VJMP Reads: Ted Kaczynski’s Unabomber Manifesto II

This reading carries on from here.

The next chapter in Industrial Society and Its Future is ‘The Power Process’. The next few chapters relate to this. Here, Kaczynski outlines his take on Nietzsche’s concept of the Will to Power. He states that “in order to avoid serious psychological problems, a human being needs goals whose attainment requires effort, and he must have a reasonable rate of success in attaining his goals.”

Consistent failure to achieve goals throughout life leads to depression and low self-esteem. This is a particular problem in modern society on account of that we have a lot of leisure time – all that is necessary to be wealthy is to learn some simple skill and then to hold down a job. As a consequence, we have developed surrogate goal-seeking activities.

Kaczynski was able to point out, even back in 1995, that many leftists support their pet political cause by means of finding a surrogate for their need to partake in the power process. These surrogate activities can be dangerous because they aren’t as satisfying as taking care of actual survival needs. As a result, they tend to be performed without end.

In the chapter ‘Autonomy’, Kaczynski points out how a sense of being able to operate autonomously is important for a satisfactory resolution of the power process. Individuals need to feel like they have had some input into how things are run, or at least need to be able to have some autonomy in how they carry out their orders. Absent this, we get “depression, anxiety, guilt, frustration, hostility, spouse or child abuse, insatiable hedonism, abnormal sexual behavior, sleep disorders, eating disorders, etc.”.

‘Sources of Social Problems’ is where Kaczynski relates all the previous to the problems currently plaguing our society. Acknowledging that “the world today seems to be going crazy”, he argues that primitive man was free of many of the stresses that currently plague us. However, he is not a Rousseau follower – he acknowledges that primitive life was tough in many regards. The main point is that human beings evolved to adapt to a radically different from the one we now live in.

Here Kaczynski is extremely insightful. He pinpoints the origin of many social problems as excessive population density, alienation from nature, speed of technological change (what Alvin Toffler called “future shock”) and breakdown of the normal small-scale communities like the family and village. The crowding and isolation from nature follow naturally from technological advancement. A modern industrial society has to tame and emasculate people in this manner in order to function.

Modern people feel like all change is imposed in them from the outside – this is the origin of their frustration and discontent. “the most important cause of social and psychological problems in modern society is the fact that people have insufficient opportunity to go through the power process in a normal way”. Leftism is a symptom of this deep malaise.

In the chapter ‘Disruption of the Power Process in Modern Society’, Kaczynski gets down to the evolutionary psychology behind our current malaise. Essentially the problem is that all of our physiological needs are easily met: all we have to do is to be obedient at work. This means that the power process is not being met. We have very little autonomy at work with which to achieve our goals.

Capitalism is partly to blame. “Advertising and marketing techniques have been developed that make many people feel they need things that their grandparents never desired or even dreamed of.” We put a lot of effort into chasing meaningless things, and consequently life feels meaningless. The power process can only be fulfilled by external goals, not concepts like “fulfillment”. This is hard because “Today people live more by virtue of what the system does FOR them or TO them than by virtue of what they do for themselves.”

Frustration also arises from the fact that only 500 to 1,000 people have any real power, and the rest just get things done to them. Primitive man, although his life is shorter, is better off in this regard because he is not helpless. Modern man can do anything he likes as long as it is unimportant; our behaviour is tightly regulated in all other matters. Primitive man has fulfilled his need to participate in the power process and therefore avoids many pathologies that affect modern people.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Why Slave Morality is the Future of the World

Master and slave morality is not much more than the alpha/beta positioning of primates on a dominance hierarchy. Master morality comes naturally to primates at the top of a dominance hierarchy, and slave morality comes naturally to those at the bottom. This essay makes an argument for the inevitability of a horrific future world, in which slave morality has come to dominate.

The relentless growth of our societies has led to a problem, and it’s getting worse. Increasing medicinal technology means more people survive to reproductive age, and the world population has swollen. The larger the dominance hierarchy becomes, the greater the number of subordinate positions – but the number of dominant positions doesn’t really increase, because ultimately there is only one of those. This means that, as a dominance hierarchy grows in number, it gets extended past the bottom.

If you are in a war party of 15 men, you have a small but real chance of being the ultimate authority yourself, and if you are not then you could easily become such by displaying greater competence or courage than the other 14. If you are in a tribe of 150 people, you have less than a 1% chance of being the ultimate authority, and now it’s probably not just a matter of fighting ability but also of intelligence, which you may or may not possess. If you are in a clan of, say, 1,500 people, you have essentially no chance. The clan will have a chieftain, and that position is probably hereditary.

