Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 10:40:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: Mark Stahlman

Beyond Despair:
A New Living in Art

Mark Stahlman

It is not necessary to live without hope. It is not necessary to believe the world has no meaning. It is not necessary to be a post-modern, post-human, post-civilization, post-reason, post- structuralist, post-art critic. It is not necessary to live without beauty. It is not necessary to become a cyborg or to abolish humanity from creation by replacing humans with genetic and psychological productions. It is not necessary to be a Thatcherite Imperialist Global/Tribalist. It is, in fact, now time to begin to live beyond the despair of the 20th century. We will accomplish this new living in art.

It is time for a Renaissance — a New Learning. It is time to return to the Platonic humanism of Leibniz, Mendelssohn, Avicenna and Cusa. It is time to reject the anti-human Enlightenment in all of its forms and to heal the wounds created by the artificial and brutal separation of faith from reason spawned by this movement and hatched in the horrors of modern/post-modern life. It is time to defend the nation-state against the technocratic looting of the New Dark Information Age. It is time to rediscover humanity and to reassert its sacred image. It is time to reclaim for all humanity a future of human development and human dignity. It is time to begin to win in our war against the intelligent machines which threaten to enslave us all.

None of this means that it will be easy nor that we can avoid unpleasant tasks. Take the case of George Soros, for instance.

There should be no confusion about who Soros is or what his efforts represent. He is a professional looter and a global speculator. He is aware that the global game of looting — which he has spent his life playing — is always in real and immanent danger of collapse. He knows that new "resources" must be constantly shoveled into the furnaces of global looting to (in his words) "stay ahead of the curve." He knows that the nations of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union represent one of the largest untapped "resource" pools in the world. He knows that by attacking the sovereignty of these nations (among others, including Western Europe, South American, the U.S. and China) he has a strong chance to cripple their economies and to pick up their industries at fire-sale prices. He knows that leftists and intellectuals throughout Europe have been cut lose by shrinking social programs and arts budgets and that these people can be useful fodder for his anti-nation-state cannons. And, of course, we know it too.

So far, he and his advisors have wrecked havoc on the Russian and Polish economies, they face multiple investigations by the Italians for conspiring to force prices down on "privatized" industries, they have been hounded by the Croatians and Belarussians and partly booted from Prague, they’ve opened a crucial anti-Constitutional wedge between the Federal government and the states in the U.S. (over "medical" marijuana) and, they have been throw out on his ass by the Chinese. Oh, yes, they also fund interesting conferences.

There is, for all intents and purposes, no Russian government and no Russian economy at this time. There has not been an "evolution towards a democratic state and a free-market economy", instead, there has been a recreation of the epic Wild West — a lawless mafia state. The genesis of this breakdown — in which barter has generally replaced taxable monetary transactions and in which payment for "protection" has replaced national sovereignty — is pure Soros. "I was a great supporter of the so-called Shatalin Plan", he writes in "Soros on Soros." And, in "Underwriting Democracy", he says, "For instance, I would suspend all investment programs and . . . start a with the creation of an independent central bank along the lines of the Federal Reserve System, which would impose monetary discipline . . . It would also embark on a crash program of privatization . . . Factories could be idled and the raw material and energy that go into production could be sold for more than the output."

This is simply looting to feed the furnaces of global speculation — financial alchemy. Although the Shatalin Plan was not accepted due to its extreme attack on Russian sovereignty and industrial production, its outlines have asserted themselves, none the less, as foreign assaults (IMF, etc.) on Russia and the former republics have continued unabated combined with widespread internal profiteering. According to Soros, "The Shatalin Plan did not get through. It is . . . perhaps the most important thing I have done in my life, even if it failed."

As we know, the cover for much of this looting activity is often described as "human rights." It also frequently masquerades as "communtarianism" — the left-wing alternative (yin) to right-wing "libertarianism" (yang) within Global/Tribal techno-utopian circles. Both the Soros funded Open Society Institute and the Central European University are thoroughly imbued with expressions of these movements and staffed by some of their leading proponents. It is perhaps less well known that H.G. Wells should be credited with designing the modern "human rights" movement with his drafting of "The Declaration of the Rights of Man" (1940) as the revolutionary credo for what he called the "Open Conspiracy" — all in order to achieve his utopian "World State" based his early conception of the Internet as the "World Brain." I’m sure Soros would have approved.

In his 1942 book "Phoenix: A Summary of he Inescapable Conditions of World Reorganization", Wells describes the crucial function of "human rights" in the chapter titled "No Revolution is Secure Without Re-Education." He focusses on the declaration’s "Right" number four, the "Right to Knowledge" and describes how "this implies a proper training from the outset in the fundamental knowledge and ideas of the new social order contemplated by the Declaration." He goes to justify the universal re-writing of history and the totalizing of propaganda to be carried out by the "Social Psychologists" in the following stark terms:

"Every adult man is to have the right to profess and practice any religion not criminally anti-social, however absurd it might be. That is a plain human right, but that does not give any religious bodies that may still be carrying on after the Revolution, the right to deprive children and young people of the common body of human knowledge and the broad facts of their place in space and time. We can no more tolerate such artificially imposed ignorance than we can tolerate children being emasculated or having their eyes put out in the name of some sadistic mumbo- jumbo . . ."

"That is what the Sankey Declaration [to reduce criticism of his role, Wells agreed to be fronted by Lord Sankey] is saying — but it is said here now as harshly and unambiguously as possible, to prevent any misunderstanding. The Declaration was the product of a considerable concourse of minds, and if it is read rather muzzily it may seem to afford loopholes for the old religious systems to capture further generations of children for their sectarian beliefs. But, if you well read the document with an alert mind and altogether, you will find that every bolthole in which aggressive bigotry may reassemble its forces has been very carefully stopped."

