it's 10pm do you know what your students are fleawilling

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Wed, 24 Apr 1996 22:06:47 CDT

question of fleawill to the list Leri, I now fulfill my promise, under the
Silicon Amendment to the Golden Rule (and however hastily made) to present
what I told them, subsequently adducing the aformentioned Graber Texts as
supportive. The list Leri consists of corporate cyberhippies, some active,
most still in school, and takes its name from its soon to be immortal totem,
Timothy F. Leary, whose passing the subscribers hungrily await for
incorporation of his mystical Powers. Controversy, still raging, erupted
on Leri when one subscriber, The Trader, reported having had a Direct
Experience of fleawill, hence as a consequence was utterly certain that
anyone socially Inferior had Chosen such. (Eg The Trader himself had Chosen
to become a fringeware tycoon or something, and commenced about the same time
to make money.) Subsequent thereto, The Trader reiterated ad nauseam the
doctrine of fleawill in a guise far more virulent than that attributed to
Margaret Mead or, for that matter, Michael J. Fox in the 1985 movie Back To
The Future, "You can do anything you want if you rili-wana." (Presumed tongue-
in-cheek allusion to 1980s pop psychology assimilating "unconscious wishes"
to the fleawill doctrine wherein the unconscious is represented as possessed
by either the "rili-wana" spirit or the "dun-rili-wana" spirit. These may
be either good or evil, depending on whether you shoulda or shoudln't'a.)
The Trader has been reinforced by a Hewlett-Packard executive, a psychedelic
Republican in San Diego, first encountered touting Camille Paglia as the
greatest thing since Ayn Rand. This coalition of venture capital and corporate
power has Chosen to hold fast against the horde of fools deluded by the L-word,
and the latter are indeed few enough they may well make it. This writer has
however indulged in sociology-teacher delusions, which induced the following
(after broken line).

Daniel A. Foss
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 96 15:01:33 CDT
From: "Daniel A. Foss" <U17043@UICVM>
Subject: what dictates the aim of communication
To: Leri <>

Mike Shurtleff adds:

>I guess we should first decide what was the aim of the communication in
>the first place, and whether thinking really had anything to do with it.

Consider that the ostensible "aim of the communication" was a fleeting,
indistinct, and rather visceral urge to propagate the Manifestly Obvious,
which, had the writer/speaker been capable of taking a step back from it,
would have then seemed weird, bizarre, and problematical.

Consider Fleawill.

None of us can invent the notion of fleawill, not even programmers
accustomed on a daily basis to [re]inventing the wheel. Fleawill already
exists in social ideology at the level of Reality, for which reason its
acquisition by children socialized into our culture is compulsory. Which
is to say, again, the acquisition of the construct 'fleawill' is
*enforced* by both parents and schools. In the latter, the schoolteacher
may very well, depending on the school, fill out a Devereux Elementary
School Behaviour Rating Scale form on you, where one of the eleven Factors
is called External Blame, comprising the sum of three or more item scores
assessing your Denial of the Existence of Fleawill via your Failure to
Take Responsibility for the Consequences of Your Own Acts. This is only
a small corner of the processes whereby you not only get your head pressed
and rolled into what passes for Normal consciousness in the society you
are in before you have started to Think. You additionally absorb all sorts
of criteria as to whereof Thinking consists, as opposed to whateveritis
women and minority groups do (among whom Getting Paid To Think is rare).
Also, you acquire the Ten Warning Signs of Wrong, Dirty, and Perverted
Thinking, which unsurprisingly is generally speaking as tediously
conformist and tiresome as the Normal variant.

Reality is always enforced, Else it never long remains the Nationally
Advertised Brand.

Fleawill appeared in social ideology when some Greek, long before
Aristotle's full formulation of the science of Barbarology, the earliest
form of Anthropology, attempted to account for why it was Manifestly
Obvious that Barbarians were Inferior. Surely it must have been, thought
the Greek, because Barbarians, like women, lacked the notion, the sense,
of Freedom, deriving from the innate essense, in the Greek, of fleawill.
The Barbarians, how conveniently, were slavish in consequence; therefore,
it need hardly be said, so it wasn't, the Barbarians are those we enslave
to do the work.

