An Essay On Nature and Individual Sovereignty
It is my intention to illustrate in this essay, from numerous perspectives, that sovereignty is never granted in any shape or form but it is, rather, a fact inherit to nature and possessed solely by the individual. That I call sovereignty in its absolute form. Other subjective sovereignties; the sovereignty of the state, for example, or abstract sovereign principles such as human rights even, are merely the machinations of the mind of the sovereign imagining external sovereignties that scientifically, emotively, and spiritually are real only to the degree that a sovereign mind imagines them to be. While this observation, which is provable and true, does cause angst in one sense, it is profoundly liberating in another and offers a true path to altruism: the freedom to love what is perceived as the other and to pull that other into orbit around one’s self. Before we can even begin to discuss notions (I should rather say actions) of ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’ or a sane and functional society, it the core of the individual that the conversation must begin and can only begin. It is not the case that liberation is an alien concept or a fantasy; rather, the seeds of its propagation are misplaced. Freedom is not an act of a collective. That is the fantasy. Freedom is the beginning and the end of the individual while collectives are not the result of combined freedoms, as I shall show.
The Common: (From Hardt and Negri) the common is a) the earth and all the resources associated with it, including the land, the forests, the air, the water, minerals and so forth b) the results of human labor and creativity, such as ideas, language, effects, and so forth
The Multitudes: all people including groups, organizations, and individuals including those of the state and regarded as dynamic, non-static, and unpredictable forces in power
Singularities: a) groups, organizations, and individuals
b) the individual interfacing external reality as a sovereign
The State: the central government including the extraneous bodies and organizations that influence or coerce it, including corporate capitalist structures, international banking, and military-industrial consortiums
1. The Body as the Origin of Opposition
2. Uprisings and Limits on the Common
3. Heroes, Gods, and the ‘Sovereign Actors’
4. Repression of the Self
5. The Details Behind Liberation
6. Moving Beyond Fear
7. The emergence of Organic Systems
The Body as the Origin of Opposition
1. The Inevitability of Opposition
In biopolitics described by Hardt and Negri (2011) we correctly shift the attitude towards the state to the body, to either defiantly rise up against it or to flee (literally or psychologically) rather than the distorted biopolitics focus of the state originally postulated by Kjellén (1905) as a mythological organic center of a sort of ‘human machine’ where individuals are dehumanized as automatons or drones, the primary existence of which is to serve the state. The mythos of a nurturing hive as ‘mother’ or ‘father’ state rather than as the resultant and abstract structure when free beings are organizationally coerced into obedience, along with the socialist dilemma of a wraparound view of laboring humans as cogs- in other words inverting the relationship of the autonomous and rebellious human and paradoxically supporting systemic exploitation (which has no autonomy but is only mechanical)- is the absurd result of a world view in which the state is both brother and mother (or father) and the multitude are merely cells to be brainwashed and like all slaves, to obey. In such a myth what is a blind, idiot God but the state itself? As Kashefi points out in God, Myth, and the State, ‘If truth cannot be digested by the average intelligence, it still (has) to be fed with something, be it quasi-truths or myths or indeed with ideologies.’ The fact that such myths continue to be blithely promoted (the myth of the state, the myth of the brand, the myth of the organization and so on), even (and in particular) by scholars must be challenged and transcended. Despite exploding globalization and Kjellén’s concept of nations eroding around us as new actors encroach into the world economy with refined forms of exploitation, the myth of that greatest of tribes- the nation and homeland- continues to thrive in the wearied imaginations of the people. The propaganda that promotes the state, in other words, is as effective as ever and probably much more so than we’d be comfortable admitting.
