Contrarian That I Am

I’ve been a contrarian most of my life opposing stupidity, bigotry, racism, gender issues (under whatever banner), and oppression across the board never giving a shit who it was I was speaking against, but always specific and true to the people I sought to speak with not for, people who could not speak up for themselves and those who could. Having left university early on I lived in the streets, working odd-jobs throughout my young life from carpentry, cooking, mining, long shoreman, pipelines, etc. I needed to live among working class people. The notion of being an academic just seemed mad to me during the sixties. Maybe it was the dissenter in me, since I’d early on turned against my forbears faith having realized that for the most part it seemed a collective fantasy that instilled fear and terror in the hearts of its members rather than peace and freedom, justice and equanimity.

Most of all was this deep knowing that I must go my own way, contrary to all that was dear to my people, and against the powers of church, state, and history. Something was driving to understand and know what it is that makes us so fucked up. Maybe that’s been my mission all along, to understand why humanity – this animal of planet earth is the only animal who could not accept its place in the order of things. We’ve always sought more, something else, to transcend our place in the natural order.

The love of my life died in 89′. She was truly my helpmeet, as I was hers. Yet, she had that independent spirit of her people, the Lakota (Oglala Sioux). She was an activist within her own community helping women to not only survive but to thrive and educate themselves, overcome much of the crap that had forced her people onto reservations and allowed them to become passive recipients of alcohol and government checks. She’d been raped when a young girl by many of her own kin, something that took her years to overcome (if she ever did). I stood by her at every point of her life, as she did mine. Maybe it’s this that most irks me when someone attributes to my stance the label misogynist from statements on FB.

Sadly, we live in a moment when feminism seems to have become something other than it once was during the sixties, seventies and eighties… something I have a difficulty sometimes recognizing. Maybe it’s this same feeling that goes for the Party I once actually fought for, the Democrats. They too have changed, and not for the better. There’s a stench of religious orthodoxy in the land, not of Christian but of Secularism; and, not the variety I live, atheism with a Marxist heritage. It’s something else… moneyed and power based, a shadow world of shifting alliances, warring groups, and anathema. If one does not speak the language of the in group or hold the value systems of its orthodoxy then one is labeled this or that… accused, and pronounced guilty before one has a chance to defend oneself.

As an outsider it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter at all, as a contrarian I’ve always adjusted to the doggedness of oppositional thinking blasting any and all who were failing the test of dissidence, whether of the Right or Left it does not matter. No longer affiliated to the political I can stand outside its fractious squabbles and bickering’s, saying plainly what is on my mind. Both the Left and Right have become puppets of ideologies that subvert any actual communication. It’s just that in our time one does not know anymore who one’s friends are nor who one’s enemies have become. Sometimes I think the poles are reversing as in the I Ching, slipping from male to female and back again: a rotary world of energetic powers and dispositions unleashing strange new zones of being. Things have become topsy-turvy and chaotic, the extremes meeting in unlikely zones of affiliation and disaffiliation.

Having been part of the sixties generation my thought and philosophy are no longer it seems acceptable in some quarters. So be it. I suppose it’s a phase shift in thought, value, and our mode of being in the world. Being pragmatic about it I shall as always adapt, and yet continue to be the oppositional contrarian I’ve always been. What else could I be?

As Christopher Hitchens in his Letters to a Young Contrarian put it: “To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do.”1

  1. Hitchens, Christopher. Letters to a Young Contrarian (Art of Mentoring) (p. 12). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

The Apocalypse Happened Yesterday

Somewhere out there is a true and living prophet of destruction and I dont want to confront him. I know he’s real. I have seen his work.

