After watching Boyle’s new film, Sunshine, I found myself wanting to revert back to focusing on philosophical problems. But before I could really convince myself of this regression I had to again question which was more important: politics (or more broadly, society) or philosophy? The comparison is not much different from rationality versus irrationality.

Since my first course in epistemology I asked myself: so what? Let’s say we, as philosophers, figured out what constitutes practical knowledge. Or for sake of simplicity, let’s say the ethicists figured out definitively that murder was, somehow, absolutely “wrong” in all cases. Philosophers would then have go through this arduous process of trekking through the uncommon and rather irrational and dishonest ground of political rhetoric in order to convince the public and the government of philosophy’s latest and greatest moral discovery: murder by one human of another human is always wrong. Which is to say it is true that murder is wrong. Objectively, universally, absolutely, and any other -ly you can think of.

Philosophers would have to convince religious-leaning lobbyists, “think tanks”, and, in America, the 300 million citizens who generally feel that if you step on their land you without asking first you deserve to be shot.

The beast of politics seems like an unbeatable foe to the mild mannered armchair philosopher. So then what is the point of a philosopher’s job? To convince other philosophers? Unlikely. 99% of a philosopher’s job is to disagree with 99% of what everyone else says. How’s a philosopher going to make a living writing long insightful essays of “I agree”?

As such politics becomes this disgusting behemoth that a wanna-be philosopher would want to defeat before he had devoted his life to a pointless profession. I want to be a philosopher. But I don’t want to be a philosopher if I have to face the current state of politics. The one with the public saying one thing, the media saying two things (in contradiction) and the politicians saying nothing of worth.

That’s why I started reading books on social change, social movement culture, and revolution. However, everything about that stuff is for a weaponized middle class – or enfranchised class. And in America there is no weaponized middle class. The lower class is the most oppressed and the most weaponized, and the lower class constitutes the majority of the military but the middle class is always the class that actually revolts. They’ve got shit to lose while the lower class has everything to gain from conformity.

What then of revolutionary days? You know, the days when the 2nd amendment actually had a point to it? Well, those days are over. But let’s say I’m optimistic of revolution. I’d likely think of myself as a patriot. As such I’d likely think that “exercising” my 2nd amendment rights to buy and own a gun would both be a citizen’s duty as well as a revolutionary necessity. And if I bought the largest gun I could possibly find with the largest and most powerful bullets I could legally buy from the private sector it’d still be dwarfed by the US military’s tank division. And if I hijacked a tank, it’d be dwarfed by the USAF. And if I somehow hijacked a F-Raptor or stealth bomber that’s still dwarfed by the US’s nuclear arms repository – you know, the one that could not only kill me but destroy the entire Earth 50 times.

Violent resistance is absolutely futile. But gosh darnit it was originally the American way. Therou taught us otherwise. But the mere breaking of unjust laws seems futile in an unjust and apathetic political time as today.

And now we’re back at square one. Philosophy seems futile under a political regime such as today. And political and social change seem futile in their own right. I can’t reason my way out of this quantifiably (it’s a word now). As in, “which is the less futile of the two?”

I’m choosing philosophy. I hope that in the future any reverting to the political atmosphere would be a vacation at best. Philosophy is perpetually the more interesting of the two disciplines and the most intellectually rewarding. As long as you relieve yourself of the thumped-in concept that problems demand solutions – as opposed to insight – then you’ll be fine as a philosopher. You won’t be worrying if another philosopher disproves your argument. You’ll not only expect it but be anxiously waiting for it.

Philosophy it is, for now.

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I’m deciding to take advantage of “structured procrastination” (I should be studying for a French test) and write about simplicity – again. A recent digg article shot to the front page about webdesign simplicity. It wasn’t particularly insightful or newly informative. But it did practice what it preached: Link. Mirror(png). Noticed how it was technically in the common five paragraph essay format/structure.

This common format is taught around 6th or 7th grade and then internalized throughout high school where it becomes enforced in college and a necessity for intellectual life. A quick google search produces a simple to understand guide for this: JCU.edu

This past year I read “A Hacker Manifesto” and its unusual aphorismic format was immediately appealing. It succeeds in its brevity where the common 5-paragraph system fails. It does this by breaking the monogamy of argument-example. The main argument to maintain this relationship for the 5-paragraph format is to allow for ‘further understanding’ or “support” of the argument. It allows the reader to more appropriately understand the meaning and context of the body’s premise. But, for certain information, this is not a necessity.

Before I proceed: I recognize the irony in having to utilize the 5-paragraph format in my own writing and I also recognize that I’ll have to use an example to further explain my previous statement. This is only a handicap because I haven’t internalized the aphorismic method, yet. So: For instance, in the above digg article the main argument statements in each body is in bold. You may if you need further clarification/understanding read the body’s non-bolded text. But you could read and understand the entire essay’s point by simply reading those short one-sentence arguments.

