P.S. If you bling-bling dangling motherfuckas aren't already giving millions to Aristide, Chavez, Mugabe and Castro, start now 'cause the same white kleptocracy that you claim is killing you, is killing their people in fuckin' exponential numbers.
The Assassinated Press
Among The Mammonites:
The Super Bowl Of World Extinction:
'How' You Are Able To Think Is Destroying The Planet:
Western Epistemology And The End Of The World
By THE EDITORS
The Assassinated Press Feb. 3, '04
Is Boris Yeltsin A Mean Drunk?
Does The Russian Bear Shit In The McDonald's Dumpster?
I read recently that nearly a billion people, nearly one sixth of the world, will view this year's Super Bowl between the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots. And while we're on the topic of 'patriots', with the U.S.'s recent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, a new litany of commentary has arrived plugging the superiority of Western culture, technologically and politically, to justify acts of raw, violent appropriation.
We are told through the cracked lens of the media that 'western democracy' is not only a less violent political system, all evidence to the contrary, but inevitably leads to material prosperity by reason of its advanced technology the implication being that it is material prosperity that brings about spiritual prosperity, a Madison Avenue staple for many decades.
If this is the case, as the pundits insist, then technology and its fundament, the hard sciences, are central to our way of knowing the world especially as science and technology have shaped and presented it. If it is true that technology is making the world more homogeneous as many commentators on all sides have pointed out then the only epistemology that matters to those commentators and the methods they support are the ones driving existence and as I intend to make clear driving out existence at the same time.
At this point, if you are expecting to find the standard ecological text which focuses on selective scientific and technological visions as the culprits responsible for 'global climate change' etc., I suggest you stop reading right about---HERE. If your expectations are to find herein proposed solutions that draw upon the very scientific/epistemological paradigm that has caused the ecological disasters identified up to this historical point, you are in for a grave disappointment. Nor will this be a paean to lost minority cultures. And, no, the only rapture here is the little jolt of humor one gets from contemplating such ignorance among such supposedly sophisticated, technological well-being. No attempt will be made to offer solutions. This is as much an acknowledgment of the author's powerlessness as to the existential expendability of the critique.
Recently, in the Western media much has been made of the call for open elections in Iraq by the Ayatollah Sistani, the most influential Shia cleric in Iraq. This, of course, is part of a shrewd blueprint by Sistani to insure that Iraq's Shi'ites have a disproportionate amount of power because any practical power is always disproportionate, the oxymoronic term 'power sharing' not withstanding.
The western media should be content to focus on this aspect of the Ayatollah's agenda. But seizing upon Cheney/ Bush administration statements, as well as those of some U.S. lawmakers, the press has asserted repeatedly that Sistani 'favors' elections, in part, because he simply cannot understand (read an Islamic bumpkin who cannot culturally comprehend) the U.S. favored 'caucuses' which will place power in the hands of people favorable to western corporate power, all of which are technologically based.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's first ask where the ambitious simpletons that populate the media get the chutzpah to categorically state that because Arabic does not have a word for 'caucus' Sistani cannot grasp the concept. I thought the culture at large had rejected the more radical linguistic and anthropological positions of Benjamin Whorf and Edward Sapir in favor of universals as defined by western systems of quantification that were more congenial to colonial, imperialist, and kleptocratic ambitions. The fact that such contradictions are well beyond the epistemological investigations of the media should come as no surprise. So is the news they purport to report. It should also be an indicator as to how little divorced they are from gaining all of their vulgar epistemological jargon from their epistemological bible, the sciences, through material and metaphorical expressions of technology.
