The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Basis Of All Law

All laws are ultimately backed up by “if you don’t we will send violent men after you” and we should never, ever, pretend otherwise.

Mao’s “all power comes from the barrel of a gun”, or pre-gunpowder, guys with swords or clubs, is, however, only one-third true.

What matters isn’t the violent men, it is controlling the violent men. If all power came from violence, then it would be guilds of violent men who run society directly, but as powerful as police and armies are, in most places it isn’t military men or cops who who make the laws and are in the executive positions and when they are it is usually in a second or third tier country.

Ideology, whether religious or secular, is used to control violent men. It’s about legitimacy: about who has the right to give orders and what violence is legitimate. All power comes from controlling violent men, but that doesn’t mean that the violent men are necessarily in charge, especially after the first generation. Mao was a military guy: his successors after the Long March generation aged out of power were not.

George Washington was a general, most of his successors were not and when they were, as with Grant and Eisenhower, it was generally right after an important war.

Of course there are periods of history where almost every ruler was a military man, but even in such cases, control over the violent men was what mattered. The Roman Praetorian Guard choosing emperors makes this clear.

But moving back to the first sentence: law is enforced by violent men. The idea that there is some “social contract” is nonsense. You do what you’re told because their are consequences if you don’t. Those sanctions may start with fines or losing your job, but if you decide to do things the law says you can’t, well, the violent men show up. The whole history of cops going into homeless encampments, taking all the homeless people’s possessions and destroying them makes this rather clear.

At its heart law is violent. That’s why when you make a law, you should always be thinking “is this important enough that someone should be beaten up, killed or imprisoned for it? Is it important enough to use violence to enforce?”

There is a trade-off here. There’s a fair bit of evidence that many (not all) pre-historical societies were very violent. The early kings reduce internal violence by centralizing violence. “Everyone and everything belongs to me and only I and people I give permission to get to be violent.”

Whether it reduced violence overall, however, is less clear, because societies on the edge of these “civilized” states suffered a lot of violence from the civilized folk. There’s a perception that barbarians were the violent ones, threatening civilization, but when you look into the behavior of Rome or China towards the tribes on their borders, it’s abominable. As with many such things the question of “who started it” is impossible to answer, but that “civilized” nations were very often hyper-violent to their neighbours isn’t in doubt, and when they weren’t, they were constantly meddling.

The Mongols, when they invaded China, had a lot of reasons to hate the Chinese based on how China had constantly meddled in their affairs, including militarily. The Romans slaughtered “barbarians” in vast numbers. And so on.

Violence is, sadly, part of the human condition, and so far our solution sets for managing it at scale have been bad: either externalizing it, effectively enslaving most of the population as a byproduct, or both.

Finding a better way: a way that doesn’t produce war or tyranny, is one of our tasks.

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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 5, 2023


Britain’s Bare Produce Shelves


  1. VietnamVet

    Humans evolved and created culture within family, clans and tribes. Love, honor, and duty are in our genes and society. The human hierarchy is family, clan, gangs, cartels, states and nations. These groups trigger instinctive behavior in humans that, once upon a time, aided survival and reproduction. There never has been anything legal about warfare. Crimes and inhuman behavior are part and parcel of it. Thus, the rise of propaganda. Up to WWII and the invention of nuclear weapons, mass conscripted armies fought Europe’s wars. Four million Axis troops took part in Operation Barbarossa – the 1941 Russia invasion. After WWI the elite who were still around had to placate the masses to survive. But, after Vietnam War and the revolt of the US Army, nations were superseded by free trade corporate/states. There are no state/national drafted militias left. The people were trashed. Americans are too sick and obese to support a conscription army; only around 20% of the young are fit to serve.

    The proxy WWIII in Ukraine is being fought by mercenaries except for the Ukrainians defending their homes and families and some conscript Russians.

    The real danger is that the current global capitalist system that includes China has no feedback from the people to the rulers. The reigning death cult believes that there is no such thing as society – that only money and markets have value. Pandemics, Wars and Famines create corporate profits. Their lies, ignorance, incompetence and emotional triggers have overcome rational thought. WWIII is being fought the same as WWI. The the outcome will be the same, destroyed empires and revolt, unless the loser uses tactical nuclear weapons to avoid defeat.

  2. mago

    There’s contextual interpretation and literal interpretation of law.
    The West is literal and rigid, while some other cultures weigh the circumstantial.
    Is that being orientalist on my part?
    I don’t know.
    Some folks like bacon with their tofu.
    If steamed kale smelled like bacon everyone would eat their greens.
    Never mind.
    This comment makes as much sense as anything else floating around out there.

  3. Preston

    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.” ― John Adams 1826

    This post talks mainly about use of the sword. It would be fun for Ian to discuss how control via debt works.

  4. Ian Welsh

    Control by debt is downstream from control via sword. You use the sword to get initial control, you use debt to turn your new subjects into slaves.