Complete freedom of thought. In an open society. Sure. As long as you fall in behind "liberal fascist" Wells. But, as described in the Declaration’s "Right" number two, "Protection of Minors", "In default of such parental protection in whole or in part [as in trying to teach them anything other than Wellsian faux-history, and as countered by Orwell in his anti-Wells book "1984"], the community, having due regard to the family traditions of the child, shall accept or provide alternative guardians."

"Human rights" is a cover-story for a tactic in support of a strategy designed to win a war. That strategy is to feed the monster of global speculation by dismantling the sovereign nation-states which attempt to withhold precious "resources" from the speculator’s alchemical furnaces. "Human rights" was invented by a techno-utopian disciple of Darwin with a thoroughly depraved sense of what humanity might represent in fundamental terms — i.e. Monkeys 2.0. "Human rights" was created to stamp out humanity by forcing all children to endure a program of brainwashing which would — when combine with techniques of genetic manipulation — permit the manufacturing of creatures to the designer’s (the technocrats which Wells called the "New Samurai" and Vlahos calls the "Brain Lords") desire, thus paradoxically eliminating humanity by extending "human rights" to all. God would be replaced with technology of manipulation. Instead of humanity conquering Nature, Nature would have triumphed over humanity, as brilliantly described in C.S. Lewis’ 1947 essay, "The Abolition of Man."

Soros’ "human rights" is a false hope. It is unpleasant to say this but this is the same false hope of "freedom" (from the necessity of being human beings) which drives WIRED magazine and all the other expressions of Extropian/Steward techno-utopianism. The result of following such false hopes will be, as with all the "scientific socialisms" with which Wells contested, nothing but despair and destruction and, all too often, premature death. Where Soros and his looting cronies have been, as in Russia and across resource rich Africa, the human anguish is already widely manifest as the bodies pile up.

Destruction of the real economy (i.e. Negroponte’s "bits not atoms") and the replacement of development with looting on a global scale is already in an advanced stage throughout the world. This process is institutionally strong and has been preparing for final victory for much of the past century. It is to be found daily on the pages/screens of Global/Tribal press outlets like the New York Times and CNN. Today’s NYTimes features a gloating op-ed by arch-globalist Tom Friedman titled, "All About Maggie." Friedman sums it up neatly in the phrase, "The ultimate triumph in an ideological war is when you convert your opponent." He goes on to say, "Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Democrats, had it right when he remarked that Labor’s Tony Blair and the Conservatives’ John Major were engaged in ‘synchronized swimming’." He describes Thatcherism as "straightjacket economics" and Blair as trying to fashion a "straightjacket with elbow room and shoulder pads." In other words, you can choose between nasty fascism and friendly fascism but don’t fool yourself that you can avoid fascism. Which do you prefer, yin or yang fascism?

As our greatest techno-apolcalypist Marshall McLuhan put it in "Challenge and Collapse: Nemesis of Creativity" (Chapter 7 in "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man", 1964) "The new media and technologies by which we amplify and extend ourselves constitute huge collective surgery carried out on the social body with complete disregard for antiseptics. If the operations are needed, the inevitability of infecting the whole system during the operation has to be considered. For in operating on society with a new technology, it is not the incised area that is most affected. The area of impact and incision is numb. It is the entire system that is changed. The effect of radio is visual, the effect of the photo is auditory. Each new impact shifts the ratio among the senses. What we seek today is either a means of controlling these shifts in the sense-ratios of the psychic and social outlook, or a means of avoiding them altogether. To have a disease without its symptoms is to be immune. No society has ever known enough about its actions to have developed immunity to its new extensions or technologies. Today we have begun to sense that art may be able to provide such immunity."

"In the history of human cultures there is no example of a conscious adjustment of the various factors of personal and social life to new extensions except in the puny and peripheral efforts of artists. The artist picks up the message of cultural and technological challenge decades before its transforming impact occurs. He, then, builds Noah’s arks for facing the change that is at hand . . . For in the electric age there is no longer any sense in talking about the artist’s being ahead of his time. Our technology is, also, ahead of its time, if we reckon by the ability to recognize it for what it is. To prevent undue wreckage in society, the artist tends now to move from the ivory tower to the control tower of society. Just as higher education is no longer a frill or luxury but a stark need of production and operational design in the electric age, so the artist is indispensable in the shaping and analysis and understanding of the life of forms, and structures created by electric technology . . ."

"The artist can correct the sense ratios before the blow of new technology has numbed conscious procedures. He can correct them before numbness and subliminal groping and reaction begin. If this is true, how is it possible to present the matter to those who are in a position to do something about it? If there were even a remote likelihood of this analysis being true, it would warrant a global armistice and period of stock-taking. If it is true that the artist possesses the means of anticipating and avoiding the consequences of technological trauma, then what are we to think of the world and bureaucracy of ‘art appreciation’? Would it not seem suddenly to be a conspiracy to make the artist a frill, a fribble, or a Milltown [an early kind of tranquillizer]? If men were able to be convinced that art is precise advance knowledge of how to cope with the psychic and social consequences of the next technology, would they all become artists? Or would they begin a careful translation of new art forms into social navigation charts? I am curious to know what would happen if art were suddenly seen for what it is, namely, exact information of how to rearrange one’s psyche in order to anticipate the next blow from our own extended faculties. Would we, then, cease to look at works of art as an explorer might regard the gold and gems used as the ornaments of simple nonliterates?"

We are entering a period of a new Renaissance. It will be made real and livable by artists who wish to protect humanity from the blows of new technology by helping us to become immune from technology’s de-humanizing effects. Art is "precise advance knowledge of how to cope with the psychic and social consequences of the next technology." It has always been this way. Only, this time, we are living in nettime.