Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Parsons & Freedom

Some astute observers of my last posting noted the influence of Jack Parsons, who died in a laboratory accident in 1952. Parsons managed to capture a particularly American libertarian revolt against the authoritarian mind-set, one that looks prescient today not for its expected fulfilment but as a necessity in resisting the sirens of a revived obscurantism.

Given an American propensity to see everything in sub-religious terms, Parsons embedded himself in the world of the charlatan-genius Aleister Crowley and his simple insights have got somewhat lost in his character of Belarion and in the equally unhelpful obfuscations of Thelema.

The point is that, just as Marxism is a Christian heresy, so Thelema is dependent on its history of revolt against tradition. Just as Marxism is an intellectual half-way house to ease the transition of slaves to liberty within left-wing politics, so is Thelema within the counter-culture.

But both Marxism and Thelema, if not transcended, reproduce so much of their traditional background (including Crowley's now-ridiculous sub-Swinburnian rhetoric) that, in their mature form, far from liberating, they are in danger of become intensifications of the very authority from which they seek to rebel. Marxism came to prove the point in bureaucratic and brutal spades.

I have decided to be more heretical still and to regard a text as no longer a revelation unless it is transformed for each person and generation into something that could not possibly be understood by its original writers because 'things change'. A great deal of our contemporary problems arise from texts that survive long after their original purpose has been superceded - the Bible, the American Constitution, the Communist Manifesto.

Such texts must be gutted, reinvented, used as tools, even deliberately buried as no longer useful but never worshipped. Intellectuals who parse and refer to texts become the enemies of a humanity that grows in its moment of action and learns only from its own actions, and not from analysing past words from the dead as if they were anything but tools.

What I have done here is interpret Parson's 1950 Preface to his 1946 Libertarian Manifesto, Freedom is Two-Edged Sword. The document is naturally about conditions that applied at the time of writing but surprisingly little has changed since then - indeed, the situation may have much worsened. He writes of McCarthyism as we observe the shenanigans surrounding control of the internet and ourselves by a different form of the same bureaucratic mechanism.

He writes of the American State acting in an arbitrary way, using the 'excuse of emergency'': we have seen, over the first decade of this century, the 9/11 assault being used to justify executive powers of tyrannical potential, with gross injustices perpetrated against persons.

Science is 'scared', he notes, locked into a 'security' agenda. To his credit, he sees the US' deals against communism with corrupt dictatorships to be as malign as the Communist seizure of Eastern Europe.

Perhaps the only area of improvement since his day is that 'burlesque' State intervention in private morals seems to have ended - but we should not be complacent. Even today, in East London, a malign alliance of post-marxist progressives and faith-based groups seek to dictate the private pleasures of some to meet their ideological ends.

Authoritarian loons are still lurking in the undergrowth as they did in the 1950s when communists and parsons combined to censor comics. Since the progressive 'radical centre' has left us with a society that is unmanageable through the loss of 'auctoritas', the instinct of progressives seems to be to rediscover 'morality', especially sexual morality.

This is where Parsons has something to say because he, perhaps acting as a vector for the German revolution in psycho-sexuality that got crushed at home by that most evil of radical progressivisms, national socialism, is aware of the link between sexual and political freedom.

The free person who is open in his or her desires without harming another poses a threat to the structures of convention, conformity and control that are necessary for authoritarian cultures to thrive. Freedom in private life has a tendency to leach out into social, cultural, political and economic freedom ... and we can't have that, can we?

The Vatican's manipulations until very recently to control information concerning child abuse by its own members and the cover up in 2010 of security consultants offering young children to Afghan cops (as exposed by the incomparable Wikileaks) represent the very closest link possible between the banality of corporatist evil, war and sexuality.

Parsons writes of 'inertia and acquiescence'. We are less surprised by this today because scientific experiment around and since his time has shown us some grim truths about our species. We are obedient by default, we are frightened by our condition, we are exhausted by the inputs hurtled into our minds by a complex social reality.

We are also prey to manipulation so that certain social wolves have learned how to make a science of this manipulation to drive us to consume ourselves, to vote like zombies (though that tutelage is ending in cynicism), to feed on others souls like vampires ... we are, more than we think, the undead.

Raising awareness is thus not about more drugs to deaden the pain but about education and criticism of what is presented before us as 'normal', 'right', 'appropriate' ... we learn through bitter struggle. Above all, consciousness is Socratic, a questioning of everything, including our questioning.

The attempt of 'progressives' to take away much of that struggle and then replace it with infantilising control, exercised coldly and 'professionally' without compassion, removes our chances of becoming truly human at source. Thus, again, the sheer banality of evil.

Parsons writes: "The little that is worthwhile in our civilization and culture is made possible by the few who are capable of creative thinking and independent action, grudgingly assisted by the rest."

This strikes the contemporary mind as elitist in the worst sense but he is right because he is merely describing current conditions in which the few who 'think' have to rely on chance effects for the success of their contributions to the human condition.

They have to be lucky in where they are born, what happens to their families, what school they go to, who they know who can help them on their way and who their emotions direct them to as life partners. The winners believe in their own talent, of course, but the matter is likely to be one of chance.

