What You Have Lost
An opinion poll recently revealed that 98% of heroin addicts believed the best thing in the world is... heroin. I asked my hipster neighbors, and they said it was sex; but since I've seen his Viagra receipts in the trash and I know she's sterile, I can't really trust that estimation too much. I went down the block to talk to my favorite Catholic Republican, and he said the truth is found only in God, but God was apparently unwilling to answer my questions. Then I talked to my favorite radical leftist, and she said that the most important thing in the world is doing right, but when I told her that doing right meant we had to stop a lot of peoples' dreams dead in their tracks, she told me I was wrong, and that if she believed in Satan, I'd be it. Instead, I offer up a prayer for change, because none of these "bests" mean a thing to a thinker.
To me, at this point, the most important thing is: reality. Since I live in a civilization, and in civilization something is only "real" if people agree it is so, I must modify this to include my fellow citizens actually recognizing this reality: The best thing in the world would be a sane human world, well-adapted to nature and not opposed to it in some paranoiac vision of mankind versus his environment. This realistic society would exist in contrast to the present society, which is fed on economic and social and religious illusion, and would necessarily replace it if brought about, but since society as it is fails in every significant way (although money is still being made, and there's still lots of "kwality" TV), that would be no loss. Further, most people being of a mundane nature would not recognize this society, but the loss of anyone who cannot see the importance of change toward something radically more realistic is not actually a loss; we just say "it's a loss" to make their family feel better - until we can shoot them.
All that I've read, and seen through history, points toward a feudal apolitical society as the height of humankind's adaptivity to nature; apolitical in this case means that you don't have to convince other people en masse of the truth, nor keep up image, but you take a vision couched in knowledge of an accurate adaptation to your environment, and show it to the wisest people in society, and they act on it, commanding others to do the same - even if they object, and their personal profit does not increase, nor their stature, but their workload does. Right is right, and truth is truth; this isn't to say I favor some abstract absolute to which we refer in deference in every situation, but that I think truth is found in any situation and commands action. Rubbery monster attacking city? Call out the troops - and so on.
An apolitical society of this nature would be a feudal one, in that while money would exist, there wouldn't be the rigorous competition that there is today for money as the sole means of getting ahead, because caste-roles would replace class-roles in a non-linear, specialization-oriented system where each is assigned work according to ability and all reap the reward of a more functional society, although they individually may not be granted with excess wealth and more movie channels on cable television. Rather, the way one gets ahead is by being an excellent person and excelling at what you do; there is no substitute for this. You are not defined by what you own, nor by your position in society; these are attributes of your self, most specifically, your character. Great deeds and heroic acts are not considered to be those which save the most lives, but those which accomplish something great, or achieve something better for the society and nature as a whole. Your sphere of influence is your own tribe, and more importantly, your local community. Travel is rare and usually occurs only for epic quests. You don't have the right to choose any religion or behavior you want; these things are dependent on the local community. On the other hand, they don't have the ability to tell you what is morally acceptable thought, and exclude you for being outside of that narrow box.
This kind of apolitical, feudal, amoral society is diametrically opposed to what we have now. In our current society, the principles of utiltiarianism have created a paradise for the individual at the expense of everything else, including our long-term future and the ability of some individuals to exist without a level of participation in the workings of society that amounts to a sick fascination. Our society secures its power with methods that amount to mind-control; you will be ostracized for thinking outside of its box, or simply starved to death, and because it has constant televisions blaring the same sops of illusion around you at all times, to step outside of its world is to take control of your own mind and make decisions against the grain. Most can do that for one day out of 365, which is not in the least part because 358 of those days are spent doing necessary things like jobs, car repair, home repair, moving, paying bills, arguing with bill collectors, doing taxes, shopping for food, writing christmas cards, etc. Remember, you're "free" and modern society is empowering you to do less work and have more leisure time.
Since the mind control dogma is so severe, and since our society fears nothing more than competition, as we all recognize on some level that it is hollow, every positive thing I can say about feudal society will be met with a pre-programmed reaction in you instilled by years of media and other people repeating things they've seen in the media, and of course politicized "history" whose facts no one checks - because where's the profit in that? - much as you were once indoctrinated to stamp your foot and shriek "racism" at any doctrine that affirmed our organic originals and inequalities, or before that indoctrinated to recoil any time someone suggested any death was anything less than the worst thing possible, or even before that indoctrinated in the duality of toilet training. You are no more "free" than the animals they keep in small cells and feed hormones and antibiotics. You are no more "free" than the decorative trees planted in seas of concrete. You are however conditioned to think that you are free, and that any way they did it in the past was wrong.
