Class Antagonism and its Metaphysical Implications

Difficulty    

 This Text Can Be Found in the Book,
The Evolution of Consent: Collected Essays (Vol. I)


This was composed for a speech given to the People’s Arcane School
on January 6, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas.

____________________________________

Two Arrows of Time

Biological evolution expresses a teleological tendency toward greater and greater levels of freedom and complexity. From the simple elements from which the first complex molecules of RNA were formed, and from the first bacteria to sexual reproduction in multicellular organisms, and from fish to amphibians, to reptiles and birds, and finally to mammals, culminating in our own human awareness, there is a direction to our evolution that seems to contradict the material world around us. This is a direction toward self-determination and intricacy.

Quantum physicist and professor, Amit Goswami, tells us that “The physical arrow of time is an arrow of entropy.”[i] He is referring to the fact that material objects, as time goes on, will fall apart, break, decay, and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. Entropy means diverging tendency, and time is attributed to having a relationship to this tendency; as time moves forward, entropy (chaos, destruction, dissipation) increases. This is a well-established law of science, the second law of thermodynamics.  Amit Goswami goes on, however, and says,

Biology also gives us an empirical arrow of time. Biological organisms evolve toward an increasing complexity. But biological complexity consists of much order and thus is the opposite of entropy, which is disorder. So the two arrows are not compatible.[ii]

The order of life is plain to understand. Humanity cannot create life from inorganic material. It simply cannot be done. Louis Pasteur demonstrated in the mid-19th century that this was so, when he proved that life does not arise in sterile environments. Pasteur’s process, known today as pasteurization, is still practiced in the food industry, and the law of biogenesis—that life only comes from life— still remains rather unchallenged. If we want to create life today, we must do so through breeding or cloning.

Because of its basis in carbon, organic matter can oftentimes be highly complex—much more so than inorganic matter—, forming intricate polymers, or macromolecules, which are constructed in the process of metabolism. When life eats, it constructs more complex molecules from its food source. They are, however, deconstructed when life breaks down, dies, and decays. Living is the process of construction, and dying is the act of destruction. The dying and dead are governed by the law of entropy, but the young and living are governed by a law known as syntropy. Syntropy, being the opposite of entropy, means converging tendency rather than a diverging one. This converging tendency is one towards increasing order and complexity, the opposite of entropy’s chaos and destruction. I highly suggest the work of Ulisse Di Corpo and Antonella Vannini for further understanding syntropy.

Characteristics of syntropy are exhibited by all life, by the birth of stars, and through other effects of gravity, the strong force, and, oftentimes, electromagnetism. The non-living world is governed by entropy, and its future can be easily predicted by laws of physical determinism. By measuring mass and applying the laws of gravity and motion one can judge the trajectory of an inanimate object flying through the sky to a great degree. One cannot judge with such certainty about a bird’s flight destination, however, as a bird is only governed by the physically deterministic laws of matter so far as it has a body, but so far as it has a spirit it is governed by the idealistic laws of free will. So far as an object is said to be able to express freedom and syntropy is so far as it is animated by spirit. Unlike body, which is given by the physical laws of entropy, spirit is given by the ideal laws of syntropy.

 Freedom of Will

The core characteristic of life and expression of its syntropy is the manifestation of will. This will is the driving force behind all life, and defines it. Without a will, an organism could not sustain life, and would certainly face death. It is will that allows life to retain its syntropy and fight entropy. A deer must eat to survive, run from predation, and mate to pass along its genetic heritage. A deer is animated, like all other animals. “But so are machines,” I hear the replies! The difference between animals and machines is in the degree of self-sufficiency, which is a product of will. Machines have no will to speak of. A car does not will itself to a gas station, fuel itself up, and take a drive to the beach. It takes a living person to press their will on the machine. If left to its own non-existent will, the machine will rust, break down, and corrode. Human energy is needed to maintain it and fight the entropy of wear and tear. Humans, however, need only an initial spark to get them started, the copulation of two different charges, a mother and a father. After this, the development of the ego continues and increasingly cultivates a will in the child to survive, culminating its growth in a self-maintaining human adult. Will, desire, promotes in us the struggle against entropy that has allowed for our increasing complexity.

