Monday, April 27, 2009

4 Not-violent violence

Violence is the first act of a free and conscious will. Violence is defensive in nature. It is the result of the spark of life exercising its will to live through an act of self-defense. Self-defense is necessary because life is born into a passively hostile environment. If that environment is hospitable to allow life, it is, nevertheless, also demanding. Hence the phenomenon that we know as survival of the fittest, re

If the defensive act fails and does not drive off the violator from my personal space, the next event is likely to be my flight.

However, following the first act of defense, the next step, while still defensive in nature, will metamorphose into aggressivity and unconscious violence. That is, life will seek to sustain itself through looking for food. The search for food will, in due course, lead to that food becoming another creature.

If it is not violence to pull from Earth a carrot or walk through the woods stuffing one’s mouth full of blueberries whenever a bush comes into view, how is catching a mouse and eating it violence? If it is, then the act of living a conscious life is in and of itself an act of violence, and we might prefer to become unconscious again. On the other hand, perhaps pulling up carrots and eating mice is not violence.

Let us assume that the defensive act mentioned above is not by an unconscious creature, but a conscious one, a human being. If the defense fails, does he-she (you or I) necessarily run? To run and try to escape may be an objective strategy, because then we will “live to fight another day”. Nevertheless, some will stand, fall, and suffer death. Is the latter not counter to the nature of life? Not necessarily. Because consciousness presumes the existence of other conscious individuals, the death of a conscious individual will not only go without witnesses, and at the same death will also not go without having yet further effect.

The witnesses testify as to X’s brave defense of himself and his group to a wider audience of conscious beings, some of who may ask, “Why did he do it? Was he an idiot?” Others may say, “What a waste of life.” Yet more others insist that “He was a brave man. We must revenge his death. Let us go and find the guilty one.” Whatever anyone who has been a witness to or has heard about X’s death says, unbeknownst to themselves, X has become a worthy subject of discussion. X has become the center of a community of people who are bonded by the event.

It is this bonding that results from X’s death that over a longer period of time creates a community that has specific consciousness of itself, and may even call itself by X’s name.

One may argue that the above event is not the way it happens. One may say that the killers left X’s body to rot where it lay, that soon vultures noticed the smell of its decomposition, and that after a week nothing but bones remained of it.

The simplest response to such an argument is that conscious creatures are unlikely to leave the body to rot. If one’s enemies may do so (assuming that they have no interest in my hams), one’s own (whoever they may be) will not. One’s own will not suffer the death of a friend without profound feelings. While we may allow that it may take a number of deaths to register on yet “wild” human beings, the ultimate result is that X will be provided with a grave that will simultaneously become the community’s monument and temple.

Once the site of X’s death is marked, consciousness begins to do its “work” on X’s memory as well. No longer a body, but a memory, X becomes a significant Signifier whether he would have liked it or not. X suffers a dissection of meaning that some may even wish to call cannibalism. Nevertheless, it is clear that what we do is a byproduct of our consciousness rather than out of desire to be violent either with regard to the body of X or to his history.

It is at this point that consciousness may make a leap, so to speak. If the death was “unnatural”, the result of an attack on an individual in a group, and if the coming together of a community as such is believed to be at that time “a good thing”, then death of a would be Signifier (he who creates the community) becomes a sought after thing.

Given that human beings are aware that death comes to everyone, might it not be true that X2 (son, cousin, or anyone following X)—feeling that death by old age is drawing near and having noted the honor with which X is remembered—makes a decision to volunteer to self-sacrifice him- or herself? Though dead, does not X2—just like X—become undead because of his-her value to the community?

To drive the point home: not any death is valuable. Only death in defense of or maintenance of a non-violent consciousness—whether of one’s own or that of the community—is valuable.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

3 Terror In The Wind 2

We live in an age based on violence. The violence does not always take place in our immediate proximity, but it is always within our peripheral vision, because the next best thing to the exercise of violence is the charisma of its exudate—threat and fear. We cannot exist without violence for fear that without it our social structures will not hold together, and that once the structure begins to unravel, it will fall with an explosion and an infinite number of smaller explosions into ruin.

