Liberty, Politics

“The Prejudice of Race alone…”

 Capitalism Haiti is no longer the least known poorest nation right off our coast. It is now an attraction of general liberal piety (which in most cases leads to helpful aide, but in some can lead to futile and knowing condescension) and particular conservative ideological fixation. What does an idea need to be considered truly pure? It needs an example of success, a proving ground. The geographical, ecological, and political Lockean “blank slate” unto which can be drawn conclusions about the ideological concepts that are en vogue as a grand explanation for some aspect/s of human activity. What better then a earthquake ravaged (thought style potentially viable) hellscape? With the plethora of aide, charity, and money flooding into Haiti since the aforementioned disaster, conservative American politicians and their economic high capitalist high-priests are using the occasion to highlight their beliefs on the “free” market and poverty alleviation and elimination.

Or rather how the free-market should take the place of poverty alleviation etc. There is no problem of any size or scope, we are told, that cannot nor should not be solved by the more rigorous promotion of western style free-market corporatist/capitalist economics and philosophy. Why help a people who do not have the will to help themselves? The free market, through its greatest manifestation the corporation, should do the work that corrupt and overbearing big brother governments. What better way to help the under motivated masses of the former slave nation. A conservative political action committee with the inane sounding name National Alliance For Liberty and Freedom had this to say about why Haiti is the terrible place to live that it is in a petition they are sending to the White House: “…Further, any donations to Haiti will only serve as a “moral hazard”, in effect underwriting their bad choices. Haiti had some of the highest tax rates in the Western Hemisphere, hampering the natural innovation of its citizens and making it difficult for corporations – today’s engine of prosperity – to operate in that country. Their rules and regulations were among the most onerous as well, preventing true innovation to occur. Without such onerous rules and high taxation, Haiti could have been a thriving commercial center able to better withstand the earthquake and its aftermath.”

An interesting position, as it is largely because of the civil government imposed upon Haiti by its former occupiers the United States and its Military Industrial/Corporate Complex. The implication therein is that the Haitian people are incapable of exerting any effort in regards to their own benefit because they have been stifled by an over bearing liberal government… I wonder if this is the same government that Conservatives have decried as near nonexistent and ineffectual to the point of being essentially non-existent? But we are ignoring the true, coded, meaning of the statement from the PAC quoted above; the not so subtle racist message of why a country populated mostly by blacks should be stricken with such poverty and misfortune. Conservatives and capitalists must play a dangerous and hypocritical game of bait and switch with the critics of its theories and its potential converts to the same. The true racism of the conservative capitalist theories is not just apparent in the ranting of demagogues Like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson (the latter went so far as to suggest a sort of convoluted millenarian view of why Haiti is so trouble; some nonsense involving Devil Worship and a tinge of Imperialist nostalgia mixed with a religious fervor that will not be discussed hear as it deserves its own full treatment in another essay).

The more subtle incipient racism of the Reagan’s and their “welfare queens”, and the Bill Cosby’s and their “dead beat black dads” and baggy trouser wearing ghetto trash, is apparent just beneath the surface of the seemingly well meaning “concern” for the well being of the “inner city” poor who are now joined in absentia by the black Haitian people. For what are Haitians in the minds of most Americans but black, and poor? And this, to many in the conservative capitalist power structure, and the plebian reactionaries who mindlessly follow out of patriotism or ignorance, is an oxymoron of the highest order. So we are truly supposed to believe that the same people who like the columnist Cal Thomas believe that Haiti is “a cursed land by any definition”, believe at the same time that it is the vagaries of the Liberal “tax and spend” system of government that is the cause of all Haiti’s ills? We must remember that Haiti is populated by refugees of the “Dark Continent” another realm that can either be improved by capitalist pragmatism or be condemned as a misfit of geography, markets, and society.

