All things come to pass through the compulsion of strife; this law of nature was perceived by Heraclitus, purely through introspection. With the advent of methods of collecting empirical data, this observation has been validated. The form of the universe (as humans perceive it), is the result of the movement and interaction of matter. This form is ever changing, and as far as anyone is aware has always been and will always be changing. Heraclitus knew this as ‘Becoming’, he saw that it applied to everything from the smallest detectable partition of matter to the greatest system of objects; thus it applies to human beings, and all things produced by human beings.
Civilization is a monument of human endeavor, it is a system of rules that prescribe the method in which humans interact with one another and their environment. Civilization as we know it today has a great tendency to mold its components into a more or less homogeneous state, those components which do not conform are either destroyed, expelled, or condemned to an existence constantly under siege. The larger a civilization becomes, the more controlling and intractable it becomes.
Change and adaption being the nature of the universe, civilization faces greater levels of resistance as it grows. This has always led to violence against both the environment and those who reject what civilization stands for. The end result of this cycle of violence has thus far been the fall of all known civilizations and untold slaughter.
Civilization has proven itself to be a culture of death, a self destructive system that promotes control. As the monstrosity expands, it demands more control; as it exerts more force, it provides more resistance to change until inevitably, it snaps. When it snaps, oh boy, it snaps (See immediate post-war Germany).
Two concepts that have shaped the brunt of human existence are civilization and patriarchy, the former being discussed much more frequently than the latter. The two are intertwined however, in a death-spiral that gains velocity with every painful moment they persist in our world. For a concept as prominent as civilization, people have trouble defining what it is. ” An advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached.”, this is a common yet biased definition. ‘Advanced’ and ‘high level’ indicate that the institution of civilization as we know it is on a positive course. I see much evidence to the contrary.
Modern human civilization can be summed up in one word, domination. Domination over our environment, our neighbors, friends, family, and selves. This culture of dominance is taught to us as children, by our family. The patriarchal system is present in the home, it often emerges as a Hegelian master and slave relationship between mother and father. This behavior is absorbed by children, no matter how subtle, and sets the mold for how the individual relates to others. It leads to our society’s unhealthy obsession with competition and aggressiveness. It manifests itself as war, exploitation, and egotism.
I want to emphasize that I do not suggest that the solution is matriarchy, that system is also characterized by dominance only with the genders reversed in terms of power. What we need is a balance. We need to learn the meaning of partnership. When we do this we will recognize that we must respect the liberty of others in order to achieve freedom for ourselves. We will understand the complex relationships that exist within and without. When we finally learn these lessons, which we knew to be true all along, we can at last end the relentless destruction present in the world. In its place will emerge celebration of life and a deep happiness that we can not even begin to comprehend in our present state.
If you have been within 20 feet of a radio, television, or computer it is likely that you have heard of the mass dissent occurring within Iran. The story goes like this. In a close presidential election between incumbent Ahmadinejad and opposition leader Mousavi the former was declared the victor. There were signs of election fraud so the supporters of Mousavi went to the streets in mass protests. Many of the protests are evolving into riots so in response the Iranian government is beginning to crack down. Which group initiated the violence is unclear to me.
It’s understandable that people are angry over the perceived violation of their supposed human rights, voting. People get angry when their favorite sports team loses, they get even madder when their team loses due to the opposition cheating. All of this is irrelevant however, and ultimately a futile waste of energy on behalf of the Iranian protesters.
Whoever would have won the election, whether it be the blue team or the green team, the Ayatollah (see theocratic dictator) remains in power for life. The Ayatollah is the supreme leader of Iran, he dictates the law, and his unwitting pawns enforce his edicts. Now if these protests change into a successful revolution which removes the Ayatollah from power and forever eliminates such a position, then I would call that progress. This does not appear to be a likely outcome. Mousavi aided in bringing the Ayatollah into power during the Iranian revolution of 1979; Mousavi is beholden to the Ayatollah and is a staunch conservative Muslim.
The people of Iran have energy, momentum, and every right in the world to be dissatisfied with their society; but their energy is being channeled in the wrong direction. The institution that inflicts violence on women, homosexuals, free thinkers, and lovers of freedom is the STATE. The people of Iran will never live in a free society until they realize this fact. The people of the world will never be free until we realize this fact.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
The most difficult wars in our brief historical memory have been those fought against ill defined foes. When those that seek to defeat you cloak themselves in unfamiliar guises it can make the process of aim difficult; and strategy, nearly impossible. The United States faced this very dilemma in the sweltering jungles of Vietnam. Confusion ran so deep that innocent became indistinguishable from foe, even in the familiar territory of Ohio.
The same confusion grips us today. The ambiguously named ‘War on Terror’ has declared everybody suspect. The result has been a climate of fear that pits us against one another in a type of pseudo nationalistic thunderdome in which survival depends upon who can prove themselves the most patriotic. In the midst of this conflict It seems the definition of patriotism has split, with one faction insisting that it means obeying the government and another insisting it means defending the principals of the constitution. This war however is nothing but a fanciful charade, elaborately planned and executed in order to divert our attention away from the true enemy.
