(TCRN) Rahul Kanwar
There’s an interesting video made by the South Park creators of one of Alan Watts’ monologues about particles and waves called Prickles and Goo. In it, Alan Watts explains how the universe is neither particles nor waves. Some people (Prickles) simply choose to see the universe as rigid and seek precision in physical observances, and the other types of people (Goo) see the universe and humanity as fluid. The Prickles see the Goos as vague and unscientific, and the Goo see the Prickles as machine-like and unable to see what is human. In short, the pragmatist is the Pricke and the Goo is a romanticist.
Political thought is also strongly affected by this duality. Certain people like to believe that the only way to change the world is through violent revolution. They only see goals and ideals they want to see society in, and obstacles preventing that (cops, tanks, bullets, etc). In their world, you advance the cause of freedom solely by doing actions which remove these obstacles faster than the state can replace them. Naturally, I’ll refer to these people as “the prickles” for the duration of the essay.
On the other extreme of the spectrum are the people who don’t currently believe in reality as the prickles know it. These people see only waves and “vibrations” in the world. These people have varying beliefs but are often religious and believe in some form of causal relationship between unethical action and bad things happening (God’s punishment, bad karma, etc.) and vice versa. Without surprise, these people will be “the goos”.
Both sides have short comings. As Alan Watts said, the world is both gooey and prickly. The true and consistent prickle is the barbarian. The barbarian knows nothing about the world other than maintaining his freedom and remaining sovereign from the evil government of Rome or whoever. The barbarian prides himself on being the absolute strongest breed of human in existence and the source of nightmares for the puny civilized people. Rome doesn’t dare attack him, and his tribe is the strongest militarily. For this reason, his tribe’s future is safeguarded even better than the Romans. But, even the barbarian wonders about his way of life.
If the barbarian is the strongest, why does civilization belong to the civilians, and not to him?
The reason is because the barbarian is so concerned with fighting that he forgot everything about how to live and associate with others. The barbarian knows nothing about how his lifestyle and world view do not allow for stable livelihoods that focus on the development of art or technology. These are the fruits of something totally unknown to him.
On the other extreme is the superstitious hippie, who keeps a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho with her at all times and genuinely believes that good things happen to people who put out “good vibes” into the world and bad things happen to people who bring “bad vibes”. The hippie prides herself on how kind she is to everyone else and how much good karma she puts into society that compounds and spreads, but also has frightening thoughts sometimes.
Why do babies die in drive by shootings? Why are so many people hungry in Africa? Why does the universe punish them like this?
These answers all lie completely outside of her mystic society in gritty empirical reality. Babies die in drive by shootings because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and people are hungry in Africa because they lack resources to summon enough food from the earth. There was no “deserve” in it at all. There was just the cold truth.
Reality is simply too big for any single ideology. It is all things at once and it is none of them, and therefore it’s shaped by both the particles and the waves. Governments are great at controlling physical reality by force, but often lack control over the mind. Hence the Catholic Church, North Korea, virtually every totalitarian cult knows that in order to safeguard control over people forever, you must control their minds. Kim Jong Un knows that it doesn’t matter how many soldiers he has if word spread within his military that he’s a completely unnecessary tyrant. The lifelong work of his father and grandfather would be made worthless if one slip-up by him causes a military coup.
Snowden also expertly made use of waves instead of particles. He kept his record clean, went through official channels before going rogue, and made his case for why he released the data meticulously clear and indisputable to any reasonable mind that it should have been done. In the end, he got exactly what he wanted from the beginning: nationwide discourse. The positions of the US government’s physical forces were rendered irrelevant once he was granted asylum by Russia. Snowden protected himself with nothing but a narrative. By releasing secrets slowly to the media, he also maximized the impact by also exposing how people were willing to lie to Congress about the forms of wiretapping taking place (without penalty). Any reasonable person now knows the government is not to be trusted.
Another great example is Osama bin Ladin. Official record states that he was trained and had a fairly good understanding of how the United States’ leadership worked. His plan to terrorize America achieved its objective: to make the US so angry it sent out a foolish and expensive invasion overseas to deal with him, which bankrupted the domestic economy. Bin Ladin manipulated fear of the public and corruption in the institutions to move the chess pieces into the positions he wanted them in. The plane was never meant to be his real weapon for the war, his goal was simply to provoke fear and anger among the population for the politicians like Dick Cheney to exploit.