The will of the adult is two-fold in nature, but becomes expressed in multiplicity when applied to the uniqueness of individuals. The dual basis of all human actions and what the ego wills is the evasion of pain and the attainment of pleasure. All acts of the human will serve the twofold purpose of being carefree and happy, reaching “the good.” For this reason, Aristotle makes such statements as,

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has been declared to be that at which all things aim. [My italics]

And,

If, then, there is some end in the things we do, which we desire for its own sake, […] clearly this must be the good and the chief good. Will not the knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life?[iii]

He says, “If there is an end for all we do, it will be the good achievable by action.”

All of our actions are taken for the purpose of making the future better, whether we are short-sighted and act in favor of the immediate future, or are fore-thinking and act to the benefit of the longer-term.

Action is the effect of the will of life. Without will, there is no action. Even the action and life of the Universe, the Harmony of the Spheres, is attributed to the will and character of The All, The One, The Source, The Original Mover, God. The ability to act according to one’s will is the chief characteristic of life. Relative to will, this places raw minerals at the lower measure of living consciousness, ourselves somewhere in the middle, as we are mobile but still restricted, and God at the top, as God is the original and unrestricted source of all life and motion.

Our purpose can be found in our progress toward Godliness, toward a freer will that is unrestricted by the past and determines its own future. Herbert Spencer, a 19th century philosopher and early sociologist, recognized that it is our abilities that lead us to our ends when he said “Man’s happiness can be produced only by the exercise of his faculties.”[iv] Humanity has a capacity for forethought and intuition that is so-far unrivaled to common knowledge. Because humanity is less affected by the outside than by its own internal free will, our contentment, which includes the usage of that free will, can only be obtained by the use of that free will.

The Kybalion— following the ancient philosophy of the legendary Hermes Trismegistus— quotes a passage (claimed by Three Initiates to be found in an older unadulterated original) regarding syntropic tendencies in the human mind:

Nothing escapes the Principle of Cause and Effect,  but there are many Planes of Causation, and one may use the laws of the higher to overcome the laws of the lower.[v]

Hermes understood the unpredictability of human consciousness, and made clear that free will was not truly free, but was due instead to an unknown cause (known now to be from the future, syntropy). The Kybalion says,

A careful examination will show that what we call ‘Chance’ is merely an expression relating to obscure causes; causes that we cannot perceive; causes that we cannot understand. [vi]

It reitifies that

Every Cause has its Effect; every Effect has its Cause; everything happens according to Law; Chance is but a name for Law not recognized; there are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the Law. [vii]

The Law that humanity follows is the striving for well-being and goodness, but this is not so easily mapped out, as we all have our own approach to accomplishing such happiness. Human consciousness is predictable enough to study, but living sciences such as biology, and especially human sciences, such as psychology and sociology, are known as soft sciences because they are less empirically based and data strays so easily. Hermes recognized that human causation is powerfully different from the rest of the “lower” material planes of existence, and even that of other animals. His proponents of the early 20th century, calling themselves Three Initiates, summarize his work in their own words:

By an understanding of the practice of Polarization, the Hermetists rise to a higher plane of Causation and thus counter-balance the laws of the lower planes of Causation. By rising above the plane of ordinary Causes they become themselves, in a degree, Causes instead of being merely Caused. By being able to master their own moods and feelings, and by being able to neutralize Rhythm, as we have already explained, they are able to escape a great part of the operations of Cause and Effect on the ordinary plane. The masses of people are carried along, obedient to their environment; the wills and desires of others stronger than themselves; the effects of inherited tendencies; the suggestions of those about them; and other outward causes; which tend to move them about on the chess-board of life like mere pawns. By rising above these influencing causes, the advanced Hermetists seek a higher plane of mental action, and by dominating their moods, emotions, impulses and feelings, they create for themselves new characters, qualities and powers, by which they overcome their ordinary environment, and thus become practically players instead of mere Pawns. Such people help to play the game of life understandingly, instead of being moved about this way and that way by stronger influences and powers and wills. They use the Principle of Cause and Effect, instead of being used by it. Of course, even the highest are subject to the Principle as it manifests on the higher planes, but on the lower planes of activity, they are Masters instead of Slaves. [viii]

Humanity has found itself dominating the material world, using it to craft its own pleasures. This can be seen as an example of the higher plane (idealism, ideas) Three Initiates are speaking of and its effects on the lower (materialism, physicality). They are largely correct also to assume that those people who master their ideas—those who have confidence or faith—will be able to press their will on others. This is the nature of social class and hierarchy, but it is not a product purely, or even largely, of genetic capacity, or the “faculties” that Spencer mentioned earlier, but is instead based on the control of material resources and information.

