1. Tyrant dictatorship
2. Party dictatorship
3. Authoritarian oligarchy
5. Individual sovereignty
I propose an exercise whereby we think of how free society is, or the proposed values of an individual or group are, by thinking where they stand on a five point scale of freedom. The lines between each may prove blurred in reality, but this should still prove an illuminating exercise. To identify which of the five points apply, think where sovereignty would lie for control of an individuals life. Do they have sovereignty over their own consciousness and body, or does the balance of power lie with some other group?
1. Tyrant dictatorship
In a tyrant dictatorship, a single individual holds the sovereignty for everyone. The tyrant is not themselves subject to the rule of law, and the ultimate law rests on their every decision. In such a system, no one is free (in law) except the tyrant themselves. The tyrant themselves can not legally be disposed, and even discussing the possibility would be considered treason, and probably punishable by death if the tyrant so desired.
2. Party dictatorship
In this system a single group, probably sharing a given ideology, with limited room for disagreements, rules and makes the law. They may appoint themselves a leader, but ultimately the party may veto some or all of the leaders decisions, or even vote them out of office. Sovereignty then rests with an organisation rather than an individual. Opposition to the party view is outlawed and suppressed, possibly resulting in execution, imprisonment. In theory the party leadership is subject to the rule of law, but in practise this is only enforced on members that become a liability to party interests. Ultimately, like in level 1, corruption tends be widespread throughout society.
3. Authoritarian oligarchy
This system provides a little more freedom than the first two, since not only does sovereignty not rest on a single individual, but also no single party has ultimate control. Such a society probably, but not necessarily, poses as a democracy, but only with very limited voting options. The main political parties in such a democracy will actually be fronts for a cartel of corporations that actually control finance, industry, agriculture and the media. Through their puppet politicians they maintain control of the legal system and the military. In all likelihood they also control the criminal underworld, probably via their secret services. In order to maintain the illusion of democracy and freedom, such a society allows for freedom of religious and political expression, but may still persecute minorities in more subtle ways through refusal of employment in key positions, disenfranchisement with the political system, media smear campaigns and unjust laws. Corruption is more often exposed than in levels 1 and 2 as the different factions compete for power, but often little actually done about it as all factions serve the same interests. Sovereignty in such a system often lies with the business cartel, and the elected politicians often seem impotent to challenge their business interests. Individuals probably enjoy some legal rights and protections, but still lack sovereignty over their own consciousness and body.
Such a society probably has a flourishing democracy with wide array of parties reflecting a wide range of positions. Government is likely formed through a coalition of parties rather than swinging between overall control. It becomes more difficult, although not impossible, for the business cartel to control policy, but they mostly have to resort to manipulating public opinion via their control of the media rather than relying solely on their monopoly of available political parties. Ultimate sovereignty over the fate of an individual lies with the democratic government, which includes an independent judiciary and trail by jury. Individuals may have guaranteed legal rights that an elected government cannot pass laws against without them being thrown out in a court of law. However, laws may still be passed that contradict the sovereignty of an individual over their own body and consciousness. The parties controlling the balance of power are more likely to represent the interests of the middle classes rather than the very rich, as would be the case in level 3.
5. Individual sovereignty.
Similar in many ways to level four, except that such a society would guarantee complete individual sovereignty. This would include ensuring a base line of poverty that no-one need fall below (either through government intervention, private charity or grass roots organisation or some other means not known to me) such that everyone is housed and fed. This means no-one is coerced into doing the will of others by the threat of starvation or homelessness, as might be the case in levels 1 to 4. Further, the individual has a legal right to pursue any state of consciousness and body changing activity they so wish, be it through mystical techniques, sexual and sado-masochist practises or the use of plant, fungi and chemical derived entheogenic substances. Rape is fully understood a violation of the individuals right to sovereignty over the destiny of their own body, acts against their consent to activities that affect their body. The sovereignty of the individual over their own body and mind is seen as inviolable in law. Only in a level 5 society is everyone free.
On this scale, where do you think the world is now? Where do you think your nation is? What factions are pushing for changes in what direction and which are fighting to maintain the status quo? Where were the super powers during the cold war? Where are they now?
I release this scale and all its text as public domain. Feel free to distribute and translate into other languages as you see fit.
Most of you are probably aware of TED. They do conferences with talks by ‘inspirational’ speakers under the slogan of ‘Ideas worth spreading’. These ideas are mostly spread by creative commons videos that they release online. KIA participants have shared some of them here on this website over the years. But how are they funded? Well a significant part of their income comes from the conference itself.
Originally attendance at the conference was invitation only and cost $4400. Something for the rich elite then. In 2007 they shifted to an annual membership model of $6000. This means they are financially dependent on the continued support of a wealthy elite.
As tends to happen with successful brands, they felt the need to expand, and they achieved this through the TEDx franchise. These were smaller conferences not organised by TED itself, that took place throughout the world.
One TEDx conference took place in Whitechapel, London and was organised by a group of students. This included a talk by Graham Hancock entitled ‘The War on Conciousness’. This proved quite a popular talk that generated a lot of discussion, but when TED central found it, they decided to take it down from their site. Of course, since it was released on a Creative Commons license, it can still be found all over the internet.
Here is the talk TED don’t want you to see:
It seems, in the war on consciousness, TED have chosen to side with authoritarian repression. Bare that in mind next time you watch one of the talks they approve of.