A contrary example for particles would be David Koresh and the Waco tragedy. Koresh believed himself to be the final Messiah, and was eventually killed along with women and children in his compound. Koresh’s waves never seemed to have “worked”. Koresh was brutally gunned down despite his human shields, faith, and message. In this case, the particles “won” decisively. This happened because of a lack of public support for Koresh, as his church had been involved in statutory rape. There was no reason to hope Koresh’s plan would stir the emotions of the public. His waves were contaminated.
How and why does this phenomenon work? To begin we have to understand why civilization happens. Civilization simply doesn’t work unless the founders at least seem to be working in the interests of protecting rights that people hold dearly. Without rights there is no law, without law there is no stability. Without stability, there is no civilization. Even in our world of nuclear weapons, drones, and the national security state, the US government has to pay close attention to how much of our freedom it takes away. At a certain point, natural law dictates people would begin trying to move or escape to somewhere else. This was seen quite recently with how the government avoided creating a bloody massacre at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. This is a grim fact governments must face, something Judge John H. Wood Jr. found out too late. Judge Wood was given the nickname “Maximum John” because of his reputation for handing down long sentences for drug offences. He was allegedly assassinated by Charles Harrelson, the estranged father of actor Woody Harrelson (a notorious anarchist and 9/11 truther). Harrelson later claimed he never was actually the one to kill Judge Wood, but that someone else did and he agreed to take the blame in exchange for a large amount of money. Later Harrelson’s accuser also claimed it was someone else.
Feelings, thoughts, and concepts are not imaginary. These things are as real as bullets in stopping fascism, and must be observed and used wisely. Once we understand the details of how art or documentaries can change the world, we get a taste of peaceful evolution. Those who ignore waves and focus on trying to change “real” conditions face a monumental task– there is no hope for the world in their paradigm without a virtuous group of philosophers somehow getting the upper hand over the state militarily. Waves are always everywhere, in this sense. Many people feel strongly about children, basic human rights, or access to water. It doesn’t matter how many guns the president has access to, if he’s caught raping a child, swift and decisive retribution would likely follow as a wave of indignation turns his own citizens and bodyguards against him.
Many on the left, particularly those involved with the psychedelic movement are intrigued by this idea in manipulating minds and events through these sorts of values and not worrying about unchecked institutional power. Art, drugs and philosophy have been the favorites by non-violent revolutionaries for pushing positive change into the world, and for good reason. The current nation state cannot run without illusion and division. If the majority of Americans understand there is no benefit for themselves or their community to trust the state, there would be little left supporting it. Art, psychedelic exploration, and philosophy all explore the core of the mind to bring out the most bold ways to show and see what is authentically felt by the human soul.
For the individual, this is a matter of interpretation of the circumstance. Sometimes people are threatened at gun point and the particles matter. Other times we see police and the army switching sides to fight with protesters like in Egypt recently. This technically means anarchy is actually a permanent reality, and that power and particles belong to he or she who controls the waves of trust of other humans. Particles are most often moved by gangs and governments like chess pieces to change the flow of history, however waves control the minds of the individuals in government and gangs themselves.
Idealistic philosophical movements are wholly committed to the idea of waves over the long-term, and particles in the short term. The right-libertarian tactic of using non-violent parenting and compassionate upbringing is meant to change the brain chemistry in future humans. The libertarian left is currently pursuing a society based on trust which will naturally require humans to be far more empathetic than they are now. Such ambitious plans for global utopia are finally realistic within the next few generations, and the only thing needed is for the waves from the right and left of libertarianism to come to agreement and work together. True communism at the end of history will require the minds of everyone working together, and human society could function as a collective body which runs on trust, much in the same way cells in the body have transcended the need for things like credit and money. Such a society is necessary to obsolete the existing state-capitalist institutions through sheer superiority in all ways, in the same way smartphones today have destroyed the need for computers from the 1990s.
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