No wonder the vast mass of humanity, most of which is too hungry and frightened to think of anything else than their next meal or, in the West, not losing their position, are brow-beaten into sheep-like states by those who have been born in the right place, to the right people, in order to manage and control to their own profit.

It may take 3,000 years for the most prosperous quintile of humanity to become men and women rather than ruminants and 30,000 for the 6-8bn persons who can inhabit our planet to attain the same position as a matter of course, but the work starts now as a revolutionary process of destroying the structures of authority held by the few over the many.

The release of talent held down in small American and English towns today could transform our culture and our economy. It is no accident that public school boys in England have kicked away the ladder from the clever poor and middling sort and forced them into a situation where they can only progress by becoming indebted to their masters. Tuition fees are a crime for which the Liberal Democrats have been justly hammered.

This is the instinctive strategy of wolves - to build a class of dependent scribes to manage and manipulate their own families and towns, to instil rule through an internalised fear of consequences. And what should have been an out-and-out class war to stop our best and brightest children becoming kapos never materialises because our minds have long since been enslaved. There is no energy or understanding left in our minds for the liberation of our bodies.

Parson writes: "When the majority of men surrender their freedom, barbarism is near but when the creative minority surrender it, the Dark Age has arrived." And this is where things are getting worse. The soi-disant intellectuals, academics, the journalists, the 'writers' - these are the ones who have become so integrated into the 'progressive' model of social engineering from above, so beholden to the idea that liberal values can be imposed on populations here and worldwide, that they have given up the ghost on raw liberty entirely.

Or at least they have negotiated sufficient liberty for themselves at the cost of liberty for others - rather like the priest who sits at the lord's table, below his chamberlain but above his peasants. Why? Because these classes think of us, the people, as a mob, they despise us, we are there to be 'informed' and manipulated, our taxes removed for a 'greater cause' (their own employment usually).

These activists and intellectuals are complicit in our enslavement. They are embedded in our State, our media, our political parties and, most tragically of all, in the 'progressive' wing of the economic structure, where they replace wealth creation through innovation with wealth preservation through regulation.

The only criticism I would have of Parsons in this introduction is that he writes that: "The golden voice of social security, of socialized "this" and socialized "that", with its attendant confiscatory taxation and intrusion on individual liberty, is everywhere raised and everywhere heeded" as if this was necessarily negative.

This is a common American blind spot that cannot see that no man is free while he is hungry or without shelter or fearful of the future. The redistributive nature of taxation (in a world of growing wealth for the few as the majority are quietly pauperised) and a measured approach to restrain the excesses of the psychopath strike me as necessary. There is no liberty without redistribution.

The issue here is 'how' to do so without creating a cure worse than the disease - the bureaucratic progressive state, controlled by corporate, NGO and activist lobbies who intensify their interference in our lives in proportion to their frustration at their own failures. There is no redistribution - the cash goes from us to them in what must be one of the most fraudulent money-laundering operations in history.

Parsons is thus right to be suspicious but he is wrong that absolute liberty can govern society - such absolute libertarianism is a mere charter for wolves to prey on the sheep. It is bureaucratism and corporatism, not redistribution, welfare and care for the vulnerable, that need to be fought. The problem is that the people's state is too weak, not too strong ... too weak to counter fascist, federalist and Bolshevik bureaucratism from within.

He is blunt and he is truthful in his conclusion: " ... I was never so naive as to believe that freedom in any full sense of the word is possible for more than a few. But I have believed and do still hold that these few, by self-sacrifice, wisdom, courage and continuous effort, can achieve and maintain a free world."

What he is suggesting is something akin to an old value of 'service' - that the free should struggle to remain free in order to struggle for the freedom of others directly and without the intermediation of bureaucrats and intellectuals. I, on the other hand, still believe that all men could be free in the full sense of the world even if it might take that 30,000 years of effort.

This is not the spurious business of trying to free middle class intellectuals in developing countries (which is simply a sop to the kapo class in our own midst) but of freeing our own people and showing other countries that freedom works and that peoples can free themselves through a struggle that is appropriate for their own condition, on an effective economic base that leaves no man, woman or child behind.

We highlight elite politicians in one country and democracy dissidents in another simply to destabilise barriers to free market ideology (which is little more than opening up new lands to their new corporatism). A collusive intelligentsia skulks, negatively accepting every possible lie and misrepresentation that allows them to take the taxpayers' ignorant shilling. It is necessary for them to believe that they are the good guys but they are merely the rotting flesh on a decaying corpse.

Parsons' message was not just to America (though that is his focus). It is to the world. He is prescient, almost socialist in the libertarian democratic sense rather than the sickly progressive sense:

" The soul of the slums looks out of the eyes of Wall Street and the fate of a Chinese coolie determines the destiny of America. We cannot suppress our brother's liberty without suppressing our own and we cannot murder our brothers without murdering ourselves. We stand together as men for human freedom and human dignity or we will fall together, as animals, back into the jungle."

He concludes his Preface: "I need not add that freedom is dangerous -- but it is hardly possible that we are all cowards."