COMMON RUIN

“Ars longa, vita brevis”

The Value of Everything: Fact and Fiction in Conspiracy Theories

VoE104

Dissecting the material bases behind popular conspiracies.

In episode 104 of The Value of Everything, Charles Owen and I trace the genealogy of several consequential conspiracy theories, consider the promise and perils of independent media, criticize speech censorship and groupthink, analyze various social management projects undertaken by Western governments in recent decades, discuss the latest news in the American election cycle and its ramifications, and stress the benefits of critical inquiry.

Listeners exhausted with our lengthy, mechanical discussions on political economy will likely consider this episode a welcome change of pace.

Click here to download episode #104. (Or, if you prefer YouTube’s format, click here.)

The Value of Everything: The Logic of Cybernetic Anarcho-Capitalism

VoE103

A modern libertarian vision.

Charles Owen and I switch roles in episode 103 of The Value of Everything, and I conduct an interview with him examining his political philosophy. Charles is a proponent of a capitalistic stateless society, socially organized along voluntaryist ethics (chiefly the non-aggression principle) and economically grounded in a decentralized blockchain network. Those critical of propertarianism can still learn much from his arguments, as the mode of production he advocates differs considerably from conventional models of anarcho-capitalism.

In a forthcoming episode, Charles and I will debate our respective political philosophies, but we hope to continue our dialogue on other topics into the future.

Click here to download episode #103.

The Value of Everything: Understanding Council Communism

 

VOE 102

One man’s conception of the movement for, and realization of, proletarian emancipation.

In part 2 of our ongoing dialogue, Charles Owen provides me with the opportunity to elaborate to listeners of The Value of Everything on how I envisage council communism coming into existence and functioning via his application of the ever illuminating Socratic method. The preponderance of this lengthy interview (over 3 hours!) therefore centers on revolutionary theory and political economy, but Charles and I also spend a considerable amount of time discussing the recent Dallas shootings, religion, the national question, criminal justice, the philosophy of education, transhumanism, the sociology of the family, and even the Zeitgeist movement. In other words, there’s something for everyone in this episode.

(Pardon the occasional delays on my side of the recording, as my internet connection was rather sporadic during part of the interview.)

Click here to download episode #102.

Interview on The Value of Everything

The Value of Everything 101

Where are we headed?

Charles Owen and I have recently come into contact with one another and agreed to record a series of dialogues and debates for his thought-provoking podcast The Value of Everything. Charles’s theoretical background is in classical and Austrian economics, and he espouses a libertarian political philosophy which is rather unique in orientation. I encourage everyone to visit his website, subscribe to the show’s YouTube channel, and listen to the catalog of episodes.

In our first exchange, Charles and I conjecture on the future of world affairs. Among other things, we discuss the global economic crisis, the ascent of political populism, and the prospects for social change.

Click here to download the interview. (Please excuse my gaffes and pauses, it’s my  first time being recorded for a podcast.)

Mr. Žižek Goes to Left Forum

Zizek_Left_Forum

No Platforming strikes Left Forum 2016.

Not long ago, Slavoj Žižek was the darling of the art house left. His excessive pessimism and mastery in conveying simple, if counterintuitive, observations in the similarly opaque parlance of the Lacanian and Hegelian traditions elevated his status to the very apex of the bohemian radical milieu (in an atmosphere where form often exceeds substance, as it undoubtedly does within that circle, such is hardly surprising). Žižek’s charmingly misanthropic and eccentric personality, in addition to his vulgar sense of humor—all observable in his public lectures—also broadened his appeal to less academic audiences, atypical for someone from his intellectual background and significantly contributing to his fringe celebrity.

But the Slovenian philosopher’s reputation has suffered a precipitous decline, transitioning from relatively famous to infamous in a matter of months. Predictably, the source of discontent centers on the least objectionable aspect of his work, to wit, his cogent—albeit limited—critiques of political correctness and unrestrained immigration.

To summarize the controversy, over the last year, Žižek has criticized the effectiveness of speech censorship in fostering multiculturalism and questioned the wisdom of the lenient immigration policies a number of EU countries have adopted in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, both of which are tantamount to heresy on the New Left. With intimate knowledge of the utter hysteria this coterie has the capacity to exhibit, Žižek sought to forestall hostile reactions by repeatedly qualifying his statements and reassuring his audiences that he unequivocally shares their cosmopolitan values, thus emphasizing that his is merely a tactical dispute. But the old man critically underestimated the extent of their dogmatism. Anecdotes of non-white activists who concur with his assessment of political correctness, and cautioning that the New Left’s wholesale endorsement of lax immigration policies is, in point of fact, bolstering far-right parties across Europe, weren’t nearly adequate enough to prevent Žižek’s detractors from labeling him a “racist” and a “fascist.” (Suffice it to say, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the more assumptions one professes to share in common with these characters, the more viciously they assail, should one diverge from their specific conclusions.)

This rabid and concerted offensive against Žižek reached a new height at the closing plenary of the Left Forum on the 22nd of May, where he delivered a lecture entitled “Rage, Rebellion, Organizing New Power: A Hegelian Triad.” Amy Goodman provided a particularly nauseating self-righteous introduction, which consisted of the usual left-liberal ritual celebration of all things ethnic and fringe, presumably so organizers could establish distance between the Left Forum and Žižek’s controversial positions. Before the talk began, however, a handout was circulated among attendees, laced with unpopular quotes by Žižek and distorted synopses of his stances, in order to poison the well, as it were. What followed was a series of attempted interruptions engaged in by a segment of the audience, obviously undertaken in an effort to deplatform the man. Fortunately Žižek managed to successfully complete the lecture despite the shrieks and jeers wailed by these hypersensitive fanatics, but given the New Left’s reactionary opposition to freedom of speech and association, I suspect it won’t be long before this maniacal mob succeeds in either eliminating his ability to deliver public lectures altogether or in intimidating him to the point he can only salvage his career via self-censorship.

To be clear, I’ve long been of the opinion that Žižek deserves to be challenged on a number of fronts. Inter alia, his unjustifiable rejection of value theory and historical materialism, unsubstantiated dismissal of libertarian communist economic models, and elitist Lacanian perspective on “ideology,” all seriously call into question Žižek’s Marxist and, indeed, communist bona fides, as far as I’m concerned. The proper terrain to conduct this campaign, however, is in the written word, formal debate, and/or organized speeches. Succumbing to the strategy the right pioneered, i.e., speech censorship, will do precisely nothing to actually demolish those views. As blasphemous as it will sound to many, I will even go so far as to contend that the no platform policy was never a sensible tactic. Incorrect and dangerous ideas are not extinguished by fiat, they are vanquished only by superior ideas; hence, in the eyes of the public, those who attempt to censor speech appear to require force out of sheer intellectual ineptitude.

In an environment as irrational and toxic as the radical so-called ‘left’ has become in Western Europe and North America, perhaps Žižek can take solace in the fact that virtually every heterosexual Caucasian male is, at some point, suspected of harboring racist, sexist, and fascistic sympathies. I will surely be, once my own papers on immigration, intersectionality, and the national question are complete. So be it.

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers