RAW's Non-Euclidean Political Perspective

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Dan Clore

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Jun 4, 2002, 10:20:56 AM6/4/02
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[I finally got a scanner! From time to time now, I'll be
passing along some old articles that seem worthy of
attention but have somehow never made it onto the web.--DC]

This was published in _Critique: A Journal of Conspiracies
and Metaphysics_ #27, in 1988, and to my knowledge has never
been reprinted.

Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective

by Robert Anton Wilson

Our esteemed editor, Bob Banner, has invited me to
contribute an article on whether my politics are "left" or
"right," evidently because some flatlanders insist on
classifying me as Leftist and others, equally Euclidean,
argue that I am obviously some variety of Rightist.

Naturally, this debate intrigues me. The Poet prayed that
some power would the giftie gie us to see ourselves as
others see us; but every published writer has that dubious
privilege. I have been called a "sexist" (by Arlene Meyers)
and a "male feminist . . . a simpering pussy-whipped wimp"
(by L.A. Rollins), "one of the major thinkers of the modern
age" (by Barbara Marx Hubbard) and "stupid" (by Andrea
Chaflin Antonoff), a "genius" (by SOUNDS, London) and
"mentally deranged" (by Charles Platt), a "mystic" and
"charlatan" (by the Bay Area Skeptics) and a "materialist"
(by an anonymous gent in Seattle who also hit me with a
pie); one of my books has even been called "the most
scientific of all science-fiction novels" (by _New
Scientist_ physics editor John Gribbon) and "ranting and
raving" (by Neal Wilgus). I am also frequently called a
"Satanist" in some amusing, illiterate and usually anonymous
crank letters from Protestant Fundamentalists.

I can only conclude that I am indeed like a visitor from
non-Euclidean dimensions whose outlines are perplexing to
the Euclidean inhabitants of various dogmatic Flatlands. Or
else, Lichtenstein was right when he said a book "is a
mirror. When a monkey looks in, no philosopher looks out."
Of course, we are living in curved space (as noted by
Einstein); that should warn us that Euclidean metaphors are
always misleading. Science has also discovered that the
Universe can count above two, which should make us leery of
either/or choices. There are eight--count 'em,
eight--theories or models in quantum mechanics, all of which
use the same equations but have radically different
philosophical meanings; physicists have accepted the
multi-model approach (or "model agnosticism") for over 60
years now. In modern mathematics and logic, in addition to
the two-valued (yes/no) logic of Aristotle and Boole, there
are several three-valued logics (e.g. the yes, no and maybe
Quantum Logic of von Neumann; the yes, no and po of
psychologist Edward de Bono; etc.), at least one four-valued
logic (the true, false, indeterminate and meaningless of
Rapoport), and an infinite-valued logic (Korzybski). I
myself have presented a multi-valued logic in my
neuroscience seminars; the bare bones of this system will be
found in my book, _The New Inquisition_. Two-valued
Euclidean choices--left or right of an imaginary line--do
not seem very "real" to me, in comparison to the versatility
of modem science and mathematics.

Actually, it was once easy to classify me in simple
Euclidean topology. To paraphrase a recent article by the
brilliant Michael Hoy [_Critique_ #19/ 20], I had a Correct
Answer Machine installed in my brain when I was quite young.
It was a right-wing Correct Answer Machine in general and
Roman Catholic in particular. It was installed by nuns who
were very good at creating such machines and implanting them
in helpless children. By the time I got out of grammar
school, in 1945,1 had the Correct Answer for everything, and
it was the Correct Answer that you will nowadays still hear
from, say, William Buckley, Jr.

When I moved on to Brooklyn Technical High School, I
encountered many bright, likeable kids who were not
Catholics and not at all right-wing in any respect. They
naturally angered me at first. (That is the function of
Correct Answer Machines: to make you have an adrenaline
rush, instead of a new thought, when confronted with
different opinions.) But these bright, non-Catholic
kids--Protestants, Jews, agnostics, even
atheists--fascinated me in some ways. The result was that I
started reading all the authors the nuns had warned me
against--especially Darwin, Tom Paine, Ingersoll, Mencken
and Nietzsche.

