Join the ‘Campaign for Primate Change’ – and get a FREE #PlanetOfTheApes poster ;-) …

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Perhaps the dumbest thing about the classic B-movie franchise ‘Planet of the Apes‘ is the title; it’s hardly menacing or in any way suspenseful when we already live in on a planet dominated by – albeit over-domesticated and tragically naked… – apes.

What’s more the dominant primate on the planet has already been in some kind of direct ‘conflict’ (a term used broadly as it could be the case that Homo sapiens simply bred-out/out-bred their ‘competition’) with closely related primate species. Initially with Homo erectus some 75,000 years ago and more recently (10,000 to 30,000 years ago) with our very close friends Homo neanderthalensis (who is often portrayed in popular culture as being a bit ‘thick’ even though their brain capacity was higher than ours).

The common mythconception is that we humans came to dominate the planet because we were somehow more highly evolved. The reality is, of course, much less rosy. The ‘conflict’ between human and non-human intelligent primates came during moments of crisis…

The end of Homo erectus and the birth of human culture based on the hunting developed in Africa around 70,000 years ago in response to a fierce plunge in worldwide temperature triggered by an enormous volcanic explosion in Asia. Homo neanderthalensis dominated the struggle for survival during Europe’s glacial period, but as the global temperature rose they found themselves ill-adapted to face the new challenges of an inter-glacial climate. A warmer world also saw the birth of agriculture, which, over the last 10-20,000 years or so, has slowly strangled previous nomadic lifestyles and created the myths of ownership and entitlement.

Ho saps didn’t gain control of this planet because they had better brains or bodies, they survived because they were better scavengers/scroungers. Inventive, aggressive and omnivorous we have the advantage in times of evolutionary crisis; something which has faired us well in the past, but is is now proving to be a double edged sword. We’re the ultimate hoarders; grabbing everything we can whether we need it or not… like overgrown toddlers we continually repeat the mantra ‘mine, mine, mine’… We’re even expected to emulate/envy and celebrate the most annaly-retentive of our species (aka ‘the rich’), who’s mental attitude Daniel Quinn describes as Taker‘.

For example, on an individual level we’re real good at storing fat, which undoubtedly has got us through some lean times, unfortunately we can’t seem to stop eating/storing even when there’s no food scarcity – which is why 60-70% of Americans are obese even though many of their own countrymen rely on food hand-outs. The addictive nature of human beings seems to make them throw their own lives (not to mention nature) out of balance. On a planetary scale the problem is even worse; we take everything we possibly can from the planet with no thought of the consequences. In the blink of a geological eye we’ve screwed-up our own life support system just to ‘own’ a few extra things (or gain a few extra pounds) which we don’t really need… for ‘wise guys’ (Home sapiens means ‘wise/knowing man’) we really are pretty dumb.

In real terms we’re not even ‘successful’. Home erectus survived on planet earth for 2 million years – modern human society has brought itself to the brink of extinction in less than 1% of that time period.

The tragedy is that we are more than aware of our own tragedy. We know full well the destructive road we’re on… there’s a big nasty economy/ecology smashing  juggernaut heading down that road, but we can’t seem to resist stepping out into the traffic to grab the remains of a donut that’s lying in it’s path. There are obvious alternatives to donuts, in fact there are plenty of apple trees heavy with fruit by the roadside, but we’re addicted to the instant gratification of saturated fats and sugar.

So if there ever was another Planet of the Apes type scenario where it was a choice between humans and some other less fucked-up primate, whose side would you be on? 😉

Click here to download a free PDF of the ‘Revolution on the Planet of the Apes’ poster.

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The Empire of the Rising Scum

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The Empire of the Rising Scum

by Robert Shea

(Originally published in Loompanics Catalogue 1990, this is the text we mentioned in our previous ‘psychEDelica‘ post. The S3LF feel that this is a very important article… and it will definitely cheer you up if you’re reading it at work.)

A thousand reforms have left the world as corrupt as ever, for each successful reform has founded a new institution, and this institution has bred its new and congenial abuses.