 Class Antagonism

With primitive accumulation of resources—due not to one society genetically being better suited for success than another, as Jared Diamond points out, but to geographical privilege in the Cradle of Civilization[ix]— developed disequilibrium in the spirit of humanity. Some became more powerful, more confident, and thus more psychologically capable of success than others.[1] Because the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians happened to settle in the Cradle of Civilization, also known as the Fertile Crescent, they maintained the privilege of the best grounds for commerce, horticulture, domestication of animals, and more. This led to a boost in leisure that induced technological innovation as well as formulated systems of religion and law, which boosted the egos of the societies’ individuals and the cohesion of societies themselves into powerful modes of confidence which other cultures were not prepared to match. According to Patrick Nolan and Gerhard Lenski, macrosociologists and authors of the textbook, Human Societies,

The experience of Mesopotamia and Egypt thus supports the impression from horticultural societies concerning the importance of religion in the formation of an economic surplus. Technological advance created the possibility for a surplus, but to transform that possibility into a reality required an ideology that motivated farmers to produce more than they needed to stay alive and productive, and persuaded them to turn that surplus over to someone else. Although this has sometimes been accomplished by means of secular and political ideologies, a system of belief that defined people’s obligations with reference to the supernatural worked best in most societies of the past.[x]

These newly formulated horticultural kingdoms and dynasties used their surplus and took slaves upon themselves from the surrounding cultures, which had not had the good fortune of settling in the most perfect setting yet seen to their time, the Fertile Crescent. This merely increased their surplus, idle thinking and innovating-time, and technological capacity. This is the beginning of the state, an entity which holds a unilateral monopoly on the use of violence, meaning it can kill you, and you don’t have a chance of killing it. This is based on the withholding of information and material resources that were accumulated and monopolized in the past by acts of aggression.

Social class has many implications for our human role. It implies that we are still largely material beings that are greatly affected by our material surroundings, and are not governed solely by the free will we wish we were divine enough to fully express. It implies we have a lot of growing and progress to go through as a species.

Humanity’s purpose is emergent, becoming. We make it happen. Our purpose is to be happy, and in order to be happy we set goals, make plans, create value, and take action to make the things that make us happy happen. Social classes and hierarchy only serve to restrict this process, to restrict our free will, our purpose, and to dominate us as part of the lower plane of existence. It’s not the fault of the powerful alone, it is also our own when we allow domination to go unchallenged. Our learned helplessness plays a large role. Just as a teenager must claim themselves from their parents as they reach individual adulthood, it is our duty as a class to claim ourselves from our masters and mature into a strong, self-supporting, and capable society. We are drawn to the ideas of maturity and freedom because they are good, and true, and, for this reason, they are our destiny.

According to the cosmology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jesuit priest and anthropologist, the living are drawn closer and closer toward our final destination, which he calls the Omega Point. This teleological concept can be attributed to the physics of a Big Crunch, as I have read has been promoted by Frank Tipler (and can be compared in some ways to the Source).  The Omega Point is the end of our evolution. It is the ultimate good that is pulling us toward it. It is the final result of our decisions. It is our ultimate desire. It pulls us toward it by means of giving us ideas, by communicating archetypes and concepts of an ideal nature. Our desires are already predestined, by way of retro-casuality (time moving backwards, or pulling us toward the future Omega Point rather than just pushing from the past) and nonlocality (effects caused without physical connection), by way of the Omega Point, but this is not the only source of causality; we must live in the material world, and act within it. The two forces interplay.