This setup makes the logic of the essay more explicit. One of the first challenges schoolchildren have in understanding a block of text in an essay is by recognizing what and where the thesis statement is. In the previous example, there is no interconnected logic but rather an abundance of one-liner arguments. But most other essays, particularly philosophical ones, require step-by-step argumentation.

Consider a simple syllogism:

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

Now, if this logic was to be put under the two structures previously described, then you shall see which has its flaws.

Very simplistically, in the 5-paragraph structure you’d have something like this. The obviousness of the supporting statements may come off as stupid but this yet another unnecessary flaw in 5-paragraph sytem.

It is no mystery we humans live and die. Socrates was no different in this distinction. In this essay, I will argue that since men die, and that Socrates is a man, that Socrates has the potential to die.
All men are mortal. This is evidenced by numerous graves and the fact that there are no men who have lived forever. All the decedents of men have died. Since we are living things, we must be vulnerable to death. For example, etc. This manifestation of humanity allows for the analysis of one such man, Socrates.
Socrates is a man. This can be shown in so many ways such as the certain traits that compose “man” which are shared by Socrates himself. For example, he has a beard. Another example, is that he has male genitalia. It is now imperative I describe the most important trait Socrates shares with mankind: mortality.
Thus, because Socrates is a man and that all men eventually die, Socrates will eventually die. It is possible to see the effects of death by his deteriorating health and lack of pulse. The trail and eventual willful execution by poision was the proverbial final nail in the coffin.
I have thus shown the intricate reasons for Socrates’s own mortality. It is taken syllogistically from the major premise that all men are mortal to the minor term that Socrates is a man and finally to the conclusion that Socrates is mortal.

How unbefuckinglievably laborious was it to wade through that dumbfounded essay only to point out the obvious syllogistic logic that Socrates is mortal? This has to be done for virtually every argument presented by anyone. It is beneficial to do this for rather complex arguments and arguments which may require such laborious support but this is only mainly done to cater to the possible stupidity and ignorance of the reader. It is not something that is necessitated by the form or argument itself. In “A Hacker Manifesto” Wark employs a slightly different approach. It is a little synthetic in that it is between the extended form of the 5-paragraph essay and the minimalistic form I’m arguing which would be an Wittgensteinian essay composed entirely of propositions. Wark will have an abundance of propositions in regard to a central idea/subject. He will also support those propositions with sub-propositions which could be separate but are kept within a single paragraph due to their relevance to the main topic sentence. Quote:

In the frontline states of the old cold war, the forces of revolt were most successful. In Tawian, Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines; in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and the Baltic States, the forces of revolt pushed the old ruling classes toward a new state form, in which further movements toward abstraction at least have a fighting chance.

Revolt [237]

Two propositional statements. That whole paragraph could be dissertation. A dissertation analyzing the revolts in all those countries described, in support of a main thesis to describe the success of them as a movement toward Wark’s conceptualization of “abstraction.” Wark modeled his writing for “A Hacker Manifesto” on Debord’s “The Society of the Spectacle” Debord was influenced by Isidore Isou (here is his manifesto) and his hypergraphology theory and Lettrist movement. Another writer’s style whose relevance is undeniable is Wittgenstein. In his magnum opus, Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein dissolves philosophy by logical atomism through arguments about language and reality. In 80 or so pages it critiques philosophical analysis, language, logic, reality, with some ethical overtones and develops a ‘picture’ theory of propositions. Each theses is numbered (1 through 6, with a 7th and last proposition being his famous dictum: “Whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent.” or sometimes translated as “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.”) and sometimes has sub-theses which are comments or elaborations on the main theses.

 

In fact, the entire ‘book’ can be simplified into 7 direct statements:

1. The world is all that is the case.

2. What is the case – a fact – is the existence of states of affairs.

3. A logical picture of facts is a thought.

4. A thought is a proposition with a sense.

5. A propositions is a truth-function of elementary propositions.

6. The general form of a truth-function is [p, E, N(E)].

7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.

 

That’s it. If Wittgenstein had been forced into the 5-paragraph structure the book would be monumental. His simplicity highlights another flaw in the 5-paragraph paradigm which I consider to be a manifest contradiction. In English writing classes we are taught two things: critical thinking skills and essay writing skills. But, the ideology behind both in regard to the reader-writer relationship is contradictory.

 

The reader is taught to be skeptical and critically analyze the information presented in an essay. They are taught to avoid logical fallacies, and not become victims of persuasion. But, the writer is given intellectual tools which he/she is supposed to utilize to convince the reader that the writers arguments are not only valid but sound and true. Writers are also urged to utilize writing which is not explicitly intellectually dishonest but is just as a persuasive in trying to convert the reader to the writer’s philosophy. This doesn’t make sense. Everyone is a writer and a reader. If you are a writer, you must use as many tools at your disposal to ‘trick’ the reader into adopting your view with the least resistance. If you are a reader, you must use as many tools at your disposal to be critical and open minded so as not to fall into the writer’s ‘traps’.

