Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Double Edge of the Velvet Fascist Sword

The author of the following excerpt is afraid to have his name associated with his article at American Thinker. The author fears this association, if known, would harm his career. One must accept that he's very likely correct.

[L]et's do a review of liberal social engineering programs from inception to execution....
  • A group of individuals anoints themselves as better-informed than the rest of us. They base this largely on the fact that they listen to the same programs on NPR and consistently vote Democrat.
  • The self-defined elite group comes to an agreement that the rest of us are not as enlightened as they. This is expressed in many ways, usually involving code words such as "clinging", "mean-spirited", or "greedy". If you hear these words being applied to you or your associates, this is a clear indication that you are not one of the elites.
  • The elites begin to develop a sense of responsibility for their lessers. This is often expressed in statements like, "It's just makes me so sad to see them like that. I wish there were something we could do to..."
  • The elites form a plan. The plan generally involves making everyone else behave like them. As enthusiasm rises, what were once "differences" become "problems" and finally metamorphose into a "crisis". When the word "crisis" appears, this usually signals the end of planning phase. The Plan predictably contains the following elements: coercion, moral superiority, lack of debate and voting, and a succession of "experts" who testify on its behalf.
  • The plan is imposed. If the legislative branch refuses, the judiciary is prevailed upon to conjure up a constitutional justification.
  • The plan begins to fail. This step is usually followed by demands for more resources to "properly implement the plan", (see the War on Poverty), and angry accusations at non-elite groups for their mean spirited, clingy refusal to change.
  • The plan fails.
  • The elites meet to form a new, better plan.

The author could be writing about any of any number of things, any of them things we might be against, smoking or junk food or driving without seat-belts or riding bikes without helmets or jogging or watching television, or, .... There's a case, and perhaps a strong case, to be made that other people's bad behaviour affects the pubic and should be stopped. Those who watch television, for example, harm us all by their lethargy and the drag that puts on our community-spiritedness. Maybe they should be forced into gymnastic programmes. Maybe, if they are recalcitrant, they should be put in camps, and if incorrigible, they should be killed. It comes down to what we think of others. Are they free and independent agents or are they farm animals? And if we stop short of executing those who trespass against the neo-norm, perhaps we won't kill them but simply make their lives conform by twisting the culture to the point there is no room for anything but orthopraxy, for right behavioir regardless of the will of the destructive. It becomes a moral imperative to save not just those who would destroy themselves but all of us and even the Earth itself. If we have that imperative, then we would be evil not to act on it, not to mention imprudent.

If pollution adds to the catastrophe of global warming, and if the polluter won't stop of his own volition, then, to save the world and ourselves, we must make him stop. The polluter's private behavior is not a private issue when it "impacts" on the public in serious and even catastrophic ways. If the state will not intervene to prevent harm to the publicity, then it must be for the private interest to intervene for the sake of our very lives, the state having turned against us in pursuit of furthering its payments to its masters, our enemies, our destroyers, those who would and will and do kill us all and the Earth itself. It is imperative and prudent that we halt the harm, the destruction of the self-interested who cause us this general harm, even if the majority do not see it. Having knowledge others lack gives one a further moral obligation to act on behalf of those who do not know or know and do not care to act, who do not dare to act.

How can we verify our truth claims? We might, for a start, rely on our expertise. We might further rely on past practice of those who deny the verity of our awareness, those proven to have acted against the best interests of the majority in the past by toeing the corporate line, for example, in the face of known harm to the publicity. Look, for example, to politicians awarding oil companies generous and extra-legal benefit at the expense of the public. We can know empirically that the majority of people in a democracy do not understand the particular details of the issues of anything, it being beyond the means of anyone to know all things; and thus, one must rely on the expertise of those who specialize. As well as the uninformed opinion of the masses, one must accept both their self-interested opposition to the good in many case, e.g. those who would promote further global warming due to employment in global warming industries; and there is the problem of systemic false consciousness, that which leads the masses into stupidities of harm, against their own interests on behalf of those who harm them. Look, for example, at the Americans who wage war against the Muslim world, doing so for the benefit only of the oil companies and the illegitimate neo-Nazi state of Israel. Can a moral person allow this to continue? Such far exceeds the harm of one man watching television. Such requires immediate action on the part of the one who understands the true nature of the regime and the state of Humanness that create this condition. Then, action on the part of the expert is morally imperative. To know and not to act is to be complicit and immoral and harmful to oneself, to the publicity, and to the Earth itself. Such a crime, given the gravity of it, should be punished; and one cannot allow oneself to knowingly do harm and to deserve punishment if one is-- at least-- prudent. Thus, democracy is a sham at best, a world-destroying harm in effect, when the issue is so dear.