It is because of its own inherent violence that the modern state lives in fear of its demise, uses terror to stay in power, and encourages its opponents use terror and the threat of terror to keep the home-State in a for-ever unsteady state. Against this overt presence of violence stand a certain rhetorical opinions that dispute its necessity.

First, dependence on terror is disputed by the State itself, because a denial of the state’s true state of affairs throws the evidence against it into confusion until the very moment of the catastrophe it courts breaks out.

Second, the State is supported in its propaganda about its self-righteousness by the neo-Christian* church, which claims to be a revolutionary vehicle against the “terror” sown by the State’s opponents. The church insists that it refuses violence outright. Such an outright denial of violence is supposed to create a potential for “a true political act”** presumably on behalf of peace.

Third, the state of terror has lasted for such a long time (at least since it officially announced itself with the burning of Basil in Constantinople in 1184 or 1195) that a dysfunctional society (of which state terror is the main dysfunctional element) is accepted as “normal” today. The abnormality was able to take a quantum leap forward when capitalism was let out of the bag by removing all constraints on the free market. While the removal of regulations occurred gradually, each step manifested itself as an exponential, because each step demoralized society to an ever-greater extent and became the leverage point for the next great leap. Along with the exponential growth of globalization, came growth of State terror.

While many economists have pointed out that with free trade—especially with what is known as The Great Transformation stage, which originated in 19th century England (Joseph Conrad’s novel, The Heart of Darkness, is a profound subjective vision of its corrosive effect)—the growth of the Middle Class was an event demonstrably at the expense of the community at large. Quite a few writers have noted the connection of free trade depredations with a concurrent rise in opposition to it (Naomi Klein at , for example), nonetheless, there is little public acknowledgement that the increase in State terror parallels its globalization campaign. Of course, the resort by some who oppose globalization is noted with great a fanfare of condemnation.

The imposition of terror as a desirable state of affairs for the violence bred State becomes clear when we realize that the price of growing a cannabis stalk is no greater than growing a tomato plant. A cannabis leaf or blossom is far less “toxic” than a tobacco leaf, and cannabis does not come near to the addiction that may result from the use of alcohol. The terror employed in the suppression of cannabis and the terror employed by those who sell it is the result of laws prohibiting the plant’s trade.

Why then is growing of cannabis being prohibited?

One reason is the effectiveness of cannabis in enabling the user to lose anxiousness of an exaggerated awareness of time. The latter phenomenon is a byproduct of the machine age and the ubiquitous watch or clock. Tensions that arise in domestic life as a result of the worker selling his-her labor in the market place, the low remuneration which sometimes forces one to work two jobs (if available) consecutively are quite mind boggling. This is why an interest in cannabis by time-stressed human beings is not likely to decrease. Whether inhaled as smoke or seeped in milk and drunk as a tea, the plant has a pacifying effect. that can be beneficial to, both, employer and employee.

Terror and innocence that is induced by human desire (whether for a cup cake or money) are well depicted with cynical humor in an episode of The Simpsons, a well-known comic strip.

In an experiment entitled “Is my brother dumber than a hamster?” Lisa booby-traps a hamster’s food container in such a way that when the hamster goes for a nibble of food, he gets an electric shock. After a few tries, the hamster gives up. Lisa rigs up a similar device for her brother Bart, but with a cupcake as the object of his desire. When Bart reaches for the cupcake, he gets an electric shock, too. However, unlike the hamster, Bart tries again, and again, and again. Bart never gets it, why he should not have the cup cake (or is it money?) and eat it, too, until, eventually, the synapses of his brain burn out.***

As we know, strange things do happen. In the above episode, Lisa—in the context of this chapter—may be seen as the State. She also becomes the Emperor Alexis I of the Byzantine Empire. She is an enemy of Bart, because Bart, like Basil, wants to say things that are contrary to what Lisa wants to hear. When Bart does not say what the State wants him to say (and think), Lisa sees him as the heretical Basil and burns him.