But let's put aside that argument and address the inherent, epistemological bigotry manifest in the contradiction surrounding Sistani's position vis a vis America's 'sacrosanct' caucuses right after we stop laughing at polls that show that 86% of Americans think 'caucus' is Yankee for road kill. Cheney and his Project For A New American Century and L. Paul Bremer and his plutocrats can march into Iraq behind the guns of the U.S. armed forces, all the while assuming that the asphalting over of Iraqi and Islamic culture will mean a better way of dying for Iraqis. What's more if you believe the hype, the epistemological part of this transition will happen without a hitch. Among smug western chauvinists, it hardly even has to be considered. But when Ayatollah Sistani balks at part of the American plan, his 'simple minded' inability to grasp the inherent largesse of political forces that have killed thousands of Iraqis is seen in its most extreme Whorfian context. God forbid---anybody's God will do---God forbid that the western epistemological contradiction be addressed much less the genuine motivation on the part of the American plutocracy be exposed. The sniggers on Rather's and Jenning's faces read, "We understand everything about your culture Sistani because of the mathematical universality of ours, so much so, that we see only benefit for Iraqis when they embrace ours. But you, my poor ignorant cleric who lives down an alley, apparently are too stupid and backward to grasp some of the niceties of ours." Sistani might say, "If I don't understand your crap, how do you know I'll like it when you shove it down my throat." To wit replies a smirking Richard Perle, "Trust us." End of joke.
The truth is that the Ayatollah doesn't give a rat's ass whether he knows what L. Paul Bremer means by a 'caucus.' Sistani is acutely aware of Bremer's and the U.S.'s true intentions and they of his. Sistani is also aware that the cultural hegemony and chauvinism displayed by the Americans is very real, as real as a 2000 pound bomb or an Apache Attack helicopter. In other words, the cultural hegemony is an expression of the technological which is in turn a design application of the pure sciences. Americans who have never worked in a lab or developed a weapon's system walk around with the swagger of accomplishment usually afforded say, E.O. Lawrence, a noted inventor of the cyclotron. George Bush is a living caricature of this 'driving a car as though I designed and built it' attitude which may explain his popularity. We get almost giddy with power watching this idiot paraded around as 'the most powerful man in the free world' because we happen to be indentured to an epistemology that can wipe out the world derived from the efforts of truly accomplished people like Lawrence or J. Robert Oppenheimer, the specialist class. But through the cultural homogeneity generated from science and technology, we are doing just that---wiping out the world just as certain as if a nuclear exchange had been set in motion.
Go Home Team! But don't ask me to play a down. At the Grammy's one watches an endless parade of hip-hop 'artists' swaggering, much like George Bush's dippy approach, to speak through the invention of a man who was certain that African American people are inferior. Yes, the man who invented the guts of the microphone and fathered the transistor as well as Silicon Valley was the eugenicist, William Shockley. American entertainment may be ubiquitous, but the scientific epistemology that controls our culture gets a solid state laugh when it sees entertainers strut ridiculous bling-bling driven 'gangsterism' or Billboard Top 100 revolution. Real gangsters, say a David Rockefeller or a Dick Cheney, don't talk about it. They don't have to. (P.S. If you bling-bling hanging motherfuckas aren't already giving millions to Aristide, Chavez, Mugabe and Castro, start now 'cause the same white kleptocarcy that you claim is killing, you is killing their people in fuckin' spades.)
As I've learned a few illustrations will not establish within the organism of Western culture the primacy of the technological and scientific epistemology as regards their own culture and the collapse of 'how' we can think within this culture. For most western peoples especially Americans, its as though science and technology are so ubiquitous that they have been 'programmed' out of the ethical/epistemological equation except as regards the two biblical categories of 'good ' and 'bad' science. This is certainly true of journalism. To some abortion is 'good' science. To others it is 'bad' science. To legislators with their own agendas there are 'good' and 'bad' types of abortion always with a focus say on time of gestation as long as its a western scientifically moderated time. That a Navy bomber pilot might serve as an abortionist too is, therefore, outside the parameters of those who qualify as abortionists though to the North Vietnamese who undoubtedly had a great number of children aborted in this manner, the method of aerial bombardment may be something more than metaphor especially when your military has no equivalent scalpel. (Also, see the Third World and understand the necessity they feel to possess nuclear weapons to deter the U.S. from beating up on them at will as is, yet again, going on in Haiti.)
A clear understanding of the nature of western Scientific/Technological epistemology is beyond the comprehension of most Americans and ignored or denied by all but a few. Typically, people who have spent no time on the subject deny the possibility of anything other than a vague, purely positivist outcome rife with hazy allusions to a C.P Snow-like harmony between the arts and sciences, anecdotes about going to the doctor and how appreciative they are for western medicine, and Gordian insistence that in their world 1 + 1 =2 even in the face of Boolean logic and binary systems where 1 + 1 routinely =1. That's because the alternatives are relentless and relentlessly negative. Unlike the Ayatollah Sistani, Americans lack of understanding is genuine not because the epistemology is 'alien', but because it is utterly, uncritically absorbed even as it runs counter to actual experience and the existential necessity that is apriori experience.
