While reading “exiting the vampire castle” particularly the idea of the current left being a culture of that which ignores class struggle and instead tries only to point out flaws, make people guilty, and revel in moral superiority. While reading this I was struck in a completely different way in a way that seems completely unrelated to what I was reading here but yet some way connected. Class struggle.
I haven’t quite finished pedagogy of the oppressed but finished quite a decent but of it before the PDF I had on my computer got deleted along with hours worth of notes and audio logs. I needn’t really point here for the inception if this yet revealed idea, it is a common phrase of the far left.
Another point of inspiration for this idea must come from the online Vegan milieu of which I had emerged for months. I had for a very long time been sympathetic to the Vegan moral outlook and incredibly interested in political arguments that sprung from it since doing a presentation on the animal Liberation front as a terrorist organization at my high school.
The last or rather true first inspiration is that of the oldest. That is the role I played as a participant in a debate about animal experimentation in my sophomore year at high school, so quite early on in my philosophical development.
I hope the suspense will keep my finding riveting to those not already aware of this insight. Classes, by that I mean distinctions between groups in society that are derided or privileged depending on perceived social value. Classes have been split up in plenty of ways. The most common being Sovereign and Subject, Prince and Pauper, Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. Most recently, Graeber describes that of the caring classes. I think a new class distinction is necessary. Experimented.
The experimented is not even a subject only that of an object for a goal benefitting the experimenter. This is no longer a class distinction but an ontological distinction. The experimented isn’t the same type of object. If it has subjectivity it is ethically irrelevant and gets in the way of experimenter at worst or it is aesthetically interesting and benefits the experimenter at best. The working class have suffered as the experimented throughout history and practically ignored it. Whether that be the milk child that was used to test the smallpox virus or the African Americans used as test subjects (a test subject isn’t like a human subject. It is more in line with a subject of study. A test topic rather than a perceiving subject). The experimenter is a God whose only purpose is relentless curiosity bar nothing else. Today, those healthy denizens of this class subject themselves to all sorts of tests on them to survive. I was just looking at a magazine and there are a ridiculous amount of offers to test on people for money. In a world where one’s labour is practically worthless the next thing to offer is the corpus.
Briefly on selling the corpus
Selling your body and selling your labour are different. Prostitution is more similar to selling labour than selling your body. It all has to do to the relation of the self. In selling your labour, you are selling an active thing. You are selling your ability to do something for someone. In selling your corpus. The materiality of your being is all that matters. You aren’t acting, rather you are only being paid to be a pure object and to report what happens to the object of the corpus. In prostitution, there is an art and skill. There is a ‘you’ involved. In testing, there isn’t a ‘you’ acting but reporting on the actions people have had on the corpus.
When people express a lament in doing certain labours over others or see some labours in a hierarchy, it is usually in terms of relation to the self. Which is why mind work, the closest to the self is considered as superior to most people who work. Now we see the true difference between selling labour and the selling of the body.
Are moving towards a society where the poor can do nothing but sell their corpus?
Basic income to sustain test subjects
I am usually in support of basic income projects and am familiar with many of its critiques. The fact that it may be a way for the capitalists to continue their hold on power. To maintain a continuous stream of the fruits of the proletariat’s success into their hands. However, I always believed that cutting basic income would be the eventual strategy of the bourgeois. I believed this because the labour of the proletariat would be replaced by machines. The proletariat would then be exterminated or used as show horses.
Now I don’t believe this. There is use for the proletariat even when their actions are largely automated and that is as Guinea Pigs. A basic income would be used to sustain the bare minimum of bodily health. And here again, the problem of a Marxist obsession with the material raises problems. In this future, many workers may be kept as reserve Guinea Pigs to both test sociological models and other effects. Most of the former proletariat turned experimented would be in perfect shape. This is done to reflect the experimenters. However, minds have a great deal of effect on the material realm. Envy and lower social status combined with the general condition of being bullied for those relations and being seen as lesser in the sexual and romantic ‘marketplace’ destroys confidence and families. This can also spell doom for making meaningful friendships. Even if the experimented live a life without absolute poverty they still love the life of social poverty and relative poverty.