Whilst most of the ‘so-called free world’ struggle with whether grown adults should be allowed to smoke weed, Graham courageously takes a stand against the very idea that government should have any right to limit the ways in which a grown adult can alter their own consciousness.
In effect he takes an important stand against the tyrannous authoritarian idea that our minds are owned by the governments we elect from a choice of corporate sponsored leaders, and says ‘No, I own my own consciousness, and what I do with it is not a government concern.’
The war on consciousness is to my mind a subset of the war for control of our bodies, but more on that later…
Back in 1995, around the time I was becoming a young father, the author Emberto Eco wrote a short article warning of the dangers of ‘Ur Fascism‘ or eternal fascism, outlining it basic features. He did this so we can use it to spot when new forms of fascism arise.
The fascist party of Italy derived its name from the Fasci movement, a political force formed by a grouping of organisations known as fasci, which were like guilds or syndicates. These ultimately derived their name from the Latin fasces, an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of a magistrate. This was a bundle of rods strapped to the handle of an axe, which could then be used for both corporal and capital punishment.
Whilst historically the term tends to be limited in usage to the Italian political party, its allies in other nations, and their more recent apologist groups, Eco identified a broader fascist theme, and a checklist of traits by which it could be recognised.
In this article I compare this list to the current state of play, as I perceive it, in the US and UK. This is not to say that other nations are less fascist, a lot are probably worse. But it is for readers in other countries to apply this same kind of analysis to the nations in which they reside or have familiarity…
1. Syncretism and the Cult of Tradition
As the author of ‘Chemical Serpents‘, a book that examines a common thread of symbolism found throughout the worlds mystical and religious mythology, I want to stress that I do not mean to imply that there exists such a thing as a ‘true revelation received at the dawn of human history’. In fact, in the book itself I try to keep any kind of conclusion vague and personal, warning that the same symbols that tell the story of personal enlightenment have been used by authoritarian systems of oppression and enslavement for creating spectacle. Eco warns however that a fascist interpretation would be to attempt to combine all traditions into one whole, ignoring contradictions. Indeed the actual fascists did just this, both with religious beliefs and political philosophies.
Whilst many people think of both the Italian Fascist party and the German National Socialists as the ‘Far Right’, they were actually both known for creating a political syncretism of left and right economic ideologies. Their extremism lay in the authoritarian traditionalist stance they took on social issues and control of peoples personal lives. In the US and UK today this has manifested in the ‘Capitalism for the poor, Socialism for the rich’ mentality of taxing the people to bail out big corporations, primarily banks. Indeed Iceland may have been the only country in Europe to buck the trend of this new fascism.
This syncretism stems from the authoritarian need to reconcile the conflicting ideologies of a big enough base of authoritarian factions to assume power, and the need to ignore or turn a blind eye the various contradictions this uneasy union creates. In the UK this stems for a strange blend of Royalism with the trappings of democracy dominated by two authoritarian right wing parties, the Conservatives and Labour.
Labour may once have enjoyed a fairly accurate description of being a party of the centre left, but since the ‘Third Way’ of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, an echo of the Falange, and its “Third Position”. In embracing this ‘third way’, Labour and the Democrats have paved the way for the kind of contradictory syncretism that makes possible the “Capitalism for the Poor, Socialism for the Rich” policies we have seen enacted as a result of the recent financial crisis.
However we should not let their main rivals, the Republicans and the Conservatives off the hook either. These parties have in common that they tend towards a syncretism of an authoritarian and conservative interpretation of Christianity with a less authoritarian faction that favours libertarian style economics. These two form the syncretism of neo-conservatism, where the most authoritarian policies of the Christian conservative faction get blended with the neo-liberal economics of the libertarian faction.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate are focused on promoting the rightness of a syncretic and self-contradictory ideology, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
2. Rejection of Modernism
On the surface ur fascists may appear to worship the achievements of science and technology, but this only tends to disguise an attitude deeply mistrustful of anything that distracts from the truth of their tradition. As science and technology come into conflict with their ideology or attempts at control, they display their true colours as fearful and mistrustful of innovation. Thus we see reactionary populist movements, often with an anti-science or anti-technology agenda making their influence felt on the political arena. For example, the irrational, anti-science stance of the drugs prohibition lobby (eg PM Gordon Brown not only rejecting the findings of Professor David Nutt, on drug reform, but sacking him from his unpaid role as a government advisor on drugs policy), to anti-abortion protestors, the anti-evolution lobby and all those that use economic ideology of one kind or another to ignore the realities of environmental science.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate are focused on promoting the rightness of their ideology, rather than being open to the findings of science and possibilities of technology, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
3. Action for action’s sake
Ur fascists have an innate distrust of intelligence, seeing intellectuals of all kinds as weak. For them strong leadership always stems from acting, not thinking. It doesn’t matter how irrational their actions, since they distrust rationality anyway. This is quite evident in the alchemical teachings of the fascist alchemist Julius Evola, who compared the final stage of the great work, the rubido, to the Hero, who acts, as superior to the reflective thinker of the albido, the preceding stage. However in alchemy the rubido builds upon the albido, which means good actions only result from a foundation of good thinking. Rubido without albido would be considered false.
