The Curriculum of the West

Valencia Spain, March 29, 2012

“A bureaucratic legal system uses the language of justice to defend injustice.”                Chris Hedges

It is Thursday, March 29th.  A General Strike has been called for all of Spain.  It is 7:45 AM in the city of Tarragona.  My wife Anna and I arrived here last night by car from Barcelona where crowds were already gathering. The streets of Tarragona are also filling this college town with students. Even with police close by, the protesters stop traffic, beat on cars, and generally tie up the workings of the city and its inhabitants. Perhaps where you collect strangers together in urban settings, the common voice speaks loudest through demonstrated chaos and an otherwise muted ambivalence towards the law.

We leave Tarragona under duress from the growing numbers of agitated protesters. Arriving in Valencia this evening, the protests here are enormous, crowds thronging and marching from every direction.  The numbers seem to dwarf what transpired in similar OWS movements across the USA.  The cause of their dissatisfaction is clear, they are sick of growing unemployment (over 25% and much higher among the youth population), greater austerity measures, and legislative loss of social safety nets. One can see that the rule of law – as well as those responsible for legislating and enforcing it –does not inhibit nor intimidate them.  Yet, one may surmise that these protesters still believe in its efficacy; they just want to see the laws changed for their own benefit.  They do not want to believe that the law (including economic and social policy) is made to serve the interests of those at the top of the socio-economic pyramid, the corporations and the politicians.

In the meantime, on the homefront, Obamacare has been in front of the Supreme Court this week, and getting quite a licking from what I understand; while George Zimmerman, the admitted killer of Trayvon Martin, has yet to see the inside of a courtroom…this week, that is.  All the while, Americans, like frightened toddlers, naively cling to their own belief in the rule of law.  We have been lulled into this unshaken faith by repeated retellings of the myth of evil lurking in the heart of humankind that must be controlled.

As I have offered on several occasions, the rule of law is a keystone of civilization and the curriculum of the West.  It emerges on stone tablets in the third millennium BC to be fully fleshed-out over the ensuing centuries. Aristotle’s syllogistic becomes the basis upon which social and natural laws are formulated and guaranteed, our very definitions of truth and falsehood certified on this basis.

With the following words from his latest article in Truthdig, Chris Hedges provides a dark vision of this uncritical commitment to the law.  “In Kafka’s dystopian vision,” says Hedges, “the law is the mechanism by which injustice and tyranny are perpetuated.”

In an unpublished screenplay, Marvin Bram lays out the issues for us to consider more starkly.

In the play, Sam, a war veteran and rather articulate steel-worker in his mid-forties, is speaking with his twenty-two year old daughter, Deborah, a law student, regarding an accidental death that he caused just the day before.  Aside from her astonishment, she wants to know what he plans to do about turning himself in to the authorities.  We enter with Sam explaining briefly the incident to Deborah.

SAM

There’s a no-man’s-land behind the pit. Refuse heaps, scrap detritus; a deserted, dangerous place. Sometimes I wander there for a few minutes after work. I did last night. This filthy animal, Talbot, came up behind me and slapped my head. I turned and asked him what he was doing. He said something. I hit him. He dropped.

DEBORAH

What did he say?

SAM

Never mind. I bent over him. He was dead. I hit him by intention; he died by accident. I looked around; no one saw. I checked the ground for indications of my or his having been there, packed his body in the car, and dumped it. I came home. That’s what happened. What am I going to do? Nothing.

DEBORAH

Nothing? How can you do nothing?

SAM

What should I do, Deborah?

DEBORAH

Go to the police. I’ll call Ashenbury. He’ll know who should defend you.

SAM

I won’t do that, darling. I won’t submit myself to the criminal-justice system.

DEBORAH

You must, Pop. There has been a death. Justice.

SAM

Tell me if this is correct, Deborah. The search for a moral order, for justice, proceeds by first finding or creating a universal statement about morality or justice, a statement that is true at all times and in all places. The sciences obviously look for such statements. Water freezes at thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit, a universal statement. I put a glass of water in the freezer, which is colder than thirty-two degrees. I couple that act to the universal statement about the freezing temperature of water. Conclusion: the water will become ice. Science. Now the search for justice. If one person kills another person, he will be punished. We claim that that is a universal statement about morality and justice. A police officer has seen person A kill person B. We couple what the officer saw to the universal statement about murder. Conclusion: person A will be punished. Is this symmetry of science and the law approximately correct?