Witness all of the negative press about the middle ages - especially from the church and industry. "They didn't have technology!" and "It was a primitive time!" ring out the nervous calls. But every few years some astonished scientist staggers out of his or her lab and points out that in some detail, the middle ages clearly was every bit as advanced as we are now - much as the Greeks and Romans were - and that points to a more advanced society as a whole. This person is quickly drowned out by exciting news about television shows, a middle ages revival? where's the profit in that? You have been taught the "progressive" view of history: the past was primitive because they did not have technology and morality, and since we now have these things, we are steadily moving toward Utopia. Interestingly, the techno-paranoid societies of "1984" and "Brave New World" also insisted the same thing. Are you seeing how cheap words are, yet?
Despite the endless subtle propaganda against it, the past was not a terrible time. It did not have the technology we have now, or the egalitarian empowerment, and as a result it was less encumbered with the pretense of the individual and the demands of technology. You did not have large discount stores, but then again, you didn't spend time in cars driving to them or waiting in line while the credit card machine malfunctions (all technology seems to work great "on paper" but when deployed in real life, screw up constantly). If you declared that you were a caprisexual and wanted to spend the rest of your life making love to goats, they threw you out of your town and you had to find a new place to settle, such as the free-for-all republics of North Africa and the Middle East. On the other hand, you did not have one hand tied down in every decision because doing the right thing would offend - someone.
One major factor about the middle ages that was pleasant was its view toward relationships. This was before the reactionary and patriarchal laws of the early industrial revolution took hold; those were designed mainly to regulate women as a labor force, and had no bearing on tradition. Back then, the girls were a lot prettier than they are now, in part because they came from consistent ethnic stocks and in part because the criteria for selection were more rigorous. Sex and love were not these wide-eyed, holy ideals, but practical means toward a family, in which man and wife were equal partners of different areas of practice. Neurotic girls and ugly girls and dysfunctional girls got sold to gypsy traders, while they'd send their defective male counterparts off to the front line. The result was that people bred beter, and the result was many generations of beautiful and intelligent people; now, you're lucky to get one of those two, although most of the well-bred women I've met have had both. Since there was a consistent ethnic ideal, people were naturally selected to fulfill that standard, and the whining of "individualists" unheard from the distant gypsy cabins.
There was not a partisanship of the sexes, as there is now. Since feminism polarized women against men, for the most part, the two sexes have persisted in combat by which each individual attempts to be as sexually and romantically selfish as possible until advancing age makes a long-term relationship necessary; then they "settle for" someone who's OK and spend the rest of their lives manipulating this person and being manipulated in return. The 50% divorce rate and 50% rate of cheating that occur in our society now are a direct result of that; previously, these things were reserved for times when such things were actually warranted. Further, because people are so alienated, a marriage has become a social contract in itself; moderns argue that by having absolute choice, we're closer to "true love," but it seems the only people that find that do so by having a less absolute, idealizing vision of "love."
In the middle ages, your job was waiting for you, as a rite of caste and tradition in your locality. If your father was a carpenter, you would be as well, unless you screwed up so profoundly that it was not sensible for you to continue as a carpenter. On the other end of the scale, if you were a great and genius carpenter - a very rare thing - you would rise to the level of builder and move on to do bigger and better things. Since it was easy for anyone with a basic level of competence to survive, but those who were excellent - and only those, since grade inflation didn't apply to the word "genius" back then - rose to great heights, this system was so eugenic that by the very nature of your inheriting a position from your family, you would have great aptitude in it. Further, the only way you could get fired was if you displayed such gross incompetence that it was best for everyone to have you removed.
Now, moderns wail at this idea, because they like the spacy concept of Absolute Freedom in choosing their jobs. However, what Absolute Freedom means is unceasingly brutal competition at the economic level, which means you no longer have the freedom to just find a job and enjoy it: you have to fight to get ahead or you'll drown in poverty. Further, because jobs aren't any kind of contiguous offering, they frequently get eliminated or changed, forcing you once again to bow down before your job and shape your life around it. Not only that, but because competition is fierce, you'll be competing with your time also: specifically, working eight hours a day means that the guy who works ten will get ahead of you, and your career might not recover, so you're going to work ten hours a day and then spend at least 30 minutes on the road, each way.