– George Santayana

When I tell people that I am a anarchist (if I want to be treated somewhat politely I say I am a “libertarian”) often the first challenge thrown at me is, “How would people get along without organization? If it was every man or woman for themselves, the human race would die off.”

I could point out that this is quite possibly the fate we’re headed for with the help of our many and mighty organizations. But instead I usually say that, though it may surprise them, I too believe in the necessity of organization. Indeed, if our ancestors of millions of years ago hadn’t learned how to care for one another and hunt in packs, they’d all have ended up being eaten by leopards.

The key element in tragedy is that heroes and heroines are destroyed by that which appears to be their greatest strength. Of all human inventions the organization, a machine constructed of people performing interdependent functions, is the most powerful. Because it is so powerful, the organization is more dangerous than any other human invention, including nuclear fission (itself the product of an organized scientific project).

Even while we busily attend meetings, contribute money and perform our assigned tasks, we suspect that we may be helping to create a force that is inimical to many values we hold dear. This suspicion of anything organized is manifested in the often-heard remark. “I’m not against religion, just organized religion.” Indeed, the term “organized religion” is never used except by people who are against it.

There is folk wisdom in this. An organized religion tends to require that its members live in certain specified ways and accept certain specified beliefs. What’s more, those requirements are presented as a package deal. To reject even one major tenet of the religion or to violate one major rule of behavior is enough to get one kicked out–or worse. Organized religion provides a model of the way all organizations, from the state down to the village garden club, end a price in terms of a member’s freedom of thought and action.

Elaine Pagels, in The Gnostic Gospels, suggests that when two sects are competing the one with the more authoritarian structure, stricter discipline and more rigid belief system win lend to win out. The early Gnostics were egalitarian in structure and acknowledged that any member-even females!-might have a valid theological insight. The Gnostics were rapidly driven out of business by the hierarchical orthodox Christians. It doesn’t seem possible for an organization to be egalitarian, democratic and allow its participants great latitude in belief and behavior and still outdo competitors more tightly controlled. Just as predatory animals follow a similar general design and behave in similar ways, so organizations, especially those in competition with one another, must follow certain design principles if they are to succeed and prevail.

Military organization, like religious organization, can be seen as a paradigm of organization in general. Indeed, one of the most successful and influential religious organizations in history, the Society of Jesus, was consciously modeled along military lines by its founder, Ignatius Loyola. The very nature of military operations–organized violence–requires a highly authoritarian structure. As Napoleon put it, “One bad general is better than two good generals.”

That the more authoritarian organizations survive and prevail goes generally unnoticed because people focus on the objectives of organizations, which are many and varied, rather than on their structures, which lend to be similar. Whenever people see a problem, an opportunity or a threat, their first reaction–even before saying, “Pass a law’” -is, “Let’s start an organization.”

But the more an organization succeeds and prospers, the more it is likely to be diverted from its original ideals, principles and purposes. While Francis of Assissi was still alive, the religious order he founded, dedicated to poverty, had already started to acquire real estate.

Every combination of two or more human beings has both a useful aspect and a political aspect. These tend to conflict with each other. As the political aspect becomes more and more influential, the organization ceases to be useful to its members and starts using them.

Why does this happen? Because the better an organization is at fulfilling its purpose, the more it attracts people who see the organization as an opportunity to advance themselves.

The ability to get ahead in an organization is simply another talent, like the ability to play chess, paint pictures, do coronary bypass operations or pick pockets. There are some people who are extraordinarily good at manipulating- organizations to serve their own ends. The Russians, who have suffered under such people for centuries, have a name for them– apparatchiks. It was an observer of apparatchiks who coined the maxim, “The scum rises to the top.”

The apparatchik’s aim in life is to out-ass-kiss, out-maneuver, out-threaten, out-lie and ultimately out-fight his or her way to the top of the pyramid-any pyramid. Appropriately, Russia produced a superb specimen of homo apparatchikus–Josef Stalin. Many American novels have described the wheeling and dealing of apparatchiks in various occupations; perhaps the classic fictional character of this kind is Sammy Glick, the movie tycoon in Budd Schulberg’s novel, What Makes Sammy Run? Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a handbook for apparatchiks that is unsurpassed to this day–The Prince. But the most successful of this breed need neither exemplars or hand-books; they seem to know instinctively what to do.