Groups of 1,500 people were extremely rare before agriculture enabled large populations to settle down. When this happened, however, it became possible for there to be people who had essentially no chance of ever being at the top of the dominance hierarchy – no matter their personal qualities. Once there were city-states of 15,000 people or more, contesting the dominance hierarchy became so complicated and so sophisticated that it became its own specialised endeavour, and we called this politics, and the people who practiced it politicians.

Slave morality, as Nietzsche recounted in The Genealogy of Morals, came about when some of the people who had no hope of getting off the bottom of the dominance hierarchy became so resentful that they started to extol the personal qualities that had landed them there. There is no slave morality in a war band of 15 men, because anyone sufficiently strong can get to the top. In a city of 1,000,000 – especially when many are literal slaves captured in war – slave morality is commonplace, and this is why degeneracy inevitably follows.

One problem with the modern world is that this basic dominance hierarchy is now so extensive, being global and comprised of billions, that it’s no longer contestable.

If I, as a New Zealander, wanted to overturn my local dominance hierarchy, I would be presented with a number of great problems. First of all, I would have to overcome the power of the local Police forces to keep the peace and to maintain their version of order. This would require at least a dozen men armed with automatic rifles who were willing to use them in defence of whatever ideology I was offering. Finding a sufficiently persuasive ideology would be extremely difficult.

Even if one succeeded here, another task would arise. The problem with overwhelming the local Police is that the New Zealand Government, upon recognising that the Police were insufficient, would send in the Army. This would involve, potentially, a regiment of riflemen with machineguns and close air cover. Defeating a force like this would require a vast amount of territory and population. An area at least the size of Canterbury would be necessary.

Even if one succeeded here, i.e. even if the New Zealand Army was unable to bring you to submission, your actions in fending them off would be considered a civil war. It turns out that the British armed forces are constitutionally obliged to intervene in the case of a civil war in New Zealand – New Zealand is, after all, ultimately a possession of the Crown (like Britain itself).

So getting that far up the dominance hierarchy would mean that you have to come to terms with a naval power that has submarines that carry over a dozen intercontinental ballistic missiles each. Outside of a fantasy novel, this has no chance of happening.

Therefore, more people inevitably means more resentment, as it means more people who can never get to the top. In a system the size of ours, the prospect of any self-direction is minimal, and therefore resentment has become the natural state of affairs. Some moral values, in particularly the value of inclusiveness and diversity, have become normalised on account of this shift to slave morality.

What this has meant is the rise and rise of slave morality. Where there used to be a small and resentful underclass, the proportion of people who effectively have no chance of rising to the top of the dominance hierarchy now comprises the vast bulk of our society. The actual rulers are selected from a minuscule sliver of the population, and the number of people that these rulers actually listen to is also tiny. Encompassing this tiny number are heaving masses who essentially have no say at all in the destinies of their group.

As the populations of cities continue to surge, this wave of increasing slave morality will only grow in fervour. Already we have seen the socially corrosive effects of mass resentment on our culture. Current trends suggest that the human population will continue to expand, and cities will continue to absorb the excess, which means that slave morality will become ever more the default way of dealing with things.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Does Not Cause Schizophrenia

One of the most common pieces of folk wisdom regarding cannabis is that it causes schizophrenia. For some reason, the one thing that every muggle seems to know about cannabis is that, if you smoke too much of it, you go crazy. Like almost everything else that muggles think they know about cannabis, this factoid is bollocks, as this examination will show.

The reason why it is commonly believed that cannabis causes schizophrenia is because of the large number of schizophrenics who smoke cannabis. It is believed that up to 25% of schizophrenics have a “cannabis use disorder”, and there is certainly a strong association between the two, but it isn’t because cannabis causes psychosis.

Most schizophrenics could have told you many years ago (as we did in the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook) that cannabis is medicinal for people with mental illnesses. There is currently much interest in the use of CBD (cannabidiol) medicine in the treatment of psychosis. This is also mentioned here. A Schizophrenia Bulletin article stated that “Interest in the therapeutic potential of CBD stemmed from evidence that it has broadly opposite effects to that of THC.”

The most recent evidence suggests that cannabidiol has the opposite effect of THC in many ways. CBD appears to reduce positive symptoms (e.g. hallucinations) in schizophrenics, which again testifies to its medicinal qualities. It doesn’t cause them – indeed, “even high doses of oral CBD do not cause psychological, psychomotor, cognitive, or physical effects that are characteristic for THC.”

