World Domination Update
“Phantasma Ex Machina”
vol. VII, iss. v
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness”
of the Moment: “Back off, man! Don’t
phuq with me — I am robo-wombat!” — shade
Secret Word of the Day: Pokey Butter
Site of the Week: The Brick Testament (another Leggo Bible)
Barbecue Sauce of the Month: Jimmy Carl’s Texas-style Taste Bud Brander
In this issue:
· Wes Clark and Waco
· saint’s Sermon: Job
· Unplugging PLEZ
· shade Plagiarized
· Ayn Ranch Cult
· Ask Evil Matt
· Astrological Hedgehogs
Last time ’round I asked, reasonably I think, if anyone had any idea what Bush’s Agenda for a Better America was. Well, Flaming Faggot made a good call worth quoting: “he’s just running things straight out of the Reagan Playbook.”
You will recall that part of the Reagan Playbook involved massive tax cuts for the rich, jacked-up defense spending, and even a couple questionable military incursions into sovereign nations. Another Reagan run Bush is borrowing is increasing the money supply in circulation. More money, worth less, all to give a false impression of prosperity.
Well, I finally have proof that Dubya’s actually doing just that:
The above bill was actually spent in September at Food Lion grocery store in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina: somebody paid for $150 in food with it, and not only got the groceries, but $50 in change.
If you look closely at the front, the serial number is “DUBYA4U2004,” and around the federal reserve stamp is “the right to bear arms.” The signs on the back read “we like broccoli,” “our gov’t don’t lie,” “USA deserves a tax cut,” “no more scandals,” and “we like ice cream.”
The last is an especially important continuity clue, the smoking gun of evidence pointing to the identity of counterfeiter culprit. Just a few days after the Roanoke Rapids cashier accepted the bill, someone at a Danville, Kentucky Dairy Queen used another of the above $200s to get a $2 ice cream cone and $198 in change back.
Coincidence? I think not!
Wait: it gets worse. “They” are already beta-testing a $2001 bill, also bearing Dubya’s visage on the recto, the WTC buildings and the Pentagon (along with a brief 9/11 written tribute) on the verso.
This has Bush’s handwriting all over it (literally: his signature is on both bills.) However, while it would be easy enough to see GWB putting his face on the $200 as a manifestation of his arrogance and narcissism, I think it’s deeper than that. Putting Dubya on the front was merely a the sop tossed out to get him to play ball with the real fiends behind the scheme: the Brain Police. This is just a trial run to see how many people are paying attention. You can next expect the Bush (senior) $25, the Reagan $80 and the Nixon $666, coming soon to convenience stores near you! Of course, why just put dead (or live!) presidents on bills; we have precedent of 3 non-presidents on our currency (Hamilton, Franklin, and Chase — [sounds like a law firm]) so doubtless the Brain Police will soon issue the McCarthy $75, the Kissenger $250, and even the Greenspan $300.
Of course, since I just reread The Crying of Lot 49, the idea of branching out into stamps seems natural, especially with Bush stamps tying in the president to an organization (the Post Office) that is hemorrhaging money.
Unfortunately, saint doesn’t buy my Brain Police $200 Bush bill theory. He points out that on the front, the “bill” is identified as a “Moral Reserve Note.” “Bush” and “Moral” normally don’t appear on the same item.
Still, he and I agree on one thing: the best lesson to be learned from all this is the observation that when people are confronted with a picture of George Bush, their IQ drops sharply.
...and speaking of Bush pushing an IQ into a double-digit dip...
"I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that."
I wonder how Britney would feel 60 years ago if she lived in the Third Reich. Would she just trust Hitler in every decision that he makes and just support it herself? Actually, most likely! She’s a Teutonic-looking Barbi doll, so Der Fürrer would probably approve her “singing” career, provided she could rap and choreograph to Deutschland Uber Alles. Or maybe Baby Baby One More Time could become France-Invading One More Time, and Oops I Did It Again could apply to a whole lot of things...
Still, I was originally appalled by this obey-like-a-sheep statement from a flavor of the month whose taste expired well over fifteen minutes ago, but then I got to thinking: that mentality is exactly what she’d espouse as a self-imposed “role model,” since it is precisely what her career hinges on. Let’s face it: Britney Spears has no talent, so the only way she can maintain her popularity is through a culture of blind obedience. Millions of robot teenagers submissively swallow the swill that she’s all that and a bag of chips, without actually doing some comparative shopping in the music market to see that there’re much better bands out there. No sir: just trust in the A&R/pr men in every decision they make about what they think America’s youth want to hear, and they should just buy that.
That is what her career banks on.
And come to think of it, so does Bush’s.
At least until the next election.
Wesley Clark and Waco
In September, former General Wesley Clark became the latest of the lichen-like bacteria to toss their hat into the ring of presidential wanna-bes. Roughly one-fourth of our presidents had formerly been generals (if you’re wondering: Washington, Jackson, both Harrisons, Taylor, Pierce, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, and Eisenhower) and of these only two (Jackson and Taylor) were Democrats. Granted that, it may seem a bit unusual that Clark would choose to go Donkey, especially given the pattern since the Nixon administration that the Republicans were the military’s best friend. Plus, since Clark has retired, he is a consultant to several investment firms with strong ties to the Bush family.
However, Clark claims he felt snubbed after 9/11, when GWB didn’t ask him to join his anti-terrorism task force. Allegedly, Dubya’s main political schemer, Karl Rowe, was the person who nixed the idea. As Clark later told the story, “I would have been a Republican if Karl Rowe had returned my phone calls.”
Maybe there was a good reason that Rowe cock-blocked, or in this case, Clark-blocked Wes: even by GWB standards, the guy is a raving maniac.
While commander of U.N. forces in Cosavo, Clark had Belgrade invested, with the objective of capturing the city. He knew troops would have to be used, but Clark delayed the invasion several days because he was waiting for the press corps to show up. He knew a photo op when he saw it. In the meantime, Russian troops (ostensibly working with the U.N.) went in on their own and captured a key piece of real estate: the Pristina airfield. Infuriated, Clark issued the order that troops under his own command go in and forcibly expel the Russians. Damn Rusky bastards were stealing his thunder, by gum! Fortunately, one of his subordinates, British General Sir Michael Jackson, disobeyed, saying “I will not start World War Three for you.”
And this guy wants to be President, eh...
The Belgrade debacle isn’t the only blemish on his record, though. Let’s look at Clark’s résumé for a second, and that’ll actually get us back to the title and point of this piece: Wes Clark’s connection to Waco.
