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'In order to defend this senseless manufacture from all competition'

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I learned yesterday
one of the most sensational of those official practices of American
public schools
which no doubt account for the fact that this country believes itself
to be in the vanguard of progress,
It seems that, among the examinations or tests required of a child
entering public school for the first time, there is the so-called
seminal fluid or sperm test,
which consists of asking this newly entering child for a small
amount of his sperm so it can be placed in a jar
and kept ready for any attempts at artificial insemination that
might later take place.
For Americans are finding more and more that they lack muscle
and children,
that is, not workers
but soldiers,
and they want at all costs and by every possible means to make
and manufacture soldiers
with a view to all the planetary wars which might later take place,
and which would be intended to demonstrate by the overwhelming
virtues of force
the superiority of American products,
and the fruits of American sweat in all fields of activity and of the
superiority of the possible dynamism of force.
Because one must produce,
one must by all possible means of activity replace nature
wherever it can be replaced,
one must find a major field of action for human inertia,
the worker must have something to keep him busy,
new fields of activity must be created,
in which we shall see at last the reign of all the fake manufactured
of all the vile synthetic substitutes
in which beautiful real nature has no part,
and must give way finally and shamefully before all the victorious
substitute products
in which the sperm of all artificial insemination factories
will make a miracle
in order to produce armies and battleships.
No more fruit, no more trees, no more vegetables, no more plants
pharmaceutical or otherwise and consequently no more food,
but synthetic products to satiety,
amid the fumes,
amid the special humors of the atmosphere, on the particular axes
of atmospheres wrenched violently and synthetically from the
resistances of a nature which has known nothing of war except
And war is wonderful, isn't it?
For it's war, isn't it, that the Americans have been preparing for
and are preparing for this way step by step.
In order to defend this senseless manufacture from all competition
that could not fail to arise on all sides,
one must have soldiers, armies, airplanes, battleships,
hence this sperm
which it seems the governments of America have had the effrontery
to think of.
For we have more than one enemy
lying in wait for us, my son,
we, the born capitalists,
and among these enemies
Stalin's Russia
which also doesn't lack armed men.
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   —Antonin Artaud, excerpt from To Have Done with the Judgement of God, 1947

Quite the seer, eh?


The Music of Distant Jackboots Is Getting Louder

From CQ:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not list right-wing domestic terrorists and terrorist groups on a document that appears to be an internal list of threats to the nation’s security.
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It also lists left-wing domestic groups, such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), as terrorist threats, but it does not mention anti-government groups, white supremacists and other radical right-wing movements, which have staged numerous terrorist attacks that have killed scores of Americans. Recent attacks on cars, businesses and property in Virginia, Oregon and California have been attributed to ELF.

DHS did not respond to repeated requests for comment or confirmation of the document’s authenticity.
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Of course this makes sense — right-wingers, as the modern-day incarnation of the nation's founders, are real patriots and thus, by definition, cannot constitute a threat to the government (especially when one considers that they now control the government); enviro-fascist liberals, on the other hand, are all terrorists on a par with al Qaeda.

Harry says (in comments here):

...I'd say torching a parking lot full of SUVs is pretty much the same as shooting ob-gyn dcotors, morally speaking. While one is vandalism and [the] other is murder, they're both meant to save lives. Grafitti is actually terrorism, too, if you think about it. Some of it coerces people into thinking about things that make them feel bad.

But he's mistaken. Torching a parking lot full of SUVs is an act of terrorism (and maybe he's right — maybe graffiti is too); sniping ob-gyn doctors baby killers in their own home is the brave, selfless act of a Patriot, and cannot be construed as any sort of threat to the nation's security by right thinking people — at least so far as real Murkans are concerned, that is.

I think Murkans should be proud that their government has their priorities right!


Countdown to Crystal Night

"Remember the Alamo! Shoot 'em!" he screamed to applause. "To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child molesters dead. I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want 'em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot 'em."
   —Ted Nugent, at NRA rally in Houston Saturday, assault weapon in each hand

AP, Sun Apr 17, 6:40 PM ET


Envisioning the Segmentarity of Man as Fine Art Topography, De Stijl variant

myData = myMondrian

Where a human is reduced to data,
data is converted to values,
values are transformed into art.