This recent research suggests that some of the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, particularly CBD, have a calming and soothing effect. This effect is not necessarily limited to people with mental illnesses, but for people with mental illnesses this calming and soothing effect is certainly medicinal. Once the medicinal benefits of CBD are understood, it becomes obvious that much of the reason for the association between psychosis and cannabis is because psychotics find that ingesting the CBD in cannabis alleviates some of the suffering that comes with psychosis.

This study found that it was much more likely that predictors of schizophrenia led to cannabis use than that cannabis use led to schizophrenia; in other words, underlying factors that tended to cause schizophrenia also tended to cause cannabis use. Of some interest is that schizophrenia itself is a predictor of future cannabis use, which supports the idea that the nature of the suffering caused by the condition happens to be alleviated by cannabis. Indeed, cannabis use itself is a heritable trait.

Supporting this was a study that found that “cannabis use was genetically correlated with a wide range of behaviors and personality traits, such as alcohol use and dependence, increased risk taking, and decreased conscientiousness, as well as a variety of mental health disorders.”

So there is mounting evidence that underlying psychological factors explain much of the cannabis-psychosis connection. It’s known that genes heavily influence many personality traits, such as openness and degree of neophilia/neophobia, and it’s likely that such qualities lead naturally to both schizophrenia and to cannabis use. Personality characteristics that correlate with developing schizophrenia also correlate with future cannabis use.

Yet another study found that executive function in schizophrenics was superior if they were cannabis users. Examples of executive function are problem solving, working memory and cognitive flexibility. This ties in with the argument, made at length elsewhere (such as here), that the use of cannabis keeps the mind young and plastic. This may be especially true in the case of schizophrenics because of possible neurodegenerative effects of schizophrenia.

Many schizophrenics are able to tell you that cannabis grants the ability to set aside certain recurring thought patterns, particularly those of the brooding or obsessive variety. It is often possible to get stuck in thought loops and ruminate if one does not have a substance that facilitates novel and original thought patterns. Something about the nature of schizophrenia makes brooding and obsessive thoughts more likely, and so it’s apparent that a substance with the effects mentioned in the studies above will be of benefit to schizophrenics, and that this will cause them to use it more.

So the reality is that cannabis does not cause schizophrenia, but that factors associated with schizophrenia are also associated with cannabis use, and these underlying reasons are why schizophrenics use so much cannabis. In particular, a certain kind of mind has qualities that make then prone to both developing a cannabis habit and developing schizophrenia. We can guess at what some of these qualities are: no doubt openness and creativity are at the forefront, as is an early childhood marked by abuse and neglect.

Most crucially, it’s now more apparent than ever that cannabidiol is highly medicinal for people with schizophrenia. This is the main reason for the association between schizophrenia and cannabis use – using cannabis brings relief from the suffering that comes with conditions like schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia have long known this, which is why they continue to use it at high rates despite intense discouragement from doctors and politicians.

Not only is the argument that cannabis causes schizophrenia false, but the opposite is true. Elements of the cannabis plant act as anti-psychotics that alleviate the symptoms of psychotic disorders. Cannabis should be made legal so that those who benefit from the anxiolytic and antipsychotic properties of, e.g., cannabidiol, can get access to it for the sake of alleviating the suffering associated with their condition. This is especially true for schizophrenics, who seem to benefit greatly from CBD medicine.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

VJMP Reads: Ted Kaczynski’s Unabomber Manifesto I

Having completed our reading of David Seymour’s Own Your Future, we now turn away from neoliberalism and have a look at anarcho-primitivism. The next subject of the VJMP Reads column will be Industrial Society And Its Future, otherwise known as the Unabomber Manifesto, by Ted Kaczynski.

Sent to the Washington Post in June of 1995, alongside a threat to kill more people with mailbombs if it was not published, the 35,000-word manifesto is broken down into 232 numbered paragraphs. These are grouped in short chapters, each with a subject heading.

The first of these groups is the Introduction. Kaczynski wastes no time shocking the reader: the first sentence is “The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.” This section pulls no punches: Kaczynski is adamant that the effect of industrial society has been to increase the amount of human suffering, and that it will only get worse as society develops. The only solution is a revolution, which may or may not be violent.

Kaczynski then moves on to the psychology of modern leftism. He writes that “One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism,” which is curious if one thinks that this was written in before 1995, when ‘trans’ meant transvestite. What underlies modern leftism, Kaczynski states, are feelings of inferiority and oversocialisation. This ties in with the idea, expressed elsewhere by Nietzsche among others (such as VJM Publishing), that leftism is essentially a slave morality.