At the end of Antiquity, St Augustine declared fleawill doctrinally
compulsory, provided one didn't take it *too far*, as the Pelagian
heretics in Britain did. It was Manifestly Obvious why this had to be
so. Inside you is this roiling stinking mess called Original Sin. Inside
you, too, is fleawill, giving you the Choice, rarely exercised without
proper guidance, yet there, nonetheless, to *choose* to do the Nonsinful
Thing. On this basis, you may be considered, should you Sin, to get what
you deserve, and deserve what you get, which is Hell. As Augie sincerely
didn't want you to go to Hell, he tended to look the other way, and if
necessary, outright approve, forced conversions of Pagans and Jews to
Christianity, which in principle should be a matter of fleawill. Which
could, however, be taken Too Far. This is why Augie heartily approved
of the mission the Bishop of Rome sent to Britain in 427 to combat the
heresy of Pelagius.
"Are you crazy," the government in Britain said to the Papal
representatives, "we got Saxons coming in the window. We sent you
a nice, polite, hysterical letter begging, 'Send the Marines!' We
got too damn many Saxons in this place, they are cutting throats,
and we would very much like to terminate this unilaterally-imposed
condition of fleadom, independence, and selfdetermination what you
imposed on us in 410."
Twas the night before Christmas, 406, and all down the Rhine a
vast horde of Germans, with a few Iranian tribes mixed in, Franks,
Alemanni, Suevi, and Alans, took a walk across the ice, tapping
signs reading Under New Ownership into the stony soil with rocks.
The Emperor Honorius, or more likely some nonRetarded person acting
in his name, withdrew the Roman Army from Britain before it could
get completely cut off by the Germans; the difficulty being that
the military balance of power in what in principle was Roman Gaul
was such that the Roman Empire's best move might well have been to
take the Germans to court. The School of Roman Law in Berytus (now
Beirut, Lebanon) regularly graduated the best lawyers in the world.
At this time, the Commander in Chief of the Roman Army was a German,
Stilicho the Vandal, who was busy fighting Alaric the Vuisigoth,
another German, in northern Italy, a vandal's rockthrow from Ravenna,
where the Emperor was holed up, drooling in fear. Stilicho beat Alaric
a coupla times, then exercised restraint when pressed to commit what
might have been construed, by Stilicho, as genocidal acts upon the
Visigoths. "These guys, being Germans, are great soldiers. The Rational
Thing would be, get them on Our Side! I should know, being a German! Let
me just defeat them mildly enough, often enough, whilst Negotiating from
a Position of Strength, and they will surely Work For Us!" Regrettably,
what were either Bad Nasty Racists, or Clearsighted Roman Patriots, had
Stilicho beheaded as Soft on Germanism. Whereupon (410) Alaric sacked Rome.
Honorius then wrote to Britain, telling the provincials there that they
were now City States in possession of Fleadom and Independence; that
they should hold Flea Multiparty Elections to their local City State
Magistracies; and that they should, in future, Take Responsibility for
their own Defense and Foreign Relations, Rome having accomplished what
we'd today call Decolonization; and this was moreover a Good Thing, with
the Provincials getting to keep their own money, the flipside whereof was
they weren't gonna get any Foreign Aid. Since when, the Saxons had been
coming in the window. (In the year 295 the Romans organized a land-sea
defense force against Saxon pirates commanded by an officer called The
Count of the Saxon Shore. To fight the Saxons, the Romans hired the most
skilled Saxon-fighters available, who were of course Saxons. When the
Romans departed, it is reported by Bede, an Angle, a Briton named
Vortigern, meaning "Derogatory Epithet," provoked the longsuffering,
wellmeaning Saxon merceneries into a highly justified and no doubt
longoverdue Mutiny, wherefrom comes the Ringing Declaration, "Whaddaya
mean, we, white man." Or perhaps not.)
Back to the period 427-8. The Britons showed the emissaries of the
Bishop of Rome the increasingly insulting correspondence since 410,
whereof the latest, and none too recent, letter said, "Where's Britain?"
Then suggested that whoever these Britons were, they should, as a flea
and independent, etc, etc, Take Responsibility, or, get real, they'd
Obviously Chosen to have got overrun by Saxons. To which the Roman
theologians snorted, "Where does it say you can go ahead and flealy
choose what kinda beliefs you're gonna call Christianity? Hah? Hah?
Pelagius was a heretic, who took fleawill just a shade too far, is
what's Orthodox, and you got no right to believe any such crap!"