[via Mijnkopthee]


The Algorithm of the Locust

So a couple of evenings ago, while on my way to an interview for an article Mr. Sawai of Kyodo News (Japan's AP-style newswire service) was writing about us Murkans flocking to Canada (in which I was joined by Operative Sugar), I read the following passage from Deleuze & Guattari:

...Totalitarianism is quintessentially conservative. Fascism, on the other hand, involves a war machine. When fascism builds itself a totalitarian State, it is not in the sense of a State army taking power, but of a war machine taking over the State. A bizarre remark by Virilio puts us on the trail: in fascism, the State is far less totalitarian than it is suicidal. There is in fascism a realized nihilism...Suicide is presented not as a punishment but as the crowning glory of the death of others. One can always say that it is just a matter of foggy talk and ideology, nothing but ideology. But that is not true. The insufficiency of economic and political definitions of fascism does not simply imply a need to tack on vague, so-called ideological determinations. We prefer to follow Faye's inquiry into the precise formulation of Nazi statements, which are just as much in evidence in politics and economics as in the most absurd of conversations. They always contain the "stupid and repugnant" cry, Long live death!, even at the economic level, where the arms expansion replaces growth in consumption and where investment veers from the means of production toward the means of destruction. Paul Virilio's analysis strikes us as entirely correct in defining fascism not by the notion of the totalitarian State but by the notion of the suicidal State: so-called total war seems less a State undertaking than an undertaking of a war machine that appropriates the State and channels into it a flow of absolute war whose only possible outcome is the suicide of the State itself.

After reading this my thoughts instantly veered to the recidivistic war and corporate criminals that comprise BushCo (Murka's embodiment of Deleuze's war machine), their all-too-easy appropriation of the State, their gleeful abandonment of various international treaties, their devotion to transferring funds from citizens to weapons manufacturers and war profiteers, and their religious longing for universal death The Rapture.

I had prepared earlier for my meeting with Mr. Sawai by reviewing a bit of the history of the rise of Hirohito and was struck, once again, by the algorithm that overreaching hegemonic societies in decline all follow: the structure is always the same, though garnished by each culture's distinctive flavor.

For instance, one of the first things a revolutionary power does is appropriate a culture's signifiers and re-connotes them. Thus, the nazis appropriated Teutonic myths and symbols and turned them into eugenic exceptionalism, Japan's militarists appropriated Shinto and turned it into a religion of the State, and now Murka's republicans have appropriated the mantras 'freedom' and 'democracy' to brand them as Murka's evangelizing manifest destiny to justify any crime. And, of course, a culture's most potent symbols reside in its religious heritage. Hence Hirohito and Hitler were both deified as their respective culture's god incarnate; hence Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBush and the republicans have a direct line to Jesus, and Murka is God's chosen land.

Those who appropriate a culture's signifiers understand the decisive power images have over a culture, for they know that whoever owns the Image, whoever owns the Word, owns the culture. ("Propaganda must be made directly by words and images, not by writing." — Joseph Goebbels.) That's why any who challenge the revolutionary power's appropriation of the symbols and their re-connotation — wherein they alone have a monopoly on their meaning — are painted as traitors.

Another of the many things they all have in common is the unstoppable, monomaniacal yearning to assume complete power no matter what the cost. This is due to the zealous, manichean certitude of their beliefs. And in their single-minded pursuit of power — wherein their political strategy is simply one of total war (of which Rove is a brilliant tactician) — they employ any means necessary to obtain it, particularly if it involves machinations in which they themselves are the architects behind a crisis that can cement their own power by blaming it on a convenient foe; doing so provides an excellent pretext to clamp down on their own citizen's freedoms by assuming the role of protector as they play on their fears like a violin.

During our interview with Mr. Sawai — a journalist for a newswire — I was surprised how often he and his assistant nodded in seeming understanding or agreement whenever Operative Sugar or myself stated obvious truths about Murka. (Of course by 'obvious truths' I mean unspoken, way-out-there heretical assertions one never hears in Murkan media.) He asked me at one point if I thought things would get better for America...what I saw in America's future. I said that once a revolutionary power assumes control they do not willingly leave, and that's why I knew they would 'win' the 2004 'election,' and that's why I left Murka to come to Canada over a year ago. I said America's future was one of great suffering, both in what it inflicts on others as well as itself...I said that once a society embarks on such a path it crosses a threshold of no return, and that there is no possibility of improvement...not, that is, until its inevitable cataclysm.

Though initially taken aback by such a statement, after a moment's pause he seemed to me to nod in understanding of this...

Goya: Burial of the Sardine

Have you ever seen the movie The Day of the Locust? It's one of those unseen major masterpieces from the 70s, and it's as close to Shakespearean greatness as any Hollywood movie ever got. It's practically a phenomenological exploration of the American soul that, like all great art, transcends its cultural particularities to attain universal significance. It's also probably the only movie that ever deeply terrified me — the riot scene at the end captures something innately ugly in the human predicament like nothing else I know. Maybe you should go out and rent or buy it...