In 1993, General Wesley Clark was in command of the First Cavalry Division of III Corps, stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas, just outside Waco. When the ATF was planning the initial raid on the Branch Davidian complex to search for weapons and arrest David Koresh, they first went to Ft. Hood to procure materials and assistance. Despite being a brazen violation of the Posse Comitatus Act (which specifically prohibits the military assisting in police actions) they received the equipment they asked for, and the Ft. Hood facilities were even used to build a little mock-up of Mt. Carmel for ATF training purposes. The person authorizing use of all this was Clark’s second-in-command.
It stretches credulity to think Clark was unaware of this and didn’t give his subordinate the go-ahead.
President Clinton himself later said “The first thing I did after the ATF agents were killed, once we knew that the FBI was going to go in, was to ask that the military be consulted because of the quasi-military nature of the conflict.” After the stand-off ensued and Janet Reno began soliciting options to forcibly end the stalemate, she ultimately settled on the disastrous concept of gassing the Davidian building to force the inhabitants out. However, she did get a second opinion on it.
Two army officers were dispatched to D.C. on April 14 to give a critique of the Gas Plan. The two were Col. Gerald Boykin and his superior, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the head of Fort Bragg Special Forces. Boykin had come directly from Waco, where the day previously he was reconnoitering the compound. According to the subsequent Justice Department investigation, the two loved the FBI gas plan, and enthusiastically offered suggestions to fine-tune it to their own overkill specifications. During the meeting, one of the officers told Reno that if the military had been called in to end a similar situation as part of a military operation in a foreign country, it would focus its efforts on “taking out” the leader of the operation.
Although the advice came from Ft. Bragg, the troops and material that implemented it came from Clark’s Ft. Hood. The Justice Department report on the disaster gives the specific inventory:
Texas National Guard Personnel
OMZ Bradley fighting vehicles
M728 Combat Engineer Vehicles
M88 Tank Retrieval vehicle
M1A1 Abrams Tanks
Of course, the dozen Delta Force “observers” not on the list but now known to be present were from Bragg, but that’s beside the point. Like I said: those tanks you see in the footage of that fatal day, pumping in tons of nerve gas, were from Ft. Hood. So was the gas itself.
Unlike the previous go-round with the initial raid, this time the military advice and supply was obtained legally: Clinton had signed a temporary waiver of Posse Comitatus to allow the help in this specific instance. As precedent, he cited Reagan doing the same thing in 1987 to allow Delta Force to suppress a riot at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta.
Anyway, Janet Reno later attempted to explain the FBI using Army gear as the equivalent of a “Rent-a-car” arrangement.
It’s a bit difficult to believe that Clark, the commander loaning these things, did so blithely without wanting a more “hands-on” role in the happenings. How much more, of course, is open to debate, and doubtless the General denies everything.
There’s a lot of circumstantial evidence that Clark was more involved in Waco that he wants to acknowledge, but I’m the first to admit most of that is speculative at best. Some writers even more paranoid that I am (gasp!) see the chain of circumstance to be enough to “prove” that Waco was a military operation run by Clark himself and using the FBI as a smokescreen scapegoat. I don’t buy that for a second, though of course you’re welcome to read their arguments and draw your own conclusions: here is a piece typical of such train of thought. Then again, I’ve also seen “proofs” that Hillary was the secret brain behind Waco, so I take it all with a gram of flax powder.
Still, there is no question that Clark was at least tangentially involved in the Waco debacle, which is enough for me to put his picture up on my dartboard for fifteen minutes.
And now, another Jonestown digression
A few issues ago we commented on Jonestown Tape Q875, which was recorded at Jonestown after the mass suicide ended but before any type of rescue team arrived from outside. Josef Dieckman, a student at the University of Oregon, “...ran the tape through some filtering with an old EQ I have. No low end.....no midrange....and moderate high end frequencies. What a difference it makes.”
One of the things he was able to hear was a snipplet of dialogue from an unidentified male speaker: “He’s in Georgetown with Richard [unintelligible – sounds like ‘erd’] right [unintelligible – sounds like, ‘now’], [unintelligible – sounds like ‘unless’].”
There were only two members of Peoples Temple named Richard: Richard Clark (who escaped and survived) and Richard Janaro, who was away from Jonestown on a boat when things went tragic.
There was, of course, another Richard, who was not a follower of Jim Jones but nonetheless had been to Jonestown that fatal day: CIA agent Richard Dwyer. Dwyer is at the center of a altogether different audio conundrum, but one would wonder — if we consider that this is the Dwyer being referred to — why people at Jonestown would be interested in him.
Again, I only ask that rhetorically, as we are still unsure what is being said on the tape. Given the unintelligible after “Richard,” my guess is that it is not Dwyer being referred to. Use of a first name indicates familiarity with the person, and I have been unable to determine how Richard Dwyer referred to himself or how his associates referred to him (ie: Richard, Rich, Dick, etc.) Again, we currently do not know who “Richard” is. Mr. Dieckman comments:
Initially it sounded like "Richard D. Wright." (phonetically, that's what it sounded like) The "right" wasn't accented like it was a question, but rather flat. Of course, if it was "Richard D," then that would allude to Richard Dwyer. But why would anyone refer to him in such casual terms unless they really knew him? AND, the only reason I can think of to have referred to him as such "Richard D" is because there may have been another Richard that they knew (whoever they are), and as such they wanted to clarify which Richard was being spoken of. But of course, that's just what I "hear." Now, to be sure, I didn't necessarily want to hear anything specific. I know that people can be led to believe they hear one specific thing if they want to do so bad enough. Hell, instead of "Richard," the word could have been "Richer" for all I know.
Most intriguing. This becomes yet another reason why it is necessary to figure out just when the tape was made. Dwyer, along with other survivors of the turkey shoot that killed Congressman Ryan, was rescued from the Port Kaituma airstrip and flown back to Georgetown. Was there time for this to have happened, and would the people on the tape have known this? Again, time-stamping the tape could solve this, as well as numerous other problems, but would also open up a slew of other uncertainties.
So would the identity of the “He” that is referred to as being “in Georgetown with Richard.” Who “he” is is unknown. Curiously, there is another mysterious, unnamed person referred to on the tape, though it is unclear who the comment is referring to. Specifically, “He was the, uh, executor of the, uh, settlement in Costa Rica, right? He’s the big wig.”
Again, most intriguing. Details as they become available.
Thanks for that, the potted (evil matt's) bible will help immensely as the wife has decided to convert (from Islam to Judaism) to give kiddies identity. And I cant remember the order.