I found myself floating in a void of incertitude, a
sensation that was unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable. I
retreated back to robotism by electing to install a new
Correct Answer Machine in my brain. This happened to be a
Trotskyist Correct Answer Machine, provided by the
International Socialist Youth Party. I picked this Machine,
I think, because the alternative Correct Answer Machines
then available were less "Papist" (authoritarian) and
therefore less comfortable to my adolescent mind, still bent
out of shape by the good nuns.

(Why was I immune to Stalinism--an equally Papist secular
religion? I think the answer was my youth. The only
Stalinists left in the U.S. by the late '40s were all
middle-aged and "crystalized" as Gurdjieff would say. Those
of us who were younger could clearly see that Stalinism was
not much different from Hitlerism. The Trotskyist
alternative allowed me to feel "radical" and modern, without
becoming an idiot by denying the totalitarianism of the
USSR, and it let me have a martyred redeemer again a I had
in my Catholic childhood.)

After about a year, the Trotskyist Correct Answer Machine
began to seem a nuisance. I started to suspect that the
Trotskyists were some secular clone of the Vatican, whether
they knew it or not, and that the dogma of Papal
infallibility was no whit more absurd than the Trotskyist
submission to the Central Committee. I decided that I had
left one dogmatic Church and joined another. I even
suspected that if Trotsky had managed to hold on to power,
he might have been as dictatorial as Stalin.

Actually, what irritated me most about the Trots (and now
seems most amusing) is that I already had some tendency
toward individualism, or crankiness, or Heresy; I sometimes
disputed the Party Line. This always resulted in my being
denounced for "bourgeoisie tendencies." That was irritating
then and amusing now because I was actually the only member
of that Trot cell who did not come from a middle-class
background. I came from a working class family and was the
only genuine "proletarian" in the whole Marxist
_kaffeklatch_.

At the age of 18, then, I returned to the void of
incertitude. It began to seem almost comfortable there, and
I began to rejoice in my agnosticism. It made me feel
superior to the dogmatists of all types, and adolescents
love to feel superior to everybody (especially their
parents--or have you noticed that?). Around the same time as
my Trotskyist period, I began to read the first Revisionist
historians, whom I had been warned about by my high school
social science teachers, in grave and awful tones, as if
these men had killed a cat in the sacristy. My teachers were
too Liberal to tell me I would go to Hell for reading such
books (as the nuns had told me about Darwin, for instance),
but they made it clear that the Revisionists were Evil,
Awful, Unspeakable and probably some form of Pawns of the
Devil.

I recognized the technique of thought control again, so I
read all the Revisionists I could find. They convinced me
that the New Deal Liberals had deliberately lied and
manipulated the U.S. into World War II and were still lying
about what they did after the war was over. (In fact, they
are still lying about it today.)

The Revisionist who impressed me most was Harry Elmer
Barnes, a classic Liberal who was a til of a Marxist (in
methodology)--i.e., in his way of looking for economic
factors behind political actions. I was amused and disgusted
by the attempt of the New Deal gang to smear Professor
Barnes as a right-wing reactionary. Barnes, in fact, was an
advocate of progressive ideas in education, economics,
politics, criminology, sociology and anthropology all his
life but the New Deal Party Line had smeared him so
thoroughly that some people have heard of him only as some
cranky critic of Roosevelt and assume he was a Taft
Republican or even a pro-Nazi. In fact Barnes supported most
of the New Deal's domest policies, and dissented from
Liberal Dogma only in opposing the spread of American
adventurism and militarism all over the world.

Charles Beard, another great historian of classic Liberal
principles, agreed that Roosevelt deliberately lied to us in
World War II and was smeared in the same way as Professor
Barnes. This did not encourage me to have Faith in any Party
Line, even if it called itself the modern, liberal,
enlightened Party Line.

(I have never been convinced by the Holocaust Revisionists,
however, simply because I have met a great many Holocaust
eye-witnesses, or alleged eyewitnesses, in the past 40
years. Most of these people I seemingly met by accident, in
both Europe and America. A conspiracy that has that many
liars planted in that many places--or has always paid such
special attention to me that it placed these liars where I
would meet them--is a conspiracy too omnipotent and
omnipresent, and therefore too metaphysical, for me to take
seriously. A conspiracy so Godlike in its powers could, in
principle, deceive us about anything and everything, and I
wonder why the Holocaust Revisionists still believe that
World War II occurred, or that any of past history ever
happened.)

