Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oaths and Other Forms of Blackmail Are Destructive to the Free Working of Man's Intellect

Blogpal Richard linked to this Feral Scholar post:
Jared Loughner may have some problems with dissociation, however that is being defined, but he didn’t learn to load and fire a Glock 19 via some synaptic disruption in his cerebral cortex; he learned it from a culture. Last I checked, there is no evidence of a Glock 19 gene, though I expect the DSM-IV people to come up with a Glock 19 Disorder soon enough, and Searle will invent a drug to control it.

This may sound like I’m trying to make the US case against him, given the narrow legal definition of insanity; but I’m not. The legal definition of anything is always inadequate, because law can never anticipate the complexity of context.

The case I’m making is that Loughner – in his own mentally fractured way – was behaving exactly the way his culture demonstrated he was supposed to behave.
I blithely commented, so am I, and I mean that cynically but I mean it sympathetically: even if you obstinately resist power to your ornery best your orneriness obstinately continues to water power's avatars. Children, shush and hurry past the house of the crazy hippie with the feral cats and garden statuary (and who probably makes the same sillyass Star Trek allusions over and over...).


Jack Spicer

 We, the Research Assistants and Teaching Assistants of the University of California, wish to register our protest against the new loyalty oath for the following reasons.

1) The testing of a University faculty by oath is a stupid and insulting procedure. If this oath is to have the effect of eliminating Communists from the faculty, we might as logically eliminate murderers from the faculty by forcing every faculty member to sign an oath saying that he has never committed murder.

2) That such an oath is more dangerous to the liberties of the community than any number of active Communists should be obvious to any student of history. Liberty and democracy are more often overthrown by fear than by stealth. Only countries such as Russia or Spain have institutions so weak and unhealthy that they must be protected by terror.

3) Oaths and other forms of blackmail are destructive to the free working of man's intellect. Since the early Middle Ages universities have zealously guarded their intellectual freedom and have made use of its power to help create the world we know today. The oath that Galileo was forced by the Inquisition to swear is but a distant cousin to the oath we are asked to swear today, but both represent the struggle of the blind and powerful against the minds of free men.

   We, who will inherit the branches of learning that one thousand years of free universities have helped to generate, are not Communists and dislike the oath for the same reason we dislike Communism. Both breed stupidity and indignity; both threaten our personal and intellectual freedom.


  1. Is Captain Kirk going to blow up the Gorn Leader with that phallus, or does he have another strategy in mind?

  2. "to water power's avatars."

    The issue is freedom. I believe there are determinisms, yes. Too many, in fact: genetic, environmental, societal, political, economic, mathematical, astronomical, medical, e.g. And in sum they can negate each other. Provide outs for each other.

    You seem to feel trapped. Radically unfree. Hopeless. Nothing you can do is not determined.

    But each uniquely responds to each's own over-determination. In that, there is a certain freedom.

    Much depends on how you look at it.

  3. Thanks, one last time, for the link. Noveller amazes me.

    Me, I just try to do whatever makes me happiest while making others least-unhappy. Probably doesn't work well.

  4. I liked "Bleached Beach" far more than the one I linked to, but it's what I could find. Thanks for the recommendation, and thanks to serendipity for putting that song on my radio this morning.

    My broader point is that power is incredibly adept at turning the resistance it produces into pro-power propaganda. As for me being trapped, I just try to be kind within the snare's sphere.

  5. "But each uniquely responds to each's own over-determination."

    Exactly! I came out of the pool yesterday only to find I'd foolishly left my lights on and my battery was dead. Of course I had that sinking woe is me moment that maybe the responsibility of car ownership was just going to be beyond me. But then this really cute guy jump-started my battery without my even asking and I was back on the road in no time.

    Jim, I've been thinking a lot about your trick question-"how do you organize anarchists?" And I know the answer! Or at least an answer.

  6. But that's just Communications, Dog. Goering, Rove. Hill & Knowlton. Ju-jitsu.

    Power is Koch Bros. Goldman Sachs. ExxonMobil. GE. The ones who don't do the yapping so overtly. Power's main job is to perpetuate itself. PR sophistry is certainly one effective way, esp. w/r/t those who aren't paying attention.

    George Lakoff talks about the preservation of governing: if we limit the size of Gov't, other powerful or moneyed or advantaged interests fill in the power vacuum. The move toward anarchy favors those who already have a leg up and can mobilize to capitalize.

    Now, I don't want to rule; and I presume neither do you. What we can do, is try to keep the ones who do honest. Balance them off against each other. Pay attention.