If you remember the quandrum I mentioned. I can honestly say I learnt a lot in 10 mins it took to read the humush (doubt the spelling :)
Found a book a few years ago. "the bible as fact" that needs some serious editing. Its as easy as shooting fish, debunking the bible, a lot harder to line up the occasional fact.
Thanks; Evil Matt aims to maim. Several other people have verbally expressed similar sentiments to me about the necessity for something such as the G’EM. The Bible is a big-ass book, and reading it can be a chore. Not only that, but there are so many nuances and redundancies in it that it is often possible to lose sight of the Big Picture it does present. Hopefully this helps put things back into perspective, or at least serves up a few continuity clues.
I am not familiar with the book you mention, ‘the Bible as Fact,’ but I have seen and read a number of substantially similar tracts. Personally, I think to nit-pick the Bible on purely historical/“factual” grounds misses the point. I strongly doubt the Bible was intended to be read as history, even though it does contain a good chunk of it. Most of that was written after the fact, of course, and smacks of revisionist history with a theological agenda. As saint is fond of saying, ‘if the Bible was dictated by God, then God is at best incompetent and at worst schizophrenically insane.’ Still, saint has Faith and can get past that, which I think is a good testament to the correct way to approach the Bible: with an open mind and a Lot’s Wife-sized pillar of salt. Joseph Campbell spent most of his career arguing against such literalist interpretations, not only for the Bible but any religion, and I think he had the right idea there.
Interestingly, a few (well, saint) had mixed praise and concern about the Gospel According to Evil Matt. Specifically, saint was upset at the lack of information on a number of important books in G’EM. For instance, saint was rather troubled that all the books of Prophets — almost half the Old Testament — get distilled to a throw-away summation: ‘various prophets arose at this point, warning that if Israel didn’t get its shit together, bad things would happen.’ I see saint’s point, but I also see Evil Matt’s: those same prophets all basically say the same thing, which EM sums up rather eloquently.
saint also thought it was scandalous that the Book of Job was completely missing. After all, Job is one of the most theologically challenging books of the bible, and raises some damned disturbing questions about the nature and personality of God that are actually enough to make one loose their faith! Yet not a single mention is made. EM replies that he was shooting for more of a chronological effect, and since Job is a timeless moral lesson, it didn’t have a home in the G’EM format.
Still, Evil Matt acknowledges saint’s point about the importance of Job. Therefore, the two have collaborated to bring it to you in a more appropriate place:
Tucked in the middle of the Old Testament, almost as if in hopes that no one would notice it, is a curious book called Job. Almost nothing is known about its history, including who wrote it, or even when and where. At forty-two chapters, it is one of the longest books of the Bible, which is my theory on why it tends to get skipped over a lot. That is certainly too bad for a number of reasons, first and foremost this:
Job is the most troubling and problematic book in the entire Bible.
Job is a book that either strengthens your Faith or destroys it: it raises disturbing questions about the nature of God, and it specifically doesn’t answers them. Intellectually, this is one of the most challenging books of the Bible. It deals with one subject: suffering, but presents a number of conflicting views on the theme, all of which have merit and none are to be deemed preferable over the other. It also has one of the most ambiguous endings ever devised in literature.
All in all, Job is not a book for everyone, especially sheep who like simple, straight-forward stories with clear-cut meanings and nothing complicated that they actually have to think about.
According to Proverbs 1:7, “fearing the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Well, if you read Job, you’ll see first-hand why the Lord is to be feared! Unfortunately, it seems most people either have not read it, or are at best familiar with the grayest of outlines. “Suffering like Job” or having “the patience of Job” are terms that have passed into certain parts of pop culture, though most users don’t seem to understand just what they mean.
For those unfamiliar with the plot, here’s the deal (as paraphrased by Evil Matt):
Job was a guy who lived in the land of Uz (and wherever that was; we honestly don’t know.) He was very prosperous: he had a large family, lots of land, lots of livestock, etc. He attributed his prosperity to God. He both loved and feared the Lord, and reaped the benefits accordingly. Above all, and this is crucial to the overall framework, he was “blameless and upright,” meaning he had done nothing wrong to deserve the horror of what follows. His innocence in this manner is repeatedly asserted by the anonymous narrator (1:1), Job himself (6:30, 9:15), and above all by God (1:8, 2:3, 42:7-8).
Now one day, up in Heaven, Satan comes by to pay a visit. Yes, that’s right: Satan. The term in Hebrew, השטן (ha’satan ) literally means “the Adversary.” It’s up to the reader to decide if this is the same Satan as is popularly portrayed in Christian mythology. [Elaine Pagels wrote an excellent book on the subject: The Origin of Satan, but that’s off the subject at hand.]
Anyway, God asks Satan, “see my servant Job down there? He’s a good guy, upright and without sin. He does me right, and I do him right in return.” Satan responds, “the only reason Job does You right is because he’s prosperous. Now, if You were to take away everything he has, he would curse You.”
God essentially says, “sounds like a bet; you’re on.”
In other words, God and Satan have just decided to have a little contest where they torture Job and see if they can break him. There are no stakes to the wager, or at least none stated. Basically, this is about bragging rights.
So, Satan (with God’s approval) promptly unleashes a series of calamities upon Job. “The fire of God fell from heaven” and killed half of his family, servants, and livestock; a huge wind destroyed the house some more were staying in (killing them with it), and then some marauding Chaldeans come by and butcher the rest. In one fell swoop, Job loses just about everything he has: both possessions and his loved ones.
Stoically, Job says “well, the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Lord.”
Up in Heaven, God says to Satan, “Ha! I win!”
Satan replies, “The only reason he hasn’t cursed You is because You didn’t actually touch him. Now, if You were to afflict him personally, he will curse You.”
In other words, Satan has just upped the bet: double or nothing. God responds, “okay, do what you want to him, just don’t actually kill him.”
So down on earth, Job becomes afflicted with boils, sores, and things you don’t even want to think about. His suffering is beyond comprehension. Job curses the day he was born, but still does not curse God.
After a few days of this, three of Job’s friends stop by. Job is such a mess that at first they don’t even recognize him. They have an extended dialogue about his predicament; although there are numerous nuances to the conversation, it can be boiled down to this: they have come to the conclusion that God is punishing Job, and Job just needs to apologize to God for whatever sin he’s committed, make penance, and then everything will be back to normal.
Job rejects this, for the very simple reason that he has not done anything wrong. He can’t very well ask for atonement for a transgression he has not made. He knows he hasn’t done anything wrong to deserve this.
