Sunday, October 19, 2008

Junkie logic and codependency

driftglass nails the "junkie logic" of the right wing.
Dubya was meth with a ketamine chaser delivered hammer-and-anvil directly to the lizard brain.

Dubya was 40 million Pig People tired of the hard, fussy job of being a tolerant, powerful democracy finally once-and-for-all blowing America’s family inheritance on an eight-year, blood-drunk bender.

Dubya was the United States crawling through dumpsters at our national soul’s midnight, killing anything that moves, licking out the contents of random baggies, hoping the little white flakes clinging to the plastic is crank and not rat poison, and waking up the next day -- that horrible, horrible sun-also-rises morning after -- broke and twitchy, arguing over what more they can sell off to keep the party going and who they can blame for their gone-to-shit lives.


But I disagree with him about the some of the details, and the details are important.

Does it all start with Reagan?
And in the Conservative Crack House of Many Doors, Ronald Reagan was that first cocktail. The first line of coke. The first needle. The first "Holy Mother of God!” WOWGASM that shotguns right through the blood/brain barrier, reformats your entire ethical hard drive, and scrimshaws a brand new Prime Directive on the inside of your skull.
But I disagree. It's not Ronald Reagan but Ayn "I not only can but should have everything I want and to hell with anyone else" Rand who deserves the credit; Ronnie was just the first guy to market the drug to the masses.

I think his extension of the metaphor to the Clinton administration is more apt than even he intends.
[Clinton] arguably delivered to the wingnuts more of everything they ever said they wanted than anyone else. ...

[The right hated him because] Clinton was mere addiction maintenance delivered in measured doses under adult supervision: all policy-wonk that wasn’t cut with that industrial-waste-grade bigoted, psychotic bloodlust that gives Conservatism its wild, freebasing edge. Clinton was methadone, and for the hardcore lifestyle junkie, that shit is for babies.
It's important to understand that maintenance isn't treatment. Driftglass calls November 4 "so much more than an election. November 4th is an Intervention." I think he's wrong. I think Obama will be very much like Clinton: he'll offer the right a celebrity's stint in rehab to take the edge of the worst downside of the addition, but he'll do nothing to address the fundamental problem.

Because the problem is not with right itself, and the right has in no way yet "hit bottom". The Democratic party and the American moderate liberals are just acting as codependents. "Tsk, tsk, look at the mess you've made of yourself. We'll clean you up, and get you presentable."

There's a great scene in Trainspotting, "The downside of coming off junk was I knew I would need to mix with my friends again in a state of full consciousness. It was awful. They reminded me so much of myself, I could hardly bear to look at them." I'm also reminded of a scene from the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers where they decide to stop doing drugs: the scene slowly transforms over a number of panels from the usual cartoon idealization to a photorealistic depiction of disgusting squalor; the brothers (wisely?) get stoned again and return to their cartoon utopia.

The point is: just cleaning up the worst downside of addiction is a feature of codependency; the codependent is doing neither himself nor the addict any favors. It's true: addiction really "reformats your entire ethical hard drive, and scrimshaws a brand new Prime Directive on the inside of your skull." Just mitigating the effects of the new Prime Directive isn't enough; the addict has to "find Jesus" (or Bill) and create yet another "Prime Directive".

Which is fundamentally why I do not see this election as fundamentally transformative. Sure, McCain will continue the bender, but Obama will just codependently clean up the immediate mess; after four or eight years of tedious sobriety the leaders of the American people will be ready for yet another bender.

The drug is, of course, capitalism, unlimited personal economic power unaccountable to the rest of society. It's not even the exercise of this power that's the drug, its the acquisition. The first hit comes with your first million, when you realize that you can now do anything you want and say, "fuck you" to most anyone who might object, without argument, without justification. And you want more: You want that second million to say "fuck you" to those who have just one million. Even when you have the most money of anyone, you still want more, because that's your prime directive: Get more. And besides, you'll never have more than everyone else put together, and the more you have, the bigger the target you are; what you have taken away from others can be taken away from you.

It is not enough to merely dole out this drug in measured doses. Clinton- and Obama-style "methadone capitalism" won't solve the problem. We have to create a new Prime Directive, one that doesn't lead inevitably to death and destruction.