* More about neo- and arch-Christianity anon.
** Marcus Pound, Zizek, p. 23, Interventions, 2008: “…what is truly revolutionary (i.e., very critical) within Christianity: its outright refusal of violence, and hence the possibility of a truly political act.”
*** I owe the Lisa and Bart episode to a footnote on p. 31 of the above mentioned book.

Monday, April 13, 2009

© Eso Anton BenjaminsNOT-VIOLENT TERROR
2 Terror In The Wind 1

The story of Jesus as told by the New Testament, gives the Passion of Jesus  special attention to elicit from the reader the profoundest of empathy with the horror of it all. The event is alleged to have happened in the 33rd year of Jesus’ life in the city of Jerusalem. This is according to the calendar of the Catholic Church and subsequently all Christian churches. According to the belief of orthodox neo-Christianity, Jesus was born 2010 years ago (counting backward from 2009) in Bethlehem, Palestine.

How was the time of the death of Jesus established?

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) commissioned Joseph Scaligeri (1540-1609) to create for Christendom a new historical chronology. While the argument for the need to establish such a chronology is generally believed to be the prevailing chaos in the chronology of history at that time, an equally good reason for putting history “in order” is that it allowed the Catholic Church to rewrite chronology the way it would like it. Indeed, the 16th century is when centuries of strife by the Church on behalf of the ruling princes against arch-Christianity have ended. The princes of the world and the church have won against the arch-“pagans and heretics”. While the history of money has just begun, there are no further obstacles in the way. The secular forces may proceed with capital accumulation and personal aggrandizement as never before.

Scaligeri was selected not on the grounds of his scholarship, but on grounds of his sympathy with Catholic (neo-Christian) theology. Which is to say, though the chronology of Scaligeri and his followers is interesting and new, can we be sure that Scaligeri is objective? Long before Scaligeri was even born, many books and documents were burned to erase other chronologies and locations of events, and countless forgeries of works alleged to have happened in times imagined were released to the public. Thus, while according to Scaligeri, Jesus was born in the year 1, and died in 33 CE, according to the mathematician and historian Anatoly Fomenko, Jesus may in fact have died sometime between the years of 1084 and 1195.

However, what if Jesus’ name was in reality Basil? Who is Basil? Basil was a holy man living in the Byzantine Empire. He was summoned to Constantinople by the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I (said to have lived 1081-1118), and there executed by the Emperor for of his “heretical” beliefs. Basil however did not die on the cross, but Alexius I’s executioners threw him into a pit of fire. The possibility that Jesus may originally have been Basil may come as a shock some, but the case is worth considering even if there is no final proof. On our answer depends the future, because as many now see, the past is ending on a note not only of a financial and economic crisis (likely to end with a crash), but that the crisis has deep roots in the history of the West. If that history is told contrary to the way it really was and the falsity has affected the way we think and behave, the crash may imbed the falsity for eternity. In that case, our children will repeat our mistakes.

According to Anna Comnena, daughter of Alexius I and author of “The Alexiad of Anna Comnena”*, the “Church” was infiltrated during her father’s reign by “heretics” known as Bogomils (a Slavic word meaning “Lovers of God”). Wishing to trap Basil (the name Vasily is a cognate of)  Alexius I invited him to his quarters, pretended great interest in his teachings, and got Basil to tell him what he believes about God and how one should live under such a God. As they conversed, Alexius I hid behind a curtain a court secretary, who recorded all that Basil told the king.

At the end of the interview the Emperor of Byzantium  rend open the curtain. He then revealed to Basil the text recorded by his secretary, and summoned a conference of “army chiefs and elders of the Church”. After hearing the content of Basil’s teachings, everyone expressed shock and condemned him. Though Basil is not quoted, according Anna Comnena, he “looked askance at our doctrine of the Divine Nature of Christ and wholly misinterpreted His human nature. He even went so far as to call the holy churches the temples of demons and treated as of little importance what among us is believed to be the consecrated Body and Blood of our first High Priest and Sacrifice.”

Basil’s teachings to the king earned Basil “burning and other tortures…”, despite which he [Basil] “…clung with all his might to his devil…. So a huge fire was kindled in the Hippodrome. An enormous trench had been dug and a mass of logs, everyone a tall tree, had piled up to a mountainous height. Then the pyre was lit….”

