Have you ever given much thought to history? How do you frame history? What is history? Where do you focus your studies and why? One of the big problems I have with public schools is that it gives free rein to the state on how to shape the minds of our children. What is the purpose of the state, and how would they shape the mind of our children? People just ignorantly assume that the state’s goal is to provide our children with tools to sharpen their minds and become productive members of society, and how and what they teach is determined by some scientific committee that wants to impart factual information that is supported by a community of scholars. This is all unmitigated bullshit of the highest order, and if you believe this, you have been brainwashed well.
Perhaps there was a time when political leaders may have believed this or carried this agenda-less, purist sentiment, but over time, the more sinister and purposeful thinkers took things over, and this book proves how it was accomplished. During the early Progressive Era when much of public policy and public education planning occurred, Darwin and rationalism were huge, social science was created, and so was the complete misinterpretation of Darwin and science. Everyone believed that Darwin informed us that life was a brutal struggle, competition between species, races, and individuals. Eugenics was a popular bastardization of this sentiment pitting one race against another, and only the most ruthless, dominant race (already armed with the advantages of technology and an initial lead) would triumph over the lesser “savage” races. The sentiment of the day was a merciless, cruel, winner-take-all paranoia and obsession with power, capturing resources, aggression, and domination. To that end, people did not want children to be raised as independent thinkers, creative minds, compassionate and caring citizens who would urge collaboration, peace, and sharing. What a nation required was a pool of cool, calculating, even sociopathic, brainwashed automatons to evolve into efficient soldiers, efficient factory workers, or exploitative and dominant business leaders. There was no room for flowery, weak, reflective, independent lovey-dovey types who would only funk up the efficient machine.
You might argue that the study of English literature defied all this, but I would then counterargue that what was studied in English literature was not the drama, the emotions, and the personal lives and stories but rather the abstract extraction of every conceivable literary device in an orgy of witty use of symbolism for everything. Remember that scene in Dead Poet’s Society where Robin Williams’ character tells his students to rip out pages of “‘Understanding Poetry,’ by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. “To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme and figures of speech, then ask two questions: 1) How artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered and 2) How important is that objective? Question 1 rates the poem’s perfection; question 2 rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining the poem’s greatness becomes a relatively simple matter. If the poem’s score for perfection is plotted on the horizontal of a graph and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness.” Modern schools even turned poetry and literature into some twisted science to serve the state’s pursuit of ‘greatness’ and ‘glory.’
The reason most students hated studying history is that everything human was extracted from it. Instead of incredible stories of suffering, tragedy, drama, and a few triumphs, it was distilled into an inane series of unrelated conquests, wars, and dates. Isn’t it truly odd how students walk away from American history thinking about how great it was how American saved the world twice in two world wars, and in recent history, we accomplished suffrage and civil rights? But nobody walks away utterly shocked and stunned at how we stole land from the Native Americans, enslaved millions of Africans, and then right after liberating the world from tyranny and imperialism, we became a tyrannical imperialist empire. You may argue that if students truly understood the magnitude of American evil, how would they protect America and work hard to continue American global dominance? Why make kids ashamed of their country? Why not force them to pledge allegiance to the flag every morning and gloss over our failures and tragedies?
In a dog-eat-dog world, as this book explains, you cannot afford to be kind, collaborative, and nice. Certainly, you could argue that this mentality was necessary in an age where many European nations were becoming real and horrifying military threats to one another. It truly became a matter of self-preservation and survival of the fittest, but much of this was precipitated and encourage by the popular philosophy of the time, bureaucratic rationalism, the allegiance to the state and unfaltering support of state warmongering, conquest, militarization, and imperialism. If you look over at your neighbor and watch him reading books about how to be a ruthless, callous, Machiavellian asshole who must strike first to gain the element of surprise, wouldn’t you become paranoid and defensive and heighten your military capacities? It simply became self-fulfilling prophecy. When you adopt the philosophy of an asshole, you become an asshole, and then your neighbors must then become even bigger assholes to protect themselves from you. Upon realizing what big assholes your neighbors have become to protect themselves from you, you become an even bigger asshole.