To elucidate further, these feelings of inferiority are a group of qualities such as self-hatred, low self-esteem, defeatism etc. that are not only shared by modern leftists but which have collectively come to shape the course of history. Kaczynski is extremely insightful when he points out that the people who most angrily take offence at politically incorrect statements are those from privileged families. Leftists are also dishonest. They are outraged when a Western country performs a certain action but are indifferent when a Third World or socialist country does so.

Leftists identify intensely with anyone weak, repellent or otherwise inferior, hence they take offence on their behalf. They hate anything good and successful. This makes them feel like losers, so that they have no faith in their own personal ability to provide. As a consequence, they become collectivists. They hate science and rationality because these mindsets consider some ideas superior and others inferior. Leftists hate that, because of their fear of being judged inferior. They hate IQ tests for similar reasons.

Oversocialisation is an extreme form of the process that psychologists describe when they explain how children learn to conform their behaviour to the demands of society. The difficulty with the current world, Kaczynski has it, is that has become so complicated that no-one can act morally anymore. Oversocialisation is the process whereby leftists, “In order to avoid feelings of guilt, […] continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a non-moral origin.”

Oversocialised leftists tend to be intellectuals or members of the upper-middle class. What they like to do is to take accepted moral principles, declare them as their own, and then accuse society of violating them. Leftists do not rebel by violating society’s principles, but they express their hostility by accusing society of not living up to them. Their hypocrisy is evident when they claim to support black people, but then insist that these black people live up to the values of the industrial-technological society that imprisons them.

Today’s society seeks to socialise us more than any previous society. As a consequence, oversocialisation has affected us more than ever before. These problems of the leftist are problems of our entire society in microcosm.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Alchemical Gold, Gold Magic and Gold Magicians

In alchemism, the Elementary Masculine Perspective divides reality into four elements of increasing value: clay, iron, silver and gold. Previous articles looked at alchemical iron and alchemical silver, what they represent, and what sort of person embodies them. This article looks at the fourth of the four masculine elements: the radiant and enigmatic substance known as gold.

The primary masculine division is into precious and base. The secondary masculine division is the further division of the base, as well as the further division of the precious into silver (colourless precious) and gold (colourful precious), with the latter more precious than the former.

That gold is shiny and colourful means that it represents the highest frequency of all, namely that of God, that which makes all things possible. The chemical symbol ‘Au’ comes from the Roman word aurum, which shares a root with the modern word aura. It was believed that the substance possessed an aura such that it was holy, or from God.

Elementary alchemy has it that the division between yin and yang can be represented as the division between clay and iron, with the first passive and soft and the second active and unyielding. Silver relates to a balance of iron and clay that is more correct for the current situation than either extreme, and represents how according with the World of Forms is more valuable than simply being an animal.

Gold is a second order of balance, between and beyond all of silver and clay and iron. What this means is that gold is unafraid to act as pure iron or pure clay, should the situation demand it. This makes it different to silver, which attributes value to the middle ground between the feminine extreme of clay and the masculine extreme of iron, and which is reluctant to act as either.

Silver is prone to a particular form of the balance fallacy called the Conceit of Silver. Essentially this means that silver always believes that it’s of the highest value (i.e. that it is of gold). Gold is willing to place itself below silver – and that is precisely why it is more valuable than silver. Gold is without ego.

Gold represents a kindness that none of the other elements are capable of. Silver is too conceited, iron too harsh and clay too soft. This kindness is something extremely valuable, because without it this world is something of a hell. It is why Aleister Crowley was impelled to write “Love is the law, Love under Will.”

Kindness given of the free will of the giver, and not to secure some future advantage, is real gold, and invaluable. Without it, nothing else in this world can have any real value, for gold gives meaning to things.

Being the most malleable of all metals, gold is softer than both silver and iron. This relates to the fact that it is also the most expansive. One gram of physical gold can be beaten out into a sheet a square metre in size; by similar means, a tiny amount of alchemical gold is enough to make a tremendous number of things possible. Therefore, gold is pliable enough to achieve things that silver cannot (much less iron or clay).

Gold relates to the widest, broadest, most fundamental and most deeply hidden knowledge. It is the esoteric to the exoteric of silver. Knowledge of gold is knowledge of the metaphysical fundamentals, what Plato called the World of Forms. Silver is knowledge of the material world; gold is knowledge of the immaterial. Silver is knowledge of the current state of affairs; gold is knowledge of the eternal.

