Non Fiction

Night of the World, Morning of the Universe: A Gleam of Hope in a Vapid Global Society

It appears that a superficial orientation to any subject is rampantly extant as a buyer’s catalog/introductory for masses of consumers that are indeed introduced, yet are never fully immersed. Yes, they buy, but purchasing negates understanding.

If you can hear someone’s headache going away, what does that signify?

-Absolutely nothing, it is nearly impossible to observe objectivity while immersed in meaningless buzzing.

However, when your ear drums are infected, your brain does not have to rot, conversely, let it grow in spite of the drone. One may ask, how can you not experience ambivalence in relation to society? You must realize that this conflict stems from a general concern: apathy and zealotry are two sides of the same coin.

It is true that life is purgatorial, and that is why people are attracted to extremes, black and white, when in reality ambiguity pervades. The irrelevant word is not spoken just for the sake of it, it is given in order to create an image. When this does not pertain to anything of substance, with the sole purpose of maintaining an illusion, then it is un-genuine, deliberately subversive, and utterly unbearable. Societal norms are based upon this idea, especially in recent times, when humans are not judged, but their hopelessly fake self-reflections represented by (sometimes singular, oftentimes multiple) internet persona[s] are… Thus, undue credit to the self is too often pitifully given as a seemingly transparent contradiction.

However, there are cases when confusion abounds, or that words are misunderstood as meaningless because of a chasm between subjective experiences. This is not contradictory, as subjectivity and objectivity are also two sides of the same coin. In truth, you are familiar with the concept that is expressed but it is just presented in a completely alien way.

These proverbial children are degenerating in mass-produced shells, and like Agamemnon, are quick to wrath because of expected societal reactions. People think that they have experienced the objective simply because they exist, at least in some sense, when in reality they are merely another clone in their own self-absorbed world. It is foolish to think that solipsism (whether conscious or not)  and freedom can coexist. When regarding others, the subject must always revolve back to the problems that they cannot perceive. Intentions may be justified in their own mind, which is why they can never be wrong: inherently and ironically, they are perfect.

The ability to bear the perfectly imperfect fades and then dies. Sensing the motives and desires of others is ruinous for the self. There is pointlessness, there is an oversimplification of everything based on experiencing and wading through mounds of bullshit, no, humanshit. Yes, there are vast differences between individuals, and it is understandable that no one can understand one another. Yet it is apparent that the masses are indeed clones, and that worthlessness is paramount. This harks back to the idea of an online entity representing the self. It has become an epidemic in that it no longer represents the self, it has become the self. Humans are influenced by what they perceive as their own creation, when it is only a cloned construction dictated by the oligarchs that have been successfully pacifying the masses for centuries.

For a brief instant, Anonymous seemingly destroyed this oppressive tool by shedding the idea of having a false personality. This was unfortunately reversed, however when Anonymous was given a face, specifically: Guy Fawkes. This phenomenon was hijacked by capitalism, and it should have been unsurprising considering the Che Guevara t-shirt precedent.

Is this struggle orchestrated, or is it organic? Neoliberalism’s best defense is true in that most conspiracy theories are ludicrous, but it is the greatest shame that these fears are not baseless.

This is the decade of dreaming dangerously, yet will emancipation from this wretched, disorderly order come to fruition anytime soon?

Freedom will be realized once humanity settles the final frontier. Only then: when communities are protected from corporations and governments by the vacuum and enormousness of space, will there be peace.

Non Fiction

1984: An Alternative Analysis of the Classic Dystopian Novel

George Orwell developed the theme of 1984 under a shroud of dystopian totalitarianism, when the novel is really a metaphorical satire of modern class structure.  The main character, Winston Smith, is a self-projection of the author as an isolated individual facing the menacing Big Brother’s totalitarian regime (Hopkinson par. 9).  When the book is taken at face-value, readers and critics conclude that the theme of 1984 is a warning against communist totalitarianism and the looming threat of dystopian totalitarianism in the future.  However, Orwell’s intended theme symbolically points out the inequitable class divisions in modern society, and only uses the setting of a futuristic dystopia to exaggerate his belief that the modern upper-class have complete control over the lower classes.