Social class and hierarchy is a material attempt at stealing our divinity as creative, free, and self-sufficient beings. God has given us a will, and what is social class but the theft of the freedom of that will, enforced by physical violence, or restriction of information? Class is the theft of divinity, as our divinity is expressed in our ability to reason, set goals, and create change, and being told what to do is the theft of our own creative potential. God gave humanity something that supersedes the ability of other animals: the ability to make decisions and express our will to a higher degree. Class restricts this, reduces humanity to beasts of burden.

Social class has to do with one’s relationship to decision-making and costs. According to the anarchist philosophy, class exists when one party can maintain a monopoly on decision-making or costs can be imposed on one party at the expense of another without recompense. You can see social class in those relationships that are inherently exploitative. Gary Chartier, of the Center for a Stateless Society, says,

Threatened and actual aggression against persons and their justly acquired possessions constitutes and maintains class divisions. Because it is the agency of deliberate aggression par excellence, the state is the source of the ruling class’s power.[xi]

The basis of class is aggression, and social-class cannot exist without some form of aggressive, entropic, behavior. According to the law of equal liberty, infringement occurs when one imposes one’s freedom on another, thus restricting their freedom. The law, stated by Spencer himself, says that “each has freedom to do all that he wills provided that he infringes not the equal freedom of any other.” This philosophy is best applied to philosophies of both positive and negative rights, and not restricted to individualist or collectivist dogma, giving us a dialectic in accordance with the ethic of virtue.

 Relations of the Classes

The first example of social class I’ll use as an example is one we’re generally all familiar with: the relationship of employer and employee. This is different from the common relationship of consumer to producer, as a consumer is usually someone who has worked for their income, and, although this is not always true, it is almost always true that when a consumer is not a producer, they are an employer (or one’s beneficiary), and do not labor in return, but instead benefit from, and bargain with, the work of others. Though they do not labor for the benefit of society, the employer makes the decisions, commanding people about, harassing them, and reaps the hard-earned profits, which they did not contribute effort toward earning themselves. Some may argue that the employer is being rewarded for their ideas, and indeed if there is any success due to their originality there is payment duly-owed, but a system of social class, rather than freedom, implies payment not for originality or service to society—taking upon the costs of others—, but for holding the exclusive right to perform a function, given by government. Employers are monopolists, inflated consumers, who benefit not from their own hard labor, but from the labor of others. They consume without working. As employer, and not worker, they are rewarded merely for the theft of their workers’ products. A shame though it is, one cannot fully place blame on the capitalist who is ignorant of the situation, for they are living in the same illusion of a false pretext given to us by the state, in order to maintain power.

Power is handed down to the capitalist (employer) for the sake of the landlord, creditor, and state for the same purpose that the capitalist hands down power to management; to maintain any control at all in a society so large and unmanageable. Just as the managing class is there to watch over the property of the capitalist in their absence, the capitalist class is there to maintain the land and collect profit to pay their rent, credit, and taxes. Capitalists are given exclusive loans, grants, business licenses, externalized property protection, subsidies, etc. that allow them to outsource their competition, the common working class. This is similar to the contracts held between lords and vassals in feudal societies, where a noble would be given power over a piece of the king’s land in return for military service. The king only did so upon incentive, and the incentive was to maintain some power when all power couldn’t be maintained alone. The charter of the employer, the capitalist, instead comes in the form of corporate ownership. They are given the privilege to externalized property-protection costs (taxes paid by all go to protect the property of the rich), intellectual property protection (patents, copyrights, etc.), exclusive business licensing, zoning regulations, subsidies, and tax-breaks, to name a few unearned benefits.

The same is true of our next tier in the class system. The landlords sit by idly and collect rent money that far exceeds their costs simply for having the privilege of the state’s protection of their land; but they must pay the banking and political class. Most landlords perform no manual labor, but call manual workers to solve the real problems of their tenure. They just collect a huge rent-check when the most they do is make a few phone calls, write some smaller checks, and sign some papers.  Most landlords, needless to say, did not pay for their land out of their own labor to begin with, they received credit from the next tier we will talk about, or they inherited power from family or another privileged party, such as a member of the ruling class who had decided to hand down some of their stolen surplus in their favor. Landlords collect rent, but they still must pay interest and taxes to those above them.