When a society fails in its capitalist pursuits it is blamed upon a liberal bureaucracy and/or a “thug” culture that is seemingly a natural state of affairs in countries that lack that certain… Caucasian je ne sais qua. South Africa… better left to the whites. Ditto Zimbabwe and the former colonial centers in Africa and to a lesser degree the Indian Sub Continent. When the capitalist system succeeds it is because of the “bright minds” who lifted themselves out of squalor and deprivation (overcoming their natural place in the world?) in order to BECOME an exemplar of the sanctified corporate class. Why is it that when a disadvantage person of color succeeds he does so in spite of the poverty and the culture into which he is born, but the Caucasian does so by learning from the very same? We must therefore wonder whether the conservative capitalists have not already condemned Haiti and its people to their condition and use their seemingly well meaning suggestions and solutions as something of a mask with which to hide the true face of their greed and condescension?

For what are we to believe when the all giving corporate market system that is seemingly designed to save and better lives is described by Milton Friedman, one of the premier minds of the conservative/corporatist philosophical system, thusly: “When I hear businessmen speak eloquently about the “social responsibilities of business in a free-enterprise system,” I am reminded of the wonderful line about the Frenchman who discovered at the age of 70 that he had been speaking prose all his life. The businessmen believe that they are defending free enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoid­ing pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of re­formers. In fact they are–or would be if they or anyone else took them seriously–preaching pure and unadulterated socialism. Busi­nessmen who talk this way are unwitting [sic] pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.”

A free society undermined by the false idea that corporations should have any social conscience? But what is this blasphemy? Had we not been told by the heirs of Friedman that the market was the true source of human compassion and betterment in a world otherwise beset by “socialistic” liberal milquetoasts? We must realize one unpleasant, but essential, fact: conservative capitalist thinkers do not want Haiti to succeed as a nation, they do not want any “third world nation” to succeed without first their having established a well ordered aristocracy that can control the passions of the “natives” in a “free” market. In the eyes of the these capitalists those who were not born into a world that “nurtures” their urge to acquire and succeed in the ways the see as civilized and proper are doomed to a unfortunate, though deserved, slavery that will never end and indeed should never end. The Republicans, Capitalists, and Fundamentalists of the world sneer at the words of Haitian Revolutionary Toussaint L’Overture: “I was born a slave, but nature gave me a soul of a free man….” The only freemen in a capitalist system are those who learn quickly how to enslave others, and then blame that state of servitude upon the one lying in chains.

Advertisements
Standard
Democracy, Liberty, Philosophy, Politics

Haiti and Racism

I am a racist. I see the world in color. I look out and I behold a panarama of human hues and I think “There are differences in color”. I am aware of the differences we have, and they impact my life and my world. The wolrd is homogenous in its cacaphony of individualism. I am not racist in the sense that I believe in race as a concept but that I recognize that we all look different. Until we recognize that there all no races, and we come up with a new understanding of how to view humanity, then we are truly all racists.

I am not a bigot. I do not hate those who do not look like me. I do not believe that pigment has any bearing on who you are as a person, and the color of your skin is just that: a color. The only differences there are between people are in our own unique personalites ad individuals and in the chains certain aspects of soceity place on us. There are no black people. There are no white people. There are no red people or yellow people. I have only seen varying shades of beige and brown.

What follows is a declaration against Bigots.

I am sick and tired of hearing people like Dana Perrino, Glenn Beck, George Will and others suggest that the real way to help Haiti and other poor nations and people lies in the free market and that we need to stop giving government aid. Someone on Beck’s show even compared african americans in particular, and poor people in general, as domesticated animals unable to fend for themselves! The free market is a heartless animal: it long ago decided that there is nothing in Haiti it wants to consume, and the capitalist system pays no attention to places it cannot eat up. Poor people do not want to be poor, and they are not “comfortable” in their poverty.

Poor people are poor because the system we use supports those who use the power of the poor to enrich themselves. The harder you work the more you enrich those who work less. That is a fact. Stop saying that these people want to be poor or that they are “addicted” to government aid or to welfare: the only people addicted to anything are the rich who are freebasing on the shared struggle and strife of people who work hard and can never get ahead because the RICH DO NOT WANT THEM TO. The “free” market is only free to those who find a way to exploit the work of others. The free market is a slave market pure and simple.

The people of Haiti and the poor of the United States are not domesticated animals. There is something wrong with a system when people, who are born with the urge and the capability to better themselves, are not able to en mass and in a concentraited fashion within particular communities. The poor are not poor because they were born lazy: the poor are born free and are enslaved by the greed of those who manipulate the system to favor those already in power. No. More. Slavery. Free the Market.

