Indigenous peoples. While some call them primitives living in a state of ignorance, squalor, depravity, and sub-Human material conditions, tied to superstitions they perpetrate upon their children in a seemingly unending cycle of evil tradition, sexually mutilating girls, children dying of simple-to-cure diseases caused by fecal material in drinking water, warlords and their savage armies raging and rampaging across landscapes more at home on the Moon than in a living Human one; while some call the lives of indigenous people a deplorable shame of Humanity, others call it "authentic." There are those who sentimentalize primitivism, romanticize poverty, illness, and early death in the lands of the Peoples of Colors. Povertarians laud the lives of the sick and the savage, the dying cultures of want and hunger and violence against the weak. Povertarians see the world of the suffering, and they want to "help."
They, the povertarians, want to "help" those who are deserving; and those most deserving are those who cannot help themselves, of course, those who cannot resist the helping hands of the povertarians who grab and hold and squeeze the poor to death. Crisis? What crisis? Well, the one made by the povertarians, the crisis they alone can cure if only they have more funding. Only the povertarians can properly and equitably redistribute the wealth so there is no longer a crisis. To cure the ills of contemporary society, to restore the sacred balance of – whatever – there must be more funding. It's a crisis. The Poor, the barbarians, it was all so good till the White Man came and exploited things and people. Now it's a fuckin' crisis. Send that cheque.
Capitalism is the root cause of the crisis. Behind capitalism is the secret conspiracy of the Jooos who run America, which most smart people know. Smart people know because they have gnosis, knowledge of the secret, the mystical knowledge of higher realities than the seeming and naïve realities of those held by the uneducated, those who aren't familiar with sociology from first year at junior college way back when. The gnostic, he knows the real realities of the secret conspiracies of the rich, the Jooos, the Americans. The Gnostic knows because he read it in some books by French philosophers. Well, from a magazine review of some of them. OK, he knows because he heard it from a friend of a friend; and besides, everyone knows except those who are, like the present writer, Rightwing religious bigots, and we all know what those kinds are like.
Dumb? Like, yeah!
The Gnostic has a higher vision of reality-- because he's just so much smarter than the rest of us. The gnostic can look at the world of primitives suffering from poverty, disease, corruption, general ignorance of all but his local and family superstitions, and the Gnostic can see through all the false consciousness of the rest of us to see the real truth, the root causes: the causes being the conspiracies of the rich, the Jooos, the Americans. It's true. Don't ask some logocentric trick question; the Gnostic knows it's true because he feels it's right to believe it to be so. There is no truth, anyway, that being a trick foisted upon the naive to support the lies of the capitalist hegemony of ideas cooked up to suppress the validity of primitives' genuine and authentic traditions, now sorely destroyed by the conspiracies of capitalism. Whew. Smart, huh?
Oh, more than smart, dear reader. To know of the conspiracies of capitalism is also to be in a moral league of the elite. To know of ones personal guilt as a Westerner, who is by nature of being a Westerner guilty, is to give oneself the moral duty to help those one has harmed. To know that one is born into a system of harm and exploitation, (capitalism,) to know that one benefits from it by virtue of simple existence as a person therein, is to owe ones superior position in the world to the accidents of Western and privileged birth, guilty birth. Be moral, then, and not only give back what has come from no effort of yours beyond simple privileged birth, but make others too, those less moral than you, less smart than you, give back to the community too. If you are guilty, at least you admit your guilt and feel sorry about it. Those who don't or won't, condemn them. Yes, why not even hate them? Oh, just do it. Smart, moral, making good money for noble efforts, the povertarian is special. Gotta love 'em.
The povertarian is moral, the povertarian is smarter than most, because he knows the secret doings and meanings of the cosmos. Like the philosopher kings of old, the povertarian is higher than the rest of us, and he deserves more of the good, like $104.000.00 per year compared to the $0.80 per hour he gives the "volunteer" worker in food stamps. The povertarian is one who takes on the sufferings of the poor and makes their concerns and sufferings his own. Yes, the povertarian suffers. Watch them weep in public when they describe their feelings about world poverty. It's abject, to say the least. It's enough to make a hard man cry. Poor povertarian. We should feel guilty about their sufferings. We should do our part. We should give them money. They are smart, they are moral, they care about the poor and suffering, they even suffer on behalf of the poor. Poor darlings. Yes, it's the job they do, but the poverty they act out is a hobby. The torn designer jeans, the vacations to sunny Cuban resorts, the HAMAS cheer-leading, it's all a hobby for them. Philobarbarism, it's a pose. Being at one with Mother Nature? Not likely. That's only for the real poor who're too stupid to get out of it and into the real world of clean drinking water, Lysol, Mr. Tidy Bowl, the average things of modern living that allow for a long and healthy and perhaps happy life of privacy and independence. But if people were free of neo-feudalist bondage, why would they want povertarians around? Because the povertarians are moral and smart. They know about the neo-con. conspiracies and they care about the poor. Isn't it obvious?