But in fact, none of us is a machine but something altogether peculiar and indecipherable. Birth, growth, and death of the organic body, a precarious self-locked inside with no foreknowledge of its ultimate existence beyond the body inevitably creates a terrifying crisis for the living, an irreconcilable existence between the measurable and the immeasurable. Individual vulnerability is exacerbated by a surreal shock whenever the state targets a person or group for persecution; bringing with it dreaded forms of censure, intimidation, violence, imprisonment or harm along with the loss of homes and the breakup, or in the worst cases, the annihilation of families. This biopolitical reversal then, in which the individual becomes the social center replacing the mythic state is necessary, for any political discussion must begin and ultimately end with the everyday situations and conditions that the people in their physical bodies are to endure. Politics is irrelevant without first a penetrating investigation into human suffering, especially as the people ostensibly hold the government responsible for their protection and management of an egalitarian society. The state, on the other hand, cannot be compared to a living organism as such, though it might be said to function as a refinery or processing plant, requiring the input of human capital and management of policies, when enacted, are felt tangibly. So while our minds can be persuaded to draw iconically the dynamic existence of a state with a metaphysical life of its own, it is still only a brainless machine. The state, as a mere conception or summarization, does not ‘feel’ anything when people are forced off the land as refugees for example or are murdered by bombs; how can we blame the state for such things? No, we have to find blame in the humans that gave and carried out the orders. So then it is intolerable to reason that we should hold the state for draconian law rather than the politicos who mastermind policy; the problems of oppression are not systemic in the sense that systems cannot be altered, but rather that the same systemic policies are perpetuated through human power. Our problems lie in the individual and the decisions he or she makes, not in Big Brother. The state is a set of conditions resultant upon those individuals who, whether through infighting or purging, have reached a position to create a policy with considerable or full impunity. Therefore, whatever actions ‘the state’ carries out is simply mirroring and pointing to those actors responsible for implementing those policies and their attendant actions in the first place, leaving us to no other conclusion that actions of the state are only reflections of the individuals empowered to create the state. The state cannot and does not act as a sovereign or as an individual- semantically it should rightly be driven out of human language as a grammatical subject as the state is just as much a lie as the divine status of emperors and kings. The truth of this relationship between the state and the people is critical when considering effective and fearless opposition. And with it we must examine the absurdity of this narrative of the state in regards to living human beings, as the state, in itself, does not exist but is only the byproduct of distorted logic and irrational cognition.
Like the will for change and the motivation to act upon that will, opposition is finite and limited, and when biopolitical jacqueries finally do erupt to the surface in response intolerable conditions they typically do not last long (though their ripples might and their legacy translate into historical resentments). Revolution, as Lenin saw it, will not be possible as long as the ruling class (corporate capitalists) have the means and the will to put down jacqueries, by violent force on the one hand and deflation of motivation as well as public support through the propaganda of media, which itself is also corporate capitalist. (We prefer the term jacquerie, not for the violence associated with it by supposed eyewitness accounts by French aristocrats like Jean le Bel but rather for its association with oppressed peasants who had suffered conditions, ‘this far, but no farther.’ What’s more, we want to portray the modern worker, who by now is just as likely to be a white-collar worker as a blue one to be correctly identified as among the serfdom of the modern capitalist state, suffering similar injustices and exploitations as agricultural peasants did and still do.) Occasionally though a succession of jacqueries may culminate into a critical crisis that becomes strong enough to overturn law and create systemic change in the state, which occurs commonly enough (the United States, South Africa, the former Soviet Union, Rwanda, and perhaps now in places like Indonesia, et al). In these cases reform may become indecipherable to some degree to revolution: at least a backlash has succeeded and the elite was not able to prevent revolution, at least not without concession, which sometimes results in nothing less than a whole restructuring of the state. Must we acknowledge then that revolution or jacqueries are just another manifestation of a restructuring of the state, and do not offer a true evolution of the multitude that is the true biopolitical dynamic of the state? Or is an embryonic state in opposition to the existing one and therefore a contradiction that will inevitably be reversed to the order that preexisted reform? Perhaps we must concede that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, that is to say, we would like to be optimistic and say any reform for the better is progress. But in looking beyond the singular realities of individual perspectives and rationalities (or lack thereof) into a broader context, historical revolts and revolutions tell us otherwise: revolutions (and even jacqueries) tend to absorb at least some if not much of the existing political establishment, perpetuating traditional, corrupt, and exploitive structures rather than actual revolutionizing them. Hence, the cycles of power from generation to generation change slowly in materialistic manifestation but in essence are too often merely cosmetic reshufflings of the previous epochs of order (a ‘changing of the guard’) or worse- the destruction of order. This results in the loss of various forms of protections and freedoms for the individual and oppressions put in their stead, producing an institutional instability that cannot be called a not a state in the proper sense. The reactionary dismemberment of a state with unilateral reunification is known best today as fascism although this form of disruption, denigration, and finally repression of the multitude is historically common. As a final example, elites in contemporary times brazenly (given the term’s association with Nazi Germany) speak of a so-called ‘new order’ but in reality there is nothing ‘new’ about this form of restrained or bonded disorder at all; it’s simply doublespeak for using the same old colonial devices of exploitation and imposition of penal codes upon the global common as have, historically, always been used. In contrast, we must take heart. While there may not have been a true revolution as of yet, there have been growing stronger and stronger populist waves that are and will continue to be out not only out of the control of global corporate capitalism but actually displace and evaporate it wherever they appear.