While we turn on one another, squabbling about petty inaccurate trivialities, the so called ‘elite’ of the nation are plundering the people of their wealth and liberty. Over the past seven years we have seen the exponential growth of corporatism and a corresponding decline in working class income. We have seen examples of corporations granted new sweeping powers in collusion with the government. In this new environment telecommunications companies are free to record the private data of individuals and the world’s largest mercenary corporation has emerged.
It appears clear who the true enemy is. It is those who seek to control us, those who seek to expand their stranglehold on our lives. The enemy is not your neighbor, it is not your co worker, it is not your mother in law. The enemy is the collective of humans who have decided that it is their right to control the destiny of others. It is Barrack Obama, John McCain, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Pope, and your friendly neighborhood police chief.
Civilization is a diversification engine. Everything a culture may create; clothing, slang, music, media, beliefs, and anything else are all absorbed for the goal of domination. As the corporate machines standardize the world they are actively converting individualism and creativity into conformity. The act of separating everything into neat categories promotes a behavior called ‘groupthink‘, it causes humans to behave like automatons and to accept and use labels as a primary cognitive tool. In truth, it makes us really fucking cognitively lazy. Ah, but there’s a more genial term for this phenomenon, it’s called Cognitive Dissonance. It destroys the ability to reason , it eliminates critical thinking, and it turns human beings into knuckle dragging bigots.
We separate ourselves into religions, nationalities, classes, and cliques. If the controllers of the labels are powerful enough, they can turn groups against one another. We generally call this war. Sometimes, the war is undeclared and psychological. The child versus the adult, the expert against the autodidact, the male opposing the female.
What does this lead to? In the end we all want the same thing. Peace, freedom, food, and shelter. If we could prevent the manipulators from leveraging us against others for their own personal gain, we could perhaps live in a world absent of war and exploitation. It just takes a bit of backbone and a whole lot of responsibility.
It was all a dream, an onslaught of media in a plethora of shapes and forms produced an environment of illusion. Like a masochistic slave pleading to his master to do with him as she will, a passionate madness ending in self destruction is all that will occur when one offers themselves as fodder to an entity which holds nothing but contempt for their captive. The modern world is enraptured with a sick hedonistic fantasy whose pursuit leaves nothing but death and destruction in its wake.
We trod to and fro, producing and consuming; and always growing, always hungry, never satisfied. More is all we want, and more is all we shall receive. More pollution, more loss, more suffering. Our tormentors understand their relationship with us, and they delight in doling out punishment.
The illusion is so complete that virtually all humanity is affected. Nearly all accept the master/slave relationship on all levels, yet they refuse to acknowledge it. Perhaps trauma blocks out the truth, perhaps rejecting the truth is part of the fetish.
Dreaming of true freedom and independence, the very idea of rejecting civilization evokes such defense and passion that it makes clear how demented humanity has become. It may be that the only cure for humanity, as for Severin, must be like Wanda allowing another master take their turn at whipping the poor slave, a master with whom Severin is not enamored.
Rewind with me if you will, a lifetime ago, to a dust ridden town dotted by pueblos and wooden framed buildings. Some call this place a boom town, a gold rush only fifty years prior brought much of the population here. Fifty years before that only the Tongvan Indians called this place home. The strategic position of this place however, along with the discovery of multiple resources in the area has led to steady growth. Yes, this town is destined to become a city. An anchor of the western side of the empire, securing manifest destiny.
Los Angeles was a town of under 100,000 at the turn of the century, the land struggled under the pressure of this level of population. Water resources were dwindling, and ground water aquifers were being taxed. A solution had to be found, a city cannot simply stop growing. So in response the Los Angeles Department of Water Supply drafted a plan, Mayor Frederick Eaton and agency head William Mulholland began exploring possible sources of water. The Owens River was eventually chosen as Los Angeles’ artery, Mulholland took up the task of engineering the aqueduct.
Construction spanned eight years and involved much corruption. Land was virtually stolen from farmers in the Owens Valley and insiders provided information to real estate speculators. Harrison Otis for example, turned around the defunct Los Angeles Times when he became editor and used his privileges to print deceptive stories about water shortages to win the publics support for the aqueduct. In turn, Otis was granted information that the San Fernando Valley would be irrigated before the rest of Los Angeles. He bought up vast tracts of land and made a fortune.
The Owens Valley was once known as the ‘Switzerland of America’ for its snow capped mountain peaks and green meadows. After the Los Angeles Aqueduct was completed in 1913 it sucked the life out of the Owens Valley like a metroid. The once lush landscape transformed into a desert as Los Angeles expanded. Owens Lake dried up as well as over fifty miles of the Owens River. L.A. eventually built another aqueduct in 1970 and began draining Mono Lake. The population of Los Angeles peaked over 10 million in 2007, it became the most populous county in the United States as well as the most polluted.
In the end, a lush and unique valley was traded for a cancerous blight on the surface of the planet. Thanks civilization.