The conversation ends in a stalemate, but then Job gets a rather ingenious idea. He knows that the Lord is behind all this, though of course he doesn’t know why. Now, in the Jewish legal system, if a man is accused of a crime but the accuser fails to show up at the trial, then the accused is immediately found innocent. Job feels that he is essentially on trial. He challenges God to show up and at least present the evidence that he has done something heinous enough to deserve all that has just happened to him.
My guess is, Job didn’t think the Lord would actually appear, and he would be found innocent by default.
However, God shows up.
God, being God, knows what’s on Job’s mind: he wants to know what he has done to deserve this. Rather than answer that, God instead asks Job a series of rhetorical questions that in their own way answer Job’s question.
God’s response is long and complex, but can be boiled down to this: “I don’t have to answer to you. I created the universe. What have you done? Again: I don’t have to answer to you.”
Job accepts this, and praises the Lord. God departs, and with him go Job’s plagues, boils, and sores. In the end we learn that Job lives to a happy old age, and was rewarded for all this with an even larger family, even more land, and even more livestock and other possessions.
Obviously, with a plot like that, you can see why Job gets skipped over a lot in Sunday School.
The moral is two-fold but otherwise fairly obvious: the Lord works in mysterious ways, and more importantly, if you persevere through a time of trial while keeping faith in the Lord, you will come out ahead in the end.
Well, that’s the theory, anyway, but I have some obvious problems with this whole thing.
First and foremost, what kind of God is this that would torture a poor, innocent man over what is essentially a celestial bet about bragging rights? God’s done some pretty sick and twisted shit in His time — He wiped out the entire world except for one family with a Flood — but I think this little scene takes the top prize for cruelty.
This is a damned disturbing glimpse into the mind of God. In fact, I will go so far to say that it is one of the best proofs that the Gnostic concept of God is more accurate that the Orthodox: God is phuqing nuts. The only other conclusion would be to simply dismiss Job as an apocryphal tale with no basis, but this itself raises a creepy thought: some scribe actually sat down, thought this shit up, and considered it an acceptable portrait of the Lord. Not to mention the generations of rabbis (and subsequent Christians who ultimately accepted the Hebrew Canon as the prelude to their own) also apparently had no problems with it.
I guess if one wants to rationalize it all — and this assumes you accept Job as fact — the best recourse is to consider God’s response to Job. He doesn’t have to answer to us mortals. After all, nothing I’ve done can compare to the vast catalogue of God’s accomplishments, so who the Hell am I to question this?
Besides, if God were the kind of Guy who would allow His only living son to be crucified to death as long as it worked out for the best, then He wouldn’t think twice about torturing Job if the bragging rights about it were worth it. One could even read shades of Abraham having to sacrifice Isaac, except this time God went through with actual suffering and death.
Still, if you’re going to walk in the way of the Lord, it’s a good idea to know a bit about the Figure making those footsteps you’re following. I think all will agree: the Book of Job offers a disturbing glimpse of this.
Then again, that’s just my conclusion; read it yourself and draw your own.
Feel free to .
Back when I was at FSU, I was taking a class on the Holocaust. It was actually a religious class, taught by a former rabbi named Dr. Richard Rubenstein. Rubenstein got a lot of shit in Judaic circles back in the early ’50s by basically being the first rabbi to publicly ask, “where was God during the Holocaust?” He mused on this question for a decade or so, and finally came to the conclusion that the Holocaust was actually nothing special, in that history was full of programs of what he called “redundant population reduction.” Basically the only claim the Holocaust could make was that such a program had never been enacted on such a scale.
Dr. Rubenstein spent the first half of the semester giving examples of such programs, and spent the back half focused on the Final Solution. In that part, he did get back to the question that had raised the ire of his colleagues, “where was God during all this?”
Having finally broached that all-important question, he began to answer that in a Biblical context by first quoting from the Old Testament. I forget what, exactly; one of the Prophets.
I had been pretty quiet that semester, but finally raised my hand.
“Excuse me; I’m sure I’m jumping the gun here, but if you are going to discuss Biblical justifications for the Holocaust, I would have thought you’d have started with Job. In Job, an innocent person not only suffers, but innocent people die. Job had a family, and that was the first thing he lost. However, Job persevered through his suffering, and ultimately came out for the better. I would think the parallels to the Holocaust would be obvious. The Jews, through no fault of their own, suffered Auschwitz, but were ultimately rewarded with the return of the Nation of Israel.”
There was a long pause. Remember: I hadn’t said a word all semester. Not only that, but I had long hair, wore cut-offs and death metal shirts; hell, half the time I didn’t even wear shoes to class, yet here I was, asking an insightful question. He clearly wasn’t expecting it from me.
“Excellent question!” he finally cries, and then answers me. His take was that the suffering of Job was not on the same level as the suffering of the Jews in the death camps. I forget his reasoning at this point; I understood it, but did not actually agree with it.
Likewise, I also understand saint’s problems with the moral dilemma that Job raises, but don’t necessarily agree with it.
I find it ironic that the book of Job has the effect of making the reader suffer along with it’s protagonist. Most people want to think that God is a nice Guy, full of love, etc. and would never do anything like this. Just as Job is tested to see if he can get through his suffering without losing faith in God, so the reader must as well.
...anyway, enough theology; back to World Domination...
shade this is very important for your knowlege
Find out about the Protocols of The Learned Elders Of Zion. -'Nuff said.
I’ve actually read excerpts from the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (hereafter PLEZ for convenience) twice, back when I was at FSU. One class requiring it was the above-mentioned class on the Holocaust, the other a history class called “Hitler’s Third Reich.” Since most anti-Semites view PLEZ as the smoking gun proving that they are “right” about “the Jews” being evil and secretly running everything, it was viewed necessary by both teachers to give us a sample of this piece of “literature” to help get us into the mindset that embraced and enacted The Final Solution. Both professors also discussed the origins of the document as best reconstructed by scholars, plus its dissemination around the world. Henry Ford was key in spreading PLEZ across America. Not surprisingly, Adolph Hitler had a large portrait of Ford in his office.
My recollection of reading PLEZ, or at least the chunks and synopses offered, were that it was a very elaborate, paranoid concoction cooked up by someone with a fertile imagination but no functional knowledge of Judaism. Use your head: if “the Jews” had world domination on their agenda, they would have succeeded several thousand years ago, because God was on their side. However, the Old Testament is pretty specific: the Lord was only interested in giving them a Promised Land, and there were never any campaigns by David or subsequent Israeli/Judaic monarchs to bring the rest of the world under the Yahwist yoke.
Presumably the author(s) of PLEZ wish us to believe that these, then, are essentially “renegade Jews” turning their backs on such scriptural basis, not content with a Biblically sanctioned homeland but setting their sites on the whole globe. Worse, we are expected to believe that the Learned Elders in PLEZ represent all Jews, and not a specific cabal within.
The only Jewish conspiracies I am aware of that come even close to this are those who wish to see a restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, as prescribed in the Bible. Admittedly, there are ultra-conservative factions in Judaism who wish to kick out all the Palestinians, rebuild the Temple, and return to running things as were done back in David’s day. I would imagine such groups already have a candidate set aside for the role of King (ie: a messiah,) as that is a necessary prerequisite to such a scheme. However, restoration of Israel is a far step from taking over the whole world.
There may very well be specific sects within Judaism who wish to take over the world, but I do not think these are by any means representative of all Jews, as PLEZ wants us to believe. By the same token, there are also groups within Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism, etc. who have identical goals. That said, you cannot blame an entire group for the problems of one small faction within it.
The evidence is pretty compelling that PLEZ is a cross between a hoax and deliberate misinformation, basically an anti-Semitic forgery whipped up to fan the flames of Jew-bashing hysteria. Of course, proponents of PLEZ see such evidence as part of the conspiracy: Jews attempting to cover their tracks once they had been caught.
Back when I worked in a bookstore, on two different occasions I had customers come in and ask if we had copies of it. We didn’t, and I recommended that they check some type of college university library. I also recommended that they make sure they read the introduction to the thing, as any good copy would give the history of the document, along with the proof and evidence that PLEZ was nonsense. These people were shocked by such a suggestion that PLEZ was bullshit, and their response on both times was essentially, “well, if this is a fake, then why is so much of it true?”
If that’s your mind-set, then nothing anyone can say will dissuade you.
Still, I think it says something that the only groups out there pimping PLEZ as actual fact are those with distinctly anti-Jewish agendas, such as Aryan Nation and Hamas. If one reads PLEZ objectively, there is a point early on where even the densest brain should realize this is bullshit. PLEZ continuously uses such verbiage as “we are cruel,” “we are evil,” “(people) are stupid cattle,” etc. to describe its alleged authors and their agenda. If you honestly think that the “Elders” would not only describe themselves thus but be dumb enough to write all this shit down, then you get what you deserve.
Still, the author of the email to me suggested I find out everything I can about it. Since my memory on the subject is a bit rusty, this is a valid challenge. Besides, I was actually curious to see what type of proof PLEZ’s proponents offered that it was a bona fide document, and what they could do to discredit the evidence that it wasn’t. It’s a hefty topic, one worthy of an entry in the Update. After all, the thesis of PLEZ is that Jews are scheming to take over the world; that’s a religious conspiracy, and such is the holy grail of Updates.
The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion
First and foremost, in the interest of “think for yourself,” if you would like to read this exciting piece of conspiracy lore and see what the fuss is about, a number of sites have it posted on line, including here.
The Cliffs Notes version, however, is that PLEZ purports to be the outline adopted by the highest ranking Jews for their strategy to take over the world. They have a 24-point program to subject the “goyim,” which is the usual vagueness about controlling money, governments, and information. No real blueprint is offered on how to actually achieve these goals, of course, but it fits in with the traditional stereotypes of some secret cabal doing such stuff. Freemasons are mentioned a number of times throughout, and are pegged as the middle-men carrying out the dirty work in all this.
I looked rather extensively on the Net for any evidence offered by proponents who buy into PLEZ’s legitimacy that the thing is a factual document. Mostly I found the same old arguments: “if it’s a hoax, why is it true?” The closest any could offer as evidence to its truthfulness were the fact that at one point it was banned in post-Revolutionary Russia — presumably to keep the people from finding out “the truth” — and also the British Museum has an early copy on display. Proponents wonder why a museum would display such a thing, unless it were real. With logic like that, of course, the Fiji Mermaid that P.T. Barnum had on show must also have been real, too.
Then again, Barnum made an excellent observation about a certain exceptionally credulous demographic’s birth rate, and I think this goes far in explaining why PLEZ continues to find an audience.
PLEZ first made its appearance in Czarist Russia around the turn of the 20th Century. The man largely responsible for its dissemination was a mystic monk named Sergius Nilus. Russia had just lost a war with Japan — largely through its own military ineptitude — and Nilus was one of the many wondering how a divinely guided nation like Mother Russia could lose to an “obviously” inferior foe. His conclusion was that Russia was ‘stabbed in the back’ by Satanic forces, specifically “the Jews.” Curiously, this same train of thought appeared about twenty years later, when a lot of Germans wondered how they could have lost World War One, and rather than blame themselves, looked for a scapegoat.
Nilus did not write PLEZ, but it fit in with his ‘stab in the back’ theory, so he happily spread it around. It is not known who originally wrote PLEZ, but several Barons and Counts in the Czar’s court usually show up on the short list of candidates, as (most frequently) do the Czar’s own secret police. The motive cited for the last is usually a gambit to strengthen the Czar’s position by creating a “boogeyman” to distract attention away from the Czar’s own shortcomings.
PLEZ was originally exposed as a fraud by British journalist and diplomat Lucien Wolf in 1920. PLEZ proponents gleefully point out that Wolf was Jewish, and is thus in their minds suspect for credibility. Whatever the case, Wolf, and subsequent scholars looking into the origins of PLEZ, have found two primary sources that it borrows from, often line for line:
1) The conspiracy writings of Abbe Augustin de Barruel. Barruel was an embittered French Jesuit of the early 1800s who could not understand how the French Revolution had happened, and ignoring the social situation of the time, decided that there must be some sinister secret society behind it all. Barruel ultimately wrote a five-volume magnum opus, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire du Jacobinisme (or Memories to be used for the history of Jacobinism) explaining all this. His first guess was that it was an offshoot of Freemasonry pulling the strings, specifically the just-disbanded Bavarian Illuminati (eweige blumenkraft!) but half way through his manifesto his theories began to evolve. Soon it was the Knights Templar behind the Mason, then sinister Satanic Moslems behind the Knights. Ultimately, Barruel claimed to have met an insider by the name of Captain Simonini who convinced him that “the Jews” were behind everything. Whether there actually was a Captain Simonini or if Barruel just made him up to give his ranting the appearance of truth is still debated. Whatever the case, Simonini claimed to have infiltrated the highest circles of Judaism by merely pretending to be Jewish, and since Jews were stupid, they bought the charade and gleefully told him everything, and Barruel dutifully recorded this.