We have to "find Karl".

19 comments:

  1. I knew you were a fucking commie!!

    Seriously, I think you are correct about an Obama presidency being highly likely to just clean us up and get us presentable enough to go on another bender. Whether the only solution is complete abstinence from capitalism is something I am not so sure about. What do you think of the notion of removing legal personhood from corporations and forcing them to function not solely in the interests of their shareholders, but also in the public interest?

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  2. I knew you were a fucking commie!!

    Yes, Comrade.

    What do you think of the notion of removing legal personhood from corporations and forcing them to function not solely in the interests of their shareholders, but also in the public interest?

    That would be a good start.

    Busy today; more later.

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  3. BB..........Just curious, whats your addiction?

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  4. Bum,

    I was totally with you up until your last word: "Karl." I agree with you and Comrade Physioprof that Obama will just clean us up enough to not be kicked out of the bar next time, but finding Karl isn't treatment, either. Karl as Jeebus, that is.

    and tit-for-tat: mine's reality.
    Perhaps it's the metaphor I've got the problem with: higher powers don't exist. Reliance on higher powers to "heal" your addiction is reliance on fantasy. Accepting (no... "demanding" is probably better) individual responsibility for your actions is hard, soul-shattering work if you've been living in denial and pickling yourself in avoidance for all your life. But it's absolutely necessary. Each and every one of us is personally responsible for this fucked-up culture and its consequences. The codependent’s assumption of responsibility keeps us from ever having to really face these consequences. Karl as higher power is just more avoidance of responsibility. The serenity prayer is some bullshit: asking an imaginary figure to give you serenity, strength, and wisdom is ridiculous if your stated goal is personal responsibility. You gotta own that shit. Name it, claim it and then deal with it.

    We as a culture have got a LOT of consequence to face up to. Begging Karl to save us isn't healing, it's procrastination.

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  5. and tit-for-tat: mine's reality.
    Perhaps it's the metaphor I've got the problem with: higher powers don't exist.(arjuna)

    Who said anything about a higher power. I dont quite recall using that language. As far as the serenity prayer, Hey, if it works for some people who are you to say its bullshit. You almost sound like a "Fundy", its just your version is a little different.

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  6. tit for tat:
    my apologies -- due to poor editing and a rush to not get caught commenting on a blog while at work i placed the "mine's reality" in the middle of the comment instead of at the end, where it might have been more accurately seen as an aside. it was not meant to imply that you were talking about a higher power: that was from the original post.

    anyhow, perhaps a fundamentalist take on reality is appropriate. and who am i to say the serenity prayer is bullshit? well, i'm an observer. if the only goal is to stop taking drugs, and begging an imaginary, invisible sky wizard (or whatever one's higher power might be imagined as) helps one choose not to do drugs, awesome. but if the goal is to take life as it comes, which i believe is one of the tenets of the whole 12 step deal, then why involve imaginary friends?

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  7. but if the goal is to take life as it comes, which i believe is one of the tenets of the whole 12 step deal, then why involve imaginary friends?


    I would say, "If the imaginary friend helps them take their life a little better then so be it."

    Obviously whatever they were doing before sure wasnt working

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  8. The metaphor is perhaps strained. One way to look at "finding Jesus" or Bill (Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous) is to use the higher power as a metaphor (or, if you prefer, a psychological crutch) to change one's ethical personality at a fundamental level.

    And that's what we have to do at a societal level. It's not just about taking "personal responsibility", we have to change what personal responsibility means at a fundamental level.

    Since I'm a communist, I advocate the fundamental change specifically as a move to communism through socialism, and represent that in the metaphorical structure of the post as "finding Karl."

    I definitely do not mean that we have to treat communism as a divine power or Marx et al. as prophets. Communism is, however, a "higher" power in the sense that it requires us to consciously and deliberately think about and act towards the mutual benefit of everyone in society rather than just our immediate individual benefit. This change in thinking really does represent a fundamental change in our ethical personality, both individually and socially.