Western science is a game of multiple choice. This is because for the sciences to achieve a set of results especially ones with viable technological applications the experiment must go through a series of precipitations that, like the pure precipitave process of say Plutonium-239, contains some necessarily reductive elements that border on the alchemical.
As we are taught ad nauseam the great leap forward in modern science came with quantification and mathematization, that the difference between the achievements of an alchemist like Robert Fludd and alchemists like Newton and Leibniz was that alchemical techniques had a kind of hit or miss quality while the new physics built upon itself through a series of refinements of various intensities e.g. axioms, theorems and laws. Chomsky, a quintessential Cartesian calls this scientific 'accretion.'
How was this success achieved? Once, again the reduction to quantities, the leap into the homogeneity of the number, is at the center of the change. The Calculus is a refinement in the purest sense because it removes the observer safely way from the maddening impossibility of what Kant called 'the ding an sich.'
In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant ventured to demonstrate the deficiency's of quantification through the limitation or selection of a viewpoint related to perspective. Goethe in his great rebuttal to Newton called Zum Farbenlehre (On the theory of Colours) suggested the infinite and integral nature of perspective by demonstrating the shifting color perspective afforded by light.
If A Tree Falls in The Forest Should We Bring In Some Mikes And Clearcut The Rest For Empirical Verification: (Note: 'See' Is Correct Sense)
Here, it might be illustrative to jump to a larger discretion, culture, to discuss the 'ding an sich.' America has been described as the 'great melting pot' (note the alchemical reference). This phrase states uncategorically that the cultures, European, African, Asian, Latino, whatever, become simply subsets when they arrive in the U.S. They are subsumed by the American way of life and the culture of the former homeland is celebrated to maintain some distinction, for a sense of security at least initially and as a sentimentalized historical referent.
William Shockley's work in operations research during World War Two proved extremely successful in defeating the Nazis. That's because the Nazis were very much like us culturally. When the same mathematical techniques were employed by Robert McNamara and bright Ivy League mathematicians against the Vietnamese, they were a tactical failure. The Vietnamese had, unlike hip-hop artists, absorbed the culture that the French and Americans sought to impart to them. They went their unmerry hybrid cultural way and kicked Eisenhower's, Kennedy's, Johnson's and Nixon's collective ass all the way back to the 20th century. The Americans for their part put hamfisted chauvinists like Ed Lansdale in charge of the comic opera that was U.S. agitprop in Southeast Asia and ignored advocates of cultural diversity, e.g. the Vietnamese are not like us, such as Bernard Fall. Curtis LeMay had the only viable method of creating a passive, western homogeneity among the Vietnamese---incinerate them all as he had sought to incinerate the Japanese. A great homogenizer that LeMay (maybe pasteurizer is a better term since he was such a fan of high temperatures.) The Japanese and the Vietnamese and later the Koreans were all the same to him, the way American bumpkins accost Sikhs and other non-Muslims.
The American soldier whines that in the wars he's fighting, he can't distinguish friend from foe. But if he wasn't so scientifically chauvinistic fifty steps removed, he might be able to discern a friendly Shia or Kurd from a hostile Sunni. They can. It was the same with the Vietnamese---a very few guys could make the distinctions. But most were too wrapped up in being a victim of their own epistemology, they could not. I write extensively about such epistemological limitations in the logically titled "Deconstructing the Demiurge: Tale of the Tribe."