2) A novel called Biarritz by the rabidly anti-Semite German journalist (and secret police spy) Hermann Gödsche. In one chapter of Biarritz, a group of 12 rabbis meet in a Prague cemetery at midnight, essentially have a Black Mass, and then give Satan a progress report on their plans to take over the world. Biarritz itself was heavily influenced by a previous work, a satirical essay called “Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu” by Maurice Joly. In this rant, Joly serves up a harsh portrait of Napoleon III and other members of the French aristocracy as being malignant blood-sucking sociopaths who (gasp!) don’t really have the best interests of the populace at heart and are merely out to manipulate them for their own personal gain.
As said, a close textual comparison between PLEZ on the one hand and Barruel and Gödsche on the other shows some suspicious similarities, and since Barruel and Gödsche both predate PLEZ, whom is dependant on whom source-wise should be pretty obvious.
Curiously, a third source for PLEZ has been suggested by Michael Baigent et al in their infamous best-seller Holy Blood, Holy Grail. For those unfamiliar with this curious work, it is a convoluted conspiracy theory that essentially argues that a) Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children, b) these children are the true “Holy Grail,” c) this extended family had some great sway in European politics and history over the subsequent millennia, d) the Knights Templar were the original bodyguards of this family, and e) after the Knights got beat down by Philip the Fair of France, they reorganized under the name Priory of Zion. Holy Blood, Holy Grail makes many interesting claims throughout, but one of the most unusual has to do with PLEZ. Although Baigent and crew document the above-mentioned two sources and denounce PLEZ as an anti-Semitic hoax, they also suggest that it may not be so much a forged document as an altered document. They point out that parts of PLEZ fit more in with what they have reconstructed about the Priory of Zion (which is obviously a thoroughly Christian conspiracy) than with what most people accept as Judaism. In other words, they suspect that the original framework of PLEZ was a Priory of Zion manifesto that had the Barruel and Gödsche elements tacked on later. As with almost all of the other conclusions in their book, I don’t really buy that, but admit it’s an interesting theory.
Like I said, almost nobody takes PLEZ seriously, and with good reason: it is not only a hoax, but a damned poor one at that. If you actually buy into it, I have some real estate in southwest Florida you should look at.
As for the claim that “if it’s a hoax, why is it true?”, well, that’s subjective. Admittedly, a few aspects of it have come to pass. My personal favorite is:
We further distract them with amusements, games, pastimes... soon we shall begin through the press to propose competitions in art, in sport in all kinds: these interests will finally distract their minds from questions in which we should find ourselves compelled to oppose them.
Hell, I’ve been saying sports was a conspiracy for years...
...and speaking of bad forgeries...
Okay, so one night back in August I’m minding my own business, when I get a curious piece of email in the in-box...
There are several excerpts in your dissertation (found here http://www.angelfire.com/yt/branchfloridians/thomas.html) which are highly similar to a dissertation written by Dr. Elizabeth Millikin in 2001. Can you give me a little information on how your formed the paper and from whence it came?
The mail was from someone named Chris PpAaPpAaSsAaDdEeRrOo, who I had never heard of. I had never heard of this Dr. Millikin, either. Still pondering this, I received a second email about an hour later:
re: The History and Nature of the Gospel of Thomas at http://www.angelfire.com/yt/branchfloridians/thomas.html
Real sorry to bother you, but a guy on a design board I frequent posted a segment of the above page to thead as an example of his own work. I googled and found your page and then confronted him with the original source, to which he says...
"Whoa, I didn't even see that angelfire link. That IS our dissertation, however. I have contacted the man, he IS in the same area that Dr. Milliken currently is a professor. Very interesting. Like I said, anyone with an ePAD signon can grab it..."
Now, I'm prety sure IT is your document; the guy on the board ChrisPpAaPpAaSsAaDdEeRrOo is a notorious blowhard so his behavior wouldn't suprise me. Any chance you could E me back and let me know. I can send you links to the discussion in question if you'd like...
All the best,
Hmmmm, the plot thickens...
So I emailed them both back with the scoop. I indeed wrote the article back in either late ’93 or early ’94 for a thoroughly Christian friend of mine [for those who have read Lady Gretta’s Discovery, the friend in question is Beth.] In early ’97, I spruced it up, removed all (well, most) of the in-jokes, and submitted it (under my pen name Matthew Thomas Farrell) to Stevan Davies, who runs an excellent Gospel of Thomas website. In late 2000, I again revised it and resubmitted it, where it is still posted. However, I migrated a copy of the original draft to the cyber-compound, under the address both gave in their e-pistles. I admitted that I had never heard of Dr. Millikin, but since my article was provably published in 1997 and her dissertation came out in 2001... well, kids, do the math. Ironically, I concluded, my article was also referenced in an on-line academic style guide for how to cite footnote references and quote sources (for the entry ‘An Internet Publication Without A Print Counterpart’.)
That, I told them both, was my story, and I still stick to it.
Thanks for the thurough reply.
As it turns out, the dissertation was quoting your website in reference to the Nag Hammadi Codices. It was a paper written _under_ Dr. Milliken by one of her students, but was properly sourced and referenced. Sorry for any inconvenience.-cp
You can probably guess who this unnamed student “_under_” Dr. Milliken was...
The second person, John, also wrote back with thanks, and included a link to the thread in question. It was on a board called Yay-Hooray (yeah, I’d never heard of it either): http://www.yayhooray.com/thread/28920.html
Curious to see what the fuss was about, I checked it out.
Now I should digress a moment to point out that I try to avoid such discussion boards, as the issues involved almost always become polarized and rather than rationally discuss issues, the warring factions inevitably resort to name-calling and fecal slinging. This particular thread on the board had to do with the recent ordination of a gay bishop, so you can probably see the dark clouds forming on the horizon already. The camps formed along the lines you can well imagine, with one side citing Bible references condemning homosexuality. Chris PpAaPpAaSsAaDdEeRrOo was firmly entrenched on that side. The other camp was more tolerant and rational, and was championed by the other person to email me (operating in the thread under the name ‘Jand’).
In an effort to establish his self-ordained superiority on the subject, PpAaPpAaSsAaDdEeRrOo had made this comment:
I have written numerous papers on the translation of the biblical and gnostic texts, and am considered an equal amongst professors in my area, on the matter.
Jand asked him to back that up with some examples of stuff he’d written. Papa replied:
They're available on request from www.lib.pdx.edu/ only, or if you've got access to the ePAD library. If you're a student, you can get free access (because your school probably has an account with them)
I don't have them because I don't own them. Here's an
excerpted quote, however, on the Gospel of Thaddeus taken from a
dissertation by Dr. Elizabeth Mulliken:
That “excerpted quote” in italics, of course, is verbatim from my own piece on the Gospel of Thomas.