In recent politics we can see this worrying trend in the popularity of unintelligent politicians such as George W. Bush, who won two terms as President of the United States, and Sarah Palin, who became governor of Alaska and ran as a vice presidential nominee, both despite their obvious failings in clarity of thought. But we can also see it in all politicians that enact reactionary laws without thinking them through, often blindly kowtowing to the interests of corporate lobbyists or tabloid propaganda articles.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate are focused on being seen to be doing something, rather than being open to debate on what actually works, or even if anything need be done at all, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
4. Disagreement is treason
This point pretty much follows from the preceding three. Ur fascists consider their ideological dogma to be the only truth, distrust reason and thinking, and therefore see any form of disagreement with their agenda as treason. Therefore we see in recent politics the irrational arguments that to oppose the war against Iraq or against Afganistan was treason, unpatriotic, not supporting the troops and/or sympathising with the terrorists. We see it in the arguments of prohibitionists that see all reasonable discussion on the topic of drugs as giving in to the evils of drugs, and we see it in the arguments of all those that try to censor the internet for whatever reason (pornography, copyright, terrorism).
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate are unable to tolerate reasonable discussion or disagreement with their dogma, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
5. Fear of difference
All ur fascist doctine originates from a desire to exclude those unlike the ur fascist from society. This begins with an attempt to exclude them from the political process. Point four is a part of this. Since the ur fascist cannot engage in reasoned debate they need to resort to logical fallacies, such as appeal to emotion or appeal to authority.
Thus we get told nonsense that disagreement with the democratically elected leader is undemocratic. Apparently, once a leader is elected we need to abandon all personal opinion until the next election. Of course, notice how the ur fascist only uses this argument when the leader they prefer is elected. When they oppose the elected leader, they find 101 reasons why the elected leader is either illegitimate, a traitor, an usurper or otherwise not fit to be leader. We can find this behaviour in supporters of all of the main political parties.
We can also see it in the war on terrorism, and especially how a populist anti-Islam movement has arisen from it, and the almost all too common belief that believers in Islam are all fanatics, a view often spouted by those who would just as fanatically murder all non christians as heretics given the chance. I’ve even heard the view from some that should know better that the world would be better off if we just nuked all the Islamic countries! The absurdity of this being that those that spout such nonsense believe that they are not the extremist.
Taken to its very extreme, we see this fear of difference extend from difference of political and religious opinion to difference of gender, appearance, language and sexual preference. This is less tolerated in the political mainstream, which is a blessing, but watch out for weasel words in this regard, even from mainstream politicians. For example, when recent home secretary Jaqui Smith was found to have claimed expenses for pornographic pay to view films, she attempted to shift blame to her husband saying “I’m not naive. I know why men watch pornography”. In doing so she not only attempted to evade blame, but also imply that women don’t watch pornography, whilst almost all men do. Never mind the facts, it disagrees with her ideology that pornography is something men do to objectify women, rather than something men and women do for pleasure.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate claim some kind of superiority over others based on nothing but ideological label, religious belief, skin colour, gender, sexual preference or shows similar signs of fearing those different to themselves, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
6. Social Frustration
‘In our time, when the old “proletarians” are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.’ – Umberto Eco
Ur fascists need an audience to succeed. Specifically they need an audience too frustrated with the problems of living to think critically about who or what it is they give their attention to. Thus they attempt to control avenues of attention such as newspapers and television, in particular so called ‘news’, where people often accept what the hear and read at face value and where debate can be easily controlled and manipulated. This also feeds into their distrust of the internet, and their attempts to control it by coercing everyone to join big corporate social media websites, whilst simultaneously attempting to pass laws that allow them to censor the rest.
Look at the way the financial elites effectively cut off the cash flow of wikileaks through their oligopoly of the means of transferring funds.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate hold up a single organisation, particularly one under any form of ownership or hierarchical editorial control, as the sole credible form of reliable information, or when they act to censor the free press, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
7. Obsession with conspiracy
A common thread of ur fascism is nationalism, a promotion of national pride to such unhealthy levels that nationalists see themselves as innately superior to members of other nations and see their national culture as superior to other cultures. Thus all other cultures, including sub-cultures, become seen as working together in a conspiracy to undermine the nation. All attempts of nations trying to cooperate become signs of an international conspiracy undermining the national interest.
At the extreme, the contemporary ur fascist might show an obsession with NWO conspiracy theories, but we can also see the same thing at play in the anti-EU sentiments of British and English nationalists. We can also see it in the media where all resistance to the US occupation of Afganistan and Iraq was presented as part of the Al Qaeda plot. Indeed it has been contended that the very name Al Qaeda was invented by the Americans in order to present Osama bin Laden as the leader of a criminal organisation so that they could charge him in absentia under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate attempt to justify questionable actions or ideas with the excuse of unverifiable international conspiracy, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
8. Inconsistency in evaluation of enemy power
When discussing the power of their enemies, the ur fascist will show a marked inconsistency in the evaluation of their power. To convince their followers of the seriousness of the threat, they exaggerate the power of the enemy to the limits of believable proportions. They rely on their followers ignorance of the enemy to stimulate this level of fear. But then they must convince their followers of the opposite, that the ur fascists are stronger and superior.
