node created 2012/06/17
last changed 2013/02/04
It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.
If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
Do not preach the straight and narrow way while going joyously upon the wide one. Preach the wide one, or do not preach at all; but do not fool yourself by saying you would like to help usher in a free society, but you cannot sacrifice an armchair for it. Say honestly, "I love arm-chairs better than free men, and pursue them because I choose; not because circumstances make me. I love hats, large, large hats, with many feathers and great bows; and I would rather have those hats than trouble myself about social dreams that will never be accomplished in my day. The world worships hats, and I wish to worship with them."

But if you choose the liberty and pride and strength of the single soul, and the free fraternization of men, as the purpose which your life is to make manifest then do not sell it for tinsel. Think that your soul is strong and will hold its way; and slowly, through bitter struggle perhaps the strength will grow. And the foregoing of possessions for which others barter the last possibility of freedom will become easy.

At the end of life you may close your eyes saying: "I have not been dominated by the Dominant Idea of my Age; I have chosen mine own allegiance, and served it. I have proved by a lifetime that there is that in man which saves him from the absolute tyranny of Circumstance, which in the end conquers and remoulds Circumstance, the immortal fire of Individual Will, which is the salvation of the Future."
Our entire much-praised technological progress, and civilization generally, could be compared to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal.
letter to Heinrich Zaggler, December 6, 1917
The internet was our garden. And a beautiful garden it was. Sure, some fed agency created it, but let's face it, they used a fraction of the lot and we didn't really care for their supersecret bases they had littered about. There was so much empty space in between! And that lot we cultivated. We built a few nice trees and in their shadows we relaxed, we planted beautiful roses and yes, a few fruits and vegetables because, hey, it's always better if you grow it yourself. And ... heh, well, yeah, we had a few corners here or there where we grew that "special weed", ya know, but nobody really gave a shit, it was just us.

We were pretty good gardeners. Well, you pretty much had to be in those days, if you didn't know your way 'round with rake and shovel, you didn't really get much out of it. Still, we were quite happy with it. So happy actually that we thought we should share that. I mean, there's so many people out there who don't even know just how great the garden is! And we invited them in. They looked around and, well, most of them didn't quite "get" it. Sure, it was nice, here or there, well, if you're into botany, that is, but it's kinda hard to get around and find your way through the jungle, and using a machete wherever you go, phew, hard work! But a few of them stayed. They didn't quite know what they do, but we handed them a few saplings and some seed and some actually managed to learn a thing or two about gardening. Sure, of course a few smartasses tried to steal our stuff, but we usually didn't have much of a problem to whack them with our shovel and get our stuff back. And, heh, yeah, we, too, went into each other's yards and played some pranks on each other, painted their roses black and the like, but it was all in good fun! And hey, they sure liked our ... ya know, "special stuff". They still had no idea how to grow it, but they were quite willing to help us share everything with everyone, as long as they got their share, too. And, well, why not, pass the blunt!

That was about when the corporations noticed that, hey, where did all the people go? They took a look at the garden and they went batshit crazy. I mean, sure, we knew that it's great, but we never saw anyone go so insane about it. They saw it as the next big thing to make money with, and we laughed. Money? With this? Dude, you can't make money out of a system based on freedom and sharing! Everything in here is free. Yeah, in both ways.

True. You can't make money in such a system. Unless of course you change the rules. And changing the rules, they could.

I can't help but think that this must be how the natives of the US felt after they were "discovered". Because we had to face that there are suddenly areas in what we considered OUR garden where we couldn't go anymore. Worse, something that was the staple of our culture, going to a guy who did something great and asking him for a sapling of his wonderful tree. Became anathema. Instead of you SHOULD imitate and build on top of mine, the new creed was you MUST NOT. This rule, of course, did only surface after they themselves took from our gardens what they could possible rake together quickly. You might understand our utter disbelief and of course outrage when we noticed that turnabout is not fair game.