DEBORAH

(Somewhat bewildered)

Approximately. Yes, I suppose it is. Laws might look like the way you describe them. They might. But they came about over time, after innumerable observations of how human beings actually live. Laws evolve, Pop. They don’t come into being out of nowhere.

SAM

The periods of time you refer to, over which laws evolve, occur in civilizations – recent in their appearance and unjust over-all and in most details. The longer, far longer, period before civilizations put their choke-hold on our planet knew no law. Law is an invention of civilization, honey, like armies and life-stealing educational establishments.

 DEBORAH

We’re civilized whether we like it or not.

SAM

You know how weak a rejoinder that is.

DEBORAH

(Deflated)

I suppose so.

SAM

Two pillars of civilization, science and the law, are erected by filling in simple syllogisms. As sophisticated as civilizations look, they’re the work of idiot savants applying a ludicrously simple procedure over and over to every aspect of the world. First a universal statement. Then an act or an observation related to the universal statement. Finally a conclusion, entailed by the universal statement and the act or the observation. An idiotically simple, three-part machine, Deborah, on which we civilized people depend in order to control nature and control society.

DEBORAH

(Continuing to resist Sam’s arguments)

Wait. Understand nature and build society, not control them; so humanity won’t be victims of nature, so human beings won’t go at each other’s throats.

SAM

I’m afraid that it’s now you who are being naïve, dear. I think that in time you’ll see that the word is “control.” But no matter tonight. What I want to say is that I reject the three-part machine. I will not submit to it. So I’ll do nothing.

DEBORAH

Don’t you see that if everyone thought your way, the country would…go to hell?

SAM

(Stifling a laugh, to spare Deborah.)

You’ve countered with a universal statement, Deborah. It’s an automatic response, isn’t it? You hear it all the time. Surrendering the syllogism doesn’t send a society to hell. Great cultures have been free of the syllogism. We, on the other hand, have been its slaves.

DEBORAH

For heaven’s sake, Pop, what’s the alternative.

SAM

The alternative is first to look very closely. For us justice doesn’t look, it’s blind. Second, the work of judgment should be the work of elders who know you intimately. For us it’s the work of strangers, specialists.

DEBORAH

(In a sneering tone)

Someone does a crime. Someone else says, “I know you so well that I can say it wasn’t a crime.”

(Sam sits next to Deborah.)

SAM

Perhaps you say that as a refutation, as ridiculous on the face of it; I don’t know. But that’s exactly what I mean. It’s human to conclude because you know another deeply; it’s anti-human to conclude because you’re a virtuoso of the syllogism.

DEBORAH

Who in the world concludes innocence because of…knowing deeply?

SAM

Your mother. That’s the necessary condition for my doing nothing. The sufficient condition has to do with society-at-large.

(Sam rises again, paces)

I’m defending kinship as the foundation of society against law as the foundation of society, Deborah. I would defend kinship against religion with your brother if he were capable of listening. Humanity was born in the subtleties of kinship and humanity flourished. The civilizations, societies forcing persons into hierarchies and relying on the syllogism to control those persons, were late-comers, and humanity has not flourished. More human beings than we can keep in our minds without being blinded by our tears have suffered grievously through no fault of their own in the world’s civilizations. Can you grasp that? It goes without saying that the civilizations have invested in brilliant public relations, so that even sweet and brilliant people admire them. The sufficient condition for my doing nothing comes from that unrecorded suffering and the witting and unwitting deception covering up that suffering.

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57 Responses to The Curriculum of the West

  1. bmiller says:

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” Anatole France

    Enjoy Catalonia and say hi to the CNT for us.

    • kulturcritic says:

      We are enjoying it my friend. Just don’t know if I buy into the quote from Anatole France. LOL

      • relentless says:

        “Majestic equality”? Like “War, what are they [laws] good for?” It’s one of those enculturated lines that may at first sound admirable, intriguing and cloying on the surface but on closer examination (though not much) is fraught with, make that laden with, heirarchical control, but then i’m not real good with other humans making laws for me. Like Lysander Spooner, i don’t recall ever signing on. Give us another one Mr. Miller, as you have in the past that engages our passions. Best to you.

