The Root, Trunk, Branch and Leaf of All Evil

(Reading time: 35 seconds.)

The bitter irony is that when they tell you knowledge is power it’s because they’re lying to you, and it’s not. (Although obviously it should be.) Material wealth is.

Conveniently, objectively, hoarding of finite material wealth is evil. And under the ridiculous socio-political-economic system we (still, bizarrely) inhabit, encouraged.

So, literally, in our current reality, power is evil. And evil is power. Which is why it seems like everyone with any power these days is a cruel psychopath.

Because you’re not crazy. They are. But they have the wealth, so they have the power. Their appetite for both is insatiable, so do yourself a favour and stop them the only way they will be stopped:

yourself.

Seriously. They can’t stop you. They’ve merely convinced you that they can. And besides, if you haven’t noticed that if they aren’t stopped urgently, we’re all fucked, then they’ve done a better job of brainwashing you than I think even they intended.

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Two Things I’m Obsessed With

The first is commonly known as the (technological) Singularity. Put simply, it refers to the moment in which a machine emerges that is not just smarter than humans, but smarter than the collective intelligence of all humans. The average prediction of various experts places this occurrence at about 2045. Which means it could happen much sooner, or much later – depending on the rate of technological progression. I won’t bother with references. You can look this up if you choose.

For me, the consequences are simple. And about three-fold. One: humanity will be capable of achieving a type of immortality, through people being able to upload their minds to what we now call the cloud. This will possibly also permit downloading minds into bodies of any imaginable type, not unlike in the Netflix series Altered Carbon. Whether one would actually want to be immortal or not, is worthy of an entire book. Two: machines will replace humanity as the dominant species of Earth, and possibly the universe. This might happen through the direct destruction or dying out of humans, or because humans fuse with technology to the point in which the cease to be explicitly human (cyborgs). Such an occurrence could be seen as evolutionary – as in the next logical step in human evolution is superior beings originally of our creation taking over.

And three (which leads me to the other thing I’m obsessed with): the current ownership class (the bourgeois) of humans (think Elon Musk, Rupert Murdoch et. al.) use their ownership of the increasingly automated means of production to render the vast bulk of working class humans obsolete, perhaps homeless, or even liquidated by the very machines which made them obsolete. Frankly, as things currently stand, I think the third scenario is the most likely. Wealth inequality is at catastrophic levels, and the super-rich are showing no signs of either intending to, or actually balancing things out. While I admit this possible future might solve the problem of overpopulation, I also venture that technology advanced enough would solve the problem of overpopulation (and associated resource shortages and pollution and climate change) itself.

The second thing I’m obsessed with is called Universal Basic Income. UBI involves giving everyone, from poorest to wealthiest in society enough money to live on. Say four or five or six hundred dollars per week. Without any obligations in return. The idea is that they can then work or create/expand a business for more money. Or they can travel the world eating banana sandwiches. Or they can become the artist they always wanted to be. And etcetera and etcetera. When I mentioned UBI to a narrow-minded but intelligent friend recently, he gave a cliched response, something to do with that it wouldn’t work because people need an incentive to work and excel and achieve. Unfortunately, what he didn’t grasp because he clearly hadn’t read into the issue is that, yes, UBI is not an incentive. It’s a tool. Much of the world is too impoverished to be really of any use to their fellow humans. You have to spend money to make money, as the old adage goes. But if you don’t have any to start with, then you can’t make any from it.

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Current welfare systems across much of the developed world already seek to achieve this purpose. The problem is they provide a subsistence, not dignified, level of income. And they require recipients to look for work – ignoring the absurdity of such a requirement in a rapidly automating labour industry which is increasingly prohibitive of the sort of low skill, low wage people on unemployment benefits. UBI gives people enough financial power to not just survive, but live a comfortable life, and also possibly live an even more comfortable life if they wish to work/innovate/invent for it. UBI gives people choice. Freedom. Freedom they’re otherwise denied, whether they’re working or not. It gives them the ability to achieve their dreams – even if their dreams involve sitting around at home, ordering in pizza and buying products from the internet.

Another criticism of UBI is the cost to taxpayers. Firstly, it’s a “basic” income. They’re not going to be squirreling away much of the money. The vast bulk of it will be returned straight to the economy, and into and through again the hands of taxpayers. Secondly, even if they are saving a lot of the money, eventually they will make a big purchase with it. Maybe use it to create a product beneficial to mankind that wouldn’t otherwise had appeared. Third: the cost of current welfare systems are bogged down in their complexity. Their bureaucracy. The myriad different payments to and requirements from welfare recipients make up a sizable bulk of their cost. The argument goes that UBI would eliminate this complexity by giving everyone a flat basic income. Any losses of employment in the public or associated private sector would be mitigated by the fact that said unemployed would be receiving the UBI, and would now be free to pursue activities or work surely more enjoyable than sitting in an office unnecessarily managing the lives of society’s worst off.