As early as the first two sentences, George Orwell gives a dank and isolating description of a dystopian world using simple but lurid syntax and diction “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.  Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.”(Orwell 1).  The “vile wind” may foreshadow the difficulties Winston will have to escape in the future, only to accept conformity in the end by letting the metaphorical “swirl of gritty dust” (conformity) overcome him in the end “… as the novel closes, Winston is alone, except for the internalized Big Brother.  In Between he travels a boomerang’s course, from the solitude which leads to self-awareness to that which marks the loss of his identity.”(Lonoff 35). The individualist spirit that overcomes Winston is one thing that the totalitarian state of Oceania fears most and in order to suppress that spirit, it must be wiped out.

The allegory that a reader would most quickly draw upon is of the government of Oceania in 1984, and Stalin’s Soviet dictatorship in World War Two(Fromm 315).  There are many parallels between Big Brother and Stalin, “….Resemblances, also, to the years of Stalinist terror in Russia. The grilling of Winston Smith by the Oceania authorities, the alternation between physical beatings and sympathetic conversations, the final terrifying appearance of O’Brien, master of power…”(Howe 96) A dooming presence of totalitarianism is not just the clearest element of the book, but a powerful tool of control.  The salient idea of 1984 is modern class warfare, and Orwell gives frightening glimpses of the Inner Party (the upper-class) using the totalitarian government for control over the Outer Party (middle-class) and proletariat (working-class).  Big Brother’s regime cruelly exerts control paralleling that of Stalin’s control of USSR-down to the point of homologous torture techniques, but there are more obvious signs.  The identical resemblance of Stalin and Big Brother’s face is a frightening juxtaposition of a warm guardian in a cold world ” …the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black mustache and ruggedly handsome features.”(Orwell 1).  However, although Orwell draws many similar parallels between Stalin and Big Brother, there is a quintessential difference between the two, Stalin was a man who wanted control for his own power, while Big Brother is a tool of the Inner Party in order to maintain power.

There are many different tools that the Inner-Party uses besides Big Brother to keep the lower classes under control.  Newspeak, telescreens, thought police, Ministry of Love, double think, war, prostitution, alcohol, gambling, the lottery and propaganda are only some of the many tools used by the Inner party in order to keep control.  The propaganda of 1984 is an interesting aspect of the plethora of tools the Inner Party uses to maintain power.  “Vast strategic maneuver-perfect co-ordination-utter rout-half a million prisoners-complete demoralization-control of the whole of Africa-bring the war within measurable distance of its end-victory-greatest victory in human history…”(Orwell 296-297) This example of Oceanic propaganda is projected through a telescreen describing a victory that could be applied to the British in World War Two. Not surprisingly Orwell had experience writing this sort of rhetoric before “When all of London was fleeing for the country during the Blitz, Orwell ran the other direction and took a propaganda job in the city…”(Kafka par. 23) 1984 draws parallels between the western democracies of World War Two and Oceania, discrediting the banal Cold War theory that the novel is a warning of communist totalitarianism.  Orwell’s point is that the differences between capitalistic democracies and communist dictatorships are irrelevant because both are invariably a vehicle that the most powerful group uses to maintain power “He is actually talking about a development that is taking place in Western industrial countries also, only at a slower pace than it is taking place in Russia and China”(Fromm 320).  The propaganda is directly correlated with Orwell’s modern world, but Orwell’s ideas of a new language and system of thought are more frightening prophesies of futuristic ultimate suppression.