Despite these ontological abstractions in attempting to describe the state (and this is the concern of our investigation), opposition must ultimately be viewed as an individual reaction with or without a corresponding commitment. That must be a prerequisite to biopolitical action as nothing in this world happens without the individual acquiescing. Opposition is a fundamental and innate response to a corporeal being. In humans, philosophical or metaphysical opposition in thought and conception is as innate as physical opposition. In the broadest sense opposition is the impulsion toward and further consequent fostering of the native ethical and ‘moral’ behavior and responses that emerge from the aware and enlightened individual, or at least to the individual on such a path. This is not to say that the individual rebels because it is the ethical thing to do: rather, for one thing, the individual rebels and opposes not out of choice so much as a reaction, for another the rebel opposes in a search for happiness. The human being will choose happiness over all other things if he only knows what choices to make to bring him there. Opposition, because it is borne out of pain, forces the individual into at the very least considering or fantasizing action. Unfortunately for the individual and for society is the fact that while only truth and freedom can result in happiness, there are many false paths that lure and distract freedom-loving rebels into dead-end traps. That partly explains the lack of progress made in modernity. It may also be that opposition is a purely energetic initiator without a necessarily constructive direction. Opposition is inhibitive over enlightenment as it is also dominant over corruption. Again, we recognize opposition as a driving force, emotive as well as physical and neurological, not as a force that necessarily leads to either good or harm, though we have recognized that opposition is the opposite to corruption and cannot coexist with it. Opposition as we understand it and feel it has primal characteristics and is also a prime mover as it is impulsive and emergent. As with any power, opposition has a strong tendency for tragic misuse but its benefits, when used in restraint and discipline, are inestimable rich. Opposition in action is also often oppressed particularly and ironically among the lower classes and exploited. Oppressed yes, that is to say externally oppressed- but an undercurrent in every human unbeknownst but secretly waiting for just the right events that allow opposition to charge out, raging and violent. The integrity of the minds in that state of opposition will determine the consequences of its outpouring or shedding in uprisings, therefore making corruption highly vulnerable and dangerous to a mass outburst of populist opposition to which may turn violent or vindictive, as say in the case of the French and Russian revolutions.