  5. GrimJim

    “Control by debt is downstream from control via sword. You use the sword to get initial control, you use debt to turn your new subjects into slaves.”

    Which brings us right back to the swords, as the only true way to control slaves, chattel or debt, is by the sword.

    The Founding Fathers knew this, ergo the rights to militias, etc.

    The current “Masters of the Universe” are going to have to relearn this lesson the hard way, as, once their debt slaves realize they literally have nothing to lose, they will lose it.

    This will happen shortly after some bean counter thinks they can earn a smidge more profit by cutting back on the propaganda, the bread and circuses, or the soma… Though not a moment before.

  6. Eric Anderson

    More women in positions of power seems the first logical step. I bet a cursory investigation bears out the correlation between low violence countries and high participation of women in positions of power.

    Also the antidote to population issues.

    But hey, pay no attention to those anti-abortion law men who are so concerned about the death of the innocent children. It’s not about them maintaining power over women at all.

  7. Ché Pasa

    Rulers (and lawyers) constantly argue that law exists to prevent violence or to limit it to that committed by the State.

    Without law, anyone and everyone is free to commit violence against others when and how they see fit. All against all, etc.

    Yet I think even a cursory overview would show that the use of violence in so-called primitive societies (those without codified law, let’s say) is strictly limited and rare. So called civilized societies (with elaborate law codes) tend toward greater levels of violence and more routine use of violence — and not just by the State.

    The argument can be made that more pervasive violence in civilized societies is due in large part to the greater complexity, competition, confusion, stress and struggle in those societies. Could be.

    But whatever the purpose of codified law, I don’t see it as preventing that much violence within societies or between them.

  8. Geoffrey Dewan

    I would say some forms of law are based on mutual consent; both sides of a power equation seeing benefit in explicitly stating (and following) rules which assure mutual benefit.

    This would scale…if men were angels.


  9. Mark Level

    Hi, all. Nice start to this thread, so some quick responses– VVet, you are completely correct as far as I can see. The only thing surprising about the Neoliberal (Ayn Rand, Milty Friedman & Alan Greenspan e.g.) cult’s complete takeover of the ruling class (starting, somewhat ironically with “reformist” Carter) is the open declaration that Public (interest, resources etc.) no longer exists, the Owners get everything and the plebes get scraps, via Thatcher’s “TINA,” “There is no Alternative,” etc. The declaration is shocking enough, that 40 years later there is no remaining “Left” to contest it is what should be truly shocking. . . One of my old lefty pals (parents were Quakers & pacifists) rebelled against his upbringing in his late 20s, early 30s by first becoming a Randian goofball, later on he added overt racist “Alt Right” (barely hidden Nazi, he did brag to me once earlier about his genome being like 95% German!) This guy was not stupid and when I reminded him that the word Republic is from Latin, “res publica”, the public thing, that even a society as cruel & dominating as Rome recognized collective rights, . . . well, I might as well have been speaking Esperanto to the wall!! No attempt to argue against me or admit my point. My friend is not really wealthy (though did inherit a bit when his parents passed) and at the time he became batshit right-wing extreme he was actually working as an aide to Oakland mayor Jerry Brown! (Jerry did not bring him along for the ride when he moved up to Governor). I also agree with Mago, & no you are not being “Orientalist”, I think Anglo-Saxon culture in particular does share exactly the literalism you refer to & that’s at the core of the problem. Occasionally, that rigidity has unforeseen consequences, e.g. though the Brits jailed and chemically castrated queer men for being “deviant”, in the Victorian era Lesbians were not subject to any penal discipline, since “neither one has a prick”, they couldn’t “penetrate” one another (by a strict dictionary definition) so consensual women-women relations were frequent and in some cases open . . . As to Preston’s comment on debt, yes, fairly clear even from a conservative (with some principles) such as Adams 1. I have been watching a fair # of Michael Hudson videos lately (as the unipolar US dominance starts to shatter) & he makes the obvious point that Money is entirely based on (government decreed & recognized) debt. Of course as the Neolib Globalist order congealed & corporations took full control of the US political elites & State Org, we now have select Rentier monopolist domination– e.g., Health “Care”, sic; Insurance; property ownership or rent etc., privatized education to create unpayable debt peonage among the young, etc. The System is consuming the poorest and most vulnerable first but of course will consume everything incl. what remaining clean, wild Nature remains. We are well and truly f–cked as “Everybody Knows” (Thank you Leonard Cohen). When I was young (2nd wave Punk, 1982) we still had the guts to take to the streets and resist, even vandalize property etc., I don’t see much of that now, the few feints toward “revolution” I see (if any, I cannot use the word “Resistance” after Libs soiled it whining about Trump) seems to be people quitting work, dumpster diving, or overdosing, just breaking OUT of society. So I have no clear portrait of what is coming except what a friend of mine regularly reminds me, “It has to get a lot worse before it will get better!”