In contrast, in the "oppressive" middle ages, you worked six hours a day or fewer and were generally within walking distance of your home. There was also no unnecessary competition, so if you did the task competently, you were fine and didn't need to work extra hours in order to snare possible victories. Your job simply was not as important as it is now; it was only a vocation, and how you made your money, and while that would be how you would identify yourself in a community, it was in the concept of "this is my contribution" not "this is my source of wealth, and thus the basis on which I compare my social prestige to yours." While there clearly was not Absolute Freedom to quit from a long line of carpenters and become a gay porn producer, for example, there was stability, and thus jobs came second to important things like friends, family and personal development.
In order for us to see the proper role of religion, we have to go back to before the middle ages, and indeed, to before the latter civilizations of the ancients: to early Greece and Rome, including their transition from deism to pragmatic naturalism. Before social pressures forced the creation of gods who promised something, and thus were politically viable motivations - that is to say, before politics, back when leaders led and others could actually have faith in their leaders - gods were viewed in the original pagan way as a means to explain the "personalities" of nature. To us, as tiny dots on the surface of planet earth, the ways of nature are often inscrutable; for example, we don't know that the wave that wiped out our ships was necessary to deliver warm water suddenly into the arctic stream, maintaining untold forests. Since we did not know, we sailed anyway and got wiped out; the pagan view of the gods takes the unexplained and gives it a larger picture, by which we see that which sometimes does not benefit us is capricious from our view, but beneficial in light of the whole. This is in contrast to us wise moderns, who instead blame "chaos" and the "brutality" of nature, all while dumping hundreds of gallons of toxic waste by the hour into our oceans. Clearly the pagans were smarter, at least as far as maintaining their own psychology went.
Further, gods were not seen as separate from the world; this may not seem like a big difference, but consider the option. If gods exist separate from this world, we are forever trying to enforce an alien (and unproven) order onto this world, but if gods exist within this world, we see them as contiguous with nature and thus part of an overall sensibility that doesn't need us forcing some neurotic human order onto it. In that view, humans are part of the world much as gods, and we all have a responsibility to keep it up, and not concrete 90% of the usable land while wailing about how nature is so brutal and horrible and if we just gave it JESUS everything would be OK. God was seen as a force within all of us, and in the forest, and in the name of maintaining the overall good of life, it was okay for God (or Gods) to do what they must, and for us to hang on for the ride and if we perish, so it went - our psychology was untroubled by endless finding of blame, inventing reasons why, and trying to explain away death, disease, sadness and suffering. The modern theology is like the modern mind: divided between reality as it is and some fanciful notion of what "should" be, thus is an impotent thing. The ancients had no such mental defect.
Speaking of nature, it was not viewed as an enemy to be conquered, as it is today, because the ancients did not have a linear worldview stretching between "bad" to "good" with little room for what's inbetween. The ancients saw nature as the force that produced them, and a reason for being, as well as a harsh master that would kill if someone did something foolish like pick up a rattlesnake by the tail. What was fortunate about this view was that, in addition to not committing an ecocide holocaust upon the environment that birthed them, the ancients didn't view every death as a tragedy, thus had minds mostly free of death - they would laugh at today's newspapers, which bemoan the fate of fat and stupid and useless people who "accidentally" step on mines or are killed by rattlesnakes. The ancients were not focused exclusively on the individual, as we seem to be now, but saw an order of the whole, and thus did not trouble their minds for finding "reasons" and "justifications" for every death; the ways of nature were recognized as bigger and wiser than the ways of man, much as the gods were.
The modern time is marked by two things: (1) a dependence on technology and (2) a dependence upon passive, utilitarian, moral thought. The difference between now and then, and our society's failure versus what will take place in the future, should anyone with a brain survive the onslaught of television and greed, is that the ancients did not exist in a schizophrenic worldview. They saw one world, and harmony within it as the only way, and did not trouble themselves with internal division and profit-motivation. As a result, they were content to live with less technology, although they invented it where they needed it, and while that meant that fewer were literate, it meant that less garbage of no consequence to reality was written. While it meant that fewer lived lifestyles of relative luxury, it meant no landfill, and no dependence upon diminishing oil reserves or toxic nuclear power for daily living. They lived in harmony with the land, and with its concept, and thus had no need to create a fantasy world and maintain it with destructive technology.