—Cormac McCarthy,  No Country For Old Men 

We are living in a horror novel. Humanity scripts the world in dark enchantments, satisfied that it can outlast the apocalypse it has deigned to engender. Sadly, I don’t see humans gathering the gumption to act or do or become unified in any collective multiplicity to move against or resist this terror it is unleashing moment by moment. Ahead of us is an abyss of freedom from which we will not emerge till it is already past us, and then we will only awaken into death because the event has forced us to act – though it be only to open our eyes for the first and last time. Look at the EU underpeople under austerity and enforced enslavement, already victims of wars they did not seek and migrations they did not ask for they have been forced into enclaves of fear against themselves by powerless leaders and economic kingpins whose impersonal and indifferent gaze marks death upon the earth.

Each day the caged empire of man falls victim to its own success. We who are the end product of evolutionary parasites from the alien hinterlands of some anthropogenic slime pond have lost touch with the haptic worlds of our ancestral paradise, and are now recreating it in the re-ontologization of our artificial worlds of information and mental aberrations. Bound on the one side by an mind-independent realm of which we cannot know or have direct access, we living in that intermediary zone of imaginal depletion where thought and being no longer touch but yield each to the inner necessity of that darkness both within and without. Darkness is the victor.

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

—T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

In the old days their was at least the semblance that one’s leaders could do something, now the simulacrum has taken off its mask and the truth revealed is the ghost of democracy – the hollow men who feed off their own kind in Belgium and Switzerland under the BIS Central Bank of Central Banks. Economics divorced from politics rules absolutely, and no singular nation is absolved of the crimes of its .01%. England like the island state it is believes it will escape, and can exit such a death world of killing fields… will it? It seems to be falling into its own abyss, self-made…

The drab-suited men from the settlement, thin faces hidden under their black caps, … numbed expressions of a group of lost whaling men too exhausted by some private tragedy to rope in this stranded catch.

—J. G. Ballard, The Drought

America plays tidily-winks with populist fire and the populace deluded into believing its lies is now seeing the force of the duopoly coalitions of false democracy: corporate controlled democrats/republicans band to together against this populist authority. Democracy’s death-knell is everywhere…

Trump is simply the most visible and vocal member of a fractured party made up of frightened Americans, religious fundamentalists, and self-serving economic extremists who believe that the market should arbitrate and dominate all aspects of government and society. Trump represents a new form of social disorder— intolerant, authoritarian, and violent— that sees preventable inequality as part of the natural order of things. Guns, walls, laws, surveillance, prisons, media, and wars are there to serve the interest of the wealthy winners, and to keep the rest of the population in check. Bankers who commit theft, fraud, and acts of economic mass destruction never feel the cold steel of handcuffs tighten on their wrists. Corporate suspects never get shot down accidently in the streets, as do unarmed Blacks, by white cops who feel threatened by skin color. Trump’s rise reinforces these injustices and gives anxious whites a boastful businessman and TV celebrity to rule as their strongman.

The NRx and alt-right celebrate the Moldbug variations, a patchwork society that is all “exit,” no “voice”:

The basic idea of Patchwork is that, as the crappy governments we inherited from history are smashed, they should be replaced by a global spiderweb of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of sovereign and independent mini-countries, each governed by its own joint-stock corporation without regard to the residents’ opinions. If residents don’t like their government, they can and should move. The design is all “exit,” no “voice.”

More like Richard K. Morgan’s Market Forces we seem caught in-between Mad Max and Rollerball:

“Human beings have been fighting wars as long as history recalls. It is in our nature, it is in our genes. In the last half of the last century the peacemakers, the governments of this world, did not end war. They simply managed it, and they managed it badly. They poured money without thought of return into conflicts and guerrilla armies abroad, and then into tortuous peace processes that more often than not left the situation no better. They were partisan, dogmatic, and inefficient. Billions wasted in poorly assessed wars that no sane investor would have looked at twice. Huge, unwieldy national armies and clumsy international alliances, in short a huge public sector drain on our economic systems. Hundreds of thousands of young people killed in parts of the world they could not even pronounce properly. Decisions based on political dogma and doctrine alone. Well, this model is no more.”