If one has knowledge of impending catastrophe that others do not have or that others have and refuse to act on, it becomes a moral imperative to act alone to save oneself, a first priority, and to save Humanity as well. Not to act is self-destructive, and worse, it is evil. Democracy, yes, but not to the point it allows for or creates conditions of harm to the minority. Then democracy is tyranny of the majority. Democracy under that condition is illegitimate. It is unlawful and need not be obeyed; it must, in fact, be opposed by all right-thinking agents. If a corporation continues to pollute and to destroy the ozone layer over Antarctica, then said corporation must be stopped-- if the world, Mother Earth, is to survive. Things perhaps harmful to the individual must be done for the sake of the greater good. There is nothing radical in this. We understand the necessity of sacrifice for the greater good. Nor is this idealistic: it is prudent to sacrifice oneself for the greater good so that one has a chance to live through the furthering of Human existence, not a thing limited to the individual, whose existence is meaningless without the context of Humanity. If one can see from ones intellectual vantage point the coming of the train, one might well use force to move the cattle off the tracks. And if one is harmed in the process, all to the good that the community might continue to survive with the herd intact. Not to act, to put oneself at the centre of ones existence without regard for the community, is ipso facto to cause the death of the community, becoming a murderer oneself. With awareness comes responsibility.

Some things are evil a priori; therefore no argument is needed to support the idea. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and Islamophobia are evil a priori. Those who act in accord with any or all of the above evils are either/and evil or incoherent. They need not be refuted by any who understand the language and its meaning. Still, they exist and they act in ways evil. Since they cannot be reasoned with, empirically known by their incomprehension of the a priori, they must be dealt with by coercion, or force if need be. Islamophobes, for example, present the world with a dire and urgent crisis by their behaviour: They incite retaliation from 1.9 billion Muslims who turn in their desperation to using their own bodies as weapons against the Islamophobic oppression of Modernity. Any Islamophobe who creates this kind of violent and warranted blow-back on the part of the oppressed should, in fact, must be stopped. Those who understand this must act to prevent Islamophobia if we as a species are to survive. One might object that such is some Gnostic pronouncement, but those of us who understand the language understand it is a priori truth that Islamophobia is evil. Only a deluded or evil person cannot see this. If so, then he must be stopped from continuing by any means necessary. It is prudent, it is a moral imperative, and if it requires self-sacrifice, then it is to the good of all universally, a universality without which we have no identity anyway. There is nothing Gnostic in grasping the obvious. The author above disparages the "elite" but in effect is writing from a position of privilege: notice the "career" he feels he must protect. so many others, knows the truth and has consciously decided to do nothing in order that he can live his privacies in some comfort even at the expense of future generations, mocking those who care about the Earth and its people. Those who know must act. That knowledge is obvious to any right-thinking person who has gone beyond the norms of the hegemony of capitalism. Those who haven't, those who have and refuse to acknowledge their complicity, must be stopped. The depth of the catastrophe and the urgency and the sheer scale of the catastrophe demands private action. It is thus that I am continually asking, "What is to be Done?" We who know know that something is wrong; we know actually what is wrong; and dare I say it; we know what must be done.