I reached 20 and became an employee (i.e. a robot) in the
McCarthy Era and the Eisenhower years; my agnosticism became
more total and so did my suspicion that politics is a
carnival or buncombe (as Mencken once said). It seemed
obvious to me that, while Senator Joe was a liar of stellar
magnitude, a lot of the Liberals were lying their heads off,
too, in attempts to hide their previous fondness for
Stalinism. That was something I, as a former Trotskyist,
knew about by experience. In _bon ton_ East Coast
intellectual circles, before McCarthy, Stalinism was much
more "permissible" than Trotskyism; it was almost _chic_. If
I still regard the McCarthy witch-hunt of the 1950s as
abominable, I also remember that some of the victims had
engaged in similar witch-hunts against the Trotskyists in
the early 1940s.

It is probably impossible for a social mammal to be totally
"apolitical." Even if I was allergic to Correct Answer
Machines, my mind kept searching for some general social
ideas that I could take more or less seriously. For a while
I dropped in and out of colleges and in and out of jobs and
searched earnestly for some pragmatic mock-up of "truth"
without a Correct Answer Machine attached. And yet both Left
and Right continued to appear intellectually bank rupt to
me.

****

Coming from a working class family, I could never have much
sympathy for the kind of Conservatism you find in America in
this century. (I do have a certain fondness for the classic
Liberal Conservatives of the 18th Century, especially Edmund
Burke and John Adams.) After I married and had children to
support, the abominations of the Capitalist system and the
wormlike ignominy of the employee role began to seem like
prisons to me; I was a poor candidate for the Conservative
cause. On the other hand, the FDR Liberals, I was convinced,
had lied about World War II; they first smeared and then
blacklisted the historians who told the truth; and they had
jumped on the Cold War bandwagon with ghoulish glees.

I was anti-war by "temperament" (whatever that means--early
imprints or conditioning? Genes? I don't know the exact
cause of such a deep-seated and life-long bias). Marxist
dogma seemed as stupid to me as Catholic dogma and as
murderous as Hitlerism. I now thought of myself as an
agnostic on principle. I was not going to join any more
"churches" or submit to anybody's damned Party Line.

My agnosticism was also intensified by such influences as
further reading of Nietzsche; existentialism; phenomenolgy;
General Semantics; and operational logic. There have
remained major influences on me and I want to say a few
words about each.

Nietzsche's philosophy of the Superman did not turn me on in
youth; coming from the proletarian, I could not see myself
as one of his aristocratic Uebermenschen. On the other hand,
his criticism of language, and of the metaphysical
implications within languages, made a powerful impression on
me; I still re-read one or two of his books every year, and
get new semantic insights of them. He is, as he bragged, a
hard nut to digest all at once.

Existentialism did not convert me back to Marxism (as it did
to Sartre); it merely magnified my Nietzschean distrust of
capitalized nouns and other abstractions, and strengthened
my preferences for sensory-sensual ("existential")--modes of
perceptionconception. The phenomenologists--especially
Husserl and the wild man of the bunch, Charles
Fort--encouraged my tendency to suspect all general theories
(religious, philosophical, even scientific) and to regard
human sense experience as the primary datum.

My polemics against Materialist Fundamentalism in _The New
Inquisition_ and the Aristotelian mystique of "natural law"
(shared by Thomists and some Libertarians) in my _Natural
Law; or, Don't Put a Rubber On Your Willy_ are both based on
this existentialist-phenomenologist choice that I will
"believe" in human experience, with all its muddle and
uncertainty, more than I will ever "believe" in capitalized
Abstractions and "general principles."

General Semantics, as formulated by Korzybski, increased
this anti-metaphysical bias in me. Korzybski also stressed
that the best sensory data (as revealed by instruments that
refine the senses) indicates that we live in a
non-Aristotelian, non-Euclidean and non-Newtonian continuum.
I have practised for 30 years the exercises Korzybski
recommends to break down Aristotelian-Euclidean-Newtonian
ideas buried in our daily speech and retrain myself to
perceive in ways compatible with what our instruments
indicate about actuality.

Due to Korzybski's neurolinguistic training devices, it is
now "natural" for me to think beyond either/or logic, to
perceive the unity of observer/observed, to regard "objects"
as human inventions abstracted from a holistic continuum.
Many physicists think I have studied more physics than I
actually have; I merely neurologically _internalized_ the
physics that I do know.