It often happens that when a person possesses a particular ability to an extraordinary degree, nature makes up for it by leaving him or her incompetent in every other department. Thus we see owners of baseball teams who lack any understanding of the sport, heads of banks who couldn’t balance a checkbook, industrialists whose main industry is riding around in fancy limos, and generals who know more about playing golf with congressmen than they do about fighting wars.

Unfortunately, the existence of this talent means that every successful organization will sooner or later be taken over by apparatchiks. As such people achieve influence within the organization, whenever there is a conflict between their own interest and the interest of the organization, their interests will win out. Thus, over time, the influence of apparatchiks will deflect the organization further and further from its original intent.

For this reason, the most admirable time in the history of any institution is its early days–Ford and his Tin Lizzie, Edison at Menlo Park, Jesus wandering through Palestine, Castro in the Sierra Maestra, Hefner at his kitchen table. These are the days when organizations are most visionary and goal-oriented and are least encumbered by internal politics.

It is instructive, for instance, to trace the computer industry’s decline in vision, idealism, creativity, romance and sheer fun as it becomes more and more important and prosperous. In a few short years the hackers, those talented, inventive people who created this industry have been shuffled into the background with the explanation that ‘”they don’t know how to run a business,” and the apparatchiks have moved in like buzzards after a buffalo hunt. The truth is that apparatchiks don’t know how to run a business either, but it is their gift to look as if they do. When it comes to inter-corporate fighting, an engineer who knows how to design a superlative computer has no more chance against an apparatchik than he would in the ring with a sumo wrestler.

Whatever the original aim of the organization, to publish books, to heal the sick, to share information about computers, once it has been taken over by apparatchiks, it will acquire a new aim–to get bigger. It doesn’t matter whether a bigger organization will fulfill its purpose as well, serve its customers or constituents as well, or be as good a place for people to work. It will get bigger simply because those at the top want it to get bigger. Apparatchiks do to organizations what cancer viruses do to cells; they promote purposeless growth.

To quote Santayana again: “Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.”

The apparatchiks not only want their own organization to get bigger; they also want it to swallow up or defeat and destroy all other organizations. Thus we see, in Communist countries, the party runs everything from the state police to the local chess club; whereas in capitalist countries one corporation will manufacture cars, rent out security guards, publish newspapers, bake bread, launch space satellites and pave over rain forests. The tendency of capitalist corporations, whose greatest achievements are due to free competition, to try to eliminate competition and form monopolies is typical of what happens to institutions that get taken over by apparatchiks.

The apparatchik seeks with the same blind inevitability to expand in yet another direction–beyond the agreed-upon limits of authority. Anyone who seeks power wants absolute power. Every Roman emperor, every Medieval and Renaissance monarch who succeeded in getting an armlock on the job immediately sought to expand his power beyond the limits set by law and custom. Every U.S. President who has been accorded the title “great” by historians has attempted to exceed his Constitutional authority, from Jefferson purchasing Louisiana to Lincoln setting aside habeas corpus to Roosevelt trying to pack the Supreme Court.

The ultimate means for determining top’ apparatchik is war. This whole phenomenon of the diversion of organizations from their purposes and ideals does not seem very serious when the scum rise to the top in the bridge club or the offices of a small magazine publisher. But today it is happening on a global scale. At the moment the threat of war between the world’s two most powerful apparatchiks, the President of the U.S. and the Premier of the Soviet Union, is receding. But we’ll be turning another comer soon, when people like the Ayatollah get the Bomb. The world’s leaders will then have to decide whether to swallow up smaller nations run by voracious apparatchiks or let the whole world go up in smoke. Whatever decision they make, it will probably be a bad one.

I don’t wish to convey a “nothing works and everything is futile” attitude. I think there may be ways to tame the organizational beast, though I have hardly room in this essay to do more than suggest that such means exist.