        • bmiller says:

          Sure. First, my choice of Mr. France was meant to echo Kafka’s assertion that the cruel irony of law was to trick people into investing their inner hopes into a system of justice that was rigged.

          How about this less ambiguous quote: “There’s plenty of law at the end of a nightstick”. Grover Whalen

          Lysander Spooner, eh?

          • kulturcritic says:

            For a former anarchist, you seem to have pretty mixed feelings. No, Mr. Miller?

            • bmiller says:

              Hmmm, recognizing the power of force and the State doesn’t equal admiration for or support of that power. Right? Simply a recognition that the law requires force to maintain it’s position.

              Well, this “former anarchist” has chickens to feed and pigs to slop.
              Cheers,

              • kulturcritic says:

                Ha Ha – cheers, my friend..

              • relentless says:

                Yeah, know about that also…i have critters galore to feed too, as many of us no doubt do. And an illegal 4-Act Earth Opera to finish, and primal plants to backbreed, and downed wood to harvest, etc., etc., but MOST CRITICALLY, a civilization to disable, disallowing its destruction of this World to continue for another decade or two, a civilization of which we’re, unfortunately, accomplices, willingly or not, for most, most willingly. Opting out proceeds! Non serviam! Back to those critters Mr. Miller, keep up the alternative options.
                Best to ya, r

          • relentless says:

            Better Mr M. Thanks. And why are nightsticks even a necessary part of life’s equation? But i wax rhetorical. Marvin Bram does a very good job of answering that one. Would love to read the entire play. As for human laws, bah humbug! : )

  2. javacat says:

    I love the delectable irony of the Anatole France quote.

  3. javacat says:

    Hmm…are you thinking of the knot as the total irrelevance to the one and the abject relevance to the other?

    Wild that you’re in Spain and seeing protests firsthand, btw.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Ah yes, being here is eye opening. The knot is that special place where contradiction wraps around itself so that you cannot make out the real issue. I think. LOL

  4. Malthus says:

    Very well done Sandy. As I see the point here that lies at the core is what we call civilization and how it came into being. As my nom de plume suggests although I am not religious at all, is the question can we humans after millions of years of evolution and not living with the concept of civilization and laws set up for those that wish to control, up until 10,000 Years or so with the domestication of animals and agriculture then leading us into a bondage unforeseen. Can we really find a way to live a life as our distant ansesters enjoyed without chronic stress and the masses of people fighting for what they think is right like a pack of dogs fighting over a few scraps of food? This is just not a situation that we humans are capable of solving although the power brokers and charlatans will spout solutions while stealing everything in sight, and as you say Sandy the hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Malthus – the issue is – can we see that kinship has been stolen from us and replaced with institutional substitutes grounded in an abstract and anonymous framework of reasoning that has no relevance to us as persons or members of a tribe. We have been forceably made into citizens of the State, beholding to a contract and laws we have no real control over. We are victims in an arrangement that we are required to abide by or suffer the consequences… blindly.

      • Malthus says:

        How true, how true. We are victims that have perpetrated this on ourselves. And we are suffering the consequences. We seem to have willingly given up kinship for and this and the question I have is why? Comfort, something more easy? No it is deeper than that for history does show many have stood up and paid the ultimate price for saying no. Hmm I need to see how you and others see the why. This is going to be an interesting week.

      • derekthered says:

        “an abstract and anonymous framework of reasoning that has no relevance to us as persons or members of a tribe”
        exactly why i like to read jean baudrillard

      • relentless says:

        Yes, “forcibly made into citizens of the State.” Without my permission! Even my name, wasn’t given a choice there either, ad infinitum. At one time it was far easier to opt out…a tougher road to navigate today (though not impossible). Personally, after 64 years of existence in this human body, i’ve come to comprehend those years were essentially abject failures, from those inculcated from birth controlled laws backed by all those subtle and not so subtle specious pieces of reasonings from all the ‘therefores, ergos and hences’. And the beat, or nightstick, goes on. On one level i’ll paraphrase Dylan: “i used to care, but things have changed.” i have, ‘they’ haven’t and ‘they’ aren’t about to. i also think of Dead Poets Society when Robin Williams, as the English teacher, has his charges stand on their desks to gain a far wider perspective of their surroundings, another reality perhaps closer to the authentic.