In the paper “what is the point of equality” the author describes the equality is desirable because it puts people on equal social position. A position that lacks parasitism and domination. It provides people with agency and freedom to choose how to deal with other people. That is the point of equality: A mutually beneficial relationship between equals. We know that many species are hard-wired for this type of thinking. If you’ve ever watched the famous celery/grape capuchin monkey experiment you will understand what I mean. In the experiment, two monkeys are placed side by side in separate cages. First, the experimenter gives the first monkey, let’s call this monkey A, a piece of celery and does the same for the second monkey, monkey B. Then A is given a grape and B a piece of celery. Upon B observing A, B responds by throwing the celery away. Thereby demanding a grape. This isn’t the only experiment like it. They have also tested people’s responses in various games of exchange.
Now it might seem like I am making a normative claim on natural grounds but that isn’t my intention. No matter what happened in these experiments, it wouldn’t dictate what we should do now. It does give us food for thought, however, on why these may even be pretty common responses from social animals.
First of all, it seems incredibly hard for people to be happy in unequal social relationships. If you value the happiness of other people, this should speak out to you. Second, relative wealth really matters for your quality of life. I think Robert H. Frank actually talks about this the best when he is talking about our current state of affairs. He gives the example of the dwelling he lived in Nepal. It looked like one of those straw huts on the TV. It had no plumbing and one bathroom. However, such a dwelling was actually a little better than what most had so people in the community were all but happy to ask people to come over for dinner or for communal events to be organized there and he felt perfectly fine living there. His house in Ithaca, however, was much larger. Two stories, quite a large house, with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. The people in Nepal, he says, would have wondered why in the world he needed so many bathrooms and a garden that produced no fruit to eat. If his house in Nepal was instead in Ithaca, his children would have been embarrassed to bring their friends over for dinner and no one would want to organize communal events where he lives. He also couldn’t even live in the same neighbourhood. Because he now lives in a different neighbourhood that means his children have to go to a different school. The only schools that would have properties like the straw hut in Nepal around aren’t the best. This is how one’s position can affect one’s quality of life.
Now you might say, “Hey, all that means is that good education should be available to everyone.” My response to that is, okay that is true and that is great. “And hey, maybe people should care less about what type of house you dwell in. What really matters is what is inside.”
Okay, you know what you might be completely right about that. We should definitely push for both those things. However, what consumption is when it comes to relative inequality is a signal. In love and in friendships, signals are the A-game. Today people have thousands of options as to who their lover will be, who their friends will be. We have more choice as to our in-groups than ever before. Because of this incredible amount of choice in absolute numbers, it might actually close us off from many people. I could write so much more but that warrants a whole essay on its own.
What do we do!
Okay, we are all going to be turned into guinea pigs by the bourgeoisie and eternally grovel under their feet. Or maybe not, what hope is there for revolution? What hope is there for getting out of this situation? Well, why don’t we look at actual Guinea pigs? The lab rats, let us see what they are up to and what they have accomplished in their liberation.
That sounded ridiculous, didn’t it? Lab rats are completely under the foot of those who study them, any progress in the treatment of lab rats has been caused by humanity. In other words, their oppressors. Wait! That is actually very important. There’s a very central tenet in most libertarian (socialist) works and that is only the oppressed class can lead their liberation. The bourgeoisie won’t just hand it over to the proles! They got to work for it! They have to fight for it! Pragmatically, I understand why this is a central tenet. I mean the alternative is to sit and wait for liberation like a goddamn Posadist (congratulations to those who didn’t have to google that). Newsflash, the aliens will never come. Acting like the only hand in liberation is kind of like the pull yourself up by your bootstraps even without bootstraps except for a group of people.
Now you might say, “Hey, proles contain the numbers to launch a revolution and they have done it before! They can do it again!” You know what you are right. Unlike rabbits, we the proles, do have more potential. My point is that even when you have oppression to the point where the seed has been turned to ash, there is still hope for better. Oppressors can and do change their minds slightly over a long period of time. We treat animals better than we did a decade ago.
Really though, what we need to do is act fast before it all really has been turned to ash. I am not running a doom cult, I don’t think that the end times are coming. I am just worried. I think we could speed this whole thing along a lot faster if we picked up the slack. Started making bootstraps for ourselves instead of our masters and realized how easy it really would be to grasp the controls. That means starting as many co-ops as we can, building networks of trade between each other that don’t rely on the state. The new shall be built in the shell of the new. Otherwise, the spirit of revolution will be crushed. Why wait for liberation when I suffer now?