Operational logic (as formulated by the American physicist
Percy Bridgman and recreated by the Danish physicist Neils
Bohr as the Copenhagen Interpretation of science) was the
approach to modern science that appealed to me in the
context of the above working principles. The Bridgman-Bohr
approach rejects as "meaningless" any statements that do not
refer to concrete experiences of human beings. (Bridgman was
influenced by Pragmatism, Bohr by Existentialism.)
Operationalism also regards all proposed "laws" only as maps
or models that are useful for a certain time. Thus,
Operationalism is the one "philosophy of science" that warns
us, like Nietzsche and Husserl, only to use models where
they're useful and never to elevate them into Idols or
dogmas.

Although I dislike labels, if I had to label my attitude I
would accordingly settle for
existentialist-phenomenologist-operationalist, as long as no
one of those three terms is given more prominence than the
other two.

In the late '50s, I began to read widely in economic
"science" (or speculation) again, a subject that had bored
the bejesus out of me since I overthrew the Marxist Machine
in my brain ten years earlier. I became fascinated with a
number of alternatives--or "excluded middles"--that
transcend the hackneyed debate between monopoly Capitalism
and totalitarian Socialism. My favorite among these
alternatives was, and to some extent still is, the
individualist-mutualist anarchism ofProudhon, Jossiah
Warren, S.P. Andrews, Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker.
I do not have a real Faith that this system would work out
as well in practice as it sounds in theory, but as theory it
still seems to me one of the best ideas I ever encountered.

This form of anarchism is called "individualist" because it
regards the absolute liberty of the individual as a supreme
goal to be attained; it is called "mutualist" because it
believes such liberty can only be attained by a system of
mutual consent, based on contracts that are to the advantage
of all. In this Utopia, free competition and free
cooperation are both encouraged; it is assumed persons and
groups will decide to compete or to cooperate based on the
concrete specifics of each case. (This appeals to my
"existentialism" again, you see.)

Land monopolies are discouraged in individualist-mutualist
anarchism by abolishing State laws granting ownership to
those who neither occupy nor use the land; "ownership," it
is predicted, will then only be contractually recognized
where the "owner" actually occupies and used the land, but
not where he charges "rent" to occupy or use it. The
monopoly on currency, granted by the State, is also
abolished, and any commune, group, syndicate, etc., can
issue its own competing currency; it is claimed that this
will drive interest down to approsximately zero. With rent
at zero and interest near zero, it is argued that the
alleged goal of socialism (abolition of exploitation) will
be achieved by free contract, without coercion or
totalitarian Statism. That is, the individualist-mutualist
model argues that the land and money monopolies are the
"bugger factors" that prevent Free Enterprise from producing
the marvelous results expected by Adam Smith. With land and
money monopolies abolished, it is predicted that competition
(where there is no existential motive for cooperation) and
cooperation (where this is recognized as being to the
advantage of all) will prevent other monopolies from
arising.

Since monopolized police forces are notoriously graft-ridden
and underlie the power of the state to bully and coerce,
competing protection systems will be available in an
individualist-mutualist system, You won't have to pay
"taxes" to support a Protection Racket that is actually
oppressing rather than protecting you. You will only pay
dues, where you think it prudent, to protection agencies
that actual perform a service you want and need. In general,
every commune or syndicate will make its own rules of the
game, but the mutualist-individualist tradition holds that,
by experience, most communes will choose the systems that
maximize liberty and minimize coercion.

Being wary of Correct Answer Machines, I also studied and
have given much serious consideration to other "Utopian"
socio-economic theories. I am still fond of the system of
Henry George (in which no rent is allowed, but free
enterprise is otherwise preserved); but I also like the
ideas of Silvio Gesell (who would also abolish rent and all
taxes but one--a demmurage tax on currency, which should
theoretically abolish interest by a different gimmick than
the competing currencies of the mutualists.)

I also see possible merit in the economics of C.H. Douglas,
who invented the National Dividend--lately re-emergent,
somewhat mutated, as Theobold's Guaranteed Annual Wage
and/or
Friedman's Negative Income Tax. And I am intrigued by the
proposal of Pope Leo XIII that workers should own the
majority of stock in their companies.