In books such as The Puritan Origins of the American Self and The American Jeremiad, Sacvan Bercovitch demonstrates that it was more the rhetoric of the Puritans than the specific content of their ideas that created the American ideology, amounting to a single comprehensive vision—a mythology, in a word. The language used invested America with a sacred history, in which the land was analogous to Canaan, and the Puritan settlers to the ancient Hebrews who crossed the river Jordan. America would be God’s New Israel, or New Jerusalem. It was essentially, observes the historian David Harlan, a “theocratic prophecy.” Thus Cotton Mather wrote that the salvation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was the salvation of the individual American soul. The American, says Bercovitch, “had to justify himself by justifying America,” and therefore “To be an American is to assume a prophetic identity.”

Underlying this myth of American exceptionalism is two thousand years of Christian history. During the 19th Century many literary and philosophical members of the east coast elites would sponsor the notion of America as the new found land, the paradise in the wilderness, the site for a New Adam in the Morning arising. Then would come manifest destiny – an engine of exploitation, pillage, conquest, across the nation depopulating what had been for ten thousand years the homeland of Native and Indigenous tribal peoples. We’d brought our germs, our guns, our ancestral warlike powers to bare upon a world we believed was destined as the exception. A sweet lie we’ve allowed ourselves in the face of death and murder against those who did not cherish our absurd dreams and nightmares.

But we’re not alone in this grand narrative of destruction… there are others…

India under Modi government is absolute chaos and ethnic-cleansing fascism… China is an absolute machine, populating the neoright of its own populace with noise of the hinterlands of Western decadence and demise… Russia fueled by the dreams of Dugin’s glorious madness seeks to once again conquer the Eurasian plateaus like the ancient Kurgan peoples of long ago… Africa is a cannibal eating her children… South America in Venezuela and probably other states is falling into blood-fest rituals of violence and horror…

The desert was the apotheosis of all deserts, huge, standing to the sky for what looked like eternity in all directions. It was white and blinding and waterless and without feature save for the faint, cloudy haze of the mountains which sketched themselves on the horizon and the devil-grass which brought sweet dreams, nightmares, death. 

—Stephen King. The Gunslinger 

The apocalypse happened yesterday but we still envision paradise… and, to top it off we have climacteric, AI/Robotics, and almost any of 12 various natural cataclysms that scientists bring within probable happening… Prospects for life on planet earth surviving the next hundred years is like our elites, .01%. … Of course, I agree with you that even if this is true we must still ACT NOW: do something to awaken the sleepers from their apathetic trance… my hope is not in humanity – but, rather, in the inhuman within them. Does that make me an optimist or realist?

For what you have brought into the world may be utterly alien, it may share none of your desires or hopes, it may look upon your greatest achievements as childish toys…

—Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood’s End

Like cyborgian angels we cringe at the thought of relinquishing command and control of earth to machines, and yet the latest truth emerging is that we were never human to begin with. We who have constructed such fantastic worlds have been but the breath of changelings, the transitional phase shift of technical objects that both invented us and are now replacing us. The world is on fire but we cannot believe it, but deny it or blame this or that or the other rather than face it… like secular automatons we continue to work, slave, thrive in the interstices of silences where noise is but a distraction. Not to be bothered by the large picture we’ve subtracted ourselves from the planetary mind-hive thinking we can regain sanity, but instead we plunder the mythologies of past worlds like tribeless squanderers of 10,000 years of lost lessons… doomed to suffer a terrible awakening we strive to hide away in our deluded systems of delirium. When the bubble of madness bursts – and, it will – we will not be prepared to face the enemy, because it is ourselves.

  1. Giroux, Henry A.. America at War with Itself (City Lights Open Media) (Kindle Locations 493-500). City Lights Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  2. Morgan, Richard K.. Market Forces (p. 28). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  3. Berman, Morris. Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline (Kindle Locations 3706-3713). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition.