Thursday, November 1, 2012
"The criminal mind is simple" says Roz-al gul to Bruce Wayne in the mountain fortress. This idea, although emanating from the villian, passes unnoticed into our consciousness. It reinforces a very dangerous notion which has been beaten into our brains since we were small: crime and justice are polar opposites. You are either a criminal or a law abiding citizen, choose wisely. Fortunately for me I became a criminal at a very young age so my mind was not pollutted with this false dialectic.
Soviet criminals were far more common than American criminals in the early 1990's. When I lived in the Soviet Union you were a criminal if you held a church service in your apartment, traded rubles for dollars anywhere but a state bank, or allowed a foreigner to make international calls. So at the age of 19 I began to recognize that the labels "crime" and "criminal" were arbitrarily created by those in power. Arbitrary is in fact a misnomer because while these petty crimes may have been arbitrary in relation to moral justice they were not arbitrary at all. The designation of certain activities as crimes always reinforces the existing order. In the Soviet Republics free market capitalism and religion were both a threat to the existing atheist/socialist order. Therefore all activity which related to capitalism or (not officially sanctioned) religion was illegal for individuals. Of course the Soviet Union and its satellite states were free to pursue capitalism without hindrance and the official Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish and Islamic houses of worship were left intact. So the ideas of religion and capitalism were not necessarily bad under Soviet Law, they were allowed when the state was in control.
In the United States of America in 2012 we have a strangely similar situation now as regards socialism. Although it is still encumbent upon police officers, fire fighters and members of the armed forces to swear that they are not members of any organizations which advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government, socialism per se is allowed when practiced by the true power masters of the United States.
Is it not a strange irony that in the U.S. the large capitalist powers, Citibank, GM, JP Morgan Chase etc. are bastions of free-market-only economics but are first to accept socialism when it comes in the form of a government bailout? The marching cry of American corporations should thus be "Capitalism for the individual, Socialism for the corporations, just as in Soviet times the motto was "atheism/communism for the individual, capitalism/religion for the State"!
Thus my friends in Russia and Georgia were all criminals. Some had been in prison for currency trading, convicted of selling trinkets on Red Square, or black balled in their careers for traveling abroad to the decadent west (i.e. driving over the border into Turkey to buy cheap leather goods for resale in Russia/Georgia/Armenia/Azerbaijahn at a PROFIT!!!).
Yet none of the "criminals" I ever met were ashamed of having a "criminal" record in the Soviet Union. My first Soviet psychiatrist told me matter of factly that he had been in prison, and had returned to society to have a family and pursue a career in medicine (not sure this is possible in the West, which is why I went to law school). He could not understand the notion that I would attempt suicide over a paltry seven year prison term (which was the penalty at the time for living in Russia without a visa as I'd been doing). In fact the very notion that the law on paper coresponded in any way to something meaningful was (and to some degree still is) laughable in Russia.
Having internalized this notion, that the law is merely a means of perpetuating the rule of those in power, I returned to the U.S. at age 25 and began to see that this was not unique to the Soviet system.
The zombie factories that we attended under compulsion from age 5-18 really have only one lesson which is repeated ad nauseum: "there are two groups, which group will you be a member of?". When I was in elementary school the bad guys were communists, by college the bad guy slot was transitioning to Islamic terrorists. This transition was not seen as problematic even though those same "terrorists" were our allies in Afghanistan from 1979-1989. Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, Mohmar Qhadaffi, and Hosni Mubarak would all make the long march from paid U.S. thug to undesirable despot over the next 20 years or so.
The message of your compulsory education is this: "choose the correct group." This gives us the notion that we have a choice which of course we do not. Your grades in school are a reflection of your ability and willingness to parrot back what you have been "taught". The system is not seeking creative thinkers it is seekng cogs in a machine. If you parrot back the right answers and (much more importantly) do not have disicpline issues you have proven yourself fit for the next stage of your conditioning known as the university. And if you are extremely adept at suppressing all questions and apparent lies and falsehoods about what you are being taught you will be given the privilege of not going into crushing debt to obtain your university level conditioning program, you will be given a "scholarship" so that you can feel grateful to your masters and superior to your moronic classmates whose poor working class parents sweated, scrimped and saved all their lives to provide what you are getting for free by "virtue" of your ability to discern what your teachers wanted to hear and give it to them.
This is quite effective training for the working world because the terms "yes-man"/"company-man" (good) and "agitator"(bad) are certainly indications that parroting back the Party/company line is extremely beneficial to one's career and challenging power is fatal to advancement.
Thus we exist in a paradigm in which material success is directly connected to our ability to conform to the existing order, accept the moral compass of that order and spew our enthusiasm for it (remember in 'Office Space' when Jennifer Aniston gets in trouble for not haveing enough 'Flair')?