Clarence Lee Swartz, author of What is Mutualism?, illustrates the tiered relationship of economic returns when he addresses the apathy of workers in regard to interest on money:

The workers for wages are apt to say: “We borrow no money, and therefore pay no interest. How, then, does this squabble concern us?”

In Reality, it is exactly the class that has no dealing with the banks, and derives no advantage from them, that ultimately pays all the interest money that is collected. When a manufacturer borrows money to carry on his business, he counts the interest he pays as part of his expenses, and therefore adds the amount of interest to the price of his goods.

The consumer who buys the goods pays the interest when he pays for the goods; and who is the consumer, if not the public at large, composed chiefly of the workers for wages?[xii]

This same relationship holds true in regard to rent. The price of rent is put into the price of goods and services. Interest is added to the price of rent. When a person mortgages their house, and rents it at the price of the mortgage, the monetary interest is included.

The bankers control the money. No one else is allowed to distribute freshly-minted money, even though it is just an IOU. The government prints and the bank distributes our IOUs for us, since we are not legally allowed to do so alone or collectively. They charge exorbitant interest rates to do so, and we pay simply because the state makes it illegal for us to monetize our own labor. The state does this for the sheer reason that free money would make it harder to collect the taxes the state needs to persist in its aggression.

Some of the first coins were produced for the king of Lydia for the sake of making sure taxes were paid in proper, pre-measured, proportions. By forcing his value system— based not on a range of labor products, but instead only on precious metals stamped with his seal of approval (a picture of him)— he could ensure that he was getting more of the full value he demanded. Since taxes are an act of theft, and not a voluntary exchange, if he had instead demanded a payment in livestock, he would be given the least healthy animals of the people’s flocks. Since metals are more consistent in their value, he could ensure that he was getting exactly the value he asked for by having coins pre-weighed and stamped. Coinage, throughout history, was used largely for the purpose of paying troops.

At one time, the state was a single employer, landlord, banker, and political entity in one, and the ruler called all the shots he or she wanted to. Today, we find many employers, quite a few landlords, some smaller banks, but only one central bank and government. Society is clearly moving toward a political and economic complexity, decentralizing, and innovating on the smaller scale, but it also clearly has a long way to go before we reach our ability to freely express our will; that is, to fully live out our purpose and fulfill our destinies, unrestricted by the actions of our fellow humans.

The state and the banks are closely related in their reinforcing positions of power and authority. The banks are given exclusive authority to issue money, and the state holds exclusive power to enforce such authority. In order to make payments to its troops, and thus organize aggression in favor of its own class, the state charges an involuntary price for the “services” it purports to offer known as taxes. Valued services, however, are gladly paid for.

 Slavery and Entropy

Taxation is modern slavery, as a slave is a person who does not own their own labor. What is money proper, but a representation of our labor? When this labor is stolen from us, we are enslaved, we are at the mercy of another’s will, another’s desires, and not at our own. Our divinity is stolen.

When we remember that the core traits of humanity are that we are living, conscious beings, full of desire, emotion, intuition, forethought, and a desire to do good, social classes only serve to alienate us from our God-given purpose; the expression of our own ego, our own motives and desires. Our motives and desires should not contradict, as according to the law of equal liberty, but should be as fully expressed as is possible without contradiction, so that maximum freedom may one day be reached. The state, however, and all of its component parts— the monopolies of land, employment, and credit— are at contradiction with the law. For this reason, suffering against the moral law of finality, the state’s fate will be liken to that of the material world which spawned it (remember geographical advantages in the Fertile Crescent?). In the long term, the state will diminish to the laws of entropy. The freedom of the human spirit will arrange matter in a more civilized, plentiful, and orderly manner, without the waste, need, and want of the state.

Taxes, interest, rent, and profit are all payments made above the cost of the wages of labor. These are externalized costs, put onto the lower classes so that the rich may exist without laboring. This is a natural desire for the rich, and comes from their own syntropic-nature as entropy-evading machines; they too want to be happy. However, the shortsightedness of taxes, interest, profit, and rent come at the expense of others, and thus does not follow the law of equal liberty, which promotes syntropy in the long term. Unlike these involuntary modes of interaction— interest, profit, rent, and taxes—, voluntary exchange and payment based on agreement does not have such entropic effects; instead, it is syntropic and productive in nature. As Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, an early proponent of mutualism, realizes,

the metaphysical act of exchange, in addition to labor, but by a different method from labor, is a producer of real value and of wealth.