Metaphorically, gold refers to that of the greatest value. No element is more valuable than gold: therefore, gold is perfection. Gold also relates to God, which is to say that it cannot be described, on account of being more fundamental than language. It is consciousness to the intellect of silver, the muscles of iron and the viscera of clay.

Gold magic relates to a person’s frequency of consciousness. If a person can overcome suffering and come out the other side neither pacified nor cruel, then it can be said that they are in possession of spiritual gold. A human being that has never suffered will be something like the silver. One who has suffered and become cruel as a result is like the iron, and one that has suffered and become meek is like the clay. To remain kind even when one has suffered is like the gold.

Psychological and spiritual healing fall under the rubric of gold magic. Successful gold magic will induce a depressed person to be more happy, an anxious person to be calm, and a despairing person to find meaning. Silver cannot do any of those things because its nature is cold and austere. Silver cannot impress with warmth of kindness. Gold causes those suffering in its presence to feel that everything is going to be okay.

This an esoteric quality possessed by gold magicians. You could never trust a person who said that they were a gold magician, and any gold magician would know this, and therefore they would never say it. Anybody claiming to be a gold magician could be confidently said to actually be a silver magician, because a real gold magician wouldn’t go around bragging about how wonderful they were – they would be content that their behavioural example was such that they would be sufficiently rewarded.

The presence of alchemical gold is felt on such a fundamental level that it causes its possessor to radiate warmth. Unlike silver, which can be measured in IQ tests and university achievements, gold cannot be measured. This is a feature of its divine origin. It can only be sensed – and some people sense its presence where others do not, which is another reason why it defies description.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Why There’s Nothing, Fundamentally, To Be Afraid Of

Some people wonder why the great sages, such as Buddha, are always depicted smiling. It seems like there’s some great and uplifting secret that they are privy to, knowledge of which has liberated them from all the suffering in the world. Buddha knew a great many things. One piece of knowledge he shared with Alan Watts: that there’s nothing, fundamentally, to be afraid of.

Essentially there is no reason to ever worry or to feel bad about things that might happen in the future. This seems like an article of faith, and perhaps an irrational one, until one looks at the philosophy behind it.

Most people think that they know what lies in store for them as a human being on this planet. That they will die, and suffer as they do so. What lies in store is growing older, more tired, more decrepit, and eventually more sick, until a major organ fails and one dies painfully. Probably this death will be preceded by several decades of increasing pain in joints and muscles, as well as eyesight, hearing, bowel and bladder failure, and maybe even a stroke or two.

It follows from this that life itself is suffering, and increasingly so as one ages. We can conclude that we know we’re going to die, and that this death is going to be painful. Therefore, we know that an attitude of apprehension and even fear towards the future is rational. This is why almost everyone has one – we know that the future brings immense suffering.

But do we really know this?

One knows that one is conscious. Thinking about it, it’s possible to realise that this is all one really knows. This is the one and only single fact that one can ever state with certainty. Everything else is a matter of probability, even questions like “Will the Sun rise tomorrow?”. It’s not certain that the Sun will rise tomorrow, because the Earth could be destroyed at any time by a comet, rendering the question of sunrise meaningless.

Because nothing else can be known, nothing else can be stated as an eternal fact about reality. Only the fact that one is conscious can be stated as such. All else belongs to the category of contents of consciousness, which is to say that all else is merely “things that one is aware of”. These phenomena are not facts in the same way that one can state “I am conscious” as a fact. Rather, they are probabilities.

Let’s say that life is suffering. Fair enough, life is suffering, and it gets worse until the physical body dies. So what? There is no reason to think that one will still be aware of the suffering of one’s physical body after its expiration. One is conscious now, and one is conscious of a physical body, and this physical body suffers – so what?

There is no reason to think that consciousness is still aware of the suffering of the physical body after death. Indeed, consciousness might then become aware of a new body, or might dream up something else entirely. Therefore, any physical suffering can never be any more permanent than any other phenomenon of Nature, such as the ebb and flow of the tides. Birth, death, doesn’t matter: all is just an oscillation from pain to pleasure, with high points and low points.

For this reason, there is no need to fundamentally be afraid of the decay and death of one’s physical body. There’s every reason to think that on the other side of death is the absence of all suffering, and all pain is just a shadow of death. All suffering is an effect of material phenomena, which are all transitory in nature. If there is no reason to fear death, then there is no reason to fear pain either. All suffering will pass.