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  9. ok bum. i think i see what you're saying: marxism as a means to fundamental psychological reorganization resulting in conscious and deliberate thought and action toward universal mutual benefit.

    is this the only way out? 'cause that just doesn't seem very likely (not that the assumption of "personal responsibility" i suggest is any more likely...). for one thing, marxism (and socialism and communism) is a wiggly thing -- many people have tried defining it to suit their needs and desires. i just don't see one version being universally accepted as the *right* version and put into action by everyone. and that's what we need, right? change through universal consensus.

    i feel like i'm nit-picking. sorry. i believe, though, that to be effective in making changes, our methods and arguments and logic need to be impeccable. these are the proving grounds.

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  10. is this the only way out?

    I don't know. I don't even know that communism is a way out, much less the only way out. I don't even know that there is any way out; we may already be on an inexorable downward spiral to oblivion.

    i just don't see one version being universally accepted as the *right* version and put into action by everyone.

    Historical forces have traditionally... er... imposed... change on society. Capitalism, or important components of it, has been just as much imposed upon us as have been forms and details of earlier political-economic systems.

    to be effective in making changes, our methods and arguments and logic need to be impeccable. these are the proving grounds.

    I'm doing my best!

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  11. "I don't know. I don't even know that communism is a way out"

    Im curious BB.........Has there ever even been a communist culture as you imagine one could be?

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  12. T4T: China under Mao shows some promise.

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  13. Wasnt Mao the one who got rid of most of the Opium addicts(plus many of his political rivals), in not so nice of a way?

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  14. Wasnt Mao the one who got rid of most of the Opium addicts (plus many of his political rivals), in not so nice of a way?

    "Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who."

    First, I'm always skeptical about the facts.

    But at a higher level, these sorts of issues don't seem very interesting. Our society imprisons millions of people for drug offenses, kills millions of people in Iraq, overthrows governments right and left, etc. ad nauseam.

    I don't expect the Chinese communists to be saints, and I don't expect Maoist china to be a magical happyland. The business of government is rough, conditions in China were very different from how they are now, the history and traditions of Chinese society are very different from our own.

    Most importantly, absolutely no one says that we must do *precisely* as Mao did, in the smallest detail. If Mao made a mistake, it's a mistake, and we're under no obligation to repeat it.

    Communists aren't Christians, communist writing isn't holy scripture, and communist philosophers and statesmen aren't priests and prophets.

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  15. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who."
    First, I'm always skeptical about the facts.

    This does not surprise me. Im more surprised that if youre so impressed by communism that you would actually continue to live in a capitalist culture. No wonder you have a bitter taste in your writings. You deny your deepest beliefs. My condolenses.

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  16. First, it's not like I have a choice: Presently the whole world is run by capitalist/imperialist cultures and governments.

    Second, the United States is my home and I do have some say in how this country is organized... and this blog is where I say it. I should not be expected to leave because I think it's organized a) poorly and b) immorally.

    Third, I'm bitter and unhappy not simply because I am not living according to my own preferences, but because I see tremendous human suffering. Moreover, I believe this suffering is caused in no small part not just by ordinary human bastardry and assholishness but by a system that by design and by its inherent nature violently exploits and oppresses billions of human beings.

    Last, I'll thank you not to psychoanalyze me. You can have no actual knowledge of any deep beliefs that I might deny. And you can take your patronizing condolences and shove them up your ass.

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  17. Lol. How can I not psychoanalyze you. All I have to base my opinion of you on, is your words. If I could see your facial tics, hear the tone of your voice and read your body language, then maybe I could make a better assessment of you. If I am wrong, correct me. Maybe the wife and I will have to take a trip to the states(the one you reside in) and take you out for a pint(or beverage of you choice)

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  18. Basically, you are going to hell. In hell, the soul is completely separated from all self. It is empty and void. Complete darkness and emptiness is the soul of a human being. This is your soul. You are already in hell. You recognize no boundaries. All is self. You demand control of others - because you recognize no boundaries and cannot stay within any boundaries. You cannot respect your neighbor. You cannot respect the right of your neighbor to define and to determine their own personhood.

    You are in hell. Your soul is hell. It is hungry at the grave and demands control of all others - because it is consumed by emptiness. Of course you think their is no God. Your soul is already in hell.

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  19. Grace, I find empty threats and superstitious bullshit ridiculous and entirely unpersuasive.

    If you have nothing substantive to offer, go comment somewhere else. I hear the Christians are big on lobotomized authoritarian submissives.

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