One advantage that the classical Marxist strategist has over his class enemies is an ideology that conditions him to see the strategic continuum from influence to violence as one eternal round. To the classical Marxist, all politics is not only the division of power but the division of material power. Since there is no reality higher than material reality, mankind’s only concern is material.
Marxism proposes to abolish concern by abolishing politics. One glorious day, the division of material power will end forever in a single division of power controlled by all, for all. Politics will wither away, leaving behind a House of Peace, free of all concern. In this post-political dreamtime of communism, influence will be the sole swayer of man’s soul, speaking in perfected reason. Until the great and dreadful day of withering away, the Marxist strategist fights in a House of War, living in a state of war ruled by violence. The entire spectrum of strategic power, both influence and violence, lies ready at his disposal. Anything within reach can be weaponized at the discretion of the strategist. With revolutionary fervor, varying threads of influence and violence can be woven into combined arms efforts for use in a no-holds class struggle to abolish politics with politics.
While the classical Marxist believes that the House of War is everywhere until it is nowhere, classical Islam had its own House of War and House of Peace but it could draw a bright shiny line between them. In the House of Peace, the influence of those who have submitted to Allah reigns supreme. Violence is banished as offensive to the One God. Out in the House of War, violence reigns supreme. Believers can resort to it if influence alone won’t expand the ranks of those who’ve submitted to the House of Peace. The line between can shift back and forth. But there’s a real geographically quantifiable division between one and the other.
Classical American unilateral republicanism echoed the Muslim approach. It divided the world into a clearly marked House of War and House of Peace. Inside the normalcy bloc of the United States, the House of Peace was preserved at all costs. Outside, the world sometimes dwelt in the House of Peace and sometimes in the House of War. The hope was that the House of Peace would prevail everywhere in its own due time. But, whether passing through the House of War or the House of Peace, the command of influence was paramount everywhere and influence was subject to violence nowhere.
This boundary between the House of War and the House of Peace was ambiguous enough that it could easily be extended to have the whole world in its hand. To the global meliorist, the House of Peace holds sway everywhere. There are no exceptions for a house of War, a house that does not exist. Deluded men who believe in a House of War should be subjected to intensive influence until they wake up to the House of Peace. If they must be reasoned with through the persuasion of violence, the use of violence should be conducted according to the wise lights of the House of Peace instead of the delusional considerations of the fabled House of War.
A strategist operating under the rules of Marxism is allowed a different range of means and ends than the strategist who labors under the constraints of Islam, classical republicanism unilateralism, or global meliorism. It’s important for the strategist to know that the strategy allowed by one House of Peace and House of War will differ from the strategy allowed by others. You cannot square the Marxist’s ends with the global meliorist’s means or the classical republican’s end with a Marxist’s means. A fundamental impedance will arise that will cripple your efforts.
Marx, observing the Paris Commune from the safety of the British Museum, wondered why these self-proclaimed “revolutionaries” didn’t do something revolutionary like seize and spend all the gold in the vaults of the Bank of Paris. A classical Marxist had no qualms about seizing and spending French gold. There’s no need to preserve bourgeois qualms about seizing and spending gold from a bank when your mission is to destroy bourgeois qualms.
For the classical Marxist, there was no line between the House of War and the House of Peace. It would be all one thing until it became all the other thing. There can be no return to normalcy. The purpose of the class struggle is to end normalcy for all time. The Communards of 1871 tried to square an unsquarable grab bag of Marxist and non-Marxist means and Marxist and non-Marxist ends. The result was an incoherent smear that was easily wiped from Baron Haussman’s broad avenues by the nascent Third Republic, a less incoherent smear that became the dominant form of government in the world (in lip service if not in reality).
In the recent discord in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland Northern Ireland, connected strangers converged on their target positions that were agreed to and targeted through disconnected technology. Coordination was done one step removed from traditional steering mechanisms of mankind. Decentralized technology acting as a Chinese whisper campaign where the lack of a coherent steering mechanism tactically empowered discordia while baffling concordia.
But the rioters willed the means of Marxism through the unpredictable and tactically efficient use of flash violence but didn’t will the ends. Their violence was bent towards the predictable but strategically ineffective end of redistributing consumer bling-bling from the bling-blingeded to the unbling-blinged.
After some confusion, this incoherence between means and ends allowed forces of order to reassert the truth that, while digital communications technology can be an efficient strategic medium, political goals involving the division of power can only be realized in meatspace. You can only fling your bling in hard material reality on land. Disturbers of order could be tracked to the places they lived. There, the material fact of their ill-gotten bling could treacherously finger them. If they protested that digital communications technology had made them free while they were cuffed and stuffed into a waiting patrol vehicle, the best they could hope for was patrolmen who tactfully avoided pointing out the pithy irony of their predicament.