The point of this story is, it's a helluva good story, and distracts
from the tedious issue of fleawill versus determinism. What's more, in
the process, it illustrates the principle, as represented on Page Six
of your Colouring Book, that we find fleawill, as a construct, emotionally
compelling because it accounts for how people generally speaking get what
they deserve and deserve what they get, which in turn helps us Make Sense
of The Way Society Is. Whence, we understand, we should Know Our Place, and
it need hardly be added, should Stay In It. (Every religion has some variant
of this. Such as the motto "Know Thyself" on Classical Greek temples of
Apollo, god of social conservatism. It wasn't necessary for the god to
add "you Inferior scum, you" to the message. Or such as Hinduism's doctrine
of the *varnas*, ie, caste. Or Buddhism's highly elegant, sophisticated
Noble Truth, "Release from suffering is the extinction of desire." So
does every social ideology in situations where religon is simply too
hopelessly used-up to do the job, has has proven true for a while now
under capitalism.)

An ideology, at the level of Reality, is something like mental smog,
lying around like bilious, toxic clouds which have seeped into every
nook of the culture. You cannot evade breathing it in, as Braudel said:
"The [R]eality of a social order surrounds us like the air we breathe." And
Reality, of course, is like Los Angeles: You don't smell the air till
Something Actually Stinks. [Note: Longtime readers will recall that this
writer capitalizes Reality when the ideological sense is meant; uses
lowercase, eg, objective reality, when the Thingie what Actually Is, is
meant, instead.] The existence of the construct of fleawill, however
indistinct it gets, is perpetually refreshed by the arguments, mainly
idiotic, as was the one we have just witnessed here, between partisans
of fleawill and its antithesis, determinism. From time to time, of
course, the Broad Masses will find fleawill so tedious that they will
flock to some ideological sytem accounting for much the same manifestly
weird distribution of social privilege by determinism, instead. Way
its been since Greeky times: *eleutherous*, fleawill; *ananke*, determinism.
Calvinism, for instance, began as rigid determinism. In 1615, a Calvinist
theologian, Arminius, or Herrmann, was convicted of heresy for advocating
fleawill. He was let off with a suspended sentence, I think. In 1630, the
Church of England went Arminian. Today, 90% of US Protestants, the exceptions
being Presbyterians and Congregationalists (both Calvinist Predestinarians)
are Arminians. You cannot tell the difference, apart from religious services,
between social behaviour of Arminians and that of Predestinarians. Marxists,
likewise, divided into their determinists and their voluntarists (sometimes
within the same minds). Capitalists, as a rule, justify their privilege by
appeals to fleawill; but there are no believers in economic determinism like
the periodicals reporting on matters Businesslike and Economic of interest
to these selfsame capitalists.

Social science can account for why somesuch notion as fleawill might be
emotionally compelling in this or that kind of culture, which is situated
in this or that kind of society. It draws the line at recognizing the
existence of any such Thingie. When you appeal to Direct Experience as
evidence, well, that says something about Direct Experience, does it not.
After all, I've had a Direct Experience of the nonexistence of fleawill,
which (may or may not) derive from my preexisting construction of the
construct of fleawill as senseless nonsense.

Trouble is, you see, you check out what's Known of the history of fleawill,
you find you can't argue about fleawill versus determinism anymore; you'd
hafta argue about something more Serious instead. Which, being you, I am
addressing the Broad Masses out there in televisionland, you most assuredly
don't wanna do.

Daniel A. Foss