Combined with the themes of the previous points, we arrive at the ur fascist narrative of an intellectual and cunning worldwide conspiracy, who control all the wealth on the one hand, with the contradictory idea that all we need to do to about it is attack some small defenceless and probably poor nation. We can also see it on a smaller scale in the war on drugs. Drug users are derided as irrational, pathetic addicts on the one hand, but part of a vast powerful dangerous and rich criminal underground on the other. The ur fascist strains of feminism demonise men as elitist intellectuals on the one hand but childish idiotic thugs on the other. This is almost a reversal of the male chauvanist portrayal of women as childish unintelligent weaklings that need protecting and dominant men on the one hand, and strong nurturing mothers on the other. It also resembles the European colonialist concept of the ‘noble savage’, celebrated for their physicality and strength on the one hand, but viewed as backwards and less intelligent on the other. Notice how this both plays to and contradicts the normal ur fascist narrative that action is better than thinking. All these positions originate from the fear of difference mentioned in the fifth point. And when we fear, we lose the ability to think things through rationally and recognise the contradictions in our own arguments.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate mock the weakness, stupidity, ignorance or inferiority of an enemy they also portray as cunning, wealthy and strong, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
9. Permanent warfare
This inability to judge the strength of the enemy, often only an enemy because the ur fascist provoked them into becoming one, combined with a distrust of forming rational plans and a need to for action for actions sake, leads to an attempt to win the war through brute force alone. Not without reason did the ancient Greeks depict Ares, the god of brute force warfare, always losing fights to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare.
The ur fascist strategy of brute force we can see in the Nazi style of warfare that the Western press gave the label Blitzkrieg or ‘lightning war’. The tactic was basically nothing more than a high concentration of brute force at a single surprise point to overwhelm the enemy lines and to take them by surprise. This works well in the short term but leaves the victor bogged down in the administration of a hostile nation for which they have no plan on how to govern. Guerilla warfare ensures. A determined ur fascist regime can perpetuate this state of affairs indefinitely.
We can also see this kind of permanent warfare happening in the ‘war on drugs’. Rather than being concerned with actually solving the perceived drugs problem and developing intelligent strategies to deal with it, the ur fascist prohibitions stick dogmatically to a rigid and dogmatic brute force tactic of demanding we stick to the same failed policies of criminalisation and tough prison penalties.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate stick dogmatically to policies and tactics that have proved not to achieve their stated aim, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
10. Contempt for the weak
Ur fascist leaders believe they are leaders because they are somehow stronger and superior to those that they rule. Therefore they think of those that they rule as weak and hold them in contempt. Therefore we would expect to see ur fascists promote and attempt to implement policies and laws that severely underestimate the strength and resistance of the people. It is as if they become drunk on their own power and assume they can get away with anything.
We saw this with the last Labour government attempting to bring in a massive privacy invading ID card tracking database system and 48 day detention without charge, probably the primary reasons they lost the last election. We saw it in the corporate controlled establishments attempts to bring in laws like SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. We saw in the establishments violent response to the peaceful Occupy protests, or their assumption that the Anonymous movement would be weakened by arresting a few of its more active members. We saw it in 80s PM Margarat Thatcher’s Poll Tax.
But perhaps most evident of this is their inability to understand that a movement can be leaderless. They assume anarchist movements have ring leaders, they assume that if they target those they perceive to be ring leaders that the now leaderless movement will fall into disarray. Instead bottom up movements rally and become stronger and more determined in such situations. They ur fascists fail to learn from their mistakes in this, because to realise that people don’t need strong leaders makes their entire reason for being an ur fascist in the first place redundant.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate assume the people need to be strictly controlled by strong leaders in order to achieve anything, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
11. Everyone must be a hero
A mythological hero is someone who defies the odds to achieve remarkable things, often undergoing a long personal and transformational journey. In contrast in an ur fascist society, being a hero is an expected norm, but the concept of a hero is merely someone willing to die for the cause. This soon becomes twisted into the hero being someone willing to kill for the cause. Basically it comes down to brain washing those who job it is to enforce the ur fascist policies the unquestioning obedience required by making them believe this makes them an important hero. Therefore they may be excepted to commit acts of questionable ethics such as brutality and torture.
We see this in the acts of Police brutality against protesters in both the UK and US, the water-boarding and other tortures committed at Guantanamo bay detention camp, the callous executions of civilians and journalists in the occupied territories of Afganistan and Iraq, particularly brought to light by leaked video footage via wikileaks.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate promote or make excuses for atrocities, executions, torture and police brutality, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
12. Machismo, narcisism and psychopathy
Since an ur fascist society favours unethical behaviour, it stands to reason that it gives an advantage to those most able to commit such acts. Thus people with various forms of antisocial behaviour disorders rise into positions of power and influence. When society excluded women from positions of power, this manifested in the cult of machismo. Men bullying other men and worshipping weapons as substitutes for their inadequate sex lives.
The underlying principle of cruel bullies making ‘strong leaders’ remains however, and without the machismo we can see this behaviour for what it really is, signs of psychopathy, sociopathy and narcisism. Such people are good at making their way into positions of power, but make terrible leaders and decision makers. Ultimately their inability to accept criticism causes their own downfall and in many cases the downfall of their regime. These traits are especially evident not just in the enforcers of ur-fascist policies, but also those that rise up into positions of corporate and political power.