  10. Feral Finster

    “Don’t quote laws to us. We carry swords.” -G. Pompeius Magnus.

    n.b. there are no conscripts in the Russian military. There are reservists that have been called up, and there are prisoners that were offered amnesty in exchange for military service (something like what Ukraine did in the beginning stages of the war, except that in the case of the Ukrainians, they just opened up the jails and gave the prisoners guns.) But those are not conscripts, in the sense of press-ganging men off the street and into the army.

    Ukraine is on its, what, eighth wave of forced mobilization now? Ukrainian telegram channels are full of videos of kidnapping of young men and forcing them into service. Ukrainian doctors have up signs indicating that they will not break bones of military aged men to get them out of the military. (What that may mean in actual practice is left as an exercise for the reader’s imagination.) At least one neonazi paramilitary (“Right Youth”) is taking boys as young as 14.

  11. Jason

    Control by debt is downstream from control via sword. You use the sword to get initial control, you use debt to turn your new subjects into slaves.

    The sword used to instill debt as a belief system. The sword used to reinforce that belief system via the threat of the sword.

    But that’s the easy part. The fun began and continues hereafter with the soft power, i.e. altering/creating entire cultural/societal belief systems, including down to the most intimate level of a how a person feels about herself, via control of the primary mechanisms that create and sustain mental imagery and narrative in the imagination.

    This is “the secret.” It’s setting the narrative you live under, then directing it via control of your personal schema.

    Go look up the word “schema” right now. I used it for a reason. And I would add that it ties into recent discussions in the comments surrounding the DSM, though that’s a subject for another day.

    And always remember we are talking about what is being done at the broad population level. What has been and continues to be done to human beings in various “laboratory settings” is beyond the scope of this comment, and probably beyond the scope of most persons’ sanity.

    You can use the sword all you want, but your goals won’t be met if you don’t instill and continually reinforce in people both the new belief system you want them to follow while simultaneously removing as much memory and evidence of their previous belief system as possible.

    Another way of putting this is that you are a slave, first and foremost, to your own beliefs – to the degree that you yourself allow yourself to be.

    That’s the secret.

    Walter Lippmann:

    “A war is only lost when one’s own territory is occupied by the enemy, the leading class of the defeated people are convicted in war crime trials, and the defeated are subject to a re-education process. An obvious means of that is to implant the victor’s view into the minds of the defeated. It’s of decisive importance to transfer the “moral categories” of the victor’s wartime propaganda into the consciousness of the defeated. Only when wartime propaganda has found its way into the history books of the defeated and is believed by succeeding generations – only then the re-education can be seen as successful.”

    When Lippmann says, “It’s of decisive importance to transfer the ‘moral categories’ of the victor’s wartime propaganda into the consciousness of the defeated” he’s talking about the soft power that began well before the swords began clashing and, just as important – as he is exhorting his elite contemporaries to understand and carry out – it must be continually shaped and reinforced in their interests going forward.

  12. multitude of poors

    mago, re:

    If steamed kale smelled like bacon everyone would eat their greens.</blockquote

    if steaming, the trick is to steam the kale in the same pan a bit of pork is cooking in, the last 20 minutes.

    I’m sure you already know this, but that’s why so many poor people add a bit pork to what is termed Greens, (and hard Beans).

    (written by 8:176 PM PST, when Ian’s first comment was the last one showing for me. Since I have very limited time, and this is a subject that requires a great deal of thought, I have no further comment to make regarding the post, or the comments made so far.)

    gotta really run…

  13. multitude of poors

    sorry for fucking up that blockquote™ though I confess, I rather like how the result flows,

    gotta run

  14. capelin

    Law can be pretty nasty stuff, for something that is an invisible concept.

    But I think there are different manifestations of Law – a way for codifying ethics, at it’s best.

    In small, cohesive and healthy enough groups, I would suggest that laws are (were) arrived at via that thinking, rather than a way to control violent guys for fun and profit, and that the enforcement mechanism against transgressions is (were) more to do with simply withdrawing support and inclusion. You don’t want the women mad at you.

    Once the empire building (mini or otherwise) starts, it’s just another tool of oppression.

  15. Ian Welsh

    Yes, Jason, the belief system is always primary and systems feedback. You use belief to get control of the violent men, then use that control to make further changes to society which help control belief. I wrote an entire (unpublished thus far due to needing to get it edited) book on the subject.

    Debt is one of two primary systems used to change early societies. The Mesopotamians had terrible debt, with massive interest rates, run largely thru the early temples.

    But this is only possible by changing belief systems. Most tribal/clan societies forbid debt beyond the level people can reasonably repay, along with hoarding and storing private wealth.

    One argument is that inequality occurs when private granaries do and it’s fairly persuasive.

    But that is only possible with control over violence. People have to believe that they can’t just go take that grain, and that always requires other people willing to stop them with violence.