Most interesting of recent Utopias to me is that of
Buckminster Fuller in which money is abolished, and
computers manage the economy, programmed with a prime
directive to _advantage_ all without _disadvantaging_
any--the same goal sought by the mutualist system of basing
society entirely on negotiated contract.

Since I don't have the Correct Answer, I don't know which of
these systems would work best in practice. I would like to
see them all tried in different places, just to see what
would happen. (This multiple Utopia system was also
suggested by Silvio Gesell, who was not convinced he had a
Correct Answer Machine; that's another reason I like
Gesell.) My own bias or hope or prejudice is that
individualist-mutualist anarchism with some help from Bucky
Fuller's computers would work best of all, but I still lack
the Faith to proclaim that as
dogma.

There is one principle (or prejudice) which makes anarchist
and libertarian alternatives attractive to me where State
Socialism is totally repugnant to my genes-or-imprints. I am
committed to the maximization of the freedom of the
individual and the minimization of coercion. I do not claim
this goal is demanded by some ghostly or metaphysical
"Natural Law," but merely that it is the goal that I,
personally, have _chosen_--in the Existentialist sense of
choice. (In more occult language, such a goal is my True
Will.) Everything I write, in one way or another, is
intended to undermine the metaphysical and linguistic
systems which seem to justify some Authorities in limiting
the freedom of the human mind or in initiating coercion
against the non-coercive.

...and then came what Charles Slack calls "the madness of
the sixties." I was an early, and enthusiastic, experimenter
with LSD, peyote, magic mushrooms and any other compound
that mutated consciousness. The result was that I became
even more agnostic but less superior about it. What
psychedelics taught me was that, just as theories and
ideologies (maps and models) are human creations, not divine
revelations, every perceptual grid or existential
reality-tunnel is also a human creation--a work of art,
consciously or unconsciously edited and organized by the
individual brain.

I began serious study of other consciousness-altering
systems, including techniques of yoga, Zen, Sufism and
Cabala. I, alas, became a "mystic" of some sort, although
still within the framework of
existentialism-phenomenology-operationalism. But, then,
Buddhism--the organized mystic movement I find least
objectionable--is also existentialist, phenomenologist and
operationalist....

Nietzsche's concept of the Superhuman has at last become
meaningful for me, although not in the elitist form in which
he left it. I now think evolution is continuing and even
accelerating: the human brain is evolving to a state that
seems Superhuman compared to our previous history of
domesticated primatehood. My favorite science is
neuroscience, and I am endlessly fascinated by every new
tool or technique that breaks down robot circuits in our
brains (Correct Answer Machines) and spurs creativity,
higher intelligence, expanded consciousness, and, above all,
broader compassion.

I see no reason to believe that only an elite is capable of
this evolutionary leap forward, especially as the new tools
and training techniques are becoming more simple. In
neuroscience as in all technology, we seem to follow Bucky
Fuller's rule that each breakthrough allows us to do more
work with less effort and to create more wealth out of less
raw matter.

Once I broke loose from the employee role and became
self-supporting as a writer, the "horrors of capitalism"
seemed less ghoulish to me, since I no longer had to face
them every day. I became philosophical, like all persons
free of acute suffering. I prefer to live in Europe rather
than pay taxes to build more of Mr. Reagan's goddam nuclear
missiles, but I enjoy visiting the U.S. regularly for
intellectual stimulation....

I agree passionately with Maurice Nicoll (a physician who
mastered both Jungian and Gurdjieffian systems) who wrote
that the major purpose of "work on consciousness" is to
"decrease the amount of violence in the world." The main
difference between our world and Swift's is that while we
have stopped killing each other over religious differences
(outside the Near East and Northern Ireland), we have
developed an insane passion for killing each other over
ideological differences. I regard Organized Ideology with
the same horror that Voltaire had for Organized Religion.

Concretely, I am indeed a Male Feminist, as L.A. Rollins
claimed (although seeing myself often on TV, I deny that I
simper; I don't even swish); like all libertarians, I oppose
victimless crime laws, all drug control laws, and all forms
of censorship (whether by outright reactionaries or
Revolutionary Committees or Radical Feminists).

