My living intellectual hero
There’s no “thing” without a setting, no individual without a culture. I can’t say what “I” am without first saying what “we” are.
We are kleptocrats. If you’re not, you’re not likely to be on-line: you’re likely seeking water on the Kalahari Desert, or are a member of an highlands band in New Guinea. (If you are, how I envy you.)
As kleptocrats we occupy territory taken from others without their leave, drive on roads built by one or another form of slavery. Most of our ideas are inherited: the inheritance tax not always paid. If you used the usual search engines to get here, there’s a high probability that you are a member of the same religious branch of kleptocracy I was born to: the one that first killed and now ritually eats its god. Indeed, I write this on Easter Eve. Tomorrow we celebrate the god’s death and resurrection. It’s magic: you kill him and he’s still there, you eat him and he loves you for it.
I am unlike the normal kleptocrat in that I hate it. I’m embarrassed to be a thief. I’m embarrassed to look at a Van Gogh in the museum or as a print in the magazine. I’m aghast to know that even though we “freed” the slaves we never compensated them, that we never gave Sutter a dime after raping his kingdom and stealing his gold, that if we honored our treaties or paid our debts we wouldn’t have a dime ourselves.
I’ve been saying or trying to say some version of these things all my life. Naturally, normal kleptocrats don’t hear them. The non-hearing is managed: but, I believe not at the conscious level. If the kleptocracy were conscious of what it is, could it be a kleptocracy? Are we playing for laughs when we talk about “law,” “order,” “freedom,” “democracy,” “justice” …?
We celebrate our species as “human,” as “conscious,” as “moral” … Are any of those claims true in any way? I suppose the “human” label fits: so long as human means whatever it is that we actually are: the truth, not the ad.
I would like to stop killing the god, take him finally down off the cross. Good guy, god, felon, or fraud, Jesus should get a rest.
I would like us to stop killing and exploiting each other.
… Slack-jawed with awe
Since no kleptocracy can give its territory back to the peoples it was taken from, the peoples being long dead if not culturally extinct (neither could those peoples give their degraded territories back to nature’s commons), I would like us to do the next best thing: to admit that no territorial claims are legitimate: de-legitimatize legitimacy: reduce our numbers to something sustainable: and share: attain community. To use Ivan Illich’s term, be convivial. I would like us to admit who and what we are as a species, as a group, as cultures: occasionally partially-sentient primates: clever animals, camouflaged predators, often camouflaged from ourselves as well as each other. We would tell the truth if we said that we are liars (logical joke): self-deceiving as well as other(s)-deceiving.
If you look at my writing — past fictional or current expository — you may see that the above is what it’s always been about. Of course prior to Knatz.com, the kleptocracy always made it hard to impossible for you to hear me. Only some version of the old deceptions are publishable. What rubbish to give prizes for literature when only fractions of what’s offered to us is promoted by visibility.
I am not the first or the last to share these concerns. History is littered with the silenced voices of our conscience. (Who knows how many Blakes as well as Van Goghs there are who’ve never been discovered? Who knows how many peaceful healers got crucified before Jesus got the credit?) Still, even I, despite “deliberately” choosing the path toward shunning if not execution, am surprised to be as little heard as I have been. If I asked my Sunday School teacher if I could go to the bathroom, he understood me. If I asked him what Calvin said, he could tell me. If I told him what I thought, he didn’t understand a word. And so it’s been. If I sound like “you,” I’m understood. If I sound like me, I am not. I have no experience of public understanding. Indeed, the understanding wanes in proportion to conventional advancement: my graduate school teachers understood what I wrote even less than my Sunday School teacher or minister understood what I said. My “democratic” “representatives” understand me not at all: neither speech nor writing. (Yet they still pretend to “represent” me.) I could prove my teachers and political leaders to be uniformly illiterate if only I could find a literate fellow, one sensitive to “falsifiability,” willing to consider the evidence.
But literature is bullshit: another artifact of kleptocracy. We’d be better off talking around a camp fire.
Well: there’s plenty about all of this here at Knatz.com. (Was. The tenses, the grammar, are all wrong with Knatz.com destroyed.) I’ll close here by paraphrasing something I improvised on the phone yesterday.
Business and community are incompatible. In following Monsignor Ivan Illich, I offered community to a world with little of it. “You” preferred business as usual. It wasn’t the first time a wrong turn was taken. And now there’s no going back.(I refer of course to The Free Learning Exchange.Inc (FLEX: see my InfoAll blog) and its deschooling.
(Even around a campfire, I still wouldn’t be understood. I don’t imagine my points being generally intelligible until kleptocracy has hit rock bottom in a crippled biosphere. Then, with 99% of mankind dead, and the remainder hunting each other for food, my points, were any of my utterances still extant, would be obvious.)