Finally, opposition is a force that either incites change or resists it. Opposition is both the primary stance of both the challenger and the challenged. Of itself, opposition is among the most natural and massive of reactions of life and will always be present within us so long as we are alive and consciously aware as human animals. The physical body itself is outward; we look at the mirror, not the opposite. External events reflect within us and are described to us internally according to our nature. Anything that we perceive to be clashing or in discord to the mind’s nature is initially met with resistance- at the very least at the cognitive level. As politics, before acting, is full of calculations and assessments, so it is with the mind in regards to uniquely human predicaments: sides that are contrary are not reconcilable and compromise is a farce; left is right, the truth is a lie, intentions (even the self’s) are inscrutable as is the distortion of light upon the surface of water. Our body and all its aspects and changes are described by a narrow bridge of local sensations and stimuli, creating distortion, disassociation, and finally a state of alienation leading to a life where there is no clear seeing. We cannot see another and we cannot see that we look at the other all we find are our reflections and we cannot determine those either. At least, this is what urban modernity and all of its mass media has brought us to. Corporate politics plays the same parlor tricks, sometimes with more transparency, sometimes not, and always for material gain. What describes corruption then is the inevitability that the majority must become impoverished or sacrificed for the wealthy. We say it is corrupt not because it is deceitful or merely greedy and therefore bad, but because it actually corrodes the social ties that hold the common together and preserve harmony in society. Obviously, as the situation worsens more and more individuals will find themselves in a state of resistance or opposition, and they will find that they would like to cast stones, or at least do the active or disobedient equivalent of it. How clearly they can clearly see though, or how much of the coming rage will only blind them determines what actions they will take and the consequences of those actions. Finally, the senses can at least tell us about how far we can throw a stone but only the mind can project the consequences of doing so and whether those consequences are desirable or not.
Obedience and Corporeality
Of course In real resistance (practical and focused resistance) our physical bodies are by far our greatest liabilities. Visceral fear of bodily harm, arrest, or even death dampens and hinders public opposition; there is a built-in inhibition against uprising within the multitude just as there is always reaction against uprising within the state. As a result, state measures to prevent revolt are not commonly seen as necessary by the rulers of a consolidated state (although concomitantly persistent and oppressive policies do exist in unstable states- the evidence shows that the determining variable for the degree of state oppression is not the state’s structure but its tenuity). Nobody wants to go to jail; nobody wants to be beaten, lose their job or home- certainly people fear being killed. This fear the state has on its side. Further, to quell dissent and protests at home, war grows ever more mechanized, using digitally planned airstrikes instead of combat troops (waging war with ‘no boots on the ground’). A citizen of an aggressor nation in war is typically separated and removed from the death and maiming of war victims, may have no family or familiar relationships involved, and therefore may be so distanced from war violence that in normal life he forgets that it’s even happening and becomes unaware of its dangers. It is enough to say here that continuing along this trajectory of increasing the use of robotic weapons is a terrifying prospect for humanity. Some of the effects of this remote warfare are quite apparent and visible now while others, if left unchecked, are long-term with damages on human societies that can only be projected on in the darkest parts of the imagination. It does seem certain that given the continuation of war, and with it population control, war will increasingly become more remote and less dangerous to both war makers and oppressors alike. At the same time, censoring technology will also grow in sophistication, jamming cell phone signals for one thing (as viral footage has become a real annoyance for certain sectors of the state while other sectors have exploited it to their advantage). Some states already have sufficient authoritarian control however to censor and prevent individually launched media from the vast majority of the citizens. Further investigation into digital technology and its enormous potential to facilitate violence by the state upon the common is beyond our scope here (as is too the ability of the underground resistance to undermine the state’s effectiveness at censorship through access to the same technology). An oppressive global state, however (whether formal or merely a de facto reality of the architecture of global markets) will certainly retain the mythos of the domestic homeland in opposition to foreign nation-states to divide and weaken populations making dissent less effective, it will utilize tactics of dehumanization to silence protest and will have the advantage in mechanizing combat with far fewer casualties (or witnesses) when attacking populations. It will use war, to paraphrase Solzhenitsyn, as an “excuse to carry out domestic tyranny” in a globalized world. Physical remoteness, mass media distraction, and desensitization will quell dissent as powerful oligarchs vie for and seize the last of the earth’s dwindling resources in risky combat missions that will (for most) go unnoticed and unprotested.