Note that the argument here is that there is nothing fundamentally to be afraid of. There might be plenty of things to be superficially afraid of – death and pain being the foremost of these. It makes sense to be afraid of getting hit by a train, not because the consequences of getting hit by a train would be permanent, but because one has a role to play here in this dimension of reality in which we find ourselves, and one’s role is (in all likelihood) one that avoids getting hit by trains. Not to be fundamentally afraid does not imply that one ought to behave recklessly or without regard for one’s physical well-being.

There is no reason, fundamentally, to be afraid of anything, because all suffering is a phenomenon that will pass. We do not need to be afraid of pain merely because pain is painful – this is sufficient reason for pain to be avoided, but not for it to be feared. We can appreciate that pain, like all natural phenomena, comes and goes, and that we remain the observer of it, as we remain the observer of all material phenomena.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future XII (incl. Summary)

This reading carries on from here.

The eleventh, and final, chapter in Own Your Future is ‘Treaty of Waitangi’. Given eight pages at the back of the book, it’s hard to imagine that Seymour takes this issue very seriously. One gets the feeling that it will be a quick virtue signal with one quiet mention of the Resource Management Act and that would be it.

He starts with a story about how the elders at the Te Tii Marae preferred him to the Green Party MPs at a Waitangi gathering on account of that he knew his Ngapuhi genealogy. Dismissing the Green MPs as “up themselves”, he is very much the hero of this story.

True to form, he then launches into the virtue signalling, being careful to place a macron over the a in ‘Maori’ and pushing a warm, fuzzy, globohomo vibe about how much he loves Maori culture. Seymour comes across as revoltingly dishonest and shallow here, considering that his ACT Party supported the Fifth National Government in its destruction of the Maori people. Politicians demand to be judged on their words, not their actions, like all hypocrites.

What Seymour writes here isn’t unreasonable on the face of it. It’s certainly true that many of the land confiscations made by the New Zealand Government were done so on spurious grounds, often outright false, and it is not reasonable for the beneficiaries of this process to get away with it scot free.

The problem is that the same logic can justify a great many other things. What Seymour and his kind like to call “profit”, others like to call “wage theft”. So if it’s true that “if you take something that is not yours, you should give it back” – which is apparently an ACT Party principle – then are the New Zealand working class owed some of their past production that was taken off them in the form of company profits? Why are wages dwindling relative to the cost of living? Seymour doesn’t seems to care about that side of things.

Indeed, the first mention of the RMA comes four pages in. Here, Seymour objects to the idea that local iwis might be allowed to object to land developments under the RMA. This, he cautions, leads to the possibility of Maoris being given a special class of citizenship. So Seymour is happy to virtue signal about how important Maoris and Maori culture are, he just doesn’t want to pay anything extra for it.

Laying down his neoliberal credentials harder than anywhere else in the book, Seymour declares that “New Zealand at its best” can be found at a citizenship swearing-in ceremony, where a bunch of people from other nationalities can be found “uniting as true Kiwis”. Not for Seymour the argument that a true Kiwi is someone who has roots in the country, or someone who can tell stories about his ancestors and their childhoods in the country. Kiwiness is merely another commodity to be bought and sold.

We could bet money that Seymour would profoundly disagree with this article about how being a Kiwi is a matter of the depth of one’s roots in the country.

He is, however, correct when he points that that Maoris have not actually benefit from all the special treatment of the last decades, and in some major measures (such as home ownership) have actually lost ground. He further makes a good point when he mentions that the problems faced by Maoris are the same problems as faced by all New Zealanders to a greater or lesser extent.

In summary, Own Your Future is a terrifying vision of how money and virtue signalling can matter more than heritage, blood links or any other basis for solidarity. David Seymour is the High Priest of New Zealand Neoliberalism, proudly carrying on the ACT tradition of valuing money more than people. He follows Rodney Hide, Richard Prebble and Roger Douglas in the ideology that everything in the nation can be packaged up and bought and sold for cash, people just as well as timber and lamb chops.

In this sense, he is unrepentant: he believes that New Zealand has a moral obligation to take care of foreign refugees out of general taxation money, but has no such moral obligation to take care of its own poor, even though many of them were created by the horrors of neoliberalism, the very same political philosophy he espouses in this book. Own Your Future stands out, even by the standards of political treatises, as an example of absolutely shameless virtue signalling.