Barring an unforeseen catastrophic event, or perhaps a foreseen one in the event of climate change, technological progress will only continue to accelerate. Humans will become, in a productivity sense, more and more redundant. Artificial immortality is an at the moment science-fictional ethical dilemma for individuals and their families. If humanity is replaced or absorbed by machines, then by then we won’t have much to whine about. But if the vast bulk of humanity is not just enslaved, but made redundant, homeless, starving by a tiny clique of super-wealthy elites who own all of the machines that produce everything, that would be the worst option for me and any children I might have (that currently I don’t want to have because I believe that’s exactly what might happen in their lifetime). Wealth will always be limited, depending on how much of the universe’s resources we eventually have access to, but it has never been more abundant. Why is it not psychotic that this world has several billionaires, while millions starve to death? We need to start asking ourselves, and our elected representatives, one simple question: is it necessary, or even humane, for people to be forced to work for water, food, housing, clothing, and small luxuries such as technology and travel, or otherwise languish in poverty?

I say no. Certainly not. And I hope for ever more agreement.

#REVOLUTION

AUSTRALIA’S WEALTHIEST 1% OWN MORE FINITE WEALTH THAN OUR LEAST WEALTHY 70%.

THE SUPER RICH AND CORPORATIONS GIVE TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO OUR POLITICAL PARTIES EACH YEAR.

AUSTRALIA IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. IT IS A CORPORATOCRACY/ELITOCRACY.

WE NEED A #REVOLUTION

Disrespect or disobey unjust laws – especially those which serve only to protect the very rich.

Disrespect or disobey authority figures – the police, the government, big business; even your parents. These agents represent the status quo, which allows the bourgeois to continue exploiting the proletariat. They must be questioned. Held to account.

Denounce nationalism – in terms of war, business, sport, and culture.

When the time comes – and it will – you will be ready to do what needs to be done.

We May Have Doomed Ourselves

Sitting around, waiting for work to start. This is modern life for me now. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my so-called “down” time. I’ll eat a pleasant meal. Have some drinks. Talk to people who endeavour to understand, empathise with me. (Not sure why so many of them don’t.) But of course I’ve realised recently that really down time is about nothing other than me spending the money I’ve earned, in the context of the dystopian tug-of-war system we’ve all found ourselves in. So it’s hard to enjoy it on every level.

Then there’s work. The other end of the rope. (We’re the rope.) It’s ok. I mean my current job is ok, without going into too much detail. It’s simple. There’s a good atmosphere there. It’s hot as fuck but as long as you stay hydrated it’s fine. It’s the cameras that get me. They’re all throughout the building. So the owners and their agents can monitor us toiling away to build their pyramids via their nightmare rectangles, at their old pyramid at which they’re sipping champagne and drinking babies’ blood or whatever stupid shit the bourgeois get up to these days.

It’s absurd. Ridiculous. It’s a nightmare. And I’m trapped in it. But I’m calm because I know it. I don’t know if my colleagues know it. They’re mostly Maori, by-the-way. There’s nothing wrong with that on its own, of course. But it does deepen my sense of Orwellianism, when I realise that in this particular case some white people who half the time just manage their business by camera have a bunch of dark people propping up their privilege. I mean, phew. They’re probably not calm. They’re probably “grateful” to have a job. It’s literally a shame.

I don’t see any way out of it. I could invest in the stock market. Except I see that system as just a part of the broader shit system that keeps fat rich people hoarding more fat and riches, while everyday there’s less finite wealth for poorer people – even though all things considered things have improved across the board for most, thanks to science, compared to history. So while remaining conscious that there’s no such thing as morality, I am in this context morally reluctant to help a business, that helps entrench poverty, help me. If you understand what I mean. The stock market. Pfffft. It’s nothing but a capitalist video game.

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Capitalism’s biggest flaw is that you have some (not much) choice about what job you do, but no choice to not work – unless you want to live in poverty. (Conveniently, it’s exactly like how most religion blackmails people into believing or expecting punishment after death.) It makes the aforementioned cameras ironic. The whole problem with the current labour “market” (another typically de-humanising term) is that machines are taking over jobs – changing the system from the inside out – yet the system is not changing. Instead you end up with people doing bullshit jobs like public relations or working at job providers – places that basically just babysit and discipline the unemployed, for large profits workers mostly fund through their taxes.

I’m doing a lot of laughing these days, because the absurdity has finally dawned on me. Even though I feel like I could just as easily cry. And that’s the thing, really. I have no choice but to do a job where even if my managers weren’t literally machines they’d be some other cynical thing, in my experience. (As an aside, I once had a manager literally get upset at me because I stuffed up my work in a particular way that interfered with his addiction to loaning company property out to people whose arses he wished to live in. Fucking madness. Or idiocy. Still not sure.) Shit. I could go on.

Why are we doing this to each other? Have we truly become so obsessed with material wealth that we are willing to tolerate – even benefit from – other humans being treated worse than some slaves might have been? The future is coming. The machines are coming. What are we going to do about it? Are we going to phase each other into slavery and have the last slave (the last human left free to slave master the rest of us) hand the keys to a robot who is now our master? Do you understand what I’m saying? It’s a fucking disgusting system we’re living in, and allowing to become worse. And if something’s not done about it we’ll all one day either be crying, laughing, or dead. Very surprisingly soon for some people. And I wouldn’t expect the machines to shed an electric tear.

An Unsolicited Response to Christian Porter’s National Press Club Address

On his Facebook page, which was swiftly deleted, and from which I was blocked – predictably:

First time I’ve ever seen a man fellate himself, his colleagues and his (socio-) economically fascist obsession for an hour.

But I will grudgingly take you seriously with the following retorts (reality checks):

It’s not taxation without representation for a future generation to foot any or all of the tax bill that a previous generation may have been at all responsible for accruing. You’re an elected representative now, and you represent the people who voted you in or not, now. By your logic we could argue that your esteemed colleague Matt Canavan’s obsession with fossil fuels, and particularly those proposed to be mined by a certain foreign company he’s alarmingly cosy with, is also taxation without representation of future generations who are going to have to try and live in the environment he did his best to destroy. Which is of course absurd.

The reason we work and always have since civilisation started about 10 millenia ago is to provide those in arbitrary, inherited positions above us with wealth that puts them ever further above us – whom they despise. You know this. Theoretically, it’s your job to help close the gaps effectively created by this persistent yet doomed system. But no, because you insist and persist in peddling the lie that work is, in the grand scheme of things, about anything other than the reason I’ve listed above.

Imagine my horror but not surprise at hearing the supposed social services minister spruiking corporate tax cuts as a solution to welfare dependency, as if said corporations wouldn’t just sink exactly the sum of said cuts into existing tax loopholes, upper management salaries, shareholder dividends, bribery of politicians, and maybe, grudgingly, probably not, actual tax contributions. But hey, I’m numb (to) if not incognisant of such Orwellianism these days, so moving on. . . .

Your constant indulgences in criticism of your opposition on a platform in which they have no right of reply is as tiresome to me as it is cowardly on your part.

Response to first question: “So perhaps if I answer that this way.”  Is the truth not good enough for you – in response to a question which wondered at which point in reducing the welfare budget you start “hacking at bone” and would you consider raising Newstart and other payments?  No, course not.  Must glaze eyes over for a few seconds and come up with something more palatable, albeit false and misleading.

Again, you’re not the minister for big biz.  You’re the minister for social services.  If you’re going to talk about tax cuts, which really is not your responsibility at all, you should be talking about tax cuts for working single mothers, families, students and even, barely, small business owners.

“Labor voted against it,” he says with orgasmic relish.  See, this feeds into my view that what we don’t actually have is a two, much less multi-party system in this country.  We have one party – the Coalition-Labor Party – that swaps power every few years.

Trust you to refer to the NDIS as a market – in other words a vehicle with which already rich people can invest in stuff that gains them more riches.  Unless I wasn’t paying attention, not one mention of the supposed point of the scheme: to care for and provide opportunity for the disabled.

I’ve heard enough.  I’ve had enough.  You’re a psychopath.  I wish you every possible version of bad luck in your endeavour to destroy the middle class and create nothing but a small group of insanely rich people you serve like Mr Smithers from The Simpsons, and a teeming horde of successfully subjugated dirt poor billions.