An ur-fascist slogan to look out for is ‘Might makes right’. Also watch out for variants on that theme.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate think bullying behaviour, or promote a might makes right ideology this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
13. Selective populism
This becomes most evident when ur-fascism has already done away with what it calls ‘rotten democracy’, but this doesn’t mean we can’t see its early warning signs as ur-fascism grows in power within a democracy. Basically, since even a dictator claims to represent the will of the people, it needs to create a theatre of ‘The People’.
A democratic society guarantees individuals certain rights and the populace a chance to hold leaders to account at elections, but once this has been done away with the only representation of the ‘will of the people’ comes from a media controlled representation of the peoples will, carefully controlled by the ur-fascist leaders. As ur-fascists rise to power within a democracy we can see early warning signs of this in the dumbing down and manipulated control of potilical debate in the media, the representation of social norms in soap operas and sit-coms, and the belittling of subcultures, the lack of any real diversity of view points between the mainstream press and political parties, with minor differences in opinion conflated as opposing ideologies we see this.
When most people get their view of the occupy movement, or anonymous, through the lens of corporate media, rather than looking at what these respective movements were actually saying or were really about, because the mainstream media fail to report what these movements actually stand for, instead portraying only a distorted an inaccurate stereotype as the truth, then this is ur-fascism.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate don’t actually need to engage in proper political debate, when their main detractors are denied a platform through which to express their views, only represented in the media as distorted charactures this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
A term from Orwell’s fictional book 1984, where the dictatorship IngSoc created a dumbed down version of English called Newspeak to use as the official language. But as Eco pointed out, the Nazi and Fascist school text books made use of a simplified vocabulary and simplified syntax as a means of controlling and limiting critical thinking. It would also help make old text books and intellectuals hard to understand for the new generation.
We can see how this flows from the anti-intellectual sentiments of ur-fascists. We can also see in this the will to dumb down the population in general. To this end the ur-fascists become the enemy of the education system, subverting it to a corporate training centre where they can, strictly controlling the curriculum and cutting funding for free education where they can. In the UK the attack on free education began with PM Thatcher, but continued under Major, Blair, Brown and now Cameron.
But perhaps the most obvious sign of this impoverished language in the political arena is the reduction of political debate to name calling, sound-bites and meaningless slogans. Since the ur-fascists want action without thought, they want any signs of thought from their politicians to be simple thoughts lacking complexity.
When politicians or other individuals entering political debate support an end to free education, talk in simplistic sound-bites and avoid arguments with name calling their opponents, this is a warning sign of ur-fascism.
Ur fascism is alive and well in the political, religious and corporate elites of the US and UK. The only thing really holding them at bay is peoples fragile belief in democracy and freedom. I hold out hope that this belief in the importance of freedom will win out, but this is no time for complacency. I wrote this article because I’ve heard too many people make the implication that calling the current US or UK political establishments ‘Fascist’ is weakening the term to meaninglessness. I hope this article shows that far from it, using the term is more than accurate enough. Waiting for a full on dictatorial police state to happen before we call it like we see it, will be leaving it too late. We can see they are fascists now and we must remain motivated and resourceful enough to stop them taking over completely.
 See the Gnostic Media interview with Jose Barrera for more info on the origin of the word magistrate.
Friday 21 12 2012 Spreading Field of Justice.
Find a place of significance. Let it be a hill, high building, a bridge or other open spaces from which you can see the world around you. Let it be a temple or a personal place of power like a woodland, a cemetery or any other space that means something to you and helps you connect to others. Let it be wherever you are.
Conjure up a feeling of justice in your heart. You can do it by connecting to your inner sense of balance, joy and well being or through a sense of injustice and harm done to you that you feel needs to be made up for. If you feel hurt let this feeling conjure up a vision of fulfilment, something so strong that it can transform you and bring you back to health and wealth. You can do this for others of whom you know need it and for the whole planet. For Everyone.
Let this positive feeling rise and grow like an orgasm until it becomes unstoppable and then release it.
Do it in whatever way you like.
Stand before the world feeling strength and integrity.
This is justice.
For some time I have documented the spread of Open Source Sorcery by starting a page in the KIAwiki just for that specifically. This followed the spread of the Open Source movement in computing that believed in sharing the code that programs ran on to allow community feedback on parts of the code that needed improving. Some Open Source licenses went further, releasing code on permissive licenses that allowed for branching, or even protected the code so that all branches need to be released on the same license.
As the buzz word grew some new occult groups formed and adopted the term. Mainly they seem to have used it to mean open participation, or that the rituals, theories and other writings of the group are made public, albeit often on a still restrictive license. Sometimes without even permission for others to republish.
Others however have begun wiki projects with licenses such as the GNU Free Documentation License or Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike. These licenses qualify not just as Open Source, but moreso as Free Cultural Works. These can be copied, modified and redistributed, by others, provided they give credit and provided they use the same license for the work they release it as a part of. There is no restriction on commercial use, but exploitation is protected against by the Share Alike license. If some Hollywood producer were to try and use some clips from a CC AT SA film, they would have to release their whole film on that license, or pay the copyright holders of the clip for rights to use it without those terms. But if somebody wants to use it on a blog with an advertising banner, no problem.
Wikipedia and other projects show the power behind the kind of collaborative approach that a Free Cultural Works can provide in the realm of reference texts. The GNU/Linux operating system and most of the software that runs on it demonstrate the power of this approach in writing software. Less well known projects such as Kaltura video are forming and will in time demonstrate the power of this approach in the realm of film, soundtracks and other creative projects.
