“The bourgeoisie incites the workers of one nation against those of another in the endeavour to keep them disunited. Class-conscious workers, realising that the break-down of all the national barriers by capitalism is inevitable and progressive, are trying to help to enlighten and organise their fellow-workers from the backwards countries.” – V. Lenin, “Capitalism and Workers’ Immigration Collected Works, Vol. 24.” Have you ever faced the uncomfortable reality that your employer has put you in a situation where you must make a choice between harming the career of a coworker or losing your job? Sadly, this is a position in which far too many members of the working class find themselves. Being faced with the prospect of unemployment, of being unable to feed your family, of being incapable of making rent if one does not choose to throw their fellow employee ‘under the bus’, so to speak, is a scary situation indeed. No worker should be forced to choose between their co-workers or themselves but this is the reality Capitalism breeds, and it is why it is crucial that workers become conscious of this issue. It is imperative that we members of the working class arm ourselves with the tools and knowledge which will let us combat this exploitative tactic of employers. That is what this pamphlet sets out to accomplish. We hope you find some value in this, and that you walk away feeling empowered as a worker. However, it is helpful first to evaluate where you fall on …
A recent interview with John Bachtell was aired on 88.5 WMNF – a Tampa based radio station – which allowed the National Chairman of the Communist Party USA an opportunity to address some issues brought into the public political arena largely due to the success of Senator Bernie Sanders campaign. Although the show was advertised as a discussion of the politics of Bernie Sanders and how they relate to communist ideals the program also presented Mr. Bachtell with quite a few opportunities to elaborate on communist theory in general. The Chairman was – in my opinion – able to discuss complex issues without sounding overly academic – which I believe is an extremely necessary and valuable skill to have if we are to ever have communist philosophy reach more than just stuffy academics in political science departments. I would like to outline a bit of the key points that Mr. Bachtell raised during this program, and expand a little on the segments comparing fascism and communism. If you would like to listen to the program yourself – which I highly recommend – you can do so here.
What exactly do I intend to express when I say men and women become Gods? I do not say ‘like Gods’, but that they in fact become Gods themselves. Some will of course say this is a ridiculous opinion – many atheists who simply reject the concept of divinity without understanding my meaning- and toss it aside as the ramblings of a mad woman; but, when properly understood I believe the choice of Godhood or perpetual anxiety is truly the only choice facing mankind; or at least facing those who have awakened to the absurdity – the meaninglessness – of the universe we at present inhabit. The decision to favor one over the other defines the overall coloring of our very existence throughout this manifestation and perhaps – for those inclined to believe it so – our future, or immortal, life or lives. However, I still have not alluded to what I mean when I say we can become Gods. I will address this in the next section, but first it is important to examine those individuals whom I have mentioned choose to live their lives in a constant state of anxiety and despair.
“Its first distinguishing feature in this regard is that it cannot be divided. To destroy one of its terms is to destroy the whole. There can be no absurd outside the human mind.” – Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”1 Disclaimer: I must start this article by saying what follows is merely my opinion. I am not an expert in theology, Thelema, or even existentialism. This is one of the many posts which I hope to publish going forward that is composed of strictly my own philosophy – with the given exceptions of my influences. While it is fun to write about others and their writings I felt it was high time I started to develop my own philosophy. This is an attempt at such an exercise. Before examining Thelema’s place in relation to the absurdity that confronts us when we come to realize our place in the universe it is probably wise to quickly cover what I mean when I speak of the absurd in the first place. Most understand the absurd as famously put forth by Camus. He illustrates in many of his novels how mans desire for an existence full of meaning from within an utterly meaningless universe leaves one in a state of constant dissatisfaction with the state of affairs. We desire what we cannot have, and this leaves us all confronted with the realization that the universe may not, after all, have our best interests in mind. Perhaps there is no God watching over us …
“And ye looked on at it all? O mine animals, are ye also cruel? Did ye like to look at my great pain as men do? For man is the cruelest animal.” -Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra1 Recently I have been giving some thought to the political method that many contemporary practicing politicians in democratic republican forms of governments employ when approaching an important policy decision; I believe – and I am quite certain that many an individual living in a modern republican regime will attest to this fact as well – that the current paradigm is so far from not only the ideal implementation of the republican form of representative government, but that it indeed sometimes ventures so far from the prescribed method as to resemble an incarnation of governance which seems almost antithetical to the original intent declared in many constitutions or similar governmental treatises. I am prepared to suggest that it is merely a matter of time until the social contract between the increasingly despondent ruled and unfailingly egocentric rulers deteriorates leaving those poor souls who have long placed their faith in the law and order provided by even the most minimalistically authoritarian governments to fend for themselves in a cruel world dominated by, if not eventually consisting only of, the selfish and the wicked. In this series of articles I will attempt to defend this position using examples from the present political climate with references to historical events when appropriate.
