Only one essential is missing from our happiness – pleasure through comparison, a pleasure which can only be born from the sight of the unhappy, and we see none of that bread here. It’s the sight of the man who isn’t enjoying what I have and ‘ho he is suffering that I know the charm of being able to say: I am happier than he is. Wherever men are equal and where differences do not exist, happiness will never exist; it’s quite like the situation of the man who doesn’t appreciate the price of good health until he has been ill.
One of the debauched men in the 120 Days of Sodom
I’m not at all comfortable with the modern Western state, which is built on greed and exploitation. I dislike its cheap-jack commercialism, its frantic vulgarity, its ingrained deceit. I detest its chauvinism, and look with a cold eye upon the West’s claims to moral superiority in the post-Cold War era. Most importantly I fear the centralization of the bureaucratic state, and take toward it an attitude of opposition such as, might have won the approval of nineteenth-century American intellectuals like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Alexander Stephens, men who were their own masters and lived by standards of public service and stoic virtue, standards that are virtually unheard of in the modern bureaucratic state. Whether the attitudes I express can be called radical is less important than that they convey a criticism of modern society with which many will undoubtedly sympathize.
One of, if not the, overarching problem with the modern bureaucratic state is its insistence on bringing everything down to the lowest possible common denominator. When I last worked in the public service in Australia, I was approached by a subordinate who glibly informed me that “under the departments Australian Workplace Agreement, academic qualifications could not be taken into account when deciding suitability for a job” The lowest common denominator in this department then became that of the uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthal. It is worth remembering that it’s these uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthals who formulate policy and implement the laws which impact on the lives of every single one of us, every day of our lives.
In my post “The real problem with hypocrisy – it knows no honour” I looked briefly at the differences in attitude towards the law between Victor Hugo’s character Javert and Australia’s premier criminal organisation, the Australian Federal Police (“AFP”). To Javert, the law is supreme and no violation of the law can be tolerated. To the AFP, based on their treatment of Mr Julian Moti QC the former Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands, Captain Fred Martens and Pat the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue, the law is nothing more than a play thing to be bent and manipulated to the whim of the AFP and their political masters. To the AFP and their political masters, the law is entirely malleable to cheap-jack commercialism, with its frantic vulgarity and its ingrained deceit. This is the price all of us are now required to pay, because we have allowed the bureaucratic state to reduce everything to the level of the uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthal.
The uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthal conscience needs to establish a negative relationship with its neighbour: “I’m happy with the evil I do to others as God is happy with the evil he does to me”. The uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthals enjoyment comes from the fact of the continuous opposition between this idea and the notion of love for one’s neighbour. He makes use of this opposition in establishing his theory of pleasure through comparison, as in the above cited quote from 120 Days of Sodom.
Pleasure through comparison – the philosophy continues
Continuing on in the words of the above cited debauched man:
The pleasure which comes from this pleasure comparison of their state with mine would not exist if I were to comfort them. By withdrawing them from their misery, I would allow them to taste a moment of happiness which, since it draws them closer to me, would remove the whole joy of comparison… In order to establish more firmly the essential difference in happiness, it would be preferable to aggravate their condition…
To the uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthals who are the sinews holding the modern bureaucratic state together, any attempt at policy and function which could possibly been seen as advancing the lot of those outside of the system, would be counterproductive to the conscience and philosophy of pleasure, a pleasure which depends on another’s misfortune to bring to fulfillment.
In turning the modern bureaucratic state over to the uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthals what we are in effect doing is creating an enormous golem, a robot, devoid of a soul, without conscience, lacking creativity. In “300,000 dead West Papuan’s: a fair price for our golems?” I drew a comparison between the legend of Rabbi Loew’s golem and the West’s reliance on machines, machines that require the destruction of other peoples lands, cultures and ultimately lives to create. According to various versions of the golem legend Rabbi Loew created a huge, powerful, but not quite human creature to be his servant at home, however in the end the golem became too powerful and the Rabbi was forced to destroy it.
If you look at the last chapter of my Eighteenth Brumaire, you will find that I say that the next attempt of the French Revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another but to smash it and this is the preliminary condition for every real people’s revolution on the continent. And this is what our heroic Party comrades in Paris are attempting. (Lenin’s emphasis)
(V. I. Lenin, State and Revolution, Neue Zeit, Vol. XX, 1, 1901-02, p. 700.)
Lenin realizing that abolishing the bureaucratic state “at once, everywhere and completely”, was unrealistic. However “to smash the old bureaucratic machine at once and to begin immediately to construct a new one that will make possible the gradual abolition of all bureaucracy” was not a utopia. The socialist revolution would “reduce the role of state officials to that of simply carrying out our instructions as responsible, revocable, modestly paid ‘foremen and accountants’” (Lenin, Collected Works 25).
While Socialism and indeed Communism have been discredited, perhaps unjustly, with the fall of the Soviet Union, many of the ideas formulated during Communism’s nascent days still have worth. If the ideal of the modern bureaucratic state is to reduce everything to the level of the uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthal, it seems only reasonable that these Neanderthals in turn should be treated as their status demands “carrying out our instructions as responsible, revocable, modestly paid ‘foremen and accountants’”, anything more runs the risk of creating a golem which only a political upheaval to rival the Russian Revolution of 1917 would be able to destroy.
The problem in allowing our political masters to create a bureaucratic golem; is that, if they can control it, something that even Rabbi Loew was unable to achieve, the golem can be used to undermine, erode and eventually destroy our very way of life. The way of life we are putting at risk by allowing our political ‘masters’ to construct a bureaucratic golem, is the very thing that our ancestors fought for over a thousand years to realize and for which refugees from all over the world are willing to risk their lives to become part of. Is this way of life something we should be entrusting to a bevy of uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthals?
The lowering of the standards in Australia’s beaurocracy to the level of the uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthal paved the way for its politicization during John Howard’s tenure as Prime Minister. In turn; the politicization of the beaurocracy left the AFP vulnerable to the same outcome, to which it fell prey. The outcome of the politicization of Australia’s beaurocracy and the politicization of the AFP to date has been the unlawful removal of Mr Julian Moti QC from his lawful appointment as Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands, the unlawful arrest, persecution and incarceration of Captain Fred Martens, the unlawful removal and racial persecution of the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue, the torture of Sydney man Mamdouh Habib in Guantanamo Bay, the persecution of Dr Mohamed Haneef, the list goes on and on and on.
What is most telling about the list of aforementioned personages who have fallen prey to a politicalized Australian beaurocracy and AFP is that excepting Captain Martens they are all Australians of non-European extraction. Captain Martens himself was a long term resident of PNG, married to a PNG national, making him in the eyes of Australia’s uneducated, unenlightened Neanderthal’s a ‘honorary blackfella’.
The question that all Australians should be asking is: “do I want to live in fear under the shadow of a political golem, or am I going to demand my rights back?” We’ll all be able to watch the golem grow in strength and power as we watch our economy falter further and further!