With this in mind I started a page in the KIA wiki called ‘Free Cultural Sorcery‘, which is an attempt to catalogue those open source sorcery projects that opperate on a Free Cultural Works approved license. Projects that I organise that fit with this definition include the content on this blog (excluding the nest which remains copyright of its contributors), the KIA wiki, and now the films on alchemical.tv.
For the latter, I am hoping to draw together artists, musicians, script writers and film makers willing to collaborate on Free Cultural Sorcery film projects. Whether or not others join us, Lolita Perdurabo and I will be working on such projects in any case…
(Note: This article was originally written for Key64 and published a while back. However since they seem to be down at the moment I’ve decided to republish).
I was born in the UK in the year of 1974. The cold war was in full swing and I grew up with the threat of nuclear war hanging over. From an early age I came to understand that I was fortunate to have been born onto the side of the war where the people were free, the government democratically elected and no one lived in fear of the secret police. Or so I thought for some years in my childhood innocence.
As I grew into an adult I had become increasingly aware of the limits to freedom in the democratic West, and came to understand the degree to which people seemed to tolerate government intrusion into our lives. And I found them unacceptable. To begin with I knew not what to do about them. I found my friends and allies in the anarchist underbelly of society. A strange world full of beautiful subcultures that share as their common thread a healthy disrespect for authoritarian politics. Of course, some of these subcultures have a darker side, harbouring those with communist or even fascist leanings, and they are not always as obvious to spot as they should be having found many cunning ways to disguise themselves. Such is the sophistication of the hiding mechanisms, it seems like some of those with authoritarian leanings may have deceived even themselves.
The reasons people end up in the ‘counter culture’ are diverse, but are usually related to having a taste for something frowned upon by society at large, or even actually illegal. This can be as simple as holding a minority political view, or belonging to an unconventional religion. It can be attendance at raves and squat parties, if not actual squatting. It can be membership of direct action and protest movements. It can be smoking marijuana, and perhaps increasingly tobacco as it too becomes ostracised from the mainstream. Other things like motorcycles, or skate boards, surfing and extreme sports. Sexual attraction to the same sex, or both sexes, cross dressing and transsexualism are all unconventional enough to lead to counter culture. Even something as basic as an interest in non-mainstream music can lead one to the counter culture.
Of course, a lot of people meeting some of the criteria above will find themselves only on the fringes of counter culture. Others will attempt to hide their difference in a veneer of normality and a revulsion for anything else that causes them to stand out.
However, when I say underbelly, I do not wish to confuse counter culture with the underclass. The counter culture is made up of people from all walks of life, some living on benefits, some in low income employment, others are students, or in professional graduate jobs. Some run businesses, or work in creative media perhaps even as artists, poets, musicians and those with fairly successful acting careers. Some are quite wealthy and drive nice cars/have big houses. Whilst others are homeless and live on the street or in squats. However, those unfortunate enough to become jobless and homeless pretty much become counter culture by default since the dominant culture failed them they need to turn elsewhere for support. Counter culture is where they find that support. If they are lucky. It partly depends on how well evolved their local counter culture is.
Commitment and membership of the counter culture varies, many who think of themselves as part of it are only paying lip service, whilst yet others deeply ingrained within it may not see themselves as part of anything. What is more, it is deeply divided with many factions that dislike and distrust other factions. And yet if one has an understanding of their commonality, it is easy to move around within it and be liked by most of the diverse strains.
The single most important rule to get along in counter culture is to remember to never grass on anyone to the police for any activity the authorities unfairly classify as a crime or for which you know the punishment will be entirely disproportionate. Nor indeed to make undue fuss about such things when they have no negative impact upon your person or your freedom.
Manifestation of this counter cultural rule depends entirely on the innate sense of fairness common to the vast majority of human beings, and will vary greatly depending on the nature of the current injustices being perpetrated by the worlds governments.
For example, when being Jewish was a crime punishable by death in Nazi occupied Europe, many non-Jews recognised the unfairness of the ruling power and were willing to risk their own freedom, and even their own lives, in order to hide, feed and assist in the escaping of those directly persecuted. This is an extreme example from a particularly vicious totalitarian government, although we must remember that whilst they disbanded democracy in favour of dictatorship they could only do so because they were voted in using a system based almost exactly on the democratic model still officially in use in the modern day United States. It also demonstrates quite clearly that sometimes it is only by breaking and tolerating the breaking of unjust law that true justice can be served.
Another example closer to home would be those living in a post war democracy before the legalisation of homosexuality who recognised the injustice of their persecution, and who would knowingly keep the company of gay men without reporting them. In the modern day United Kingdom as I write this, it is still illegal for three or consenting gay men to have sex with one another. I remember reading somewhere that more people were arrested for homosexuality after it was legalised than before. I don’t know if that still holds true but it was fairly recently that a group of gay men were arrested for nothing more than making video of themselves having group sex. Making the video wasn’t the crime, it was just used as evidence that these men had illegal group sex. Still, whether people know it is illegal or not, I very much doubt I know many people that would go so far as to report group sex practising gay men to the police, and I certainly wouldn’t count such people amongst my friends.
Indeed I myself would not report any illegal activity to the authorities that occurred between consenting adults. Nor would any of my friends. It is all very well democratically elected governments passing laws that violate the sovereignty of consenting adults in their private lives, be it in the bedroom, a private party, a muddy field or an organised centre of recreation if no-one is actually willing to report violations of such unjust laws.