Yes, one might still argue that this is a case of Gnostic hubris and an apocalyptic eschatology. Can we wait to find out that we might have been wrong? Do we dare do nothing in the face of this catastrophe? And again, if not, What is to be Done?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Cycnus of the Soul

The din. Can we even imagine a day, just one, where everyone on earth remained silent for the time. One day of quiet. What really, is there to say? Who will speak that one important truth that all should know? Not I. Instead, perhaps I'd spend a day smiling and nodding.

Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 12.
"The House of Fame and the Trojan Cygnus."
Trans. Brooke More

[39] There is a spot convenient in the center of the world, between the land and sea and the wide heavens, the meeting of the threefold universe. From there is seen all things that anywhere exist, although in distant regions far; and there all sounds of earth and space are heard. Fame is possessor of this chosen place, and has her habitation in a tower, which aids her view from that exalted height. And she has fixed there numerous avenues, and openings, a thousand, to her tower and no gates with closed entrance, for the house is open, night and day, of sounding brass, reechoing the tones of every voice. It must repeat whatever it may hear; and there's no rest, and silence in no part. There is no clamor; but the murmuring sound of subdued voices, such as may arise from waves of a far sea, which one may hear who listens at a distance; or the sound which ends a thunderclap, when Jupiter has clashed black clouds together. Fickle crowds are always in that hall, that come and go, and myriad rumors—false tales mixed with true—are circulated in confusing words. Some fill their empty ears with all this talk, and some spread elsewhere all that's told to them. The volume of wild fiction grows apace, and each narrator adds to what he hears. Credulity is there and rash Mistake, and empty Joy, and coward Fear alarmed by quick Sedition, and soft Whisper—all of doubtful life. Fame sees what things are done in heaven and on the sea, and on the earth. She spies all things in the wide universe.

Cycnus, impenetrable, was crushed to death. The son of Poseidon, his tomb was in the sea, inaccessible, no mourners, as if anyone would care.

The mass is babbling, the world jabbering, the universe screaming, the aether shrieking. What, were we within the pleroma, would be worth hearing?

We live a dual life, one private and the other public. In our public lives we might, some of us, turn our attention to affairs of state and community, perhaps acting in ways we hope will be of good benefit to others and ourselves. Some of us put our public lives into struggling against the evil that is Islam. What with all the noise, it's difficult, I think, to hear the sound of Reason and temper. We throw our spears at an invincible enemy who will not die, and we are frustrated badly like Achilles. Like him we might be silent for a bit, to think, to act in new ways that win. This horrible din.

What does Fame know?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Holy Smoking Fatwahs, Batman, It's a Nakbah!

Yes, dear reader, as soon as the Israelis declared independence, the Muslim world declared a temper tantrum. Both continue to this day. My critical analysis leads me to conclude the Muslim world deserves all the shit we can dump on them, but my self-interested side says take their oil instead and the money they have from us for past extortions.


Iranian president: Israel heading for destruction

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chooses to mark Israel's 60th Independence Day by warning Zionist regime of its 'impending doom'

"Israel is nothing but a stinking corpse," said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Thursday, speaking with the Iranian news agency IRNA.

Unlike other world leaders who sent Israel their congratulations on its 60th Independence Day, Ahmadinejad chose to convey a radically different message.

"Those who think they can resuscitate the stinking corpse of the Zionist regime on its birthday are sorely mistaken… the very existence of the Zionist entity is questioned. It is heading for destruction.

"Israel has come to its end like the dead rat it became after it was beaten in the (Second) Lebanon War," added Ahmadinejad.,7340,L-3541038,00.html

If Iranians can't or won't get rid of this ranting monkey and his lot, then there's no legitimacy in complaining if others do it instead. And if one gets rich doing so, then I really like it.

Caroline Glick sums it up well enough:

"This plain reality demonstrates that there is only one responsible policy for Israel to follow and for the international community to support if they are truly interested in peace between Israel and the Palestinians. That policy is for Israel to lay waste to Hamas's terror army in Gaza and overthrow its regime. Only when they are forced to pay a real price for their support for terror and jihad - as opposed to being rewarded for it with further Israeli land giveaways - will the Palestinians be forced to reconsider that support. Only when they realize that terror will get them nowhere - as opposed to anywhere they wish - will the Palestinians be forced to accept Israel as an unchanging reality with which they must live in peace."

