was supposed to happen after the German nation ruled the world.   In what is, I'm sure, an extremely controversial but entirely supportable point,  it wasn't much different from what Charles Darwin seems to have imagined would happen when the "weaker members" including entire races of the human species were killed by the stronger.   Only, in his case, since it was Brits he imagined among the evolutionary winners, nice polite people are required to ignore he said the same thing.

My proposal is to judge political identity based on the extent to which people are not held to be objects but to be, as the American philosopher Paul Weiss once said, " a locus of rights".    But, also controversially,  I reject the attempt to do that in secular terms because I have seen how the concept of people as the equal holders of real, inherent rights has fared under atheist regimes of thought.  I have absolutely no faith that a secular view of people will ever continue to hold that concept as an absolute reality, anymore.  Not after witnessing the left's decisively and damnably mild reaction to the revelation of the crimes of Stalin, Mao and their client states during my lifetime on the left.  I won't ignore that failure out of some alleged "higher purpose".

Secularism should be the sole preserve of a democratic government of the wonderfully diverse individual people who make up its only legitimate basis. That requirement is a requirement of equality as well as efficiently removing some potential areas of contention from the mechanisms of government.   Secularism isn't, itself, some kind of spiritual goal and ideal.   It cannot and will not ever be a legitimate requirement for human beings.  The People are the only legitimate source of government.   But it is a fundamental denial of the humanity of those people to deny their spiritual and, yes,  RELIGIOUS identities.  It would be as legitimate to deny the genders, races, nationalities and sexual identities of people, the other categories that have wisely been acknowledged by some of the best and most idealistically democratic laws we have ever adopted.   If religious liberals self-censor their words, as has so frequently happened on the left in the face of atheist coercion, their political purpose is subverted.  When those who enforce the suppression of religious thought are the kind of materialists who hold that people are objects with little to no individual importance and that the masses are a force of nature, all important, then the left will find itself impotently supporting the most anti-liberal of ideas and policies and even some of the greatest mass murderers in history.   The people murdered by Stalin  and Mao are as dead as those murdered by the Nazis and the Rios Montt junta in Guatamala.   There was a reason that the fascists in Central America targeted religious liberals.

If you're going to insist on a line of political identity, the resulting body counts  of different ideological positions are a far more legitimate factor in placing people on it than the economic babbling of theoreticians.  We, on the real left, have got nothing in common with people who make excuses for the mass murders of Mao or Stalin.  We never did, we will never be credible as long as we allow them to pretend we do.   Maybe refusing to go along with that criminal negligence will get them to reconsider.   It did me.

UPDATE:   A perceptive reader has pointed out that the title ironically refers to people as "things". I'll have to admit you got me.  When I came up with it I was thinking of the old poster about war being unhealthy for people and other living things as well as the subtitle of Small is Beautiful "economics as if people mattered".   I'll try to be less artsy and more accurate, at least till I forget this lesson.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

About The Inviolable St. Penn Jillette and his Faithful

Contrary to a post I did the other day, an e-mail filter doesn't catch everything and so the outraged screed of a fan of that well known scientist and intellectual, Penn Jillette, got into the Inbox.  The next one using that particular stream of characters won't.

I should do this as an update to yesterdays post but, really, he's so obnoxious, such an asshole and his fans are so stupidly fawning and adoring of him and they get so flipped out over someone irreverently doing to their demi-god what he has made a career out of doing,   saying bad things about someone,  that I'm going to take the opportunity to point out yet again that Penn Jillette is one of the atheist pseudo-skeptics who are always telling everyone in the world how stupid they are for NOT BELIEVING EXACTLY WHAT PENN JILLETTE AND THE REST OF THE ATHEIST PSEUDO-SKEPTICS ORDER THEM TO BELIEVE!   He also poses as a freethinking libertarian when what he really is is a cowardly intellectual bully who demands that people think in his rigid, primitively scientistic materialist way, demanding that and demeaning non-conformists from the safety of venues he and his production team are in control of or where he will be allowed to scream and bluster like others who share his particular field at the high compensation-sub basement quality ass end of the show-biz industry like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Mike Savage.   As a comedian, he is, as pointed out yesterday, only able to get other conceited assholes like himself to laugh at other people so they can pretend they are superior to them while missing, completely, that the only real joke is that he appeals mostly to ignorant boys like him who have never progressed emotionally past the terrible twos and never progressed intellectually past the 8th grade.  And I don't mean 8th graders who were mature for their age.

Now, if any of you Penn Jillette fans would like me to elaborate and tell you what I really think of him,  yes,  I can do that.

Monday, January 28, 2013

On Being Required By Atheists To Worship George Carlin

The Thought Criminal began the month noting how one is supposed to genuflect when John Lennon's dyspeptic atheist dirge "Imagine" is intoned by the talentless and idealess, pointing that out to apparently great umbrage by the hiply cynical and atheist.   Which is funny in itself.   I've been noting that kind of thing for as long as I've been online when I first noticed the ironic truth of that kind of thing. Noting the fact that John Lennon was a heck of a lot less talented on his own than he was when he was writing songs with Paul and others and that none of the frequently Drab Four were all that talented, will elicit a febrile outrage which is usually the preserve of the insanely nationalistic and fundamentalist.

