Tuesday, 28 February 2012

More on Work (Or why humans absolutely suck)

Ok, this entry is essentially a continuation of the previous one, where I’d been speculating that fundamentally the vast majority of human beings do not seek freedom in the sense of freedom from constraints, or “negative freedom” as described by Isaiah Berlin, amongst others. Instead, they appear to desire more income in order to acquire more material goods, or to put it in a more bilious form, they desire to climb the rat ladder so as to attain self-satisfaction by comparing themselves with their fellow rats. So when people whine about work, it’s not really work they’re whining about, it’s what they perceive to be low income and status. Take the rat out of his rat cage and he’ll go nuts. He’d rather be in the cage fighting with his fellow rodents and occasionally scratching at the bars, rather than be placed outside his prison where he can discover that he’s alone, that there is nothing outside of his enclosure and that without interaction with his fellow rats his sense of self and purpose dissolves and he’s left stewing unbearably in a puddle of his own nothingness. A lovely situation, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I’ve come across a couple of other indications that work is, for most human beings, the prison they love. I’m still reading Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and The Last Man, a thumpingly good read, and came across an interesting side discussion. Fukuyama quotes a passage from Volume 3 of Marx’s Capital where Marx speaks of ‘the realm of freedom’ where Man will finally be able to realise his true potential. This realm of freedom will only be reached, however, once the realm of necessity is reduced, or in other words the time necessarily spent in producing life’s necessities is shortened. Marx states that ‘The shortening of the working day is its [the realm of freedom’s] basic prerequisite’. This, to me, sounds reasonable. Now Fukuyama also quotes Marx saying that in an ideal society one could “hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner”. Doesn’t sound so bad to me, but tellingly enough in the footnotes Fukuyama states that “It is hard to believe that this famous vision from The German Ideology was meant seriously. Apart from the economic consequences of abolishing the division of labour, it is not clear that a life of such dilettantism could ever be satisfying” (My italics). Now, note the patronising tone of that remark. Acquiring the necessities of life in the morning and satisfying your basic needs so as to have the remainder of the day free is regarded as dilettantism! Apparently we should all be slaving our balls off 24/7 for....well, what exactly? I also feel obliged to point out the hypocrisy of Fukuyama’s remark. Here is a well-remunerated academic, paid handsomely for writing, reading and talking about topics he finds fascinating, living in a world where 95% of wage-earners hate their jobs and he condemns Marx’s vision as dilettantish! What a deluded hypocrite!

Something similar can be levelled against Noam Chomsky. Now I think Chomsky is a secular saint on account of his political writings and the world will be an even darker place than it already is when he passes on. Interestingly, though, Chomsky generally eschews discussing his vision of an ideal society. There is, however, one long and detailed interview with him from 1976 where he goes into detail concerning the Anarcho-Syndicate type of society he would favour. (Available at http://libcom.org/library/relevance-anarcho-syndicalism-noam-chomsky-interviewed-peter-jay) Thing is, when questioned about work and the fact that most people find it a drain and a crushing obligation, Chomsky becomes somewhat evasive. He states that “if it's [work] a task taken on just out of interest, fine, that can be done.” Ummm, yeah, sure, but how much of what we call work is like that. The interviewer replies by saying that “I put it to you that there may be a danger that this view of things is a rather romantic delusion, entertained only by a small elite of people who happen, like professors, perhaps journalists, and so on, to be in the very privileged situation of being paid to do what anyway they like to do.” Spot on, sir. It is precisely that elite who are having a fine time, and seem to be unaware of the privileged position they occupy. (For an in-depth critique of this interview, see Michael Albert’s article athttp://www.zcommunications.org/querying-young-chomsky-by-michael-albert)

So it would seem that not only do the majority not seek to escape work, the privileged minority elite, who should really know better, seem to be under the impression that everyone else is engaged in the kind of enjoyable, rewarding occupations that they work in. What a mess.

In conclusion, apologies for the incoherence of and ranting and raving element in this entry. I’m pretty jaded these days, angry at all the bullshit I see around me 24/7, loathe being a human being and regret having been born. I’m sure you understand:-)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

What do people want?