Happy Nakbah, losers.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Hope

The Sergeants affair, פרשת הסרג'נטים‎. In July 1947 during the war for independence, Irgun members kidnapped two British sergeants, Clifford Martin and Mervyn Paice, and hanged them in a eucalyptus grove near Netanya. Why? Three Israelis, Haviv, Weiss and Nakar, captured by the British for being partisans in the founding of the nation, were hanged at dawn, 29 July. Irgun members, having in turn captured the British soldiers to prevent the hanging of their own, retaliated. they hanged the British. Tel Aviv mayor Yisrael Rokah, "feared Irgun would hang them in the city's main square, while in Netanya it was feared that they would be hanged on local lamp posts."1.

Irgun members released the following message regarding the British soldiers' hangings:

"We recognize no one-sided laws of war. If the British are determined that their way out of the country should be lined by an avenue of gallows and of weeping fathers, mothers, wives, and sweethearts, we shall see to it that in this there is no racial discrimination. The gallows will not be all of one color...Their price will be paid in full."2.

"As Britain entered the summer bank holiday weekend on Friday 1 August, 1947, the tranquillity of what should have been a quiet and restful public holiday was shattered by a torrent of anti-Semitic violence and rioting. The unambiguous cause of the violence was the Irgun execution of sergeants Martin and Paice. News of the 'cold blooded Irgun murders' quickly spread across Britain through extensive coverage in the British media, a development that served to unify the British public in shock and horror.... The provocative nature of the newspaper reporting contributed to the already tense situation surrounding Anglo-Jewry's position in British society, although it was undoubtedly the calculated callousness of the Irgun reprisal hangings, which acted to spark the violent backlash against Anglo-Jewry. The rioting began as a wave of anti-Jewish demonstrations, which started in Liverpool and subsequently spread across Britain's urban centres from London to Glasgow. These 'demonstrations,' fuelled by bank holiday high spirits, quickly turned into a violent outpouring of hatred against the Anglo-Jewish community, as a vendetta for the deaths of the British sergeants in Palestine."3.

Originally Israeli Independence Day or Yom Ha'atzmaut, יום העצמאות‎, was 14 May 1948, but is today this year, as it follows the Jewish calendar. 14 May 1948, "the day the British Mandate expired, was the official announcement that a new Jewish state named the State of Israel had been formally established in parts of what was known as the British Mandate for Palestine and on land where, in antiquity, the Kingdoms of Israel, Judah and Judea had once been."4.

Hatikva. "The Hope." הַתִּקְוָה

כל עוד בלבב פנימה
נפש יהודי הומיה,
ולפאתי מזרח קדימה,
עין לציון צופיה,
Kol od baleivav p'nimah
Nefesh y'hudi homiyah
Ulfa'atei mizrach kadimah
Ayin l'tziyon tzofiyah
As long as in the heart, within,
A soul of a Jew is yearning,
And to the edges of the East, forward,
An eye gazes towards Zion,
עוד לא אבדה תקוותנו,
התקווה בת שנות אלפים,
להיות עם חופשי בארצנו,
ארץ ציון וירושלים.
Od lo avdah tikvateinu
Hatikvah bat sh'not alpayim
Lihyot am chofshi b'artzeinu
Eretz tziyon viyrushalayim
Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.5.

2. Ibid
3. Ibid

Tiny Mads make Big Pay

Any fool can get himself killed pursuing a wide-eyed and lunatic adventure that pays a thrill a minute and an early grave but it takes a person with some smarts and a bit of drive to pull off an adventure that saves the world and at the same time makes a pile of cold cash. What with the price of gas these days, being a road warrior means one has to make it pay just to fuel the project.