For the vast majority of human evolution and history, we triumphed, because we were not assholes, we were the kindest, most compassionate, collaborative, loving, sharing, giving, most honest and trustworthy creatures on the planet. We were so caring and loving that we bred dogs as companions and protection, something no other creature had ever accomplished through thoughtful effort. Unfortunately, agriculture and then industry turned us all into selfish assholes who believed in creating social hierarchies allowing us to be assholes to anyone unfortunate enough to be below us in status, class, wealth, power, and rank. Certainly, in a dog-eat-dog world, this book is invaluable in teaching you how to not only survive but triumph, and it requires that you become the biggest asshole of them all, that you stop thinking, feeling, and caring about others and start obsessively plotting the utter demise and destruction of all your enemies through trickery and deception. Of course, the side-effect is that you become utterly unhappy, guilty, remorseful, empty, and soulless, but you get to live to the next day and you’re so vested in the concepts of glory, power, and greatness that you actually think you’re happy.
Is there any reason to stop thinking like this and for humanity to stop becoming a coterie of pathological, sociopathic assholes? I’d like to think so. First of all, Americans have, initially perhaps as a joke, been convinced that they deserve to be happy, and should pursue happiness. We can fucking have it all, power, money, status, AND happiness. What the state and our true rulers never anticipated was that our ability to understand happiness is become more and more sophisticated, and we are actually learning that becoming power-hungry, money-obsessed, status-loving assholes is NOT the best path to take to become truly happy, that in fact, they are paths toward bipolar depression, anxiety, paranoid, mild schizophrenia, and countless other mental disorders. So first off, the ever advancing sophistication of technology reveals not only hard science facts but also concepts about humanity, our social instincts, our psychology, and our mental well-being. The problem was that at first, our understanding of psychology was rudimentary and biased toward Darwinism and bureaucratic rationalism which made us believe that we were all better off power-hungry assholes. The more we study psychology, the more we understand that, ironically, the state oppresses us, most laws are corrupt and designed to rig the system in favor of existing wealth and power, and if we want to liberate our minds, we ought to think critically and extremely differently that how we think today, and if we want our children to be happy, we need to completely change the way we teach them and unshackle them from the state and its notion of dog-eat-dog and turning everyone into mindless assholes who love the flag but can’t figure out how being forced to pledge allegiance to it every morning and loving that darn flag are related.
The second, and more important reason to stop being an asshole and thinking like one is that it no longer pays to be a mindlessly, sociopathic, cruel, ruthless asshole. Now, you may argue, hey, one just became our President and the richest people on this planet are probably all a bunch of narcissistic, sociopathic assholes. This is because they accumulated wealth when the old rules of industry still applied. I am arguing that with the advent of the Internet and the Information Age, the most powerful weapon will not be the biggest gun, the fastest missile, the most horrendous bomb, or the largest aircraft carrier. The most powerful material weapons will be virtually invisible, and the most powerful strategic weapons will require mental flexibility and creativity beyond existing imagination. Fortunately for us, this level of mental flexibility and creativity will require teamwork and collaboration of the highest order and the full embrace of independent, innovative, even rebellious and disruptive thinking and attitudes. In other words, the old style way of mindlessly following old strategies and simply being the biggest asshole about it will fail. The Vietnam War and even the Chinese civil war indicated that pure power and overwhelming force could be defeated by ingenuity, asymmetric guerilla tactics, incredible teamwork and trust, stronger faith, and creative propaganda. A rationalist soldier is motivated purely by fear, discipline, and rigorous routine. Back in the day, these soldiers dominated, because they could be convinced to charge a wall of fire without hesitation. But warfare has changed. Charging a wall of fire is suicidal and idiotic. Instead, guerilla tactics mean circumventing the wall of fire, disrupting the enemy, and inflicting random attacks causing your enemy to spend inordinate resources to mitigate randomness. It cost terrorists a few million dollars to pull off 9/11, and since then, America has spent trillions on security and war to prevent another 9/11 attack. If that is not asymmetric warfare, I don’t know what is. But our military spending is unsustainable just like the Soviets before us. So it only took a few millions dollars to put the American empire precariously on the edge of bankruptcy. Amazing. The 2008 Financial Crisis was caused in part because we had so much wealth already invested in defense that we could not mobilize our wealth sufficiently to immediately mitigate the crises, so basically al Qaida spend a few millions dollars to put the American empire on the edge of insolvency in a matter of seven years. And America is now so much in debt from war that another similar financial crisis may simply destroy us completely.