We should give back to the community. We should live more natural lives. We should live like our authentic ancestors did, closer to Nature. Like in the Middle Ages, the way it was in the Golden Age before the White Man came and enslaved everyone, raped Mother Nature, and industrialized the land.
Isn't this a pretty scene? The peasants of the Middle Ages in England's green and pleasant lands had "knowledge in their heads [that] had only rarely come directly from books – only a small minority of them could read – and they retained the data without the help of filing cabinets or mechanical storage systems. They had learned everything by observing and imitating, usually by standing alongside an adult who was almost certainly their mother or father, and by memorizing everything they needed to survive and enrich their lives."
Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger, The Year 1000. London: Abacus; 2000, p.26.
"They were practical, self-contained folk, not given to excessive agonizing or self-analysis, to judge from the few who committed their thoughts to paper...." [ibid: p. 26.]
"The year 1000 was an empty world... with a total English population of little more than a million, there was just one person for every forty or fifty with whom we are surrounded today, and most people lived in small communities, a couple of dozen or so homes circling a village green or extending down up and down a single winding street...." [ibid: p. 40.]
The povertarian is enamoured of the past when there were few people marring the natural landscape. Depopulation is a picture of the Middle Ages the povertarian would like to see in the flesh. Here's one we've looked at before:
"We're no better than bacteria," Mims quoted Eric R. Pianka as saying in his condemnation of the human race, which, he claimed, is overpopulating the Earth.
The only way to save the planet for the rest of the species is to reduce the human population to 10 percent of its current number.
Pianka then displayed a slide showing rows of human skulls, one of which had red lights flashing from its eye sockets. AIDS is not an efficient killer, he explained, because it is too slow. His favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world's population is airborne Ebola (Ebola reston), because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days, instead of years. However, Professor Pianka did not mention that Ebola victims die a slow and torturous death as the virus initiates a cascade of biological calamities inside the victim that eventually liquefy the internal organs."
Pianka notes in the online syllabus for his Diversity and Ecology class that the deadly form of Ebola – Ebola zaire – that has killed nine out of the 10 people infected currently only spreads by direct contact with infected blood, while Ebola reston, the close relative that currently kills only monkeys, is an airborne virus. Evolution, he says, will in time result in an airborne form fatal to humans.
Mims notes that when Pianka finished his remarks, the audience of fellow scientists and students burst out in sustained applause.
During a question-and-answer sessions, the audience laughed approvingly when Pianka offered the bird flu as another vehicle toward achieving his goal. They also chuckled when he suggested it was time to sterilize everyone on Earth.
"What kind of reception have you received as you have presented these ideas to other audiences that are not representative of us?" asked one member of the audience.
"I speak to the converted!" Pianka replied.
Following the question-and-answer session, Mims says "almost every scientist, professor and college student present stood to their feet and vigorously applauded the man who had enthusiastically endorsed the elimination of 90 percent of the human population. Some even cheered. Dozens then mobbed the professor at the lectern to extend greetings and ask questions."
Mims notes five hours later, the Texas Academy of Science presented Pianka with a plaque in recognition of his being named 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist.
"The year 1000 was an empty world... with a total English population of little more than a million, there was just one person for every forty or fifty with whom we are surrounded today, and most people live in small communities, a couple of dozen or so homes circling a village green or extending down up and down a single winding street...."
The world of the povertarians will be much the same, if they can make their dreams come true. We can claim that Pianka et al are crack-pots, that few actually believe he's onto anything but swamp gas. That is too generous. The Romaticists' vision of the future is one of depopulation and impoverishment. Our public intellectuals set our societal goals. If our intelligentsia are fascists, then we will eventually arrive at a station of fascist order. Slowly, slowly, we will chug along unawares, stopping someday in a world of out-right evil. Those who live will find themselves in an empty world. Back at the Medieval commune. Again a farm animal.
"The village where he lived was the beginning and almost the end of Englishman's world.... Village communities provided reassuringly constant backdrops for a life. The average Anglo-Saxon could probably recognize every duck, chicken, and pig in his village and knew to whom it belonged to.-- as he knew everything about his neighbors' lives.... The closest modern parallel is with the restricted and repetitious circle of friends that surround the central families of radio and television soap-opera characters." [Lacey: p. 43.]
It is a basic position of fascism, as we have written of many times, particularly as seen in Baruma and Margolit, Occidentalism, that people are alienated if they live in cities, places of "arrogant, greedy, decadent, frivolous cosmopolitanism." (p. 11) Community? The povertarian doesn't mean a community of neighbours, he means a commune. Give back to the community. Go back to the commune from which your forebearers came, live again as a farm animal, and leave the important things like thinking and living to the ones who rule as feudal lords. Community. It is a state of poverty. Depopulate.
In reading the above from Lacey and Danzinger, such a medieval world is the usual story the povertarian paints of the world before the rise of industry, before the world of encroaching capitalism, the Golden Age before the rise of America. The povertarians would like it to be so again, and it will be if we let the povertarians have their way in the world. That pretty Medieval picture -- and the parts they neglect to mention as well:
The simplest things were so difficult to accomplish. It took enormous time and effort to manufacture just a single coin, or to turn on a hand lathe the wooden cups that would today be produced in vast quantities by a machine. Every basic artefact represented hours of skill and effort and ingenuity, in return for a very meagre material reward. [Lacey: p. 194.]