        The nightmare, aka, nightstick of laws. Needed? Ah! “Humans are and were always violent, ergo, therefore, hence, we need laws and controls and governments.” Really? As a young acquaintance (born circa 1988) i know was trashing Dylan as a complete phony i simply asked: “So, you were there?” No response, of course. The lies, the deceptions, all the devious excuses for controlling our lives–for “Our own good.” Did they ever ask me if i wanted, needed, required their control?…for to do so would place them in quite the quandary, that is without backup–the nightstick. Some of us appear to be on the verge of burnout, from too much passion, (according to them?), so, why not take passion to the illegal limits…then go further? Like standing on a desk and observing something you
        weren’t supposed to see, what’s to lose? However, what’s to gain? Great post Sandy!

        • kulturcritic says:

          Hi Relentless. I am not sure what is to gain by trying to “take it down.” I feel that would only lead to further bloodshed; perhaps that’s what the big boys would like. We need to stop feeling that it is our duty to save the earth. It was that sense of duty that ironically brought us to our present circumstances. We fuck with things too much, thinking we know better. Glad you are with us today. sandy

          • relentless says:

            Agree about the bloodshed if i have been misunderstood. i believe there are far better means of accomplishing sanity. As for saving the Earth, well, i do realize the Earth will save itself, quite capable, yet i wouldn’t mind giving it a small hand according to its ‘rules’ which are, as far as i’m able to ascertain and now attempt to live, are quite in concert. As a primal plant breeder (far more radical than you might envision), i’m well at the stage of not fucking with Life and i personally know i don’t know better than the Whole enchilada, though it’s taken almost those 64 revolutions around Ma Sun to find that out. And, who does one trust? The rulemakers? However, if civilization disappeared tomorrow, other than Beethoven, Vermeer, etc., etc., well, they’re all in my head now and i’m quite enjoying the synaesthetic overlap and commaraderieship (New word? Why not?)

            Enjoy Spain for me (as a once classical-flamenco mediocre guitarist who chose other paths) i always wanted to visit there. An aside: it’s told that when a boy is about 4 years old in Spain, his father hands him a hoe and a guitar and says: “Choose one.” And alas, that’s where it all begins for the remainder of his life. Don’t know about the girls.
            Thank you once more for the most enlightening blog.

  5. derekthered says:

    you all are a lively lot, bit above my pay grade, but what the hell, here goes. the subject of this latest essay is exactly what i was talking about with my daughter last night. what i proposed was to throw out any and all preconceived notions and ask what would make people want to participate in govt. what do people want from govt.? the first thing is protection of their life, to insure this people give govt. the power to suppress certain behaviors society deems unacceptable, so, right there, you have agreed that govt. has the right to suppress behavior, and the question turns to how far can govt. go? what is acceptable?
    i guess people who are not willing to make this bargain are anarchists?
    but yes, seems you hit the nail right on the head about Aristotelian certainty, the rationale for dividing the world up into little bits and pieces, and where does this lead?

    so many unemployed people, so much fuel to burn, would it not be better to labor a bit more, to live by natures rhythms? and maybe conserve for the future? people talk about having fuel for a hundred years, well what about for ten thousand years? perhaps when everything was more of a mystery and we did not not have all this power over nature the species actually had a longer worldview, or was that just a product of being less time specific?
    just some thoughts, thrown out for your consideration.

  6. derekthered says:

    rational/rationale, separated by one little letter.

  7. Ralph Meima says:

    Fascinating commentary on what you’re seeing in Spain!