Am I arguing that to be even more creative and ingenious war makers that we should decentralize the education system and teach children the value of love, sharing, kindness, and creativity? In a sense yes, but also in a sense no. Just like the previous ideology emphasized becoming an asshole to become better warriors and hence created a world of unmitigated assholes doing unholy and despicable things to each other, the new ideology emphasizing becoming more collaborative and trustworthy to become better warriors will create a world of unmitigated nice people, and chances are, they will never want to employ their creative weapons and powers for immoral and antisocial purposes.
Thirdly, the asshole, as he has always been throughout history, is ultimately, a self-destructive idiot. Europe embraced the concept of ruthless, exploitative, imperialist, militant asshole and took over the world. But what did they really accomplish? They certainly never accomplished happiness. They were always on a state of alert, and the vast majority of Europeans were peasants and soldiers dying in horrific conditions all over the world. Ultimately, Europe self-destructed as they embarked on two ruinous wars that left them mostly dispossessed of all their foreign assets. Meanwhile, China, Japan, and America ascended in power under the radar while Europe imploded. As a long-term goal of dominance, Europe as the biggest asshole failed. Unfortunately, today, America has now taken up the rein as the biggest asshole around, and as such, it too will self-destruct. Ironically, if the Europeans believed in Darwinism and the war of the races, it failed too. Europeans killed over a hundred million of each other. The white race has now become easily overshadowed by all the other races, and in America, the white race will become a minority. What nature ultimately informs us is that being an asshole doesn’t pay off in the long run, and even in the short run, the life of an asshole is short, brutal, unequal, and oppressive.
The most insulting thing is that the asshole is led to believe that they are dominant and in control of their destiny, that by depriving others of their power and control, they acquire greater power and control. This is false. Becoming an asshole is a lifelong investment in thinking that is not original and not your own. You essentially become a slave thinker to asshole before you and your more primal, selfish, self-preservation instincts, the ones animals evolved before they became social creatures. At least a social creature can withhold an impulse in favor of an action that is more fitting to benefit them in the long-run or to benefit a group. An asshole realizes that giving into impulse, regardless of the long-run consequences and the impact on others, is exactly what being an asshole is all about. So, in essence, you become slave to your selfish impulses, not master of them. Furthermore, as a slave to your impulses, you never learn to master anything or anyone. You rely on bullying and fear. But ultimately, you easily become the pawn of others. Trump may think he’s the alpha male of the cosmos, but I can guarantee you, he’s met the true rulers of our world, those who decide defense spending, wars, banking and economic policy, etc. Invested in the strategy and ideology of the asshole does little to empower you to master your own destiny, to actually fulfill your own long-term and social goals. It actually makes you an easy pawn to control, intimidate, deceive, and exploit. What greater defense against exploitation than to be able to think independently, to pause your selfish impulses to consider long-term and social consequences? You throw away these tools in favor of becoming an asshole, but you fail to realize, these tools are your only defense against other assholes.
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One of the things you will first notice when reading this book is how utterly confused and confusing the writing style is and also the thought processes. I’ve encountered this a lot throughout my education. Most of us give up and believe the lie that we are just too stupid to figure things out and understand what must be more enlightened, intelligent thought processes. It never occurs to us, that people who cannot write intelligibly and concisely are actually idiots who don’t really understand what the hell they’re writing about. The ability to convey complex ideas in a straightforward, articulate, concise, and understandable manner is actually the ultimate form of intelligence, because it means, you have a natural aptitude to disseminate complex information quickly and effectively in your mind. It means, you can basically cut through all the bullshit that is often the mark of a deceptive, convoluted mind that doesn’t truly understand things clearly and simply mimics what he half-understands here and there just to sound smart. One great example is George Orwell making fun of a contemporary English trend of using double negatives, “The not unblack dog chased the not unbrown cow across the not ungreen field.” I am not entirely unconvinced of this. Confused and diminished thinking is marked by the passive voice whereby things happen to you instead of the other way around. You are a passive witness to powers beyond your control and not an agent of action in your own world. I grew up mimicking this convoluted, passive style trying to make myself appear smart to my teachers, but all I was doing was exposing my confused, foggy thought processes. I will eternally credit a journalism class with teaching me to write and think more clearly, concisely, and intelligently. After all, we rely on journalists to cut through all the bullshit that is often used to deceive the masses. Bill Clinton’s remark comes to mind, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is…” or Donald Rumsfeld, “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
Why do people talk bullshit-ese? The answer is simple. First, they don’t understand what is going on in the first place. Second, they don’t want anyone else to know what is truly going on. Language was first used by humans to help us work as a team and understand what everyone else was looking at, not only just for hunting but for our dynamic social relationships. We needed to put ourselves in other people’s shoes in order to work together as a team and trust one another, so language acted as a way to help people understand what was going on inside our heads. When we became a civilization of assholes, this was no longer needed. In fact, what was needed instead was for other people to have no clue as to what the hell we were thinking, because we were usually thinking of ways to screw them over, exploit them, hurt them, and take things away from them that they valued. It is no coincidence that a writer of the art of war is also a terrible writer and fails to convey his thoughts clearly. He should not be doing so as a general to expose his thoughts to the enemy, so why should he clearly expose his thoughts to the public, to anonymous readers?