I find it interesting, by the way, that Papa attributed it to a paper on the Gospel of Thaddeus. Here’s why it’s interesting: there are no known copies of the Gospel of Thaddeus in existence. The only reason we even know it existed was because the title appears on a few ancient lists of heretical gospels that various Church fathers advised should be avoided. Other than that, we know nothing about it. If Papa wrote a paper on the Gospel of Thaddeus, it would be a damned short one, like two paragraphs, and apparently one of those paragraphs was lifted out of context from my own piece on the Gospel of Thomas.
Unfortunately for Papa, Jand did some homework...
@paps: checked with our library people and they
couldn't find your articles - are they referenced under your name? Have
you an article ref?...
Whoa, I didn't even see that angelfire link. That IS our dissertation, however. I have contacted the man, he IS in the same area that Dr. Milliken currently is a professor. Very interesting. Like I said, anyone with an ePAD signon can grab it...
In other words, he is sticking to the story that he came up with the quote, and has just accused me of stealing from him!
While it is true that Papa did contact me, I have no idea how he determined I am “in the same area as Dr. Milliken.” I noticed, by the way, he is inconsistent with the spelling of this Doctor’s name (Millikin vs. Milliken) but was unable to find any information about Herr Doktor (however it is spelled) on the net. Curiously, I later learned one of Jand’s friends was able to track her down, and it turns out she is in Oregon. Yeah, BadAss, Arizona is really “in the same area...”
THIS JUST IN! In May 2005, I received a letter from her. Click here.
Anyway, confronted with evidence, Papa finally backtracks.
I am amazed at what great lengths you've gone to discredit me, jand. I am both flattered by the attention but also annoyed at it's content. If you'll read the post, as above, you'll notice that I do not claim the text to be my own but rather cite it as an "excerpted quote" - it being the only text from the paper which I have available to reference, as all other content is in the posession of Dr. Elizabeth Milliken. The fact that the quote is a citation of another man's article isn't something that I could help, however I did feel it relevant to the discussion at hand.
Maybe it’s just me, but I for one fail to see how a quote on the influence of the New Testament on gnostic literature is relevant to the subject of a gay bishop. Papa’s mind works in lateral spheres I cannot reach...
Perhaps the death knell in all this came from another poster, named SPUNKY:
papa makes a ton of stuff up. I remember him trying to tell people how he was a fluent french speaker before pasting a bad babelfish translation later on in the same thread.
Of course, if that was the death knell, this final email to me from Jand was the obituary:
...needless to say, Mr PapSmear is still flinging insults over this; latest one is to label me an internet STALKER (a younger me would laugh heartfully at this; an older me finds it distinctly sad & insulting..)..
For instance as a private message I got this
I'll keep you informed how this all turns out....and Thanks so much for taking the time to get involved with this, Matthew...<Peace and Grace to you too, my friend...
PS...Did I mention the guy is only 20?...(That old cliche about a parent-living basement dweller fits him like a glove ..;)..
Papa is obviously living in his own little world, as I have not forwarded anything to him, and the only thing I have done to discredit him was to prove that I wrote my own paper.
And I thought I was paranoid...
Believe it or not, though, I take heart from two aspects of all this:
- at least someone out there is reading my stuff, and
since Papa, by his own accord, is “considered an equal amongst professors in my area, on the matter,” and since he is ripping my own stuff off, then ergo it is I who am the equal among scholars.
Yippee! Hooray! Victory dance!
saint would be proud of me.
This just in!
From: Elizabeth Milliken
Sent: Monday, May 02, 2005 2:55 PM
Subject: its Dr. Milliken!
At the risk of further muddying the waters of the the, already considerable. murkiness of the Papa plagiarism saga, I thought I would let you know that I am the Dr. Milliken who is in Oregon, but I am NOT the Dr. Mulliken, Millikin, (whatever) who has written on the Gospel of Thomas. My dissertation was finished back in 1994 and I have never written anything remotely related to biblical exegesis (Gnostic or otherwise). I couldn’t quite follow the whole scenario, but I thought it might be of some use to you to know that the Oregon Dr. Milliken (me) is not the person you were looking for.
BY the way—I agree that Ayn Rand’s work is swamp vomit.
Elizabeth Milliken, PhD
This Just In, Part II
In June 2005, Chris PpAaPpAaSsAaDdEeRrOo wrote me and asked that I remove the above story, as well as any subsequent references to him on my site. I politely declined, citing that the incident was historically accurate and documented, and pulling it would amount to revisionist history. I made it clear that my balking was based more on aesthetics than any type of personal grudge I had at that point: the infamous incident had become part of "Branch Floridian Lore" and pulling it would be tantamount to removing a diary page.
CP replied that he understood this, but he also said that it was starting to get awkward when potential clients or employers of his would Google his name, find this [and subsequent] piece[s], and ask him to explain. He apologized for the whole thing, said he has matured in the subsequent years, and deeply regrets the incident. He didn't feel he should be haunted by an indiscretion from several years ago that he insists he would not make today.
I’m cool with that, so an agreement was reached: I have revised all direct references to alter the spelling of his name in such a way that it should be “Google-proof.”
The Ayn Rand
Back about 8 months ago, we ran a piece (aka the Rand Rant) exposing Ayn Rand for the philosophical vomit swamp she is. Let’s face it, folks: Ayn Rand sucks big, greasy donkey balls, and I still stick to my statement that she is the ranch dressing of philosophical literature.
In fact, from now on, I’m going to start calling her Ayn Ranch.
Be that as it may, Flaming Faggot recently passed on a piece out of Michael Shermer’s book Why People Believe Weird Things, in which he exposes and deconstructs the bizarre following that Ayn’s babbling has spawned: Objectivism. Shermer makes a good point in that this is essentially a cult, and brought a couple things to my attention that I was previously unaware of. The article is well worth reading and is posted on-line, but I will summarize and build upon his arguments in my own style.
In other words, Shermer was too polite: I need to take the bitch and her fans down a few pegs. And since I already think they’re at rock bottom, I’ll need a pic-axe and pneumatic drill for this one...
First, I admit it is unfair to judge a product based on it’s audience. As saint is fond of saying re: Biblical misuse, “I have no problem with Christianity, I just hate Christians.” Well, I’ve already deconstructed Ayn Ranch’s Objectivist ideology for the philosophical feces it is, so let’s turn our attention to the idiots who idolize it. After all, if the product is shit to start with, the dung beetles comprising the core audience can only make it worse.
