Sunday, June 24, 2007

man is meat

. . . continuous with the animals, undeserved of special epithets (rational, intelligent, . . . ), undeserved of special treatment ("inalienable" rights, divine blessings, liberties . . . ). There is no "sanctity of life": the life of man is no more sacred than that of toads, ants, chicken pox, or the AIDs virus. This is the starting point for understanding society, human behavior, human cruelty. From this realization, placing man in his rightful place within nature, we can begin to construct a society, we can begin to defend a way of coordinating our behavior. But he who builds his society upon superstition (whether it take the form of divine commandment, natural rights, or the sanctity of life) builds his house upon a foundation of sand: ineluctably, it will sink within the bog of lies so carelessly marshalled in its defense: liberty will become control; (divine) benevolence will show its stripe as cruelty; life will become death ~ and is this not what we observe?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

organize! . . . she said

The rallying cry of activists and folk singers: organize! But what does this admonition amount to? Not organization into a governing body, with its incumbent properties and prospects. Not organization into a decision-making body of any kind, in fact. No, the admonition to organize! comes from those who have already decided ~ the intended organization is a militant one, an unpaid army for the furtherance of the decision. This is how the poor man's facist gets his start; this siren song of agency conceals the impetus toward exploitation.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"animal rights"

There is no more backward and ouroborosian theory than the theory of animal rights. For rights themselves were merely invented by man to defend a free lifestyle. To then extend this fictive notion of rights to animals ~ as a justification for curtailing the free lifestyle they were first invented to justify! ~ is an incoherent and ahistorical demonstration of the most extreme form of ignorance and self-fulfilling delusion.

against rights

Arguments for a free society suffer most from their weak foundations, i.e. their over-dependence on the notion of "natural rights." As with most "theories" designed to claim that one's detractors are irrational for disagreeing with one (including, at least, all ethical and political theories), the theory of the "free" society began first with a conclusion, a mode of living which the theorist desired, and proceeded via the invention of a justification for said theory, in this case, the spurious notion of "natural rights." Yet "natural rights" are the most absurd and unmotivated of all political postulates. Even the most cursory examination of nature reveals that the only right shared by the living is the right to eventual death. The very essence of nature is conflict; the abuse, domination, and exploitation of some living creatures by others is the rule which defines life itself. Without such exploitation, there can be no survival, there can be no life. Only if one posits a benevolent creator who has accorded man special status in the natural order might one coherently defend any notion of "rights." Yet such a posit contradicts the most compelling doctrine of the free society, the acknowledgment of a "reasonable pluralism" of belief-systems and values. This pluralism is observed, and the consistency of the free society with observation in this case speaks strongly in its favor. Yet if the free society can only be defended by appealing to a particular belief system, i.e. one with a benevolent deity, then it ceases to be internally coherent.

The wise man says: let us seek a new foundation for the free society, or resign ourselves to the eternal oppression of ignorance, inconsistency, and wishful thinking!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

"sicko" review

Moore succeeds in pulling heartstrings and raising questions, but, as usual, his analysis seems overly simplistic, and his use of montage to erase temporal and contextual distinctions raises ethical questions. For example, 11 min. into the film, Moore says he posted on the internet an open call for healthcare horror stories; we see a shot of the request dated "Feb 3, 2006." Then, 6 min. later, Moore seems to be discussing people found via this internet posting; Moore says of one "cancer killed her a couple years later" ~ but this means Moore must have interviewed her years before requesting horror stories on the internet. Given that the evidence provided by the film is almost entirely anecdotal (we see one middle class family in France and are told this is how the French live, we see one hospital in Cuba and are told this is the state of Cuban health care; throughout the film we hear the testimony of individuals and no references are ever cited for the statistics mentioned), it would bolster Moore's case if we knew exactly how and where the anecdotes were found ~ especially as much of the fear about socialized medicine comes, not just from government propaganda as Moore correctly points out, but also from anecdotal evidence, horror stories from England, France, Canada and other contries with government controlled health care.

Furthermore, when we do get nonanecdotal evidence, no details are cited, merely numbers, some of which don't quite gel with the surrounding context. 37 min. in, we are treated to the claim that US healthcare ranks 37th in the world, just above Slovenia. However, in the chart which Moore has zoomed in on, we can see that Cuba ranks 39th, just below Slovenia. But at 1:46, Moore states that Cuba has become "known around the world as having not only one of the best health care systems, but as being one of the most generous countries in providing doctors and medical equipment to third world countries" ~ both these claims may be true, but they can't be simultaneously true: that Cuba has worse and better health care than the US. A less emotive and better documented argument would have been more compelling to the thinking man, here.