  16. Willy

    So all human power lies in our ability to control the violent men. And no matter where we go, there they are.

    Back when I was a boy, my happy days friends reasonably-controlled violent boys by ganging up on them when they misbehaved. They were in the small minority back then. In college it seemed that the violent men became MBAs, which for a while kept them gainfully occupied, at least until they ruined American industry. In the NFL, young violent men are reasonably-controlled by doughy old rich men who have them compete by their rules, lest the young violent men have to work in far lesser paying jobs such as drug dealing. The NRA sells that we can control violent men with more and even more guns. But after the debacle of Uvalde, where a hundred well-gunned cops ready to do violence were cowed by a single violent boy, some doubt has been cast on this idea.

    I myself once suggested that if we could just get rid of the worst 5% of the natural-born violent men, that a more balanced society would result. But some loudly called it “eugenics”. Sadly, many of those very same loud callers are now calling for eugenics, against brown, transy and other men which they’ve deemed prone to demonic possession, by employing violent men.

    Seems it’s always something. Somebody always wants to use violent men for their own purposes. Of course, the violent men never complain since violence is what they enjoy. Which takes me back to regular folks ganging up on them. We might need to changing some common cultural values before this becomes easier to do.

  17. capelin

    The Law, as applied to the January 6 protesters. Nasty.

    “The U.S. legal system has a very sordid history. It was used to enforce segregation and legitimize the reign of terror against Black people. It was the hammer that broke the back of militant union movements. It persecuted radicals and reformers in the name of anti-communism. After 9/11, it relentlessly went after Muslim leaders and activists with Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). SAMs, established by the Clinton administration, originally only applied to people who ordered murders from prison or were convicted of mass murder, but are now used to isolate all manner of detainees before and during trial. They severely restrict a prisoner’s communication with the outside world; prohibiting calls, letters and visits with anyone except attorneys and sharply limit contact with family members.”

  18. Trinity

    In terms of complexity, both Jason and Ian are correct, simultaneously. In the real, physical (and social) world, it’s difficult to suss out cause and effect, given that all causes and effects are just a portion of something else. Reductive science is what we are stuck with (mostly) because of the difficulties in separating tangled threads. But I’ll note again that indigenous peoples managed to figure important things out by observation (and sharing those observations, notably) without computers, etc.

    Jason, your excellent post reminded me about the teaching of manners in Europe back in the day. The idea was that specific manners (how to hold and use a fork properly, for example) were taught to the rich kids but not to the poor. All was done in order to prevent a poor person from entering the “rich” world, and to distinguish the “lowly born” from the high born, in case one of them attempted to rise “above their station”. These constructions were specifically designed (along with a bunch of other stuff) to demarcate and enforce class lines.

    There are many different kinds of violence. Not all require swords or even physical material of any kind.

    “seems to be people quitting work, dumpster diving, or overdosing, just breaking OUT of society”

    And creating a new society, with a different value system. Any way in which we can disengage from their nonsense is a good thing. To the limit that we can, we need to marginalize them (and note how difficult they’ve made it to do so).

    The best (maybe only) way to upset a narcissist is to ignore them. They like any attention, even if it’s negative. They get very upset when they are ignored, in my experience.

  19. anon y'mouse

    violent men are easily controlled by status and, to use online gaming terms, the promise of phat lewtz.

    hence the knightships of olde tymes, and the comfortable and quite early retirement schemes of police, military etc.: hot armor and a fancy horse, some land and droit de seigneur. modern equivalents being pretty obvious.

    these things are the same things that street drug dealers and pimps vie, and sometimes die for, although their goals are usually written for the short rather than long term (long term is usually jail or dead).

    i find it interesting that a priestly class without fail pops up around the head violent man to legitimize his status and lewtz, enforcing and regulating the system that will continue to funnel the surplus to him and thus, to themselves and rationalizing and maintaining the ideology. these people are what we now call the PMC.

    in our system, the priestly class (managers, politicians) are themselves controlled by another class—the capitalist/rentier owners who prefer to stay hidden and issue their proclamations through one J. Powell, esq. and his fellow economistical theologians.

    as for “laws”, that’s a morass. people who believe that we are a nation of laws and not of men don’t ever factor in that it is the men that make, change and administer the laws according to their desires and it was always so. any side benefit we all get from following “the rules” is almost a fluke. the Constitution is not a set of tablets from the mountain, but a set of rules that a bunch of hopped up landed gentry used to keep their fellows in check and the power in their “wise” hands so they could continue to make money and own everything important.

    i was watching another master class on the revolutionary period, and the historian was trying to illuminate what the common citizenry had to endure–they were lured with the propaganda of liberation and yet most of them were totally destitute after the war, with the government (the landed gentry and investment bankers of their day) failing to give them any compensation for their losses, all while they STILL couldn’t vote. if they did get anything, it was a pittance many decades after they had lost nearly everything.

