My 60th is fast approaching and any illusions I had about not being old will end. That number cannot be argued with. In Korean culture it is a big deal and my wife and daughter keep telling me this. I tell them it is going to be just another day. I have never been big on birthdays or holidays. But…I guess it does mean coming to terms with being an old man. Some very amazing people, like the author of Animal Farm and 1984, never made it even to 50. Paraphrasing Orwell:
The highly socialized modern mind, which makes a kind of composite god out of the rich, the government, the police and the media, has not been developed — at least not yet. Maybe the pandemic will do it.
Below a certain income the petty crowds the large out of existence; one’s preoccupation is not with art or religion but with bills, medical insurance, working too much overtime and possible unemployment. Money is the real god of this world.
Think of life as it really is, think of the details of life; and then think that there is no meaning in it, no purpose, no goal except the grave. Surely only fools or self-deceivers, or those whose lives are exceptionally fortunate, can face that thought without horror? The solution is the Common Task of Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov.
I am struck again by the fact that as soon as a minimum wage man gets a job supervising or moves into a salaried position, he acts as one in a higher class whether he wills it or not. By fighting against the system he becomes part of it. The fact is that you cannot help living in the manner appropriate and developing the ideology appropriate to your income. And I have always despised supervisors too much and was afraid of being someone who is hated as they are. All part of the fear of failure and being seen as a failure. And yet I despise myself for not being the boss. Like the Alpha Male of the troop having the same misery-causing stress hormone levels as the lowest rank ass-bitten baboon. As I explained to a coworker the other night; people are actually all equal in one sense, we have the same human emotions and mental mechanisms driving us. Super-performers just have some hot rods in their heads while we have less powerful vehicles. All drive the same road. Perhaps the economy model mind survives better as in “orchids and dandelions.” Perhaps we children of a lesser God are “happier.” Nobody really knows.
There is the really disquieting prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere word socialism draws towards it with magnetic force every Kool-Aid drinker, nudist, tree hugging sandal-wearer, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in the land. Just like the word conservative draws sadists. I like all the other nuts better.
The essential job is to get people to recognize war propaganda when they see it, especially when it is disguised as peace propaganda. One is almost driven to the cynical conclusion that men are only decent when they are powerless. Why many middle managers are monsters. And just to be clear those two sentences are taken from two different commentaries by Orwell. I use them out of context. I can do that (my blog).
We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. It is not merely that at present the rule of naked force obtains almost everywhere. Probably that has always been the case. Where this age differs from those immediately preceding it is that a liberal intelligentsia is lacking. Bully-worship, under various disguises, has become a universal religion and such truisms as a virus need not kill hundreds of thousands but the economy will need to be put on hold — have turned into heresies which it is actually becoming dangerous to utter. Fauci’s death threats are proof.
Between them these two books sum up our present predicament. Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war. Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader worship, and war. There is no way out of this unless a planned economy can somehow be combined with the freedom of the intellect, which can only happen if the concept of right and wrong is restored to politics.
Review of The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek and The Mirror of the Past by K. Zilliacus, reviewed in The Observer (9 April 1944).
Interesting how Orwell reviewed Hayek’s book in 44 and now Neoliberalism runs the world. Sadly, there is no concept of right or wrong now, only the profit motive and how much naked absolute greed the sociopath billionaires can get away with. Enough about that. Closing in on 100 days till the election and then I will doubtless have plenty of reason to revisit this whole range of human conditions.
Right now I am waiting on a punching bag stand that I should have ordered months ago. I am so out of shape it is depressing to think about how much I will have to do to get back in condition. Nobody is above the law is what came out in the news yesterday. Good news if it proves to be true and not fake. Roger Stone walking seems to contradict that.
Jordan Peterson is not in the same class as George Orwell. He would be the first to admit that. He is in a different “class” entirely. He is more like me, a dot-connector. And I would be the first to admit he has a significantly higher IQ. The fact that the left has demonized him, and Sam Harris, is depressing. Both of them are well worth listening to. They represent the two ends of a spectrum to me that I rely on to support my own worldview.
Let’s move on to getting back in shape.