[…]

pagan antiquity, as well as the Church, has unjustly aspersed commerce, upon the pretext that its rewards were not the remuneration of real services. Once again, Exchange, an entirely immaterial operation, which is accomplished by the reciprocal consent of the parties, cost and distance of transportation being allowed for, is not merely a transposition or substitution, it is also a creation.[xiii]

Proudhon knew that surplus carried no true value to society, and that when surplus was traded to those who could use it, use-value was created. Humans are value-creating machines. It is part of our syntropic nature. Bronze, for instance, served little value to humanity until the Bronze Age, when it became the dominant material in innovation. The value of bronze came along with the human creation of a purpose for the bronze. That is, until there was an economic demand for the bronze (human purpose and value) it was in nature’s surplus, and carried little value. Nature’s surplus can be easily accessed and utilized in innovation, but human-controlled surplus— private property of natural resources— does not allow for this opportunity. Speculation of natural resources— owning what one does not occupy and use— creates much waste, entropy, and keeps demand from being met by supply. Natural resources are a gift from God, and not a product of human labor. Thus, resources should belong to life as a whole, and humans should make themselves good tenants to the One, and share what has been offered. Labor, the product of our individual gifts of divine creative potential, should be owned and commanded by the worker, and by none other.

Social classes represent relationships of entropy, but our God-given purpose is as an emergent system of syntropy, teleologically pulled toward the perfect truth and goodness of the Omega Point, the evolutionary culmination of our will, wants, and desires. We mustn’t forget that, just as a watch is made of gears that interact to create the larger clock, and our bodies are made of cells that make up our larger being, we interact to create larger entities than ourselves, which culminate in the body of God— the Cosmos—, which could not work without us. We are, though a small portion, the gears of the Universe, and perform a larger function within the whole than we are aware. As Three Initiates remind us again, “Every thought we think, every act we perform, has its direct and indirect results which fit into the great chain of Cause and Effect.” [xiv]

Like everything else in the Universe, we are a chemical process, and like all processes we have a beginning and an ending. Unlike other chemical processes we are highly complex, due to our dual nature as spiritual-material beings affected by syntropy as well as entropy. Still, we must not see ourselves as the end result, but as a means to an ends. This can be hard to do, but when one accepts that everything dies and that we (our matter) have been alive and dead many times over, and that we ourselves are a combination of nutrients that we have combined from other living organisms, it can become easier.  We are not living in a fresh beginning; we started long ago and set this up for ourselves. We are the archetypes of our former being, living in the decisions of the lives that we had before. The decisions we make dictate our future realities, past our simple experience as individual humans.

Freedom is the ability to differ, not because we’re going different places, but because we’re coming from different locations. We are all given a syntropic purpose as humans, and that purpose is to love one another and do good, express our desires, care about the well-being and existence of life, and bring the Universe back together. Given our different abilities and locations, this implies different things for different people. A person in Japan, for analogy’s sake, and a person in The United States, will likely take different routes to a common destination, such as Great Britain, though they share a common goal. The same is often true of ethics. Our purpose as humans is to reach a common goal of love and respect, but we must be free to take our own paths there. Hierarchy and class antagonism only serve to hinder this.

 

 


 

Notes

[1] See “Information and the Dissolution of Authority”

 


 

References

[i] Amit Goswami2, 69.

[ii] Ibid., 70.

[iii] Aristotle, 1.

[iv] Herbert Spencer, 93.

[v] Three Initiates, 220.

[vi] Ibid., 173.

[vii] Ibid., 171.

[viii] Ibid., 220.

[ix] Jared Diamond1

[x] Patrick Nolan and Gerhard Lenski, 138.

[xi] Gary Chartier, 210

[xii] Clarence Lee Swartz, 65.

[xiii] Pierre-Joseph Proudhon2

[xiv] Three Initiates, 179.

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