Friday, August 21, 2009

war is peace, ignorance is strength, sickness is health

Some light reading heading into the weekend. Leszek Kolakowski discussing The Ego and His Own (1844) by Max Stirner (born Johann Kaspar Schmidt) [1806-1856]:
As recent studies by Helms have shown, Stirner's doctrine inspired not only anarchists but various German groups who were the immediate precursors of fascism. At first sight, Nazi totalitarianism may seem the opposite of Stirner's radical individualism. But fascism was above all an attempt to dissolve the social ties created by history and replace them by artifical bonds among individuals who were expected to render implicit obedience to the state on grounds of absolute egoism. Fascist education combined the tenets of asocial egoism and unquestioning conformism, the latter being the means by which the individual secured his own niche in the system. Stirner's philosophy has nothing to say against conformism, it only objects to the Ego being subordinated to any higher principle: the egoist is free to adjust to the world if it appears that he will better himself by doing so. His 'rebellion' may take the form of utter servility if it will further his interest; what he must not do is to be bound by 'general' values or myths of humanity.[Emphases Added]
The following acts are therefore perfectly logical...

  1. Decrying government as the source of evil and incompetence, while at the same time amassing great wealth by providing services to the government (Blackwater/Xe, CCA, Edison Learning);

  2. Waging an unwinnable (ie, endless) war by arguing that the consequence of not doing so would be endless war; and

  3. Decrying existing international conventions as outdated (Geneva Conventions = "quaint").
...but the logic only works if one simultaneously reads them within a fascist/Stirner context. So: health care reform town halls = little smoldering Reichstags?

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