Category Archives: Uncategorized

LTUE Report

Um… it was a long trip and I’m sleepy, but it was fun.  A lot of fun.

I’m not well enough, yet, to actually socialize all the time, but a lot of my fans were there, as well as people like Law Dog and his lady and Dorothy and Peter Grant, so pretty much every time we stepped out, we ended up taking an extra hour to get back to the room.

There were fascinating and interesting panels, but again, I was not yet up to attending most of them.  Still, I’ve done a lot of cons, and this one seemed to have the most useful panels.

Under “inexplicable” I was in a panel on writing children.  NOT quite inexplicable, as the program director is a fan of Dyce, but of course the panel morphed into writing FOR children.  I kept getting asked how to vote for middle-schoolers.  Er…. I don’t know.

I got to hang out with Brad and Larry (and of course Bridget.)  And Larry and I talked Guardian.  It was fun.

More when I’m more coherent.

Am going back next year if I have money, time, and they let me. 🙂

I’ll Catch You On The Other Side

I simply don’t have the time to organize the promo post, so it will be tomorrow.  There will be a con report whenever I make it home today, so probably late.  It was fun.  I don’t want to leave all my imaginary friends and go back home.  OTOH books to finish.

So…. More later, promo tomorrow, even though I know it disturbs the OCD among you.

If you must have a writing prompt use the below:

 

alashewasflesh

Virtue – A Blast from the Past from November 2015

*Still in Utah — no, I haven’t tried to get out yet.  No, we never got my driver’s license back.  And they say other documents might get me through, so no big deal… probably — so tomorrow’s post might be late, depending on how much time I get to write before going to the airport. So be patient with me a little while.  If I don’t’ get the promo post tomorrow in on time, I’ll do it on Monday, don’t worry. – SAH*

Virtue – A Blast from the Past from November 2015

Real virtue is hard.  I was thinking about this as I was thinking the other day that I’m quite possibly the worst-practitioner-of-my-professed-religion-ever.

You’d not think that from the outside because I try to fit in with the obvious observances, and do the right thing… most of the time.  Look, it’s not hypocrisy, it’s my way of keeping myself close to the straight and narrow.

But there’s a whole host of little things that slip by: times I’m unkind, times I don’t consider others and certainly times I’m lazy or fail to do what I should be doing right then.

Real virtue is hard because most of it is internal.  It’s refraining from doing the things that the natural creature wants to do. It’s doing things you really don’t want to do.  It’s staying up an hour later to finish that overdue project, it’s getting up in the night because your spouse/kid is throwing up in the bathroom, it’s doing dishes before bed so your spouse doesn’t need to worry about them, it’s making a cup of hot cocoa for your kid when it’s snowy out and you know he/she is going to come trudging through the door, wet and cold.

BUT that’s not the hardest part.  The hardest part is putting yourself out for strangers or even people you don’t like very much.  Going out to help your contentious neighbor dig his car out of snow, even though you work from home, and don’t need to. Lending money to a bad-at-planning friend even though you know you won’t be paid back, because they need it more than you, even though it leaves you tight.  Or stopping on a cold night to help some person pick up packages they just dropped.

There are other — little — things that are easier, though still work you don’t need to do, like taking back the carts some right berk left in parking spaces in the grocery store.

I do the later type of thing when I can, the one of being kind to the family most of the time.  (Not always because I’m human and sometimes the body won’t obey no matter how virtuous the mind wants to be.) The virtue in relation to friends, well, I try, but it’s difficult.  It’s difficult because we’re all human and sometimes we don’t know when good turns to enabling, so it’s a judgement call.  And sometimes the “enabling” thing is easy to use as a n excuse, even though it’s probably (we never know for sure) not true.

Being kind to strangers takes the problems of being kind to friends and acquaintances and amplifies them.  I mean, what do you do when there’s that lone little old lady by the side of the road with an obvious broken down car?  Do you stop?  What if her accomplices are in the ditch waiting to jump you?  You might be commanded to be kind to those around you and help those who can’t help themselves, but what do you do when it risks your life?  Are you required to risk your life?  So most of the time you call the police and trust they’ll help the little old lady.  (More on that later.)

And then there’s a whole host of “virtues” and “disciplines” that are internal.  I’m very bad at them, and I believe they matter, because they condition how you see the world, but you don’t see them from the outside.  You don’t see my laziness either, most of the time for reasons of “taking the easy, not the exacting” part, but it’s failing at virtue, nonetheless.

However this is not confession, and I’m not writing this to unburden.

I’m writing this because I was thinking on what it would take to REALLY live my faith and I realized that most of it would be very, very difficult and also nearly invisible to others.

Because we’re human, it’s really hard to do things like never having an uncharitable thought or doing things when you really don’t feel like doing them, or being just kind enough not to enable.

This is why most ancient religions had/have a code of conduct, but also a bunch of actions you can perform, ritually or otherwise to make you feel okay with the divine, without having to go to heroic lengths.