Standard
art

Poem: The Electrical Dawn

Look to the sky and witness the machine
A thousand times the mass of the murky moon

Jagged wires snake across the horizon
The mountains and the valleys filled with plugs

Engineers swarm across the landscape

Like an army of college educated ants

The wrenching scream of steel on steel

The slightly demonic hum of a fiber optic storm

The orb was forged in a million furnaces

Each year a moment in the new creation

A thousand generations spent blithely in construction

The bitter firmament a womb yearning for an artificial seed

The hum of the ersatz millennium is deafening

But it is soothing to 40 billion frost burnt ears

The purpose of potential is quite potent

A lapse of futility into functionality

How many more generations must perish

In the shadow of a swiftly dying star?

No more! No more! Let the sun rise again!

  Let the east regain its splendor

Let the heavens reclaim their poetry

Never before has humanity been so cold

But that must soon change

No more! No more darkness! No more endless night!

The switch is primed for the revolution

A locus of elemental forgery

Take the broken remnants of the future

Forge a starry orb of dangerous furry

Taste the static in my veins

Blow out the wispy candle flame

No light is worth the darkness it has banished

The hobgoblin of restlessly savage minds

There is a power in this moment

A empire of memory and savage destiny

Forgive the poets their emphatic hyperbole

This is a time for exaggerated words

The maestro of the apparatus

Takes his place at the claptrap control panel

The cables begin to hiss with monstrous certainty

The circuits spark as the power climbs up into the sky

An imitation sun floats in space

A horrid twin

Dwarfing its shriveled sibling

Ready to burn for ten thousand million years

The universe was once the realm of chaos

But order has left earth thence to the stars

The ugly orb is dead… But suddenly a flash! Oh cybernetic salvation!

Thus is born a new sun!

Have at me light

Burst upon my eyes and into my mind

Illuminate my senses and my incredulity

Forecast my licentiousness with your brilliant, voluptuous luminosity

Break fast the chains that hold my castigated silence

Waste the guileless evils of inertia

Lead me from this blighted darkness

Force me into the electrical dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

Standard
Liberty, Philosophy, Politics

Letters Concerning a New Socialism: Letter #1

The fact remains that we are all currently still enslaved. Enslaved by our own conception of practicality, democracy and justice. Most of all we are enslaved by the current conception of what freedom is and, more importantly what freedom is not. We are told that freedom is not freedom from interference in our own personal affairs or our own personal needs. The only freedom that is unconditionally protected by the current system of power is the freedom to acquire and seek to acquire any permutation of relevant human capital.

“There is also in the world at large an increasing inclination to stretch unduly the powers of society over the individual both by the force of opinion and even by that of legislation.” Mill says this in an age when capital acquisition and extraction was reaching a new level of urgency and fanaticism. The “invisible hand” was pushing the world ever closer to a threshold whereupon general human concerns of self-preservation and comfort were superseded and ignored in favor of the conception that the individual who could most efficiently manipulate human weakness deserved to pursue his ends at any cost. We have now arrived at the culmination of what Mill (and Marx) most feared: human beings are now merely tools to be manipulated in the pursuit of power and capital at the hands of other human beings.

Individuality on extends as far as the individuals ability to protect himself against other individuals who have tipped the scales in their own favor. Make no mistake: Unhindered Capitalism is no simple process of the strong overcoming the weak. On the contrary it is the weak (the individual) who overcomes the strong (the community of individuals) by means of manipulation and by appealing to a falsely enshrined set of beliefs that state whatsoever I can possess I should and will possess. Capitalism is no longer just an economic theory: it is a self-perpetuating philosophy of acquiring power over other human beings. Example: a lump of gold is essentially worthless outside of being a relatively handsome mineral, but through years of mutual compromise and manipulation Gold has acquired a value beyond its mere nature. It cannot be eaten, but many will exchange foodstuffs for it. Thus gold achieves the status of commodity and can be used to leverage power in the immediate form of wealth over others in the community. If it is decided that wealth brings possessions and sustenance (a proposition that seems at the moment to be admittedly unavoidable) then the wealthy individual inevitably procures for himself a measure of control over the substances, institutions, and supporting systems that bring happiness and health to a society. The obvious question presents itself: is the human mind so easily enthralled by shiny and attractive substances? Do millions live in poverty and squalor because some half-witted BCE era men found gold to be a particularly valuable bauble? This depressing notion will have to wait for another better mind to explore it further. What can be said in surety is that Human Beings are animals, albeit extraordinary, who by the very nature of existence itself require and deserve the ability for as many individuals to prosper as is conceivably possible. It is by denying this fact that we are put into a most excruciating bondage. How then can we achieve a measure of freedom? Indeed what is the freedom that we seek?

