Tag Archive | nihilism

Why the English Language is Broken Fundamentally

It was years ago that I sat down to evaluate and rebut Matt Slick’s modified Cosmological Argument for the existence of a deity–a common Transcendental Argument for the existence of God, although modified slightly so that Slick took the “existence” of the Logical Absolutes, and the alleged characteristic of “transcendence,” and attempted to hold them up as proof that a deity exists. In that paper, I pointed out that Slick’s primary mistake was in misunderstanding the nature of the Logical Absolutes, because they are not things with existence; they are events, or, to be more specific, they are extrapolations of events into generalized form.

The easiest way to explain this is to take the first of the three Logical Absolutes–that something is what it is, and is not what it is not–and to say that “A tree is a tree.” It may seem a silly statement to the uninitiated, but the tautological nature of this statement forms the very basis of all possible knowledge; it is neither trivial nor silly. Before we can “know” anything, we must establish the parameters by which we can know things, and this is the purpose of the Logical Absolutes.

Anyway, “tautologies are true” is essentially the first of the three, which itself is a tautology and presumed to be truth only if it is already true. If tautologies were not true, then our tautology that “Tautologies are true” could not be true, and we end up with a logical paradox. We’ll come back to this.

It’s not because of any transcendent property of nature or reality that we would say that “A tree is a tree,” and it’s not an existent thing that allows us to make that assessment. It is an observation of an event–the verbiage should be instant giveaways. “Is,” after all, is a verb, and it means that something is presently engaged in being or doing something. The statement “A tree is a tree” is shorthand for saying “A tree is presently engaged in the act of being a tree.” We could ask, if we wanted, whether it was possible for the tree to be engaged in the act of being anything else, and that is where the Logical Absolutes come into play, but prior to that it’s nothing but the observation of a subjective being.

Whether the tree is actually engaged in the act of being a tree cannot be ascertained. To make this a statement of “truth,” we would need to modify it further, such that we’d say, “It appears that the tree is presently engaged in the act of being a tree.”

However, such a statement contains its own ellipsis, just as the initial one did. “It appears to me that the tree is presently engaged in the act of being a tree,” is what the sentence actually says, once we remove those banes of non-native English speakers that make grasping the language so difficult. This is because English often assumes one perspective or another, and hides the assumption in an ellipsis that the average native English speaker isn’t even aware of. Quite literally, they are unaware of the assumptions they are making, because the language of expression provides the means by which they can hide their own assumptions away from themselves and instead claim to be Heralds of the One True Value System.

And yet, what did we say? What were the words we initially used to express this sentiment?

“A tree is a tree.”

The English language is so full of self-deceit. The only way to begin to think freely and without this self-deception is to think in concepts rather than the words we use to (allegedly) represent those concepts. Language is infinitely valuable for communication, when it is built on the basis of the Logical Absolutes, which thereby allows us to agree that when we say “tree” we are both referring to the same thing, which is itself. But the language is only useful if the word “tree” actually calls up in your mind the essence of a tree. If you instead picture a flying fish, then communication is impossible, and one or the both of us is engaged in considerable self-deceit or a butchering of the shared medium of communication.

As always, it’s important to remember that we did not move from “A tree is a tree” to “It appears to me that the tree is presently engaged in the act of being a tree” accidentally or arbitrarily; we got to here by dissecting the statement and pointing out possibly errant assumptions.

First, how do I know that you aren’t lying? How am I to know how a thing appears to you? The English language allows us to make this statement of subjective experience as though it’s objective fact, but I cannot tell you whether or not “a tree is a tree,” because I can only tell you whether the tree appears to me to be presently engaged in the act of being a tree. Perhaps you’re wrong, or perhaps I’m wrong–we’d have no way of knowing.

If our senses are reliable, then they would report to us that they are reliable. We would not commonly see things that turned out to not be there upon closer inspection. Except… this does happen, doesn’t it? And quite regularly. Just last week I experienced an extended period of sleep paralysis where I not only saw a scythe-wielding reaper standing before me, but actually saw and felt a woman lift up my leg and stab me in the foot with a knife. These ghosts appeared entirely real–and, in my condition, I thought that they were–but closer inspection revealed that my ocular information had to be discarded as pareidolia, and the pain of having my foot stabbed was entirely imaginary. There are also mirages, aural and ocular hallucinations, feeling bugs crawling on the skin–why, just by suggesting it to you, I can make you feel like there is a spider crawling very slowly on the back of your neck.

More to the point, it’s a logical paradox that reliable senses could report that they are unreliable in the first place, because this would be a falsehood, and reporting falsehood to the perceiver would make the “reliable” senses unreliable. Reliable senses can only ever report that they are reliable.

Unreliable senses, however, have the freedom to report anything they like–they can report that they are reliable, as long as their consistency is unreliable. If this was the case*, we would find ourselves perceiving things and regularly having to evaluate them further, to determine whether or not the initial perception was accurate. Sometimes it would be, and sometimes it wouldn’t be, and there would be no immediate way of knowing when we perceived something whether it was one of those reliable pieces of input or an unreliable one. They could not regularly report that they were unreliable, as this would make them reliable, which is another logical paradox.

Alarmingly, this is precisely what we have found. It appeared that the Earth was flat and orbited by the sun, for example. I’ve no doubt that we all have experiences that we can point to where something appeared to be one way, yet turned out to be entirely different. Whether our correction of the situation and recognition of it as “something different” to what we initially thought is any more “correct” than the initial one of appearance is immaterial, because the truth of the matter is simpler: “Initially, we perceived one thing; upon closer inspection, we perceived something else.” The truth or falsehood of the perception has no bearing on how the subjective being experienced it, and neither does it matter that our unreliable senses are the metrics that we used to separate what we came to think of as “falsehood” (the initial perception) from “truth” (the modified perception).

Of course, this isn’t to say that we should stand in the street and question whether the oncoming car is actually there, or whether our unreliable senses are relaying inaccurately to us that we should probably move out of the way of the vehicle. For whatever reason, it appears to me that we must make assumptions as we go about our lives, and there couldn’t possibly be anything inherently wrong with that–neither does being an assumption make it any more or less likely to be true–but I do think it’s important that we not lose sight of the fact that we are making assumptions.

One such assumption was my critique of Slick’s work, wherein I didn’t dispute the notion that the Logical Absolutes are transcendent. First, what does “transcendent” even mean? “Above or beyond the range of human experience,” according to Google, which is fair enough as a definition but needs expansion. For something to be transcendent, it must not be dependent upon any particular perspective and must be universally true without regard to perception.

“Possibly, but probably not,” then, is the answer. They can appear to be transcendent, but whether they are or aren’t cannot be determined by subjects who rely upon perception to experience the world–perceptions that are dependent upon perspective in the first place. I cannot say whether the Logical Absolutes are transcendent any more than I can say that the tree is a tree; I can only say how they appear to me–or, in the case of the Logical Absolutes, how my fallible and weak human mind can imagine them to be.

Once more, we are not dealing with reasonable certainty here, but claims of absolute certainty. One can be reasonably certain or not that a car is coming down the highway, but one can never be absolutely certain of it. What is “reasonable” to one person isn’t necessarily reasonable to another, either.

TheraminTrees did a wonderful video on this subject, where he posed the hypothetical that you were having a party. A friend is known to be clumsy, and gets drunk, exacerbating his clumsiness. He breaks your lamp and apologizes. Most people would agree it’s reasonable to accept the apology. Then he breaks your television. At this point, if you were to fly into a yelling rage at the friend and demanding that he pay for the damages, many people would decry you as responding unreasonably to the situation. But surely if your friend is prone to clumsiness, he has incorporated that into his life such that he takes responsibility for it? Is it not unreasonable to allow someone to come into your home, get drunk, and break your things?

Where you or I disagree on what is reasonable is also irrelevant; the point is just that there is no universally agreed criteria where something qualifies as “reasonable” or “unreasonable,” and too often it’s nothing more than a matter of perspective. From the limited and narrow sense that shouting at a friend and demanding they pay for something is unreasonable, our hypothetical partier is unreasonable. From a greater perspective (I would probably argue)–one that takes in a wider view of the situation–it is, in fact, unreasonable of the friend to ignore their own mistakes and shortcomings, particularly when damage is caused to their friends.

So I can say that “I’m reasonably certain that the tree appears to me to be presently engaged in the act of being a tree, per my understanding of what it means to be and per my definition of what a ‘tree’ is,” and this is a statement filled with quite a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity. Not everyone seems equipped to handle that level of uncertainty, and thus–the English language, which provides them with the means to hide from all that uncertainty by presenting a tenuous and unfalsifiable statement of subjective experience as an absolute truth.

* As part of my attempts to dissect the English language, this is intentional. “This” is singular, and there is no good reason that it should be treated as though it is plural.

Alt-Right-Del 2

Rik Storey is what I call a diving board.

That is to say: he’s flat, stiff, homogenous, and mostly uninteresting, but he adequately suffices if one wishes to use him to launch oneself to greater heights.

His latest article, not content to simply be wrong and leave it at that, sees him dragging Nietzsche’s name through the dirt, proposing some sort of conflict between Nietzsche and Dawkins’ Gene Machine, while also fundamentally misunderstanding the root cause of what he calls “white genocide.”

Now that we’ve got all the links out of the way, allow me to clear the air: Storey is wrong, and doesn’t grasp what is happening.

In fact, there is a single source of the white guilt that Storey refers to–a condition whose existence I don’t deny, because it’s obvious to anyone who cares to look that a shockingly large number of white liberals spend much of their time denigrating white people–and it is derived wholesale from arrogance.

Pictured: modern liberals and the alt-right taking up the White Man’s Burden to carry the “savage races”

Whereas in the 19th century, White Man’s Burden consisted of the notion that it was the duty of the educated and enlightened white race to take care of the world’s “savage races” (a sentiment expressed clearly in Storey’s idea that white people are “spreading democracy”), in the 21st century… it consists of the idea that it’s white people’s duty to make sacrifices of themselves for the benefit of the “savage races.”

It’s hard to understand how Storey (or anyone, for that matter) misses the obvious strains of Manifest Destiny running unchecked through modern liberalism. Just look up any video along the lines of “What white liberals think of…” and you’ll find countless examples of this playing out in increasingly absurd ways, from the idea that black people can’t work computers to the arrogant notion that black people can’t find a DMV.

Considering such videos usually come from alt-right sources, I’m not even sure what Storey is talking about.

Nothing has changed since the days of Andrew Jackson, which saw a U.S. invasion of the Philippines and widespread slaughter of the indigenous people (for their own good, of course). The obvious similarities between those atrocities and more recent ones–like the spread of “democracy” to Iraq, which entailed more than 100,000 dead civilians (again, for their own good)–shouldn’t necessitate pointing out, and neither should this idea’s representation on the left, which manifests in things like white guilt.

The conceit, naturally, is that black people are too weak, too stupid, and too defenseless to stand against Mighty Whitey, and that if they don’t take up the burden of self-hate, they run the risk of allowing the Omnipotent White Man to rampage over all the non-white people who just don’t stand a chance. The entire basis of the idea that the power of white people must be checked through self-hate and sacrifice is that, if it isn’t checked, then poor, weak black people just don’t stand a chance. Their contention is that the only thing that can stop Mighty Whitey is Mighty Whitey.

And so we end up with positively bizarre statements that paint minorities as helpless, stupid, bumbling straw people who are completely and totally at the mercy of nearby white people, and it is the burden of the educated, liberal white person to take up their defense against the other white people; after all, no one else can do it.

The modern liberal truly believes that Voter ID Laws (I’m not expressing a position on them in any direction) are racist, and will mince no words in stating that this is because minorities are often unable to get to a DMV (black people can’t afford cars, of course, or buses), unable to navigate a GPS menu to even find a nearby DMV, and totally flummoxed by one of them new-fangled compooters anyway, making the whole thing irrelevant. I’d only be moderately surprised to hear a modern white liberal say that they don’t think minorities can spell “ID.”

It’s worth pointing out that these are not my contentions; I don’t believe that crap. I’m not the one walking around college campuses saying that black people don’t know what GPS is and can’t find the DMV. I recognize that bullshit as the ignorant, racist trash that it is, yet it does seem to be the official liberal position, given that their official stance is anti-Voter ID, and the official reason is that they are racist because minorities run the highest chance of not being able to obtain an ID. As a black dude in one such video asked, “Who doesn’t have an ID? What kind of person doesn’t carry an ID?”

When challenged on this, the liberal quickly backpedals and clarifies: “No, we’re talking about minorities in rural, white communities.”

That doesn’t change anything, though. It’s still an expression of the same idea: “The poor, weak black people need to be rescued from the powerful white people.” Changing the location of the imagined travesty and racist fix from a city to the country doesn’t change anything else.

I recently wrote that it’s easy to earn someone’s pity, but it’s much more difficult to earn their respect. In addition, pity and respect are mutually exclusive: if someone pities you, then they can’t respect you, and, if they respect you, then they can’t pity you. This is because pity comes from a place of dominance and supremacy, as anyone familiar with Nietzsche knows: compassion is a luxury afforded to the comfortable.

It’s quite clear that modern liberals take pity upon non-whites, which hails from the same presumed supremacy that gave us Jackson’s Manifest Destiny. Pity is something that only a powerful person can have, and it can only be held toward a weaker person. Any statement of pity carries the connotation that “in this area, I’m better than you.” If I pity Bill Nye for how he’s fallen to liberal propaganda and statism, it stems from the notion that, at least in terms of resistance to propaganda and allegiance to free thought, I am superior to him.

No one pities an equal or a superior, because that isn’t how pity works.

So yes, it’s easy to get someone to pity you: simply convince them that they’re better than you are. Since natural human arrogance probably leads them to believe this anyway, it’s like purposely trying to be struck by rain. The real test of humanity is to not succumb to that arrogance.

Storey rhetorically asks what is driving the “white genocide,” and then postulates his thoughts, which is particularly hilarious given the same underlying tendency drives it as compels his own self-engrandizing image of the Glorious White Race as the Saviors and Bringers of Democracy and Enlightenment ideas. Of course, Storey cultivates this picture with all the self-righteous Quoxotic nobility and grace of the man in Blake’s “The Poisoned Tree,” and the identification of an individual with a “greater” collective serves the same purpose, because the vengeance-seeker in the Romantic’s poem does not view himself as an evil monster but an enforcer of justice and higher cosmic principles that supercede trite, little things like dead people and quaint thoughts of morality. The age old cry of the oppressor, wrapped in a new mask: “What are a few dead or enslaved civilians, compared to the greater good?”

As a person whose skin is definitely white, I hate to say this, but if we’re ever going to smooth over race relations in the United States, many white people are going to have to do something they haven’t yet been willing to do: stop being arrogant. You’re not God’s Gift to Earth. You value enlightenment ideology because you came up with it; enlightenment ideology is the set of values that you use to ascribe value to other value systems. There’s nothing inherently better about your ideology, and you merely think it is because your ideology forms the very basis of the value system you use to determine the relative value of other ideological systems. It is, in essence, the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

This conceit that our values are objectively the One True Value system (which anyone who understands Nietzsche, rather than asininely tossing his name around) is the problem. It simply manifests in two different ways: in Storey’s own alt-right, and in modern liberalism. This extends to my own anarcho-capitalist ideology, as well, and I’ve applied that same lens to it, beginning with the statement that there is no objective reason that non-violence is better than violence, and attempting to reconcile that discrepancy between Nietzscheanism and the NAP.