 

Aphorismic writing is not illusory. It presents a proposition within a logically flowing piece of literature and it is up to the reader to critically analyze it. Analyze it on its own merits and its relation to other propositions in the text. In Aphorismic writing, the potential intellectual dishonesty of the 5-paragraph method is avoided while the information and logic of the argument is maintained.

 

I wrote this entry in part to ‘do’ something today. But I also wrote it to allow myself to synthesize all these thoughts which bounce around in my mind loosely tied together. I didn’t write an outline for this, I just sat and wrote. I feel that I have convinced myself that I want to convert to writing aphorismically. However, first, I’ll have to start internalizing that method.

During this morning’s US history class, I had this brief moment of inquiry into what I’m calling “microenvironmentalism” and just how much of a failure it truly can be if we don’t have a larger focus on “macroenvironmentalism” in America, at least. Micro/Macroenvironmentalism is, I think, is already jargon in a few fields already but since wikipedia doesn’t have a definition for it and google only has 19 pages regarding it I’m going to hijack it for my own purposes.

In terms of trying to “save the environment” and thus the world (apparently, nobody is trying to save the cheerleader here… yet…) there are several ad-hoc McGuyver-esque tips and tricks one can use to micromanage there carbon footprint. This is basically what I mean by microenvironmentalism – miniscule ways an individual can “save the environment.” Here is an excellent example of these tricks: 100 ways to Save the Environment

There are several “all-natural” products that have little pro-microenvironmentalist slogans to make it appear you’re ‘doing your part.’ For instance, Seventh Generation is one of those companies that produce “Natural All Purpose” cleaning supplies with two main quotes that reflect their philosophy. First one is from “The Great Law of the Iroquis Confederacy”:

In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.

Hence the name. This philosphy is in no way small – according to Wikipedia groups have proposed this idea to be a “Seventh Generation Amendment.” The problem is that the other quote Seventh Generation puts on their products is this:

You are making a difference. TM

If every household in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of 32 oz. petroleum based all-purpose cleaning with our renewable resource based product, we could save 7,100 barrels of oil, enough to heat and cool 400 U.S. homes for a year!

Far be it from me to figure out how in the hell they trademarked the phrase “You are making a difference” but this quote reveals the absolute short-sightedness of these seemingly pro-environment companies. 400 houses for a year? That’s what, 1 square mile of a residential area if all 300,000,000 Americans replaced there 32 oz. of WD40 with Seventh Generation’s product? Do the math on that. You’re using 100 percent of the population in order to save 0.0000013 percent. That is statistically irrelevant. They say these microenvironmentalist tips and tricks eventually “add up” and pay off. Well, that might be true if by “add up” you mean having every American citizen doing about a million of these short-sighted tricks every day for decade.

And how amazingly naive is it to think that Seventh Generation could somehow monopolize the cleaning products market? “Saving 7,100 barrels of oil” are they joking? We burn through something like 20 million a day for fucks sake.

This type of short-sighted naivete is what is ultimately killing the environmentalists. They aren’t properly proposing a macroenvironmentalist philosphy that may, actually, do some good. Macroenvironmentalists, obviously, being those ways of reducing emissions and “saving the environment” in a massive way. Two great examples of this are the banning of CFCs and the Clean Emissions Act in the 70s (I think) that required cars to get routine smog checks and mufflers that so forth. This tactic worked during the Ozone crisis and still relatively does work.
But why is there the emphasis on microenvironmentalism moreso than macroenvironmentalism. Well, micro-E is more effective on the individual. Just pick and choose of the 100 ways to save the environment that you can do. They are simple and flexible enough for everyone to fulfill. But ultimately, it’s still short-sighted. Everyone could do them but the reason we have a government, on some level, is get us to do things we must do. The ozone was “saved” not because environmentalists said you should for the sake of the environment get your car’s emissions checked. The ozone was ‘saved’ because the government made it a law. This is macroenvironmentalism. Instead of offering ad-hoc solutions to massive problems confronting mankind, use institutions created for the soul purpose of motiving mankind to solve the problem.

Don’t follow some strange instructions you found on the internet to get your car to run on human excrement, vote for and lobby for policies that enact sweeping pro-environmentalist legislation like supporting green gas power plants, emissions and so forth. Ultimately, if the government and environmentalists work together to do the morally right thing they’ll solve the problem macroenvironmentally – At the very least they’ll be closer to solving the problem than a lifestime of microenvironmentalism ever could.