I passionately hate violence, but am not a Dogmatic
Pacifist, since I don't have Joan Baez's Correct Answer
Machine in my head. I know I would kill an armed aggressor,
in a concrete crisis situation where that was the only
defense of the specific lives of specific individuals I
love, although I would never kill a person or employ even
minor violence, or physical coercion, on behalf of
capitalized Abstractions or Governments (who are all damned
liars.) All these are matters of Existential Choice on my
part, and not dogmas revealed to me by some god or some
philosopher-priest of Natural Law.

I prefer the various Utopian systems I have mentioned to the
Conservative position that humanity is incorrigible and I
also think that if none of these Utopian scenarios are
workable, some system will eventually arrive better than any
we have ever known. I share the Jeffersonian ("Liberal"?)
vision that the human mind can exceed all previous limits in
a society where freedom of thought is the norm rather than a
rare exception.

Does all of this make me a Leftist or a Rightist? I leave
that for the Euclideans to decide. If I had to summarize my
social credo in the briefist possible space, I would quote
Alexander Pope's _Essay On Man_:

For forms of Government let fools contest;
Whate'er is best administered is best:
For modes of Faith let graceless zealots fight;
He can't be wrong whose life is in the right.

--
Dan Clore
mailto:cl...@columbia-center.org

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I've watched the dogs of war enjoying their feast
I've seen the western world go down in the east
The food of love became the greed of our time
But now we're living on the profits of crime
--Black Sabbath, "Hole in the Sky"

John Shafto

unread,
Jun 4, 2002, 2:52:39 PM6/4/02
to
"Dan Clore" <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote in message
news:3CFCCCC8...@columbia-center.org...

> News for Anarchists & Activists:
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo
>
> [I finally got a scanner! From time to time now, I'll be
> passing along some old articles that seem worthy of
> attention but have somehow never made it onto the web.--DC]
>
> This was published in _Critique: A Journal of Conspiracies
> and Metaphysics_ #27, in 1988, and to my knowledge has never
> been reprinted.
>
> Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective
> by Robert Anton Wilson

I think this is a good example of the expression,
"so open-minded your brains fall out" :)

I enjoyed reading it, and agreed with some of it,
but don't understand a fear of dogmatism (and
a philosophical skepticism) so powerful that one thinks
that there are no correct answers, while simultaneously
claiming to be searching for the answers that maximize
individual liberty. It's contradictory.


Adam Retchless

unread,
Jun 4, 2002, 3:30:32 PM6/4/02
to
Dan Clore <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote in message news:<3CFCCCC8...@columbia-center.org>...
> News for Anarchists & Activists:
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo
>
> [I finally got a scanner! From time to time now, I'll be
> passing along some old articles that seem worthy of
> attention but have somehow never made it onto the web.--DC]
>
> This was published in _Critique: A Journal of Conspiracies
> and Metaphysics_ #27, in 1988, and to my knowledge has never
> been reprinted.
>
> Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective
>
> by Robert Anton Wilson

Great article! I'll have to read those authors that he mentioned.

have a good one,
adam

Hewpiedawg

unread,
Jun 5, 2002, 12:15:20 AM6/5/02
to
This was an interesting post, Dan. I have to admit that.

I have to differ with Mr. Shafto about radical skepticism
being contradictory with a drive towards maximizing
individual liberty. If all of our answers are merely guesses,
if we see through a glass darkly, how can we justify
shoving answers down anyone's throat?


John Shafto

unread,
Jun 5, 2002, 1:25:30 AM6/5/02
to
"Hewpiedawg" <> wrote
in message news:kggL8.3355$Dn3....@dfw-read.news.verio.net...

I never said anything about shoving anything down
anyone's throat, you misrepresent me.

A philosophical skeptic searching for the best way to maximize
individual liberty is like a deer hunter getting all dressed up and
going out in the woods, but who doesn't want to believe in deer.
Even if he sees one, he'll just rub his eyes and shake his head.

One thing I know for sure, the correct answers to theft and slavery
are "no".

This isn't to say that there is not something to what the author of that
article calls the "Correct Answer Machine", and that the right/left
dichotomy is a false alternative. There are correct answers both
on the "right" and "left", in popular political parlance. Just enough
correct answers to keep each team supporting the cause, but
not enough to get anything done. They couldn't have one team
with all the correct answers, and another with all the wrong answers,
that would be a rout, and very bad for the guys who rely on soaking
society for all it's worth.