We have wasted our minds on 12 years of education that has filled it with nonsense, obfuscation, misdirection, lies, disinformation, and overall poor thought processes leaving us confused, perplexed, and poor thinkers. Instead of using the most powerful brains ever created to fix our problems, understand what is important in our lives, and collaborate with others, we use our brains to worry about likes on Facebook, our debt, stress, problems at work, schedules, and a whole cornucopia of petty, meaningless bullshit designed to keep us distracted from the truth. You would think the smartest people with the highest IQ and best grades would be able to cut through all this bullshit and scream to the world about how much it’s all bullshit and lies, but they’re not really the smartest people now are they? What do they do instead? They commit their hyperactive, anxious minds to monumental pettiness, incessant worries, and obsessive meaningless thoughts and trivia. What our schools achieve is not smart people capable of cutting through all the bullshit and understanding what is important and truthful, but rather, obsessive, anxious cluttered minds incapable of escaping the paper bag that is their faulty, self-destructive construct of their lives and reality.
There is a saying in science that the truth is elegant. The main reason that this seems to be true is that falseness, deception, and confusion is not elegant. It is wrapped in misdirection, wordiness, distraction, and obtuseness. If you simply ask a company why you can’t get a refund, they will reply usually in bureaucratic, legalese. “Please refer to the Return Policy F130-c in our Policy Guidebook which details the circumstances by which partial and full refunds may be issued, and in so much as they are fully in conformance with these conditions that they may be considered valid and warranting of the proper submission of a written request within the qualifying date of the purchase…” What they really mean to say is, “We’re money-grubbing assholes who don’t believe or trust customers, so fuck off.” The truth may not actually be elegant or simple, but I can guarantee you, lies will be shrouded in the endless clatter and cacophony of pure, unadulterated bullshit speak. There may actually be a few gems in this book, but it is utterly drowned in horseshit, and I couldn’t continue reading. You’re better off reading Sun Tzu. “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” How brilliant and elegant is that? Now read Clausewitz, “Here, again, on account of the various significations of these means, so likewise it will be found that neither of them will be identical in its signification in all cases if the objects are different. The smallness in general of this difference must not cause us perplexity, for in reality the weakest motives, the finest shades of difference, often decide in favour of this or that method applying force. Our only business here is to show that, certain conditions being supposed, the possibility of attaining our purpose in different ways is no contradiction, absurdity, nor even error.” What – the – fuck?
In school, you may have been forced to read original material like this book, and trust me, it isn’t the fact that they lived in a different time that you can’t understand them. But what would that accomplish, forcing some poor kid to struggle through this idiotic tome of wordiness and inarticulate horseshit? It would utterly destroy your confidence and interest in reading and learning. You would be possessed by feelings of inadequacy for not understanding anything the author is saying. You would doubt yourself and suffer panic attacks about writing an inadequate essay and running out of time, simply because you can’t get through this easily or quickly. And that is EXACTLY the purpose of forcing kids to suffer poorly written horseshit from the horse’s mouths, and why I am more than happy to give up reading this piece of shit. In school, I would get an F, but in life, I would continue my enthusiasm for reading and learning.