Storey should be more careful whose name he throws around, especially since his article drips with indications that he has no idea what Nietzsche had to say. If someone wants to rile me, that’s the best way to do it: put silly statements into Nietzsche’s mouth. My own arrogance leads me to want to write “There isn’t a person alive who understands Nietzsche better than I do,” but I don’t actually think that; I will say, though, that if you think there’s a conflict between Nietzsche and any evolutionary thought, then you clearly don’t understand Nietzsche as well as I do. For fuck’s sake, Nietzsche was literally the person who broke ground by writing that compassion is a vice of the strong, and that sympathy for the botched is nihilistic in evolutionary terms–for reasons that are obvious. A species that cultivates weak organisms in its own gene pool corrupts and poisons its own lineage. No, Nietzsche wasn’t proposing racial segregation or eugenics, but the point remains indisputable, and it was Nietzsche who made it. Dawkins came after and explained the science behind it. There’s no conflict between Nietzsche’s statement that ensuring the survival of weak genes in a species undermines that species’ own chances of survival, and Dawkins’ statement that we are all Gene Machines motivated and controlled by genes whose sole function is to procreate within the species rather than the individual. If you think there’s a conflict, then you have grossly misunderstood something.

Which wouldn’t be terribly surprising, honestly, since Storey somehow missed and misunderstood the arrogance that ties his own ideology directly to the “white genocide” that he hates. Notice that Storey and other alt-right people focus their biggest concerns on white self-hate, and they don’t seem to have the slightest bit of care when non-white people hate white people. So North Koreans hate Americans and white people? Meh. Big deal. Oh, no, Syrians hate white people? Whatever shall we do? Oh, Venezuelans call us “White Devil?” Yawn… But when other white people express the sentiment, that is when it gets dangerous. It’s the same idea that motivates liberals: Storey has no fear of all the non-white people in the world hating white people, because he believes, at a deep level, that white people can take them all on. And, to be clear, he’s probably right: an Oceanian war against the rest of the world would probably result in NATO victory (assuming that NATO is drawn on racial lines, which it largely is, but not exclusively so). Regardless, he perceives no real threat from black people who hate white people, or Asians who hate white people; the real threat comes only when white people stand against white people because, just as the liberal believes, he believes that white people are the only ones capable of standing against white people.

I think it’s all nonsense and that only a weak and insecure person would consciously choose to identify with a collective rather than themselves, their own self-worth, and their own accomplishments. I don’t need to identify with white people who came before me, because I’m secure in who I am and don’t need to try to usurp the victories of others (while, naturally, refusing to acknowledge their failures and sins) for myself.

Isn’t it curious how an innate sense of insecurity can lead a person to project such arrogance? It’s rather like the guy with a tiny dick who drives a huge truck and drives around beating up people half his size. Feeling threatened and inadequate, Storey and the alt-right find themselves cowering while also trying to project an image of fierce strength at the bear they imagine to have cornered them. And yet, they simultaneously truly believe in their own strength and grandiosity, such that the basis of what they are arguing is that only people who share their characteristics are even capable of standing toe-to-toe with them.

I think Jim Morrison said it best.

People are strange.

Western Nihilism 4: A Dose of Reality For an Insane Society

Just a little while ago, I saw the comment from someone on Facebook that Wal-Mart needs to pay its employees a “living wage” [Note: there were obviously multiple comments like this. I’m simply addressing the one that mentioned this dollar figure and rent] (How about you show some responsibility by not shopping at places that don’t pay their employees what you think is fair?), because one wage of $13.73 (or thereabouts) isn’t enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment in most major cities.

*Record screech*

Two bedrooms?

Why does this person making such a low wage need two bedrooms?

Before we get into that, though, it’s worth pointing out that an additional $1.27 isn’t going to make a damned bit of difference for people making $13.73 an hour. Basic math tells us that this is $2,196.80 across four weeks. Assuming an average of 4 weeks in a year, it works out to $2,196.80 a month. The exorbitant rent that this person claimed the person making $13.73/hour couldn’t pay was a mere $875 per month.

I honestly don’t know what kind of math she’s using, but by my records this person making $13.73 has $1,321.80 left over after paying each month’s rents. Even if they run their air conditioning (perhaps they live in Vegas) 24/7, their electricity bill is highly unlikely to pass $400/month, which leaves them $921.80. A typical smartphone bill with Verizon or AT&T will cost $120/month, bringing this figure down to an even $800–$200 each week. If a person can’t survive, after their electricity, rent, and phone bill have been paid, on $200 each week while also managing to put back a considerable bit of that, then they are absolutely terrible with money and need to learn to budget.

There’s no nice way to say this. At present, I make $300 a week, on salary. Yet I pay my rent, my electricity, my phone bill, my Internet bill, and everything else just fine. And because I’m an anarchist, I refuse to use government assistance (though at a wage of $300/week, I certainly qualify), I pay for 100% of the food that I eat, and I don’t have health insurance. Meanwhile, I manage to put back money toward moving to Vegas, shelled out nearly $2400 to government extortion so far this year, and spend $67/month buying hormones from China. If I can do it on such a meager salary, so can anyone.

Of course, I don’t have kids, and that’s the main point: two bedrooms. Why does this person making such a relatively low (apparently) wage need two bedrooms? It can’t be a spouse, as that would require only one bedroom and the spouse would be able to get a job, thereby doubling their income from $2,196.80 to $4,393.60 a month. If you want to look me in the eye and say that two people can’t survive just fine on $4,393.60 a month and be putting back at least $500/month into savings, then you’re a moron who almost identically copies the character Jonathon of my fantasy novel.

See, Jonathon is from a noble family–the Guilder Estate. His parents died when he was young, but his sister took over the estate with the help of a family friend–a dwarf–named Therekas, who helped keep the filial parasites out of their family’s wealth. Once Jonathon was old enough, he joined the Knights of Raine (per family tradition), and Coreal (his sister) seized the opportunity to get the hell away from all of it by making Therekas steward of the property while she joined the Church of Biena and effectively became a nun. Stuff happened, and they had to flee the Kingdom of Raine, while their estate was seized by Lord Tyrenius. Not long after their journey, they obviously began talking about how they were going to make money, and Jonathon’s understanding of “how much money it took to survive” was so out of whack that the entire group spent a few minutes laughing at him for the idiocy. Whereas he expected it to take 50 or 60 gold coins per person to survive a single day, because he had no metric for understanding what things cost in the real world, the truth was that they could all live in relative wealth with only a thousandth of that.

I’ve lived on much less. It’s only been within the past few months that I was able to get back up to paying myself a salary of $300/week. Prior to that–at this time last year, in fact–I wasn’t on a salary at all, and averaged about $120 each week. And even then, I managed to keep everything paid, though I never had even a spare penny and was constantly digging deeper into the hole. Let’s face it–that wasn’t even enough to cover my rent, so the negative number got bigger every month.

While I was in college, I was married, and my wife didn’t work because we had only one vehicle, which I was using for school and work (my job provided us with medical insurance, whereas hers didn’t, so she quit hers when I started school). I made Minimum Wage. Yet I kept all of our bills paid, our rent paid, and our bellies full. Oh, there’s no doubt that it sucked. We didn’t have extra money often; when we did, we usually used it to buy season DVDs from Pawn Shops for $3 each, as that provided the most bang for the buck. We didn’t have a phone (and definitely not a smartphone) or an Internet connection, or satellite/cable TV. We had a TV, a DVD player, a PS2, a GameCube, and some classic consoles like an NES, all of which we’d purchased years before when we had two cars (before she totaled hers) and were both employed. And we had each other.

You seem to want me to believe that a person literally can’t survive on a wage of $7.50 an hour, when I happen to know for a fact that not only is that false, but a person can support two people on that wage. I’ve done it.

In reality, there are two possibilities when Expenses exceed Income. Sometimes, this is because Income is such a small number. I don’t deny that this is possible–I’ve experienced that, too, like when I made only about $120 a week. It simply wasn’t possible to afford rent, electricity, food, a phone (necessary for work, actually), and gasoline on that amount. Even if I lowered expenses to the bare minimum (which I did), I still didn’t have enough Income to cover them.

However, the alternative is what usually happens in the United States. Usually, the problem is that a person’s Expenses are so high that no Income can reach it, generally because they have “that mentality” that causes them to increase Expenses proportionally to their increases in Income. I’ve seen poor people go from making $7.50 an hour to making $15 an hour with no change in their overall situation (I’ve also been there). I’ve seen people scraping and clipping coupons to make ends meet receive checks of $10,000+ and be broke just a few weeks later. It’s not because Income is too low that this happens; it’s because Expenses are too high, and they lack the self-reflective capability to sit down, identify, and address the problem.

Maybe those two people making $4,390 a month are spending $15/day on cigarettes. And yes, I can tell you from experience that the cost of smoking adds up fast. Maybe they’re buying honey buns and crap from gas stations on their way to work each day. Who knows? But you can’t seriously expect me to believe that two people making $4,390 each month are broke because they’re just not earning enough. The reality is that they’re earning enough; they’re simply spending way too much.

And anyone who has two bedrooms and only one provider has made some mistakes somewhere along the way. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. I was married for like 6 years and I don’t have kids–that’s not an accident. I’ve been having sex since I was 14 years old, and I don’t have kids–again, that’s not an accident. I was 28 years old before I ever got a girl pregnant, and then I was more than capable of bearing that responsibility, as a college graduate in a place where employment was easy to find for someone with my training and skillset.

The most common criticism I receive for this is the reply, “So you’re saying that children are only for college graduates? That’s so messed up!”

No, that’s not what I’m saying.

I am, however, saying that children are only for people who can actually provide for them. This is the “We don’t understand reality” thing that the title of this post is about.

I fully expect stray cats and stray dogs to have offspring that they can’t provide for. This is why stray animals have such a high mortality rate, too. Not only can the parent not show the offspring to enough food (once nursing is over) to survive all 6-8 of the puppies or kittens, but a good many of them will be picked off by predators because the parent can’t provide protection to them all, either. This is why wild animals have offspring in those numbers: most of them die before adulthood.

Therein lies the rub. Such a high percentage of western children make it to adulthood that I can’t find statistics on it (I could if I cared to look further, but I don’t, so…). I’d hazard that 98% of western children reach the age of 18. For stray cats and dogs, that number is probably closer to 5%, with one out of every two or three litters reaching adulthood. Thanks to the incredible developments of our society (for reference, as recently as the 19th century, most men died at the age of 22 and women at the age of 24 in Korea), we have an insane longevity and a very low mortality rate among offspring. I don’t mean to be harsh, but we’ve prevented nature from doing its job. I think this is a good thing, but it also means that we had to pick up the responsibility, and we failed to do that.

In fact, the idea that parents bear no responsibility or fault for having children that they can’t support is making the argument that huge portions of the population are no better than stray cats and dogs. We expect that behavior out of such low animals, after all. We expect better of humans–or we should. Liberals, evidently… don’t. Their paternalistic, condescending bullshit extends to the point that they are okay with treating humans as though they’re no better than stray dogs. After all, we don’t blame the stray dogs for being overrun by hormones and recklessly having children when the dog knows–on some deep, perhaps instinctual level–that most of its children are gonna die in terrible ways. “It’s just a dog being a dog,” we say. In fact, we’re willing to address that problem: “Spay and neuter your pets so that this doesn’t happen!”

But when it comes to humans? No. We don’t even hold humans to that high of a standard. “It’s not their fault for having offspring that they knew they couldn’t take care of. What do you mean ‘Spay and neuter such people?’ You can’t ‘spay and neuter humans!*’ What the hell is the matter with you, you uncompassionate pig? It’s their right to have children! Children aren’t just for the elite!”

That’s a straw man fallacy, of course. There’s nothing “elite” about taking one’s ass to a community college, which literally anyone can afford to do. And the difference that even a 2 year degree makes to prospective employers is the difference between $13.73/hour and $18.73/hour. People with Associate’s Degrees average $5/hour more than people with only high school diplomas, and that amounts to $200 a week. Not to mention that such jobs usually come with a 401k, health and dental insurance, perhaps stock options, and other benefits.

It’s not elitism, however, to demand that humans act like they’re more intelligent than stray dogs, and fuck you for suggesting that humans act better than stray cats is elitism. Fuck you for suggesting that humans should be treated with the same eye-rolling condescension with which we treat stray animals. We know that stray cats and dogs don’t know any better, and we don’t expect them to consider questions like “How am I going to afford to send my puppy to college?” before getting knocked up. If you don’t demand more than that of humans, then you might be the most arrogant, condescending person on the planet.

I spend about a fifth of my time reminding people that we’re animals and that we’re part of nature, and so the same rules that govern animal behavior govern us. I fully agree that an 18 year old who gets pregnant has been overcome by biological instincts in the same way that the stray dog is. However, I think the 18 year old should bear the responsibility for that, especially in a society that has made it so ridiculously easy to avoid getting pregnant and that spends at least 4 years informing people of what not to do in order to avoid pregnancy.

And that’s the harsh truth. What happened here is that the human was consumed by their biological programming in exactly the same way as the stray dog and the stray cat, and you don’t expect more of them than that. You don’t expect them to say, “Wait a minute… I’m a human being, by God! I can think about this before I do it. I know that I can’t financially support my offspring. I know that satisfying these biological urges by having unprotected sex will cause pregnancy. Woah, woah, fella. Put on this condom, or you’re leaving.”

Instead, the bleeding heart liberal expects something more like, “Wait a minute… I’m a human being, by God! I can think about this before I do it. I know that I can’t financially support my offspring. I know that satisfying these biological urges by having unprotected sex will cause pregnancy. *Shrug*. Oh, well. Yes, dude, let’s have unprotected sex anyway. It’s so hot that you’re unemployed!”

To return to something I said earlier–we lowered the infant mortality rate. That’s a great, wonderful thing. Picking on Korea for no reason in particular, in 19th century Korea any parent who had a child they couldn’t support would have ended up with a dead child. This was true in the United States in earlier centuries, too**. After all, Nature is constantly trying to kill us. So a parent who can’t support their child is literally a parent who can’t prevent nature from killing that child. In that way, Nature took care of the “problem” in the same way that it takes care of the overpopulation of stray animals: they die.

And yes, it’s a good thing that we’ve eliminated that particular problem in the west. I’m not saying that we should let children die. Don’t straw man the points here; instead, absorb them and take them in. The child isn’t to blame that his or her parents can’t provide for him or her. That’s the parents’ responsibility and the parents’ mistake. They are the ones who bear responsibility for that. Since we can’t sit by and watch parents starve their child to death, the onus falls to bystanders and the community adopt the child away from the parents until such time that the parents can actually keep that child the hell alive.

This is not what governmental welfare programs do, but that’s another matter for another day–perhaps the next in this series on Nihilism.

You know what the universe does if you have a child that you can’t feed? It kills the child. That’s reality. That’s the world we live in. You can’t change that with good feelings, and pretending like that isn’t true is the very definition of delusional. The universe doesn’t give a shit about your feelings. If you can’t feed the child, then the child dies. It’s that simple.

Luckily, we humans are more… enlightened… than stray cats and dogs. We have this thing called “empathy” that leaves us unable to stand by and watch (in most circumstances, though our lack of concern about the children killed by American bombs in the Middle East calls this point into question) while a child dies. If you want to provide for that child, so be it, but don’t pretend like it’s okay or normal for the mother to just shrug and say “Fuck it–someone will feed Little Billy for me. Someone will take care of my problem. I’m a helpless child and can’t do things for myself, and need the government to take care of me.”

Pretending like it’s totally okay for humans to have offspring they can’t support while curtailing Nature’s solution that problem is a recipe for disaster, because it creates a net drain on society and productivity. Someone has to put in the effort to acquire that food; manna doesn’t fall from the sky. And what do we know is the long-term effect of net drains? They build up. It’s not a big deal to be $100 in the hole for a few months. But do that for 10 years, and you’ll wind up $12,000 in the hole. What may seem like a trivial, inconsequential thing ultimately adds up to society. And what do we call it when society collectively has fewer resources to go around?

Why, we call that “an increase in poverty.”