There is no American culture in the sense of these old world cultures. America is an amalgam of colonialism and economics. But the drive to recognize cultures is still strong within American society. So sociologists and journalists speak of the culture of the military, or the culture of business, or that specific jobs like stock broker or bus driver develop unique cultures, languages, gestures, expressions etc. all their own. But these substitute 'cultures' are only cultures in the metaphorical sense. The least reflective people in American pseudo-culture, those who willingly give up their autonomy like people in the military, the technical sciences and business are perhaps looking to distinguish themselves from the general population and create a sense of security for themselves among other people who 'speak the same language.' They attempt to become 'true individuals' by joining packs made up of people confused and threatened by individuality. Madison Avenue has learned to play both ends of this pathology by telling its audience that by buying such and such a car, they will become more individualistic, all the time hoping that a large number of people will by that car whereby they will all be the same, e.g. not individual, in respect to that particular car. Its easy to see that the 'individual' side of the wrap is the bullshit side, and if push comes to shove, they prefer the revenue generating conformity. Since our society is a consumer driven kleptocracy, 'individual freedom' is Madison Avenue like hip-hop and stock fraud is not.
With the military and business you not only have common, simple jargons developed that pretend to the complexities of language (and thought), but you have large groups of people who are willing to be told how they must groom and dress, and when to eat and sleep. These are the rudiments of a cultural bonding but not cultures in the sense of the Kurds or Shia or Navajo or Tamil. Even when one speaks of 'the military tradition' one can feel the metaphorical borrowing from something deeper and more generic.
Culturally, the U.S. is utterly divorced from the 'ding an sich' the maintaining of old world traditions among groups notwithstanding. The U.S. in particular has no choice but to develop pseudo-cultures for coherence, and rely on systems of quantification to perpetuate itself. The cliche for this is that 'modern society has no roots.' I say dump the negative organic metaphor e.g. roots, and embrace the positive, or actually positivist one, that of quantification---What is a root, anyway? I'm certain we can duplicate one in the laboratory.
Newton's is a work of quantity. Goethe sought to maintain the relevance of quality. Goethe may have ultimately won out as regards the heterogeneity of perception in its natural state. But Newton won out in demonstrating how, by reduction, such phenomena can be manipulated into homogeneity.
This was rapidly incorporated into western culture as 'understanding' supplanting old notions and, with the exception of Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Latour, Feyerabend, Adorno, Horkheimer, Hanson, Gadamer, Bohr, Flynt and others, number and reduction were instantaneously absorbed as expressions and manifestations of the 'ding an sich' with all the inviolable 'qualities' of number afixed to every aspect of the western cultural paradigm. If nature consisted of inviolate numbers, monads, atoms, supersymmetry and strings, western culture was permanent, chosen and blessed in its fundament, and evangelical in the infinite recombinatory nature of that fundament---technology. Its quasi-religious qualities, its inheritance from the Scholastics had been preserved in number when number was transposed over nature where its approximations ironed out anomalies and ahistorical fractal geometry could short cut the elaborate variables of a coast line by billions of years. Science bombed all of nature, as well as human phenomenology back into the stone age. And I can hear John Casti right now---"Where it belongs." Besides the new method got you somewhere which felt like forward and got you there fast.
Well, thanks to the increasingly global nature of science and technology, we now know the answer. Extinction. Those of a more teleological mindset would say it was preordained. The more cautious among us would say we are still very, very far from total disaster implying somebody, usually not them, is going to bail us out. Whatever your timeline, it still remains remarkably astonishing how fucked up things have gotten in just 500 years of western scientific and technological tutelage. Even if the planet through a series of catastrophes or some yet undetected homeostasis rights itself, I'm still in awe at how rapidly systems of quantification, systems still in utter ascendancy, systems that wiped out and continue to wipe out alternatives, have nearly flushed the planet into the crapper. Wow! Its like seeing your first 2000 pound keg of jellied gasoline take out a tree line. It feels like coke, it's so exhilarating. Christ! Drop another one. Reflection is such a bore. And there's plenty of trees in the inventory, especially here, half the fucking way around the world.