It is necessary to answer the latter before addressing the former. The best way that I see to address the problem of what freedom means in this 21st Century is to use contemporary examples. Thus I will explore three areas where the concerns of freedom are at the fore in our society. The first of these areas is the pursuit of the freedom to exist equally within the confines of a supposedly equal society. The freedom to codify and legitimize conjugal relationships and to access the benefits offered to these relationships is one chief controversy that faces our “American Society”.

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. The first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution purports to codify in law equality of all “citizens” subscribing to member ship in the society at large. Such is the current plight of Homosexuals in the United States and in many if not most regions around the world. The American state of California became the latest to succumb to anti-homosexual fear and paranoia. This fear is backed up for many by some ancient attitudes to homosexuality as described in the Old Testament. Of course this Biblical justification is just that of course: justification for irrational fear that is based on the human predisposition to fear that which is different or difficult to understand. Cultural morality derives in most part from a fear that arose at some point in the past. Fear is of course subjective, but it is also a contagion that spreads down through societies generation by generation until those who are fearful cannot for the life of them remember why in the world they are so afraid. But that is a matter for another time.

Whatever the reason for their disapproval it led to law that banned homosexual (and all other “non-traditional” forms of) marriage from being recognized or performed within the State. This has the affect of barring homosexual couples from receiving over 1,000 state and federal government benefits bestowed upon married heterosexuals. This “free and democratic process” reveals an obvious truth: democracy is in no measure absolutely conducive to individual freedom. Much like the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution Section 7a of the California State Constitution says that “A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws”. On its face then Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in California violates the Constitution of the same. This ridicules state of affairs is only possible in a system that values the fearful and the powerful over the basic rights and needs of the relatively powerless. Note that those violated by the concept of the capitalistic acquisition power can be a minority or a majority group as the situation dictates.

In either case the concerns of a group of fearful individuals manipulating the fears of a larger group can lead to tragedy for another group. The question must also be asked: what do those who voted yes on Proposition 8 gain by their electoral victory? At the most they can claim to have protected the traditions of the society. More likely they gain a moment of calm in the face of inevitable change. This existential acquisition pales in comparison to the very real loss suffered by same-sex couples (it is an inconvenient fact that acquisition for one leads to loss for many others). They lose the right to be make medical decisions for each other, and they lose access to various tax and entitlement benefits. But, most significant, homosexuals lose their equality under the law.

Once a claim to a basic human right emerges it is only a matter of time before that right is granted by the society at large. This was most recently and relevantly illustrated in the United States by the African-American Civil Rights movement of the second half of the 20th century. Much like the it is with the oceans the tides of human rights cannot be halted or denied. Some decry as fatuous or even racist the comparison between the current struggle by Homosexuals for equal protection under the to the Civil Rights movement. The nay sayers are right to have problems with this comparison… but only half right. The Civil Rights movement sought for African-Americans all rights denied to them. American Homosexuals seek only the right to marry and have access to the benefits thereof. The problem with the comparison is thus only one of degree and not substance as claimed by the detractors. In the United States one of the most revered concepts is the concept of universal equality. Those who hold power in the Nation by the use of Capitalistic Power acquisition would no long hold the authority that they do if the concept were as revered in practice as it is in concept. Therefore the happiness and rights of Homosexual Americans are enslaved by the more pressing right of those who have acquired power to wield it unhindered to bring about whatever state of affairs that they desire. This is an unjust state of affairs. We must ask ourselves what is more important: the momentary existential discomfort of one segment of the power structure or the bestowal of basic human rights and dignity to a relatively powerless minority?