And because no one is doing anything to actually address or fix the problem, it means that the reckless people who have more children than they can afford are passing along those genes and tendencies, such that even more people will have children that they can’t afford. This is called “evolution,” and it didn’t stop because humans invented electricity. Whether there are alleles that make a person more or less likely to behave irresponsibly has not been determined (to my knowledge), but given that poverty is primarily hereditary, circumstantial evidence suggests that it does play a role. After all, resisting the inclination to spend more money–$10 here, $15 there–is a daily battle for me. Is it a battle because of genetics, or because that’s how I watched adults behave my entire life? Nature or nurture? Really, it’s not very important, because if we aren’t even admitting that it’s a problem, then we certainly aren’t addressing it, and the problem perpetuates and, because of the nature of procreation leading to population growth, constantly exacerbates itself.

Well done for eventually destroying western society.

Bravo, liberals.

Bravo.

* I agree entirely, and am just making the point.

** Actually, because of Puritan origins, I’d venture the guess that the mother would end up homeless and destitute, but someone would have taken in the child, but I’m not an expert on colonial America. My point isn’t that big of a deal anyway.

Western Nihilism 3: Biology Versus Social Justice Warriors

Be warned: if you haven’t read Western Nihilism Part 1 and Western Nihilism Part 2, some of this may seem unsupported or even nonsensical. So the links are provided there, since we’re building off that framework with a more specific example.

See, I just read a 1400 word whine from a partner of Vice about how she’s totally judged because of her height, how her height makes her life difficult, and how she often intimidates people. The article ended with a link to a partner article about how standards of age are a form of bias. We’ve really reached this point, then? We’ve genuinely forgotten that we’re animals to the extent that we can’t recognize the real, primal, and largely uncontrollable reasons that we sometimes find tall people intimidating and short people adorable.

Little Things Are Cute

We’re programmed to think that little things are cute. This is part of the human operating system–it’s not a third party program that some people installed. We find kittens adorable, puppies adorable, and babies adorable, for the same reason we find one-inch figurines cute. Those things are immediately read as helpless, and that’s what we’re drawn toward (in the absence of imminent danger).

People finding you adorable because you’re short is a simple byproduct of how genes programmed us to protect our offspring. Because let’s be real a moment: what defense does a pooping, peeing, and crying baby have? None. It survives by two biological processes–the first I’ve already mentioned. Being cute is the baby’s first line of defense against the innate tendency humans have to discard things that cry and poop everywhere. The second is the parental bond, of course, but the parental bond can’t explain it all, because just about any human would do anything in their power to protect a baby.

Helplessness is generally what humans find cute–helplessness makes the thing precious to us, like kittens and babies. We recognize on deep, primal levels that these things cannot fend for themselves, and that this marvelous living creature needs our protection and love. This triggers endorphins to release in the brain and triggers, “Oh, my god, he’s so precious!” to come out of the mouth.

Just think about anything you’d call “precious.” Now think about anything you’d call “adorable.” There is a 1:1 correlation between those things: whatever you find precious, you’ll find adorable, and whatever you find adorable, you’ll find precious. This is just the way humans work.

Demanding that we cast off all of that biological programming and cease letting ourselves think short people are adorable is nihilistic. It’s an attempt to undermine, consciously ignore, destroy, or mitigate the very biological processes that cause people to like babies. So you having people say “You’re super cute!” isn’t really that big a deal, is it? Not when stacked against the evolution of our species and, hopefully, the continued evolution that happens when people find little things cute and when the perception of helplessness (being a kitten, being short, whatever) is what triggers the endorphin release that makes them gush over infants.

So get over yourself.

“I’m tall, so I intimidate people.”

Bull.

“I’m tall, and I intimidate people,” is what one should say. Being tall–within ordinary human limits, not talking about people like Shaq–is not inherently intimidating. If you’re intimidating people, it’s going to be because of:

  • Being very tall and very large (fat or muscular)
  • Body language.

It’s almost certainly going to be the latter. Most people don’t pay any attention to their body language, but doing so would fix these issues people are having. I learned in my last year of college that i intimidated the crap out of people. Muscular, wearing A-shirts (“wifebeaters”), wearing eyeliner, shaved head, intelligent, a bit over six feet tall… But it was my demeanor that intimidated people, not my height, intelligence, or any of the other excuses I could list to wriggle out from under the fact that my demeanor was intimidating people.

Of course I had a litany of viable excuses ready to go. Perhaps it was the chains on my Tripp pants? Maybe the eyeliner. Maybe the shaved head. None of those things were “on me,” and that’s the difference. “I’m just being myself, and I can’t help that, so if people are intimidated then it’s their problem, not mine.”

It wasn’t any one thing; it was the whole package that was “my presentation,” and it intimidated people. The biggest part of that was certainly my body language.

Height isn’t really an issue.

I couldn’t guess how many people I’ve met in my life, and I can only think of one person who truly intimidated me. His name was Joe, and he was the manager at a client’s office. He was enormous, possibly seven feet tall, and stocky. He had a deep voice and a No Nonsense attitude. Square jaw and square chin–looking at him was like looking at a cinder block that decided one day to grow a body. I avoided him whenever possible.

His height had little to do with that. It was the whole package (his demeanor) that was intimidating.

My ex-wife is now married to some old dude who is even taller than I am. We knew him for years (and no, there was nothing going on there–it seems she just latched onto the first guy she found after me), and I have never in the least intimidated by him. The drummer in my band then was almost the same height (I’d guess about 6’5″), and he was never intimidating, either.

Because it’s not about height. It’s about demeanor. It’s about the whole package you’re presenting, not one aspect of it.

Escaping Personal Responsibility

Seeing as they view personal responsibility as some deprecated, gross thing that should be rejected because “It’s everyone else with the problem, not me. I’m perfect!” it’s not surprising that we see here another way to lift blame from the one responsible (The one presenting the demeanor) and shifting it onto people who aren’t responsible (The ones witnessing the presentation).

If you made a PowerPoint presentation using terrible font choices and horrific colors, would you blame the viewers if they said your presentation sucked? “You’re just biased against people like me who love these fonts and colors!”

Sure, that’s true, in a limited, narrow, and asinine sense. There are biological reasons that we prefer complementary colors, largely due to how our eyes evolved first seeing only light and dark, then red and green (if I recall correctly), and then the other colors incrementally until we had the vision we have today. At the heart of it are more biological processes that we don’t have any control over. We like clear, readable fonts in vibrant, contrasting colors. Dark blue script fonts on a black background won’t be appealing to many people. And that’s not our problem.

It’s yours, because it’s your presentation.

We Are Animals

And we have forgotten that. We are compelled by genes and biological processes that we’re only beginning to understand, but the shocking revelation has been that it’s not really the survival of the individual that our subconscious minds care about; it’s the survival of our genes, which led to the term Gene Machines.

If you spit on everything that helped ensure the survival of those genes, then yes, you’re certainly being nihilistic. In and of itself, that isn’t a bad thing, but this nihilistic tendency is really starting to dominate western society. After all, we’ve legitimately reached a point where someone writes an article about being stereotyped because if one aspect of their demeanor, and how everyone else is at fault, and the writer isn’t laughed off the internet for being ridiculous.

Reconciling the NAP & “Reality”

There are three main threads through everything that I write:

  • A rejection of absolutist black & white thinking.
  • Strict adherence to the Non Aggression Principle, to the extent that punishment becomes off-limits in favor of forgiveness and prevention of future crimes.
  • What I now call Nietzscheanism*–that is: morality is a human construct that primarily exists to keep the strong from abusing the weak; it is a luxury of the middle class, one not allowed to the lower class and one that the upper class isn’t held to.

It’s immediately clear, from the second two bullets–the first is only mentioned because it simply is a common thread, but it’s not the point of today’s discussion–that there is a conflict.

Can there be a greater example of middle class morality than the NAP? In fact, I would say that the NAP is the shining bastion of middle class morality–fully swearing off and condemning all force, violence, and coercion and asking that everyone else do it. Obviously, this can only happen in a world where everyone compromises the middle class. This is the crux of anarcho-capitalism, and the reason I insist that Nietzsche would be an AnCap if he lived today, knowing what we know.

nietzscheGoodness, there’s just so much ground to cover to bring my ideology full circle. It’s always difficult to explain to people exactly what I advocate, because it is very much circular, and that makes it hard to pinpoint a beginning. Here, we’ve started from Nietzscheanism and objectivism, and that works, but only if there isn’t a deity. After all, if there is a deity giving some sort of meaning to our existence, then life does matter. So before I could really get anyone on board with Nietzscheanism, I have to get people on board with atheism–Nietzscheanism, after all, is nothing but Applied Atheism. But before I can get anyone on board with atheism, there is a whole lot of groundwork to lay, and it’s groundwork that I’m not going to attempt to lay, because atheism and theism are irrelevant to the larger point. I can be right or wrong about individual pieces regardless of the existence of a deity.

However, I would say that before I could attempt to convince someone that there isn’t a deity, I would have to convince them the value of reason over emotion since, by any measurement, faith is an emotion-based position. We will keep going back and back and back until we arrive right back at subjective value determinations, which lands us right back in the territory of Nietzsche and the Austrian economists. I actually made a few years ago a document–a flow chart, for the most part–where one ideology led to the next, and it was clear by the end of it, after I was able to connect Nietzscheanism back to subjective value determinations–because the essence of Nietzscheanism is that morals are subjective–that I had just created a giant web. I know I still have it somewhere, but I can’t be bothered to find it, and it’s not that important anyway.

Morality, Very Briefly

There is no such thing as “morally good” or “morally bad.” These are values that we prescribe to various acts based on the consequences of those acts, the motive behind those acts, and the circumstances around which that act was committed. This is virtually a tautology at this point, but I will take the time to explain it anyway.

Let’s say that I push you down, causing you to break your arm. I have assaulted you. Everyone would agree that I was morally wrong to do so.

However, let’s say that I push you out of the way of an oncoming train that, for whatever reason, you aren’t aware is coming, and I cause you to break your arm. Suddenly most people would call me a hero and say that I’d saved your life.

In both scenarios, I did exactly the same thing: I pushed you, you fell, and you broke your arm. However, in the first scenario I was just being an aggressive bitch. In the second, I was saving you from being hit by a train. Yet the act itself and the consequence of that act are the same in both scenarios: the act was that I pushed you; the consequence was that you broke your arm.

What changed? In reality, what changed were the imagined consequences of me not pushing you. See, morality, as Henry Hazlitt observed in The Foundations of Morality, arises as a result of imagination, that wonderful characteristic that homo sapien has but so few animals share. It is our ability to imagine that gives rise to morality. Without even realizing it, so gifted are we at doing this, we imagine hypothetical alternative scenarios where I did not push you, and we compare the likeliest result of those scenarios with the reality that transpired. Marvelous creatures, we humans! And, in this way, imagination is literally the cause of morality, as it is precisely what allows us to envision these alternative realities.

In the first example, the most likely hypothetical alternative is that you continue standing unassaulted, and your arm is not broken. You go on about your day without a broken arm. By most criteria, that is certainly a better outcome for you, and since I am the reason you do not get to enjoy that superior outcome, it is determined in a fraction of a second that what I did was morally wrong. We do this innately; I’d almost say that we conceive these hypotheticals instantaneously, and the speed and proficiency are the reasons why we forget that morality is the result of imagination.

In the second example, the most likely hypothetical alternative is that you continue standing unassaulted right up until a train plows into you and utterly destroys you. By most criteria, that is certainly an inferior outcome for you, and since I am the reason that you were spared that inferior outcome, it is determined, perhaps instantaneously, that what I did was morally good.

These value statements themselves, though, are built on a few assumptions:

  • Empathy: This person is generally like me, and I should do unto this person what I would like this person to do for me. In most cases, what I want is much the same as what this person wants.
  • My own preferences: I prefer to not be in pain. I prefer pleasure. I prefer happiness. I prefer to not be sad. I prefer to remain alive.

By combining our own personal preferences with an extension of them onto other people–the very essence of what “empathy” is–we arrive at a criteria by which we assess whether something was good or bad. It’s by no means a perfect system–how could it be, when we are imperfect creatures?

Whenever I think of empathy and the application of my preferences onto others, I recall the time in college that I was behind the desk unplugging my laptop because class was over. While back there, without even asking, I took it upon myself to unplug my neighbor’s laptop, because he was in the process of packing his backpack. It seemed perfectly reasonable to assume that he’d like me to go ahead and unplug his while I was back there. Because I have all the social graces of Dexter, it didn’t occur to me at all to ask if he’d like me to do it; I simply did it. And I immediately learned that his laptop’s battery didn’t work, and that I did a cold shutdown on his laptop. Not a big deal, but something that has always stuck with me about assuming that our preferences automatically apply to others. They don’t. However, generally, they do. I mean, what are the odds that his laptop battery wouldn’t work at all? Under 95% of circumstances, the person would have said, “Oh, cool, thank you!” instead of “Oh, hold… What the hell? Did you unplug me?”

Nietzschean Morality

Nietzsche described good as “the will to power” and happiness as “having power.” From a strictly Darwinian perspective, he’s not wrong. He’s clearly not wrong; he can’t be wrong. However uncomfortable it makes us, he’s right. If our criteria is “survival of the species,” then the only thing that makes sense is to let the powerful do what they can. Do the powerful want to wipe out the weak? Turn them into sex slaves? Install governments throughout the world and use those governments to control the weak? Then they must be allowed to, under this perspective, because we do live in a universe that is trying to kill us, where only the strong survive. It’s a straight line from there to Eugenics, to forced breeding programs to breed the “most capable human.” It’s a sickening path.

Now, to be clear, Nietzsche most certainly did not go that far, and he did not advocate any of that. He was merely arguing that morality is a tool used by the weak to neuter the strong, creating three classes of people in the process: the middle class who were strong and obeyed the morality, the lower class who were weak and therefore didn’t have the luxury, and the upper class who were strong and rejected the morality.

The NAP

With all the above being true, we can see that the moral statement “force, violence, and coercion are unacceptable” is the epitome of Middle Class Morality. For one, this maxim is as close as we can get to a universally applicable morality. Is it true that absolutely no one wants force, violence, and coercion done to them? Certainly not. It’s no longer acceptable to say for some reason, but there are people out there who would genuinely like to be raped, for example. I’ve met a few, and their problem is always the same: they want to be raped without consenting to it, but giving someone permission to rape them is consenting to it, and the odds that a random stranger is going to rape them are not good. Beyond that, if they ran around clearly looking to be raped–wearing excessively revealing clothes and being unnecessarily sensual–it is passively consenting to it. I raise all this to make the point that they don’t want to consent to have it forced on them; they want it genuinely forced on them.

Rumor has it that Angelina Jolie once paid a hitman to kill her. She genuinely wanted someone to do violence to her, assuming it is true–and I don’t care whether or not it is, because there have been enough suicides by cop that it’s provable that some people genuinely want violence done to them. My own mother apparently sought out violent and coercive men. So obviously these things are not going to be universally applicable, because nothing is universally applicable to a species filled with individuals as varied and wild as we are.

Rights

In essence, all rights can be distilled to the following: we have the right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us unless we consent to it priorily. This statement is all-inclusive. Just as you have that right, as does everyone have that right. This means, then, that you do not have the right to use force, violence, and coercion against someone without their consent. The right to free speech, free religion, free trade, free employment, and free everything else–they all stem from this basic right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us. They are applications of this maxim to specific issues.

Are these inherent rights? Perhaps and perhaps not. It could be argued you have the right to attempt to stop someone from using force, violence, and coercion against you; in essence, it could be argued that you have the right to try to be strong, and, by being strong, subjugate the weak. It depends upon our subjective values–our criteria for determining morality. If we go with the Darwinian approach, then we arrive at this latter system of rights, where one has the right to do anything they can–this is an underground system of rights, the one that lives in the underbelly’s shadows in society, when certain behaviors are outlawed and black markets thrive.

Because that is, after all, the essence of the black market: a place where the forced middle class morality doesn’t apply because it happens in the shadows. The black market is generally created when the state outlaws something it has no business outlawing**, creating a new dichotomy of the strong and the weak, instead of the trifecta of those who can’t, those who do, and those who don’t. Since middle class morality ceases to apply to anyone, you’re left with only the strong and the weak–the victims and the aggressors.