For the individual the body has no defense against war or police state weapons: how do we oppose shrapnel, flames, shards of metal, bullets, and gasses? Without defense wouldn’t the only reaction be to flee? Already living in fear of the tyranny of the state, psychological torture becomes inevitable: if it does not come from the fear of arrest and interrogation, it comes from fear of bombardment or being gassed. Caught in the middle, the individual who is hostage to these fears may understandably join a resistance force that can at least offer some protection, not the least of which is the love and sympathy found in a fraternity in resistance against violent attacks. Such fractionalization is confounding, however. On the one hand, it weakens the state and its capacity to wage war on the common, on the other hand, fractionalization acts as a retardant toward colonial consolidation for the oligarchical powers. From the middle of the last century and into this one we see it has not easy or even profitable to smash a state outright and that nearly all of the power grabs in this era have been manipulated by proxy. This reality, however, has had little impact upon people who live decade after decade under tyrannical regimes, all answering to or corrupted by oligarchical interests. Even if through revolution a regime emerges in opposition to the world order it invariably imposes the same draconian policies upon the common that regimes compliant to global oligarchy impose. In anger, many of us rightly say, ‘Damned if you, damned if you don’t.’ History has taught us one thing absolutely- we are very poor at governing ourselves, and what we need is not another stirring of the pot but a real transcendence out of our conception of power.
We agree that power, liberating power that is, and violence are opposites (Arendt, Hardt and Negri et al). Violence destroys power as new power struggles to fill up the vacuum left in the wake of violence as it occurs. Power creates order, albeit as imperfect as order must be; violence can only exist in chaos, in breakdown and disorganization and decay. Analogous to this is the behavior of the individual when the mind is serene (which is power), compared to the erratic and violent tendencies of someone who is conflicted and paranoid. In biological terms, power is growth and violence is degenerative. The notion that power ‘comes out of the barrel of a gun’ is mere machismo; what does come from a person on the opposite side, in the face of that barrel, is mere obedience (in other words powerlessness) as a result of the fear of the body being harmed- and that’s it. There is no loyalty in such a relationship if we can even call it a relationship. We don’t fear a bully’s mind or doctrine (we resent it) but rather his physical strength, and by that we mean his extended bodily strength through weaponry. We fear the potential violence of what a rifle or a bomb can do to our body and the bodies of those we love. We also fear the handcuffs that immobilize us and the bars and fences that could encage us. We are hostages to a violent state’s organization of weaponry; not to its collaborators. Once a politician or officer is removed from contact with the organization he is then powerless, is he not? While it is true that megalomaniacs seem to live on in mythology, is the man really the myth, or isn’t ‘he’ just lurking in the shadows of collective primal fear like Big Brother in 1984? Power is a misnomer then as it simply means imposing obedience upon individuals through intimidation, bullying, and threats to harm them, either physically or by incarceration. Disobey or the state will smash you. This is the real reason people obey, not out of faith or belief that the state imposes law on them in their best interests. Whatever objections there may be in regards to the observation that governance is necessary to preserve social order, the truth remains that citizens everywhere fall in line out of fears of consequences if they don’t, not out of natural and harmonious cooperation toward the greater good. Obedience, what others have mistaken for power, is yet another contradiction then; this state of obedience is what replaces freedom when the organized forces of violence (Bodin, Hobbes, et al) at the disposal to the state are actively used to mollify the potential for dissent. It is the individual’s fear of bodily harm and the portent of the continuation of state violence through crackdowns and assaults that keeps the tyrannical state in tenuous power in a two-tiered system in which the police, the military, organized crime, and those related syndicates keep the towns and cities functioning in varying degrees of health and safety, while it clear that the higher echelons of state and corporate power, the oligarchs, have limited knowledge of or involvement in the common en masse. They are taken quite by surprise therefore when uprisings do arise as they do not experience the visceral fears of the common people- at least not the same relationship of fears. This is also why the possibility for perpetual totalitarianism is remote and seemingly impossible: dissent will always arise (as a physical law beyond choice!) as a counter to dominance and the state must always work to appease or compromise to this multitude of bodies or risk being overthrown (Lenin). This force and counterforce though has not shown itself to be dialectical: instead, through violence, we find our species in a sort Nietzschean nightmare, driven to the brink of our extinction through an imperturbable nuclear arms race: how can we conclude that, even so, we will love life in the face of our extinction? These are not easy times to be human and so all well knowing. There is however at least optimism of a real dialect that opposes violence and embraces people power: in the irrepressibility of human psychology, human instinct, and the biopolitical force that inevitably emerges out of oppression and enables new opportunities for a reorganization of human affairs. The problems of the greatest urgency facing us today, such as the threat of mutual annihilation only require that, first, rational minds sit down together for talks that lead to true disarmament. If a society has at least that prerequisite safety, then the reorganizing power of biopolitics seems promising once again. At that point, perhaps, we can start to address other dire emergencies such as continuing war, ecocide, and climate disaster. But every viable human being must step back from the precipice of nihilism, not stare into it!