    Yesterday, Obama visited Vermont to the wild applause of adoring crowds – first president to visit the Bluest-Greenest State since 1995. It was just reported that unemployment fell to 4.9% in Vermont, one of the lowest in the US. Spain’s is as you report, and above 50% for the young. I reflected on this enormous gap, and wonder whether ours [I live in Vermont] is so low because of Vermont’s [genuinely] progressive politics and egalitarian society, or because – Switzerland-like – we are able to essentially import America’s economic benefits but export its negative consequences to the poor and the politically blinkered states (and of course, the Third World). Meanwhile, Spain is relegated to the position of a Mississippi or Alabama (or “District 12” in the moment’s metaphorium “The Hunger Games”). OK, that’s a bit off-topic, but the difference is striking…

    Re. the law, the arrogance of power, the writing of history, and the ways human society often legitimizes the same authoritarianism that abuses and scorns us: http://thebell.us/2012/03/kent-state-james-a-rhodes-ohio-today/

    Ralph

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hi Ralph – Glad you remain vigilant about the blog and the fact that some of US may be importing unsustainable benefits while exporting evils around the globe. I have not had the pleasure of previewing the hunger games stuff; sounds like more usa nonsense to me.

  8. It’s somehow fitting that Europe should become ground zero for the collapse of the ‘Western Curriculum’, is it not? Wonderful commentary, as always – hope you and Anna enjoy España, and please stay safe, we are all looking forward to your next dispatch.

  9. Malthus says:

    Well Sandy I keep wondering and looking for the answer of why would we as a species get to this point and why would we allow as you say kinship to be stolen from us. Why, why, why. What was the attraction to go down this road to the cliff? I want to know what people here actually think. Not who they read and what the authors said, but what do people that comment here think. What their experience tells them. Reading books from authors still gives a distorted perspective to one that reads the concepts of said author. Sooo given the experience of all that come here is there a logical why. No that isn’t what I mean to say as logic doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it. I await some pov’s to my question.

    • kulturcritic says:

      It’s a good question, Malthus.

    • derekthered says:

      What was the attraction to go down this road to the cliff?
      inertia, custom, precedent. probably at first we banded together for mutual protection, then the biggest? toughest? meanest? smartest? grabbed some surplus (power) for themselves, gathered a few followers, and off to the races.
      now people are born, indoctrinated into the belief system, the political system, and if they question? they are ostracized, cast out. guy once said to me people would fight harder to keep what they’ve got, than to fight for what they don’t have.
      so, people are scared, technological terror, the surveillance state, don’t want to wind up on the street homeless. or in some black site, the gulag.

      but there is the law of averages, the odd duck, those who question, who deviate from the norm. with the power available to the state (no matter who is pulling the levers), oppression is much more efficient than in antiquity, but that could be an impression, i imagine a roman legion was pretty intimidating to those who lived back in the day.

      ” One night (the first missile then could scarcely have been 10,000,000 miles away) I
      went for a walk with my wife. It was starlight and I explained the Signs of the Zodiac to her, and pointed out Mars, a bright dot of light creeping zenithward, towards which so many telescopes were pointed. It was a warm night. Coming home, a party of excursionists from Chertsey or Isleworth passed us singing and playing music. There were lights in the upper windows of the houses as the people went to bed. From the railway station in the distance came the sound of shunting trains, ringing and rumbling, softened almost into melody by the distance. My wife pointed out to me the brightness of the red, green, and yellow signal lights hanging in a framework against the sky. It seemed so safe and tranquil.” H.G. Wells – The War of the Worlds

    • relentless says:

      Malthus, once again, hello. i find myself reading less and less because reading them too often becomes not me, but the culture and the mediated. Almost everyone i now do read, with nary an exception, posits from the enculturated self-imposed enslavement camp, with a near complete refusal (?) to stand outside it all, a trick in itself, but doable…this i must trust of myself. From all the linear fallacies: time, the written word, numbers (think about that one where everything must be counted and accounted for), cultured civilized progress, and many other linear deceptions. i find i am lessened with every indoctrinated-mediated word. We are all so drowning in this culture of embedded indoctrinations, what i call the Potemkin Matrix, and one way out may be relying on our own mind to overwrite all the trashtalk and consume-til-you’re-doomed mantra. A part of me dies, and is diminished further, every time i return, reenter this sick culture (less every month), and i find that upon entering it i must also feign to pretend and conform against my own essence, it’s insidious, debilitating and just simply wrong. To touch your question as to what my experience tells me, it tells me to get the fuck out of it–the facade, and engage what i once knew as that child before the culture declared me its slave to do with as it needed to, wanted to, or just enjoyed having control over me…and you, and all who partake of the sham. i’ve come to the realization, through my personal experiences, that we’re all embedded in a libertarian fascist state, but only ‘free’ if you can afford it, both monetarily and psychologically. OK, there’s more, but that’s an embyonic germ for you. Great question, one i’ve posed to myself for the past decade or so. Thanks, r