It follows, then, that if outlawing things leads to the creation of a black market–which we know it does, from indisputable proof and countless examples from the drug war to abortions to ration stamps–that is differentiated from society by the fact that middle class morality doesn’t apply at all and we’re left only with the strong and the weak, then if we outlawed nothing, we would utterly eliminate this black market characterized specifically by the rule of the strong and Darwinian morality.

Application of the NAP Against Nietzscheanism

There are two things that must be done for the NAP to be realized, for middle class morality to be universally applicable–as much as it can be, at least. First, the lower class has to abolished and lifted up into the middle class. So let’s state this loudly and clearly:

No nation other than the United States has come close to eliminating its lower class.

This isn’t a bad thing. We look around the United States and, yes, we have a lower class still, but they aren’t really “lower class,” not in the grand scheme of things. They aren’t poor like the man in Ethiopia who throws out middle class morality to steal food for his family. By an overwhelming degree, the American poor abide middle class morality, though they have no qualms about stealing from the state. Seeing as the state is stealing from everyone, I don’t think it’s fair to condemn them for that one. Besides which, without the state and taxation, they wouldn’t be able to game the system to get “back” finger-quotes-wink-wink ten thousand dollars anyway.

Our “lower class” has electricity, clean water, running water, indoor plumbing, heating, air conditioning, vehicles, iPhones, laptops, steroes, flatscreen TVs, cable/satellite, Internet connections… Our lower class is so high on the totem pole that they’d be considered upper middle class in most parts of the world. This is actually part of the problem, since our lower class, our “poor” have totally lost all perspective on how luxurious their lives are.

To clarify the phrasing, the goal is not to kill off the lower class, not by any means. That’s horrible. No, the goal is to lift up the lower class and bring them into the middle class. Yes, this creates a new middle class, because humans naturally form hierarchies, but none of that matters. The point is that the applicability of middle class morality must be extended to the lower class and, if it is, then it is also true that they are not generally facing the threat of starvation, which is the escape clause that gives them an out from middle class morality in the first place.

Secondly, the upper class must be made to abide middle class morality. Currently, they don’t. I couldn’t even begin to guess how much shit the upper class gets away with in the United States. I’m positive that a solid portion of them engage in child sex tourism and pedophile rings. I’m not referring to the Podesta leaks, but a lifetime of hearing whispers and accusations directed at the upper class. It all may be false, but, in most cases, where there is that much smoke there is usually a fire.

But beyond that, does the upper class get away with theft? Holy crap, absolutely. Not only do they take part in the state and steal from us directly while calling it taxation, but they also use the mechanism of the state to create things like intellectual property and eminent domain, utterly gutting our property rights in the process.

Does the upper class get away with murder? Again, holy crap, yes. The death toll of the 20th century was 160,000,000 from war alone as upper classes in various parts of the world put the lower class to use killing lower class members who were fighting for other upper class groups. They call it “war,” but it is murder.

It’s indisputable that the upper class doesn’t just reject middle class morality; they do so brazenly and openly, in full view of everyone else, and they get away with it by using carefully constructed euphemisms, deceit, and manipulation. There are countless people who will insist that taxes aren’t theft. Except… they are, by any definition of theft. And sending a group of armed people to go kill another group of armed people is unequivocally murder. We cannot allow euphemisms and a refusal to face the truth obscure these basic facts.

Combining

So yes, it is true that we are animals who need to be strong in order to survive, and that our species as a whole must embrace strength and shun weakness. This does not mean a lack of compassion, though, as I’ve explained elsewhere. See, we have mistaken “compassion” as being hardly anything more than getting down in the floor with someone and crying with them. That is fake sympathy; it is empty sympathy.

If you are a herd of gazelle [humans] and are trying to get away from lions [the universe that kills the weak], and you have a loved one who is injured [weak, for whatever reason], then you are doing no one but the lions a favor by laying down with your weak gazelle friend and crying with them. This is empty sympathy. This is virtue signaling. This is nihilistic.

True sympathy leads one to help the other gazelle get up, heal their injuries, become strong themselves, and flee the lion.

We absolutely must have compassion and must be guided to help the weak–it is why we have our middle class morality. It is as close as we can get to “objective morality,” after all. However, if our gazelle friend refuses to get up, if they instead embrace their injury and their victimization, refuse to try to heal, and refuse to try to escape the lion, then we must cut our losses and flee before the lion gets us, too. There is a line between sympathy and nihilism.

Based on observable cause and effect–since it is impossible to speculate too much into our hypothetical alternate realities, and since we lack omniscience and can never know exactly how anything would really have played out if we had acted differently–we know that leaving the gazelle to be eaten by the lion would be bad, and our application of empathy derived from our own personal preferences compels us to help the gazelle. We know with reasonable certainty that the lion would eat the gazelle, and that, if we did not help, we would bear a portion of the blame in that.

We should all be strong; we should all be middle class, with no one enshrined above [through the state] or below [through poverty] anyone else. Now, what is the mechanism that allows that to happen? What mechanism eliminates the state that allows the upper class to escape culpability for their moral violations? Anarchism. What mechanism has provably lifted up virtually the entire population into middle class territory, where the fear of starvation is exceedingly remote? Capitalism.

So how do we create this world of people abiding the NAP, of all people being strong and none being weak?

Anarcho-capitalism.

Boo-ya, bitches.

 

* Thanks to the overwhelming number of angst-ridden ultra-emo millennials who think nihilism means “life sucks and death is cool,” I’ve been left with no choice but to change the label, but that’s fine; Nietzsche wouldn’t have approved of “nihilism” as the label anyway. Of course, these people have never read a word of Nietzsche and don’t fully understand the philosophy, because:

nothing-mattersand they get lost on that second part: nothing matters. They don’t fully apply it, though, or they would realize that it doesn’t matter that nothing matters. That is completely and utterly meaningless.

** Anything they outlaw is something they have no business outlawing.

Western Nihilism 2: Victim or Beneficiary?

I’ve talked previously about the extreme nihilism of western society, and how we have become so confused that we hate strength and love weakness, which in turn causes us to glorify victimization–since a victim is, by any measurement, a weak person who was abused by a strong person. The victim, then, is the embodiment of our values–a rejection of reality and a hostile universe that literally kills off the weak–an embrace of undue and universal empty sympathy while genuine sympathy is derided as selfishness. We hate survival of the fittest, and so we hate capitalism, just as we hate all of the underlying socioeconomic, biological, and behavioral characteristics that brought us to this plateau, where we have done nothing but reject those characteristics as backward and archaic, choosing instead to embrace our new “progressive” values that just so happen to be wholly nihilistic.

Now, if the above paragraph seems to cover a lot of ground, then click the links. It’s necessary groundwork for the stuff I’m about to say. This series of not-really-linked-ostensibly articles is like a building, and those I linked are the scaffolding. We are building more scaffolding today–today, we are constructing the scaffolding that will hold the arch. I want to call your attention to something I read in what is literally a secret Facebook group full of Hillary supporter crybabies who are whining about having lost the election.

pansyI looked into the author’s profile, and there was absolutely nothing there that serves as any indication of any sort of trauma. Far be it from me to speculate about anyone’s past, but I’m willing to bet that anyone who genuinely has PTSD has true horrors in their past. You know that condition that some Vietnam Vets have that cause them to piss themselves and duck and cover when they hear a firecracker explode, because the horrors of the Vietnam War were so terrible that they left people permanently scarred?

Yeah, that’s what she has.

Only instead of firecrackers reminding her of mines going off and blowing her best friend’s legs off, or of bamboo traps springing up from the ground and Iron Maidening someone into a tree, it’s debate that triggers her PTSD. We can speculate, then, that the cause of her PTSD was probably something like her parents arguing when she was a child. Right? What triggers PTSD is obviously going to be a strong indicator of what horrors the person experienced. Vietnam vets duck and cover when they hear firecrackers because this reminds them of mines; she is triggered by confrontation and debates because this reminds her of some louder/greater event in her past that was about confrontation and debate. It’s not bitterness or being a bitch; it’s being logical. And, seeing how this person looks like she is probably still in college–and from a comfortably middle class life, probably upper middle class–we can readily surmise that it was probably something like her parents arguing.

You know what?

There is one area where I might actually have PTSD. This event is certainly the reason that I’m claustrophobic, why I won’t let anyone bind my hands during kinky sex, and why I don’t care what’s wrong–I am not crawling under the crawl space to fix the plumbing. It can cost me ten thousand dollars a month on my electricity bill, but I am not ever crawling under that house to fix it.

It’s not an experience that I talk about much. But when I was 16 or 17, my father had me arrested. I didn’t know it at the time, and thought I was being arrested for grand larceny. On pain pills years later, my father confessed that he had them arrest me to teach me a lesson. It was the same year of the A Perfect Circle The Thirteenth Step tour, which I know because I was still allowed to go to the concern just a few months after I’d been arrested. Okay, so this was 2003. I’d have been 16 or 17, depending on the exact day I was arrested. Even that isn’t a very big deal–16 year olds are arrested fairly often, after all.

Usually when this happens, the parent meets the police at the station, pays some money, or uses a bail bondsperson and the kid is let out. Not so here. My dad took me to the sheriff’s office at 7:30 in the morning. After talking to me for a few minutes, they arrested me and put me in holding, where I remained until about 8:45 the next day.

Now, under most circumstances, we would say that “holding isn’t solitary,” except… here, it was. This jail didn’t have separate solitary confinement cells; it had two holding cells that functioned as its solitary cells. So, yes, it was solitary. For more than 24 hours I sat in an 8 foot by 8 foot concrete box–concrete ceiling, concrete floors, concrete walls. There was a metal toilet in the corner–with nowhere near enough water to drown yourself, or I’d have done it. Along one of the walls was a large, steel door with no windows and with only a narrow latch about thigh-high for them to open and slide me a food tray through–not that I felt like eating. The lights were fluorescent and recessed, of course–impossible to get to, because you could smash one and use the glass to cut your wrists–which I’d have gladly done if they weren’t beyond my reach. Along three of the walls were what we’d call “concrete benches,” except they weren’t benches. They were just raised parts of the concrete and square-shaped. I had a horrible blanket that felt about like fiberglass, made up of billions of tiny threads glued together–that way you couldn’t pull the threads out and use them to make a rope to hang yourself with, of course. And I had what was basically a kindergarten mat, but larger. The blanket was nowhere near long enough to cover me–I’m a little tall–and it didn’t matter, because anyone with a brain used their blanket as a pillow anyway. The only thing to do was lay your horrible kindergarten mat on the concrete bench, lie down on it, and use that horrible fiberglass blanket as a pillow.

Surrounded on all sides by steel-reinforced concrete, there were no sounds bleeding into the room. There was nothing but silence, except, perhaps, the irritating hum of the fluorescent lights that my 16 year old ears could still hear, but my 29 year old ears wouldn’t be able to hear today. It was, for all intents and purposes, an isolation chamber that I was stuck in, held in against my will, knowing that there was no escape–not even death. There was nothing but silence, concrete, and the thoughts resonating in my head, for more than 24 hours. I didn’t know what was going on or how long I was going to be there. That room, to me, was jail, and that’s what jail meant–isolation, cut off not just from the outside world but from everyone, every other human being. There was no one to petition, no one to beg, to be let out. Trapped, a caged animal held against its will in a concrete box–indefinitely.

bdsmFor my 16 year old mind, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it had given me PTSD. However, it manifests itself only in ways that aren’t very important to me. I’ve never been into BDSM anyway–to me that’s “kinky” sex for people who want to be as mundane as possible. It means that I always take the stairs when given the option, because I’m not going to allow myself to be trapped on an elevator. When I worked as a janitor at one of the casino’s hotels, we had a 9 story hotel in one part of the building; I never used an elevator unless I absolutely had to. It means that I won’t let myself be put into a small space, and it means I really don’t understand cats’ love for small spaces.

Then again, cats like small spaces until they’re not allowed to leave…

But that’s enough about isolation, imprisonment, and solitary confinement. It just has certainly occurred to me that this is one area in which I might actually have PTSD, and for fairly good reason–isolation sends adults into madness with some regularity; the same to a 16 year old would undoubtedly be devastating. I survived by inventing stories and watching movies in my head–movies that I made up as I went, featuring little marshmallow people and stupid crap like that. It’s been pointed out to me that I have exactly the kind of mind that would be most in danger of going insane in isolation, but also best equipped to handle that. I suspect there’s a correlation between those two things.

Anyway, I want to share some stuff about me to all the special snowflakes out there who are dealing with “trauma” from the election, who have “PTSD” that is triggered by debates. I’m not saying this because I want sympathy. I’m saying this because I want them to sack up, grow a pair, and at least pretend to be adults capable of functioning in the world. It could be said that all the horrors in my past are precisely the reason that I am strong today, but I reject that reasoning, because I refuse to believe I’m better than anyone else. Anyone can be strong. It takes only the conscious decision to not be a victim. It doesn’t take being tortured. It doesn’t take parental murders. It just takes one single decision to be strong rather than weak, to fight rather than cower, and that is a decision anyone can make.

So buckle up. I’m going to give you the cliffnotes version. There’s enough material that I’ve got about an hour and a half of Youtube videos discussing it, a 45 minute long podcast, have written an entire book about it, and have, no exaggeration, barely scratched the surface. I have stories that will make you weep and cry that anyone would do that to a child, that anyone would be so negligent, that anyone would be so hateful. But I am not a victim. Because I am alive and I control my destiny. I control who I am.

Mother

My mother vanished off the face of the Earth when I was 12. Of course, this was after 6 years of only seeing her once or twice a year, because she was poor, addicted to heroin and meth, and preferred using her money to buy more drugs than coming to see her kids. Of course, this was also after she had kidnapped me and put me through That Summer in Arkansas–one filled with so much horror that there can’t be a Cliffnotes version. After a string of abusive alcoholic boyfriends who beat the living hell out of her while my sister and I could only look on and cry, terrified of making a sound, she finally hooked up with one who murdered her–my uncle, my aunt’s ex-husband. Of course, it took more than a decade for me to figure that out, because no one on my mom’s side of the family had anything to do with us, and never called to tell us anything. My older brother was no better; once our mother disappeared, he came to see us only once in the next six years, and it wasn’t until my sister and I took it upon ourselves to go see them that we reconnected.

But, no, you go ahead and tell me about your trauma.

Divorce

My parents separated when I was 5 or 6–depending on what time, during my kindergarten year, they actually separated. Of course, I didn’t understand what was going on, though I certainly cried a lot, and was mostly unsure whether to leave my dad the “good Nintendo” or the one that barely worked. “Didn’t work” would probably be a more accurate assessment. Naturally, I took the good one. I was 5. Rather than sitting and talking with my sister and me about what was going on, mom simply yelled at us all day–she didn’t handle stress well–and shouted that we needed to stop crying. We lived on our grandfather’s land in a trailer, and, strangely enough, he didn’t come over there with a gun to beat the hell out of mom; instead, he just found a way to let dad know.

Dad pulled up while we were loading the rest of the crap into mom’s car, almost like something out of a movie. He returned exactly as we were finishing up, and mom–in that tone that she’d been using all day that meant “shut the fuck up and do as I say”–told us to get in the car. So we did, my sister and me. We climbed into the backseat while Eric grabbed the front passenger seat. After they yelled and argued, mom got in the car. Dad, standing near the car, banged his fist against it while mom floored it. He immediately collapsed onto the ground and onto his back, pretending to have been hit by the car.

My sister and I screamed, hysterical, sure that our mother had just run over and killed our father. As we pulled away, he just lay there in the grass, not moving, and mom, once again, yelled for us to shut up.

Tim

Tim was one of mom’s boyfriends, and he really enjoyed lifting me up and holding me over the actual well that was in the backyard of this old ass house we lived in. It was an actual well, you know? Circle of bricks around it and everything. He really got a kick out of holding me over it while I kicked and screamed, while he laughed and threatened to drop me, saying that he might “accidentally” drop me if I didn’t stop squirming and kicking. I say he must have really enjoyed it, but I don’t remember how often it happened–more than enough, I can say that with certainty. More than once, at the very least.