Newspeak is the new language that is developed by the inner-party to suppress any unorthodox thought.  “The version in use in 1984, and embodied in the Ninth and Tenth Editions of the Newspeak dictionary…”(“Principles of” 298) The perfect form of Newspeak is 11th edition, which does not allow any unorthodox thought to exist.  Nearly no one really speaks Newspeak in 1984 but by the year 2050 it is supposed to override English in the state of Oceania (“Principles of” 298). Linguistics is an important factor of the Inner Party controlling the Outer Party and the proletariat.  SImplifying words and expressions to one meaning can eliminate thoughts that are dangerous to the Party(“Principles of” 299).  This concept of complete totalitarianism is another exaggeration used by Orwell in order to convince the reader of the control of the upper-class in modern society.  This controlling of thought and words through speech is one of many examples of a state of controlled insanity.  Newspeak is the easiest way that the Inner Party can communicate their insane views upon the lower classes as they literally would not be able to question any Party rules (Ranald Par. 1).  This can distantly relate to what Orwell saw as modern linguistics (slang, vernacular) and lack of education being used to keep the lower classes in their positions in the class structure in order for the upper-class to retain power.

The theme of 1984 is a warning of totalitarianism, but the power of the state (Big Brother) is only a veil that covers the true power of the upper-class in the so-called democracies of the western world.  The Inner Party is the driving force that utilizes all of the powers at their will in order to stay in control “the essential structure of society has never altered.”(Orwell 184).  Orwell applies this theory of class warfare and stagnation  by having Winston try to join “the brotherhood”, a secret terrorist organization that is only a ploy to get Winston caught.  When Winston is tortured and re-educated in the Ministry of Love, Orwell deconstructs the human being and throws away all hope that may have been left in the novel.  Orwell exaggerates all of the metaphors in his novel to coincide with the world of 1948 that he was living in.  Orwell was a socialist himself, and he was exhibiting the powers of the upper-class that kept the elite in their positions throughout human history.  Orwell explains in this novel that the Inner Party’s objective is to destroy the human and retain power for the elite few throughout the rest of time. Orwell sums up 1984 in a bleak statement from O’Brien while he is torturing Winston “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-forever.”(Orwell 267).

Alexander C. Kafka The Wintry Orwell Nov 30 2002 The American Prospect

Non Fiction

Marx vs. Bakunin

Marx vs. Bakunin:
The Historical Relevance of Two Opposing 19th Century Socialisms

[Paul Thomas. Karl Marx and the Anarchists. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980 (406 pp.) Brian Morris. Bakunin: The Philosophy of Freedom. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1993 (159 pp.)]