--
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth,
but most of them pick themselves up and
hurry off as if nothing had happened."
-- Winston Churchill


G*rd*n

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Jun 5, 2002, 7:53:16 AM6/5/02
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"Hewpiedawg" <hewpi...@hotmail.com>:

A common criticism of rad skep is that it suggests an
antinomianism in which only power matters. That is, there
is no reason _not_ to shove answers down anyone's throat,
so since one presumably wants to, one does.

--

(<><>) /*/
}"{ G*rd*n }"{ g...@panix.com }"{
{ http://www.etaoin.com | latest new material 5/17/02 <-adv't

John Shafto

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Jun 5, 2002, 11:33:54 AM6/5/02
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"G*rd*n" <> wrote
in message news:adku3c$9uv$1...@panix2.panix.com...

> "Hewpiedawg" <hewpi...@hotmail.com>:
> | This was an interesting post, Dan. I have to admit that.
> |
> | I have to differ with Mr. Shafto about radical skepticism
> | being contradictory with a drive towards maximizing
> | individual liberty. If all of our answers are merely guesses,
> | if we see through a glass darkly, how can we justify
> | shoving answers down anyone's throat?
>
> A common criticism of rad skep is that it suggests an
> antinomianism in which only power matters. That is, there
> is no reason _not_ to shove answers down anyone's throat,
> so since one presumably wants to, one does.

Not to mention the inherent nihilism of it.

I have yet to meet a self-professed moral skeptic that
doesn't have some ideas against/for something, they
can be some of the most self-righteous folks one can meet.
Philosophical skepticism is often the way they try to justify
their pre-existing moral beliefs.

Philosophical skeptics are constantly borrowing concepts
from other philosophical positions.


Hewpiedawg

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Jun 5, 2002, 11:52:57 AM6/5/02
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"John Shafto" <_john_@_shafto.org_> wrote in message
news:ufr87uj...@corp.supernews.com...

> "Hewpiedawg" <> wrote
> in message news:kggL8.3355$Dn3....@dfw-read.news.verio.net...
> > This was an interesting post, Dan. I have to admit that.
> >
> > I have to differ with Mr. Shafto about radical skepticism
> > being contradictory with a drive towards maximizing
> > individual liberty. If all of our answers are merely guesses,
> > if we see through a glass darkly, how can we justify
> > shoving answers down anyone's throat?
>
> I never said anything about shoving anything down
> anyone's throat, you misrepresent me.

That was not an accusation, John. Rather it was an
explication of why one is likely to come to libertarian
conclusions as a result of skepticism.

> A philosophical skeptic searching for the best way to maximize
> individual liberty is like a deer hunter getting all dressed up and
> going out in the woods, but who doesn't want to believe in deer.
> Even if he sees one, he'll just rub his eyes and shake his head.

Is that true? I have my doubts.

> One thing I know for sure, the correct answers to theft and slavery
> are "no".

It may be that a "live and let live" attitude is a matter of temperament,
and that some, with different temperaments will want to see "theft
and slavery" in a light of skepticism and doubt that they are so bad.
It certainly is not a necessary result of skepticism to do so, however.
Moreover, it appears that most of those with great faith apply their
principles with dubious consistency.

It could be that given that we are all going to die someday, finding
meaning while we are here precludes the enslavement and coercion
of others.

> This isn't to say that there is not something to what the author of that
> article calls the "Correct Answer Machine", and that the right/left
> dichotomy is a false alternative. There are correct answers both
> on the "right" and "left", in popular political parlance. Just enough
> correct answers to keep each team supporting the cause, but
> not enough to get anything done. They couldn't have one team
> with all the correct answers, and another with all the wrong answers,
> that would be a rout, and very bad for the guys who rely on soaking
> society for all it's worth.

I have to say that there are those who have believed in such CAMs
which are now considered entirely dysfunctional by just about
everyone today. That didn't stop some such CAMs from becoming
dominant, for a time.

Doubt helps to prevent such machines from ruling one's consciousness.


Hewpiedawg

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Jun 5, 2002, 11:58:11 AM6/5/02
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"G*rd*n" <g...@panix.com> wrote in message
news:adku3c$9uv$1...@panix2.panix.com...