Brought before the pit, Basil’s woolen cloak was ripped from his shoulders and thrown into the flames. “Let us see if the fire will catch your clothes,” Anna records the executioners as saying with an inflection of contempt for Basil. The heat rising from the pit was so intense that the flames took the cloak into the air. “Look! My cloak flies up to the sky!” Basil is said to have responded to the executioners, who then “…lifted him up and thrust him… into the fire…. The flames… so thoroughly devoured the wretch that there was no odor and nothing unusual in the smoke except one thin smoky line in the centre of the flame.”

We should note that Anna Comnena does not name Jesus or Christ, but presumes it sufficient to call him the “first High Priest and Sacrifice.” Such an avoidance of name makes one think that Anna knows Christ only as a symbol. In fact, in antiquity “Christ” is a name that comes with no other name attached, but was drawn as an X, a cross. In short, Christ is as yet a word that does not represent any one individual, but many individuals who helped to make X so significant and dear.

Anna Comnena writes the story of Basil’s conflict with her Emperor father as if it was a conflict over religious belief. Of course, men do kill each other because of verbal disagreements. At stake may be the Empire—if the Emperor allows his opponent to gain so much public attention as to threaten his position. On the other hand, verbal opponents may also be killed not so much for what they say, but because what they say may give one of the parties to kill him for lateral reasons: the opponent may be standing in the way of acquiring to one gaining more power and/or wealth.

Asterisk & Notes of Interest:

* “The Alexiad of Anna Comnena”, transl. by E.R.A. Sewter, Penguin Books, 1969.

When it comes to the chronology of history, this writer agrees, more or less, with the new chronology of history as proposed by AnatolyFomenko.  .

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

© Eso Anton Benjamins

1 What is terrorism?

The term “terrorism” originated with the Jacobins  during the “Reign of Terror” of the French Revolution. “Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible,” said Robespierre, Jacobin leader.

The word “terror” comes from (see Wikipedia) Proto-Indo-European tre-, meaning to shake, tremble, which reached Latin as terrorem (fright, fear).

However, fear and trembling are not synonyms for terror in all languages. In Finnish and Chinese, it is kauhu and kongbu respectively, which is closer to the English word combat. Since one often fights for one’s rights—rights that one believes to be one’s just claim—Robespierre’s definition is closer to the original meaning of the word than Latin. Of course, this is not to deny that the death sentences ordered by the Revolutionary Tribunal under Robespierre’s direction not only made thousands tremble, but the phrase “reign of terror” did indeed come to signify fright, fear, and a settling of accounts with but cursory procedures and verbally vague charges. To repeat Robespierre: “…promt, severe, inflexible”, a decision by man not inspired by presumed laws of God, but by man in full bloom of subjectivity polished by rhetoric.

Today, however, the word “terror”—familiar to society as a result of frequent wars, literary references, and more recently through the phrase “war on terror”—reflects back on many “legitimate” governments as being institutions in the “business” of sowing paranoiac fear among the public to increase their power beyond the limits of any Constitution. President Bush’s statement that the Geneva Convention did not protect “enemy combatants” at the Guantanamo Base detention camp, made it apparent that the United States wished to legitimize terror as a tool of government. In this sense, the Bush administration was a Jacobin as they come.

The threat of terror has served as a scare tactic for a long time. The Catholic Inquisition (beginning about 1184) used terror to persuade so-called “pagans” to convert to the Catholic version of Christianity, what this writer calls neo-Christianity. If one assumes (the whyfores anon) that “pagans” had a religion of greater virtue than the kind brought to them by the Inquisitors, then it makes good sense that only tactics of fear and persistent intimidation may break the hold (for dear life!) arch-Christians had on their virtues. Which raises the question, why—inspite centuries of reassurances to the contrary—would the Catholic Inquisition represent neo-Christianity and not its predecessors, the more virtuous arch-Christians?

The answer may beg belief for some, but is rather plain. “Pagan” religion never was just about fertility gods, thunder gods, dragons, the goddess of fate, and their like. That is a fiction created by the neo-Christian Church.