Last summer I noted the same about the consequences of being honest about the professional asshole,  hate-talking thief of talented magician's material in order to destroy its intended value,  and entirely unimportant self-promoting non-intellectual , definitely non-scientist, Penn Jillette.    One is not to point out that Jillette is an asshole's asshole and that Teller is probably saved from exposing himself as the same only because his shtick is to keep his mouth shut.

The list of atheist idols one is not to diss  on pain of being declared to have cooties includes the oneest of one-trick ponies Douglass Adams, the citation of whom is about as sure a sign of lazy slackerdom with pretensions of being intellectual as is currently available   Really, aren't we all just waiting for the next incarnation of "Hitchhikers Guide" about as much as we are the inevitable "Oxygentank" tour of The Rolling Stones if Mick  and at least one of his elderly Stones can breathe and hobble long enough?     Adam's estate  has been milking that property for many millions of times what it was ever worth.

The same is true in a smaller way for the estates of two other idols of atheist culture,  Carl Sagan and the absolutely putrid neo-con and intellectual hooker, Christopher Hitchens.   But they'll never reach the same stature as Lennon, Jillette and Adams.   I suspect that another professional asshole of limited talent, Ricky Gervaise, will join the panthon of the Prometheus set.   The formula is that you have to be an intellectually unchallenging,  anti-religious hate talker who makes the unintellectual, hate talking atheist feel that they're superior to the vast majority of the population.   Having a Brit accent is a big plus because the Brits produce an enormous number of the type and so many of the American atheists are rather shameless Anglophiles but it's not strictly required.  At least not on this side of the Atlantic.

For the past few weeks I've been experimenting on blog atheists using another of the tediously over-cited gods of the godless, George Carlin.  I remember his early stuff on TV, which was kind of funny.  But he was never going to be a great comic on the strength of that.  His beatnik themed act was pretty limited and he lacked the original genius and power of a Richard Pryor or Lilly Tomlin.  As he got older and, I'd guess, increasingly desperate at the limits of his talent he started developing his anti-religious routine.  He had enough experience and just enough intelligence to see the possibilities of getting hold of the same market share that Bill Maher has harvested after Carlin's death.

I heard Carlin doing it before I realized that he was getting more and more boring as he became preachier and nastier and appealed to a bunch of snobs based on their self-aggrandizing sterotypes of the vast majority of humanity.  Cynicism doesn't have any power to change things - the original conceit of the Carlin style of humor - because it, frankly, despises most people.  It can get the conceited to laugh at other people, which is far easier than even taking a pie in the pants but it is entirely useless to change anything.

Really, that is the supposed reason for that kind of alleged humor, that it is useful to defeat the fascists.  And that reason is a demonstrable fraud.  Looking back at the far, far more talented cabaret acts of the pre-Nazi period,  really some of the most brilliant of performers and writers in the genre, it was less than useless in preventing the catastrophe that was so obviously coming.   That's not an original idea, I've read other people who also noticed how that didn't work in the inter-war period.   Nor will it ever because cynicism is an expression of the negation of values, which underlies fascism.   You can't fight cynicism with cynicism.  Trying that can only enhance cynicism, not anything else.  The increasing cynicism of alleged comedy in the 1970s led to the past thirty years of conservative resurgence here.   It undermined Jimmy Carter and did nothing to prevent Reagan or keep the Bush Crime Family from stealing the election in 2000.

The REAL REASON for that kind of stuff is to get the market share of conceited people who believe themselves to be enlightened while being, at the same time, insufficiently educated to keep themselves entertained by something other than themselves and their self regard.  A relatively talentless performer like Bill Maher, George Carlin and Penn Jillette can rope in those suckers by feeding them on that.   A truly smart and cynical performer will realize that's what they're doing but most of them aren't in on the biggest joke of their career.  They're true believers as well.

Note:  I've got no problem experimenting on those who are always asserting that science is the exclusive property of their ideology.

Also note, I've had a number of complaints that I've written so much about atheism.  No one seems to be upset with the enormous presence atheist hate-talk has on the blogs and in the media.   If PZ Myers, Greta Christina, Jerry Coyne, Penn Jillette, etc. can become famous  by  talking hate about more than 90% of the population that makes talking about the atheists entirely legitimate.   I will make no apology in exploring the phenomenon and its adherents any more than I have in looking closely at Republican-fascists.  I find that the two groups have a lot more in common than they'd like pointed out.

An empty mall, he said, intern em'
The Romany, ha,  only vermin
The hipster says “Oy, huh!
Sind nur die  Zigeuner”
Though not in th'original German.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Leo Brouwer Sonata

Alí Jorge Arango