To sum up the point, the living human body, by its very vulnerability and visceral fears is in opposition to organized brutality. Each one of us, even (or perhaps especially) the authoritarians themselves are subject to this reality. Particularly the ‘upstanding’ and most ‘law-abiding’ among humans as subjects to the state are fearful and resentful toward manipulation and the unspoken but very real threat of violence toward them if they don’t obey the rules. (The rebel, on the other hand, has at least the satisfaction of open defiance of the state, if only in the mind, and can say to his or her satisfaction, to hell with your rules.) Our bodies, which are inextricable from the self, make death both persistently enigmatic as well as terrifying. We are foremost horrified by pain, which though inescapable in this life we struggle to avoid. We are made of bones, flesh and organs, just like other animals and like them our bodies are highly vulnerable both to injury and to death. Perhaps what we fear most of all is inconceivable pain and while the state could threaten that so does nature, or even medical treatment (effective brainwashing uses these fears for social control). Some religions furthermore threaten us with everlasting pain; a threat that a true believer would refuse to bear! Most of us dread that we have not experienced the ultimate pain that we will experience in this life and live with that fear. These are not points being made out from an excessive and morbid viewpoint or on a tangent. These fears are very real and keep us confined away from freedom far more than we imagine. Indeed, we have hardly begun as we have neglected to point purely psychological fear and pain, such as the fear of ostracization. And if our fear is to be counted upon by the government, that fear will shape the manner in which we are governed. Descartes proved (though stupidly denying at the same time) that animals suffer from pain in exactly the same way we (also animals) do through his hideous and cruel vivisection experiments and so, apparently without conscience, proceeded through The First Stage of Cruelty (Hogarth) to demonstrate that scientists are no more immune to acts of sadism than those in charge of the state. Indeed, ‘scientists’ like Descartes had no compunctions at all in afflicting the same savagery in ‘experiments’ on human beings during the apocalyptic wars of the 20th Century. Descartes, in fact, by asserting that animals were mere soulless automatons that could not feel pain unwittingly validated dehumanization, which we now know to be prerequisite to torture and genocide. To this day, it tragically remains true that dehumanizing other humans make it permissible to kill them without remorse, and inextricably irrational, that it remains O.K. to cause other life forms pain and terror. Further, we human animals are subject to the same conditioning and behavior modification as are animals (in the lab or on farms), and that behavior modification is applied aggressively to society at large. Lab experiments like The Milgram Experiment show that the individual is more afraid of disobeying authority than he is in acting according to his ethical conscience (one wonders what Descartes was afraid of- disobeying his own ego?). Even with nothing but verbal instructions, he is willing to inflict greater increments of electrical shocks and pain (at least in the experiment he believes that) the ‘test subject’ gets answers wrong. That the subject is in actuality being tortured is not discussed. We obey authority simply because we are terrified of the consequences of not obeying; by the time of adulthood, it has become built-in. Authoritarians themselves behave in ways that they project will please others in power as they are always under the risk of being purged. Authoritarian societies are infamously known for encouraging children to denounce their parents, creating a political-social atmosphere of almost total paranoia. Much of law, which common people are largely ignorant of, is compiled out of opportunism or sycophancy, not out of a consensus for a greater good (although that does occur too). The point is that the organism that we are, the biospace in which our consciousness rests, is highly vulnerable and therefore the morbid concerns and fears along the whole political strata, regardless of class or wealth, are basically the same. Everywhere along this spectrum runs the undercurrent of a root anxiety– a suppressed form of paranoia negatively affecting human relationships at all levels of trust. Persistent or root anxiety compels humans to seek relief through internal rationalizations and external acts of sycophancy that they perceive will result in gaining them favor and safety, even though their words or actions may be perceived by others as shocking or cruel. The same is true for reactionaries and authoritarians but in the other direction. By attacking and scapegoating others they mistakenly calculate that the use of violence (physical or otherwise) against ‘enemies’ will bring them protection, only to find that their perceived enemies have become real enemies that increase in proportion to the amount of violence used against them. Such tyrants, particularly in modern times, often fall before their megalomaniacal visions are realized, but some do manage to hold on to power to the very end of their lives. Inevitably though they suffer through lives of excruciating paranoia and of the knowledge of the thousands or even millions of people they themselves ordered dead or imprisoned; not lives anyone would consider worth living really. In totalitarian regimes, there are only victims.