    hence why any future liberators are to be viewed with suspicion. i had a seminar on this once, and we used as text someone’s master thesis that pointed out that those who are the highest in status, in agitating for “change”, somehow are usually the only ones to really benefit from that change even though they promise that the change will be revolutionary and address their somewhat similar fellows’ plight. and these are usually the same people who are most similar in many ways (except the current point of difference) to the ruling hierarchy and already have almost all of the rights that the lower orders are agitating for. so these ideological “revolutionaries” are just using the common citizens’ dissatisfaction to get their own way and the lower orders barely benefit at all after “everything has been changed”. i think that show on the revolutionary period and most other schisms like that proves the point of this person’s thesis quite well.

    as for “violent men”, nearly all men (and probably most women) are and can be violent if properly motivated. i find such distinctions between the violent and the nonviolent almost nonexistent (please note: i grew up watching violence firsthand, mano a mano between people on the regular). just because that is not most people’s preferred mode of action doesn’t mean they can’t call it up whenever. if humans were not this malleable, military training en masse would not even be possible. they can turn almost anyone except the sainted pacifists who would die for their beliefs into nearly remorseless killers.

    if you are talking about “psychopaths”, or people who deprive much pleasure from the abuse, degradation and death of others, well…the only way to truly control them is to isolate them from the rest of us.

    (as an aside—
    people keep referring to the DSM around here. my knowledge of that text is that it was an halfassed attempt for the psych profession to seem “scientific”, ie “evidence based treatment”, and to get paid. most of it is about billing for something specific instead of writing to the insurance company that “Jake has bad feelings towards his parents because of how they raised him, so we need to meet once a week for the next few months to talk”. that people are constantly referencing this bastardization and product of political and economic wrangling is amazing, but our need to medicalize and pathologize and fit each other into types in order to feel superior knows no bounds, else the MBTI, astrological signs and referencing someone’s “IQ” would not be so prevalent. there are quite a few psychs who don’t even like to settle on a diagnosis and only do so because they are pressed by the insurance industry, and often after asking the patient what they want to be written down as! so much for the vaunted DSM, another bible written by men for their own ends and not all of them good ones.)

  20. Jason

    This discussion is prompting all sorts of thoughts and feelings and, per usual, I can only convey so much through this particular medium – it being largely linear.

    You use belief to get control of the violent men, then use that control to make further changes to society which help control belief.

    The people using belief to get control of “the violent men” – the “you” in your “you use belief” statement – are themselves violent.

    In fact, the controllers are the truly violent people, though much more often than not they don’t outwardly appear as so. The “violent men” are violent because that potentiality has been aroused in them by the controllers.

    Most tribal/clan societies forbid debt beyond the level people can reasonably repay, along with hoarding and storing private wealth.

    Most “tribal/clan” cultures had/have absolutely no concept of debt or repayment as we understand them. Period.

    They operate more on “social taboos” though that’s probably a clumsy term. Their social “shaming” when it does exist is not on a par with the guilt/shame that is often engendered in someone brought up under one of the more piously rigid aspects of the Abrahamic religions, which themselves create different manifestations of guilt/shame/sense of duty among their adherents.

    Incidentally, a “sense of duty” is necessary for standing armies and police forces. Interesting.

    Gotta guard the grain.

    But the controllers had to create a “sense of duty” in the first place in order to get people to believe the absurdity that they can horde the grain and parcel it out.

    That’s power enough, one would think. But we haven’t even arrived at the creation of a debt mindset and the absolute malice of lending at interest.

    “Lending” people “currency” of some sort to “pay” for something you’ve appropriated in the first place. It doesn’t get more psychopathic than that.

    So, the desert fathers, the controllers, the original gangsters – they hatched a plan. Out of the goodness of their hearts. Or something.

    They came up with the idea of a monotheistic god that their people, and ultimately the peoples of the world, must believe in. It wasn’t the first attempt at a monotheistic belief system, but this one was a real doozy, and we’re still living with it.

    This god will demand obedience and effecuate a sense of duty in people. In actuality,the duty will be to those who speak on behalf of this wonderous entity, and they have a hell of a leg up in that they created and control the language and intricate knowledge base around this “newfound” idea.

    It helps that most people have limited capabilities with the written word, and they have absolutely no knowledge of this particular writing system. Thus, the new symbols (words) and their interpreters are the true gods, though they’re probably not seen as gods initially by the commoners – the words and the elders and their influencers interpreting them are more akin to magic, at least at first.

    Spread the word.

    The more others come to experience what they’ve been told by the elders’ influencers as their actual lived reality by virtue of having their previous way of life – which was entirely or largely self-supporting – destroyed, the more they come to believe in the elders’ lone god as provider. This as opposed to their previous myth – in the positive sense of the word as a larger narrative that provides structure and meaning – of earth having many gods…or no gods at all (not all cultures had or have gods).

