Zen fascists will control you
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face
dead kennedys ~ california über alles
Longtime reader Dylan Tweney sent me a link to this recent (like last Friday) interview with Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys fame. The segment lead-in (archived on The California Report) goes like this:
California Songs: Jello Biafra and "California Über Alles"
Jello Biafra, the outspoken former front man for the Bay Area band The Dead Kennedys, is known as much for his political rantings and spoken word performances as his hard-driving punk rock tunes. Biafra even ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1979. That same year, the group released their debut single, "California Über Alles," in which Biafra launched a blistering attack on then-governor Jerry Brown. Over the years, "California Über Alles" has been updated by Biafra and other artists to satirize different political leaders.
Yeah, but check out the where the inspiration for the song came from...
Host: Biafra told us what inspired him to write this iconic tune in his hometown of Boulder, Colorado...
Jello Biafra:Boulder was a magnet for all kinds of so-called movements and escapist snake-oil salesmen that would now fall under the umbrella of what they call New Age. And I thought, oh my God, this sort of apathy and putting your brain to sleep and becoming an obedient little poodle is a one-way ticket to fascism. It's how people allow themselves to be taken advantage of by aspiring dictators.
As glad as I was to find this, what Jello B. doesn't seem to grasp -- or if he does, doesn't let on here -- is that obedient poodlism not only leads to fascism, but as this blog has repeatedly tried to show, is also the result of a long tradition of racist and proto-fascist "spiritualality" stretching back into the 19th century.
listen to song clip on Amazon page
and the beat goes on...
of Sounds True
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Sunday, July 16, 2006
...of a sort. In a manner of speaking. Though what each is mongering may be an entirely different kettle of fish altogether. None of this, of course, really has anything whatsoever to do with the actual content of this book, which is entirely serious, not to say (but may I imply?) humorless.
No, the actualmain message of the book is: Hey, c'mon, let's quit picking on the poor over-vilified laughingstock bourgeoisie. What'd they ever do to you, huh? If Karl Marx jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge -- assuming the opportunity had ever presented itself -- would you follow suit? Whatsamadda you?<SLAP!> Etc.
As to whether this is a message the world is dying to hear, I frame no hypothesis. Publishers Weekly, on the other hand, apparently did.
Though her overarching aim is to develop a modern theory and taxonomy of virtues, promoting libertarian economic views and summarizing 250 years of normative economic writings, McCloskey only sketches her argument here; the details will be left to three subsequent volumes. Most of this book is a technical survey of virtues that emphasizes Catholic theology, though it includes material from other traditions. The prose style is arch and obscure, often relying on brief quotations from philosophers, economists and historians and then rebutting them. Without the future volumes, these challenging 600 pages represent a highly idiosyncratic survey with no obvious focus.
Notice that I have emphasized "libertarian" -- because the word always gives me the creeps -- and "Catholic theology" -- because, as a survivor (I think) of that particular Weltanschauung, I reserve the right to yank its pants down and make fun of its ugly butt as the mood strikes me and without further rationalization or apology. Notice that I have not emphasized "no obvious focus" so as to avoid the charge that the pot might be thereby implying the kettle to be black.
A more sober (if not more credible) assessment of the book is provided by the author herself, who opens an article titled "Bourgeois Virtues?" (on the Cato Institute site) like this:
I bring good news about our bourgeois lives. I preach here, in the vocabulary of Christianity...
Damn, that is good news! I don't know about you, but I'm breaking out the party hats right now.
Need I mention that the Cato Institute is... (how to put this to avoid a libel suit?)... not exactly your typical hotbed of bomb-throwing anarchists. Rather, it is a place where, for instance, this quote McCloskey throws out is sure to bring cheers from the peanut gallery...
"Virtue is, on balance and all other things being equal, essentially smart business under capitalism: nice guys, in fact, tend to finish first."
That's from John Mueller, author of Capitalism, Democracy, and Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery. Yeah, but what about what Alice Cooper said? Plus, last time I checked, "all other things" were not equal, John, which is sorta where the whole debate gets started. Example: You have a nice bourgeois fish market. I, on the other hand, have not eaten in five days. Whether or not we apply the Mr. Nice Guy principle here, if I'm hungry enough, chances are somebody's gonna need a b-i-i-i-i-g padlock. And that's just for fish. You start talking gold bullion, balance of payments, terabit network throughput capacity, foxy teenage daughters, and well... you get the general idea.
All of which is pretty weird when you consider that the main thrust of the book is that bourgeois people are, overall, pretty darn nice. However, this tack avoids having to explicitly point out, as more rabid denizens of the utter-nutter right are so fond of doing, that other sorts of people are, overall, basically not.