Give gods/saints their pound of butter in the lamp, pray in a certain way, and you feel that you’ve at least studied to the test.  You might not qualify for sainthood or ultimate bliss, but you did what you needed to do, that Himself up there are trying really hard, and it’s not your fault if you fall down sometimes (or often.)

This is also why the older and more mature religions have established ways of atoning and established days for doing so.  Because if you think you’ve “studied to the eternal test” but just in case you missed one of the important tests there is this remedial credit, this way to make yourself clean OR to silence your overactive conscience.

The problem is when you substitute these traditional religions by the pretense of no religion.  Why pretense?  Because most people who claim to have no religion, never the less follow a set of never-examined-or-questioned precepts.

If those precepts are in essence the same as in many traditional religions, you have a lot of my atheist or agnostic friends: be kind to others; help those in need, take care of your own and don’t be a burden on others.  They tend to be — coff.  I know some of you read this — a wee bit more neurotic, as they have no way to make atonement and the unswept dregs of human failure pile up in their back brain.

On the other hand some of us who are religious are also really bad at believing we made full atonement.

But then there are those people who are not religious and who took as their precepts the fuzzier, more insane forms of “virtue.”  Stuff like “Speak for the voiceless.”  I hate that one, because while it’s valid if you’re a religious person or one who watches yourself ALL THE TIME, it’s way to easy to imagine that the voiceless would say JUST what you want them to.  Hence all the nonsense of very very white and privileged people speaking for minorities and then rejecting real minorities who disagree with them.  Or “respect the Earth.”  People like my friend Dave Freer respect the Earth.  They live very close to it, which involves an immense amount of work, and they hunt and use every part of the animal they can, and they don’t pollute more than they can absolutely help.

But people like Al Gore, PREACH respect of the Earth, while living in a mansion larger than some small third world villages, and which certainly takes more energy to heat, and jetting around the world.  They do their “virtue” talk and think that compensates for how they live, I’d guess.

Yesterday, while I was making dinner my husband had some show on where some right prat who fancied himself a comedian was going on and on and on about prisoner rehabilitation.  (Is this the new THING?  I saw it here yesterday, and it’s been cropping up more and more.  I find this very interesting, because I’ve noticed a certain coordination in topics du jour from the over-culture.  Remember when Alaskan cruises were all the thing and every liberal and soft liberal and some non liberals were taking them?  And every magazine was full of stuff about the PRISTINE landscape of Alaska?  All leading up to the rejection of the Alaskan pipeline?  I’ve learned to catch these things in the wind as it were, and be prepared for what liberal cause they’re pushing.  And no, I don’t think they’re a big conspiracy. They’re the result of most people in the media and entertainment being of the same political color and running in the same circles.  In those circumstances it takes very few manipulators in their midst to start this sort of thing, which then runs on its own, until it stops suddenly when no longer useful.  Mind you, the people planting the seeds ARE usually conspirators.  Not so long ago — and probably not now, but who knows? — they took their marching orders from Moscow.)

Younger son finally asked my husband to turn the d*mn thing off, and I realized I was gritting my teeth.  My husband was going along with it for the “funny” and paying no attention to the politics.

I was paying attention, partly, because of the discussion here, and because it was prickling the back of my brain with “is this the new thing?”

But it was annoying the heck out of me, because I’ve heard all this before.  I heard it in Europe.  The poor prisoners, and the horrors they face on coming out, and and and.  At the end of this is a judicial system where a wrist slap is considered harsh.  I don’t have any clue what it is now, but when I came to the States, you could commit murder in Portugal and be out in seven years.  MULTIPLE murders.  And then several busybodies would busy themselves with virtue-signaling by giving you everything they could, things they wouldn’t bother giving/helping poor but honest people with.  And when you failed, as most prisoners do, even with all the help in the world, to integrate back in society, it was society’s fault and more sappy stories were told about you, till they gave you another chance.

This (and I’m not going into the reform/rehabilitation/death penalty matter right now, this one is just an instance) is virtue-signaling on the part of the do-gooders.  These people wouldn’t bestir themselves to help a family in need that has never done anything wrong, because everyone agrees those people need help, and why isn’t the state helping them.  But hey will put themselves out to help prisoners say because the very fact they’re “undeserving poor” makes the virtue of helping them greater.  Not just prisoners, mind, there’s also drug users, or abusers of others, or as we’ve seen in our own field, pedophiles.

Sometimes it’s as though the less deserving the object of concern, the greater the virtue signaling of this “compassion.”

Which brings us to the fact most of this “virtue” is not even real.  They’re not helping anyone.  I have a friend who is a pagan prison chaplain.  He puts his money where his mouth is. He puts his time, his attention, and his work in there too.  Weirdly he’s one of those who doesn’t agitate for leniency in general.  It’s also funny, given how different their traditions, how much he sounds like Peter Grant on the subject.