Despite this, he makes several very good points about government overreach, especially with regards to its failed War on Drugs. He isn’t wrong when he points out that unnecessary taxation sucks energy unnecessarily from people, and although Seymour could never be a Georgist, he is correct when he labours the link between capitalism, innovation and prosperity. Perhaps, for that reason, there is merit in having an ACT Party seat in Parliament.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Meets the Industrial Needs of This Century

For better or worse, humans will always use drugs to help them cope with the demands placed on them by the daily need to survive. Whether to help focus, relax, kill pain or to see beyond, people will always find reasons to want to change their perceptions so as to best meet the demands placed on them. This article will argue that cannabis law reform is superior to prohibition when it comes to meeting the industrial demands of our time.

During the Age of Exploration, the drug of choice was alcohol, usually rum in particular. Rum had a high alcohol volume and was easy to keep. For men spending months or years at sea in ships, rum offered the best bang for the buck. Wherever European sailors took harbour, the rum trade followed. Names like Port Royal and Kororareka became synonymous with drunken debauchery and destruction.

In the first half of the 20th century, we ran out of places to explore and started killing each other over what had been discovered. This required a combination of drugs, and these – because of the necessities of wartime – were indulged in without shame or sanction. Alcohol was still used to a great extent, particularly for its ability to give men the courage to face enemy gunfire, but use of opiates and tobacco were also widespread, the former on account of its use in physical medicine and the latter on account of its use in psychological medicine.

In the second half of the 20th century, the focus shifted from killing the enemies of liberal capitalism to making money. During this time, people were mostly tasked with social office work. This required more tobacco, but also more caffeine. It was here when the idea of becoming “caffeinated” to deal with the pressures of the day came from. The idea was that the buzz from caffeine would make the inherently safe and secure office jobs less boring.

So far this century, a lot of this work has become antisocial. This has necessitated the rise of caffeine, in order to concentrate for longer periods of time despite low levels of stimulation. This rise has been aided by the increasing unfashionability of tobacco smoking, so that caffeine has now become the go-to drug for anyone wanting more yang energy.

It’s not easy to forecast the precise details of the future, but if one understands the basics of a subject it’s possible to forecast general trends. What seems apparent, in the case of the Western World, is that cannabis has come to replace some of these other drugs as the one that best helps people meet the demands of the workplace, and will continue to do so.

Because of automation, it’s no longer as important for the workforce to be attentive, alert and focused. This is still important for certain roles, but those roles have become an ever-diminishing proportion of the workplace. The roles that have become an ever-increasing proportion of the workplace are those in the creative professions, and the demands of these roles are compatible with cannabis use.

It’s widely known and accepted that much of the world’s production of quality music is made by people on drugs, and this is true to a lesser extent of literature as well. Cannabis (especially cannabis sativa) helps with the process of creativity by breaking down old conditioned pathways of thought and replacing them with novel ideas. This has made it a favourite substance of people in many creative occupations – not just music and writing but also design, cuisine, hospitality and programming.

In order to meet these industrial needs, we will not only need to legalise cannabis, but to go further. At a minimum, cannabis will need to become legal so that people who need to use it for the sake of their work can do so. For the sake of creative occupations, it will need to be gently encouraged in the workplace in the same way that coffee is encouraged in offices, and tobacco is encouraged in factories, already now.

The world is changing faster and faster, and as a result of this people find themselves confronted with original situations ever more frequently. These original situations demand original ways of thinking. The desirable qualities for employees of the future will be flexibility, originality and breadth of thought, instead of the obsessive focus and repetition that has characterised the workplaces of the past. These qualities are well enhanced by cannabis, which makes it a good choice for the workplace of the future.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future XI

This reading carries on from here.

The tenth chapter in Own Your Future is ‘Environment’. Seymour begins with an anecdote that gives us an idea of the moral sentiments that led Seymour to the ACT Party. The child Seymour didn’t like the moralistic implication of the Captain Planet writers that humanity was inherently evil on account of our environmental impact.

Seymour soon has a go at the Greens, who he labels hypocrites. He does make an excellent point: none of the Greens have any scientific background. This is certainly very curious for a party that makes such a point of having scientific backing for their policies. They also waste an incredible amount of money on junkets, especially when climate change is the excuse.

Another fair point he makes is that the price distorting effects of Big Government intervention often have environmental consequences. This is especially noticeable in the case of agricultural subsidies, which tend to lead to overproduction and exploitation of land. Much better to let the market solve such questions, as with water rights.