    In a manner of a few generations many of them have “lost the plot” as Ian recently stated. That is the intention. Out with the old, in with the new.

    People have to believe that they can’t just go take that grain, and that always requires other people willing to stop them with violence.

    The same people who hoarded the grain in the first place are the ones who now have to get people to believe that they can’t “take” the grain that just a few generations earlier they never depended on anyway. The “other people” are only “willing” to use violence to stop them because they lost the plot and succumbed to the psychopathy. And now they’ve got families to feed, and no other way to do it because they only know the debt narrative. Their original myth, their way of living in and making sense of the world, is gone. By design. They are operating under the new debt narrative and, as this is essentially all they know, they will use violence to enforce it. They’ve been trained to.

    Debt fosters violence.

    Who polices the police? Who watches the watchers?

    It’s a lot of work being a psychopath, but man it feels good to be a gangster.

    Or that’s what the song says. Probably written by a gangster.

    The potentiality for violence seems to always get back to the chicken/egg, nature/nurture, genes/environment argument.

    What percentage of people are born wanting to horde essentials that others need for survival? Most of us, if not for the grace of god or a decent cultural upbringing?

    I don’t think so.

    If we watch young children play will we notice most sharing and working together harmoniously, with a few outliers intent on messing things up for their own kicks? Or are most children looking to mess things up, and the few outliers are doing their damndest to make things work?

    It would have to be the former, because there’d be nothing to mess up in the first place if it weren’t for a majority of people working together on some level.

    Let’s go a little deeper. Perhaps we agree that most people are born with an innate need to work together and feel a part of something, but there’s a small percentage who allow their inner rascal to get out of hand. This in itself takes on varying degrees.

    There are people who don’t really seem to care one iota about the larger group they themselves are a part of. They’re indifferent at best, and can even be actively harmful.

    But their indifference and borderline sociopathy doesn’t enter the realm of actively using one’s mind to gain control of knowledge and resources that others need to survive and thrive, and then further going about using one’s intellectual faculties to actively prevent others from regaining the knowledge you yourself have appropriated in the first place.

    But we’re not even close to done here.

    You then create a story about “wealth” and a belief in magic tokens that you can “lend” to them, to be paid back with interest of course – tokens that represent the new “wealth” that they can use to buy back the true wealth you’ve stolen and go to extraordinary lengths to protect and keep from them, to the point of using agents, operatives, influencers et al who themselves have already quite willingly lost the plot and gladly take your dirty tokens and then go about rewriting the history of the people you have your boot on so that in a few generations the boot seems as normal as the air one breathes.

    That is motherfucking psychopathy.

    The controllers practice intellectual violence, but it takes those willing to engage in physical violence to carry out their intellectual violence.

    How do we end this cycle of impoverishment?

  21. Jason

    Trinity, I have so much I’ve wanted to “get into” with you (and everyone) vis-a-vis indigenous cultures. I find it hard to write about. It’s easier, it seems, to come at it from a place of what we’ve lost. For example, for all its advances, there is an incredible regression in going from a strictly or primarily oral culture to a largely written one. i know this with the proverbial “every fiber of my being” but it’s very difficult to express in writing. And that is simply by virtue of it being so in the first place. Oh the irony!

    There are profound differences between listening to someone tell a story versus reading that same story in a book versus watching that story unfold on a screen.

    Reading allows the greatest latitude and creativity, because we are really the narrator, even as we read the author’s words. And we are creating a visual in our head that is every bit as much our own as the author’s words are hers. The same holds true for listening to oral stories, though things manifest differently because they’re ususally told in groups, while reading is really a solo activity, even when done in the midst of others. Unless…

    you’re reading a book out loud to a group, or taking turns passing the book along and reading passages out loud. This is both the least fun and the least intellectually/creatively “productive” for me. I actually read well out loud, and people seem to enjoy listening to my voice, but personally I am not retaining what I’m reading, and I’m unable to really think about it.

    The differences in audio and video alone are absolutely extraordinary. And the difference in going to see a movie versus televisions in everyone’s homes is what allegedly led renowned-in-his-field advertising executive Jerry Mander to write his “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television” to be followed by “In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations.”

    multitude of poors: For the proverbial love of the god I don’t believe in: Get the formatting right!

    I’m kidding, of course. I love your flow. Although I must say, maybe “gotta run” is my problem? I’m reminded of that Seinfeld episode where the Russian novelist (channeling Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn?!) says to Elaine, “Ah yes, the Americans with their sneakers…always running!”

    If I grew up in the Soviet Union I wouldn’t have had a pair of parachute pants in the fifth grade nor had the opportunity to listen to Run DMC sing:

    Calvin Klein’s no friend of mine
    Don’t want nobody’s name on my behind
    Lee on my legs, Adidas on my feet
    D by my side and Jay with the beat

    At least The Who had the honesty to call their album “The Who Sell Out”

    Growing up in the Soviet Union, I imagine I’d just be looking eagerly westward everyday, knowing in my literally starving heart that your venerable Ronald Reagan will get that wall down somehow, some way.