Now true, the sort of person pictured above happens to be white. But that's because putting a picture of the sort of person we all know they mean could cause a good deal of... what's the phrase? Social unrest. You like that? Unrest? Man, who makes this shit up? Cause we not talkin' interrupted naps, Jack. We talkin' spears in yo ass!
Put the fear of God in you, as they say.
Because dig it: left, right, red, black and blue, that's what we're really talking about. Who can put the the fear of God in who else first. God on our side. Gott mit uns. God bless the mystic bourgeoisie.
Yeah well, it's late and I never set out to write even this much. I'd dearly love for someone to buy me the Bourgeois Virtues book (and the Jung-Nietzsche thing, maybe even the watch) because it seems a rich motherlode, you might say, of the sort of crap this blog and I -- having no other life to speak of -- thrive on. But honestly? At the end of the day? Who needs another hyperventilating paean to the goddam Burghers? So they got a lousy rap. Gee, I wonder why?
bour⋅geois (boor-zhwä', boor'zhwä .)
n. pl. bourgeois
1. A person belonging to the middle class.
2. A person whose attitudes and behavior are marked by conformity to the standards and conventions of the middle class.
3. In Marxist theory, a member of the property-owning class; a capitalist.
4. A simpleminded but well meaning fishmonger.
1. Of, relating to, or typical of the middle class.
2. Held to be preoccupied with respectability and material values.
I know, I know. You think my title slug is an unconscionable and unwarranted attack on America's foremost philosopher of the absurd. But hey, I didn't say that. Ken Wilber said that. About a month ago. Check it out by clicking this handy link:
I wouldn't want you -- or heavens, Ken Wilber! -- to think I was quoting him out of context, so bear with me here, as this needs a bit of development. The following is from Ken Wilber's introduction to The Collected Works of Ken Wilber, Volume 7, by Ken Wilber, which is modestly titled (presumably by Ken Wilber) "The Integral Vision at the Millennium" (online here). For some reason I didn't quite catch (probably to flog Boomeritis, also by Ken Wilber), Ken Wilber is talking about the baby-boom generation...
Boomer weaknesses, most critics agree, include an unusual dose of self-absorption and narcissism, so much so that most people, boomers included, simply nod their heads in acknowledgment when the phrase "the Me generation" is mentioned.
Thus, it seems that my generation is an extraordinary mixture of greatness and narcissism, and that strange amalgam has infected almost everything we do.... We aren't able to tend our garden, we must be transfiguring the face of the planet in the most astonishing global awakening history has ever seen. We seem to need to see ourselves as the vanguard of something unprecedented in all of history: the extraordinary wonder of being us.
In case you can't read the fine print there, it says...
“Ken Wilber is one of the most important pioneers in
the field of consciousness in this country. I regard
him as my mentor. He is the source of inspiration and
insight to all of us. Read everything he writes --
it will change your life.” ~Deepak Chopra, M.D.
Now, no one who has ever read this blog even casually can fail to have grasped in what high regard I hold Dr. Chopra. This is a hugely impressive statement because, you know... and this could be just me, but... it's almost as if he's saying that Wilber is transfiguring the face of the planet in the most astonishing global awakening history has ever seen.
There is one thing that bothers me, though.
Uh... were we trying for something here, Ken?
That's right. Not only is Ken Wilber current Reigning Deity of the Longhair No-hair Club for Men, he's also a member. Sort of. Or something. At any rate, he wants to make sure you know that he's hip to the jive and can sling the lingo with the best of them. Here he continues the rant he began with that unseemly suggestion about his penis...
Not only did I grok what the postmodernists were saying, I have given, in dozens of writings, what numerous experts and specialists in the field (including experts on Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, among others) have called some of the best, and in a few instances, THE best, treatment of these topics. As only one example, the chapter on postmodernism in The Marriage of Sense and Soul one reviewer called "the best short introduction to postmodernism available."
Whoa, dude! Izzzat so? I wonder who that reviewer was, because I just went to Amazon and read the opening pages of that chapter, and look, this is not my expert academic specialty or anything (though I did graduate Ad Hominem), but that's one of the most confused pieces of nonsensical crap I've ever read. Which is (trust me) saying something.
Note: You can Search Inside™ if you want to read the thing yourself. Use "postmodernism deconstruct" without the quotes.
First off, he says...
The disaster of modernity was that it reduced all introspective and interpretive knowledge to exterior and empirical flatland: it attempted to erase the richness of interpretation from the script of the world.
Since this occurs in the chapter titled "Postmodernism: To Deconstruct the World," we can assume Wilber is talking about modernism, not some vague "modernity." But by whatever name, with the "empirical flatland" remark he seems to confuse it with positivism -- which would have come as a great surprise to, oh say, Ezra Pound or T.S. Elliot. I'm going to guess he came by this definition of disaster by way of Rene Guenon's Traditionalist sonata for violin and three hankies, The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times -- or something in that general area of dyspeptic Perennialist nostalgia.
