Friday, December 27, 2013

Eso’s Chronicles 262 / 2
22—Pimping for Freedom
© Eso A.B.

Lovers of ‘freedom’ have much to cheer about these days. The amnesty issued by Russia’s President Putin has given them a ‘victory’ that the
Young women of Pussy Riot fame managed to quickly defame as a ‘publicity stunt’ and rename a ‘profanation’. One of them appeared to want to stay in jail, except she had to leave because the ‘law’ (?Putin) said so. To my mind, the young women provide the public with a clear example of nihilism.

As for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, 16th richest man in the world, who poured Russian oil money in his own pockets, he was more circumspect, though joined the nihilistic punk group in so far as he, too, said that he would work for prison reform. After spending ten years in prison and being, in effect, expelled from Russia Khodorkovsky is applying for a visa to live in Switzerland, and says he will not return to Moscow as long as a 335 mil pound fine imposed by the government looms over his head. He says he will be working toward the release of ‘other’ political prisoners. Not surprisingly, he is appealing for sympathy to the West and not the Russian people, because the Russian people would likely prefer to hang him.

Both, the cases of Pussy Riot and Khodorkovsky are interesting for reasons other than the persons immediately involved. To this writer’s mind, they stand out as highlighted examples of the ‘affluenza’ epidemic that after infecting, first, the West, has spread to infect the world. If we look at the disease closely, it is every bit as deadly as the ‘black death’ of the Middle Ages. The word ‘affluenza’ most recently gained public attention through a Florida youth , who in a drunken stupor killed four people and injured many in the State of Florida.

The highlight is especially interesting, because it touches on a philosophical question that philosophers have not been able to explain away on purely rational grounds.

In his book “Interrogating the Real”, Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Slavoy Zizek discusses the problem under the title “The King and the Bureaucracy” (Ch. 6). Zizek basically divides the problem in two parts: 1) ‘the irrational moment’ as represented by the office of the King; and 2) “totalitarian bureaucracy” as represented by the State.

The ‘irrational moment’ of the King is unavoidable, so to speak, because without him there is nothing around whom or what for the community to coalesce. According to Zizek, ‘totalitarian bureaucracy’ comes into existence after the community has gained experience, maturity, and is politically knowledgeable. It is at this latter point when the King creates a bureaucracy (or, rather, it creates itself) with which government comes to resemble, more or less, what we know as ‘government’ today.

The ‘irrational moment’ is absolutely indispensable for governing, because only ‘it’ is capable to resolve the irresolvable bind with which all societies are faced at some point in their existence. It is the King who gives the deciding ‘yes’ or ‘no’, to the live or die (war or no war) situation that is more than likely the issue. A group cannot make such a decision, because it can never be unanimous and resolve all doubts beyond all doubts.

On the other hand, a ‘totalitarian bureaucracy’ arises out of the assumption that government is rational and that the concept of Reason presumes that Reason should not get into a bind that becomes irresolvable. Yet Reason does get into irresolvable situations because the very reasoning behind reason causes a government bureaucracy to become totalitarian. A proto-classical example of bureaucratic totalitarianism is the bureaucracy (on behalf of communism) created by Stalin in the Soviet Union. A post-classical example of bureaucratic totalitarianism is the bureaucracy of the government of the United States, because of the presumption (on behalf of commercial interests) that ‘democracy’ is the only possible rational form of government—whether it in fact is rational or not. This presumption of ‘democracy’ actually is not all that different from the presumption of bureaucratic totalitarianism under Stalin.

A not dissimilar situation exists in my own country of Latvia, which is a tiny State entity when compared the above hegemonies. While Latvia, too, claims itself to be a ‘democracy’, the claim is given the lie by the fact that here ‘democracy’ is qualified by the term ‘parliamentary’. It is the latter which is presumed to give the Latvian democracy its authority to describe itself as a ‘free’ society, whereas the very term ‘parliamentary’ gets this ‘democracy’ in no less a bind than the Soviet and American regimes of government get themselves into under Reason.

Having Zizek (and others) do the necessary close analysis, I will venture to say that the problem for all States are the unreal ‘presumptions’ of Reason, while in reality the very tool of totalitarianism is this very presumption and the various ‘reasons’ (of power) that got it to come into existence. In the instance of Latvia, the Reason behinds its government’s ‘democratic’ totalitarianism is the authority of the hegemony of the European Union (on behalf of American type of affluenza), which ‘presumes’ that it needs Latvia (for whatever bureaucratic reasons) to join not only the EU, but function under its unitary financial system and the European Central Bank (ECB). Therefore, the Latvian ‘parliamentary democracy’, in spite of the fact that the Latvian constitution foresees a referendum that would let the people decide the issue of the Euro, decreed not to hold a referendum, and continually fudges the question of whether it is imitating the totalitarianism at the heart of the EU, and rather—like it—pimps for affluenza as a desirable constituent of its limited and American style democracy.

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