Now I know I’m sort of misrepresenting my position here because I honestly don’t believe microenvironmentalism to be wholly without merit. The issue I take part in is that microenvironmentalism is only useful if it is to compliment a larger philosophy surrounding macroenvironmentalism. There’s no point in saving 7,100 barrels of oil if we a) still have a major dependence on oil and b) are still sucking oil out of the earth at the same rate.

However, the biggest hurdle macroenvironmentalism will have to overcome is the affinity America has with land, particularly its land. John Locke, the great political philosopher, highlighted the fact that during the American Revolution and America’s inception into the world stage as the power in the Western Hemisphere is that land, specifically property, meant – literally for a time being – freedom and opportunity. This philosophy pervaded much US public policy during it’s Frontier days and even much after the historian Turner said the Frontier was closed – instead of being American pioneers “carving out civilization” we decided to try and conquer Cuba, Philipines and so forth. We still have an affinity for land and property (however property has become a little more intangible ala “intellectual property”, stocks, businesses and so forth) Now that all the property is owned now we have an affinity for power over the land.

America likes using its land and its resources. We’ve liked it since before we became a nation and we’ve liked it ever since. The Turner Frontier thesis shed light on the imperitive for the country to rethink it’s land-centric (or Frontier-centric) philosophy simply because we ran out of physical land to pioneer. Our first response to this was along the lines of “well… conquer someone elses land – Cuba, Philipines.” That’s how we got Puerto Rico and Guam and naval bases like Guantanamo on Cuba.

A hundred years later, our land is threatened again. Now we’re simply not supposed to touch it anymore. We’ve had far far too much fun with it so much so that continuing in a such a way will ultimately be hazardous to us – fatally even. Rome over-extended its empire  and power over Asia, Africa and Europe to the point where it fell. America is over-using its empire to the point where we have to “liberate” countries to impose our political philosophy on so that… hopefully and eventually… America can continue to exist in other forms.

So now, macroenvironmentalism will have to develop a philosophy that either already compliments Americanism or one that must replace it – fat chance though. I see this being it the philosophy’s main impetutus to adoption but also the only way global warming and environmentalism in general are going to surive. You’ve got to convince America of this and do so in such a way that allows for its adoption by even the most hardcore nationalists (or “patriots” as they are sometimes called).  Once that is fulfilled, have as many McGuyver-esque microenvironmentalist tricks you want.

Okay, what is going on? Four days ago Blair proposed a freakish policy of mandatory state intervention in an attempt to “crack-down” on “antisocial” citizens. However, the freakish aspect is that he said he’d be willing to intervene pre-birth children that hypothetically could turn out to be “menaces to society.” And no, it wasn’t satire as far as I could tell. If it was it’d be the first satirical newstory that popped up simultaneously on CNN, BBC, Guardian.UK and a few associated press junkets. Then, about the next day, a letter was made and signed by 17 ministers of parliament asking for Blair’s resignation which has now been set for May 27th or 30th (or officially July 26th). Also, earlier today BBC broke news that there has been a “wave of resignations” throughout Britain under the explanation that Blair isn’t right for the UK or the Labour party. Granted, most of the signatories of the letter from a 2001 intake were unpaid bottom rung aides and I suspect a few of the resignations are of low-importance members, which doesn’t mean that their resignation is insignificant. It merely means that their resignation is meant to be symbolic and attention-getting so as to aid in creating a view of governmental weakness and use the justification of “Blair isn’t right for the UK” as a way of placing blame… while keeping the more important dissident figures still in power so there’s someone to take hold of the reigns when/if the strategy of shifting power-dynamics worked.

Basically, it’s a coup strategy. I mean, you’ve got it all. Propaganda meant to illegitamize the one already in power (the pre-natal behavioral modification policy), then organization for a focused opposition (the letter), the dessemination of information that change is occuring in favor of the focused opposition (The Sun article leaking the Blair’s supposed date of resignation), and now a further symbolic weakening of power coupled with more illegitmating (mass resignations).

Compare with the coup and re-coup made in Venezuela against Hugo Chavez. Massive propaganda suggesting that Chavez was ruthless one-track dictator killing his own people, a focused opposition (Oil company execs with friends), then an military-aided assault on Chavez’s compound requesting resignation [it should be noted that Chavez was being considered a criminal at the time because if the system is illegal then illegal activities against the system (like a coup de’tat) are permissable. Since Chavez didn’t give his resignation he was taken into custody], then the next morning Venezuela woke to a newsbroadcaster saying “Good Morning, you have a new President.” Who was, get this, the oil CEO.

Guardian – “We can clamp down on antisocial children, before birth, says Blair
BBC – Minister joins Blair exit demands 

BBC – Blair hit by wave of resignations

IMDB – Chavez: Inside the Coup