If I were a man who wanted adventure and a patriotic cause to fight for, I'd join the Marines. If I were a man who wanted adventure, a patriotic cause, and a pot full of bucks, I'd consider something different. I'd look at which is the world's biggest worst arsehole nation, and then I'd look to see if they owe a big debt to us. I'd see them clearly, plan to make a whack of cash hurting them, and I'd make sure I didn't piss-off my native government. Tall order, which is why not everyone is doing it all the time.

I'd look for some evil bad-guy nation, and I'd hurt them in a really tiny way. I'd look for the smallest thing I could do to hurt the place. The smaller the thing I could think of the better I'd like it. That's why I have such trouble with Hillary Clinton suggesting she'd annihilate Iran if they were to attack Israel; why I spit at the idea of Barak Obama threatening to invade Pakistan; Tom Tancredo threatening to melt Mecca. Is there a dime of profit in that? Even worse, is it small enough to actually happen? I think these grand schemes are nonsense. I look at the smallest thing possible as the likeliest to happen successfully. But where's the cash at the end of the day? Polish the knob all one likes, either there's a tangible pay-off or it was a nasty waste of effort better forgotten and not repeated.

This guy claims to be the Lord Humungous, the ayatollah of rock and rolla. Love this line:

Humungus: "We do it my way... Fear is our ally... The gasoline will be ours... then you shall have your revenge!"

He didn't, as I recall from watching Mad Max, get around to "Death to the Jooos" and "Allahu Akbar." Nor do I recall Max making any money for all his efforts.

Here's the run-down, as it were, on the movie:

The story is set in Australia in the near future, depicting a poorly-funded police unit called the Main Force Patrol (MFP), which struggles to protect the Outback's few remaining townspeople from violent motorcycle gangs. The film depicts the future Australia as a bleak, dystopian and impoverished society that is facing a breakdown of civil order, the causes of which are not detailed in this film but which Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior explains as being caused by widespread oil shortages....

Filled with a burning, obsessive anger, Max once again dons his leather police outfit and straps on his sawn-off shotgun. Driving the supercharged, black Pursuit Special, he goes out to avenge the death of his family. He hunts down and kills the gang members one by one, including the Toecutter. When Max finds Johnny the Boy, he handcuffs his ankle to a wrecked, overturned vehicle with a ruptured gas tank. Max lights a crude time-delay fuse and gives Johnny a hack saw, leaving him the choice of trying to saw through the handcuffs (10 minutes) or his ankle (five minutes). Over Johnny's hysterics, an embittered Max drives off into the desolate Outback as the fuse he constructed explodes behind him, presumably killing Johnny.

I got a kick out of the movie when I saw in many years ago, but I didn't rush off to Australia to be a vigilante. The work might be fun and interesting and might give one a chance to meet interesting people and, yes, you may kill them; but really, where's the pay-off in a job with a such terrible pension plan? Call me a bourgeois philistine, but I sort of look at the bottom line in cases like this. Otherwise I'll just keep it at the movie theatre.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Dear Limey Assholes,

The Guardian Newspaper is running a cartoon today of American voters. Damned good of the Guardian to put us all in our rightful places and show us what we're really like so we and the world can see it so clearly. Below a bit of background on this Friend of the People.

The Grauniad (until 1959 The Manchester Guardian) is a British newspaper owned by the Guardian Media Group. It is published Monday to Saturday in the Berliner format from its London and Manchester headquarters.

In August 2004, for the US presidential election, the daily G2 supplement launched an experimental letter-writing campaign in Clark County, Ohio, a small county in a swing state. G2 editor Ian Katz bought a voter list from the county for $25 and asked readers to write to people listed as undecided in the election, giving them an impression of the international view and the importance of making the correct decision. There was something of a backlash to this campaign. The paper scrapped Operation Clark County on 21 October 2004 after first publishing a column of vituperation under the headline 'Dear Limey assholes'.

The Guardian Weekly, which circulates worldwide, provides a compact digest of four newspapers. It contains articles from The Guardian and its Sunday paper, sister paper The Observer, as well as reports, features and book reviews from The Washington Post and articles translated from France's Le Monde.