> "Hewpiedawg" <hewpi...@hotmail.com>:
> | This was an interesting post, Dan. I have to admit that.
> |
> | I have to differ with Mr. Shafto about radical skepticism
> | being contradictory with a drive towards maximizing
> | individual liberty. If all of our answers are merely guesses,
> | if we see through a glass darkly, how can we justify
> | shoving answers down anyone's throat?
>
> A common criticism of rad skep is that it suggests an
> antinomianism in which only power matters. That is, there
> is no reason _not_ to shove answers down anyone's throat,
> so since one presumably wants to, one does.

Yes. I suppose the aphorism, "Nothing is true, everything is
permitted" comes into play here. I have my doubts about the
validity of that, however.


mikel evins

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Jun 5, 2002, 12:16:49 PM6/5/02
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John Shafto wrote:

Like solipsism and nihilism, radical skepticism is unassailable, but,
also like those others, it is uninteresting. Nothing is revealed,
nothing interesting entailed by it.

Unless existence is truly random (another unassailable position that
leads to nothing interesting), a person's continued existence
testifies to an operational belief in propositions, regardless of what
discursive position he or she may adopt. For example, the act of
eating betrays an operational belief that eating is needed for
survival and that survival is good. The eater may protest that he or
she lacks belief in these propositions but the act of eating belies
the voiced belief.

John Shafto

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Jun 5, 2002, 6:41:24 PM6/5/02
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"Hewpiedawg" <> wrote in message
news:kuqL8.3376$Dn3....@dfw-read.news.verio.net...
>
> "John Shafto" <> wrote
> > "Hewpiedawg" <> wrote

> > >
> > > I have to differ with Mr. Shafto about radical skepticism
> > > being contradictory with a drive towards maximizing
> > > individual liberty. If all of our answers are merely guesses,
> > > if we see through a glass darkly, how can we justify
> > > shoving answers down anyone's throat?
> >
> > I never said anything about shoving anything down
> > anyone's throat, you misrepresent me.
>
> That was not an accusation, John. Rather it was an
> explication of why one is likely to come to libertarian
> conclusions as a result of skepticism.

I see what you were getting at now, but I don't think
it is necessary to go to the extremes of philosophical
skepticism to be libertarian. In fact, if it is your moral
position that "right" is "do as you will, so long as it harms
none but possibly yourself", then you have taken a moral
position. That contradicts skepticism, how can a moral
skeptic defend libertarianism?

> <snip>


> Doubt helps to prevent such machines from ruling one's
> consciousness.

Considering all moral positions is different than believing
that none are more correct than others. Reconsidering
your accepted correct positions in the light of new information
is also important.

--
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to
entertain a thought without accepting it." -- Aristotle

NeonCat

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Jun 6, 2002, 12:34:18 AM6/6/02
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So a lesson we can learn, I guess, is that CAMs (Correct Answer Machines)
make you a tool.


"Dan Clore" <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote in message
news:3CFCCCC8...@columbia-center.org...

Drop Uwener

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Jun 7, 2002, 12:24:24 AM6/7/02
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"NeonCat" <catn...@earthlink.net> wrote in message news:<eDBL8.7$1E...@newsread2.prod.itd.earthlink.net>...

> So a lesson we can learn, I guess, is that CAMs (Correct Answer Machines)
> make you a tool.

perhaps instead failure makes ye into tool

-D

"I cheated in my metaphysics course and skipped to the end." -amusing
anecdote

>
>
> "Dan Clore" <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote in message
> news:3CFCCCC8...@columbia-center.org...
> > News for Anarchists & Activists:
> > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo
> >
> > [I finally got a scanner! From time to time now, I'll be
> > passing along some old articles that seem worthy of
> > attention but have somehow never made it onto the web.--DC]
> >
> > This was published in _Critique: A Journal of Conspiracies
> > and Metaphysics_ #27, in 1988, and to my knowledge has never
> > been reprinted.
> >
> > Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective
> >
> > by Robert Anton Wilson
> >
> > Our esteemed editor, Bob Banner, has invited me to
> > contribute an article on whether my politics are "left" or
> > "right," evidently because some flatlanders insist on
> > classifying me as Leftist and others, equally Euclidean,
> > argue that I am obviously some variety of Rightist.

you as RAW appear to be very categorizeable. I hope this doesn't mean
that if I want to ask a question I would necessarily have to plug
several people in to each other

-D

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