Sure there are people in there who deserve help in building a new life.  They’re ready to change and work for it, and even if they fail, they deserve help in trying to fix themselves/their lives. But they’re few and far between.  Most of them are psychopaths and sociopaths, who are REALLY GOOD at pretending to want to change.

The people who work closely with them and who know them as much as possible can tell the difference and are in the best position for changing their ways if they can be changed.  Right prats who go on about how we should be lenient to everyone do more harm than good and lead to a world where we’re kind to the cruel and thus cruel to the kind.

Which is what is wrong with all this virtue-signaling talk.  Oh, it makes you feel so good to stand up say for a confessed pedophile and tell everyone how nice they are, and send them pictures of your kids (!) but in the end all that you are doing is enabling someone’s dysfunction.

It makes you feel good to speak for the “voiceless” (because Marxist theory tells you that in a capitalist society the poor/minorities are voiceless, and you never considered Marxist theory is the product of college professors who wouldn’t know voiceless if it bit them in the fleshy portion of the back.)   But in the end you’re just joining your voice to a chorus of out-of-touch academics pushing the world in a very bad direction, where envy is a virtue, the individual isn’t respected and society is a horror out of 1984.

Real virtue is hard.  Virtue signaling is easy.  When you no longer have any real standards virtue signaling is all you have left.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, small dragons and octopi, is what we face.  They say and do these things, from twitter storms to rants about the rights of (insert supposed victim class here, the more repulsive the better) in the same way other religions light butter lamps or genuflect to show devotion.

This absolves them from all real effort to help others, particularly since most of them think it’s someone else’s job, and just call the police, or government, to do the charity work they won’t do.

Our society, from entertainment to news to civic teaching (such as there is, which is almost never formally taught) encourages this form of virtue-signaling over real virtue.

We have a lot of work to do to turn it around.  And most of this is small, private, modeling real virtue and calling out fools on virtue-signaling.  None of it is pleasant or easy.  All or it is needed.

Their system if corrupt, impossible and failing.  In the end they lose.  But we only win if we cultivate real virtue and aren’t afraid to call out false one.

Resist the easy feel-good of virtue signaling.  Do what you can to cultivate real virtue.  And teach your children well.

No one said this would be easy.

12 Rules for Life: a review of Jordan Peterson’s book by Nitay Arbel

baby-2192110_1920

12 Rules for Life: a review of Jordan Peterson’s book

by Nitay Arbel

Two years ago, Jordan Peterson was a respected clinical psychologist and psychology professor at U. of Toronto, and apparently a brilliant, very popular teacher to his students there. (There are many YouTube videos of his lectures, which make for good listening if you are doing something else with your hands and eyes that doesn’t involve the language centers of the brain.) Then he found himself at the center of controversy when he refused to call a leg a tail because the bureaucracy had decreed it was a tail. In the aftermath, he became a media celebrity to some and a bête noire to others. He ended up closing his clinical practice as he felt he was no longer able to give his clients the undivided attention they deserved. Instead, he wrote a book that appears to be at least in part a popularization of an earlier academic work.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345816021/

This book is currently a #1 bestseller on Amazon and has been for some time. I have just finished reading it, and recommend it without hesitation. Let me first tell you what it is not.

Those looking for an ‘alt-right’ manifesto will be sorely disappointed. Peterson actually says explicitly that on some economic issues (e.g., income disparity) he leans somewhat left, and elsewhere in the book laments that the cultural demonization of anything masculine is (as he describes it) causing a backlash, in terms of a resurgence in popularity of European parties he calls ‘far right’ or even ‘fascist’. (For Trump, to be clear, he uses the term ‘populist’, which undeniably fits.)

Nor will you find a camouflaged Christian revivalist tract here, as some claim. To be sure, Peterson heavily draws on the Bible and particularly on the Christian New Testament for quotes, but there are plenty of references to Eastern religious philosophies as well, particularly Taoism (‘yang vs. yin’, which here becomes ‘order vs. chaos’) and classical Buddhism (the concept that life is suffering). Among Christian theologians, Kierkegaard’s “act of faith” comes up repeatedly. During an interview, he was asked point-blank “Are you a Christian, and do you believe in G-d?” His intriguing answer: “I think the proper response to that is No, but I’m afraid He might exist.”

http://nationalpost.com/feature/christie-blatchford-sits-down-with-warrior-for-common-sense-jordan-peterson

Nor is it some sort of “EST”-type (quasi-)cult manual, with Peterson setting himself up as a guru.

Moreover, it does not purport to be a reasoned scholarly tome of conservative philosophy. This is where Peter Hitchens (brother of the late Christopher) gets a little dyspeptic in his review in The Spectator, as he found it wanting there. http://archive.is/4eQIE  (h/t: masgramondou)

David Solway, in his much more sympathetic article on PJMedia, hits the nail on the head, I believe. https://pjmedia.com/trending/jordan-peterson-phenomenon/ Like Solway, I find it hard to identify a single new idea in the book—pretty much everything Peterson says would be familiar to those of us who have been reared on Scripture and the Great Books.

