Promises, Promises

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / NoHier / Theme Buds / Democracy / \
@ K. 1999 10 06

More pk on Democracy

France promises liberty, the US freedom. Or is it that the US says we already have it? How narrowly is the term defined? Is it true by any definition?

I recall a graduate paper on Milton’s Paradise Lost in which I pointed out that in promising Eve this and that, Satan was selling her the Brooklyn Bridge: Satan didn’t have any of those things to sell or give. (Unless you consider realizing that you’ve “lost” “immortality” to be “knowledge.”) (Satan seems to be immortal: does it do him any good?) In any case, in those days I believed that God did have those things to give: Excuse me, God, are we immortal? Do we have knowledge? Of good and evil? Do you? Should we want it? Why not? (How could you verify his answer?) (And how could HE verify his answer?)

Government by Empty Promises

These days I see God as just as much of a fraud and con man as Satan: two con men vying for the same marks. Of course these days I also see that God and Satan are just ways to talk about things that concern us. (Some of those things are “real,” some eidetic, most pathological.) What’s particularly striking to me now (I’ve already noted here the coincidence between the age of God’s creation and the birth of kleptocracy as “civilization”) … is that God and Satan are kleptocracy: government by theft, government by fraud, government as a con game, government by empty promises. Freedom, liberty. Government can take my freedom away, but it can’t “give” me something that belief/god/nature already allows. How is government different from Satan? The lion, the thieves, the street gang … can also take my freedom away. How is government different from a street gang? How is government different from God/Satan?

The courts promise justice. Do they have it? Do they give it? Do they know what it is? No, the courts can deny justice, can frustrate justice … The courts are there to prevent you from trying to take it yourself.
(The courts are there to palm little justices off as justice. Oh, poor boobie, you spilled hot MacDonald’s coffee aw’ on ‘oorself? That’s the cover. The real purpose is to make sure that no real justice gets done: the Mohawk lose their land permanently, we steal the Lakota gold from their Black Hills, we steal New Helvetia from Sutter, pretending we “won” it from Mexico. The courts are there to see that none of it ever gets reclaimed.)

Segue: Thanks

Bureaucrats act as though they’re due thanks for doing their jobs. If the law says you’re entitled to justice, welfare, protection … and you happen to get it, what “thanks” should be due? Aren’t they merely complying with the law? Isn’t that their job? Does the cop thank you for driving within the speed limit? If the court orders your husband to give you the damn alimony and he finally does, should you thank him? (And if you do, is it sincere? ironic? or rote behavior?)

How did government and law ever get confused with courtesy? Courtesy, charity … must be voluntary to have meaning. There must be a choice. The president should thank the supporter who puts $X in his reelection fund, but not you for your taxes (assuming you’re craven or conventional enough to pay them). If the legislature decrees that junkies are entitled to methadone, $900 a month, two years at the community college, a condo with a swimming pool, and a vacation in Aruba … (and that you pay your taxes (as usual) or go to jail (as usual)), then the junkie doesn’t owe any thanks and you shouldn’t think that now you’re charitable enough to satisfy the prophet.

But notice, before I drop the subject: notice how just like their kleptocratic origins professions are. The profession of teaching promises education. Are teachers educated? Really? Even if they are, can they pass it on to you? What teachers do give for their pay is time in a classroom.

Ask the same questions about any profession. You went to the doctor for your health. Did you get healthy? Did he have health to sell? (That won’t make sense to you unless you know the statistics: health depends more on nutrition and environment than on medical procedures, and exposure to doctors, drugs, and hospitals is a leading cause of disease and death.)

People were superstitious before kleptocracy. People were stupid before kleptocracy. But superstition and stupidity weren’t so damn well organized. Superstition and stupidity may have “owned” the individual, the family, maybe the whole tribe; but superstition and stupidity didn’t own the whole damn universe.

1999 10 09
Power Poker

Harry Truman is famous for a number of things popular among which is his utterance “The buck stops here.”
As a child that made no more sense to me than much of the stuff we heard at school. But that was OK: I was a kid. Kids are supposed to be stupid. Adults had to be really smart, genuinely superior, since they walked around posturing as though they did understand all that stuff. The trouble with growing up is that sometimes, some few really do come to understand bits of the ubiquitous informational flack of our human environment.
Don’t peek ahead now. On your own: what does Truman’s announcement mean? Well, as we grow up, that particular one is occasionally explained. It was supposed to mean that he was taking responsibility. This kleptocrat, unlike his hordes of bureaucrat employees, would not “pass the buck.”
OK. Heroic. But what does “pass the buck” mean?
I was probably thirty, maybe thirty-five, before I learned. It’s a poker term. The buck was passed around the table with the deck. The receiver of the buck then dealt the cards until some rule was satisfied, and then someone else got a turn. Maybe there’s a card sharp, a “mechanic,” a false dealer, at the table. Maybe there’s more than one. None of them get to monopolize the deck. The cheating can’t always be the same. The buck sits at the dealer’s place, so that no matter how distracted you are by your hand, by your pile of chips or cash, by size of the pile of chips or cash in the middle of the table, by discrepancies between your ambitions and the various piles and the cards in your hand, you can remember who to ask for more cards.
In a casino some flunky of the house always deals. There is no buck to pass.

At his coronation as emperor, Napoleon took the crown from the archbishop that the rules had designated to place the crown on his head. Napoleon arbitrarily abridged the rules and placed “his” crown on his head himself. What Truman actually said, regardless of what we were expected to hear, was that he, Napoleon, was turning Washington into a casino where the house always deals.

Gee? Hadn’t it already been?

See the letter to Nixon [Election Time] where I suggested that he too abridge the rules, cancel the election, and just keep the deck.

2006 03 30 The magician, the house, keeps the deal, controls the deck. The magician can use a straight deck, the magician can switch in a trick deck.

It must always be up to the player to know when to shoot the magician between the eyes.

Though the player should always realize that the reports of his actions will always be recorded by the remaining house magicians:
Until there’s a revolution. Trouble is revolutions so far have always just substituted another house with its house magicians, house dealers. I want a revolution with no house. I’d like to believe it’s possible short of extinction. With no humans, there’d be no human house.

Kleptocracies are hierarchically organized: top down. Modern kleptocracies like the US employ the full magical arsenal — illusions, tricks — to make the opposite appear to be true. American democracy is top down organization parading as grassroots: bottom up.

But the trick is so feeble. Who would go along with it were it not for the police, the H bombs, the jails … the concerted wrath of those who do go along with the illusion? When one agrees to be fooled, one doesn’t tolerate party poopers.

2006 01 24 I have to redo this file in a broader and deeper context. It isn’t just democracy that makes unkept promises; democracy is part of a more basic pattern: culture generating unkeepable promises: from magic, to God, to salvation, to human-central order … That latter one actually we have realized; but don’t like any manifestation we see of it.

keywords democracy, promises


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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