The Guardian Media Group also runs a multi-award winning website,

Editorial articles in The Guardian are generally in sympathy with the middle-ground liberal to left-wing end of the political spectrum. This is reflected in the paper's readership: a MORI Poll taken between April and June 2000 showed that 80% of Guardian readers were Labour Party voters (cited in International Socialism Spring 2003, ISBN 1-898876-97-5); according to another MORI poll taken in 2004, 44% of Guardian readers vote Labour and 37% vote Liberal Democrat.

The Guardian is considered British centre-left, however, it is frequently described by American conservatives as "left-wing" as US politics are generally to the right of the UK.

In October 2004 The Guardian published a humour column by Charlie Brooker in its entertainment guide, which appeared to call for the assassination of US President George W. Bush. This caused some controversy and the paper was forced to issue an apology and remove the article from its website.

Founded by textile traders and merchants, the Guardian had a reputation as 'an organ of the middle class', or in the words of C.P. Scott's son Ted 'a paper that will remain bourgeois to the last'. "I write for the Guardian," said Sir Max Hastings in 2005, "because it is read by the new establishment", reflecting the paper's growing influence. Three of the Guardian's four leader writers joined the Social Democratic Party on its foundation in 1981, but the paper was enthusiastic in its support for Tony Blair in his bid to lead the Labour Party, and to become Prime Minister.

Following the 7 July 2005 London bombings, The Guardian published an article on its comment pages by Dilpazier Aslam, a 27 year old British Muslim journalism trainee from Yorkshire. Aslam was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist group, and had published a number of articles on their website. According to the paper, it did not know that Aslam was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir when he applied to become a trainee, though several staff members were informed of this once he started at the paper.

The Guardian is part of the GMG Guardian Media Group .... All the aforementioned are owned by The Scott Trust, a charitable foundation which aims to ensure the newspaper's editorial independence in perpetuity, maintaining its financial health to ensure it does not become vulnerable to take over by for-profit media groups, and the serious compromise of editorial independence that this often brings.

The Guardian has been consistently loss-making. The National Newspaper division of GMG, which also includes The Observer, reported operating losses of £49.9m in 2006, up from £18.6m in 2005. The paper is therefore heavily dependent on cross-subsidisation from profitable companies within the group, including Auto Trader and the Manchester Evening News....

According to a December, 2004 survey, 44% of Guardian readers voted in favour of Labour, 37% for the Liberal Democrats and only 5% for the Conservatives, the lowest percentage of any large British newspaper....

Despite its early support for the Zionist movement, in recent decades The Guardian has often been perceived as critical of Israeli government policy. In December 2003 journalist Julie Burchill left the paper for The Times, citing this as one of the reasons for her move. She later accused The Guardian of being anti-semitic. In a recent controversy, the paper has been accused by Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz of bias and an unwillingness to correct what he deemed a mis-statement of fact. This allegation was denied by the Guardian's foreign editor, Harriet Sherwood, who says the paper aims to cover all viewpoints in the Israel-Palestine conflict. On 6 June 2007 the paper commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War by giving equal space to the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers to explain their views on the conflict and its legacy.


There are many stereotypes, but perhaps the most prominent is that of the Labour-voting middle-class Guardian reader with centre-left/left-wing politics rooted in the 1960s, working in the public sector or academia, sometimes eating lentils and muesli, living in north London (especially Camden and Islington), wearing sandals, sometimes believing in alternative medicine and natural medicine though more often atheistic or non-religious and rational. It has been shown that the majority of university students in the UK read the Guardian.

This might be illustrated by Labour MP Kevin Hughes's largely rhetorical question in the House of Commons on November 19, 2001: "Does my Right Hon. Friend find it bizarre — as I do — that the yoghurt- and muesli-eating, Guardian-reading fraternity are only too happy to protect the human rights of people engaged in terrorist acts, but never once do they talk about the human rights of those who are affected by them?"

Guardian.... Doesn't that strike a bell? Hmmm.

