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“Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.'”

One of the most striking discoveries of evolutionary anthropology has been that it is perfectly possible to have kings and nobles and all the exterior trappings of monarchy without having a state in the mechanical sense at all. One should think this might be of some interest to all those political philosophers who spill so much ink arguing about theories of “sovereignty”—since it suggests that most sovereigns were not heads of state and that their favorite technical term actually is built on a near-impossible ideal, in which royal power actually does manage to translate its cosmological pretensions into genuine bureaucratic control of a given territorial population. (Something like this started happening in Western Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but almost as soon as it did, the sovereign’s personal power was replaced by a fictive person called “the people,” allowing the bureaucracy to take over almost entirely.) – David Graeber

Leviathan is an almost wholly modern invention. The ahistorical manner in which we interpret the nature and character of premodern governance says a great deal about us, and very little about the past.



A collaboration between Salvador Dali and Walt Disney:

via Brainpickings

Things that are connected

1. Europe is finally shooting democracy to save union. It won’t be enough.

2. Meanwhile in the Empire, this sort of cynicism is salutary. But will it be enough?

3.  “Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.” – Daniel Kahneman

4. Basic security features that should have been an intrinsic part of the design of every smartphone may finally be arriving. Another fantastic example of how the state’s desire for interception capabilities and the state’s desire for OpSec are fundamentally in conflict. The security state is its own worst enemy.

5. Can you imagine a public school doing this, or taking the recommendations of such a study into account? I’ll still be here when you’re done laughing.

To use an example that Eagleton mentions, Aristotle argues that it is contrary to human nature to seek profit for its own sake. According to Aristotle, the virtuous person uses money only to the extent that it is necessary to provide the leisure he needs to pursue higher things. Although he acknowledges the principle in Aristotle, however, Eagleton denies that virtue plays any role in Marxism. Rather than calling upon moral ideals, he contends, Marx hoped to reorganize society on the basis of shared interest in establishing less burdensome economic and social arrangements.

The point is crucial because it allow Eagleton to deny that Marxism makes unrealistic demands on human behavior. In doing so, he aims to counter the “third way” objection that Marxism is utopian. By appealing to interest over virtue or justice, however, Eagleton embraces a model of rational calculation developed to justify 19th century capitalism. The result is only superficially Aristotelian, and a very weak alternative to postmodernism.

– Samuel Goldman, this month’s AmCon


Peter Hitchens gets it:

I like frontiers much as other people like restaurants, whisky, or dancing. The very word sings to me of those thrilling things — barbed wire, floodlights, grimy booths paneled in fake veneer, stone-faced officials, women in pert uniforms, the feeling of danger without the reality of it, the waiting train to some enjoyably grim city, hissing on the far side of the inviting barrier.

More reasons for looking forward to a peripheral EU breakup. I’ll never forgive the bastards for dismantling the Bajansenye checkpoint. That corrugated metal shack, rickety but menacing, stuffed to the gills with bored young thugs who smelled of piss and liquor — it was a god damned work of art.

There’s something magical about the places where the imaginary lines drawn by politicians and generals snap into existence, as if with a faint crackle and a whiff of ozone. Where the territory becomes the map and the maps become deadly. Everything takes on an unnatural clarity, a product not just of the harsh fluorescent lighting, but written onto the scene by minds well trained to snap to attention.

They are the opposite of all that is organic, human, blurry, heuristic, and traditional. The apotheosis of all that is legible, precise, unyielding, and false. Evil in a certain way, but oh so lovely. And they were honest. Now, when borders die, they are smashed in the name of totalizing uniformity — hardly an improvement. The border, at least, made no pretension to universality or or to tolerance.

One left one’s sins behind when crossing one too, at least in an earthly sense and provided they were not too great. The same border that walled lover off from beloved and kept striver away from opportunity was also an obstacle to pursuers, a checkpoint that removed the possibility of gaol once reached. This was, if we are to be fully honest with ourselves, a large part of the exquisite feeling of lightness we felt once the border was crossed and a new land lay open to us; not just the thrill of beckoning adventure, but also the relief that the thousand small sins (and the one or two medium ones) would haunt us no more, at least in this life.

Ah cheer up love, the globalizers may huff and then puff, but we will always have Serbia, Israel, Pakistan, both Koreas, and plucky little Burma.

Things that are connected

1. If machine intelligence can make the epistructure’s swarms of ‘analysts’ and related parasites redundant, then it will not be all bad.

2. Resist the temptation to snark. She’s been lied to all her life. There but for the grace of God go you and I.

3. On a happier note, construction of modular open-source power cubes

4. The neuro-bullshit artist is the Tarot player of our age, and I don’t mean that comparison kindly. One can learn far more from Tarot.

With all the fanatical and preposterous theories about the rights of man (the theories, not the rights themselves, I speak of), there is nothing but power to restrain power. … I do not stop here, sir, to argue about the constitutionality of this bill; I consider the constitution a dead letter; I consider it to consist, at this time, of the power of the states; that is the constitution. You may entrench yourself in parchment to the teeth, says Lord Chatham, the sword will find its way to the vitals of the constitution. I have no faith in parchment, sir, I have no faith in the abracadabra of the constitution; I have no faith in it. … If, under a power to regulate trade, you draw the last drop of blood from our veins; if secundem artem, you draw the last shilling from our pockets, what are the checks of the constitution to us? A fig for the constitution! When the scorpion’s sting is probing us to the quick, shall we pause to chop logic? Shall we get some learned and cunning clerk to say whether the power to do this is to be found in the constitution, and then, if he, from whatever motive, shall maintain the affirmative, like the animal whose fleece forms so material a part of this bill, quietly lie down and be sheared?

– John Randolph, Speech against the Tariff, April 15th, 1824.

The constitution is mind control. Ignore the constitution.