Well, we have had our share of trolls and nuisances before. Long before we already had to deal with people who trampled through our gardens or were a general pest. Our solution was simple, we took our superior gardening skills and whacked them from here to next week with our shovels 'til they either learned to play nice or left for good. This didn't work out so well this time. No, not because they had the better gardeners. But they didn't need to. They had a much more powerful weapon in their arsenal: The law. First, they ensured that the laws would benefit them, and then they used it against us. And despite how despicable it may be, we have to admit that it is quite efficient to have others take care of your battles, especially when you know that you cannot win a conventional war.

And now we're sitting here in what's left of our once beautiful garden. The once mighty jungle has been tamed and civilized, what used to be interesting and a land for explorers is now divided into lots that you may buy instead of simply use. You can get there easier now... well, if you prefer using long winding roads to a direct route, but the long winding roads are necessary so you pass by all the billboards that block your view to what's really interesting. Of course you may not step anywhere, only where you're allowed to, and don't even think about taking anything, rest assured it's for sale, not free.

So we're sitting here now, at the edge of something we once knew as beautiful and free. We're looking at it and we wonder what we did wrong. Where did we fail? And I can only come up with one solution for when we try something like this again: Don't invite the masses in. Keep it to yourself. It's the only way how you can really keep it. And the only way you can do without a camo net over your herb garden.
He watched on. Now that he had changed sides to the SS, he admired the strength of Fritz and the police man even more. He finally had left the camp of those who were wretched enough to let themselves be bludgeoned like that. He was glad to have made his choice. He did no longer have to fear the suspicion of the masters. He was on the side of good. The beatings the men received hardened his consciousness to embody good. One cannot receive beatings and be right, one cannot be dirty, eat garbage and be right.
"The human race"
What good does it do me, after all, if an ever-watchful authority keeps an eye out to ensure that my pleasures will be tranquil and races ahead of me to ward off all danger, sparing me the need even to think about such things, if that authority, even as it removes the smallest thorns from my path, is also absolute master of my liberty and my life; if it monopolizes vitality and existence to such a degree that when it languishes, everything around it must also languish; when it sleeps, everything must also sleep; and when it dies, everything must also perish?
The Grand Inquisitor explains that you have to create mysteries because otherwise the common people will be able to understand things. They have to be subordinated so you have to make things look mysterious and complicated. That's the test of the intellectual. It's also good for them: then you're an important person, talking big words which nobody can understand. Sometimes it gets kind of comical, say in post-modern discourse. Especially around Paris, it has become a comic strip, I mean it's all gibberish. But it's very inflated, a lot of television cameras, a lot of posturing. They try to decode it and see what is the actual meaning behind it, things that you could explain to an eight-year old child.

There's nothing there. But these are the ways in which contemporary intellectuals, including those on the Left, create great careers for themselves, power for themselves, marginalize people, intimidate people and so on.
"Chomsky on Anarchism" (2005)
Education is the process of casting false pearls before real swine.
Naturally, one does not want to confront enemies that can fight back, but even much weaker enemies must be destroyed quickly, given the weakness of the domestic base and the lessons that are to be taught.

These lessons are directed to several audiences. For the Third World, the message is simple: Don't raise your heads. A "much weaker" opponent will not merely be defeated, but pulverized. The central lesson of World Order is: "What we say goes"; we are the masters, you shine our shoes, and don't ever forget it. Others too are to understand that the world is to be ruled by force, the arena in which the US reigns supreme, though with its domestic decline, others will have to pay the bills.

There is also a lesson for the domestic audience. They must be terrorized by images of a menacing force about to overwhelm us -- though in fact "much weaker" and defenseless. The monster can then be miraculously slain, "decisively and rapidly," while the frightened population celebrates its deliverance from imminent disaster, praising the heroism of the Great Leader who has come to the rescue just in the nick of time.