Of course, some misguided people are willing to report such things, sometimes even quite well meaning people. It is partly to make such people think about the true meaning of justice and liberty that I am writing articles like this one. Others however have quite hypocritically turned on their fellows out of spite or revenge. For example I know of an adept (second in command) of a magic order that got involved in a custody battle with an ex member of the same group. In the ensuing court case she actually had the nerve to out the father of her child as a witch in the hopes of prejudicing the court against him. Luckily freedom of religion is very much an excepted part of the modern legal system these days and so her tactic backfired. None the less she demonstrated considerable hypocrisy in her actions which are one of the many reasons I no longer count her as a friend or even someone to be trusted.
By this point I have come to notice that I have been bandying about terms such as ‘unjust law’, ‘individual sovereignty’ and ‘consenting adults’ without defining precisely what I mean by such terms. On the surface they seem self explanatory, but if we explore them deeper we find that they are not without ambiguities and each raise questions. Of what exactly is the individual sovereign? What makes a law unjust? How are adults able to grant or withdraw consent, and under what circumstances can we consider consent to have been broken?
These are valid questions and so for the purposes of this book I will attempt to define these ideas in as simple a form as possible.
Individual sovereignty means that the individual is sovereign of their own mind and body. It can also be extended to refer to sovereignty over personal possessions, and whilst I see this as a natural conclusion, at no point should it distract us from the core issue of sovereignty and ownership of ones own mind and body. Ownership of the mind is something we have come to take for granted in the democratic west. We can believe and think what we want although we are not always free to say it. Freedom of speech is of course a much touted cornerstone of democracy but in practise it has never been total. Slander and libel laws have ensured that. To say nothing of incitement to violence/crime and hatred laws. Thought however has never been a crime in a real democracy.
Of course, most democracies in the world are currently turning their backs on what democracy means, seeing in their majority vote a mandate to do exactly as they please, and so it is not surprising to see thought crimes starting to appear on the statute books. For example here in the UK a young woman was imprisoned for simply owning Jihadist literature. The UK is no stranger to terrorist attacks. Throughout my life there have been far worse troubles in Ulster, which often fed into the UK mainland, with far more dead than the Jihadists have so far caused, and yet it was never to my knowledge a crime in those days to simply own Irish Republican material. Nor when some neo-nazi’s nail bombed Soho did they make it illegal to own neo-nazi material. The tide it seems is turning back to its authoritarian roots.
Or perhaps it is just that the first wave of freedom broke and receded at the end of the seventies, the next wave arrived in time for the nineties but broke around the millennium. If this is cyclical the next wave should start in time for 2012, lets hope it reaches a bit further inland this time…
The freedom of an individuals mind is a cornerstone of democracy, whether or not it us under threat from current democracies, since without it the very discourse on which democracy is based becomes meaningless. But sovereignty of body is not something that has ever been fully recognised by any government, democratic or otherwise. Homosexuality has only been barely legal for a few decades, many democratic governments reserve the right to enforce conscription, even if they aren’t currently practising it, all control to a certain degree what medicine and recreational substances we are allowed, restrictions on who can get a sex change operation, the right to sell sexual services for money. You don’t have to look far to see that the law is full of instances where the government evidently feels it has the right to control what individuals can and can’t do with their own body, evidently feels that our bodies are its legal property.
Personally I do not feel this is a task that should fall within their remit. They are only elected officials. The only qualification they need to be appointed to their post is winning a national popularity contest based on sound bites, false promises, celebrity endorsements and having the best smile. Why should we trust such people with anything at all, much less our own bodies?
Many people are currently campaigning for all sorts of reforms to our legal and electoral systems. Some want cannabis legalised, others want a proportionally representative democracy, etc. And I am not saying that these aren’t worthy causes, but a movement I could really get behind would be one where the very legal right of government to violate the sovereignty of an individual was challenged. Imagine a world where we had successfully devested government of such power. This is the kind of world I would like to see achieved in my own lifetime. And that is why I am writing this, to help turn us back on track, so that once again we can move forwards towards a future of liberty and freedom from tyranny (instead of mistakenly assuming we’ve already got there as those with authoritarian outlook want us to believe). Let us continue the journey we started in the Enlightenment, rather than giving up and retreating back into totalitarian control.
With this in mind, it becomes clearer what I mean by consenting adults. For one adult to do something physically to another, consent must be given by the receiving party. If the technology exists to tamper with the contents of a persons mind, consent must similarly be obtained. We can see this in action already with regards to rape law, trials primarily concerned with determining whether consent for sex was given, or whether sex continued after consent was withdrawn.
Of course the problem is that the government presumes to intervene and make activities illegal despite consent being given. This is often done under the guise of ‘protecting the individual from themselves’ but is more often a pandering to the sensibilities of some influential religious group that are somehow offended by the activities involved and wish to suppress their practise, even amongst those who don’t subscribe to their teachings.
Just law is then all law that recognises the sovereignty of the individual over their own mind and body, recognises the right of consenting adults to be sovereign over their collective minds and bodies and protects that sovereignty from all who would violate it. Unjust law is law that permits or demands that such sovereignty be violated. This can be on an individual level, such as a law that permitted a man to rape a woman without consequence, or it can be on an organisational level, such as a law that required the authorities to arrest members of the public caught in certain sexual practises.