 

Atheism

Religion’s biggest and most fundamental problem is that it’s complete fiction.  I don’t mean that just in the sense that it’s not true.  I mean that in the sense that it’s deliberately fabricated.  Ironically, the reason why it’s a problem that religion is fiction doesn’t have to manifest itself in religious ways. To wit: the problem is religion, but the consequences of the problem can manifest themselves in any manner imaginable other than and including religion. The following anecdote will help articulate my point:

I once shared a duplex with a man who was religious.  Christian, of whatever denomination, to be specific.  He was also an early-30s full-time student earning not possibly any more than $400 (and usually some or much less) per week.  To compound this, he had debts in the tens of thousands.  And he also had serious anger management issues, which is beside the point other than that I can’t resist pointing out religious hypocrisy (despite the fact it’s EVERYWHERE).  One day, this man decided he was going to buy a house.  He did have two financially reliable housemates in me and another guy. 

Nevertheless, one day I tried to explain to him the unlikeliness bordering on impossibility of his at the time current personal circumstances gaining him a mortgage.  His response?  He had “faith”.  I like to think I did, but if I didn’t then I wish my next words had been something like: “Economics doesn’t care about faith.”  Needless to say, his application was denied.  To this day I’m still not sure whether I hope the bank laughed at him or not (like I said, he had anger management issues, and while living with him for a full eighteen months I didn’t escape entirely without incident).

Once you believe the in actual fact stark, raving lunacy of there being a “God” out there, who you can talk to and ask for things from, you can and probably will accept literally any imaginable nonsense in any part of your life.  I’ll leave the various ways that can and definitely has fucked up the world to you.

For most of my life I’ve been agnostic about most things.  I’ve always valued learning about a wide variety of topics, albeit not to enough of a degree of depth on any one of them to become an expert on it.  I’m a generalist.  And if I aspire to anything, I guess it would be to move from being a generalist to a polymath (though in my opinion, in the strict definition of the word, I don’t think anyone has lived long enough to genuinely become a polymath and it’s probably a state only truly attainable by advanced artificial intelligence).

This has taken me to interesting topics and encounters with interesting (sometimes for all the wrong reasons, such as in the anecdote above) people.  Such as religion, and the religious, respectively.  The first notable example is a concise history of religion I read probably a decade ago.  To put it simply, it outlined the various religious beliefs humans have had down the ages.  From paganism (worship of many gods, often represented by features of the landscape or small figurines) to monotheism (worship of a single deity, ie Christianity, Judaism and Islam).  This book caused me to ask myself one simple question, which may have actually put me on a path to atheism: if religion can change, how can it ever be true?

In other words, if every single ancestor of every single Christian, Jew or Muslim on this planet at one time backward through history once had absolutely no idea who Jesus, Yaweh, or Allah was, how could Jesus, Yaweh or Allah then, now or ever exist?  Again, I’ll leave that up to you.  The second example is more controversial: the Koran.  It took me a good year to read, because it’s laboriously preachy and repetitive.  Positively, it’s a staggering work of imaginative (if somewhat plagiarised from Judaism and Christianity which came before it) genius.  And proposes many ways in which people not only can but should be a good person.  Negatively, it mentions some pretty reprehensible stuff about treatment of women.  Without intending a defence of it, it was written in the 8th century.

The Koran cemented for me the question of how could religion be true if it changed (arguably the next, and second in ridiculousness only to Scientology, big one to appear was Mormonism, from the United States in the 1700s, from memory).  It also caused me to ask another, not particularly original, I must admit, question relating to terrorism and child marriage and the like: if religion proposes such good, antique attitudes toward women aside, why does it seem to cause such bad?  The answer lies in the fact that, as I said at the start, it is deliberately fabricated.  Religion is literally everything, only just to religious people and not in the way they believe.  Every time something good happens, they interpret it through their religion (God’s work).  Every time something bad happens, the same (God’s plan).  Ever heard of Christians saying a natural disaster was the fault of gays or some other scapegoat? Yep.

The difference for atheists is they see good things as a purely human construct, even and regardless of if done by a religious person or people.  And bad things as simply the weather (or climate change, but that’s another story), or again a non-spiritual human construct in the form of some nut with a gun/bomb/car, or some religious nut (terrorist) with a gun/bomb/car.  There are two things and two things only which need to be used to explain good or bad things: science, and psychology – which could also come under “science”.  Attributing anything to a fictional construct is dangerous at worst, and an unnecessary waste of time at best.

