Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Who's the Fucking Nihilist Here?

Ken MacLeod:

This is so astonishing that it’s easily overlooked. In terms of appealing to the common interests of humanity ­­— even if purely as a cover for smaller or more sordid interests — only the great religions have attempted anything like it. No other secular ideology has tried to be a totalising force in the same way.

...The challenge for humanists and liberals in the face of a transhuman future is daunting: to replace the socialist project — or to revive it. Without something like it to underpin a sense of common human identity and common human interest, people will divide on the basis of other identities. Many on the left, of course, have found in identity politics a replacement for the universalism of their past. But identity can also be seized on by the far right. It can feed a resentful indifference to the plight of others that comes from having one’s own plight disregarded.

All right. So the aim of a peaceful, global community of equality, reasonable security, and material abundance was a fantasy. Make us drink that cup to the dregs, but don’t expect us to be humanists after we’ve wiped our lips. If labour in the white skin can never emancipate itself, why should it care if in the black it is branded?

Overlooked? Honestly, the fact that socialism/communism was a secular version of Christianity pretending to possess scientific rigor has been noted enough to almost qualify as a cliché by now. The similarities even extend to the aftermath, as evidenced by that last paragraph. Monotheists of both the religious and secular varieties, grappling with their loss of faith in universal meaning, attempt one last reassertion of it in an inverted form, that of nihilism. If my existence has no eternal meaning and significance, then nothing ever has meaning and significance in any context. All we are is dust in the wind! Either way, it provides a false sense of preordained certainty to alleviate the difficulty of thinking, measuring, experimenting, judging, attempting, and possibly failing at the Sisyphean task of creating contingent meaning in the course of everyday living.

If you don't believe in the universal socialist brotherhood of humankind, what's to stop you from becoming a white nationalist? Or, to phrase that sentiment in a more typical way, if you don't believe in God, what's to stop you from raping, robbing and murdering? When you realize the fallacious nature of such all-or-nothing thinking, you realize that all the life worth living is done in between such conceptual antipodes.

9 comments:

Brian M said...

It takes a certain self-righteouss purism to DEMAND these absolutes.

Often, the Monks themselves trip over their own contradictions. One of my favorite...extrmeists, High Arka, posted a series of essays on TEH EVILS OF PET OWNERSHIP and how we are OPPRESSING THE CANINES 111111! At the same time, she dismisses vegetarianism as a conspiracy by the white man to deny the oppressed the power of meat. ROFLOL.

noel said...

So... I should eat my dog instead of oppressing her with ownership.

Brian M said...

If you want to join the brotherhood of true anarchist freedom seekers! Free Spot!

noel said...

Oh she's free, but we have a dom/sub thing with her. She's into being "owned".

Brian M said...

That's an important point that High Arka misses...People did not go out and capture wolves in the wilderness. Dogs started hanging around human camps on their own.

It's a co-dependency thing.

I want another dog, but my own inability to run my life as an adult makes that impossible right now.

Brian M said...

Hey...you should check out aboniblog, where he is wrestling with this very question!

noel said...

Interesting (aboniblog), but I didn't get which post you meant.
Our dog, Sable, was found starving in the street (a couple of years ago). The other day, she was outside and wouldn't come to Randy, so he went in the house and closed the door. She was at the door in seconds.
Related amusement:
http://www.condenaststore.com/-sp/They-don-t-keep-you-on-a-leash-because-they-want-you-to-run-away-Cartoon-Prints_i8642842_.htm

Brian M said...

oops, sorry. Aboniblog is wrestling with the original issues of nihilism and the source for a moral code. Not the doggie issue.

Should have made that clearer

noel said...

Oh. I did read his not about dogs stuff and I see the connection. I have a hard time understanding the OMG-life-has-no-meaning-if-I-can't believe-in-something-with-certainty thing that he seems to be going through. I'm with Scribbs: stop fretting and go with the flow, man. Well, I'm paraphrasing.
Did you see the ANGRY ON THE INTERNET comment war (scroll down)? Truly impressive insults were hurled. Freudian nightmare stuff. I couldn't even tell why except that abortion was mentioned at some point.