Transgender

Shall we discuss how I’ve been trying to wear women’s clothes since I was three years old, how I would hide all of my underwear so that I could wear my sister’s instead, even back then, before the divorce, before any of that? It’s fair to say I’ve been transgender my entire life. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to be. Shall I go into how when things finally settled down I lived with my fundamentalist Christian grandmother who threatened to send me to a home if they found girl clothes in my room again? Or how my father took me out back with a belt? Is there any reason to get into any of that?

No Water or Electricity

With some regularity, once I moved in with my dad around the 8th or 9th grade, he had me stay home from school in case someone from the electric company came by to disconnect our electricity, but this was already something I was familiar with. We didn’t have electricity through most of That Summer in Arkansas, and one day mom left me alone–keeping in mind this was the summer between the 2nd and 3rd grade, so I was 8 years old–and someone from the city came by and did something to the water line out front. I secretly watched him from the window, not sure who it was.

Well, mom returned and learned that we didn’t have any water. So naturally, I got yelled at and in trouble for not opening the door and telling this stranger that I, an 8 year old kid, was home alone but if he could come back in a few hours my mom could totally arrange something with him–probably fucking him, of course. I’m not kidding, either. She honestly screamed at me for not opening the door to a strange man–I couldn’t recognize a city employee–and informing him that I was home alone.

That wasn’t the first time she said something that indicated that she wanted me to be kidnapped, either. Of course, she knew kidnapping pretty well, as someone had tried kidnapping her when she was a teenager. I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but he pulled a knife on her as they drove down the road, so she jumped out of the car. Because that’s what you do when you have a problem to be dealt with: you deal with it. You don’t sit there and beg the man not to hurt you as you undress so he can rape you. You handle it.

Arkansas summers are every bit as bad as Mississippi summers, though they might be slightly less humid. Not having electricity meant there was nowhere to escape the heat, and not having water meant that every day my sister and I had to carry a five gallon bucket to a nearby gas station and fill it with their faucet outside when no one was looking–because we’d already been chased off.

And when your mom is an idiot who tears down a shed in the backyard–as requested by the landlord–and sets it on fire, it tends to chase all the bugs and creepy-crawlies out of the backyard and into the front yard. Then your mom really shows her idiocy by choosing to deal with the problem–of being unable to step out the front door without immediately being assaulted by hundreds of fleas–by lighting a bonfire in the front yard. This, of course, chased the fleas into the house. And holy crap, they were everywhere. No amount of bug bombs or flea powder did a thing about it. It was full on infestation. No electricity, no water, and a house filled with fleas in the middle of July in Arkansas.

But no, I’m sure you’ve got trauma that gives you PTSD and forces you to flee debates.

Naturally, this entire situation had fried my nerves, to the extent that I couldn’t eat. Not that we had anything to really eat anyway–as I said in one of the videos I linked earlier, on those rare occasions when we did actually have money to buy food, Treet Meat was an actual treat. If you’re unfamiliar with Treet Meat, it’s basically generic spam. Mm-mm, good.

My sister and mother fought all the freaking time. Dad stood at the edge of the driveway and cold-bloodedly threatened to kill my mother, saying, “I will kill you.”

Death and Murder

Of course, that wouldn’t be the first time my father killed someone. When I was real young–somewhere between 3 and 5–my sister and I rode with him to my go visit some relatives. He, of course, was high as hell and shouldn’t have been driving. Some dick in an 18 wheeler decided to pass us. I was too young to really know the problem. My father insisted that the highway wasn’t wide enough. It was a scary highway, out in the middle of nowhere, with a steep ditch on both sides and heavy forests on both sides. Going into that ditch would have been virtually instant death. Whether the highway wasn’t really wide enough or whether dad swerved, I don’t know, but the sideview mirror of the 18 wheeler smashed through the driver-side window, spraying a hurricane of glass through the cab of dad’s truck. We weren’t injured.

Later that day–later that same fucking day, man–dad rear-ended a woman driving an auburn car. Again, I don’t recall all the details. He either gunned it as soon as the light turned green, or he didn’t brake hard enough because he expected the woman to hurry up and go. I don’t know which. I know only that we rear ended her, hard enough for her car to careen more than fifty feet forward. Her neck broke. She died on the spot. My father, driving high, had killed her.

Obviously, the police were called. I can only imagine the horrified panic in my father in those moments, and I can almost sympathize with that–the Mistake To End All Mistakes, you know? You know that sinking feeling when you make a mistake… Now multiply that by a billion because now someone is dead, and it’s your fault, and you know you’re going to jail and nothing will stop it. I sympathize with the dead woman, too, don’t get me wrong.

My dad, my sister, and me were all placed into the backseat of the police car. No, I’m not kidding. I, somewhere between 3 and 5 years old, was being arrested too, as far as I could tell. My father was in handcuffs, and I wasn’t, but that didn’t change the fact that I was in the cop car, too. No one was telling me anything; no one was telling my sister anything. We had no idea what was going on. Then, wouldn’t you fucking know it, again, just like it was out of a movie, that same goddamned truck driver who had smashed out our window earlier that same damned day arrived. Next thing I know, he’s banging on the cop car’s window, shouting obscenities at all of us. My father started frothing at the mouth and demanding to be let out so that he could kick the truck driver’s ass, but the truck driver just kept shouting and yelling at us while my sister and I cried, our entire world slipping between our fingers.

I was traumatized by that, too. I know that for a fact. It was almost impossible, for a long time after that, for my parents to get me into a vehicle. They had to give me “nerve pills”–probably the Xanax that caused that mess in the first place–in order to get me to get in the car. I refused to. I’d get sick and start vomiting, crying, panicking, any time someone said that I had to go for a ride.

But I’m sure it’s totally fair and justified that debates trigger you.

That’s Probably Enough

If it’s not, then check the links I provided earlier, or check out Dancing in Hellfire when I finally get it published. It’s got some brutal shit in there, and I still didn’t cover everything. I’ll never be able to cover everything, because I remember things every other week. You can’t cover all the sordid details of a life like that. There’s just too much ground to go over.

Other people have certainly had worse lives, and I don’t mean to say they haven’t. But not many people had worse childhoods here in the west that they actually survived. I’m not trying to earn the sympathy of these special snowflakes, these suffers of Special Snowflake Stress Disorder. I’m trying to give them a bit of perspective. Because, yeah, if you have no idea how bad things can really get, then you might come to the conclusion that your parents arguing when you were a kid is a good reason to run and hide whenever arguments start.

But sack up, sunshine. It’s fight or flight, not fight, flight, or cower.

I’m not going to compare my suffering to  yours. I have spent too long arguing that suffering is relative. Sure, I bitch about all of the above, but there are 12 year old girls who have now spent years as the forced brides and sex slaves of Boko Haram. We can, and should, say the same about your suffering. I know that people like to compare suffering, though, especially the kind of people who say that debates trigger their PTSD. Well, they like to when they think they can come out “ahead” with their suffering as “worse,” and why? Because they think being a victim is a good thing, so obviously the person who has suffered the most is the winner in their worldview–whoever has suffered the most is the biggest victim, and they want to be the biggest victim because being victim is a good thing now.

Someone always has it worse, but that someone has it worse doesn’t mitigate the suffering we have experienced. Suffering, after all, is relative. This girl crying in the corner because someone tried to debate her truly feels her own past suffering to exactly the same extent that I feel my past suffering, and to exactly the same extent that the kidnap victims of Boko Haram feel their suffering, and to exactly the same extent that poor woman was held in her father’s basement and raped for 17 years feels her own suffering. We can’t put a value on suffering, and it’s a fool’s task to even try.

But…

But whatever value we place on suffering, if you survived your childhood, aren’t a serial killer, and live in the west, then chances are that the horrors I can point to cause yours to pale in comparison. My point isn’t to say “Oh, poor me, I had it so much worse than you.”

My point is exactly the opposite.

The past doesn’t matter. The past doesn’t shape you unless you allow it to. You cannot be a victim unless you consent to be a victim. My past is not marked by horrors and traumas that have victimized me; my past is marked by lessons that have taught me. I am not their victim. I am their beneficiary.

So make your choice, but don’t pretend like it’s not a choice.

Will you be a victim or a beneficiary?

Corporations, Communism, and Nihilism

I want you to imagine a group of people who communally share their resources. No one person owns anything; everything belongs to The Group, not to an individual. Each individual contributes according to the rules of the group, and they receive some restitution for their labor. There is a hierarchy in this group, however. At the top of the pyramid are elected people who set the policies that they are voted to set, and, though these elected people have authority, none of them can just take the group’s resources and run. Instead, what allotment of the resources these elected officials receive is determined by a sort of another group–a board of people.

When a person needs to use part of The Group’s resources for something, they fill out some paperwork, which is in turn sent to people who are higher on the totem pole, and someone approves or disapproves of the requisition. However, each person is guaranteed a specific amount of the resources as part of their labor agreement, and these guaranteed resources can be used in whatever way the individual wants. Strictly speaking, additional resources could be requisitioned for any reason the individual wants, too, but it’s more likely that a requisition will be approved if the request for additional resources is more an investment than a consumption.

What did we just describe?

Socialism? Communism?

Or a corporation?

We have to focus more on what things are than what they are called, and this is precisely why. If I were to tell someone that corporations are socialist in nature, I would be laughed out of the room. Yet here we are. The above description could describe either a communist society or the inner workings of a corporation. This is not a word game. It’s not a pun, and it’s not clever linguistics. This is what they are.

Putting anarcho-communism aside for a moment–because the majority of communists aren’t anarchists, and neither are most socialists–the one distinguishing factor between corporations and the socialist society would be that, ideally, in the socialist society, everyone’s personal “restitution for labor”–that is, “wages,” but I avoided that word purposely–would be equal.

This is always a question that we must ask the communist: do you truly believe that the McDonald’s worker and the President of the United States deserve an equal wage? Does the socialist truly believe that the Wal-Mart stocker and the Congressional official deserve an equal wage? For those rare individuals who would answer affirmatively, there is little more to be said; we cannot argue with people who believe that these people are making equal contributions to society.

The question of wages is a strange one, because we have not long been selling our labor in such numbers. Throughout most of human history, a person’s sold labor was a supplement; we did not buy food and clothing, because we grew our own and made our own. We sold our labor when we needed to purchase those things that we could not produce ourselves; when we needed to visit the blacksmith, for example. While there were blacksmiths, of course, who did primarily sell their labor as a means of living, they were still rare–artisans, craftsmen, and tailors constituted a middle class.

Recent times have redefined human society such that virtually everyone sells their labor, no one grows their own food, and your kids would be laughed out of school–you might end up facing criminal charges, as well–if you sent your children to school in clothing that you made. This is a relatively new state of affairs, though. Throughout most of human history, you put in the work to grow your own food and, if you did not, you starved.

This is where communists and socialists wholly break with nature. It is the responsibility of an animal to secure its sustenance, either through predation or production–hunting or gathering. That it would even be possible for one animal to contribute nothing to their own survival, yet still survive, is a new development. Remembering that compassion is a luxury, the Johnson family would not have been willing to share their food with the Lennox family when the Lennox family chopped down a few trees and proclaimed, “There. I tried.”

A fundamental truth has been lost in the nihilistic fervor of western society: the universe doesn’t give a fuck about us, we are animals, and it is the responsibility of an animal to ensure its own survival. In the event that it cannot, compassion should probably be afforded to the animal by those who can afford that luxury, if they so choose, but that we can have this conversation in the first place shows that we have lost all semblance of reason and sanity. What the hell do you mean that I must have compassion?

Suffering is made contagious by pity.

We have reached this point where we are today because of capitalism. Let there be no doubt about it. It was capitalism that allowed us the luxury of deciding that we must not send our four-year-old children to be maimed in glass factories. If you went to Victorian London, do you know what you would see?

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ” ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.
There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved, so I said,
“Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.”
And so he was quiet, & that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;
And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins & set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.
Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father & never want joy.
And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

During the Irish Famine it was not unusual for parents to sell their children. We look back on those 19th century atrocities and condemn them–as rightly we should–but we condemn them without understanding them. Parents sent their children to work in glass factories to be maimed for life because they had no choice. It was that or starve. Parents sold their children into slavery–or worse–because it was that or starve. What would you do, if you went back in time and saw these things happening? Would you come forward and outlaw it? Would you say, “No! If I see you sending your children to work in glass factories, I will throw you in prison”?

Then you would condemn them to death.

It was not legislation or happy feelings that put a stop to this practice. It was not people slapping their foreheads and proclaiming, “Oh, shit. You know? It’s probably not a great idea to sell our children.”

It was capitalism.

It was prosperity.

People stopped sending their children to be maimed in factories when it was no longer necessary, and shortly thereafter we condemned and outlawed it. It was a necessity born of poverty–a poverty that stretched back to the time when peasants grew their own food, something that had become increasingly unfeasible.

Look to China today. How much sweatshop labor and child labor is there in China today? Oh, there is still child labor and sweatshop labor, but it has been drastically reduced from what it was thirty years ago. People in China are now buying vehicles, building better homes, securing more stable electricity–why? Why are the Chinese prospering?

Because of capitalism.

We are such a curious species.

We use these tools to climb to such high plateaus, and then we cast off the tools and condemn them, insist that we don’t need them because we have better tools, and then we flounder on the side of the mountain, thrashing about and asking stupidly, “What went wrong? We had it all figured out!”

The greatest example of this is how Trump is being condemned for expressing that he uses his power, fame, and wealth to cajole women into sleeping with him. Even if Donald Trump never touched a woman without her consent, the same people would be condemning him, and for the same reason.

Fuck that.

Good for you, Donald.

We are animals–stupid, petty, violent, horny animals. Unfortunately, at some point during our evolutionary line we developed sentience, which in turn led to an out-of-control ego, which we immediately fed by convincing ourselves that we are anything but animals, despite all evidence to the contrary. All the evidence suggests that nothing but your own perceptions separates you from the chair you’re sitting in, and nothing but ego distinguishes you from the wolf.

The difference is that the wolf has forgotten what it is. It’s a stupid, petty, violent, horny animal, and it has no delusions about it. So the wolf survives, doing what it was programmed by biology to do. The wolf has no compassion because the only things the wolf could conceivably have compassion for is its prey–and it cannot be allowed the luxury of compassion for its prey; its own survival depends on it.

We humans, though… What is the soul?

The soul is two things. It is a delusion that we are immortal, and it is a symbol of our own vanity. Ask any person who believes they are immortal* whether animals have souls, and they will almost all answer the same: “No.” The soul is what allows this delusion to persist today, when, by all rights, it should have been cast off when it was proven beyond all doubt that personality is an electrochemical reaction in the brain, and that neither personality nor self exist external of the brain. Yet it persists, a delusion that we cannot let go of.

It is the greatest of ironies that, yes, we can be better. We can be better than the other animals with whom we share a planet and a lineage. We do have a sense of self, and we are afforded the luxury of compassion. It would be foolish to suggest that we forego this luxury in the name of some Neo-Luddism insanity. We are what we are, and “what we are” includes wonderful potential–a potential that has actualized and allowed us the luxury of compassion.

But we must not forget, as we exercise that compassion, that it is a luxury, and the very things which purchased that luxury are the very things we must control if we are to show compassion.

* Let’s not mince words about it–this is what advocates of “souls” are suggesting.

Processed Corn Pudding Goop – Update

So I’ve decided that Processed Corn Pudding Goop isn’t going to have a plot. It’s essentially just the story of a millennial coming to terms with the absolute meaningless of existence, and making the step from that to the realization that the fact that existence is meaningless is, itself, meaningless. A plot wouldn’t fit the narrative. It’s a book for the nihilistic millennials who haven’t made that final step and who are lost in a sea of oblivion–“What is the point? There isn’t one. We die, and then that’s that.” “We live, we die, and there’s usually some bullshit between the two.” This is currently the project I’m working on while I wait to hear back from agents on Dancing in Hellfire, and from Playboy and a few other magazines about “Dead or Alive.”