Of course, the people don’t spend all of or even any of their waking moments preoccupied with the fear of being arrested or beaten should they do something wrong. And, for the most part, people have bargained in their mind that the body is frail and something could go wrong with it. But in every event, of course, there is a metaphysical convergence of body and mind. Indeed, it is inconceivable that there could be one without the other, heightening our sense of vulnerability about things like physical pain and particularly the absoluteness of death; for how can we imagine thinking and therefore feel or perceive without a brain, what is the wind or the gravel without a body? What of perception after bodily death, which demands recognition and hope of continuation when it is contradicted by any stretch of logic and science, and defiant even to the imagination? Can the mind accept obliteration under any circumstances, and better yet, why should it? It seems to me at any rate that a mind that embraces nihilism can never be said to be a healthy mind. Patience may indeed be the ultimate among virtues. In any case, modern humanity is so terrified of these dilemmas of pain, health, and death that the decadence we see should come as no surprise. Still, there is really nothing new in the way minds work whenever the epoch. As always, any two events are indistinguishable at the point of emergence, where they become fused in the psychophysical medium as energetic recordings. However, there are many matters of uncertainty in each individual’s life that cause stress and anxiety at a more or less constant level just below the surface of consciousness. These tensions frequently break through into the conscious mind throughout the day, weighing in on the body and mind along with those things the agent does or happenings upon it that either weaken and demise the individual or infuse a person with strength and vigor.
Geography and class also play a role in paranoia, but only in the subjective material of the experience not in its essential quality. The wealthy may be terrified about becoming gravely ill but not worry very much, if at all, about being arrested or mugged. Cancer and other incurable afflictions may preoccupy their thoughts (a phenomenon that does not blame medicine of course, but rather corporate health care). A chai wallah on the streets of Kolkata, on the other hand, may dread whether he can get enough money together today for an adequate supply of food for his family and secondly about the petty mafia and thieves that will extort from him if he can’t dodge them. He may also fear a painful whack from a police stick if he tries to sell tea in restricted areas, but is probably not afraid of the police directly or of going to jail. (Analogous to these unspoken zoning restrictions to class or race, which are a parallel apartheid, is the recent case in which two African American were arrested for ‘trespassing’ at a Starbucks in Boston.) An active member of a banned opposition party in an oppressive state is likely to suffer from a chronic and heightened state of paranoia and mental distress, particularly if the state’s use of torture against ‘enemies’ in the opposition is well known. As human beings, torture is what we fear more than anything. Amongst our coping mechanisms toward the possibility of torture, a common one seems to be nihilism. As one woman active in the underground during the Warsaw uprising in 1944 put it, “It’s not death that scares me so much…but I would never want to be tortured.” Subconsciously, each human knows that other humans are quite capable of carrying out torture; most of us have probably had our similar black thoughts or at least can imagine them. The fear of becoming a victim of incarceration or torture as well as the fear of immediate death are barriers that hinder people from uprising. Inhibition in resistance is often due to physical and mortal fear; not loyalty to the state or its ideals, or in satisfying escapes in the mind of flights of fancy or freedom (conquest dreams appear only upon the resignation that all other options are gone when one sleeps in a cell).