Yesterday, a downtown park in my hometown was “occupied” by protesters. The march up country was a march of triumph. From the state capital, the occupiers, 300 strong, marched through the city financial district and thunder-runned through gentrified neighborhoods until they secured the city park.
Now that this city park, strategically the dominant local market for fresh produce and illegal drugs, has been occupied, the protesters find themselves in an Iraqi predicament: once you’ve occupied a piece of territory and its unruly inhabitants, what have you gained? It turns out that they were short on Phase IV planning. The indigenous inhabitants of this park are a surly population of deranged transients and drug dealers. They’ve suddenly found their homes occupied by the most global meliorist of global meliorists: the protesting urban hipster turned hippie.
The coalition of the willing who’d provided most of the first day’s manpower melted away after they discovered that this version of fighting the man involved huddling for shelter from the rain next to an aging Boomer who hadn’t bathed since the original Summer of Love. This reduced the war of occupation over the park to a straightforward battle for territory between hippies and crazy transients and drug dealers. The hippies may dismiss the crazy transients-drug dealer alliance as dead enders that they can meliorate with vintage protest songs but the smart money’s on the drug dealers.
Hippie global meliorism is Marxism without the House of War. It wills an end that can only be realized through means of violence. Yet they refuse to will the means. If laughter could be projected from an ocean and half a continent away, they’d hear Marx’s disembodied laughter drumming from the British Museum and echoing down their spine with Teutonic clarity. A classical Marxist revolutionary would do something revolutionary. They’d mass at the park, loot the city’s financial district, and then storm the state capital. The hippies did everything backwards: they retreated from the center of political power, abstained from seizing the center of economic power, and massed in an out-of-the-way outdoor drug/farmers market.
Old Karl would die of laughter.
In the millennias’ old pursuit of better human domestication, the modern city must take pride of place. Historically cities were slaughter pens. Their populations didn’t become self-sustaining until well into the nineteenth century. Before that, cities were a sort of demographic Ponzi scheme that needed a fresh crop of kids from the country to pay off old crop of city dwellers. This made the job of human herdsmen difficult since they had to wander over miles of rural territory to round-up enough city
victims dwellers to produce an economically viable herd.
The modern city did away with that at a stroke. Men became self-herding and self-culling, reducing the management costs of traditional human ranching. They would go into the corral voluntarily and sometimes even go into the slaughterhouse voluntarily. The strategy of the meek and weak, which is to disperse and inherit the earth, is replaced with the strategy of the wrong and strong where they concentrate to be obliterated.
With selective urban breeding, human stock owners can produce a new breed. For this breed, a physical corral outside is no longer required because it’s replaced with a more cost-effective mental corral inside. The protesting hippie is one of the best domesticated breeds available. They instinctively march away from the sound of the guns, commune together, turn off, tune out, drop in, and light up. The specter that haunts the minds of the monied classes, the specter of old Karl, is far from the haunting the minds of occupying hippies. They can’t see the
revolution for the weed forest for the trees.
Science fiction writer and fading Boomer Bruce Sterling mercilessly taunts his Generation X audience in this video. Vintage radicals of Sterling’s generation had genuine hunger-striking political revolutionaries like Mohandas K. Gandhi and the prospect of revolutionary technology like rocket powered Volkswagens. Knock-off Gen Xers and millennials have scrupulously marketed product design revolutionaries like Steven Paul Jobs who shrivelled away in what Sterling terms “a modern Gothic horror tale”. They look forward to revolutionary technology like digital music players that allow them to better curate the derivative cultural residue of their fathers. In this new Hellenistic age, where clever
repetition homage is mistaken for unpredictable innovation, you can smell the looming decadence along with the looming tear gas as protesting hippies gather.
When London burned in the past, it burned for a reason: the end of creating a brave new world demanded the means of torching the old cowardly one. When London burns today, it’s because rationally allocated normalcy in the present isn’t stimulating enough for a digitally anesthetized population. The ancient romance of blood and flames, the undefiled and undomesticated vividness of a primordial world when compared to a bloodless cold antiseptic modern world, exercises its baleful attraction.
What is this smoothed beast, its cross-platform synchronizable to-do list entry come at last, that slackly ambles towards Bedlam to be born? A tactic without a strategy, the fatal temptation of bling without a thing.