    • Brutus says:

      Malthus sez:

      I keep wondering and looking for the answer of why would we as a species get to this point and why would we allow as you say kinship to be stolen from us. Why, why, why[?] What was the attraction to go down this road to the cliff?

      derek(the)red and relentless have already answered this, and I like their answers, especially the part about the Potemkin Matrix. Indeed, relentless’ remarks called to mind Camus’ The Stranger, which shows in part how a truly radical (i.e., free) mind is either herded toward conformity or extinguished through the justice system (not without a precipitating event). I dunno if this is entirely necessary for society to function or is merely collateral damage.

      But to answer your question in my own way (late to the question, no doubt), since you’re curious about what others think, I’d say that the title of the post, “The Curriculum of the West,” explains it well enough if you’ve been reading and following this blog long enough to understand Sandy’s term. One might ask, “Who writes the Curriculum?” And I would reply, “No one, really. It writes itself.” It’s a blind historical process, like evolution or geology or cosmology. Because humanity is at the core of it, we tend to ascribe agency to it or anthropomorphize it, but really no one is driving the bus. Yeah, some of us embrace and pursue the Curriculum more vehemently than others (or rail against it), and there have been switchbacks and intensifications over time as well, but it should be obvious that for some 3000–5000 years at least it’s the background against which all our endeavors are measured, and no one is free of it since it’s gone global in the last century or so.

      Blind processes often require kick-starts, same as with the emergence of life on Earth or the spark that eventually led to human language. In my view, knowing some (little) about where we came from as a species, the root of it all is the base of Maslow’s hierarchy: physiological needs. Once met, we turned (and turn) to other needs. However, the invention of agriculture and thus surplus kick-started the really invidious notion of ownership and then systems of thought and law to protect surpluses and enslave people to the will of the emerging ownership class. All our machinations in the millennia since might be understood as refinements of that foundational relationship.

      Our latest stage of refinement primarily involves information flows, which were first enabled by inventions such as the telegraph, radio, and telephone that brought simultaneity of experience (and information) across distance. James Beniger describes this in his book The Control Revolution, which takes a biological view of both individuals and society as processors of material, energy, and information:

      [The] reason why the Control Revolution has been so profound in its impact on human society [is that] it transformed no less than the essential life function itself. Rapid technological expansion of what Darwin called “marvelous structure and properties” and what we now see to include organization, information processing, and communication to effect control constitute a change unprecedented in recorded history. We would have to go back at least to the emergence of the vertebrate brain if not to the first replicating molecule … to find a [comparable] leap in the capability to process information.

      Beniger’s hyperbole is obvious enough, but it’s impossible to dismiss his assertion without at least pausing to consider his evidence, which is exhaustive. Following the date of publication of Beniger’s book, information flows were further catalyzed in the computer era with data mining and Big Data, and we now have the Security or Surveillance State (see Sandy’s post subsequent to this one) as a result. Some argue that a sinister conspiracy to debase educational institutions is underway to keep the masses ignorant, to limit their ability to process information (but not their access to it), but I don’t see it quite that way. Rather, attacks on education are part of longstanding attempts at subjugation of labor and aggregation of wealth (now through privatization) where hollowing out institutions themselves is a side-effect that benefits the managerial class who deploy information the same way deployment of wealth/power benefits the ownership class — those two classes having significant overlap.

      I don’t find any of this too mysterious, though a perspective wide enough to see the full picture may well be beyond most people. Details as to place, time, institution, ideology, etc. all collapse, in my view, to the ontological level of paranoid material need run amok, overtaking spiritual and aesthetic aspects of life.

      • kulturcritic says:

        And the linguistic-structural underpinning of this Curriculum is the principal of rationality represented in the syllogism. As Hegel reminds us: “…not only is the syllogism rational, but everything rational is a syllogism.” (The Science of Logic, 664)

        • javacat says:

          Sandy, I’d love for you to expand on this point. Are you saying that structure of the Curriculum is embedded in the language, which then reinforces the Curriculum, and around and around we go? Catch-22?

          • kulturcritic says:

            Sure JC: First, I might suggest that the Curriculum has an intentionality of its own, given life by the structures of thought and conception that emerge with the birth of literacy, the written word. The syllogism (a modern rational-linguistic tool) is what gives birth to the Curriculum. Remember Sam’s comment to his daughter Deborah in my last post:

            “Two pillars of civilization, science and the law, are erected by filling in simple syllogisms. As sophisticated as civilizations look, they’re the work of idiot savants applying a ludicrously simple procedure over and over to every aspect of the world. First a universal statement. Then an act or an observation related to the universal statement. Finally a conclusion, entailed by the universal statement and the act or the observation. An idiotically simple, three-part machine, Deborah, on which we civilized people depend in order to control nature and control society.”

            He is describing the Curriculum of the West in its essence!

  10. Malthus says:

    Another question when writing about their experiences. What would they like to change not so much how but how would they like “civilization” to be.

    • relentless says:

      Again Mr. M: i’ll answer that one when i have more inbrednet ‘time.’ To only meagerly enter that question, i am beginning to not only consider how i would like civilization to be, but actually engaged in living it in, an alternative reality more daily. Experimenting with different means of NOT employing the aforementioned linearities of the dominate-domineering culture. So, i harbor no doubts that some of us who post on Sandy’s blog are also experimenting in their own fashions. So, transitioning out of this cultural cesspool is becoming not only ‘how’ but ‘now.’ Best to you, r

  11. I really like that screenplay, wherever it came from. We certainly are a nation, and a world system high on laws but lacking in justice. Because justice doesn’t come from some scientific formula and justice is not a ‘system’, even the idea of a ‘justice system’ is a genocidal one…

    Just the other day a Greek elderly man who was cut off from his pension committed suicide and left a note explaining himself. “I believe that young people with no future, will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country at Syntagma square, just like the Italians did to Mussolini in 1945” the note said.

    Will violent revolution come to Spain, or Greece, or any of the numerous countries teetering on the brink right now? If it does, I would be very afraid since I do not believe revolution is a method of positive change, but of violent destruction.

    Or on the contrary, do you think there is a possibility that ‘the state’ will die not with a bang, but with a whimper? The number of nuclear weapons and power plants in need of tending makes me afraid for our future in any case…

    • kulturcritic says:

      VL – there is good reason to be frightened; but then, there is even better reason to keep your head down. We do not need political fixes anymore; those only serve to maintain the systems of oppression as you know. The best course if that the entire things implodes without much fallout. sandy

  12. Pingback: Satiety Signals « The Spiral Staircase

  13. Of Kin and King
    whom shall we serve?

    Can we serve the one and love the other?
    Or must the twain no longer meet?
    Must justice stay blind to do its crimes?
    Probably so.
    Denial also is a blindness.

    Can we rob but forbid the robbing back?
    Surely we can!
    How else to organize crime,
    but to codify it?
    If justice removed its own blinders,
    would it not have to immolate itself?

    So whom should you trust,
    one who knows or one who doesn’t?
    Kin or King, that is the question,
    to see or not to see?

    But who is kin, but ALL?
    And who is king, but none?

  14. Thank you Sandy, and Mike for the compliments.
    Do you really think they might dispatch a drone to get me?
    That would be the best compliment of all!

    Thank you all for the stimulating and inspiring writing.
    I started reading here hoping you would influence my writing style.
    I hope you change my views AND my writing style.

    • Ivy Mike says:

      I change my views often, sometimes 180°, just because it’s enjoyable, as any Epicurean would appreciate. Only an uptight Stoic is more worried about “moral and intellectual perfection.”

      “As you say of yourself, I TOO AM AN EPICUREAN. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing every thing rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, October 31, 1819

      I might even take a holiday from being such an Epicurean some day. 😉

      “The life of an Indian is a continual holiday…” ~Thomas Paine, Agrarian Justice, 1795

    • kulturcritic says:

      Keep it up, George 😉

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