Individual Sovereignty is the absolute sovereign right of all individuals over their own minds and bodies.
Consenting Adults. Any activity in which all present consent, and are mentally mature enough to grant consent, have not been deliberately misinformed by others present with regards to the risks of the activities and are able to withdraw consent, is an activity that is taking place between consenting adults.
Unjust Law: Any law which fails to recognise the sovereignty of the individual or of consenting adults shall be deemed unjust.
War. So simple a word. Three little letters. And it conjures images in our heads of planes, bombs, nukes, soldiers, guns, battles, tanks, rockets, guerrillas, knights, swords, imperial legions and barbarian hordes stretching from the dawn of civilisation to the present. We think of the suffering, the destruction, the loss of life, the wounded, the horrors, and so we think we know what war is. Some us have witnessed this death and destruction first hand, but many of us have simply heard tales, watched footage from tv, etc. So we think we know what war is.
If this is what we think of when we think of war, then I am not entirely convinced we do. From my perspective these things seem like attributes of war, or maybe expressions or consequences of war, rather than an understanding of war itself. I feel instinctively that war is something deeper, and I also feel So how can we understand war itself? My intention is to explore this theme in this article, as I don’t think war will ever go away, nor do I even think its constructive to want it to, but I do think we can build a world in which its more deadly and destructive expressions are.
As I was writing this article, a discussion started on the kiamagic.com forum about Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”, which might be renamed “Basic Strategy for Dummy’s” these days despite widespread ‘use by analogy’ in various fields of human competition. Definitely worth a read, but following blindly no substitute for intelligence. In any case, in replying on the thread I came up with the following insight:
“Before deciding to fight, one has presumably asked themselves first the question ‘why?’
Probably to either gain or protect something you value or even need (either physical or abstract). Fair enough. But this raises other less obvious questions. Firstly, what do you stand to lose if you don’t win? And perhaps more importantly, what do you stand to lose even if you do win? Are these potential losses of even greater value/need to you than the loss from not fighting? Can they be protected against?”
So a big question to ask in deciding to whether to fight is determining or understanding what you are prepared to sacrifice in order to win. “Winning at any cost” may be a defiant battle cry but is hardly a sound basis on which to form a beneficial strategy. In any conflict one should understand how much one is willing to sacrifice, whilst only making those sacrifices where necessary. One should also understand how much is being sacrificed and when. But also, one should be very clear about one’s definition of a successful outcome.
I have no doubt that the generals involved in most of the conflicts both contemporary and historical understood this. I also doubt very much that the reasons they given to troops and populations or the levels of sacrifice they are prepared to endure have matched those they held in their heads. Indeed giving away one’s true objective and level’s of excepted sacrifice may put the general at a disadvantage compared to their opponent. Of course, the general does have to be clear about how much they can expect their troops and population to sacrifice also before this support. Although it can work the other way. Sometimes the public demands tough talk from a leader such that they must exaggerate in a big show of bravado. This can help to intimidate the enemy.
This could result in a major disadvantage for democratic leaders during a conflict, such that they would almost certainly have to find objectives to keep public support that may vary greatly from their true objectives. Indeed the true enemy they wage war against may not even be the one they tell the public. It is not inconceivable for example that a democratically elected government may not even care about winning some foreign adventure they are sending their troops to fight in. That may simply be a diversion to distract the public attention from laws designed to remove their freedoms, or simply make obscure changes to the law that may have otherwise . Their real opponent may be their own electorate. Seen from this light, it may be that America never intended to ‘win’ in Vietnam. It may not intend to actually ‘win’ in Afghanistan. If it does, great, if not it didn’t really matter, it was just a sacrifice it was prepared to make.
Allies may not even share objectives. They may simply be able to work together in a conflict in order to achieve entirely different goals, presuming they don’t have to step on each others toes too much in the process. Nor do they need to be truthful with each other.
I would suggest taking a non-dualist viewpoint on war, embracing the idea that multiple factions exist within any conflict, many of which form uneasy alliances with each other and that the strongest bonds may be more about shared ideology than loyalty to nationality. Although nationalism can be one of the ideologies involved in the struggle.
Armies, weapons and destruction therefore seem more like occasional symptoms of an underlying conflict between hundreds of ideological factions that takes place on many other levels.
For example during the cold war many in the west supported communism and many in the east supported democracy and/or capitalism. During WWII, many in Germany wished for a return to democracy, whilst an active faction of British Fascists, including at one point prominent newspapers such as the Daily Mail, wanted us to ally with Hitler. In the ongoing conflict between various capitalist democratic nations and fundamentalist Islam, we find many Muslims in fundamentalist countries would like democracy and whilst some living in democracies would support their conversion to a fundamentalist dictatorship. Things are rarely clear cut.
Choose your allies well, but try and understand who they are and how much and how little their objectives match your own. We are all in secret societies, whether we realise it or not…
Io Ares! Io Athena! Io Anarchons!
Just published on Key64.net:
I have just finished reading my first ever on-line book from the Project Gutenburg library. Well, more like a pamphlet really, but inspiring none the less. It was Open Source Democracy by Douglas Rushkoff. I came across it searching on the title. I’d never actually heard of it, and although the authors name is familiar to me, I can’t actually remember where I’ve come across it in the past. Probably several places.