A short critique of identity

I like to focus on the impact of capitalism on personal mental health. To be sure, it’s a massive, massive topic. The impact on capitalism (or the world you grew up in) on personal mental health is so incomprehensibly large you might as well ask what the impact on a nail would be if you hit it with a hammer the size of Texas. There isn’t even a definition of what capitalism is, aside from the business cycle itself. But there are cultural mainstays that if they do not cause capitalism, they have accompanied capitalism in developed countries. So if you are in the United States and are interested in capitalism’s impact on personal mental health, please keep on reading my critique of identity.

In capitalism, it often feels like you’re on your own. Being an individual seems to be the daily life of people living under capitalism. This insistence on being an individual, a self-made man, is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you are allowed to claim all of your achievements as a result of your own sense of self, but on the other hand all of your failures and shortcomings are yours as well. It’s within this context that the self-help and mental health industry positions itself: helping individuals fight their demons alone. Good mental health is living happily as an individual. Bad mental health is dissatisfaction from living as an individual. But this is how you help people, on the scale of individuals.

But we are not individuals, or if we are the term needs to surrender a lot of the power associated to it. We are people born into situations. Suburbanite parents on the hill say of young African-American boys “Well if I was born in the ghetto I would refuse to sell drugs.” No, you wouldn’t, because you wouldn’t be you then. The very act of saying “I” invokes your entire upbringing. Your very identity is constructed out of society. Society furnishes you with the raw materials out of which you make yourself. The proof of this is that we all identify with the word “I” but none of us invented it. We had to be taught it. At best, “I” refers to a mixture of your will and the larger environment, a compromise between the world you were born into and your desires for yourself that would have come true had it not been for the world. At worst, “I” is an amputation, a denial of the world that they exist in. This is where people like to play the same game as those suburbanite parents did: they like to imagine themselves as divorced from their circumstances, and able to jump into anyone’s life at anyone’s moment to cast judgment, like Agent Smith in the Matrix or something. This type of finger pointing has no bearing to actual reality: people aren’t moved by ethics, they’re moved by food. Matter of fact, food is people’s primary requirement. People need food. People don’t need ethics but they do need food.

Reworking what “I” means is a very important task to both revolutionary thought and personal sanity, and even here I didn’t go deep enough into how problematic the concept of “I” is. But for now, be assured that the world is not resting on YOUR shoulders. Take care of yourselves, lefties.

A good piece on mortality and the anthropocene

Originally posted on PHILOSOPHY IN A TIME OF ERROR:

In the NYT. Also, an important correction below the essay on a factoid that appears in too many articles to count:

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the origin of the word “anthropocene.” The term was not coined in 2002 by Paul Crutzen; it has been in use since the 1980s, and was introduced into scientific discussion by Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000.

via Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene – NYTimes.com.

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Charlie Hebdo

The recent events regarding Charlie Hebdo have forced me to say something again.

Opening thoughts: Great, you’re with us or you’re against us for the hashtag age. I didn’t like it the first time around, why would I like it the second time around?

This affiliation with satire is something that people of my subculture freakout about, along with the Colbert Report, Jon Stewart and The Interview. It makes them feel like they are political, have strong opinions and are valuable people. Politics has nothing to do with these things. The role of government in a capitalist society is to ensure the society is well saturated by the flows of money and then appear to be fair or responsive to things like your shitty opinion. The Charlie Hebdo attack resounds very strongly among people whose self worth derives from their hobby of making nuanced opinions about popular events. Someone kills you for your right to make an opinion? What are we, in Nazi Germany? Fight back! What could be anything more straightforward?

Nothing is ever straightforward. If these mostly white, well educated, Democrat moderate Reddit fucks want learn something worthwhile, they’d do best to remember that, and I want no fucking part in any country, atmosphere, or conversation where someone says to me you’re with me or you’re against me. Right off the fucking bat, I refuse to be in one camp or the other. They’re so quick to raise the specter of censorship by violence and so eager to be in the in-group and conform to a cheap Facebook or Twitter salute. This is what I hate most of all, how quickly the internet and social media have become platforms of conformity. They may as well be re-marketed as a factory that turns people into one-dimensional, constantly performing and conforming servants for other people’s approval. Hell, you even pay them to do this to you.

Why did those men attack the newspaper and kill the cartoonists? I don’t know. I’m an American, and as such I know nothing about what goes on outside my country, and what I do know about what goes on outside my country is slathered with such red white and blue concerns that I will not even be able to see it straight. I would call on everyone to stand back from their fucking computers, don’t participate in the latest witch hunt, and while you’re at it, grow a fucking pair of your preferred gendered sexual organs and realize that politics and wars have always been about money first and ideas second.

Here are two very good links of people who I agree with. One, and two.

Moscow, January 1st, 2019


Oh Jesus this is good…

Originally posted on communists in situ:


An evening, sometime in the near future…

Simon Critchley


26 Kadashevskaya nab. 115035 Moscow

January 1st, 2019

I guess we could all have seen it coming a few years back. Things really started to get worse around the end of 2013 and then dragged on into the long, cold winter months. That whole business with that guy, what was his name? Mountain in Wales. Snowden. That’s it. He went underground for a while and then emerged as the CEO of Bozhe Moi! (My God!): the amazing Russian search engine that overtook Google early in 2017. Totally wiped them out. I find it reassuringly old world and Le Carré-like to have the FSB watching all of us rather than the NSA.

