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Any habit that has no survival value

Garden Variety Addiction
& a Cornucopia of Others

This piece continues my argument that unlimited civilization is a threat to our own species as well as to the rest of the biosphere, if not the entire universe. It will spin around the perception that wealth and power are addictions and that the point of any addiction is to escalate, then run out.

(I sort by “subject” but of course all the subjects and many of the points interrelate: epistemology (semantics, cybernetics …), cosmology, theology; politics, psychology …)

Bert Stern photo
Bert Stern photo
recreating Vogue cover for Stella Artois

Did you ever notice that the people forever talking about diets are forever gaining weight? Once upon a time athletic wear was worn by athletes. It still is of course, but once upon a time exercise suits appeared only on people exercising, baseball uniforms on people playing baseball, guerrilla fatigues on people sniping from the mountains. Then Jackie O started dressing like Ché to march from Tiffany’s to Sachs. Now an exercise suit is more likely to mean that the person isn’t exercising and is talking about a diet (being followed about as well as Christians follow Jesus) than to mean that the person is a runner out running. The wearer of the exercise suit is gaining, not losing weight; losing, not gaining, muscle … The exercise suit is a costume designed to deceive both wearer and viewer. Like a doctor’s lab coat, a judge’s wizard gown, a priest’s cassock … (Actually, all three are derived from wizards’ gowns.) (What shortened the lab coat and turned it white is a subject in itself. If Stephen Jay Gould doesn’t get to it first or hasn’t already, I’ll try to find time.)

The dieter decides to give up cake for an hour. The dieter succeeds. Then eats twice as much cake the second hour to celebrate. Ditto smokers: junkies, drunks … The smoker who’s moderating two cigarettes a month is before long moderating four packs a day.

All of which I shall now relate to prejudice:

N-s are stupid.
N-s have thick lips.

[Bowdlerizing K., 2016 08 03 Offensive terms go dosidos in fashion.]

Distinguish please between those two prejudicial assertions. Apply the Wason test. For a rule to be valid, there must be no exceptions. One offering a rule must demonstrate examples. No matter what group of people are being referred to as “n-,” it should pose little problem to find a host of examples. But as soon as one of your “n-s” turns up smart, your rule goes kablooie. (Do you therefore drop it? Apologize?) The trouble is that the same standards do not apply to generalizations. Few bother to make (or are capable of making) this distinction. By “n-” the speaker is likely to be referring to people whose Black African ancestry is more obvious than any they themselves might have. (See Race.) But let’s make that distinction between rule and generalization now. Many members of any group will be less than brilliant. But some genetic groups do — in general — have thicker lips than others. Not too many rules work well with real or perceived groups of people; but many generalizations do. I’m going to make some now and relate them to cultural differences in addiction.

“Irish, drunk”: the words go so well together some might think them redundant. German, Scots … drunk. “Japanese drunk.” Sorry. It doesn’t scan. What? Are there no Japanese drunks? More than ever, I don’t doubt, but no tradition of it. Rewatching Kagemusha last night I noticed something I’ve long known, but now notice in a new way. Whatever kind of a heap the peasants lived in, the aristocracy, samurai to warlord, lived like a hive. I want to expand that metaphor, but later. Right now, I just want to point out that samurai were served. They never served themselves. The samurai sits. A dinky little drinking dish the size and shape of a demitasse saucer is provided him. His attendant pours about a half an ounce of tea or sake. He slurps it down. He holds out the dish, gets a refill.

Kings couldn’t dress themselves, feed themselves … couldn’t do anything for themselves. But after a while we have Beau Brummel, a minor upperclassman, spending two hours tying his tie. Dressing himself. All day long. Around the same time, more and more Brits, first of the upper classes but finally among almost all classes, didn’t have to go to the pub for a snort. They had their own bottle in the cabinet.

Traditional Japanese drinking was social. So was the drinking of the rest of the world. How many people take their first drink, their first cigarette themselves? The first dozen times you get smashed, you do it as a member of a group getting smashed. The last ten or eleven thousand times you get smashed, you do it alone. Fatties don’t start eating in secret. Junkies too start socially and end isolated.

So then, which is cheaper: a $6 martini served to you by a cocktail waitress or a martini you mix yourself in your own den? Let’s see: gin can be purchased at the ABC for … I’ll say $10 a fifth and $3 for a split of Vermouth. Let’s forget your rent, your power bill, the possibility that you had to purchase your own martini glass: you’re a social creature, you have those expenses anyway. Olives, ice … are already in the fridge. You mix 2 oz of gin with 1 oz of Vermouth. The booze comes to about a buck. So: you get out of the cocktail lounge for maybe $50; you don’t get out of your own house till the bank repossesses. If your wife didn’t already throw you out.