    Then I can catch an already over-the-hill William Joel singing about all the heroin Captain jack indulged in after Allentown went to hell due to offshoring. Christie Brinkley left for greener pastures after she realized Joel, despite all his money, was no Chevy Chase on his way to Wally World.

    Hello john Candy and no, they don’t close Florida.

    McDonalds anyone?

    Change the goddamn narrative. For the love of the god I may have to start believing in.

    Also, I thought anon y’mouse’ comment was excellent. I agree that the generic label “violent men” (or women) doesn’t ultimately help. Unless we begin to add lots of nuance, but we can only add so much without looking to “trim the fat” once again so we can talk about it in an attempt at understanding.

    Poets and songwriters “trim the fat” for better understanding. Less words point to larger truths. Or, life’s simple truisms are more profound and less frightening than our lonely minds are often able to comprehend.

    A couple quotes relevant to things we’re discussing:

    “Healthy nationalism might be something like a kind of land-soul-feeling, which all pre-modern peoples have felt. It is a kind of psychic bond with one’s locale that doesn’t preclude generosity of spirit toward the “Other”. Patriotism (sense of duty) seems to have more in common with hysteria than love of place and tribe. This hysteria, I believe, originates from the essential hollowness of the “American” psyche and culture, a hollowness borne from the extirpation of the indigenous people coupled with the celebration of rootlessness. By refusing to respect and absorb aspects of the vanquished peoples ways Americans, those of European origin at any rate, have cut themselves off from a source of vitality and groundedness, of rightful ownership of place. Lacking this sense of rightful ownership they lack a solid basis of solidarity with other occupants of the land, especially those who look different and hail from other homelands. Hence, they go around with a perpetual insecurity which is inflamed by the slightest whiff of threat.”

    ‘Being an intellectual creates a lot of questions and no answers. You can fill your life up with ideas and still go home lonely. All you really have that really matters are feelings. That’s what music is to me.’ -Janis Joplin

    Gotta…listen to some tunes.

  22. Jason

    On second thought, I wouldn’t have posted that quote about patriotism. It touches on some things, but I don’t like it on the whole. The ownership part is not well expressed (ownership is a concept) and it’s not most of the people of “European” origin. It’s a select bunch who created a new narrative that frankly all peoples eventually seem to succumb to to one degree or another.

    As I have mentioned here previously, on my days helping out in Atlantic City I have often seen more “white” people helping homeless people on the boardwalk than all other “peoples” combined. And a lot of different people go to Atlantic City.

    The “evildoers” aren’t all European. Not even close.

  23. Willy

    i find such distinctions between the violent and the nonviolent almost nonexistent … if humans were not this malleable, military training en masse would not even be possible. they can turn almost anyone except the sainted pacifists who would die for their beliefs into nearly remorseless killers.

    Somewhat true, to a degree. What Viking woulda thunk that their descendants would today, be more into wearing floppy hats and winter sports hobbies than raping and pillaging defenseless villagers?

    But then I did the office work gig economy thing for over 20 years, with jobs ranging from 4 to 36 months duration in a business which was very ex-military friendly. I worked alongside many vets, seeing them every single day, most for over a year.

    The most cowardly backstabber I knew was an ex-Marine. One of the most undisciplined judges of character was an ex-Ranger. The most gentle of souls had once been a Huey door gunner. But then I also knew ex-marines, special forces and Vietnam vets who were closer to the Hollywood stereotypes. Although most were different.

    Out of all of them, I’d judge the most “remorseless killer” to have been the guy who claimed to be a former US Marines White House honor guard. Thanks to my gut, (and with a bit of help from MBTI which drove me to do some homework) I found out he’d lied. He’d actually been kicked out of the Coast Guard. He was very similar in appearance and manner to a young Donald Trump, so full of himself and his ability to bullshit (and destroy if need be) anybody he wanted.

    My point is, from what I’ve seen, something happens to these “remorseless killers” once they’re out of the military for a while and back amongst us civilians. Methinks their training dissipates and they change back into whatever behavioral temperaments they’d been born/raised into. But then I never worked as a cop.

  24. multitude of poors

    Jason, re:

    Although I must say, maybe “gotta run” is my problem?

    wish I could express to you why I’ve used that ending for quite a while now, but it certainly has nothing to do with jogging and everything to do with stolen time and stolen līves of people I deeply love—something white gloved (no matter their color) venal fuckers have honed to a fine art™.

    On the other hand, since we’re being so open about disappointments, perhaps you can explain why in the world you still think Al Gore is so wonderful; if you were the Jason who gave him such a huge pass a short while back?

    gotta run …

  25. Jason

    On the other hand, since we’re being so open about disappointments, perhaps you can explain why in the world you still think Al Gore is so wonderful; if you were the Jason who gave him such a huge pass a short while back?