Western scientific epistemology claims to have tapped into the empirical bedrock of the universe. The implication is that it has tapped a strata of existence that through its universality is unlike and superior to any other. This may be so or maybe not. Some commentators claim that notions of strata are mere conceits. But irregardless the notion of inherent superiority is behind the evangelical e.g. imperialistic nature of western scientific epistemology. In the sense of permanence and privilege that western scientific epistemology purveys, it makes no difference what the intention of the purveyor is vis a vis the purveyed except in the period of transition. After the period of benign tutelage, if one is capable of finding such a chimera in the last 500 years of conquest, or of enslavement, massacres and exploitation that litter the historical ground like corpses at My Lai, one still has the underlying theoretical framework that locomotes the cultural hardware. Its like the 'good' science 'bad' science dichotomy. The understanding is that something inviolable can be used for both good or evil, but after nirvana or Armageddon the underlying principles will still apply. Thus, as bloody as conquest can be ultimately it is for everyone's own good. This is the not so subtle message of the new Afghani Constitution and the proposed political reconstitution of Iraq. Once, again the bedrock scientific epistemology as rendered through western political and economic institutions does not need regard motive. Its results will always be superior and, therefore, all of its actions, even 'bad' are just science that displayed no bad intentions. That's why Mengele and the Tuskegee Institute 'Bad Blood' scandal are no different even when the quantity of victims and the moral quality of regimes is invoked by its partisans.
In this process, the intent is to alter cultures that are some cases many millennia old. In Iraq, you are talking about the region between the Tigris and Euphrates which western historians and archaeologists call the 'cradle of civilization' even as they dismantle it. Now, the U.S. a country whose epistemology is a 200 year old grab bag of Enlightenment conceits, plans to further dismantle the ancient cultures of the Near East or what's left of them after the English and the French and various international oil consortiums used a red grease pencil and Mr. Five Percent, Calouste Gulbenkian, to carve it up for their own enrichment. Not only has the drawing of national boundaries based on western oil concessions caused untold strife, dislocation, and slaughter in the region just as Giordano Bruno predicted in Ash Wednesday Supper, but the turmoil caused by western greed has been imposed as a cultural trait upon the people caught in the bloody morass of colonialist greed and chauvinism. Once again, other historical examples of the bloody myopia of colonialism are easy to find. And , of course, the chauvinism of the western texts are rife with examples of indigenous 'traits' not only being misrepresented by 'bedrock' scientifically derived western 'principles', 'axioms, 'theories' and 'laws', but also 'traits' that were the result of resistance to imperial slaughter being attributed to people who never manifested them until the appearance of the Europeans.
But still, as physics would tell us, this is just the flotsam and jetsam of history. This is not the level at which genuine apocalyptic tectonics is operating. Qualification within our epistemology still evokes, philologically, notions of diversity. Quantification on the other hand is dependent upon reduction, taxonomy, boundary and categorization. This applies to the cultural world as well as the physical and natural one. The physical world yielded most easily to the mathematics of quantification. Until recently, the natural world less so but with the advancement in genetics a bedrock has been announced, by those still in existence with epistemological clout to announce it, and all discussions of ethics etc. usher from that epistemology or way of knowing the world. All older taxonomies once considered inviolate are being readjusted to conform to knew, more advanced genetic criteria. Even when one assumes cultures are naturalistic, they are difficult to reduce. They are more easily subjugated and allowed to morph under conditions of enslavement and indenture. They are, using western analysis again, purely qualitative. As far as evangelizing western economic and political institutions are concerned, multiple cultures and the infinite qualitative relationships that they continually generate are uneconomical, inefficient and undesirable except as culture commodities.
No community is implied here. True community would imply egalitarian participation on the part of the Western plutocracy, an abhorrent and counterintuitive thought to any illuminati that possesses exclusive rights to the secrets of nature. No, what we have is a tacit capitulation either by preference or by force to a scientific/technological, economic and political elite that is de facto fascist. The most pronounced historical development is the diminished role of the pure sciences even as its practitioner's fiscal demands grew to enormous sums. (Even Texas voters didn't want the super-cyclotron, but they're sucking up night vision rifle sites and goggles.) Then the practitioner of the pure sciences became dependent on economic institutions and their hit men, the politicians with their armed thugs, the military. In turn, the military-industrial complex gobbles up 90% of the engineers and a disproportionate amount of scientists. Unlike Hitler it didn't need to be imposed on American culture as a way to resurrect German prestige from the humiliation of World War I. Americans take advantage of the Nazi-like paternalism and flock to the spectacles that conflate consumer habits and nationalism, but one couldn't say that the humiliation of Vietnam or the canards of Grenada or Panama sparked it.