A snippet:

Why We Form a Society

Imagining their likely origins in the prehistorical past, Plato argued that societies are invariably formed for a particular purpose. Individual human beings are not self-sufficient; no one working alone can acquire all of the genuine necessities of life. In order to resolve this difficulty, we gather together into communities for the mutual achievement of our common goals. This succeeds because we can work more efficiently if each of us specializes in the practice of a specific craft: I make all of the shoes; you grow all of the vegetables; she does all of the carpentry; etc. Thus, Plato held that separation of functions and specialization of labor are the keys to the establishment of a worthwhile society.

The result of this original impulse is a society composed of many individuals, organized into distinct classes (clothiers, farmers, builders, etc.) according to the value of their role in providing some component part of the common good. But the smooth operation of the whole society will require some additional services that become necessary only because of the creation of the social organization itself—the adjudication of disputes among members and the defense of the city against external attacks, for example. Therefore, carrying the principle of specialization one step further, Plato proposed the establishment of an additional class of citizens, the guardians who are responsible for management of the society itself. In fact, Plato held that effective social life requires guardians of two distinct sorts: there must be both soldiers whose function is to defend the state against external enemies and to enforce its laws, and rulers who resolve disagreements among citizens and make decisions about public policy. The guardians collectively, then, are those individuals whose special craft is just the task of governance itself.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Cogito ergot nil cogito

Albert Hofmann, the man who discovered and refined synthetic ergot poison into LSD, is dead.

The psychedelic drug/ entheogen LSD was first synthesized by the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in the Sandoz (now Novartis) laboratories in Basel, Switzerland in 1938. It was not until 5 years later on April 16, 1943, that the psychedelic properties were discovered.

LSD was first synthesised in 1938 by Dr. Alfred Hoffman, a Chemist in the pharmacological department in Sandoz Laboratories, Basel, Switzerland. It was initially developed while he was studying derivatives of lysergic acid, systematically reacting the carboxylic acid group with various reagents, to produce the corresponding amides, anhydrides, esters, etc. The reaction of diethylamine with this group produced what was then named LSD-25, however no real benefits of the compound were found and its study was discontinued.

Interest in the drug resumed 5 years later when Dr Hoffman synthesised LSD-25 again so that a sample could be given to the pharmocological department for further testing, when it was thought to be a potential treatment for schizophrenia. Although initial observations on the benefits were highly optimistic, empirical data developed subsequently proved much less promising.

Although LSD is relatively non-toxic and non-addictive, various governments around the world outlawed it after a number of fatal accidents were reported. Such accidents involved, for example, people under the influence of LSD jumping to their deaths off buildings believing they could fly. Research in the 1960's and 70's showed that there was also a considerable psychological risk with the drug and that high doses, especially in inappropriate settings, often caused panic reactions. Scientific study finally ceased around mid 1970's as research funding declined, due to political reasons.

We write here and at Covenant Zone about the perils of Historical Determinism. We look askance at the end of history eschatologies of Gnostic visionaries who really have no idea what goes on around them even in their personal lives, let alone how history will progress. Hofmann provides a good example of finding the unknowable after the fact, his a world-changing event so mundane in its origins that no one short of God and social science undergrad.s could have foreseen it, nor know its impact on daily living and history. We cannot know the future like the Gnostic hippies would have it known or be believed knowable. History unfolds, teleologically, to me, in the way an acorn becomes its potential oak tree and not a non-potential carrot; but beyond that, very hard to know anything. In that light, one is better to hold off on what Truepeers refers to as apocalyptic visions that alienate the Muslim world. We cannot know if they will or if they won't come to some accommodation with Modernity until we find they haven't. Maybe some world-historic event is tomorrow, and if we wait for it to come things will be significantly different for us all. Maybe even now there is some great thing in a lab waiting to be known. Maybe maybe.

Ignus Sacer.

Thanks to Maccusgermanis there is now this link below to St Anthony' Fire, and much more.There is in the archives some reference to Berserkers and to Erna Paris, End of Days, both of which deal to an extent with ergot poisoning. When time allows I intend to reread Aldous Huxley, Brave New World. If anyone has input, please feel free.