I believe a fusion of the two can be found, if we are willing to resurrect our culture and sense of heroism. Utilitarian and passive worldviews, which believe that the individual should be sacred and above reality, seem to me to originate in a morbid fear of death brought on by a lack of any great things to accomplish or value in life. Utilitarianism is seen in popularity contests, or democracy, where we consider that which most people feel is a "good idea" (even though, by definition, the largest portion of them are unlikely to know what that is) to be the best, because this does not aim for a solution but toward a pacification of the individual by pretending that their individual input is important. What it does is effectively exclude the few voices which do make any sense so the mass can keep on rampaging toward self-gratification; it is selfishness enthroned as benevolence. This recognition of self is brought about by unnecessary fear of death; the way to conquer it is to have meaningful things that offset the inevitability of death, as no amount of explaining away or material or social gratification is going to grant us the absolute we seek, which is a promise of immortality. Stop dreaming.
Passivity results from this utilitarianism. When you have to consult the crowd for any decision, soon you tire of trying to lead and are content to make endless compromises, which by their very nature of dividing intent instead of strengthening it, mean that absolutely nothing gets done except in the most dire cases, such as rubbery monsters rising from the sea to consume your cities. When was the last time a democracy got ahead of the curve on a problem that wasn't imaginary? Oh, we strike out against drugs in school, satanic cults, gay marriage, etc. but these issues are a smokescreen for not dealing with the real problems that cause these effects, because essentially, no one believes it will be profitable to actually address the issues, as telling a crowd of people that they must sacrifice and change the way they're doing things is invariably unpopular. Thus, we no longer lead; we follow, and leaders are despised and called "terrorists."
We've lost a lot. On the surface, we have better lifestyles, but inside of ourselves, we are twisted around illusion and as a result fundamentally neurotic, and fundamentally depressed. Death rules over us by the nature of people constantly acting in such ways as to deny death, but being unable to come out and say that is the root of their fixation, instead they create a confusing shroud of schizoid belief that they drape over us all, blinding us to reality so that we may live in pleasant illusion. It's like a doctor solemnly telling a parent, "Your five-year-old has the disease of inevitable death - within the next century, for sure. I recommend heroin, 200mg a day." No wonder people are such mental defectives; our society is a mental defective. We can split hairs over liberalism versus conservatism (really, both are forms of philosophical liberalism) or blame various ethnic groups, religions, etc. but the root of our problem - what has happened in the last millennium - is that we have detached from reality. If we have any balls whatsoever, we should reclaim this reality and move onward to better things instead of staying mired in this society of fear, submission and fantasy.
How will this happen? There is no movement you can join, or petition you can sign; you have to do it yourself. If we each work independently to assert better values, the smarter people in society will begin to wake up, and to incorporate these ideas into their will. Since the more capable always enforce their will on the less-capable, and the less capable emulate what they want but cannot have in their own right, the values of society will quickly shift, and we can even vote in candidates at that point who see a benefit to running on a "Destroy liberal industrial society, and replace it with apolitical feudalism" platform. Democracies self-destruct into authoritarianism anyway, and whether it comes in the subtle form of Bill Clinton or the blundering madness of George W. and his Evangelical Christian/Israeli support group, is not of material difference. If we're going to destroy this democracy, let's destroy it the right way, and replace it with something better.
If you already believe these things, or are turning them over in your mind and assessing them, you've joined the army of the pagan gods, in my view, and you're part of the solution and not the problem. I can't put together some group that you can join that will magically change everything without your involvement; you need to live these things. Every day, you're given a number of choices, and if you use each choice as a forum for shoving better values onto this society's intelligent people, you will be pushing us ahead. If you deny the garbage of modern society - television, democracy, Judeo-Christianity, plastic products - a place in your life, each of those decisions is a victory for nature and the ancients, as well. Further, if you keep silent and do not give your approval when illusory things are being said, and if given a choice, buy your essentials from places that do not support the insanity as much as others, you're inching us further along toward this goal.
Every day, in every way, by every awakened person, this war must be fought. And really, this is superior to a revolution: we don't end up killing our own people, as happened in the Russian revolution and in WWI and WWII following it; the best die in wars, leaving less-capable breeding stock behind. Instead, it makes you a better person as you learn to force your will on the world through discipline and contemplation as well as direct action. Further, it gives you a chance to raise your voice and to make your will known, and in doing so, to affirm the best thing in the world: life, as it stands in reality, separate from illusion, forever and ever - amen.
February 7, 2005