The poster on the facing page was developed to trace how the contradictions of modern moralistic reasoning reinforce the atrocities of modern civilization.
Morality: 1. Related to good and evil. 2. dealing with good and evil. 3. capable of distinguishing between good and evil, or 4. engaging in good conduct over evil conduct, sometimes specifically sexual virtuousness.
When Christopher Columbus brought kidnaped Caribbean Indians to Spain they died shortly afterwards. They could not adapt to the slave existence the nobles of Medieval Europe imposed on them. Forced labor did not physically kill them. They were killed by the loss of their spontaneous, communal way of life.
The citizens of industrial democracies have acquired a great and dubious ability to adapt to difficult conditions. Wilhelm Reich studied the submission of the average German to NAZI ideology. He wrote how rigidly held postures and attitudes helped the average citizen embrace irrational ideology. He defined these rigid postures that prevented people from feeling pleasure as Character armor. Reich's analysis of fascism can be applied to every nation today. The citizens of modern society need their character armor to adapt to the mechanical rhythm of daily life. It prevents them from feeling the pain of losing their communities and their spontaneous animal existence.
Not feeling the pain of losing a fluid existence, the armored person also does not see what they lose. Instead of viewing life as something to be enjoyed each moment, the civilized or armored personality views life as a series of mechanical choices and goals: to go to work, get money, get sex, get fame etc..
"From Christianity to Islam to Hinduism, all civilizations were originally based on creating governments to prevent humans from choosing to harm innocents." HARDLINE poster
Morality is the natural logic of character armor. Character armor keeps people from feeling own fluid existence and their community. So they see pleasure only indirect - in things totally outside of themselves. They see pleasure in mythologically "innocent" beings instead. "The innocent," can be Jesus, babies, children, animals, "oppressed people," or women, depending on the myth they follow. The image of the innocent is an image of a sensuous being with the sexuality moved to a mystical plane.
The capitalist accounting of the free market uproots each superstition and archaic value. Science teaches us that all matter is composed of atoms, that the stars are far-off suns, that human life is created by of chemicals, etc.. The world economy shows us that the earth, the air, the oceans and ideas all have prices fixed by mining rights, pollution rights and intellectual property.
Pure morality reduces all thinking to atoms of choice. C.S. Lewis gives a list of quotes that show the similarity of Christian and the other laws of other religions. (Don't murder, don't steal, don't adulter etc.) The modern moral philosopher, such as C. S. Lewis, decomposes every total myth into a series of small choices based on arbitrary values. He shows that each religion has approximately the same "morality."
Pure morality is a product of this society. It is marketed like any other commodity. High school gym teachers are assigned to show that every "religious value" is equally valid as a passive choice. Every form of mystified choice, from "Everything I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" to "The Fetus Never Gets A Choice" to quaker pacifism to "Sex positive" pornography sales to Islamic Fundamentalism now competes within the marketplace of values.
Still, the ahistorical abstraction of the market can only see the different stages of human history as different permutations of the pure alienation of market relations. It cannot see each stage as different ways of being. When the moralist decomposes each earlier religion into a series of consumer choices, they don't see the differing total social contexts these religions had. Just as the free-market economist implicitly assumes that primitive gatherers would manage their forest in the same way as a modern lumber company, the moralist assumes a primitive person would make choices of values the way the modern citizen decides to believe Oral Roberts, Pat Boon or the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
So the logic of morality sees no relation between the good, innocent, and the person choosing the good. The formulation a pure GOOD severs the chooser from the choice. "Talking about the social roots of animal oppressors is an empty excuse. Either someone has the choice or they don't." HARDLINE
For all classical morality, the greatest good is to give up yourself, to be egoless. Christianity calls on its followers to let their old selves die, John Kennedy said "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Etc..
So the logic of character armor and the logic of atomized free choice wind up being the same. Both sorts of thinking see the good/the innocent as totally outside the person.
For the armored nationalist, the "love" of the innocent transforms into the hatred of the guilty, the profane or the sexual. Sins against innocence require unlimited retribution. When the NAZI harangued against the Jews, they did so in the name of the innocent German blood. George Washington attacked "the savages" for massacring "innocent" women and children.
The American military/media complex backed its mass bombing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi conscripts with false stories of Iraqi soldiers ripping babies out of incubators. The police-media complex uses two or three incidents of child molesting to justify a vast increase in the police state, including "Three Strikes Your Out."
These examples don't form a rational argument but instead focus the spectator's thoughts on pure innocence versus animalistic violence. The intended effect is to make the spectator not care for a rational discussion of the situation.
Viva Mexico, Viva Caesar Chavez, Viva Colgate
Slogan of 24th Street Fare
The ridiculous posturing of the RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) is both revealing and a trap. The RCP has the virtue of stating plainly what it is after. Strutting up and down a street with Mao signs is ridiculous. But it is not fundamentally a more ridiculous ritual than putting on a tie and going to work as an office manager. It is only more out of date.
It is easy for both Rush Limbeau and "anti-authoritarians" to say that every little Leninist party is simply filled with power-mad assholes. But this simply lets one not think about who exactly these people are. "They appear out of nowhere and they are bad."