No one can deny Karl Marx’s impact on Socialism, while Mikhail Bakunin’s collectivist anarchist theories and their historical relevance to our contemporary, heavily globalized capitalist society has been often ignored in present times.  Bakunin’s insistence on a horizontal, egalitarian revolution openly conflicted with Marx’s authoritarian, self described revolution under the direction of the dictatorship of the proletariat.  From 1864 until it’s collapse in 1872 (pg. 250 Karl Marx and the Anarchists) Marx and later Bakunin were both members of an institution commonly referred to as The First International (due to the existence of subsequent International Workingmen’s Associations after the original one). The two men fiercely battled each other on idealogical lines, ultimately fostering the institution’s demise because of their intrinsically opposing views on what they thought was the right way for a socialist society to develop.
Both men sincerely, and relentlessly argued through letters, pamphlets, and conferences their respective beliefs, however, Marx held the upper hand propaganda-wise and overshadowed Bakunin’s anarchism in England and Germany. The two formerly mentioned countries were the most industrially-developed European nations in which Marx held strong ties with both personally and theoretically (because of this Marx thought England and Germany were in the best situations for a revolution of the proletariat to occur).  Meanwhile, Bakunin was well liked in Latin countries such as Spain and Italy where anarchism was already prevalent, and he also held influence during his lifetime in his homeland Russia along with her Slavic sister-countries because of peasant populism (a kind of anarchistic collectivism).  Bakunin was popular with people from Latin countries, such as Spain and Italy, and the Slavs since their spontaneous love for rebellion and romanticism attracted them to his collective form of anarchism (pg. 337 Karl Marx and the Anarchists).  The contrast between the two men’s nationalities not only facilitated their schism but defined the very nature of their differences by dividing socialism into two camps within the later years of the First International: Marx’s German authoritarianism and Bakunin’s Slavic libertarian anarchism.
In order to clearly understand the differences between the two men and their ideologies it would be necessary to analyze industrialization and it’s effect on the working class and poor in the countries they influenced. Karl Marx’s theory relied heavily upon technological and material development in order for the workers to become class conscious and take power from their oppressors.  Industrialization during the 19th century had allowed a new working class to emerge whom Marx referred to as the proletariat.  The urban proletariat would then become class conscious and develop a class struggle pushing towards socialism.  It would be impossible then, for the peasant rabble that Bakunin spoke of to complete such a historical feat. Ironically enough, half a century later, Russia, a country under-industrialized, succeeded in a Marxist revolution with peasants. After the German Empire was created in 1871, Marx’s fatherland had the most politically powerful socialist party, and Marx’s longtime residence Great Britain was home to the most advanced trade unions.  It made sense therefore, historically, that Marx depended upon centralized, one-party political organization for the proletariat to expand influence; where as Bakunin’s anarchism rejected any developments in governmental representation as retrograde to the cause of economic equality and equality in general that social revolution was supposed to bring about.
The theoretical contrast between the two thinkers was defined then by the difference that Marx sought economic equality first, and freedom and political equality later.  Bakunin argued in turn that tangible, universal freedom was necessary initially for economic equality to exist and remain and that the ever spontaneous power of human will would be the key to a successful social revolution, not proletarian political centralization bringing economic equality first and foremost like Marx had insisted.  This facet of Marx’s ideology was perhaps the most endearing piece of Marxism that the Bolsheviks later expanded upon with Lenin’s concept of vanguard revolutionaries.  Bakunin warned against the kind of socialist despotism throughout his writings that the Bolsheviks later brought about in his native Russia. In 1871 Marx made a remark of Bakunin, saying “this ass cannot even understand that any class movement, as such, is necessarily and always has been, a political movement” (pg. 347 Karl Marx and the Anarchists) showing his utter disdain for the anarchist opposition to any kind of political power that continued the old social order through centralized institutions.
Although Marxist ideology demanded that the working classes be organized under a political party, and Bakunin argued differently, both men realized the need for mobilization of the working classes internationally.  This was the purpose of the International, to unite all workers in the name of class struggle in order to resist the capitalist plutocracies that oppressed them.  This was why it was ironic that the International would collapse due to an unavoidable schism based on two polar opposite socialist doctrines divided by national boundaries.  It was even more congruous then that the International would fall apart because Bakunin had precipitated its expansion into Spain, Italy, Switzerland and the Slavic countries causing the institution to expand well beyond England, France, and Germany (pg. 58 Bakunin The Philosophy of Freedom).