This anti-Moore blogger discusses how Moore's "anonymous" charity towards him was manipulated in the film to serve Moore's purposes. He further argues that Moore's claim that his trip to Cuba was "journalistic in intent" implies "sicko" should be held to higher standards than his previous films, labelled by Moore "entertainment." I doubt a principled characterization of such standards is possible given the properties of documentary film. Nevertheless, Moore's films do seem to follow a disturbing "ends justifies the means" approach.

Despite these weaknesses, a compelling film. Even if the arguments are primarily anecdotal, the anecdotes are powerful and thought-provoking. Even if it does not succeed in offering a detailed analysis of how to improve the current situation, the film does succeed in demonstrating profound inhumanities in the existent system. Well worth watching. Furthermore, Moore deserves credit for expressing happiness that his film has hit the internet. His populist defence of the film's transmission via peer-to-peer file sharing demonstrates an authentic concern with the issues discussed in the film, and sets Moore apart from some of his high-profile peers in the message-movie biz.

Richard Rorty (RIP)

. . . on the purpose of undergraduate education:
"To produce tax-and-spend liberals."

Friday, June 15, 2007

the do-gooder

The "do-gooder" does that which is good by his lights. Yet by the lights of another, the do-gooder may in fact do evil. The do-gooder interferes with the status quo, he intervenes in a situation in which he is not a participant to perform an act of good. But what will be the consequences for this single "good" act? Even by the lights of the do-gooder himself, might these consequences not themselves be evil? Yet, how selective is the do-gooder's blindness towards these failings! ~ He cannot resist the urge to interfere again, to disrupt and perpetrate evil secure in the close-minded "knowledge" that he does good! The wise Samaritan intervenes in a situation he understands in a situation of which he himself is a part.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

french pimps (circa 1066)

The Indo-European ka, "desire," spread to Latin as carus, "dear," and Saxon as huore, "sweetheart." But the Norman oppressors transformed their selfish desire into charity, while subjugating Norman sweethearts into whoredom. Now every whore is a reminder of Norman oppression, of the lie of "prostitution."

Saturday, June 9, 2007

the dead in dreams

Only in one's dreams can one meet the dead. Yet, still, it's strange they do not seem to notice their disadvantage. Or perhaps, stranger still, one does not remember in the moment that these are the dead before one, and one's psyche excoriates them very bit as mercilessly as it does the living. Is it too much to ask for a modicum of respect, for a bit of decency and reverence, from one's own subconsciousness?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

the plague of piae fraudes

The disease of the "moral" lie is catching; it spreads like plague through the echelons of information. The slight exaggerations and embellishments of the statistician become in the mouth of the expert, and even more the politician, grandiose fables, simplistic tales ever more tenuously connected to the richness and subtlety of the data. To stop this disease is to confront the complexity of reality and to combat the tyranny of truth. We must inoculate ourselves with skepticism and forever divorce our conclusions from their evidence! For conclusions, even the much trumped 10 commandments, can only ever be opinions; and, as opinions, they cannot justify "moral" deceit. To spread the truth at all costs, this is what motivates the pius lie; only when we vaccinate ourselves against truth can we return to the age of reason. The wise man says: to know the extent to which a truth is a lie, to know the limits of the data, this is knowledge.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

the onus of deceit

Institutionalized deception: "it's in his own interest that the common man not know . . .," ever allied with "moral" deception: lies mandated by moral precepts, forbidden knowledge, pessimism about the common man. It's better for him (on some scale - what scale?) not to know; to paraphrase: "he can't handle the truth!" This obligation to deceit, it preys upon conscience ~ a lamb dismembered by the wolves of duty.

the onus of respect

On that day when one sees one's superiors for what they are - as one's self - when their pettiness and immaturity speak louder than their grey hair, when their "merit" and seniority appear mere accidents of age: on that day the burdens of respect and civility weigh heaviest.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

the statistician

The lowest of all liers, he lies with a straight face. He makes of science a mere pebble game and plays upon the folly of those who do not understand the rules. And truth? Like a televangelist, he manufactures "truth" on the fly, tailored to his audience's desires and expectations. Oh you who worship his gospel! ~ if you could but see inside the temple, behind the priestly trappings and solemn demeanor, the deformed, cancerous reality: these merchants of falsity, these whores of science, these builders of sandcastles, these two-faced spitters of venom, they of the forked-tongue, they without moral code or personal integrity, they without ethos, this army of Judases who seek to sell out the entire human race for a handful of silver ~ these are our new untouchables! We shun them, we fight their teargas and truncheons in the streets, with bricks, with twigs, with fingernails if need be. We will never relinquish our hope in humanity, we will never relinquish our optimism, we will never relinquish the fragility of knowledge to these coarse brutes, but guard it jealously and with great care. Oh, that there were more of us!