But we have reached the level of intellectual corruption where, as George Orwell put it, the first duty of any thinking person is the restatement of the obvious. And that, Peterson does very well indeed. The book is a coherent whole, an engaging read, yea even a compelling ‘recap’ to the well-read. Peterson makes his discourse more engaging through extensive illustrations from psychological research, his own clinical practice, neuroscience, and his own life experience. Most importantly, it will bring wisdom of the ages (and of rational-empirical thinking) to a millennial generation drowning in derp and denial of objective reality. To those who, if you will pardon me the phrase, “know not the gods of the copybook headings”.

Among the non-Western secular authors he draws on for inspiration and illustration, Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn take pride of place. The one philosopher quoted most often is Nietzsche, whom he regards as a prophet of what would happen to the West once people lost their religious anchor. In his own words: https://www.patreon.com/jordanbpeterson

The same is true of Nietzsche. In the aftermath of God’s death, he believed humanity, would become entranced, even possessed, by utopian political ideas, such as those of Marx. Nietzsche believed that such possession would kill millions in the twentieth century, as it did. The great German thinker also posited that human beings would have to create their own values, to fill the void left by God’s demise. However, it is not clear that we can create values, voluntarily. Individuals who have forced themselves to manifest interest in something that just didn’t interest them know the limits of our value-creating capacity. We also don’t live particularly long. It’s impossibly difficult to self-generate a complete model for being in the span of a single short life.

Among Freud and his disciples, the one he quotes most is Jung, followed by Adler. Carl Rogers (influenced himself by Jung and Adler) recurs often—it seems that Peterson’s own clinical practice is in the Rogers mold.

The book is organized as a prologue, twelve chapters around one ‘rule’ each, and a coda. The book lends itself reasonably well to reading by chapters. A fil rouge running through the whole book is the order-chaos dichotomy in the universe, and the balance between them. The twelve rules are:

  1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. [Be confident and assertive, project the same.]
  2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. [Take care of your physical and mental health — you owe it to yourself as well as to those who would otherwise be forced to care for you.]
  3. Make friends with people who want the best for you. [Not frenemies, not hangers-on, not energy vampires, not yes-men, not bullies.]
  4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
  5. Do not let children do anything that makes you dislike them. [Do not let children turn into unsocialized little tyrants because you are afraid to set boundaries. Children actively test for boundaries and actually want some set.]
  6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
  7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).
  8. Tell the truth — or, at least, don’t lie.
  9. Assume that the person you’re listening to might know something you don’t.
  10. Be precise in your speech.
  11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.
  12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street. [Not just cats.]

One should understand that some of these ‘rules’ are really top-level headings, metaphors, or conversation starters. Obviously rule 11, for instance, isn’t about skateboarding but about the tendency to proscribe all risky play, sports,… from society and thus neuroticizing children and (particularly male) adults allegedly for their own good.

The tone Peterson strikes is conversational, intimate, and mindful of “not having all the answers” (his own rule #9). In one chapter (#10), he does raises his voice, when speaking “postmodernism” (and cultural Marxism more broadly). In this video he pulls no punches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPojltjv4M0
I can find little fault with this, since I regard postmodernism as a mind virus — arguably the intellectual equivalent of AIDS in the etymological sense of the word (acquired intellectual immunodeficiency syndrome).

All in all, Jordan Peterson is not so much a right-wing prophet  as, to use the words of the above interviewer, “a warrior for common sense and plain speech.” And sorely are those needed today.

 

Release School Control

laptop-2557571_1920
I’m at LTUE in Provo, Utah till Sunday.  Yesterday was consumed by travel plus my having managed the singularly strange feat of losing my driver’s license en route.  In my defense I have resumed after an hiatus (mostly because I forgot to get the prescription renewed) a medicine that makes other people psychotic.  It just makes me ADHD and exceptionally ditsy.  It also makes me tell the truth in social circumstances, which means you’ll have to forgive me, particularly if you come to the con.  Basically, I hear myself say things and go “did I say that?”

I’m supposed to have adult supervision for the first two weeks (says so on the label) because otherwise I might not realize I am acting strange.  Well, I thought a three week interruption in the meds didn’t mean going back to it, and when I was being strange, I didn’t realize it.  And heaven knows what I did with the id.  If I get stuck in Provo Utah, I expect of detachment of you guys to break me out.

Anyway, before I get to the blog post today, if you’re a fan of the Dyce mysteries and want periodic updates and to be informed of releases, please send your email to subscribe to The Turpentine Addicts group at Elise Hyatt ( No space) at yahoo dot com.  If  you like the sf/f (in some combination) and want to be kept apprised of all releases there, indie as well as traditional, please send me your email to sa underscore hoyt at Yahoo dot com.