These techniques, which have familiar precedents, were employed through the 1980s, for sound reasons. The population was opposed to the major Reagan policies, largely an extension of Carter plans. It was therefore necessary to divert attention to ensure that democratic processes would remain as "hypothetical" as the peace process. Propaganda campaigns created awesome chimeras: international terrorists, Sandinistas marching on Texas, narcotraffickers, crazed Arabs.
Z Magazine (May 1991)
It’s im­por­tant for us to crit­i­cize tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies. And it’s not hard, be­cause they’re full of shit.
The outstanding negative quality of the totalitarian elite is that it never stops to think about the world as it really is and never compares the lies with reality.
"The Origins of Totalitarianism"
It is remarkable that there is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting a living; how to make getting a living not merely honest and honorable, but altogether inviting and glorious; for if getting a living is not so, then living is not. One would think, from looking at literature, that this question had never disturbed a solitary individual's musings. Is it that men are too much disgusted with their experience to speak of it?
He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.
It's reasonable to some degree to expect that you keep your password secret. It's a different thing altogether to take information that is unavoidably known to lots of parties, or in many cases even outright essentially public info (like, stuff you can just buy as a database) as proof of identity, and then insist that you are legally responsible for a contract or whatever they made with someone who knew your date of birth or something.

It's really not much different than just throwing darts at a phone book, and then pretending that the fact they hit your name proves that you now have a contract with them ... no, it doesn't, and it's your fucking problem if you think it does.
What frightened me in your essay was the gospel of love which you begin to preach at the end. In politics, love is a stranger, and when it intrudes upon it nothing is being achieved except hypocrisy. All the characteristics you stress in the Negro people: their beauty, their capacity for joy, their warmth, and their humanity, are well-known characteristics of all oppressed people. They grow out of suffering and they are the proudest possession of all pariahs. Unfortunately, they have never survived the hour of liberation by even five minutes. Hatred and love belong together, and they are both destructive; you can afford them only in the private and, as a people, only so long as you are not free.
Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
The kind of work that should be the main part of life is the kind of work you would want to do if you weren’t being paid for it. It’s work that comes out of your own internal needs, interests and concerns.
If you define "niggers" as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society are defined by others, then Good News! You don't have to be black to be a "nigger" in this society. Most of the people in America are "niggers".
on the outrage about the song "Woman Is the Nigger of the World" by John Lennon
We have a big argument here about whether Nicaragua and Cuba are sending arms to El Salvador. Well, I don't know, so far there's no evidence that they are, but that's not really the interesting question. I mean, you gotta watch the way questions are framed by the propaganda system. The way it's framed is, the doves say they're not sending arms, and the hawks say they are sending arms. But the real question, which is being suppressed in all of this, is, "Should they be sending arms?"

And the answer is of course, "Yes." [applause] Everybody should be sending arms. You see, that question is not raised. Just as if, somebody was talking in, say, the Soviet Union, and the question came up, "Should somebody send arms to Afghan rebels?" Well, of course not, you know, that's terrorism or something like that. The point is that it's perfectly legitimate to send arms to people who finally try to use violence in self-defense against a gang of mass murderers installed by a foreign power. Of course it's legitimate to send them arms.
Talk at UC Berkeley on U.S. foreign policy in Central America (May 14, 1984)
Under the most diverse conditions and disparate circumstances, we watch the development of the same phenomena—homelessness on an unprecedented scale, rootlessness to an unprecedented depth.
"The Origins of Totalitarianism"
The real damage is done by those millions who want to 'survive.' The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.
"Sophie Scholl - The Last Days"
It's true that I detest organised, bigtime, major league religions... but I love spiritual individuals, you can see the universe in their eyes, if you're really looking... I love people, I hate crowds, groups, organisations... soon they become zealots, then they start wearing hats... then they have fight songs and come and visit you at 3 am in the morning...
Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.
"Do you belong in journalism?", The New Yorker (14 May 1960)
Once the door is fully opened, everybody rushes through. Once more-or-less targeted assassinations have been normalized by a government, you can be sure that it will be used by every government following them, and ultimately by every other government on the planet. Effective tools will always be used.