Marx posited that revolution would have to take place on its own timetable in relation to the greater historical scheme of things so that a country must become industrialized before the proletariat could successfully revolt against their masters.  This meant that workers who lived in countries like Italy and Spain where feudalism had not been overtaken by capitalism yet were left ignored in the snail pace cycle of Hegelian historical process.  Even though Bakunin was also influenced by Hegel, he saw no use in arbitrary theory to dictate the extended suffering of the working class.  In fact, social revolution was still considered by Bakunin to be a Hegelian negation, yet Bakunin did not see Marxist revolution as a universal social one, but as a political revolution that ended in a dictatorship that was no worse than that of Europe’s bourgeois predecessors (pg. 140 Bakunin The Philosophy of Freedom).  Bakunin was right then in his prediction that Marxist ideology would ultimately lead to a more despotic dictatorship than previous bourgeois states, paving the way for Bolshevism and the rise of the extraordinarily despotic and oppressive Joseph Stalin.
Thus, it was true that Bakunin’s theory of social revolution was loosely akin to Bolshevism because Bakunin desired to unite the peasants and proletariat together to form a truly social revolution as opposed to a political revolution that the proletariat would bring about on their own- “Only a wide-sweeping revolution embracing both the city workers and peasants would be sufficiently strong to overthrow and break the organized power of the state, backed as it is by all the resources of the possessing classes.  But an all-embracing, that is, a social revolution, is a simultaneous revolution of the people of the cities and of the peasantry” (pg. 142 Bakunin The Philosophy of Freedom).  Yet Bakunin as an anarchist had no interest in bringing about a worker’s state, even though he advocated the use of secret societies to help organize people and propagate social revolution.  Bakunin accepted that the suffering of the masses socio-economically was not enough, but that the people must have an ideal expounded by secret societies and the like which advocated freedom and equality brought about by collectivist anarchism (pg. 147 Bakunin The Philosophy of Freedom).
The most important and contrasting difference between Bakunin and Marx was government as an institution in and of itself.  Bakunin denied that government could fairly represent the people’s interests and so only the people could organize and control society through collectives united under federalism “A truly popular organization begins from below, from the association, from the commune.  Thus starting out with the organization of the lowest nucleus and proceeding upward, federalism becomes a political institution of socialism, the free and spontaneous organization of popular life” (pg. 111 Bakunin The Philosophy of Freedom).  Federalism allowed individual collectives and communes to have autonomy, which Bakunin thought guaranteed liberty.  Without that autonomy “…a confederation would simply be a disguised centralization” (pg. 112 Bakunin The Philosophy of Freedom) according to Bakunin, and the people would have no political rights otherwise.  In contrast, Marx praised centralization as key to giving the proletariat the power it needed to consolidate the revolution and bring about economic equality before any so called withering of the state could occur.
The First International was never intended to be ruled by a single socialist dogma, and thus its demise revealed Marx as a reactionary and Bakunin as not only an advocate of anarchism, but also capable of transmuting anarchism from doctrine into a movement in itself within and without the International (pg. 352 Karl Marx and the Anarchists).  And although Marx was the dominant influence cited by revolutionaries throughout the twentieth century, Marx was wrong to assert that socialist revolution was solely the business of the proletariat.  Indeed, revolutions in Russia, China and elsewhere were supposed to be based on the tenants of Marxism, however, all of these revolutions involved the rural peasant class as the major catalyst for revolution, not the urban proletariat (pg. 128 Bakunin The Philosophy of Freedom).  Bakunin therefore was even more relevant in the twentieth century than advocates of Marxism would suggest.  And although this relevance has its importance, it does not fully answer questions regarding a 21st century social revolution.
Mikhail Bakunin’s significance was that he placed human liberty before political centralization and power because he believed that any kind of government would bring about tyranny, whether it was controlled by the working class or not.  This stopped being theory and became a reality with the oppression of Communist dictatorships throughout the twentieth century. Capitalism has in fact solidified the grip of democratic plutocracies with the advent of neoliberalism and its effect on the global economy.  Globalization and capitalism have, in the late twentieth and early twenty first century, allowed for ruling classes to retain power and attain wealth to the point where stratification has become dangerously unrestrained.  Bakunin’s focal argument for horizontal revolution has become more historically relevant today because globally unifying forces such as the internet have allowed mass instant communication that would make an egalitarian social revolution more tangible now.  If the fall of the Soviet Union in twentieth century verified that top down revolution as deemed necessary by Marx would ultimately lead to despotism and failure, then the rise of globalized society by way of the internet has demonstrated that Bakunin’s horizontal revolution has yet to be proven wrong.  As seen through the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, the kind of mass communication between the latest generation of oppressed Arabs should allow for a deeper analyzation of Bakunin’s theories that increase in historical relevance to this day.