Now onto the reason I’m posting today, other than the fact that I got confused and put Amanda up yesterday — and yeah, I have a ton of guest posts and was going to cue one of  them — is that on the way from registration, I was forced to pass a CNN screen doing the “gun control” shuffle in reference to yesterday’s school shooting.

I don’t know the details of the case, other than this was a former student, 19 years old, and expelled for behavior issues.  The other thing I know is that most schools, if not all, are already gun free zones, so zones of total gun control, and not in the sense of keeping your booger hook off the bang switch.

And yeah, I know, people will say other countries don’t have school shootings.  What they can’t and won’t say is that other countries don’t have school violence, which trust me, they do.  They also won’t tell you that our school system is unique in a bunch of ways that might contribute to school shootings, things like the warm body policy, in which people aren’t really expelled except things are incredibly serious, etc.  Also the expectation that everyone will go to school and graduate.  In some places it’s more expectation than reality, but it’s still an expectation.  We also don’t stratify into college and other tracks. This causes the school population to be rather different than in other countries.

Leaving all that aside, and knowing bloody zero about this particular shooting, has anyone ever considered that the reason for so much school violence and maladaptation (and not just shooting violence) is that school is not adapting to the new millennium?

I mean, has anyone, anyone who is even mildly odd, be it in intelligence (high or low) or just personality never wanted to destroy his school, classmates included or not?

I think it took me years after high school to stop having vivid dreams where I was trapped in school and trying to get out.

As Blake pointed out in the Mad Genius Club post last week, school is aimed at the middle of the personality and IQ distribution (this, btw, means it’s inherently better for girls, who, statistically, hunch there.)

I realize this might have been not only necessary, given the technology of the 20th century, in which schooling was only efficiently delivered in mass groups and in a standardized format, but also a desired outcome, since most of life was lived in groups and standardized, from the clothes we bought to the offices we’ve worked in, to the news we had delivered.

It wasn’t good, particularly for geniuses and morons, and people who were eccentric, but it was what it was for the world as it was.

However, in the dawn of the 21st century, why are we still doing it that way?  I homeschooled a kid and he mostly took courses on line, because I’m not a math genius, and I learned Greek on line along with him, since I did not know it.  Computers delivered his education the way he wanted it, needed it and could absorb it.

Yes, I’ve met “homeschooled” kids who weren’t, and who knew nothing.  I’ve met more of those as the result of public schools.

Locking people in a large group of the same age and letting the social mechanics develop along prison lines might enable, encourage and honestly cause some of this violence.  Sure some kids will need tutors and a place to work in, and yep, it’s in the interests of the common society to encourage and help that.

But standard curriculum?  institutional classrooms?  Solve the question of credentials by exams, and set the children free.  The adults too.
More and more public education is a solution in search of a problem.  And boy, is it finding problems.

Stop trying to enforce conformity.  Let my people go.

 

 

 

The Economic Basis for the Withering Away of the StateOn The State And Revolution Part 4– by Amanda S. Green

people-2500990

Or how Lenin claims to talk economics but really only talks revolution and oppression.

Talking to Sarah as I prepared for this post, I made the comment that not only to I hate Lenin but that much of what he writes in The State and Revolution reminds me about this past presidential election cycle. There’s much about how the rich oppress and ignore the masses. There’s more about how the masses, the “majority” must rise up and overthrow the minority, the rich bourgeois. There’s the obligatory lip-service to redistribution of wealth, although the means differ from what we heard from Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The path might have been described differently, but the goal was the same – to overthrow “the state” and bring into existence a socialist society.

Of course, Clinton and Sanders and all those like them fail to understand one simple truth when it comes to Lenin. He’d laugh at them, lumping them in with the Mensheviks and all others who weren’t card carrying members of the Bolsheviks.

But let’s see how Lenin tries to convince the world, or at least his little part of the world in 1917, how communism would inevitably grow first from capitalism and then through socialism into the great society Marx and Engels proclaimed. More than that, let’s check his interpretation of not only the so-called economy behind the “slow erosion of the state” but also the way human nature must change in the process.

And pardon me while I laugh hysterically. I actually managed to write that with a straight face. Maybe I’ve read too much of this shite already. VBEG.

The first question Lenin asks is, “On the basis of what data is it possible to pose the question of the future development of future communism?” (TSAR, p. 76) His response is that “the basis of the fact that it originates in capitalism, that it develops historically from capitalism, that it is the result of the action of a social force to which capitalism has given birth.) (TSAR, p. 76) Acting on the assumption, which he lays at the feet of Marx, that “contemporary society” is capitalist, he views it as inevitable that communism will follow.