Politics, wars, work, Capitalism, Socialism, the Middle East, exploitation, oil, imperialism, neo-colonialism, Iran, rent, Chomsky, surplus-value and on and on and on. Yes, I’ve managed to take a vague interest in these generally depressing topics again, in spite of still being entirely demotivated on a personal level, and as a result of this poking around what’s really on my mind at the moment is the question what do people actually want?

You see, like most decent people I loathe Capitalism, rulers, the elite and so on. I even think that at 35 I’ve reached that mature stage where I wouldn’t mind seeing such types beheaded:-) But my problem is that when I turn to the alternative media (ZNet, World Socialist Website etc.) and see what the spokespeople for the exploited and the working classes have to say I don’t generally see people asking for freedom and liberty, no, instead I see them asking for more fucking money, a phenomenon I find really depressing. Sure, I appreciate we all need money to pay the rent, buy food and pay the bills and so on but I would have thought that after that would not the aim of any reasonable being to garner as much free time as possible? Instead of higher wages, shouldn’t people be asking for a reduction in the working day? But no, instead we get the majority asking for more cash, more cash to buy fuck knows what, a bigger house, the new piece of i-bullshit technology, new clothes, pointless vacations etc etc.

So instead of seeing the so-called disaffected try and opt out of the rat race, we see what is, in fact, almost the opposite: they don’t want to get out of it, they want merely a bigger slice of the shit cake themselves. And in doing so, they’re generally offering a form of silent assent to and validation of the entire system that they apparently find so disagreeable. Now admittedly there are many good reasons for this: to try and strike out on your own is both difficult and frightening; one runs the risk of insecurity and isolation etc, but I also wonder if there isn’t a deeper explanation available at the metaphysical level, namely that humanity is fundamentally empty, and that to opt of the system would reveal this gaping abyss in all of its black and pointless nothingness. By staying in the system we can give ourselves a raison d’etre, that is, bitching and moaning about how shit it is and grumbling along with our fellow slaves. So does the majority of humanity want freedom? I’m not so sure they do. We’re fundamentally social pack animals who follow the herd for peer approval and a sense of self-solidity and worth. Personally, being something of a loner and a loather, I find all of this repugnant and depressing. H.L. Mencken put it nicely in his disillusioned old age:

Once I ventured the guess that men worked in response to a vague inner urge for self-expression. But that was probably a shaky theory, for some men who work the hardest have nothing to express. A hypothesis with rather more plausibility in it now suggests itself. It is that men work simply in order to escape the depressing agony of contemplating life – that their work, like their play, is a mumbo-jumbo that serves them by permitting them to escape from reality. Both work and play, ordinarily, are illusions. Neither serves any solid and permanent purpose. But life, stripped of such illusions, instantly becomes unbearable. Man cannot sit still, contemplating his destiny in this world, without going frantic. So he invents ways to take his mind off the horror. He works. He plays. He accumulates the preposterous nothing called property. He strives for the coy eye-wink called fame. He founds a family, and spreads his curse over others. All the while the thing that moves him is simply the yearning to lose himself, to forget himself, to escape the tragic-comedy that is himself. Life, fundamentally, is not worth living. So he confects artificialities to make it so. So he erects a gaudy structure to conceal the fact that it is not so.

Couldn’t put it better myself. And just to clarify, this does NOT mean I advocate, support or endorse the system as it currently exists in any way shape or form. As stated above, I think the French revolutionaries had the right idea with regard to the exploiters, and the idea of living in a fair and egalitarian society is surely the only moral imperative, but the whole scenario does make me profoundly pessimistic in regard to the prospects for any alternative. Ultimately I’m driven back to philosophical basics: life is a nightmare, humanity is pointless, best never to have been.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Albert Caraco: A Pessimist for the Pantheon

My apologies to those four or five regulars who drop by this blog and comment. As per my last entry I’ve been feeling pretty flat and anhedonic lately and pretty much uninspired generally. However, in a world of official optimism and life-loving drones (and encouraged by Bazompora’s suggestion that I switch the blog theme to just pure resentment:-)), I do wish to keep the black flag flying so here’s a pointer to a pessimist who’s pretty unknown in the English-speaking world: Albert Caraco.