When talking about the importance of property rights, he unwittingly reveals the secret logic behind much of ACT Party thinking, when he says “pricing and property rights go together”. In the ACT mindset, wealth equals rights. The more money you have, the more rights you have to do things, including doing things to the land and to other people. The RMA gets attacked here again as a quasi-communist institution.

Seymour makes a very clever point when he says that productivity growth is the basis of prosperity. ACT have been heavily criticised in the past for taking a “rape and pillage” approach to New Zealand’s native areas, in which everything can be sold off for money. In this essay, Seymour switches focus to productivity gains from technology and software.

However, he doesn’t stray far from the general neoliberal path. Globalisation is good, and signing the TPP is a good thing. Not for Seymour any sympathy for those who have lost out from neoliberalism. The wealthy benefit from it, and ACT is fundamentally a party for the rich.

Noting that the left/right political divide correlates strongly with alarmist and sceptical positions (respectively) on the issue of global climate change, Seymour declares himself a “luke-warmist” who agrees that some degree of climate change is man-made but does not agree that it will necessarily have devastating effects.

The environmental idea that seems to appeal the most is the idea of having inland sanctuaries, naturally run by private investors. This, Seymour believes, is the only way that New Zealand has a chance of bringing back the dawn chorus that was sung by our birdlife several hundred years ago. Curiously, he wants to have a large trust to dole out grants for these sanctuaries, which, along with his support for foreign refugees, makes one wonder if working-class Kiwis are the only people he doesn’t care about.

It is interesting that ACT might have so detailed an environmental policy, because it seems like an attempt to attract alt-centrist voters. Both ACT and Green voters are young. Indeed, ACT and the Greens could be considered the alt-right and alt-left of a new paradigm of politics, or at least one that has been remodelled to appeal to the young.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

The Case For Cannabis: Reform Doesn’t Mean Stoned Workers

One of the most hysterical arguments against cannabis law reform is that it will lead to a spate of workers coming to work stoned. This will be a disaster, we are breathlessly told, because some of these intoxicated workers are responsible for other people’s well-being. As this article will examine, such fears are not grounded in reality.

The reasoning seems to be that the nation’s workforce cannot handle the temptation of easy access to cannabis, and will inevitably come to start using it all day in the nature of severe drug addicts, such as before work. Images of surgeons giggling maniacally while slicing arteries open are thrown about by pants-pissing old conservatives, who seem to think of cannabis users akin to a horde of zombies.

This argument is false in at least three major ways.

In the first case, people already have access to plenty of legal recreational drugs and choose not to use them. There are a number of industrial jobs that people can’t safely do while drunk, and there are a number of customer services roles that can’t adequately be performed while stinking of tobacco smoke. In the vast majority of situations, employees in either of these roles don’t partake in alcohol or tobacco before work.

If one thinks rationally about the idea, there’s no reason to think that legal cannabis would be any different. The case of surgeon is especially ridiculous – surgeon is a professional occupation. The type of person who works in this profession is hardly the sort of person who would experiment with recreational drugs before they go to work anyway.

In the second case, the availability of swab tests that can test for actual cannabis intoxication means that a blanket ban on cannabis is unnecessary. There may have once been a point in such a blanket ban, on account of that there was otherwise no way of telling if a person was dangerously affected by a cannabis high. But accurate swab tests mean that it is no longer necessary to take urine samples (if it ever was).

Most importantly, legal cannabis does not in any sense mean that employers will lose the right to send home workers who are dangerously high. Workers who are intoxicated on any substance, legal or otherwise, are first and foremost a safety risk to other workers and to themselves. So if an employee comes to work stoned, the employer has every right to send them home on the grounds that they are in no state to discharge their duties.

In the third case, the vast majority of cases of cannabis intoxication are immaterial to the job at hand. This is clearly true if one considers that a large number of people who work in roles where attentiveness is paramount are on sedatives, anti-histamines or psychiatric drugs of some kind, and that this is nonetheless acceptable to their employers, who do not drug test them for those substances.

Psychiatric drugs such as Olanzapine have been shown to increase the chance of fatal car accidents, and benzodiazepines are even worse. Many people drive while sleepy, and many elderly people are significantly more dangerous behind the wheel than the average driver. If all of these risks come within the bounds of acceptability, then a small amount of cannabis in the system is acceptable as well.

The idea that cannabis law reform would inevitably lead to masses of stoned workers is the kind of overblown hysteria that is typical of cannabis prohibitionists. There are at least three major reasons to think that reform would not impact the safety profile of the workforce. Repealing cannabis prohibition would bring protocol about workplace safety back to sanity and logic.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.