Could we do away with organizations? A few fringe philosophers are attracted to a vision of what might be tenDed the heat death of society–the idea that only dummies participate in organized activity and that the smart folks live on the margins, shoplifting and eating out of garbage cans.

The obvious drawback to this notion is that it requires a multitude, living in the organized way they do now, to keep the garbage cans filled and the store shelves stocked. Thus we’re still stuck with organization as we know it.

One simple way to keep organizations from becoming cancerous might be to rotate all jobs on a regular , frequent and mandatory basis, including the leadership positions. While it may seem wasteful for people to spend part of their time working at jobs they are not particularly good at, and even detrimental to the organization’s goals, the healthiest societies do seem to be those that encourage people to do a variety of things–as in pioneer America. A permanent division of labor inevitably creates occupational and class inequality and conflict. As Robert A. Heinlein said through Lazarus Long, ‘”Specialization is for insects.”

Speaking of insects, entomologists have found that life is pretty good for those insects that live as self-sufficient individuals; they have plenty of food, lots of leisure and are good at protecting themselves from predators. Whereas among the so-called social insects, the individual’s well-being is largely sacrificed to the needs to the group.

Individuals, too, who cultivate a variety of skills seem brighter, more energetic and more adaptable than those who know how to do one thing only. Not all of us can be polymaths, like Leonardo, Thomas Jefferson or Steve Allen, but we can all learn how to do a few more things than we know how to do now, and the adding of skill to skill can be a lifelong and most rewarding process. And, of course, the more self-sufficient we are, the less we will be dependent upon organizations.

Ultimately we may still ask, why can’t humans design a perfect society? But there is no reason why anything in the universe should work perfectly. Only Dianeticians and Christians start from the assumption that humans should be perfect and that an explanation is needed for why they are not. The rest of us know that life is the trial and error produce of billions of years of fumbling by what biologist Richard Dawkins calls “The Blind Watchmaker.” It’s a wonder it works as well as it does.

If you enjoy this work, please visit http://bobshea.net/ for more insights.

psychEDelica: restoring faith in politicians after #Hackgate with Love, Peace & EDonism – Part 1

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The so called Hackgate scandal has simply confirmed what was already self-evident to anyone who bothered to look beyond the (privately owned…) mainstream media version of the world; that not only are our politicians, journalists, police, civil servants and business leaders  completely corruptible, but  that the system is in fact prone to such corruption – as is the case in any hierarchical structure.

Unsurprisingly the main concern of our politicians is not the innate degenerative processes of authoritarian systems, but how to restore public FAITH in those systems… and, more importantly, how to restore FAITH in the mouthpieces of those systems.

FAITH represents the state’s ‘Good Cop’ who plays the – albeit illusionary… – contrary role to the ‘Bad Cop’ that is FEAR. You can run a state on FEAR alone, but it will always lack the level of stability which FAITH ensures. Unfortunately the great FAITH-based ideologies – ‘the American Dream’, ‘trickle-down theory’, ‘Dominion theory’, ‘Progress’, etc., etc., etc… – of ‘developed’ Western ‘democratic’ states are becoming widely redundant as the reality of economic and ecological collapse becomes undeniable (some of the few people currently providing honest debate about collapse are those involved in the wonderful Dark Mountain Projectthe S3LF heartily recommend that you check them out).

Among the loudest voices calling for a renewal of FAITH is that of Ed Miliband… and who are we to deny a man his dreams 😉

If FAITH is what is needed then it is FAITH that we shall give… FAITH in bucketloads.

All rise and rejoice! For lo, we have found him. Come together, sisters and brothers. Come make a stand for Love, Peace and EDonism.

The S3LF are going to make a pilgrimage to Ed Miliband’s Doncaster offices, where they shall create a shrine to Guru Ed. If you fancy joining us in worship then you can click here to download a free PDF of our ‘psychEDelica’ poster. Just add a few joss sticks(we recommend Nag Champa), some blooms and a few chants of…

Eddy Eddy, Mili Mili.