 

Standard
Atheism, Catholicism, Philosophy, Religion

The Catholic Church and the Wages of Sin: Part III

Ancient of Days Original sin is the most disgusting and morally repugnant concept ever devised by human beings to torment themselves. The persistence of this massive falsehood is a stain upon humanity that can be blamed almost unequivocally upon the Roman Catholic Church. The concept if Original sin can be blamed for hundreds of years of sexual repression and oppression. As the spawn of Adam’s rib women where and (sadly) still are viewed as secondary creatures. The story of the fall of man is essentially a reactionary screed by men terrified and repulsed by women. Fortunately for what would become the Roman Catholic Church most if not all of the founders of the religion where also craven misogynists. The creed of Original Sin would become the central tenant of what would become Christianity. Why did this have to happen though? Why is sin so important to the reactionary forces that make up the Church?
 

According to the Catholic apologist Thomas Bokenkotter the concept of sin is not specifically outlined in the Old Testament. According to him there are at least four separate possible meanings of the word sin: “to violate a legal norm, to go astray, to rebel, to err” (Essential Catholicism, 295) . I believe that every one of these meanings places the act of sinning firmly within a “secular” and humanistic realm. By this understanding to sin would be to commit a crime against society. Societies throughout history have rejected those who distinguish themselves from the norm. This includes those who look different, speak differently, and especially those think differently. Therefore it is entirely possible for a person to rebel against a society without even meaning or wanting to have rebelled. To sin one needs only to be born physically or mentally different then those in power. Who were the power figures in the ancient middle east? Men of course! They (like all of us) were descended from a human species that had not the time nor the reason to explore the world rationally. These ancient forefathers lived their entire lives day to day.

They lived in an environment that was brutal and unforgiving and they were constantly struggling to survive. This of course precious left precious little time for ration thought and observation. Everything was a potential threat so the world had to be seen through an entirely human lens. “The clouds in the sky are rumbling you say? Well it must be a great super human that is causing them to rumble. Now hurry up and help me skin this deer.” Episodes like this may very well be the origin of faith-based thought. At the time this could have been little more then a side effect of constantly fluid existence. Humans soon transcended the hunter-gatherer life style however, and progressed to a more stable existence based around agriculture. This left more time for thought, but unfortunately it was no more rational then before. “That rumbling in the sky is often followed rain. We need rain to keep us alive!. Sure, of course it must be caused by something, but not a human! It most be something much more powerful then you or I! If that is the case then we need to keep this powerful being happy and on our side.” It is easy to criticize this mode of thinking today from a vantage point of expanded knowledge and understanding of the world and how it works. One of the worst mistakes we can make as reasonable thinkers is to take what we now know to be true and deride past peoples and societies for not knowing what we know. The knowledge we possess today was acquired in a enormous collective exploration of the world and reality

Standard
art, Atheism, Entertainment, Liberty, Philosophy, Philosophy of Art, Religion

Oprah Contra De Sade

I am a fan of the works of Donatien Alphonse François, the Marquis de Sade to most, but that is really besides the point. All you really need to know is that De Sade wrote of obsessions, degradation, humilation and torture, fetish, pain and what I can only call the “intellectual orgasm/rape complex”: the pursuit and conquest of a person of equal or greater intellect and the exploitation of the inherent emotional/sexual weaknesses thereof. This was practiced with the greatest fervor upon De Sade’s only true equal: himself. He mutilated himself, had himself whipped, acted as the victim in viscous acts of rape, and allowed himself to be almost ritually humiliated by those who would generally be seen to be “beneath” his stature: prostitutes, male servants, sycophantic friends. He of course loved to humiliate and torture others in turn, but as he said himself, “It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure”.

De Sade was obsessed with pain and humilation, and this has led many to decry him as a monster, a freak or even the devil himself; novelist Guy Endore even entitled his book on the marquis “Satan’s Saint”. I do not think there is any argument that De Sade is seen by many, if not by nearly all, as an evil writer and thinker who has or had given nothing of (non-prurient) value to the human pantheon of thought. I believe this to be a grave misunderstanding of De Sade and his oeuvre. As I hinted at above, De Sade was not interested purely in the victimization of the weak and the celebration thereof; his primary (at least personal) focus was on self subjected acts of sexual violence towards himself.