Be that mass surveillance, drone strikes, offensive cyber warfare or kidnapping people on foreign soil to fly them to torture camps.
The emergence of the stranger and his externalization stands in direct relationship to the degree of impairment of that which is most personal - namely, a person's identity. But how can inner development take place in children if everything that makes up their individuality is rejected and made foreign? Then identity is reduced to adaptation to those external circumstances that insure a child's psychic survival. Children do everything to fulfil their parents' expectations, and the way they do this is to identify with their parents, but then the child's individuality is replaced by a foreign element. That is why the 18th Century English poet Edward Young wrote: "We are born as originals, die as copies".

An identity that develops in this manner is not oriented to its own needs but to the will of an authority.

[..]

I want to emphasize that the "stranger" in us is bred by a culture that won't accept the spontaneous expression of children's aliveness and vitality. This aspect of a culture gives rise to violent behavior and is responsible for the development of deficient identities. Personalities formed by the processes producing the inner stranger were never able to develop trust as an underlying component of their personality. Instead, they take on a "false identity" that makes them idealize repressive authorities in the hope that they will be rescued by the very people who are their tormentors.

Under such circumstances there cannot be an interior life that is able to protect us from that "abstract nakedness" of being human which Hannah Arendt (1973) spoke of. This nakedness is exposed when a true identity is prevented from developing and its place is taken by a false identity based on outer achievement, an identity that falls apart when the social context makes such achievement impossible.

The stranger is the real victim within us. The self has been distorted through being obedient, which makes it almost impossible to recognize what is really happening. Obedience, one could say, serves to subordinate oneself to the oppressor but also to disguise his deeds. In other words, obedience reinforces power, making it impossible to direct one's bottled-up rage against those who are responsible for it. But the rage is there as is the hatred for the victim in us, who must be rejected as foreign in order to accommodate those in power.

[..]

If a child finds no response in this "dance of the eyes," it is just as fear-inspiring as a physical threat. Murder is therefore not only a physical act but a psychic one as well.

When children are exposed to this kind of inner terror they must do everything possible to survive. This leads to what Ferenczi (1984) described in 1932 as the transformation of anxiety and terror into a feeling of security. This process originates in a social environment that allows adults to exploit children's dependence in order to advance their own feeling of self-worth and leads children to quickly reject their own feelings and perceptions for the sake of preserving their vitally essential bond with the care-giving adult. A child does this by submitting totally to the adult's expectations. Ferenczi puts it as follows:

"Children feel physically and morally helpless; their personality is not sufficiently consolidated for them to be able to protest even in their thoughts. The adult's overwhelming power and authority makes them mute, often robbing them of their senses. Yet their fear, when it reaches a peak of intensity, automatically forces them to submit to the will of the aggressor, to intuit and obey his every wish, to forget themselves entirely, to identify totally with the aggressor."

Such identification not only causes victims to ally themselves with their victimizers but to idealize them as well. In the eyes of the victim the victimizer appears to be a source of security. At the same time the victim begins to feel his or her pain as weakness because the victimizer forbids these feelings. If he were to become aware of his victim's pain, he would feel guilty. That is something the victimizer must avoid by inflicting further violence. Yet the pain and resulting rage persist in the victim, only this time the rage is turned against the self, which is now experienced as foreign. It is part of the normal process of adaptation to direct this rage against the external stranger. The ubiquity of this phenomenon determines the course of human history.

[..]

And so one passes on one's own victimization through the act of punishing the stranger out there, the one identified as being everything one has learned to hate in oneself. The result is what we characterize as normal behavior in our culture: the life-long attempt to gain control over the painful part of our nature - the part of us that we have lost and that keeps on making us feel impotent and helpless - by making victims of others in order to punish them for the pain we are not permitted to feel and for the victim in us that we are not allowed to be.
Why can't we state what we mean, what we think, what we're uncertain about, what questions we'd like to discuss in order to foster discussion instead of provoking it. Playing devil's advocate is fine when it's understood what's going on and why you're playing devil's advocate, but when there's ambiguity you play this game of "yes I said that I didn't mean it though" which ends up sounding weak as it does in those case. Devil's advocate is a great cognitive strategy for exploring an issue together, but it's a very poor conversational strategy.
If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
"A Farewell to Arms"