Liquor gives a short-lived sort of glee,
then you don’t remember the best parts.

Patricia Anthony

I could and may add a lot more. How many geisha will keep pouring the samurai’s sake twenty years after he fell drunk off his horse in battle? Yet there are plenty of 1,000 lb. tubbies who can’t even get out of bed to go shopping. Someone’s feeding them. Did the Cro-Magnon who painted the Lasceau cave 17,000 years ago have half-ton tubbies confined to their sleeping rock? I’ve kicked off the game: you should be able to keep playing it wherever I go, whatever I do.

Cro-Magnon cave painting

How many of you though would see the following analogy on your own?

George Washington was one who said something like this to the colonists:

OK, guys, you’re sick of having no say in how King George taxes your tea? Bring yourself, your rifle, your bed roll, some ammo, and let’s put a stop to it.

King George’s tax was paid involuntarily. General George’s “tax” was volunteered. That was in the American Revolution. What about the Whiskey War such a short time later? Now the same colonists who’d been killing Red Coats were killing other colonists so King US could replace King George of Hanover in involuntary taxation. King US taxes automatically. You don’t even get your own wages any more. King US controls all the money, magnanimously letting you have some of your salary after King US has had his suck.

2013 04 15 My son is a big Rothbard fan, he works at, all big Rothbard fans. I’ve never been a Rothbard fan: why didn’t he support my free market offer of 1970 (the Free Learning Exchange). Just another clever hypocrite, finally mortally stupid in my book. But:
I do love some individual statements by Rothbard: such as (I paraphrase):
With inflation, bread may cost $10 a loaf,
but at least you get the bread.
But (And now I quote):

With taxation You get nothing.

King US started social. Didn’t last long. Now King US is trillions of avoirdupois: a tubby that can’t get out of bed. It’s siphon was long ago sutured direct into our arteries. King US hasn’t ridden its own horse since the Revolution. King US stays King US by forever prattling about dieting. As it grows fatter and fatter. All the politicians are dieters. Reagan built himself palaces by talking about tax dieting: a trimmer government. How much fatter did King US get Reagan? Or under Newt Gingrich’s tax diets? Our moderation strangles the world. A society? No: a degraded warren of rabid money-junkies. We won’t go cold turkey till we hit rock bottom so hard we bounce up dead.

Do you mind if I eat while you smoke, Mr. Coward?
Not if you don’t make too much noise.

Noel Coward was a notorious chain smoker.
This urbane wit totally ignored the irony
of the diner he was being rude to,
turning the sarcasm inside out.

Government is addicts ganging up on whatever doesn’t share in the addiction. Civilized peoples routinely commit genocides against those who do not demonstrate the same degree of addiction. (Civilized people also routinely commit genocides for other reasons. I am not saying that there’s always only one motive.)

Government is a screen, a cover, a disguise .. by which junkies conceal the true nature of their habit from themselves. Ditto churches, schools, etc.

Government is addicts ganging up on whatever doesn’t share in the addiction.

Of course King Herod had to do everything in his power to get Jesus crucified. The fake cannot tolerate the real. (Try staying sober sometime amidst a bunch of drunks: see how they treat you. What happens to the “white” who stays home from the lynching? note)
Of course Pilate had to go along. Wouldn’t the Pope suddenly ally himself with the Grand Wizard of the KKK if the Second Coming occurred quietly in Monroe, Alabama? [See Stalking Horse.] Of course the democrats of Athens had to gang up on Socrates. They were intelligent, reasonable men. (Meaning rubber stamps of each other.) Socrates’ intelligence wasn’t standard. He wasn’t tame. The eunuchs with no balls have to gang up on the botched eunuch: the eunuch with some trickle of non-synthetic testosterone. Didn’t the US representatives charged with public safety gang up on Ralph Nader? Try to poison the well?

(The Christian story assumes belief that Jesus was genuinely what the story supposes. I use it the same way. But this latter point would hold even if Jesus’ miracles were staged and Herod, having had spies among the stage hands, knew they were staged. Even if the historical Jesus were a charlatan, he still wasn’t a union charlatan note.) And Herod and Pilate (if we still believe the rest of the story) were still cheats.)

(Indeed, whether or not you’re a “Christian” should depend far less on whether you believe Jesus to have been genuinely God, Christ, this, that, and far more depend on how clear it is to you that Herod and Pilate were fraudulent as kings, governors, judges … I believe the Nicene creed should be tossed where it belongs, and be replaced utterly by one question: Who killed Jesus? Any answer other than “We did” entitles you to join Herod and Pilate among the mislabelers.)

Addiction Scrapbook

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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