The formatting got fucked; I apologize. It may fix itself when I publish, though. Even if you read part one, it may be worth reading this again, since I’ve done a bit of editing. This is a first draft that I’m sharing as I’m writing; typos and all that aren’t really important. Like at one point it says “…shaking in angry…” when it meant “shaking in anger.” I make that mistake a lot for some reason. C’est la vie.

Chapter 1

 

Support your local businesses.

 

Everyone said that. And it made total sense, really. In fact, nothing made more sense as I put yet another can of Supergrocery brand Processed Corn Goop on the shelf, marked down to eighty-four cents a can–a savings of 1.2 cents an ounce, according to the obnoxiously red piece of cardboard paper I’d slid over the yellow one. Of course, it was all bullshit. There was no real savings going on here, since whatever poor sap bought this crap was basically paying eighty-four cents to shit out this hyperprocessed, homogenized goop that the FDA allowed to be called “food.” There was about as much food in it as there was human excrement. And even so, the price had been just eighty-two cents a can just two weeks ago, before management upped the price temporarily so that they could reduce it a bit and sell it back to the fat fucking idiots at a “discount.”

 

Most people wouldn’t buy the goop anyway, because they’d insist on buying Namebrand Goop, declaring to anyone who would listen that there really was a difference. And yeah, in some cases that’s true, but when Supergrocery Brand is a subsidiary of Neutral Brand that is a subsidiary of Namebrand and it’s all just Goop made in the same factory–yes, factory. This stuff isn’t produced on a farm or anywhere else you’d expect food to come from. But that’s the rule of American society, that rule that only heretics break: Namebrand is better than Supergrocery brand.

 

I wasn’t surprised when I watched the clan of fat white trailer trash come down the aisle, inexorably toward me like a ball rolling down a hill that no one could stop. Like an old cartoon of a cat chasing a mouse, the woman–if you can call her that, because she was more like a giant toad that some circusmaster had tricked into standing up and putting on a pair of sweat-stained sweatpants–had seen a sale on pudding further down the aisle. She wouldn’t have been trailer trash without towing three kids behind her–and I felt bad for them, but there was nothing to be done.

 

She glared so hatefully at me as she pushed her basket–a basket that might as well have been called a Repository For Corn Syrup–past me and my ladder, as though I was in her way, or as though I was the enemy in my stupid red vest and nametag. Like I had betrayed her by not calling her and telling her the pudding was on sale. And I realized–that’s probably how she felt. That was her pudding.

 

Her kids meekly passed by, and one of them even said “Excuse me.”

 

I pretended to move cans of Processed Corn Goop around while I watched the woman from the corner of my eye, and it was actually kind of cute, once she reached the pudding, how she acted like she hadn’t been running to get there before anyone else could. Well, no, she wasn’t running, not really. She was too fat to run. She’d have keeled over and died right there in the aisle if she’d tried.

 

It’s why all employees are trained to perform CPR.

 

For when fat asses get over-excited about the 3% discount on Processed Corn Pudding Goop.

 

It wasn’t even hard to figure out how this had happened. Of course, no one is talking about in the open, and no one is going to. It’s that elephant in the room, that open secret that everyone knows but is too afraid to say, and that’s why there will never be a direct study on it. In fact, the only graph you can find about it simply shows the increase in how much corn has been grown in the country over the past century. The increase is alarming, but it doesn’t suggest, by itself, that the corn is more present in foods.

 

cornEverything contains high fructose corn syrup. It’s so common that we’ve now started stamping the outliers with things like “Contains Real Sugar!” This, of course, leaves people like me asking “As opposed to what? Fake sugar?”

 

“Correct.”

 

As opposed to fake sugar.

 

Aka, corn syrup.

 

And it’s everywhere. Fast food places load their foods with corn syrup, even things like hamburgers, in order to make them more addictive. That chocolate syrup, that can of Ravioli Pasta in Tomato Sauce Goop–it’s all corn syrup, with corn probably listed somewhere in the first five ingredients.

 

And what do you know. Diabetes has increased proportionally. Imagine that.diabetes

 

Who would ever have guessed.

 

Of course, I don’t really blame the sack of puss and corn syrup at the end of the aisle, hungrily licking her lips as she estimates how many little containers of Processed Corn Pudding Goop she can suck down in twelve seconds, because she wasn’t really the one who put the Mom & Pop stores out of business–that happened when she was a teenager, and it was her parents who did it, because they couldn’t resist the temptation of paying eight-four cents for a can of Processed Corn Goop instead of a dollar and seven cents for an ear of actual fucking corn. And then they’d have to shuck it themselves, boil it, cook it, and ugh.

 

So much trouble.

 

So much easier to just save money and buy Processed Corn Goop.

 

“Eric.”

 

I closed my eyes and silently groaned. That nasally, whiny voice could only have been my supervisor, standing on the ground behind me in his red vest lined with a white stripe, with a stupid fucking black star by his name and the words “Assistant Supervisor” under his name. I didn’t have to look at his balding head and gigantic nose, or that stupid Hitler mustache that he was so fond of–really, if you watch him sometime, you’ll see him reaching up and caressing it every few minutes.

 

Steve is the kind of guy who probably spends a few minutes in front of the mirror every morning reminding himself that he’s the champion of the world. He probably does that despite the fact that his wife left his impotent ass for a guy who was half his age when her uncle died and left her enough money that she could live out the rest of her days without being married to a cretin that weighed seventeen pounds and spent his college years on the Quiz Bowl team instead of getting laid. What happened, Steve? Did getting that last question in the finals wrong fuck your life up that bad? Was your entire future really riding on that one question? Because now you’re a sad, pathetic, forty-nine year old man with a combover and Hitler ‘stache, wearing a gay ass red vest with a black star on your nametag, haunted by the word Assistant Supervisor because you just can’t kiss up to Anthony’s ass hard enough or fast enough to outrank the new blonde with a huge rack.

 

And I’m just curious when things went wrong.

 

“Eric,” Steve said, this time more firmly.

 

“What, Steve?” I asked, but I still didn’t bother to look at him. I was too fascinated by the scene unfolding with the pile of diabetes at the end of the aisle and her daughter saying that she didn’t like butterscotch and that she wanted vanilla. What a dilemma, especially since the Repository For Corn Syrup was being paid for with food stamps that were, according to the law, intended to buy food for the children. But was it really for the children if she got the flavors that she liked, and not the flavors the kids liked?

 

How about an apple?

 

“I asked you yesterday to take the boxes from Storage Room A–the ones stacked near the door–and move them to Storage Room C so that we can bring a new shipment of–”

 

I asked you yesterday.

 

That’s why Steve had to remind himself that he was a champion every morning.

 

Because he wasn’t a champion.

 

Champions don’t ask their employees to do things, Steve. It’s not just the blonde’s huge rack that Anthony likes looking at that caused you to become her assistant, and not the other way around. It’s because people listen to Jillian. I mean, yeah, people listen to Jillian because she’s a hot blonde with huge tits, but that’s not the point. One way or another, people do the things that she asks them to do, so it doesn’t matter that she’s asking rather than telling. But you, Steve, with your combover and Hitler mustache–you have to command. And you don’t. You’re a pitiful sheep in a world ruled by lions, and the only reason you’re an assistant supervisor is that they’ve taken pity on you.

 

Praise your masters, Steve.

 

Then lick their boots.

 

Watching Steve suck up to Jillian is some of the best entertainment we get. We take bets on how long Steve has left before he’s fired, but it’s just a matter of time before he’s walking out the door for the final time, banned from the premises as long as Jillian works here, because Steve isn’t the kind of guy that can look at a girl’s bouncing tits without it being creepy. Some people can do that. Some guys can openly check out the goods–the real goods, not the Processed Corn Goop–and grin at the girl without her being offended–it’s just human nature, and some guys can pull it off.

 

Not Steve.

 

Steve would be wise to grow a goatee to go with his Hitler stache. That way, something will catch his drool, and he won’t have to worry about it sliding down his chin and into the floor as he stares hungrily–almost exactly like Mrs. Diabetes down there looking over the Processed Corn Pudding Goop–at Jillian’s breasts.

 

“Clean up on Aisle 7. Steve was staring at Jillian’s tits again.”

 

“…then I’m afraid I’m going to have to file a formal reprimand,” Steve finished.

 

The formal reprimand.

 

Paperwork acknowledging that Steve came and interrupted me while I was trying to do my goddamned job, put his hands on his hips, narrowed his eyes, and told me he was disappointed in me.

 

No, Steve!

 

Take it back, Steve!

 

“What?” I asked.

 

Steve scoffed, but it wasn’t a true scoff. It was the Wannabe Supervisor’s Scoff. It was that thing people do when they’re frustrated because their entire life is a joke and they themselves are a joke, and everything about their life sucks, and everyone knows it, but no one calls them out on it because we’re a society of civilized people. After all, we don’t even eat that uncouth, uncivilized corn. No, we eat Processed Corn Goop, by God! And so we serve up synthetic respect with about as much authentic admiration in it as there is real food in the Processed Corn Goop. Fake food, fake respect. Hell, fake faces, fake tits, fake tans, fake clothes, fake money.

 

Fake lives.

 

“I said that if those boxes are still there when the shipment arrives, then I’ll have to file a formal reprimand!”

 

So there was no need for me to move the boxes before now, right? So why did I have to do it yesterday? And with all the effort you’ve spent bitching about the boxes, wouldn’t it have been faster for you to move the damned things?

 

“How about you move the boxes, Steve?” I asked.

 

Most people wouldn’t dare mouth off to a supervisor an assistant supervisor like that, but this was Steve. Mr. Combover. Mr. Hitler Mustache. Mr. Some Guy Half My Age is Fucking My Ex-Wife. This was Assistant Supervisor I’m a Champion Steve.

 

Fuck Steve.

 

“I–ech–” Steve stuttered out, his typical response. He rolled his eyes and shook his head, making weird noises as he tried to process the reality that he wasn’t even worthy of Fake Respect from the people who stocked Fake Food in a Fake Society. “I asked you to do it.”

 

“I’m busy, Steve.”

 

Your entire life is a lie, Steve.

 

“What time is the shipment coming?” I asked. I’m not a bad person. I do feel bad for Steve. It’s not really his fault that he’s Mr. Combover.

 

After giving me the info, I assured Steve that I’d move the boxes by then. So Steve turned and started to walk away, but decided to mouth off a bit himself. “You’d better, otherwise I’ll have to do a formal reprimand,” he threatened again, as though that had any sway at all. That’s what’s funny about people like Fake Steve and our Fake Respect. If we don’t show that Fake Respect, and if we don’t show Fake Fear for the Fake Reprimand, then the entire system crumbles–if we don’t Fake Kneel to the Fake Threat and the Fake Consequences, then Fake Steve can’t do anything. His threat was every bit as fake as the Processed Corn Pudding Goop.

 

Chapter 2

 

What do you do when you wake up on a mattress at eleven in the morning, to banging on your apartment front door, to the landlord outside wanting to find out why there were men coming and going from your place at all hours of the night? When you groggily look at her naked body beneath the sheet and wonder briefly why the two of you have never bothered to actually put the sheet on the bed, why you lay down on the bare mattress?

 

Because why bother to?

 

It’s that moment, with the landlord knocking at the door–and you know it’s the landlord, because it wouldn’t be anyone else–scratching the back of your neck and catching a glimpse of your naked body in the nicotine-coated mirror above the desk–when you see out of the window everyone going about their lives, running continually in circles, hamsters on a wheel.

 

Birth. School. Marriage. Kids. Death.

 

Chasing fake things in a fake society, sustaining ourselves on fake food purchased with fake money, giving fake respect to fake supervisors because of fake fear about a fake reprimand. Too many of these fake reprimands and we’ll lose our fake job putting fake food on a shelf, lose our ability to earn fake money to buy that fake food and pay our fake rent and fake taxes to a fake government that oversees a fake society and implements a fake morality to govern our fake lives.

 

Hamsters on a wheel. Birth, school, marriage, kids, death.

 

Some people say that I have an attitude problem. I say that I understand why it looks that way to them, but what I really have is a reality problem. I’ve seen through the bullshit. All these fake human constructs that we bow to, not out of wisdom or insight or progress, but simply out of habit and tradition. We were birthed on the hamster wheel and we’ll run our lives on the hamster wheel because we’ve been on it since birth, and it never even occurred to us that the hamster wheel was bullshit.

 

Real text messages from fake friends, that blurry line between what is actually real and what is total fiction. Fake friends born not out of love and compassion but out of circumstance–they were tolerable people that happened to be around me, and vice versa. “Your place this weekend?” the fake friend asked, wanting to watch “the game” somewhere and being too cheap to go and pay fake money at a bar for the beer that he uses to forget how much it sucks to waste his real life running on a fake hamster wheel, and too cheap to pay a fake bill for cable television–that wretched box of fake fictions that people escape into from their fake lives in a real universe.

 

An average child watches 1,480 minutes of television a week. That’s a figure that would horrify a real person. 24.6 hours of television every week–about 3.5 hours a day. Just sitting on their fat asses eating fake food and watching fake realities unfold. In that same year, the child will watch more than 16,000 thirty second commercials advertising fake shit for their fake parents to buy with fake money.

 

Why are their parents fake? Because the average person spends 5 hours and eleven minutes a day watching television.

 

Nothing has been more destructive to our species than television.

 

So now 67% of American families sit around–a stepdad or stepmom, since the divorce rate is so high, and a real parent, 2.5 kids–not at a dinner table, but on a sofa, staring at the fake realities glowing at them and eating fake food that their fake parents bought with fake money working at a fake job. I’ve never felt so patriotic.

 

Lana is even crazier than I am, though, and it’s thanks to her that I see all this fake bullshit for what it is.

 

She’s stunningly gorgeous, and sexy beyond what you can imagine since you’ve never seen anyone like her. And that was the problem. She’s part of those statistics, too, and Fake Dad had a hard time keeping his hands to himself. When she told Fake Mom, Fake Mom didn’t believe her, and even when she showed Fake Mom the bruises, she simply got grounded and was accused of seducing Fake Dad. So she ran away.

 

I would point out that even as a fifteen year old, Lana was sexy and gorgeous, but that would violate society’s fake morals–the same ideas that led to fake laws that would have prosecuted Fake Dad if Fake Mom had been able to tell the difference between real and fake. But a fifteen year old beautiful and sexy girl running away didn’t have an easy time of it, and she was a hooker on the streets within six months, addicted to heroin and HIV Positive. Turns out there’s no shortage of Fake Dads out there looking to fuck a fifteen year old girl away from the watchful eyes of the fake laws of a fake society.

 

When I met her, she was twenty years old, a year younger than myself, and propositioned me as I walked back from a night of drinking beer with fake friends and watching a fake sporting event. She was too damned sexy and too damned beautiful, so I accepted–then I visited her again the next night, and the next, and the next. Her pimp started getting irritated–apparently that industry doesn’t care much for “repeat customers”–and beat the hell out of her.

 

So I put a real gun to his head, pulled the real trigger, and ended his fake life.

 

The cops made a token effort to look into it, but a pimp and drug dealer shot and killed in a city filled with drugs and prostitutes? Hell, I did them a favor. That’s one less drug dealer and pimp on the streets. They just weren’t allowed to say it. Just like I’m not allowed to tell Steve that his life is a lie and he should kill himself. So they pretended to look into it, but even as Lana–known to be one of his girls–moved into my apartment, they didn’t even bother to come and question me. Fake rules governing a fake society. Don’t show them fake respect, and the whole thing comes apart.

