Tuesday, September 29, 2015


The latest issue of the LRB arrived today. It contained an article by Thomas Laquer on the Nazi camps, in which several members of his family died. I thought of Justin while reading it.

Yesterday he and I came closer to arguing. Justin can’t seem to understand that the suffering the Jews experienced doesn’t justify their inflicting suffering on the Palestinians. On the contrary, it makes their behavior more reprehensible.

Equally reprehensible is the fact that Zionists haven’t let the historical record of Jewish suffering speak for itself, but altered it to further their political agenda.

As Laquer says, the Jews were neither the first nor the only victims of the Holocaust. Soviet POWs were the first to experience the Nazi mass murder assembly line, and Slavs remained the largest in number during Germany's Drang noch Osten. Zionists have exploited their dead by claiming the Holocaust was a uniquely Jewish tragedy.

The Jews were the only untermenchen whom the Nazis marked for extermination, but even that doesn’t make them unique. The Armenian genocide came first. As Laquer shows, genocide was endemic to the 20th century.

But the Nazis' primary goal, he says, was not the extermination of untermenchen. It was their exploitation as slave labor. 

At first it was only when slaves became too exhausted to work that they were killed. Laquer therefore compares Nazi slaves to black slaves in the American south. Even after the Civil War, when blacks were supposedly free, black convicts in work gangs died at a rate similar to that of Nazi slave labor.

Whether or not the first slaves were prisoners of war, as the Greeks believed, slavery and war have always been the twin pillars of society. Each makes the other not only possible but necessary.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Today Justin and I came as close as we probably ever will to having a quarrel.

He chose the subject of our conversation, as usual, and for some reason he chose Israel. He claimed Israel is held to an unrealistically high standard of behavior, higher than that of other nations. I said that, on the contrary, Israel is allowed to behave in ways that would be condemned in any other nation because officially Christian nations feel guilty for having persecuted Jews in the past, and especially for standing by and doing nothing while the Nazis murdered Europe's Jews, so they now stand by and do nothing while Israel persecutes the Palestinians.

Justin didn't disagree. He never disagrees with me. I might respect him if he did. 

He conceded that Israel is breaking international law by expanding into Palestinian territory, but claimed it had to do so because it's surrounded by enemies and must protect itself. I said the Israeli army is the most powerful in the ME. In every war it's fought with an Arab nation, even coalitions of Arab nations that fielded numerically superior armies, Israel won easily. Justin conceded this as well, but still insisted everything Israel does is justified by its need to protect itself.

I don't know why he supports Israel so uncritically. We've never discussed religion, but he's mocked religious fundamentalists from time to time, Muslim as well as Christian, so I assumed that, like me, he's an atheist. Perhaps he's one of those nonbelieving Jews who make up for their apostasy by believing in Israel. Faith in ein Volk, ein Reich und ein Führer has replaced faith in Gott for every fascist, and everyone's a fascist now.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


I must constantly think about how to put what I want to say into words Justin can understand.

During yesterday’s conversation, I said the social arrangements we make for living together haven’t changed in any significant way since the Greeks. They invented the idea of democracy, but couldn’t put it into practice any more than we can. Instead we invent machines to use against each other, including machines of war. Justin said he agreed with me that men are essentially warlike, which is not what I meant.

He believes in essences. Man is essentially warlike and competitive, and Woman is essentially nurturing. I find binaries, such as Empedocles’ Love and Strife, useful for ordering my thoughts, but I don’t make the mistake of reifying them, much less conflating them with other binaries, such as the supposed essences of Manhood and Womanhood. I told him so, and of course he agreed with me. Justin agrees with most everything I say because he doesn’t understand it. 

The latest issue of the LRB arrived today, with an article by Fredric Jameson on Science Fiction. 

Ever since we became aware of the world, we’ve thought of ways to change it. Jameson said the essence of SF is not science, as those not familiar with the genre assume, but the imagining of alternatives to the status quo. 

Imaginative fiction has always had a problem locating its alternative societies. Originally they were in the past, a lost Golden Age. Later, during the age of exploration, they were set in some as yet undiscovered country in the present, like Erewhon or More’s Utopia. When the myth of progress took hold of peoples’ imaginations, they were set in the future. 

At first narrators travel to the alternative society by falling into what Jameson calls ‘a magnetic sleep’ and waking in the future. H. G. Wells provided a more plausible means of travel with his time machine. The machine personified the industrial revolution, and therefore progress, until it was superseded by political revolution and the bomb.    

But revolutions, industrial and political, changed society less than people expected. The wheel revolved, rulers and ruled changed places, but the structure of society hasn’t changed in any significant way since the Greeks. Wage slavery differs from chattel slavery only in degree, not in kind. Even worse, the revolutions had unintended consequences whose evil seemed to many equal to the good they achieved.

Justin said communism failed because it’s unnatural. Human nature is, in essence, competitive, not co-operative. Even women compete for men. 

Everyone thinks this now. Everyone has lost faith in the machine, the supposed engine of progress, and can imagine nothing other than the status quo, however unsatisfactory, because they believe in an essence called human nature that can’t be changed. Even Justin, who has faith in machines but not in people, would probably agree with this argument if he understood it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Justin has finally gained enough confidence to tell me what he thinks, instead of reading to me what others think. But like most people, he doesn’t think. The words he calls his own are as derivative as the words he reads to me from the scripts he prepares before telephoning me. They differ only in being more ignorant.

During today’s conversation, he told me most of our problems are due to the feminization of society. Women have usurped the dominant role once held by men; and we, being foolishly infatuated with them, forbear to put them back in their proper place.

He said some other nonsense as well, which I prefer not to remember.    

Sunday, September 6, 2015


I’m reading Edward Abbey’s A Voice Crying In The Wilderness.

He said few men are wise enough to govern themselves, therefore even fewer are wise enough to govern others. Abbey was a man some call wise, so how could he have thought this an argument for self-government? No Greek would have made such an egregious mistake.

Whitehead said all Western philosophy consists of footnotes to Plato. Not only have we learned nothing new since his day, we’ve forgotten much of what Plato and his contemporaries knew.

The Greeks knew as well as we do that slavery is immoral, but considered it a necessary evil. We no longer consider it necessary because we think technology can solve any problem. The persistence of slavery therefore troubled us until we decided to pretend we’d abolished it; but the difference between chattel and wage slavery is one of degree, not kind. The Potemkin village we used to call Western civilization consists of such self-deceptions.

Technology hasn’t freed wage slaves because the machines don’t belong to them. Even if they did, technology alone can’t make self-government practical as long as the majority cannot or will not govern themselves. 

The ignorant know, if they're honest, that they are not wise enough to govern themselves. They hope to be governed by those who are wiser than they, as children are governed by their parents. But they know that few parents are wise. 

Ignorant parents are better than none, if they mean well. The ignorant know their choice is not between slavery and freedom, but between benevolent and malevolent masters.  

All masters claim to govern their slaves as parents govern their children. Slaves obey their masters not because they believe them, but because they know they're not wise enough to govern themselves. But they can’t be forced to obey malevolent masters, and must be persuaded to do so by guile. Every republic is founded on some version of Plato’s myth of metals that every sensible person knows is a myth but pretends to believe.  

Now that even the most ignorant cannot help but see their masters are malevolent, and apparently more ignorant than they are (and may even be mad), they're no longer willing to obey them or pretend to believe their myths. But they’re still not wise enough to govern themselves. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Justin knows even less about music, art or philosophy than he does science, which limits our conversations to current events. I know enough about the Greek financial crisis to keep up my end of our conversations about it, but it interests me primarily as yet another attempt by Germany to dominate Europe.

Greece should leave the EU before it collapses. Europe’s nation-states do not share a common culture, language and history, as did the Greek city-states, so unifying Europe as a province of the American Empire could never be as simple as unifying Greece was under the Roman Empire.

A federated Europe might be viable in theory, but in practice Germany would never be satisfied being primus inter pares. It must rule.

The European Union has always been an illusion. But so has Germany, which was unified less than two centuries ago, and then divided half a century ago. All political entities are illusions which exist only because its members believe in them. Germans believed in Germany long before Bismarck unified it, and Europeans used to believe in Christian Europe; but not in an EU dominated by Germany.

Politics is about the collective illusions that enable us to live together without killing each other, and I’m tired of illusions. But my conversations with Justin don’t rise even to the level of politics.   

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Every now and then Justin talks about his work.

At first I listened with interest, because he claimed to be involved in the development of artificial intelligence. But when it became apparent I knew more about AI than he did, I lost interest.

He then emailed me an article about AI that he claimed to have written. Suspicious, I made a Google search and found the original.

I bawled him out. Not for lying, but for lying to me. I’m used to people lying to themselves and each other, but I'm insulted if they assume they can lie to me as well.

That’s when Justin stopped emailing me and started telephoning me. 

The things he says are no more his own than was the article, but he provides me with a facsimile of intelligent conversation, so I put up with him.

I don't usually listen when he talks about his work, but yesterday he talked only about his work for over an hour (he sounded drunk), so I had no choice but to listen. 

He didn’t talk about the work he’s doing for his employer in Bangalore, which appears to have as little interest for him as it does for me. He talked instead about a project he’s doing for a private client in Ohio.

He said he's redesigning a wellknown computer program for this client. When I asked him for details, he spoke in such vague generalities (he wouldn’t even tell me the name of the city in Ohio where his client is located) that I began to suspect what he's doing is illegal. I now think he's plagiarizing this software, just as he plagiarized the article on AI. 

He reminds me of John S.  Both seem to be pathological liars. 

Everyone lies, but pathological liars are afraid of being discovered, not least because they want to be discovered. They want to stop lying and be known, and accepted, for who they really are, or think they are. I knew them both, and didn’t betray them, so they assumed I accepted them. I did accept them, as much as I do anyone, because they're all liars. 

Justin and John S are also alike in that I got both of them jobs, which they apparently took as evidence of my friendship. 

When I refused the job at Volkswagen, and recommended they hire John S instead, he was as grateful as Justin was later. He didn't know I did it because I didn’t want to work with him any longer. He assumed we'd be working together. 

Justin thought I recommended him for the job in Bangalore as a favor to him. I actually did it to see if I really had the kind of influence he said I had. I tried to end our relationship afterwards, but he kept emailing and calling me. I tolerate it because he's in Bangalore now, so I don’t have to put up with him all day. L'enfer, c'est les autres.