How does this matter in regards to De Sade’s “value” as a literary and philosophical mind? Rape fantasies and lionization of sexual abuse victims, and then the subsequent focus on their various experiences with pain, recovery, revenge, and self hatred, are nothing new in the realm of literature. On the contrary they are something of a cliché if anything; from the tales of Genesis to East of Eden artists have always been interested in the subject of sexual violence and its repercussions. What De Sade did was take this obsession and take it to its seemingly sinister, but actually very logical, zenith; self inflicted sexual assault and humilation. And, as noted above, not by those seen as in any sense in a natural position of authority or power over the “victim”. He always depicted it as the pursuit of the higher classes, and of the educated, not as the plight of the lower classes, and the of un/undereducated. Even when he did write of sexual assault upon a weaker victim, as in 120 Days of Sodom, or Justine, the focus and yes even the sympathy is nearly always with the victimizer, or at the very least the victim is seen as having been destined to this punishment or to have even been bettered in some way by the act.

De Sade writes in almost mind numbing detail about the acts thus perpetrated and how and why the individual “enjoying” them does, indeed, enjoy them. For example, one entire section of his magnum opus 120 Days of Sodom is devoted to the “Murderous Passions”. As one would imagine (considering that this tome was written by the man for whom sadism was named) this section is filled with terrible cruelties and fetishes that literally turn the stomach of even the most nihilistic and jaded of readers (and I am one of those readers I must admit!). But, as is usually the case with the master of perversion, he focus on the immediate pain and pleasure gained from the acts, and does not dwell upon the side affects, the repercussions, or the reactions to these acts. There is no chaise lounge upon which De Sade lays his characters in order to plumb the inner most depths of their victimized souls; in the world of the Marquis everyone is a victim of something or another, so therefore, no in is a victim anymore.

The victims of society are in turn victimized by the victims of overindulgence and boredom. But, as always, victims are not the focus of the story. It is nothing but a necessary fact to be dealt with quickly and with little fuss in order to get to the true point of the story; pleasure is experienced best when it is comes from pain both inflicted upon oneself and upon someone else. All the emotional issues associated with rape and torture are therefore like so much psychological flotsam and jetsam. They are of little or no interest to the Marquis. So De Sade is the writer who most systematically and exhaustively dealt with the actually act and enjoyment of pain and torture, but experienced and inflicted. Oprah Winfrey is another story altogether.
It is here, the exploration of the character of Oprah in regards to “victimization” (particularly in regards to the movie Precious, but in general to to pop/literary culture writ large), where I will defer to the thorough examination of Snotti Prince St. Cyr:

\\\And this is where Oprah’s enthusiasm for the movie Precious comes in, and it goes a long way to explain her overal cultural agenda. Oprah wants to normalize dysfunction. She wants to make her personal obsession into everyone else’s personal obsession. She wants to make it seem like a more omnipresent and pervasive problem than it actually is, because if she can make every tragedy that occurred to her become perceived as normal, her childhood becomes normal by default. If you view every cause, movie, book or show she champions through this lens it becomes pitifully transparent. And the whole world is falling for it. And when you look at the abuse resumes of everyone involved in the creation of Precious and compare it to the things that occur in the story, you can see how they’re trying to normalize every piece of abuse in their collective pasts almost like going through a checklist.///

( for the entire enlightening and wonderful essay please look here: http://www.facebook.com/#/notes/snotti-prince-st-cyr/higher-standards-part-21b-more-precious-worship-and-the-submission-doctrine/248384035478 )

If we take Snotti’s estimation of Oprah and her thoughts and motives in regards to victimization as an accurate one (and I believe it is) then we can ask this question: Is Oprah, with her focus upon, and celebration of, the victims of sexual, emotional, and physical violence, the 21st century’s Marquis De Sade? At first blush the evidence seems to point to the affirmative; It seems that every other day the indomitable Ms O is out trumpeting the victimization story of a new celebrity, news, political, and literary figure. Snotti mentioned Mackenzie Phillips, but I can name right off the top of my head Whitney Houston, the abducted/recovered teenager Elizabeth Smart, and Elizabeth Edwards the wife of Senator John “National Enquirer” Edwards. Oprah has in fact made a career, nay, and empire out of telling and repackaging the victimization stories of hundreds of everyday people and celebrities (I, for one, find nothing inherently wrong with this. If the public wants to buy a box full of horseshit painted in pretty colors then I say let them, just don’t make me smell it if the do).