Now, there’s nothing new here. Marx and Engels, not to mention others who followed after them, said basically the same thing. Hell’s bells, we’ve seen the same from those who came after Lenin. What most of them fail to mention is something Lenin didn’t shy away from. It is not just that “the state” will wither away but that there is no set time for it to happen. In fact, if you fast-forward to the end of this particular chapter, you find these little gems that boil down the basics of Lenin’s philosophy:

Until such time as the ‘higher’ phase of communism arrives, the socialists demand the strictest control by society and by the state over the measure of labour and the measure of consumption; but this control must start with the expropriation of the capitalists, with control exercised by the workers over the capitalists, and must be exercised not by a state of bureaucrats but by a state of armed workers. . . (TSAR, pg 87)

So, in the first phase of socialism, that which follows the initial revolution, Lenin advocates replacing one oppressive regime with another. Not only are those proletariats and farmers who have allegedly been so badly oppressed by the bourgeois not gaining the equality they’d been promised, they will find themselves regulated in much the same ways as before. Of course, he puts a good shine on it all by saying the oppression will begin with the “expropriation of the capitalists”. After all, who doesn’t want to see the rich stripped of their wealth and power, right? (yes, the irony was strong in that statement)

Here’s the first thing to really note – this control will be by a “state of armed workers”. Except it hasn’t been, not historically. Sure, the initial revolution might be by these so-called “armed workers” but once their workers government is in place, they are disarmed. After all, if you are going to start oppressing your own allies, you don’t want them to have the ability to revolt against you as they did against the previous regime. We’ve seen this happen in Russia and in other so-called socialist or communist countries time and time again over the last century.

Given these economic prerequisites it is fully possible, after the overthrow of the capitalists and the bureaucrats, to proceed immediately, overnight, to replace them in the functions of control of production and distribution, in the functions of keeping account of labour and products by the armed workers, by the armed population as a whole. . . (TSAR, pg 87)

Possible yes. But by whom? The answer, if you look at it historically, is by new managers and supervisors, new people who will make sure you work up to the levels set by the “people’s state” and woe unto you if you fail. Not that Lenin will admit that – or does he?

The whole of society will have become a single office and a single factory with equality of labour and equality of pay. But this ‘factory’ discipline, which the proletariat, after defeating the capitalists, after overthrowing the exploiters, will extend to the whole of society, is by no means our ideal or our ultimate goal. Rather it is a step for the radical purging of society of all the infamies and abominations of capitalist exploitation and for further progress. . . (TSAR, p 90)

And here’s the difference between what we hear from the likes of Bernie-bots and Clinton followers. They try to blind us with the glories of socialism by talking about the equality that will result. We’ll be paid the same for work not matter what our gender or color, etc. The government will make sure we all have healthcare and education. Whether they believe this is the ultimate goal of their version of socialism or just hoping we don’t do our homework and study the foundation documents of the philosophy, I don’t know. But, just in case Lenin is right and socialism is just a step on the way to a true communist society, we need to be prepared and we need to fight to stop the slide down this slippery slope our country has been on for the last 100 years.

Yes, 100 years or more. Going back to the early 20th Century, you can see some of the philosophic traces of socialism creeping into our government. Much of that came during the Depression and the policies Roosevelt instituted them. The slide increased in the latter half of the 20th Century. What do we need to do to make sure no further damage is done to our government and our way of life? We start by educating ourselves and our children. Then we start by speaking out and by standing up. The latter is exactly what Lenin and his ilk convinced their followers to do. So let’s take a page out of their own book.

For when all have learned to administer and really independently administer social production, independently keep accounts and exercise control over the idlers, the gentlefolk, the swindlers and other such ‘guardians of the traditions of capitalism’, then any escape from this popular accounting and control will inevitably become so incredibly difficult, such a rare exception, and will probably be accompanied by so swift and serious a punishment (for the armed workers are practical people and not sentimental little intellectuals, and they will scarcely allow anyone to mess around with them) that the necessity to observe the uncomplicated basic rules of all human intercourse will very soon become a habit.

And then the door will be opened wide for the transition from the first phase of communist society towards its higher phase, and simultaneously towards the complete withering away of the state. (TSAR, pp 91-92)

So, even as this worker’s paradise grows into fruition, Lenin admits there will be a need to suppress any who don’t fall into line. You must believe, comrade, or face “swift and serious a punishment”. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a government or society I want to be part of.

In his discussion of how capitalism will evolve into socialism, Lenin has the following to say: Modern wage slaves, as a result of capitalist exploitation, are so crushed by want and poverty that ‘they have nothing to do with democracy’, ‘nothing to do with politics’, that the majority of the population in the ordinary peaceful course of events is excluded from participation in the life of public politics. (TSAR, p 78) Doesn’t this sound like the talk of disenfranchisement we heard from the likes of Bernie and his followers during his campaign? Switch “modern wage slaves” with “women” or “persons of color” and doesn’t it sound like Hillary? They, as well as many other liberals running for office, continue to hit on how minorities are not allowed to take part in politics in this country, how they aren’t adequately represented. I’ll admit, gerrymandering still exists but not to the extent they’d like us to believe. They point to Voter ID laws as a way to keep the poor or homeless from voting. In doing so, they ignore how easy most states have made it to get a recognized form of ID, knowing there are those who can’t afford a driver’s license, etc. That sort of admission flies against the narrative and, if nothing else, they’ve learned how to push the narrative at the feet of the master, Vladimir Lenin.