 

The really difficult part came in later, when Lana made it clear that she intended to become a… “freelancer,” and that she had no intention of finding another line of work. She had real feelings for me, and we had a real relationship–her points about it all was that it shouldn’t matter if she had fake sex with other people. I really wasn’t ready then to accept that, but I cared too much about her to let her go, so I fake accepted it.

 

And at some point I just stopped caring about that. What did it matter? What did any of it matter?

 

It didn’t.

 

Fake significance.

 

“Why do you care if other guys pay to fuck me?”

 

That’s the question that will turn your entire world upside down if you try to come up with a real answer to it. It’s impossible to answer in the first place without laying some kind of claim on the girl, without suggesting that her pussy is yours, and that’s never a good thing to say in a relationship. Because no–her pussy is hers. And trying to go beyond that to come up with any answer at all when tear away delusions from your worldview one by one, until you’re a frightened little child crying in the corner, trying to figure out what, exactly, is real.

 

I ignored the banging on the door, because I knew it wouldn’t last long. Captain Stick in the Ass would get bored and waddle his fat ass back down the stairs. There wouldn’t have been a problem anyway, if it hadn’t been for the people who lived below. They were an elderly couple–well, sixty or so.

 

The man was a sack of fat ass–Yes, everyone is fat. I don’t know very many people who aren’t fat, in fact. Anyway, he was actually extremely fat, diabetic (which I knew because it was a topic that came up within the first fifteen seconds of talking to him), and had no idea how to speak at a proper volume. Whether you were a hundred yards away or right in his face, he was the loudest motherfucker I’ve ever met. I’ve actually met his son, and his son was a pretty cool guy who offered up the excuse that his dad had changed drastically “after he ran himself over.”

 

I’m sorry–come again?

 

Ran himself over.

 

He was working on his truck one day and had it jacked up, but was on a hill apparently and had done nothing to keep it from rolling. When paramedics arrived on the scene, he had been dead for 7 minutes. They managed to resuscitate him, and he recovered pretty well, but the working theory is that 7 minutes without any air going to his brain left him obnoxious as fuck. He didn’t become stupid or helpless or anything–just tremendously annoying.

 

His wife wasn’t any better, and she was probably fatter than he was, although shorter and with a better mustache. Neither of them worked, because they were both on disability. He was on disability because he’d been run over and never really recovered physically–which I would believe, but I don’t think he tried to recover. Like, he’s exactly the kind of diabetic people think of when they think of Adult Onset Diabetes. For years, he ate breakfast at a popular fast food place every single day, ballooning the entire time, and was finally diagnosed with diabetes. Did he stop the breakfast?

 

No. He simply started injecting insulin or whatever people like him do, and he continued to plop his fat fucking ass down and eat greasy fast food breakfast every single day. A year later, he had a heart attack, and the doctor finally convinced him to stop eating fast food. It didn’t really change anything, because he just had his wife start cooking the same sausage and bacon instead of ordering it, but… Baby steps, I guess.

 

The man was fully convinced that it was the doctors’ responsibility to simply cure him, and that he shouldn’t have to change his diet or start exercising. “That’s what I’m paying them for,” he would say. “To cure me. Why am I paying them to cure me, if what I have to do is cure myself?” He rejected it completely–the doctors were supposed to cure him and accommodate his lifestyle, diet, and laziness. Of course, he wasn’t paying the doctors anyway. The government was.

 

His wife and her mustache had spent about two years fighting with the government so that she could retire early on disability or something like that, and they were finally successful, which resulted in her receiving a check for something like sixteen thousand dollars for doing nothing except being lazy, fat, and ignorant, and randomly deciding one day that she just didn’t want to work anymore. Presumably, someone somewhere in the government shrugged and wrote her a fat fucking check to go into her fat fucking pocket so that she could support her husband’s addiction to fast food Processed Corn Sausage Goop.

 

They were deeply unhappy and deeply miserable, which meant, of course, that they had to make sure everyone else was miserable. That was something I learned very quickly after Lana shacked up with me. I hadn’t noticed it before, but… Everyone was miserable. The random people I passed on the street every single day—they were screaming on the inside, raging, thrashing, a meek soul raking its nails at the inner recesses of the mind where it was trapped. Where it was doomed to remain trapped, because we’d long since forgotten it was there.

 

We’re so terrified of ourselves, reality, the universe—whatever you want to call it. Existence. We quiver in fear and shake our heads, crying fetal in the floor in a panicked state of bewilderment, refusing to accept everything. So we turn our devotion to illusions, to things that are fake. We invent systems—economic, religious, political—and we devote ourselves to those, giving them significance and dedicating our lives to them in one form or another, and we become so attached to them that we allow ourselves to forget that they are fictions we created because we couldn’t bear to look reality in the face, because we’re cowards sitting in the dark trailer with the curtains drawn, aghast at the idea of looking outside because we fear we might see the face of the devil, and even though we know that we will see no such thing, we just sit there anyway.

Piles of processed corn pudding goop.

 

Some part of us always senses that something is wrong, though. How can we not? It requires us to maintain a state of constant cognitive dissonance, and if it slips for even a moment, there it is—bam!—oblivion, staring back at us. We know what’s on the other side of the illusion. We just don’t talk about it.

 

Instead we yell and scream at the fat, mustached wife who tells us that we can’t eat fast food for breakfast any longer. Instead, she yells at us for stupid shit that even she doesn’t really care about. Together, we yell at the rest of the world. We have to make sure the world is as miserable as we are, because otherwise we’ll find ourselves sitting there in isolation as laughter rings out in the darkness, shining like a light onto our roach-like lives and sending us scurrying for shadows that have been banished by the neighbor’s joviality.

 

Heading in unison toward the cliff with nothing but cold emptiness and eternal sleep awaiting us at the bottom, dead and too dead to even know we’re dead, like zombies as we stare up at the glowing box that beams directly to us temporary escapes from our meaningless lives as the conveyor belt of time carries us inexorably toward non-existence.

 

Splat!

 

Landing at the bottom, another dead pile of processed corn pudding goop.

 

Clean up in aisle 7.

 

I’m every bit as miserable as everyone else—miserable and misanthropic. The only real difference is that I’m keenly aware of the misery that coats my soul, shiny, like Steve’s bald spot—reflecting everything outward and letting nothing true, least of all existence and life. I can’t even say that it’s really advantageous. We’re all miserable. What have I gained by accepting that?

 

Nothing, really. Even if we all could accept the empty desolation that is existence, it wouldn’t mean a thing for anyone. There is no conceivable change that could make things better; we’ll all continue to be miserable, simply conscious of it. And that’s when it hits you. Waking up at eleven in the morning in a ramshackle apartment, lying on a mattress that sits on the floor and that no one bothered to even cover with a sheet as some stupid dick bangs on the door, that’s when the realization hits you.

 

This is hell.

 

We live in hell.

 

And years and decades of life in hell has made everyone insane. They have to escape into the television sitcoms and care about them, because otherwise they have to care about hell. They have to focus on ridiculous human fictions like bank accounts and picket fences, because otherwise they have to care about hell. That’s the choice we’re given. Invisibly and subtly, because no one ever sits down to say it, but maybe they should.

 

“You can choose between hell or illusions.”

 

Maybe I’m the insane one for choosing hell.

 

Chapter 3

 

Steve managed to wait an entire seven minutes before coming to bother me. It was just a perfect example of his insanity. Steve knew that he wanted to stand by the employee entrance, arms crossed, ready to scream and berate me as soon as I appeared. He wouldn’t do that, though—no, he had to deny himself. He had to appear civilized, this psychotic feces-flinging ape. His blood boiled, his stupid Hitler mustache quivered with rage, his face turned beet red, and his combover fell as he sat tapping his fingers on his “desk” waiting on my arrival, each second passing adding to his anger and hostility. But I wasn’t the one that Steve was angry at, not really. I was just the catalyst. Steve was angry at life, furious that he couldn’t plant himself beside the door and greet me with a string of profanities and insults.

 

Steve wanted corn, but there was only processed corn pudding goop.

 

“I need to see you in my office,” Steve said flatly to me as I pretended to be working. I was okay with that. Steve pretended to have authority, and I played along with that—it was my own dish of processed corn pudding goop. It seemed to me that the least Steve could do was play along when I pretended to be working. Speaking without any tone in his voice was what Steve understood to be “commanding,” but I’d bet all the real corn in the world that, if my back hadn’t been turned, I’d have seen that Steve’s eyes were cast down to the floor as he walked past, too weak to actually stop and speak.

 

I was in no hurry. Steve wasn’t going anywhere—in any sense. That’s the most generous thing that could be said of a middle aged fat man with a combover who worked as an assistant supervisor at a grocery store. “The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older, shorter of breath, and one day closer to death.” Steve’s conveyor belt just kept turning, and he seemed almost unaware of it. Maybe he was squeezing his eyes shut, convinced that this moment was the only moment, and therefore infinite.

 

So I ensured that this moment—which I’d have described as “me not sitting and being blasted by the hideous soup of gelatin, high fructose corn syrup, and bacteria that roiled in the hurricane of Steve’s mouth as his tongue lashed around frantically to skirt the border between the world of corn and the world of processed corn pudding goop, and while little devils bound his mind with chains and repeated hypnotically that he had to be civilized”—lasted as long as possible, and just stood there for a few minutes, anticipating the circus of illusions and mutual delusion that awaited me.

 

I stopped at a drink machine and inserted three worthless coins—fake money to buy a fake drink that I fake wanted. I wasn’t thirsty, and wouldn’t drink that liquid diabetes even if I had been, but I did enjoy the fact that Steve could see me from his office as I slowly bought it. Three quarters made of mostly copper and nickel—utterly worthless. Well, that wasn’t true. It was worth two pennies. Well, strictly speaking it was actually worth four pennies, because a penny itself wasn’t actually worth one cent, but a half of a cent. That was the game, of course—to give us money that was worth as little as possible measured in its own denominations. A twenty-five cent coin was worth two cents.

 

Makes perfect sense.

 

 

The Nihilism of Western Society

Western society is not decadent; it’s nihilistic.

Now, those familiar with me know that I consider myself a nihilist. I am also well aware that Nietzsche–the father of modern nihilism–would be appalled to learn that we call ourselves nihilists. We don’t mean it in the same sense that Nietzsche meant it, and I’m going to get into that momentarily. We mean it in the sense of ultimate objectivity, refusing to allow emotions a place in shaping our knowledge, and a strict separation of emotion from reason. This leads to a lack of attachment and loyalty to existing institutions. We don’t look at the educational institution and say, “Well, it’s bad and could be replaced, but we’ve had this one for so long…” Instead, we stop at “Does it accomplish what we want it to? If not, replace it.”

Nihilists do not advocate arbitrarily destroying socioeconomic institutions just because. We advocate destroying them if they don’t do what we want them to do. This requires objectively looking at them and their results. Nihilism is a constant battle between what we believe and what is, and not everyone is capable of accepting “what is.” Religion is a great example. I have a friend who agrees with me almost completely about religion, and even agrees that people use deities as projections of their own beliefs and opinions. Yet, he still believes that there is a god–in the deist sense. This is an example where he will not accept What Is because of What Ought.

It’s funny that nihilists recognize that every value that we assign to things is subjective, while also striving to be as objective as possible–objective, in this context, meaning “not allowing emotions to alter the value we ascribe.” Nietzsche would absolutely be an anarcho-capitalist if he lived today: Austrian economics is the application of this subjectivity to market values. Nietzsche spoke primarily of assigning moral values, but the principle is the same for market values, too, and he has long been recognized as an enemy of the state. It was Nietzsche, after all, who said:

Everything the state says is a lie, and everything it has, it has stolen.

If there’s anything that you should take away from this preamble, it’s that I understand Nietzsche and I understand what we call Nihilism. I am a nihilist. For the rest of the article, though, I don’t mean “nihilist” in that sense. I mean it in its Nietzschean sense: advocating ideas and opinions that are ultimately self-destructive. This is what Nietzsche meant when he characterized Christianity as nihilistic. From The Antichrist:

What is more harmful than any vice?–Practical sympathy for the botched and the weak–Christianity…

We Americans, too, are increasingly nihilistic, yet it has nothing to do with religion. It does have to do with the same thing that Nietzsche criticized, but I think Nietzsche was wrong here. I don’t think compassion is a problem; in fact, I encourage compassion. I think that we tend to come up with extremely short-sighted, non-functional solutions, propose them, and then tie our compassion to them, so much so that anyone who then disputes our proposed solution is written off as lacking compassion. That’s a bit long-winded and technical, so let me give an example.

I am against welfare. I am adamantly against stealing from one person to give their money to someone else, and this is what constitutes “welfare” in western society. Whether you think it’s just or not is irrelevant; that’s simply what happens. When I tell people that I am against welfare, I am universally met with the response of, “You just want poor people to starve to death?”

Published alongside me in V2: The Voluntary Voice was Matthew Weber, who told a story about his voluntaryist-oriented band played a show, and at one point said some anarchistic stuff. Someone threw a bottle at the drummer and shouted, “Without the state, where would I find housing?”

Without even being conscious of it, they have formed a false dichotomy where the choices are “the state” or “people starve and go homeless.”

Nietzsche wrote from a perspective that was, really, Beyond Good and Evil. He was not concerned with what he called Middle Class Morality–a profound realization in its own right, that the rich don’t abide morality because they don’t have to, and the poor don’t abide it because they don’t have the luxury. Nietzsche realized that morality is a luxury, and it is from here that we proceed, because compassion is also a luxury. The child starving to death surely has no compassion for the robbery of Kim Kardashian. The woman dying of cancer surely has no compassion for a stranger’s flu.

When people begin starving, morality is the first thing to be thrown away, as morality was the force responsible for creating the vacuum in which they went hungry. The man starving to death has no moral difficulty with stealing a loaf of bread. The family going hungry has no moral difficulty using the state to give to others for their own benefit. So, too, is my critique of this theft as immoral a luxury of the middle class–and my morality does not apply to them, because they have discarded it. When thrown with others into a survival trap like in the movie Saw, we would have no moral difficulty in poisoning the doctor to ensure our own survival.

Certainly, I would argue that it is good that we have our Middle Class Morality, and I argue that both the poor and the rich should have to abide it. Many Americans argue that the rich should have to, but leave the poor out of this requirement. We criticize Wells Fargo for stealing, basically, from its customers, yet we give a thumbs up to the poor who use the state to steal. My entire position as an anarchist is that everyone must follow this Middle Class Morality that forbids the use of force, violence, and coercion, and that this mandate must include the rulers–who so often are given a free pass to violate the tenets of our morality.

However, I am not concerned with what the middle class says is right or wrong. Here, as Nietzsche did, we focus our efforts higher than that, and go beyond that; we look instead at survival and the species. There is no one as nihilistic as millennials, and this is a problem that we must address.

Millennials despise people being rewarded for their effort.

Such a sweeping statement! And, obviously, it will not be true of all millennials–I am a millennial. However, it is true of the majority of them.

They embrace an economic system that deliberately does not reward people for their effort. It doesn’t matter how we dress it up. If a person believes that a doctor, an attorney, an engineer, a physicist, a Wal-Mart cashier, and a burger flipper deserve equal wages, then they ipso facto reject the notion that people should be rewarded for their effort.

As I wrote for Cubed3 regarding Star Fox Zero, this extends to most areas of life: millennials simply want to be given stuff, and they legitimately don’t understand why effort should be rewarded. We’re told that we’re entitled if we want the physicist to be rewarded for their years of training and education with a higher wage. We’re told that we’re entitled if we want the doctor to be rewarded for their years of training and education with a higher wage. And, yes, we’re told we’re entitled if we want the effort we put into beating a video game rewarded.

This mentality–that rewarding effort is bad–is the same one that gave us participation trophies, and it becomes nihilistic when we know that the primary reason that people do stuff… is for a reward. Psychology has made this abundantly clear. You don’t punish bad behavior; you reward good behavior. We all want to be rewarded; this is fundamental to being a human being, or a cat or a dog. We are dealing with primal forces that we cannot control here, and we cannot predict the longterm consequences of making sure that Billy, who sat in the grass eating bugs, gets exactly the same trophy as Michael, who hit fourteen homeruns. How hard will Michael work the next year, if he knows his effort won’t be rewarded or even acknowledged?