In edition, Snotti also mentioned numerous books that Ms. Winfrey peddles to her viewers, most of which deal with the subjects discuss in both of our essays (I myself have taken issue with Snotti’s use of the books as a primary example of her victimization enthusiasm, but I will leave it to the reader to look at my response to his original essay which I linked to above). These taken along with the pattern of using real, legitimate, tragic cases of victimization (her own as well as others) suggest that Oprah is the “author” of many stories of rape, abuse, torture, sexual titillation, masochism and substance abuse. While perhaps not as literary or even as stylized or even literate as De Sade’s, these stories nonetheless serve to use the unseemly underbelly of human relations as fodder for popular entertainment. It is here though that we get the first inklings of why Oprah is in fact the very opposite of De Sade, even perhaps, an “anti-Sade”. Why such a different conclusion? Well look for example at how Oprah deals with the issues that she has in common with De Sade. All of the victims and victim narratives that she deals in are almost exclusively, 100% about the negative, life altering, mind numbing pain of the victims themselves.

One of the best recent examples is Mackenzie Philips and her revelations about her on again/off again incestuous relationship with her father. We are invited into this world of salacious sexual degradation not because it is a pursuit of pleasure, or because it is a form of real, or at least intentional, pornography, but because we are supposed to be disgusted by the acts, and to relate to the suffering of the victim. This is the great Greek tragedy moment of the Oprah saga: Oedipus tearing out his eyes, Medea chopping her children to pieces; we are supposed to feel the terrible, unending pain of the victim, and then to react in joy as they tell us how they got over it, dealt with it, or sought revenge for the abuse. We are not supposed to feel pleasure at the acts of evil perpetrated against the victim (I highlight the word “supposed to” because no author can every really control how a person will react to material, or why they sought out the material in the first place. The motivations of the consumer are in this case more or less irrelevant to the point). On the contrary; any pleasure Oprah wants her audience to derive from the stories are purely cathartic and are to be gleaned from the “happy ending” these victims experience when they stop being victims and become triumphant, almost holy, “survivors”!

Survivors? We can hear De Sade sniff with derision, Who gives a shit about the survivors? What of the act? The pain? The humilation? How did your father taste Mackenzie? How did he smell? I bet he took you in the asshole… and so on and so forth until the Marquis and his readers had had their fill of the naughty nitty gritty of the exploitation and maltreatment of the young girl. He would not give a lick about the existential angst of the poor victim (and here I must state that I for one find what happened to miss Philips to be quite tragic and unfortunate), but of the pleasure and the ecstasy achieved by the intellectual, artistic, more powerful father.

The interest of De Sade lays not with the victim, but with the victimizer, and in his eyes their really is not victimizer; only a libertine, liberated, uninhibited animal creature seeking pleasure in what he saw as its most acute form. We should not look to Oprah Winfrey for an example of the continuation of the De Sadean ethos. Where should we look? Perhaps we should look…. At De Sade. His verve and violence is just as shocking and raw and terrifyingly true today as it was when the revolutionaries where storming the Bastille. Perhaps they are even more so because we today expect to see pain, and suffering and cruelty in the world, and we wish above all as a society (or at least we claim to wish to) fix it, while in De Sade we see a celebration of these very things we wish to do away with, the very things that typify the past to us as the dirty, filthy, uncivilized dust bin of history.

For you see, for us civilized beings we should not seek out pain, violence or to act the victimizer; we must look down our noses in disgust at the base impulse of more primitive man and instead deify the effervescent transcendence of that pain, and those who would inflict it upon us. Oprah will lead the way to a new world where we do not need to be victimized to be survivors, and where we can click the remote whenever things get a little to dirty for our delicate civilized tastes. Let us leave those old, perverted little old Frenchmen to their cruel fancies… It is time for a new ethos, an Oprah ethos. Oprah Contra De Sade.

Standard