Wilber might have done better to read Gonzo Marketing in which I explained that all of 20th century philosophy -- i.e., your basic "postmodernism" -- could be reduced to two simple questions:
You and what army?
I guess in Wilber's book that makes me guilty of "pluralistic relativism" -- which I had to look up. In essence, it seems to describe those who don't buy a fucking word of his trumped-up "truths" and two-bit Integral Spiral Dynamic Transpersonal foosball filosofication.
Speaking of which, right after the "disaster of modernity" embarrassment above, he continues by parenthetically whacking the tarbaby another good one...
(In postmodernese: Modernity marginalized the multivalent epistemic modes via an aggressive hegemony of the myth of the given that hierarchically inverted hermeneutic inscriptions due to the phallologocentrism of patriarchal signifiers. Translation: it collapsed Left to Right.)
Ouch. I mean, I know this is supposed to be "parody," but I want to look away before he really hurts himself with that stuff. Left and Right, btw, do not indicate any sort of political inclination. Rather, think of the occultist notion of "Left Hand Path," and if you can imagine that general swamp, try to think of a Right Hand counterpart. Now quick: make the sound of One Hand getting the clap from all this masturbatory exhibitionism. But don't worry about the details. Just remember:
Ken Wilber is going to spiritually... PUMP - YOU - UP!
Oh crap. I have to post something here quick. I just now left a comment on Chris Anderson's Long Tail blog responding to Malcolm Gladwell's charge that if bloggers didn't have The New York Times to comment on, they wouldn't have anything to write. And I just realized that my previous post here -- duh! -- is a gratuitous comment on a NY Times story! Can't have the clickers-through thinking that's the sum and substance of Mystic Bourgeoisie.
As to what that sum and substance might actually be, I continue to tear my hair out wondering how to make it clear -- to myself, for starters, and later, maybe even to you, gentle readers. While this quandary has brought on crippling writer's block more than once, that isn't (exactly) the reason I haven't posted here for a while. Did you ever hit a place, while passionately exploring some subject, where the connections start coming so thick and fast you can't keep up? Well, that's what's been happening here. I've been collecting and collating source material for several years now, and suddenly links are sprouting up between books that would seem, on the surface, entirely unrelated. While this is certainly encouraging and makes me feel I'm definitely onto something, it's also making it harder to determine precisely what it is I'm onto -- and mostly, how to get my authorial arms around such a vast and sprawling collection of unsuspected (or at least little known) cross-cultural linkages...
manifest destiny, spiritualism, Mesmer and his prolific New Thought progeny, social Darwinism, eugenics, "scientific" racism, fascism of every stripe, Madame B's discorporated Masters and Theosophy, Rudy Steiner's Anthroposophy and Buddha's landing on Mars, Carl Jung and the rarified Ascona/Eranos crowd, Stefan George and his adoring circle of girlyman intellectual Nazis, orientalism out the yin-yang, Rene Guenon's sourpuss perennial "Tradition" and it's flowering in Julius Evola's jackboot mysticism, grumpy old Oswald Spengler and the Beats, California dreaming, the transpersonal quantum hoo-hah cascading in a torrent out of Esalen, sillyputty-fueled entheogenic technoshamanism, New Age fakirs and posers beyond number, and somehow... somehow... back to where all this got started: lovely, lilly-white Boulder, Colorado.
Try that on for a Long Tail! Body, mind and spirit, kids. Or, as Boulder's far-famed boomeritic filosofer Ken Wilber puts it: AQAL -- for "All Quadrants, All Levels." You laugh -- and so do I -- but there's even a Wikipedia entry for it. I'm thinking it's already too late.
But I'm workin' on it anyway. As Ginsberg said 50 years ago -- in a very different context -- America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Monday, July 10, 2006
Today's New York Times has a story titled "34 Years of Hippie Camps, Now in Tinder-Dry Woods." It reports on the annual Rainbow gathering, which is being held this year in Hahns Peak, Colorado, near Steamboat Springs, and expects as many as 8,000 "hippie-tinged campers," as the paper describes them. While the article focuses on heightened fears of forest fires, the obligatory shock is expressed -- if in a low-key en passant sort of way -- with respect to nakedness and dope smoking. A "multimedia" slide show is included, from which the unretouched shot below was lifted. Click on the photo to view the original on the NY Times site. The only difference is that this copy is slightly reduced in size -- the two are otherwise identical. The caption reads: "Because of an extremely severe drought, individual fires are banned and campfires are allowed only in approved pits in Routt National Forest."
Surprisingly, no mention is made of the prodigiously betesticled leaping spirit dog apparently being hallucinated by the barefoot young shaman in the center foreground.
posted by Christopher Locke at #
Saturday, July 01, 2006