Shortly after the President’s death, events moved fast. Well, suspicions were raised when they declared it accidental. Everyone knew it was suicide. He lost face (and…

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Happy new year to anyone reading this

It just dawned on my last night that maybe instead of watching a ball drop as our abstract representation of how time passes, I don’t know, I would have liked to watch a nuclear bomb hitting the earth at the second it becomes the new year. Just seems more fitting of how our society functions. And it wouldn’t even be a hassle either, we’re dropping bombs for testing all the time

My new year’s resolution is to stop procrastinating at procrastinating. I need to step up my procrastination game. This procrastination isn’t going to get itself done, y’know? So far, I think I’m doing an ok job.

My other new year’s resolution is to use TOR for all my internet needs whenever I can. And hey, look at me now. Blogging from Sweden. It’s really easy, much easier than I thought it was. And overall there are still vulnerabilities in it that I don’t quite understand but I’ll look into it. Link for anyone who’s interested in a NSA-resistant internet experience. 

Also to get a job. But since the economy isn’t something that I have wrapped around my finger, I’m gonna work my butt off during the day and hopefully write/read more at night about how to let things go that aren’t in my control, since beating myself up will only slow me down.

Well, here you go. I hope that 2014 for you is brimming with possibilities for you and everyone you know.

My take on Commodity Fetishism

Marx’s concept of Commodity Fetishism has to be one of the most spectacular mindfucks I’ve ever experienced in my life, simply because of how basic and  everyday commodities (or in basic terms, shit that’s for sale) are. It’s always nice to discover something new, and it’s especially nice to realize you’ve been thinking a certain way without even realizing it. It’s like what Zizek says about unknown-knowns: it’s the things that you don’t know that you do know that keep you trapped. When understood, you walk away with this inverted understanding of daily capitalist life, as all of your upbringing under capitalist society is put on its head. It’s one of my favorite mindfucks.

Let’s say you need a new pair of shoes, and you go to the shoemaker. The shoemaker knows you. He knows you, your personal tastes, your whole family, your family’s personal tastes what you’ll need the shoes for, what the latest trends are, what materials the shoes are made out of, how all of these things will influence your social standing, the way that you walk, what other people will think about your shoes, etc. And not only does he know all of those things, but he knows how each of those things will influence the other things he knows, for example how the use of a certain type of material will influence the way that you walk, what your parents will think about the style of shoe, you get the point. He is an absolute master of his trade. He promises you to take all of these things into consideration when making your shoes, and he does. He gives you the best damn shoes you’ve ever seen. In order to make sure that he can continue to do this type of work in the future, what do you give him?

Let’s just now shift over to a capitalist universe. The shoemaker is still there, you’re still there, and you’re just about to give him something so that he can continue to do this work for other people. What do you give him? Cash. Simple answer, cash. And then you walk away. Does this seem strange to you at all? If the answer is no, then we need to explain the process of creation better.

In order to make the shoes, the shoemaker draws resources from the environment, draws inspiration from his years of experience living in society, assembles the resources in a culturally appealing way, and hands them to you. By giving him money you’re not returning any of those things to him, not directly at least. The money isn’t inspiration, the money isn’t the years it took get his trade down. It’s entirely unconnected and unrelated from the process of creation itself. He could buy the leather and rubber with the money you gave him. That would mean he would have to go to another leather and rubber master, give them more of these slips of paper that are also disconnected from their work in order to get what he needs. And here we come across one profound realization of Karl Marx: everywhere where man takes cash, man experiences alienation from life itself.

And just to bring the alienation point home, I’d like to engage in an exercise with you right now and ask you to look around wherever it is you’re reading and try to guess the price value of the objects around you if they were suddenly sold in a tag sale. You can imagine it. That bowl will go for a dollar each, that pair of shoes for five dollars, you get the idea. There’s nothing “one-like” about a bowl, or “five-like” about about a pair of shoes. The shoes and the bowls just exist, and we imagine “one” or “five” and then implant our ideas of what they might be worth onto those items. Again, there’s nothing one-like or five-like about these items.

Y’all ready for this? This is where Marx tells you that capitalist society is just as insane and strange as all of those “primitive” people of the world capitalist society takes a dump on. Marx says where else in the world do we see behavior like this, where man puts value onto an object and suddenly that object really does appear to have those values? The Third World, bitches! He cites an example of a tribe who, when their child gets sick, they put them in front of a totem pole, and by the belief that they actually put the child in front of a god and asked the god for forgiveness, the child becomes healed. Just as blocks of inanimate wood become gods, green slips of paper and cotton becomes an invisible life force that unites all objects. And that’s why it’s called commodity fetishism, because ordinary objects are taking on religious qualities.

And after all of this, you can nice and neatly wrap up this whole system of thought into two words: false consciousness. As long as we genuinely believe that objects have numerical value and that money is the holder of that value, we are not thinking freely.