More unknown and obscure than E.M. Cioran, Caraco is someone I discovered through a posting on Thomas Ligotti Online. None of his works have been translated into English, so if, like me, you’re keen to read him we’ll have to reach for our French dictionaries and verb tables. A few of his books are available on Amazon. Caraco was of Urugyan descent but lived his mature adult life in Paris. He committed suicide after the death of his parents. More info on this intriguing gentleman can be found on the following sites (from which I’ve garnered the quotations below):





The more I grow older, the more the Gnosis speaks to my reason, the world isn’t ruled by a Providence, it’s intrisically evil, deeply absurd, and Creation is the dream of a blind intellect or a game of a principle without a moral.
Blessed are the dead! And thrice cursed are those who, taken by madness, breed! Blessed the chaste! Blessed the sterile! Blessed even those who prefer lust instead of fertility!

For now, the Onanists and the Sodomites are less guilty than fathers and mothers. While the former only destroy themselves, the latter destroy the world, by multiplying useless mouths. Shame on the learned and the spiritual, who force us to venerate them and teach us to lose reason! We should be less miserable and less ridiculous, if it weren't for these preachers of smoke and mirrors, these saviours of trumpery. They aren't good for nothing, having served only to deceive us about ourselves, about them and our reality.

The cities in which we live in are schools of death, because they are dishuman. Each one of them has become a den of noise and of stench, for each of one has became a chaos of buildings, in which we ammass ourselves in millions, losing our life’s reasons.Unfortunates without escape, we feel to have put ourselves, willing or not, in the labyrinth of the absurd, from which we will leave only when we will die, for our destiny is to continue to multiply ourselves, only to die in great numbers. At every turn of the wheel, the cities in which we live in advance slowly one against the other, desiring only to confuse with each other: it’s a run towards the absolute chaos, in the noise and in the stench. At every turn of the wheel the price of the grounds go up, and in the labyrinth which devours the free space the revenue of the investiments builds up, day after day, hundreds of walls. It’s necessary that money give revenues and that the cities in which we live in advance, so it’s right that the houses double their height at every generation, even if the water is missing half of the days. The builders only desire to escape the destiny that they prepare for us, moving towards the countryside.

“The starting point of Caraco’s thought is to bring back all the absolute sense, origins and explainations to the nothingness and to the indifference, demolishing the pedestal on which the belief stood on, a trait surely derived, and extremized, from Nietzsche.Caraco’s thought focuses on the indifference of the universe towards all the human life and values”

I don’t believe in the goodness of nature, the being of quality can prove their good origins, but they in no way could represent the species as a whole, which is nothing but a tangle of abortions...
However since the majority isn’t neither reasonable nor sensible, new abortions will have their birth in shame, in misery, in sickness and in filth. We then must educate these abortions in order to, once adults, carry on the absurd destiny of the species.

Extermination shall become the common denominator of politics to come and nature shall join in, adding its furors to ours. The end of the century shall see the Triumph of death, the world overburdened with men shall discharge the surplus deadweight of living things. Not an island shall subsist where the powerful could strip into the consensual hell which they prepare for us, and the spectacle of their agony shall be the consolation of the peoples they have led astray. The future order shall be the sole heir of our failures, and the prophets, amidst our ruins, shall gather together the survivors.

The young can no longer save the world, the world can no longer be saved. The idea of salvation is nothing but a false idea, and we shall pay for our countless errors. It is too late to redeem anything. The time of redemptions is expired and the time of reformations is over.

The most fortunate men shall die fighting, and the most miserable, crammed in the bottom of basements or coupling in ardour, as to deceive agony, aided by the orgasm. The world shall be nothing but a howl of pain and ecstasy, and the purest among men shall only be able to avoid self-contempt by resorting to weariness. The choice of agony will be the only choice left, and this will be sooner than we expect.