From the beginning, societies that were larger than life—that is, groups of people larger than a family of a mother and her children and perhaps a father or two—were obliged for their cohesion to self-sacrifice. While self-sacrifice may be said to be an every day experience (often imbedded in some tradition, as when, for example, the Chinese give the best morsel in their soup to their guest), the ultimate sacrifice was always necessary. It seared self-sacrifice as a value and virtue into the society’s mind. It was obvious to arch-Christians that their leaders must lead by example, and the example of ultimate self-sacrifice leaves no doubt that the sacrifice (necessarily by a leader of the community) puts the community’s interests above his own.

While neo-Christianity has its explanation of how Christendom or Christian society came into being, we should note that it has never been at peace with itself. It is of course wrong to argue that aboriginal societies practicing self-sacrifice are without problems, nevertheless, the “Christian sphere” has consistently found it necessary to resort to physical coercion and violence to assure hegemony.

This is why it is necessary to look behind the neo-Christian façade maintained with the support of violence, and pose the question whether neo-Christianity was preceded by what we may call arch-Christianity. Arguably, arch-Christianity would have shared its creation myth with—and, thus, been linked with—its aboriginal past.

What is arch-Christianity, the thing hid in the cellars of neo-Christianity?

Arch-Christianity would not have found it possible to imagine that it could send its founder to an imaginary Heaven to lose himself, and that the “people” could do without being a frequent witness to self-sacrifice or live within the psychic consequences of it. Arch-Christian leadership in and of itself could not have imagined that it could exist as a body outside the body of the people. The leadership of an arch-Christendom would necessarily have led a largely non-violent society by having it and themselves join frequent witness to self-sacrificial acts.

It has not been easy however to look behind the façade of “modern” (and post-modern) times, because, for one thing, it looks upon ultimate self-sacrifice—other than an exception in which case it is “good”—as sacrilege. Why is this? The answer is clear. The charisma that emanates from self-sacrifice comes with a command: Thou shalt love Thy community with thy life. Indeed, the charisma that attaches itself to the sacrifice both before and after death, threatens any power that rules by means that, as one American president had it, “speak softly but carry a big stick behind your back”. It is in this sense that we may begin to see the advantages of a society that does not carry either a stick or a gun, but governs through the not-violent terror of self-sacrifice.

Of course, today human sacrifice (by one’s self or others) has become a topic almost exclusively associated with “primitive” tribes. Ultimate self-sacrifice is not discussed unless it has some connection with the ultimate sacrifice made by a soldier in the nation’s military. For the neo-Christian man or woman, the topic appears only in the context of ancient or medieval times, and then only as a revolt against the king’s once sacred authority. [A sideline: No doubt the Catholic clergy wept when the French Revolution took not only the head of the last sacred king (presumed), but confiscated most of its real estate holdings. Well it might weep, because its long service to secular governments ended with the implicit replacement of neo-Christian disbelief with belief in what we today know as neo-liberalist economic solution.] It is not surprising that large segments of society in our day feel that the king was more often than not a traitor.

Asterisk & Notes of Interest:

1. This writer agrees, more or less, with the new chronology of history as proposed by Anatoly Fomenko.

2. A once common way of self-sacrifice. Look for the word “endura ”.

3. There are other ways to explain “Christianity” than the explanations given by orthodox authorities. For the latter explanation, see Acts 11-26, where we find the supposed first mention of “Christians”. However, the word has no certain chronology and words such as “very old” and “ancient” are appropriate. The word “Christianity” may be read as consisting of two parts: cross + yan; perhaps “cross” standing for here, this place, this individual; and J(Y)an standing as a name of an individual or the name of a place. Thus, the name Krishyan—still common in central Europe—used to stand for the name of a priest, i.e., Krish (likely a variation on the word “cross”, but Yan (likely derived from “gans”, herder, perhaps of geese) the Priest.

The second part of Krish-yan was deliberately obscured by neo-Christians (of the English-speaking variety in the English variant of the word) by replacing “Yan”with “ian” in order to cause the public to forget “Yan”. The name was likely associated with self-sacrifice. Similarly constructed words: Rama-yana; Mande-yana; Krish-yana.