So why isn’t everyone atheist?  Again, let me refer to the beginning.  Religion is not just fabricated.  It is deliberately fabricated.  The Bible, Koran, Torah, etc. didn’t just fall from the sky.  They were written (and rewritten and translated countless times) by people, and almost certainly, in the case of every religious text ever written, exclusively by men.  But why did men write them?  To control women and other men.  That’s why religion’s fundamental problem is that it’s complete fiction.  Because, it is complete fiction written by men to control other people. And, it’s complete fiction written by men to control other people not just in regard to their religious (or absence of religious) lives, but their entire lives. Or as much of them as possible.

And they’re still using it to control people to this day. But not for the sake of control. For the sake of manipulating you into believing lies. Like my former housemate above, if you can be convinced there’s a god, you can be convinced  (or convince yourself) you can afford a house, even if a reasonable person can see you can’t. If you can be convinced of that, you can be convinced that prohibitively costly medical care for your needlessly terminal child is all part of “God’s plan”, when it’s really because of bloated pharmaceutical company profits  and shareholder dividends. Or you can be convinced that, when you die after blowing yourself up in a crowded shopping strip, you’ll awake in eternal paradise. I don’t want to be controlled, or at least I’d like to be less controlled in ways I have choices over (as opposed to ways I don’t, such as living in a capitalist system of wage slavery).  So I’m atheist.  And in the spiritual aspect of my life I am perfectly free, ironically because there is no spiritual aspect of my life.  I highly recommend it.

That Time I Was Called Racist

Once upon a time in a former, office-working life, a colleague of mine called me racist.  I was bagging out (Australian for criticising) “Kiwis” (New Zealanders).  Can’t remember exactly what I said, but it inspired her to call me racist.  I can’t recall if she directly said: “You’re racist.”  But the word “racist” was in there somewhere.  My response that was I was not racist.  She said something to the effect that if I had to say I was not racist, there was a good chance I was, in fact, racist.  Defensiveness implying guilt.  My reply, and last word was: “Well here we are.”  In other words: “I don’t care for that reasoning.  I’m not racist.”

Her partner at the time, who just happened to be a New Zealander – and specifically Maori (native) – was visiting her later that day.  I’d asked her earlier that day or week if he might be able to set me up with hospitality work, as my office gig was only temporary.  And he worked behind bars.  Not sure if she said she would or not.  Later that day, the day I was accused of being racist, I was downstairs getting something from the nearby convenience store, when I saw her and him as I walked back to the entrance of the office.  They were both outside the entrance.  She pointed to me, looking at him, and he started walking toward me.

From memory, he was smiling, and as he came up to me he tried to give me one of those handshakes in which you come from up high with your right hand, in a more casual manner I can’t describe any better.  I prefer normal handshakes, and more recently fist-bumps.  Or no touching at all when greeting another man in a casual setting, and quick hugs either way with women.  Other than asking me how I was going, and me returning the greeting, nothing further transpired and we both went on our respective ways.  I later thought perhaps that he was going to help me with hospitality work, but decided not to.  And that his girlfriend had put him up to it.  When I got back upstairs I said nothing to her about it other than that I prefer normal handshakes.  She either said nothing or little but a murmuring sound.

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The hoop I used to shoot at during lunch breaks in this particular office job.

Much later, I realised why she had called me racist.  It’s because she thought I was talking specifically about Maoris, instead of New Zealanders in general – the latter being the actual case.  (It’s somewhat of a good-natured national pastime for Australians to give bulk shit to (criticise) New Zealanders, and vice-versa.)  And I still can’t help but suspect that what she was actually pointing him to do that day outside the office was punch me in the face, or similar.  Though that might just be paranoia.  Either way, it’s been playing on my mind for some time now, occasionally, the fact that she incorrectly labelled me racist (I actually believe and have seen evidence to the effect that there is in fact no such thing as races, or racial division within the human race.  It’s just another construct designed to divide and control us).

I’ve thought about getting in touch with her and clarifying.  But frankly I don’t wish to get in touch with her for any reason at all.  She was a regular, and often quite galling (deliberately or not) critic of mine.  So all things being equal, I felt it easier to simply use this blog post to square the ledger, so to speak.  I do agree that sometimes it’s not generally a good sign if your only defence to being accused of being a bigot is to simply say that you are in fact not.  But then, if your accuser has misinterpreted what you’ve said, and you haven’t realised they have, then what other argument could you possibly make.  Ironically, prejudice on her behalf might have kept her from hearing me correctly.  Though, she too might since have come to understand the way things actually went.  Whether you, dear reader, think me racist, is up to you.  I’m not going to repeat that I’m not.  But I will say that I find bigotry of any kind to be stupid at best, and abhorrent at worst.