 [A] progressive development, i.e. towards communism, occurs through the dictatorship of the proletariat and cannot occur otherwise, for the resistance of the exploiter-capitalists cannot be broken by anyone else or by any other path. . . And the dictatorship of the proletariat, . . . cannot lead simply to an expansion of democracy. . . becomes democratism for the poor, democratism for the people and not democratism for the rich, the dictatorship of the proletariat imposes a series of exclusions from freedom in relation to the oppressors, the exploiters, the capitalists. We must suppress them in order to free humanity from wage slavery; their resistance must be crushed by force: it is clear that where there is suppression, where there is coercion, there is no freedom and no democracy. (TSAR, pp 79-80)

Dictatorship of the proletariat. . .exclusions from freedom. . .we must suppress them. . .crushed by force. He advocates this and then, in the next sentences says there can be no freedom and no democracy when those conditions are present. How in hell is that supposed to work?

That’s simple. You see, the proletariat dictatorship is just the first step toward the glories of communism. Anyone who doesn’t recognize that forgets about the slow withering of the state. It’s gonna take time, comrade. You gotta have patience, comrade. Give us your work and your loyalty, comrade. Trust us, comrade. All will be well in the end – which might never come.

You see, it’s not enough to crush the state, you have to erase all the capitalists and then make sure there are no more classes. Then and only then is it possible to even start talking about true freedom.

Of course, what do you do about human nature in all this? How do you handle those who are self-starters and who want to push themselves and produce more? What about those who are lazy or who resent being told what to do? That’s easy – they comply with the proletariat dictatorship or they face being crushed the same way the bourgeois was. Think about it. You’ll have a state of Stepford comrades. Won’t that be fun?

And only then will democracy begin to wither away because of the simple fact that, relieved of capitalist slavery, of countless horrors, savageries, absurdities and infamies of capitalist exploitation, people will gradually become accustomed to observing the elementary rules of social intercourse that have been known for ages and repeated for thousands of years in all copybooks – and to observing them without force, without compulsion, without subordination, without the special apparatus for compulsion which is called the state. (TSAR, p. 80)

So, democracy – or the state – hasn’t even begun to wither away during the proletariat dictatorship. But it is during this time the new state will enforce – and force – everyone to observe “the elementary rules of social intercourse. . . without force, without compulsion .  .  .  .” So, we’ll force you to act a certain way until you are so beaten down you no longer resist, no matter how many generations it takes.

Here’s the million dollar question. While the proletariat dictatorship is doing all this, who is keeping those in power in check? No one, because they haven’t reached that advanced state of “social intercourse” that no one thinks about personal gain, etc. And that, my friends, it the fatal flaw with Lenin’s argument. In fact, with every argument for socialism or the ideal of communism. Human nature is not such that we will stop fighting to survive. We are selfish – or can be. We will fight to protect those who are dear to us. We are corruptible. In other words, we are not perfect, and perfection is what a true socialist society would require. Perfection not only in the masses but in those holding power during the years and possibly centuries or more it takes to reach that point in our evolution.

Economically, not much changes during this first phase of the path toward the withering of the state. Oh, the people in charge change but there is still taxation. They just don’t call it that.

The means of production are no longer the private property of individuals. The means of production belong to the whole of society. Every member of society, performing a certain part of the socially necessary work, receives a certificate from society to the effect that he has done such and such an amount of work. With this certificate he receives from the public store of articles of consumption a corresponding quantity of products. Consequently, after a deduction is made of the amount of labour which goes to the public fund, every worker receives from society as much as he has given to it. (TSAR, p. 83)

First, Lenin is smart enough to admit this isn’t equality – not yet at any rate. Under this new proletariat dictatorship, you work for society. You are paid according to how much work you do and that is how much you are paid for. Of course, before you then have to give your bit back to the “public fund”. That amount is – and I know you’re surprised by this – determined by the dictatorship. So, once more, the government is taking from you and you have no voice in the matter. If you object, you face being crushed just as the bourgeois were.

Here is probably one of the biggest lies of socialism and communism: the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible because it will be impossible to seize the means of production, the factories, machines, land and so on as private property. (TSAR, p. 84) There are so many other ways to exploit another, all you have to do is know how to manipulate someone emotionally or intimidate them physically. Or, as with the proletariat dictatorship, be in a position of power where you hold life or death over someone’s head – or over the heads of their family. Can we all say Josef Stalin? This “defect”, as Marx calls it, is supposedly only temporary but can the country survive long enough to pass into the next phase of socialism and then into communism?