Donald Trump has been assaulted recently for making more lewd remarks about women, and for remarking on the fact that, when you’re a rich star, women tend to let you do whatever you want. Yes, they clearly do tend to:

This is the world we live in.Notice the words “tend to” here, and remember that we’re not speaking in absolutes. We’re never speaking in absolutes.

If Trump grabbed women who didn’t want to be grabbed, that’s an issue, and we can discuss that, but we can’t pretend like Trump is a monster because he uses his riches and fame to sleep with beautiful women. We hate Trump because he reminded us of what animals we are. He breaks that self-delusion that we are better than that, that we are greater than that, that we are more than animals.

But no. We’re not.

Donald Trump is a wolf who has filled his cave with dead prey, and is standing in front of the cave whistling at lady wolves, “Hey, baby! Look at all the prey that I got! Yeah, I did that. Don’t you want to let me fuck you?”

The greatest amusement to me are the guys who say, “No! I would never use my power and wealth to attempt to sleep with women.”

Yeah, well. Okay.

And that’s why you don’t have power and wealth.

Do you know why every human being does like 99% of the things they do? I’ll give you a hint.

SEX.

It’s not just men; it’s women, too. It’s humans, period. We are sexual creatures. The desire to reproduce is ubiquitous through us–even though we all deal with it in different ways–and it made us all very, very horny. It’s our Middle Class Morality that keeps us from fucking as the cats and dogs do, but it’s a constant battle against ourselves. Regardless of the question, “To get laid” is almost always the answer. Not always, but most of the time. It is an underlying motive for practically everything that humans do.

So why do some men seek riches and fame? To sleep with beautiful women.

This isn’t wrong. It can’t be wrong, because there are plenty of beautiful women who want to sleep with men who are rich and famous. I would guess that the lottery winner there lost his virginity to that woman and that no one slept with him when he wasn’t rich and famous. Suddenly he was, and suddenly found the love of his life.

Imagine that.

There’s a difference, obviously–there’s a large, unidentifiable difference between a woman who would be willing to sleep with a dude because he is rich, and a woman who would be disgusted by the idea. Donald Trump knows damned well that his female campaign manager would never sleep with him, regardless of how much money he has. I’m not defending Trump. I’m pointing out that there are things we have to accept and things we have to discuss, because trying to undo it is nihilistic.

If you take away the financial rewards of effort, then you take away the motivation of people to become rich so that they can have sex with supermodels. Can you imagine the wondrous innovations and technologies we have today because someone wanted to get laid?

Millennials hate the rich because the rich represent that: reward for effort. The rich are evil because they want their effort rewarded, and it’s selfish and entitled to want effort rewarded–but like totes 4 real not selfish and entitled to want to be rewarded without effort.

Millennials hate themselves, and because of this they are inclined to subconsciously adopt ideologies that are nihilistic and that would destroy us.

Millennials hate individual responsibility for the same reason. It’s all tied together. They hate themselves; they hate their own humanity. So they attempt to destroy it by denying that individual responsibility is a good thing, by denying that autonomy is a good thing, by denying that a person wants their effort rewarded, by denying that a person is motivated to put in effort by the rewards it offers. Yet all of these things are reasons our species survives to this day, and reasons that western society has thrived.

Hating these things is a luxury provided to them by the very things they hate.

Yes, Sexism Exists

Remind me to never, ever argue with theists about whether morality is subjective again. My contention is pretty simple:

Morality is subjective because humans are subjects who assign values to things.

It’s a tautology, and it is self-evident. It is as self-evident as a statement can get. It needs no argument, no substantiation, and no more evidence than direct experience. We are humans, and we assign values to things. As we are subjective beings and our experiences and existences are subjective, it follows that the values we assign are subjective.

Then theists come along and say, “No! The values we assign are objective!”

Why are we even discussing this? The burden of proof is so obviously and completely on the people arguing for objective morality that no more of my time should be wasted trying to explain a tautology. If you want to argue that the values you assign are objective, then you have to demonstrate the source of those objective values. Until you can do that, the entire conversation is moot.

So I spent a little while arguing on Facebook–banging my head against the wall would be more accurate–and in the course of the conversation I said two things that really pissed people off:

That is utter nonsense.

You can’t possibly be that thick.

These were taken as personal attacks. I’ll grant that the second one comes pretty close to being a personal attack, but the first one is obviously not. “That is utter nonsense” clearly refers to a statement, and not a person. Ergo, the statement has been attacked. What statement did I attack?

I’m not going back to the thread right now because they’ve kept going and I’ve washed my hands of it, but basically I pointed out that the very fact that we have disagreements about what is moral and what is immoral is strong evidence that morality is subjective. He replied something to the effect of, “So if one person thinks that something is more morally wrong than someone else does, obviously he’s measuring that with some objective criteria.”

No, it doesn’t make sense. Yes, it’s obviously utter nonsense. It’s such utter nonsense that it’s honestly not even wrong, and I wouldn’t begin to know how to explain what is wrong with it. So that two people use internal criteria to assign different subjective values to things is somehow a demonstrate of some external, objective criteria? What? When the guy threw this statement back at me as a “personal insult,” I gladly stood by it. What he said was nonsense. “The sky is blue because the sky is blue, so clearly the sky is red.”

And no. No one can possibly be thick enough to believe such a ridiculous statement. These two insults were tied to the same comment, I should point out; I said them both in reply to this utter nonsense. I stand by that, as well. No one can be thick enough to really believe something so horrifically nonsensical.

But it’s not my goal here to reiterate the argument. They are responding too quickly and Facebook’s medium too limited for it to take place effectively. Moreover, they are repeating themselves and denying that the burden of proof is on them, even though my contention, from the start, has been that morality is subjective because we are subjective individuals and we assign values to things.

Tell me: how shall I convince you that a circle is round?

For more than a decade, I have been arguing with people on the Internet and discussing things with people. I have engaged in undoubtedly thousands of online arguments, started probably a fourth of those. And in my career of arguing with people online, I have never been called “emotional” or “overly emotional.”

Until last year, when I officially switched from being a male to being Aria.

In the past year, I have been called “overly emotional” at least ten times in various online arguments. I am not exaggerating when I say that this never happened when I presented myself as a guy. It never happened, and no one who knows me could agree that I’m prone to becoming emotional in discussions. If I was, I wouldn’t have evolved from pro-life Republican and die-hard Christian to dyed-in-the-wool socialist liberal to pro-choice anarcho-capitalist. My loyalty is to reason, not to emotion, and I’ve written a goddamned book on Nihilism, which is an utter rejection of emotional thinking. It’s not finished, though it’s about 200 pages in.

It wasn’t even that long ago that Thomas Knapp corrected my position on libertarians and abortion, by making me see that I was wrong, and that pro-life people weren’t automatically un-libertarian. Yes, I’m so emotional I reversed my old position because it couldn’t be rationally supported. Totally ruled by my emotions. It totally explains why I’m still saying that Austin Petersen isn’t a libertarian because he’s pro-life.

Except… Oh, wait. I did change my position. I did ease up on Austin Petersen. I still don’t think he’s a libertarian, but it’s because he rejects the NAP, not because of his abortion stance. Recently I wrote specifically about abortion and that libertarianism isn’t automatically pro-life or pro-abortion. This is where a bit of a fracture comes in, as you can see in the comments there. I’m also not a big fan of abortion. I’m really not. I don’t think it’s right, because there are so many ways to prevent pregnancy in the first place. I’m 29, and I’ve only once gotten a girl pregnant. She aborted, but that was beyond my control, and it was only last year that it happened.

I’m certainly not pro-abortion, though. I’m pro-choice. Part of the problem is that most people do take “pro-choice” to mean “pro-abortion,” and it doesn’t really mean that. It means pro-choice. It means being in favor of people having the choice to get an abortion if they so choose, not being happy about them getting an abortion. A pro-choice person can still choose to reject abortion and condemn it, after all.

Recently, a girl on Twitter challenged me to demonstrate sexism in the United States. No, I honestly can’t do that. I could, if I cared to spend the time doing it. I could run two simultaneous online presences for the next year, carefully tabulating the results that I get. It would take too much effort, though, and it’s not worth it to me. I know what I’ve experienced.

And what I’ve experienced is that no one ever accused me of being overly emotional until they knew I was a female. Yes, the anarcho-capitalist who recently made a video called “What is Capitalism?” that said “being poor is a state of mind” is “overly emotional.” For pointing out that an argument is absurd and undermines its own point, and for saying that the person who made the argument couldn’t possibly be “thick” enough to believe it–which some could take as a compliment, honestly–I’m “overly emotional.”

And no one ever said that to me when I wasn’t wearing lipstick, you know?

As a cool little bonus, because this came out shorter and filled with more digression than I wanted, here is a chapter from Shattering the American Illusion that I’ve been writing.

Chapter 6: Morality

Warning: We are about to ask a LOT of “What if…?” questions.

Many arguments are presented by theists in an attempt to give their god something to do, and one of the most common among these is something along the lines of, “Oh, yeah? If there’s no God, then how do you explain morality? Western Law is built on the Ten Commandments!” Before we proceed much further, let’s stop and bask in the unabashed glory of this argument—and the one that says “America was built on Christianity!”

A precursory glance at the latter claim will reveal why Science and Christianity have stood at odds for so long: a little bit of reading is a very dangerous thing, especially to the theistic reasoning. Written in 1796, under the leadership of George Washington and John Adams (two of the people directly responsible for the creation of “America”), the Treaty of Tripoli is as follows:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of [Muslims][1]; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan[2] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries (Dawkins “God” 40).

Let no more be said (ever, preferably) of the idea that the United States was founded on the religion of Christianity. At best, what can be said is that our ancestors fled to these shores to escape religious persecution and then embraced the notion of religious freedom, which requires a secular state by any measure. Not only did our forebears reject the notion of any state-sanctioned religion, they would be scandalized to see the state of American politics today, when a man or woman’s religious beliefs is listed as the second or third most important attribute of them (generally followed only by their name and political association—Democrat or Republican) (Dawkins “God” 40). This is a deplorable state. Using a person’s religious beliefs as a motivation for voting for or against them sets us on the path toward abolishing the separation of church and state.

Moving on to our main discussion, there is the question of morality and why humans have a notion of it if there is no god. Many ideas have been put forth to explain morality, but before we get into that, we must ask: “What is morality? What is moral behavior? What is immoral behavior?” These questions, whether you “feel” the answers intuitively in the form of examples you can easily imagine, are not really so simple to answer as “doing good” and “doing bad.” In fact, it’s very difficult to explain moral and immoral behavior without using words like “good” and “bad.”

In the simplest terms, moral behavior can probably be defined as “doing to others as one would have done to themselves,” and immoral behavior can be defined as “doing to others as one would not like to have done to themselves.” You’ll notice the teaching of Christ buried in this philosophy; that is not accidental or coincidental. I doubt you’ll ever find an atheist who claims that Christ had nothing useful to say (though what he said was certainly not original). At any rate, these definitions don’t really help us very much, because what one person would like might be different from what another person may like. One person may dislike what another person would like. One person may like what another person may be indifferent to. One person may be indifferent to what another person likes.

We have no “universal person” who we can use to make these assertions that any given act “would be liked” or “would be disliked.” So we haven’t really come any further with these definitions than if we simply had attributed them as “good” and “bad” behaviors. Henry Hazlitt, in The Foundations of Morality, likens moral behavior to attempts to “make an is from an ought,” and this is difficult to get into without explaining the context around which he says this (5). We’ll still show, after explaining what he means, that he’s wholly incorrect because “is” and “ought” are just as subjective as anything else we’ve tried so far.

“The world ought to have peace” would be an exemplar statement, but the problem here is obvious: the conditions we’ve created with the word “ought” are an illusory world that is most certainly not the one in which we live. In order to make such an “ought” statement, we must be capable of comparing the “world as it is” to a hypothetical “perfect” world wherein “what ought, is.” Making such a comparison, of course, requires being able to compare any two states of existence (regardless of the disparity between them), and this therefore goes quite a long way in explaining why dogs and cats don’t have such a system: they lack the cognitive processes to imagine this “world of oughts.”

“Women ought to have equal wages” would be another example, and it has the same problem; in the world currently, there is not peace and women, even in the United States (bastion of “freedom” though it is) women do not earn wages equal to men. In fact, one of the presidential debates of 2012 established that women earn 76% of what their male counterparts make.

Moral behavior, then, is a vehicle with which we travel from “what is” to “what ought be.” The actions we take toward establishing peace in the world (as ought be) would be considered moral actions, just as the actions we take toward giving women what they actually deserve would be considered moral behavior (as this is what ought be). Moral behavior is any action that decisively transitions “what is” toward “what ought be.” But this is a minefield of problems, because it automatically presumes that “the greater good” is better than “a local good,” and we can’t justify that.

For example, what if the only possible way, after every other avenue has been explored, to achieve world peace is to nuke the Middle East and turn the entire region into a deadened tundra of snow and ash? Do the many (the rest of the world) outweigh the needs of the few (the Middle East inhabitants)? Would we be justified in killing hundreds of millions of people if we were to spare some countless number of theoretical future victims from dying in needless wars?

I can’t answer this question for you; it is one you must ask and answer for yourself. But I presume that you, like me, would say, “Absolutely not.” I say this because the people in the Middle East are real—we can see them, touch them, love them. They feel as I feel, they think as I think, and they know as I know. The theoretical future people that may be spared from needless wars are not quite so real, even if they are potentially of infinite number. I cannot condone the sacrifice of real people to protect the lives of imagined people—and I sincerely hope that you cannot, either. My sense of empathy forbids it.

What about a simpler, less illusory example? What if you could go back in time to 1940 and kill Hitler? What if you knew that killing Hitler would (somehow) immediately end World War 2 and would cause all the imprisoned Jews to be released from the concentration camps? What if you knew (thanks to your coming from the future) that Hitler would go on to be responsible for all those deaths[3] if he lived and you knew that a great many of those deaths would be prevented by the death of Hitler? You can kill him, press a button on your wristwatch, and return the present, with no negative repercussions on the world as a result of your tampering with the past. What if the only outcome of going back in time to kill Hitler was that there would have been deaths prevented and those people went on to live normal, productive lives? Would you kill him?

I tend to think the average reader would. If my intuitions are in touch with the average reader’s, then I am correct, because I know that I would kill Hitler in the above circumstances. That’s right: I would take the life of another human being. And I wouldn’t even feel slightly bad about it, and I doubt that you would, either. Why is this? Why is it that we can murder a human being and not feel, at the very least, immoral, much less can feel that it was the most moral thing we could have done? Why is it that you could approach a random person in the street and murder them, and this act would then be judged immoral, but you can murder Hitler and (I imagine most people would agree) the act would be judged moral?

In either case, you’re performing exactly the same act: killing another person. You might hold up a gun, take aim, and pull the trigger, ending the life of the victim—in both examples. But in one, you are moral (or, at the very least, morally neutral) and in one you are immoral.

This fundamental truth (that statements of moral value are subjective, rather than objective) is universally true, even for such contemptable acts as murder and rape. Though we would be hard-pressed to imagine up any scenario in which rape would be considered acceptable, we can do so, no matter how far-fetched that scenario might be. It follows, then, that rape cannot objectively be immoral, as it depends upon other factors and circumstances. Even though such circumstances would be so rare that they are unrealistic, any proclamations that we make that rape is immoral are still dependent upon circumstances that are almost always true.

The problem with moral claims is that they cannot be demonstrated, for the most part, as moral or immoral, because we lack omniscience and can never identify all of the effects of a given cause.

[1] The exact wording is “Musselmen,” which is antiquated term that means “Muslims.”

[2] “Mohammadan,” perhaps?

[3] We are so not going there.