The "authoritarianism" of the RCP is only one symptom of their general managerial mentality. Other leftists like Green Peace can use mushy liberalism or bureaucratic consensus procedure to the same ends.
The left is not a matter of evil organizations vying for power. The left is essentially a collection of more or less sincere people pushing their solutions to the problems of this society. They often have bourgeois backgrounds, but not always. The problem is they think in the same terms as this society. Leftist's whole mode thinking revolves around specialized issues.
When leftist "address issues" they want to solve capitalism's problems rather than destroy capitalism. "The environment," "Classism," Racism, Sexism, or Hatred of Immigrants are boxes that the government and news media use to manage the average person's reactions to their everyday lives. The left takes the same categories and tries to give them a different "spin."
But this society's categories ("issues") are themselves the most manipulative part of this society's dialogue about itself. "Should We have better health care or lower taxes" - should those on the bottom suffer more or those slightly above them should suffer more. Green party hacks demand taxes on workers driving to work to pay for public transportation. But many relatively poor workers would still be forced to drive to work. As long as we think about ways to manage education, health care or "crime," we will only be able to think about this sort of society, where all these "problems" can never be solved.
As a tendency, the left uses all forms of progressive capitalist control - managerialism, specialization, morality, nationalism, democracy, terrorism. These are the methods that let this society become more advance, more "normal." In fact, the main reason the RCP looks stupid is that they look towards an archaic method of capitalist development. In 1950, a bureaucratic/ideological party was perfectly suited to the capitalist development of a peasant society such as China. Today's integrated world market demands moralistic, democratic ("pragmatic") development. Capital's world division of ideological labor limits Maoism to very underdeveloped regions like Peru and outlying islands in the Philippines.
Leftists think like and usually come from the bureaucratic section of "middle management." They are managers who have a stake in the entire system rather than in one or another faction within the world economy - social workers, priests, government planners etc..
The left was once united as all those people who sought a total solution to this society's problems. The left, all leftists together, was the representative of total change in the system (even while it supported the system). The ideology of a capitalism without contradictions reached its apex with the rise of Stalinism. Stalinist Russia united the world's leftists into communist parties with the promise of society with no unemployment, no competition, no inequality and no corruption - in other words, a rationally managed version of America.
The defined, unified left is gone. There is no longer the "community of progressive people," who from liberal democrats to "Communist" Party hacks altogether looked towards a progressive state solution to this society's problems. The "free market" dominates the ideology of all stripes of reformers.
The left's disappearances does present a credibility problem to capital's marketplace of solutions. But this disappearance comes as capital no longer feels much need to give credibility to a unified opposition. A cloud of ad-hoc mystifications offers a better management strategy than the single lie of a state solution to every problem. As it has lost its unity as the representative of the new, the left has fully merged with morality. Its politics becomes mobilizing the masses to contemplate a whirlpool of fragmented choices - does this choice hurt Blacks, does this choice hurt home owners, does this choice hurt animals, etc..Ross Perot appears representing nothing except a "third product." Presidential elections with three ridiculous choices rather than two are calculated to give sufficient coverage to the voter anger that polls had predicted.
Even the most extreme piece-meal reformers still accept the world market. They just ridiculously promise a way to make their reforms economical. "The Crips And The Blood's Plan To Rebuild LA" involved attracting cocaine drug lords' "multi-national" capital to enrich South-Central Los Angeles. (This plan was naturally concocted by "gang-outreach" social workers rather than by the gangs - who have no high leaders who can speak for them.)
The destruction of community lets all reform become morality; a series of pre-defined choices within each issue. "Prosperity zones" - slave camps - are put forward as hope because they can be put forward, because the solidarity that would reject such slavery has been smashed. "Should we raise taxes or close schools?" is no longer seen as a struggle between "socialism" and "capitalism." It is more honestly framed as a fight between present development and future development. "Community leaders" can be recruited to fight on both sides of this sort of "community issue."
Communism is explicitly anti-moral. Communists do not have a morality they wish to impose on society. Rather they see new social relations that might incidentally have certain values.
All myths and moralities seek to axiomatize human behavior. Communism instead seeks to give human beings mastery over the material conditions that influence their behavior. They must both follow values and create their values.
Talking about the proletariat isn't saying that "class is a more fundamental oppression than race or gender oppression." We have no interest in oppression as a force that will by itself generate revolution - instead we look to communist relations as a new way of living that will incidentally remove each type of oppression in this society.
Since communism is people acting for themselves, it will not need to justify itself in the name of morality, democracy or other cloaks now used to hoodwink the masses.
Unfortunately or fortunately, communism cannot be a return to pure animal existence. Communists must also redirect the urge for pleasure. But they do it consciously, knowing they do it as a part of their existence and not to sacrifice their existence.
Communism uses force to separate itself from capitalism. The conscious destruction of the economy, of exchange, is community reappearing and imposing itself on society. Communism destroys the space where people can simply engage in neutral, "normal" activity that "doesn't hurt anyone." It will be a return to festivals, to real life but it will equally be the prohibition of alienation, of spectator hood and of servitude.