    I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Al Gore here. If I did, it certainly wasn’t in a positive light. I would think you would know that, given what and how I write.

    You have always engaged in a straightforward and pleasant manner with me through the ether, yet I feel a harshness in this comment which has a “witch trial” type feel to it.

    I would think, given what you “know” about me, that you would instantly know that it wasn’t me that gave Al Gore “such a huge pass a short while back.”

    Further, I would think – silly me I guess – that, given our previous correspondence, you would reach out and say something like, “Hey, Jason, that doesn’t sound like you. What’s up man?!”

    Instead it seems you went hard inward, decided I’m not who you thought I was, and now that I’ve engaged you you’ve responded rather cooly to me, and you’re asking for an explanation about a comment that was made “a while back” and then maybe we can get back to good-natured ribbing again.

    Based on one comment on an internet board that I didn’t even make.

    This is not healthy, multitude of poors. Please reach out to me directly next time, or don’t reach out at all. In fact, going forward, I think it best that we don’t engage anymore. I wish you all the best going forward.

  26. Willy

    I saw video clips of the heated debate between a business owner turned US senator and the Teamsters president. Markwayne Mullin vs Sean O’Brien. Violence was mentioned.

    The US senator said he never made more than $50,000 a year, investing all profits back into his once “less than nothing” business, while the Teamsters president was making $200,000 using ‘violent men’ against his own “well-paid” employees to get them to join the union.

    Then some people did a bit of homework. The plumbing business owner had actually inherited his business and reported $92,000 salary with another $200,000 in income in 2012 alone. And then he sold the business for over $30,000,000. I’m guessing that’s somewhere between one to two million per year in actual income, far more than he’d tried to lie about. And now he’s grifting god knows what from his donors and constituents.

    Shameless lying in the face of public debate in the hopes that nobody finds out. Seems one way to try and control violent men. First make sure they’ve been tribalized into compliant stupidity, then lie, lie away.

  27. anon y'mouse

    “remorseless killers” may have been a bit, well, remorseless.

    in life, the biggest chest beaters and loudest “pro military” thumpers are usually those who didn’t see direct action. at least in my experience. they’re also the ones chafing to be released from “civvie life” and go back into the loving (socialistic) arms of Daddy Big Guv. while usually ranting about commies.

    the ones who slink away from “thank you for your service” generally had to do something bad to someone, and don’t like the memories of how that felt.

    at the time, I’m sure the violence made sense and was justified.

    it used to be commonly “known” that cops have some of the highest rates of domestic abuse and divorce out of the various professions. quite a notable number have killed their spouses and then tried to get away with it. some even do that multiple times, with their brethren covering their backs.

    could it be that operating with impunity for so long permanently warps people to think they can get away with anything? and that’s assuming they didn’t always think that and weren’t attracted to the job because it fed that kind of pre-existing mentality. i think it does. i know a former schoolteacher who NEVER worked any job where she was not “in charge” of others, and who has been utterly warped by the experience into believing the world needs to meet her requirements, and the assumption that everyone else is absolutely certain to be stupider than she is. yes, even your schooteachers were very likely hyped up on a power trip.

    children want to share and be friendly, unless they’ve been fucked up very early by the people around them. see “attachment theory”/”the strange situation”. tons of stuff is laid down before you even get language skills or the ability to consciously rationalize. we’re talking at the nervous system level.

    multitude of poors lives in CA, where if you are poor it is somewhat like being invited to a huge, wonderful banquet with a great live band, handed an ugly apron and told you are there to serve the other people and maybe can have some of the leftovers after they’ve fallen into the trash, IF the dogs don’t want them first. oh, and your replacements are always on the way, since CA imports its own slave class and everyone who eats food in this country thinks that’s just fine because “who else is going to do that?”

    sometimes you can hear the some of band. but only if you keep your sneakers on.

  28. multitude of poors


    I’m confused as to why you don’t think your comment about my choice of ending a comment with gotta run (which really hurt, it was a blow I could ill afford at the most horrifying time in my life):

    Although I must say, maybe “gotta run” is my problem? I’m reminded of that Seinfeld episode where the Russian novelist (channeling Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn?!) says to Elaine, “Ah yes, the Americans with their sneakers…always running!”

    might not elicit a hurt response. A response which was certainly not a witch trial. There was someone who used the user name Jason , at either Ian’s site or another very popular site, who said something bewilderingly supportive of Al Gore, which I noticed days after the ‘thread’ had ceased being active. I noted in my above comment:

    On the other hand, since we’re being so open about disappointments, perhaps you can explain why in the world you still think Al Gore is so wonderful; if you were the Jason who gave him such a huge pass a short while back?

    That’s not a witch trial by any stretch of those words.


    anon y’mouse, thank you so, for that embrace.

    gotta run …

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