Square one must be a statement of Absolute Truth, beyond reproach in any form, but we find, as we look for such a bedrock onto which we may build an understanding of existence, that there is no such objectivity. Any statement—any observation lies not within what is observed but within the observer and, as the observer perceives, so is the observer a subject. By virtue of being a subject, all observations and statements become not Absolute Truths but subjective claims—true within the context of the observer’s perceptions and in accordance with the observer’s intent.
I am a subject.
[featured-img][/featured-img]Rather, I perceive, and this must be the definition of the subject: one who perceives, who has the gift of perception and perspective. I perceive that I am, but cogito ergo sum is of no use, because the very perception of self is taken from the same subjective perspective; it is not a question of whether sensory input can be trusted or whether sensory input is real or merely perceived, but a question of whether the perception of sensory input as possibly being real or merely perceived is, itself, open to the question.
It is the equivalent of taking the question “Why?” and working backward. “Why this?” and “Why that?” until we are left with nothing left to ask but “Why why?” Why ask why? In this way, any philosophy must be like the ouroboros—a pursuit that questions itself, that devours itself, and destroys its own foundation.
I cannot be simply because I think—simply because I perceive—because what I perceive—that is, my very own perception of self and my perception of perception—are taken from a subjective perspective. Yet of what practical use is this question to anyone? None would stand before the oncoming freight train on the offhanded philosophical notion that one’s perception of standing on the tracks is an illusion of one’s perception of perception.
But of what value is practical value?
To the Working Man, practical value is assigned the highest of values. The farmer toiling in the field has no use for the esoteric philosophical tome, and would say to the seated philosophy, “If you want to talk, then pull the tiller while you talk.” Is it according to the Working Man’s values that we must subscribe, and cast off those purely intellectual matters because they are of no use to the ones toiling in the fields?
According to the Working Man’s practical values, this would, indeed, be the case. If we could entice the Working Man with these intellectual matters and leave him adrift in unproductive thought, then no one is tilling the field, and we all meet our ends by slow starvation. But of what value is it to not meet our end by having distracted the Working Man from his labor? It is only of value according to the Working Man’s practical value.
Yet it is a matter of record that the majority of us are not working in the field. If we go with these Practical Values, then, it must be our greatest fear that the Working Man might be distracted from his labor by intellectual pursuits; our existence has become parasitical of his labor, and without his undistracted productivity, the benefits of which we enjoy as we are thinkers and not farmers, we must all surely starve. We must, then, want the Working Man to be working, not engaged in intellectual curiosities—
In a word, we are exploiting him by turning his own system of values against him, by adopting his Practical Values as our own, and, because we share these values, we rest safe in the knowledge that he will continue working in the field, not letting us starve to death, and undistracted by philosophical matters, because he places value in the continued existence of most human life, while we place only value in the continued existence of our own lives and his—but only insofar as he is toiling in the field.
This, the true nature of man: the adoption of the Working Man’s superficial values while they are turned into a tool of exploitation. And, in the greatest of ironies, the Working Man’s Practical Values leave him not caring one way or another about the exploitation—Benjamin of the Animal Farm—as long as he’s generally left alone, because nothing ever changes for the better or for the worse. Whether a feudal lord, a socialist state, or a corporate lord bureaucratized under one fascist system or another, the nature of the Working Man has always been the same: to work, not to think.
Other values have risen in modern society, most notably in modern America: a system of values derived from the Triangle of Fascism: socialism, equality, and globalism. Practical importance ranks very lowly on this newer system of values, such that what is practical and useful are readily discarded in favor of what is socialized or centralized. This yearning for collectivism, for the death of the individual, and for stronger centralization—it rejects and condemns everything that has been practical or useful for the survival of the species. It is nihilistic.
The will of the individual becomes subordinate to the will of the collective, except there is no such thing as a collective, in the same sense that there is no such thing as a stamp collection; there are only stamps. There is no Collective Will to be heralded or enforced; there are only individuals who want this or that, and they mark their will as sacrosanct by claiming themselves to be collective, no matter how many individuals might speak against it.
We have seen this to the extent that expressions like “The 99%” have lost all meaning—if, indeed, they ever had meaning. There are at least a dozen competing groups in the United States, each one of which claims to be “The 99%,” a mathematical and logical impossibility if ever anything was objectively true. Indeed, only in the logical construct of numbers do we find anything that starts to approach objectivity.
Regardless of the observable fact—whether our shared perceptions are accurate to an objective reality that may or may not be there—that these groups provably do not represent even one percent of the population, each professes to be the Prophet of the Collective Will: “We are the 99%!” they proclaim stupidly, “And the 99% want…”
It is readily observable then that the “Collective Will” as a concept is both falsifiable and has been falsified. They are merely individuals claiming to possess more power, authority, and popularity than they do, attempting to speak on behalf of other individuals who the Prophets of the Collective Will demand be silent and surrender their own voices to that of the professed Collective.
Being transgender, I have seen no less than thousands of people attempting to speak for me, to claim my voice as their own, to usurp my individualism and nail me into their Collective, to sanctify their ideas as my ideas, and to subordinate my voice to theirs. It becomes a matter of heresy to suggest otherwise, to suggest that any of these collectives do not speak for me, and it turns me into an apostate of the cult of the collective. I cease being an individual, just as the farmer ceases to be a farmer; I become a tool and the farmer becomes a tool, something for them to use and exploit in the name of presumably shared values. For the good of the Collective, the individual transgender person must be silenced, and, if need be, enslaved to the Will of the Collective; for the good of the Collective, the individual farmer must be silenced, and, if need be, enslaved to the Will of the Collective. Because this less than one percent of people have sanctified their ideas as the Collective Will, and they deny the existence of individuals, the importance of individuals, and the right of individuals to speak for themselves.
We see it here again: the usurpation of values, with the professed value being a longing for equality, worn like a mask to hide the naked power grab of the Prophets of the Collective. “We share these values, so we are on your side,” begins the courting process, and all appears fine—for a while. Then the honeymoon ends, the mask is removed, and the truth revealed: “Sit down, shut up, and fall in line.” Hidden by a sleight of hand, relying wholly upon cognitive dissonance and doublethink, the Prophets of the Collective swap their system of values for another, and it requires considerable self-awareness and integrity to pause and recognize that the values being sought by the Prophet no longer represent the stated values of the Collective, much less the system of values shared by the individuals. Divorce, we find, is a difficult thing; it is much easier to just go along and pretend that we didn’t notice our husband turned into an abusive, manipulative alcoholic.