If Iraqis would embrace this Super Bowl culture, levels of consumption could be better monitored and satisfied. The Iraqi could be better served and perhaps even meld with the American consumer albeit in a subservient sort of way. But as it stands now Iraqi culture is inconvenient for Western markets. More so places like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Western think tanks Like the Project For The New American Century envision utter homogeneity not only for the Middle East but for the whole world. (In a new twist, we have fanciful administration blither about the exploration of Mars and the relatively new field of Nano-Technology reviving the old notion of John Von Neumann's Self-Replicating Automata for intergalactic exploration.) Western, e.g. American as the name so subtlely implies, science and technology will lead the way even as American society appears more and more like a cult of consumption. Just as their own scientific community is warning them about the need for diversity in the natural world to avoid extinction, U.S. plutocrats seek to homogenize the reflective life of the planet. The rush to stamp out alternative world views exposes the trivial nature of the U.S.'s resistance to the Kyoto Accords. If they exist at all, alternative world views cannot exist through something like the Kyoto Accords. The fact that the notion can even be entertained is just another example of Western hubris whether the sessions were held in the Far East or not.
"You can't serve God and Mammon. God goes with red wine and Mammon with white. Besides, God's too stringy."
The jig is up. The sheer demands for raw materials to satisfy the gluttony of the industrialized West has already led the enforced epistemological reduction well passed a point of no return. If anyone proposed genuine changed that contradicted market demands, they'd be dead before they hit the floor.
The physical world will continue to be 'harnessed' to borrow a term the heyday of industrialization that harkened back unsentimentally to a Khmer/Taoist-like past . Western notions of the animate and the inanimate continue their reductive, quantified course. The assigned symbol and the thing in itself are no longer indistinguishable. The symbol now takes precedent and its inviolate nature, not its measure, is beyond scrutiny. Just to demonstrate how disingenuous and unreflective the sciences have become about praxis I give you Karl Popper's Falsificationist Theory that can only falsify what is already assumed within the system in question. Ergo, there is no guarantee that this falsification is progressive except within the reductive taxonomy that generated the falsification in the first place. In so many words, Goedel's Second Theorem says a system cannot be both consistent and closed. So Popper is just restating the obvious and the very real dilemmas that face us and that cannot be solved by application of such a benighted tautology. We only need Popper's atemporal 'falsification' because we eliminated apriori all other alternatives.
The natural world has been our barometer. As much as you want to dismiss the anecdotes of minority culture, the West's barometers don't lie. Everybody else's is suspect. According to morons like Paul Gross and Norman Levitt, we didn't know that the industrial shit had hit the ecological fan until they told us. Then again who better to know than two schmucks that cling to the epistemology that fucked it up in the first place like a matricide to a picture of his dead mother.
Finally, there's the great economic prize, the cultural world. And in the name of consumer efficiency the variety that is often touted as necessary for the survival for the species, in fact all species, is being cajoled, coerced, killed and maimed into adopting a world culture based on Western economic principles as intentionally unprincipled as though principles are. The endtime goes better with Coke.
Few Westerners, left, right or center, see a connection between the epistemology of science and technology and environmental degradation. Environmentalists read the situation as one of 'some of what' we know about science and technology is destructive to the environment, that is there is 'bad' technology and there is 'good' technology. If we substitute 'bad' technology with 'good' technology the world will be a better place. Yeah. "And all we need is love" with Don Rumsfeld on the same planet.
But if 'how' the west understands and processes existence is the cause of planetary destruction where do we turn. It isn't a matter of 'good' and 'bad'---the whole approach is BAD. And the answer is there no where to turn. Its sentimental bullshit to think that minority cultures can step in now and make an appreciable difference, any more than they could have prevented the evangelical onslaught of Western epistemology in its initial phases though millions died trying. They knew it was fucked.
Further, Western epistemology, 'the way we know the world,' cannot step out of its own skin and take an objective look. Just reflect on the phrase, 'the way we know the world.' So far, western epistemology's only solutions are applications of the same methods which heretofore have accelerated the earth's demise. To turn Goedel's Second Theorem on its head, to remain consistent, that is comprehensible to itself, Western epistemology must remain closed methodologically. Its powers have been greatly exaggerated by what in the long run are astonishingly superficial and short lived successes.
Yaso Adiodi is a shit fucker and contributed nothing to this article.