For the povertarian it's back to the future, the Golden Age before the rise of individualism and capitalism. It's back to the future Modern Man escaped from as he entered into freedom. For the povertarian, that's the whole problem, that escape from the Middle ages, from the commune, from the community, from the control of the Gnostic minder.
The community. Tradition. Locality. Beautiful smallness. The problem with duplicating everything person to person to all persons in the community is that of autarky: no one learns much of anything new, no one innovates, no one tries anything else but what they know and learn from practice. And worse, there is a reliance on instinct rather than Reason to guide. Worst is that there is little specialization. To learn how to survive is to know exactly what all others know, so if one is gone the skill remains in others so they will survive. With a small population of subsistence living one must know all there is to know about survival and little else. Specialization is a bad thing in the many, restricted to the very few special people whom the group can spare if need be, the priests, the Philosopher King, perhaps a very few others. Most will ever do the same as others do, and they will teach that to their own to repeat. The Philosopher Kings will take care of the higher details, at $104.000.00 per year in some cases.
The commune of the Middle Ages, the community of today, sharing, caring, being at one with Nature: "Baby, I have seen the future, and it is murder." But it's going to feel really nice. Just relax. Don't think about it, and don't worry. Do nothing. The povertarians are going to take care of everything for you. You're going to love it.
To be part of the community, to be one of the herd, that is the life of Man meant for man in the minds of the povertarian. Man, unthinking, uncritical, docile, a farm animal again. Man living on instinct, guided by the higher powers of the Gnostics.
Fromm writes: "The lower animal is in the scale of development, the more are its adaptations to nature and all its activities controlled by instinctive and reflex action mechanisms.... [T]he higher an animal is in the scale of development, the more flexibility of action pattern.... Human existence begins when the lack of fixation of action by instincts exceeds a certain point; when the adaptation to nature loses its coercive character; when the way to act is no longer fixed by hereditarily given mechanisms....
"Man is born without the equipment for appropriate action which the animal possesses; he is dependent on his parents for a longer time than any animal, and his reactions to his surroundings are less effective than the automatically regulated instinctive actions are...." [Fromm: pp. 47-48.]
Man is a thinking aniimal, up to a point. Man is a learning animal. If we learn, if we learn to mimic and learn little else, then those we mimic will lead us to stagnation and autarky. We will live in states of Gormenghast tradition and Islamic decay. If our instinct leads us to mimic and obey, then we will live in tribal communities, living the life of farm animals once again. It is the dream of the povertarians to lead the world like instinct-driven beasts to their Gnostic version of Eden. Those nearest the state of poverty alrerady, those who need little further cowing, are those whom the povertarian herds most tightly already, the barbarians of the Third World, the so-called "Poor" in the West. Those who are free of the gnostics, of the povertarians, are made by manipulations to feel guilty and ashamed of their freedom. The alternative vision of life, the Medieval life of the past, is presented as near-perfect, as the one to return to -- lead by the povertarian, of course.
To live in a tightly knit community and eat organic food. Heaven on Earth. The future. For those who live as high gnostics at the banquet of socialism it's a hobby.
"Frequently forty or fifty emaciated and starving people would go to a cliff, or to the edge of the sea, where they would join hands and leap over, to die by the fall or by drowning." [Lacey: p. 57; Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People. London: Penguin; 1955, p. 226.]
Being at one with Mother Nature, giving back to the community, reducing our ecological footprints, valuing those of more authentic cultures, stopping the slaughter of the whales, feeling self-righteous about our moral stands against violence of the multi-national corporations stealing the wealth of the limited pie peasants' commune: All the cliches of the povertarians from philobarbarism, infantalisation, pastoralism, communalism, paganism, ecologism; Gnosticism, the aesthetic of violence, the great leader principle, the corporatism; the tithing, the xenophobia, the appanage, the identity-fetsihism, the blood purity of "Other," the hatred of the city, the return to former times of paradise on Earth; the neo-feudalism of our Left dhimmi fascists is all packaged in velvet, in social programmes, in sharing, caring, concern, and moralisms. Let's not think about it. Let's give to the povertarians so they can help the poor get over our guilty abuse.
No jack-boots, no rubber truncheons, no gulags. Instead there is the open gate awaiting us at the farm of the future, a farm hung in velvet banners. Community.
More than the autarkic community lead by Gnostic Philosopher Kings leading the group to poverty for their own good, to ultimate death by starvation or suicide, the great difference between today's Modernity and the neo-feudalist Golden Age the povertarians wish to recreate on earth is that "What characterizes medieval in contrast to modern society is its lack of individual freedom. [Fromm: p. 57.]
We seem to have in the modernist West a naive vision of the povertarian agenda.
We'll return to that next time.