I’ve had quite a few papers come due at once this past week so sadly the blog had to take a back seat to the rest of my work load; however I have weathered the storm, and I am prepared to jump back into writing full force. I have a few articles planned that I wish I would have had the opportunity to write previously, but I”m sure they will be just as interesting now as they would have then. I’ll also be posting my essay regarding Stoicism that I completed for my philosophy class. We are shifting our focus away from Stoicism in my philosophy class as well, and are now starting to study Taoism so I’m sure my posts will begin to reflect my thoughts wrestling with that school of thought; however Stoicism is a school of thought that I personally draw a lot of influence from in my daily life so I’m sure it will not be completely ignored.
I’d like to consider an entry from Epictetus’s “Dialogues”: Take care that the food which you put into the stomach does not fatten you, but the cheerfulness of the mind: for the food is changed into excrement, and ejected, and the urine also flows out at the same time; but the cheerfulness, even if the soul be separated, remains always un-corrupted. 1 How often do we actually take the time to consider that the food we put into ourselves, no matter how expensive or delicious, is still, at the end of the day, going to be expelled in the same manner as any other food we feed ourselves? Epictetus I believe would say not nearly enough, and I would be inclined to agree with him. Being someone who has long preferred a simple and familiar diet I am amazed at the lengths to which some people will go simply to eat a ‘delicacy’ or particularly tasty dish. I can hardly visit a big city without being presented with numerous ethnic, fusion, or otherwise novel dining options; all of these places most often cost a small fortune at least to a university student like myself. Why do we feel compelled to seek out these expensive and unique eating experiences often at the cost of our digestive health, and our pocketbook? Here again I must agree with the Stoics in saying Hedonic Adaptation is to blame.
A major principal of Stoicism was the exercise of negative visualization. This was the practice of imaging yourself loosing your possessions, family members and friends, and even your own life. This practice was highly encouraged by all Stoics from Marcus Aurelius to Seneca who would encourage his students to occasionally practice self inflicted poverty so as to relearn to appreciate that which they already had acquired. Applied to the concept of our own morality this exercise quickly reveals just how powerful it truly can be when used to help one enjoy every moment of their life. If you reflect upon your inevitable death often you will be more encouraged to make the most out of every hour you have on this planet, and it will also force you to come to terms with your own inevitable demise; the ability to contemplate our inevitable death is distinctly human, and is commonly a source of much anxiety. If we practice negative visualization frequently, along side the other Stoic exercises like Physics and Logic, the Stoic philosophers tell us that we can come to know our place in the universe, and accept our deaths leaving us free from the anxieties that plague so many individuals.
The “Know Thyself” phrase is quite familiar to those of us who have read ancient Greek philosophy as the inscription on the wall at the Oracle of Delphi who is known for naming Socrates as the “wisest man in the world”; however the Stoics also employed this phrase although not as directly. They recommended certain ‘spiritual’ exercises to help an individual come to know themselves. When I say spiritual exercise I should note that I am not talking about something like Buddhist meditation, although that can be very helpful as well in self discovery, but I am talking about an exercise that better puts one in alignment with the universe. By this I mean it helps one live a tranquil, stress and anxiety free lives. The exercise that was encouraged by many Stoics (Marcus Aurelius himself was very fond of this activity) is to take some time in the evening, or whenever really but the evening has been customary, to reflect on the past day. You should take note of your mental and emotional states throughout the day, how you responded to individuals, and anything else you feel could be relevant in helping you to achieve your goals in life. Some Stoics (Marcus Aurelius again can serve as an example with his “Meditations”) even kept a journal of these nightly self inventories, and would reference back to them at later dates to remind themselves of their progress towards achieving a life of tranquility.
When I take a moment to evaluate the things we value in our culture today I am consistently amazed that we have lasted as long as we have managed. Everyone today seems absorbed in their own lives to the point of almost total isolation unless otherwise forced to interact, and we live apparently for nothing more than to satisfy our next craving, materialistic desire, or more commonly our desire for fame, validation, and recognition. It is common now to sit silently in a class room before the teacher arrives as everyone is focused on their little phone screens instead of making conversation with one another. I remember when I first attended university in 2006 people still spoke with one another before class. It was a way to make friends, or hear about the best upcoming party (not that I ever attended any as I would rather spend my evenings tucked away with my dusty old books). Today we make our friends online, or when we are forced by either an instructor, boss, or other authority figure to begrudgingly interact with one another. Why do we spend so much time on our phones, staring endlessly at Facebook?