Thus the 'criminal' mind is one which refuses not only to pin on the requisite number of pieces of 'flair' but chooses instead to wear a 'flair' button which says 'stop bombing Iraqi children'. Having never had the pleasure of employment at TGI Fridays I cannot say with certainty that such a piece of flair woud be a problem but will assume for the sake of this argument that such flair would prohibited. When the unfortunate dissident is fired for wearing this flair she is the victim of an ideological crime. The master has determined that her ideology is defective. While her job performnace may be exemplary she is unfit for employment and thus deprived of her means of providing for herself and whoever is financially dependent on her.
It may be safe to assume that Jennifer is working in Fridays because she has already been unable to spew the enthusiasm of the corporate world to the minimum extent required to remain employed. Is it a crime to require Jennifer's ideological assent as a condtion of her employment? Is it a crime that Jennifer cannot bring herself to do so?
Let us imagine that Jennifer was able to effectively take her place in the American capitalist elite as a corporate lawyer for Union Carbide in 1984. Let us further assume that Jennifer was unable to continue working for Union Carbide because her conscience would not allow her to zealously represent her client against their opponents in December of 1984. When the families of the victims of the Bhopal disaster asked for compensation Jennifer was part of legal team whose function it was to "minimize financial exposure by mitigating liability". In other words it was Jennifer's job to deny that Union Carbide had done anything wrong. Jennifer happened to be Indian and have some relatives who worked at the plant, she was intimatley familiar with the details of what the Bhopal disaster had done to the people who worked there but more importantly to those who were dependent on the incomes of those who worked there: children, the elderly, and childcare providers.
Her previous conditioning demanded that she recuse herself from representing Union Carbide but let us imagine for a moment that she was able to resist the Imperial Conditioning and continued to familiarize herself with the intimate details of Union Carbide's practices in the Bhopal plant which were to be changed or covered up in the wake of the disaster.
Jennifer is now a criminal. Even is she finds out that Union Carbide has negligently or intentionally caused the loss of human life she is a criminal. Crime is ideology, ideology is crime.
Posted by ntinator at 1:53 PM
I have been trying to understand the terms "dialectic", "postmodern" and "poststructualist" for at least twenty years now so I thought I could think on paper for a bit. G.W.F. Hegel was THE philosopher who saw everything in terms of two opposing forces, thus dialectic. The dialogue between two opposng forces such as good and evil, sane and insane, war and peace, crime and legitimate activity, labor and capital is rarely simple. in any of the above pairs of opposing forces (dialectics)the conflict is never clear cut. To use a favorite topic of Michel Foucault mental illness (sane/insane dialectic) is culturally determined. Homosexual sex has been considered at differnt points in history the norm (ancient Greece), a sign of mental illness (The United States up to the publication of DSM IV), or a lifestyle choice. But do any of these classifications accurately descibe gay sex? Can it simply be good, bad, evil, normal, abnormal etc.? This we run squarely into the fundamental problem of dialectical reasoning.
The opposite of the Hegelian dialectic is postmodernism. For the purpose of simplicity I will use postmodernism interchangeably with poststructuralism. The "posts" are an attack the idea that the world can be neatly organized into opposing froces. It is thus an attack on Hegel, Marx. Freud, organized religion, the notion of progress. Hegel, Marx and Freud all divided the world into opposing forces. For Marx it was labor and capital, for Freud it was the Id (deep dark animalistric desires) and the superego (your ability to keep those desires in check). Good and bad, good and evil, progress and backwardness, right and wrong, these are notions rejected by postmodernism. Postmodernism is largely an outgrowth of Hitler and the Nazis. The postmodernist philosophers (Sartre, Camu ...) saw the rise of the Third Reich as the ultimate expression of dialectical thinking. Stalin's purges, Hitler's Holocaust, Mao's extermination campaigns, Japanese internment, slavery, the Crusades, the Red Scare (McCarthyism), dropping napalm on civilians in Vietnam, these things have as their fundamental underpinning a dialectic of good and evil. For the Nazi war man=chine to function the Jews ghad to be evil, for the cold war machine to function the communists (or capitalists if you were Russian) had to be evil, for slvery to function blacks and/or "barbarians" had to be evil (or cursed in the Bible).
Every system which would perpetrate a massive crime against humanity must first classify its enemy as evil and itself as good. Postmodernism/poststructuralism rejects this notion.
Does Sean Hannity know when he says "good and evil exist" that he is following Hegel and Marx? Sean Hannity does not believe in postmodernism which in my mind is the antithesis of dialectical materialism. If Sean Hannity rejects it that is my cue to take a good loing look.
Posted by ntinator at 11:45 AM