Milibandi. Eddy Eddy.

etc…

We promise to keep you posted as to how the pilgrimage progresses 😉

Revolutionary Self Theory: Part One

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mickey-mao

One of the great secrets of our miserable yet potentially marvelous time is that thinking can be a pleasure. This blog will provide a manual for constructing your own self-theory. Constructing your self-theory is a revolutionary pleasure, the pleasure of constructing your self-theory of revolution.

Building your self-theory is a destructive/constructive pleasure, because you are building a theory-of-practice for the destructive/constructive transformation of this society.

Self-theory is a theory of adventure. It is as erotic and humorous as an authentic revolution.

The alienation felt as a result of having had your thinking done for you by the ideologies of our day, can lead to the search for the pleasurable negation of that alienation: thinking for yourself. It is the pleasure of making your mind your own.

Self-theory is the body of critical thought you construct for your own use. You construct it and use it when you make an analysis of why your life is the way it is, why the world is the way it is. (And ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ are inseparable, since thought comes from subjective, emotive experience.) You build your self-theory when you develop a theory of practice — a theory of how to get what you desire for your life.

Theory will be either a practical theory — a theory of revolutionary practice — or it will be nothing… nothing but an aquarium of ideas, a contemplative interpretation of the world. The realm of ideals is the eternal waiting-room of unrealised desire.

Those who assume (usually unconsciously) the impossibility of realising their life’s desires, and of thus fighting for themselves, usually end up fighting for an ideal or cause instead (i.e. the illusion of self activity or self-practice). Those who know that this is the acceptance of alienation will now know that all ideals and causes are ideologies.

To be continued…

Revolutionary Self Theory

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In case you missed it the last time, the SeLF have decided to re-run their serialisation of Larry Law’s ‘Revolutionary Self Theory’ – one of the most important pamphlets ever produced. Here goes…

This blog is for people who are dissatisfied with their lives. If you are happy with your present existence, we have no argument with you. However, if you are tired of waiting for your life to change…

Tired of waiting for authentic community, love and adventure…
Tired of waiting for the end of money and forced work…
Tired of looking for new pastimes to pass the time…
Tired of waiting for a lush, rich existence… Tired of waiting for a situation in which you can realise all your desires…
Tired of waiting for the end of all authorities, alienations, ideologies and moralities…

…then we think you’ll find our following posts to be quite handy.

cool communiqué

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punk-fashion

We, the un-designed,


Do solemnly swear that from this day forth we shall

endeavour to strip away the masks that we use to disguise

our innate beauty. We shall no longer allow ourselves to

idly choose between ‘off-the-shelf personas’ and ‘pre-

fabricated identities’. The fact that we have become so

accustomed to wearing masks is hardly surprising in this

Corporate Age. The corporation itself is a mask used to

disguise the identities of those who privatise abundance

and socialise suffering; highwaymen have always worn

masks. And as the corporatic attitude slowly adulterated

every aspect of human existence it was only a matter of

time before even our prized ‘individuality’ became a mass

produced commodity. ‘Cool’ is nothing more than being

comfortable with who you really are, cool is freedom from

masks, but cool seems to be out of fashion these days.


Fashion is little more than creative fascism, it

enslaves both the designer and wearer. We like to believe

that we’re ‘unique’ and yet we spend a fortune on clothes

that will stop us from ‘standing out’ in a crowd;

following fashion guarantees nothing but anonymity. Every

piece of ‘designer’ clothing is 100% pure wool – that is

to say it is a covering for a sheep! See how faithfully

the heard follows the fickle whim of an uptight Prima

Donna one year only to feign embarrassment at photographs

of their fashion faux pas the next.


The Punk DIY ethos was great, it said don’t be a

slave to pop culture, make your own fashion. But instead

of experimenting with clothing and style to discover

their innate and uniquely true individuality everyone

decided to dress like a “punk”!


The SLF are way too vain to display somebody

else’s name on their clothing. We wear no ‘fashion’ that

has not itself been fashioned from an aspect of our own spirit;

the clothes only maketh the man if the man maketh the

clothes – do your own thing. Come gather ye peacocks and

strut, for the re-renaissance shall be humanity’s sexiest age.


Yours truly,

the SeLF