It is clear, the more you read TSAR or the more you read the underlying documents, that socialism and the communism that is to follow it are pipe dreams of deluded men. Lenin took advantage of social problems within Russia to grab power. He was an opportunist who came in and decried and denounced the socialist who had been in Russia during the Revolution and who took power. He accused them of not being true socialists and yet what happened after he took power? Or, more precisely, after his successors took power? The state did not wither. Capitalism didn’t die – it moved underground with the state’s approval (as long as the right palms were greased). Russia did not move toward some enlightened state but, instead, became one of the worst dictatorships in history. And it’s not alone.

There are two more chapters left in TSAR – and, yes, I love the irony of the initials of the book forming the title of the ruler the socialists rebelled against. I think I’m going to try to combine them into a single post next time. Right now, I’m looking at doing Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell next. Of course, after TSAR, I might need something I can snark – probably do, to be honest. In that case, I could do either Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House by Donna Brazile or Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff. Do you guys have any preferences?

You can find the previous entries to this series of posts herehere and here.

[For raising the tone of this blog — ATH is culture! — and helping me with the exposing of the roots of the current mess — in her case with more facts! — if you decide to  send the woman a drink–  And her Amazon author page is here -SAH]

 

 

These Are the Good Old Days

car-1485677

There is a song on the radio right now that drives my husband insane.  In it two singers talk about how the times they were trying to break in were really “the good old days” and they didn’t notice.

This infuriates him, because, yeah, the heartbreak of being young and rich beyond the dreams of avarice must be terrible.

In my defense, I was always aware of “these are the good old days” while living through them.

When I was in the hospital, to all medical opinion dying of pneumonia at 33, what weighed on my mind was the novels left unpublished, but what I missed were our weekends with the kids, driving around, going to garage sales, parks and diners, or the “vacation” weekends, going to amusement parks and museums.

Do I miss those days?  Well, heck yeah.  But I enjoyed them to the hilt when they were happening.

And when we were young and had a writers’ group that met at our house every weekend, I enjoyed the heck out of the camaraderie and the silliness, and the parties.  It was fun.  It helped with that whole “raising two boys when far from both families.

I miss those days.  If I could go back and relive just one day in my life, it would be the day we discovered Lakeside amusement park (really cheap.  If they dropped a virus that only killed English speakers, my family would be the only casualties.)  The kids were two and five, it was a beautiful day (Memorial Day, as it turns out.  We were playing hookie on worldcon, the first of many times.) and the kids went on all the rides and Dan on most, and I walked around and read a mystery, and watched them have fun.  When we dragged the kids away it was ten thirty pm, and Marshall fell asleep against me in the car, his little head hot and heavy like kids’ heads are.  Then we found a late-open Chinese restaurant and had a late dinner.

But at the same time I’m neither stupid nor senile.  Those days are encircled with a gold nimbus, because memory has elided their struggles and problems.  I know that they were there and were real.  And just because I know how the biggest struggle I was involved in in those days turned out — I did end up selling my writing.  Who knew? — it doesn’t mean I knew then.

Yes, if I had a time machine, I’d send two notes to past self.  “It will work” and also “Write one for submission and one for the drawer.  Trust me.  Around 2007 it will all pay out.”

But then again, if I did that, would I have pushed as hard, worked as hard at the craft?  Would I be the writer I’m now?

No, sufficient onto the day the trouble of the day.  Those pains and fears paved the way to how I write now (not amazingly, but decently, I think.)

And maybe today’s struggles, disappointments and work are paving the way to something much better.

Are these the good old days?  Well, I’m caught in kind of a weird bubble in time, where I still worry for the kids’ future (and they’re still on the pay check, as they finish their professional training) but I’m moving my emotional …. focus away from them, because, well, I’ll always care for them, but at this point I don’t have much influence, nor should I.  It’s time for them to adult.  And it’s time for me to be more than “mommy of Robert and Marshall.”

I was always both, mind you, mommy and writer, and I’ll always be both, but the emphasis must now be on writer.

Believe it or not, this is harder to do than it seems.  “Psychological work” I think.  And hard.

But there are things I enjoy, from the days Dan and I go up for the park or museum, and to Pete’s, to the days when Robert or Marshall have time to hang out and talk.

Yeah, there are struggles too, and in the future those will be softer in memory and these will be the good old days.

But then the new days will bring both joy and sorrow aplenty.  And if I succeed in expanding my career, that will bring new work and new responsibilities, and less free time.  It always does.

Wherever you are, no matter how bad the struggles you’re going through, seek out the good things in your life right now, and enjoy the heck out of them.  It might be a moment building railways with the three year old on the floor.  Take it.  When he’s 23, you’ll cherish that memory, and so will he.

These are the good old days: cherish them.  They’re all the bad old days: work through them.

May your next set of good old days have more good and less bad.  It’s all we can hope for.