'...this irritable patriotism of the Americans'

In a used bookstore a few hours ago I came across a complete edition of de Tocqueville's classic book Democracy in America for only a few bucks. It's a book I'd been interested in for some time, so I picked it up, opened it at random, and came across the following passage (from Vol 1, Part II, Chapter 6):

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But sometimes there comes a time in the life of nations when old customs are changed, mores destroyed, beliefs shaken, and the prestige of memories has vanished, but when nonetheless enlightenment has remained incomplete and political rights are ill-assured or restricted. Then men see their country only by a weak and doubtful light; their patriotism is not centered on the soil, which in their eyes is just inanimate earth, nor on the customs of their ancestors, which they have been taught to regard as a yoke, nor on religion, which they doubt, nor on the laws, which they do not make, nor on the lawgiver, whom they fear and scorn. So they find their country nowhere, recognizing neither its own nor any borrowed features, and they retreat into a narrow and unenlightened egoism. Such men escape from prejudices without recognizing the rule of reason; they have neither the instinctive patriotism of a monarchy nor the reflective patiotism of a republic, but have come to a halt between the two amid confusion and misery.

What can be done in such a condition? Retreat. But nations do not return to the feelings of their youth any more than men return to the innocent tastes of their infancy; they may regret them, but they cannot bring them back to life. Therefore it is essential to march forward and hasten to make the people see that individual interest is linked to that of the country, for disinterested patriotism has fled beyond recall.
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The common man in the United States has understood the influence of the general prosperity on his own happiness, an idea so simple but nevertheless so little understood by the people. Moreover, he is accustomed to regard that prosperity as his own work. So he sees the public fortune as his own, and he works for the good of the state, not only from duty or from pride, but, I dare almost say, from greed.

There is no need to study the institutions or the history of the Americans to recognize the truth of what has just been said, for their mores are sufficient evidence of it. The American, taking part in everything that is done in his country, feels a duty to defend anything criticized there, for it is not only his country that is being attacked, but himself; hence one finds that his national pride has recourse to every artifice and descends to every childishness of personal vanity.

Nothing is more annoying in the ordinary intercourse of life than this irritable patriotism of the Americans. A foreigner will gladly agree to praise much in their country, but he would like to be allowed to criticize something, and that he is absolutely refused.

So America is the land of freedom where, in order not to offend anybody, the foreigner may speak freely neither about individuals nor about the state, neither about the ruled nor about the rulers, neither about public undertakings nor about private ones — indeed, about nothing that one comes across, except perhaps the climate and the soil, but yet one meets Americans ready to defend both of these, as if they had a share in forming them.
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Not bad for a Frenchman in 1831. Of course I bought the book...

Against my usual predilection I jumped right to the end — I couldn't wait to see if the butler did it...(from Vol 2, Part IV, Chapters 6 & 7)

What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear

I noticed during my stay in the United States that a democratic state of society similar to that found there could lay itself peculiarly open to the establishment of a despotism. And on my return to Europe I saw how far most of our princes had made use of the ideas, feelings, and needs engendered by such a state of society to enlarge the sphere of their power.
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I am trying to imagine under what novel features despotism may appear in the world. In the first place, I see an innumerable multitude of men, alike and equal, constantly circling around in pursuit of the petty and banal pleasures with which they glut their souls. Each one of them, withdrawn into himself, is almost unaware of the fate of the rest. Mankind, for him, consists in his children and his personal friends. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, they are near enough, but he does not notice them. He touches them but feels nothing. He exists in and for himself, and though he still may have a family, one can at least say that he has not got a fatherland.

Over this kind of men stands an immense, protective power which is alone responsible for securing their enjoyment and watching over their fate. That power is absolute, thoughtful of detail, orderly, provident, gentle. It would resemble parental authority if, fatherlike, it tried to prepare its charges for a man's life, but on the contrary, it only tries to keep them in perpetual childhood. It likes to see the citizens enjoy themselves, provided that they think of nothing but enjoyment. It gladly works for their happiness but wants to be sole agent and judge of it. It provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, makes rules for their testaments, and divides their inheritences. Why should it not entirely relieve them from the trouble of thinking and all the cares of living?

Thus it daily makes the exercise of free choice less useful and rarer, restricts the activity of free will within a narrower compass, and little by little robs each citizen of the proper use of his own faculties...

Having thus taken each citizen in turn in its powerful grasp and shaped him to its will, government then extends its embrace to include the whole of society. It covers the whole of social life with a network of petty, complicated rules that are both minute and uniform, through which even men of the greatest originality and the most vigorous temperament cannot force their heads above the crowd. It does not break men's will, but softens, bends, and guides it; it seldom enjoins, but often inhibits, action; it does not destroy anything, but prevents much being born; it is not at all tyrannical, but it hinders, restrains, enervates, stifles, and stultifies so much that in the end each nation is no more than a flock of timid and hardworking animals with the government as its shepherd.

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I believe that it is easier to establish an absolute and despotic government among a people whose social conditions are equal than among any other. I also believe that such a government once established in such a people would not only oppress men but would, in the end, strip each man there of several of the chief attributes of humanity.

I therefore think that despotism is particularly to be feared in ages of democracy.

I don't know what this guy is talking about...

I'm going to grab a beer and finish watching the game on TV; then I gotta start packing — I'm finally taking a few days off work...so I'm taking the family to Disneyworld!


Litmus Test