Let’s look at that core audience, especially in its earliest, and arguably most fanatical form. Ayn Ranch’s second in command and philosophical heir-apparent was Nathaniel Branden. Branden achieved this position by writing Ranch a couple of letters with questions about The Fountainhead that apparently impressed her enough that she invited him over to chat one night. They struck up an intense friendship, in my opinion because Ranch saw a malleable young mind willing and even eager to be molded to her twisted visions. In 1989, he wrote his autobiography about his years with Ayn Ranch, called Judgment Day. In it, he modestly describes himself as follows to a New York Times journalist who was writing a piece on Ayn Ranch (who at that time had just died):
The reporter said she wished to check her understanding of certain aspects of my relationship with Ayn Rand. Prior to the opening of the Nathaniel Branden Institute, the organization I had created to teach her philosophy, Miss Rand had been known exclusively as a novelist, had she not? I told her that was correct. It was the Nathaniel Branden Institute, founded in 1958 and closed in 1968, that effectively launched the Objectivist Movement — and generated widespread awareness of Miss Rand as a philosopher? It was. Could one state that America's third largest political party, the Libertarian Party, was an important part, a consequence, of the influence of Ayn Rand's work and that of the institute? Yes.
In other words, assuming you accept that modest, humble introduction as fact, this is the guy to blame.
Also, with an opening like that, you can correctly guess the tone of the book: Judgment Day is 436 pages of unabashed hero worship that praises Rand on just about every page. There is also a subtle, insidious undertone between the lines when her philosophy is expressed: if you don’t agree with this, you are a fool. Then again, since 99% of the readers of this swill are undoubtedly Ranch fans, they probably need such support and reassurance.
It’s interesting to note, by the way, that Branden’s original name was Blumenthal, but he changed it in the mid-’50s. He claims he chose the name at random out of a phone book, but several people have noted that the name “Branden” not only contains “Rand” but the remaining letters (“ben”) in Hebrew mean “son of.” Branden dismisses this semi-anagram as pure coincidence.
Whatever the case, Branden struck up a friendship with Rand. She and her husband Frank even served as matron of honor and best man at Branden’s wedding. Soon, Branden began to collect some like-minded friends who shared an appreciation for Ranch’s work, which at that time effectively consisted of one book: The Fountainhead (most, myself included, merely consider Anthem and We the Living as philosophical dry-runs.) Ranch called this little clique The Class of ’43 (with 1943 being the year of Fountainhead’s publication), though privately they referred to themselves as The Collective. That was actually a bit sarcastic, as Ranch’s philosophy is distinctly anti-collective. Personally, since (depending how you counted) there were about twelve members of The Collective, calling themselves The Apostles would have been more appropriate. Extending this Biblical metaphor, Ranch would be Jesus, and Branden would be Peter (who was given the Keys to the Kingdom and was the Rock upon which Ranch built her church.)
Although probably not his intention, Branden’s descriptions of The Collective effectively paint a portrait of a group of doting, sycophantic toadies who fawned over Ranch, told her how wonderful she was, and how her current work-in-progress (Atlas Shrugged) was the best thing since sliced bread.
Not surprisingly, Ayn ate it up. Branden made a comment that she had no social life except for The Collective. I don’t doubt that this is because if she actually hung around some real intellectuals, she’d need to wear diapers because they’d rip her a new asshole. Still, she clearly thrived on the attention and affection of her small core audience. Branden lets slip a telling incident that sums her up:
Ayn once said to me, "If, by your own statement, I am the highest, most consistent embodiment of your values, then I expect your first consideration always to be given to me. I expect not just you but the whole collective to make me their highest loyalty, so far as any other people are concerned, if it ever comes to conflict. Otherwise, what do you imagine the principle of loyalty to one's values means?"
Adolph Hitler made a similar statement once, but unfortunately I can’t find the exact quote to run a comparison. Then again, I probably don’t have to...
Despite her novels’ exaltation of the Individual over the Whole, the attitude of the Collective almost from inception was one of totalitarianism, with any dissention outside of Ayn’s ideology impermissible and even punishable by excommunication (which occasionally happened.) Ayn’s role in the Collective quickly became a hybrid between dictator and demagogue. Rather than think for themselves, members of the Collective chose to let Ayn do their thinking for them. Branden makes a very telling observation at one point, when pondering a discrepancy Ayn Ranch had in how she sweetly treated an economist named Ludwig Von Mises in public versus the scathing comments about him she’d make behind his back:
I was troubled by the disparity between Ayn's behavior toward Von Mises and her comments in the margins of his books. To accuse Ayn of hypocrisy would not have occurred to me. But I recall discussing my confusion with Barbara, who shared my reaction. We let the matter go, assuming that one day we would understand -- and that of course Ayn would have a perfectly good reason for her behavior. Today I recognize that it is of such attitudes that cults are made.
Anyway, around this time, Branden began having an affair with Ayn Ranch. It’s probably worth pointing out that at 51 years old — 25 years his senior — she was old enough to be his mother. It didn’t matter to either; they were in love. Unfortunately, both of them were also married. Here kudos must be given to Ayn: she was able to convince both her husband Frank and Branden’s wife Barbara that such love between the two of them was intellectually justified and an affair between the two was completely rational and logical. The two spouses bought it. Then again, Ayn is, if nothing, a masterful salesman: she was able to sell her absurdist philosophy to the masses, so selling a sexual fling to her hubby and Branden’s wife was a cakewalk by comparison. So, with the mutual consent of her husband and his wife, Rand and Branden got to shack up for some good lovins at least once a week.
The side effect of this, by the way, was that Ayn’s husband Frank became an alcoholic, and Branden’s wife Barbara began to have massive anxiety attacks. Indeed, she would frequently call Ayn while her husband was over there, saying “you know, I need to talk to you about this!” Ayn would scream at her, “How dare you interrupt my time with Nathan! That’s so unbelievably selfish of you!” Barbara would be cowed back into place by this.
In 1958, Atlas Shrugged was published, and not surprisingly the book (in its original form) had a dual dedication: her husband Frank and lover Nathan. Also not surprisingly, the highest praise came from members of The Collective, who viewed it as not only the best book ever written but a milestone of human development and culture. Otherwise, the rest of the world’s reaction was rather cool. Ayn was upset that nobody of intelligence “got it.” My guess is, they “got it” just didn’t “agree with it.” At that point, Branden hit upon the idea of forming a little school that would teach her philosophy to people interested in it. He scraped some cash together and did just that, modestly calling it The Nathaniel Branden Institute.
The NBI was not an immediate success, with but a class of twenty on it’s first semester, but slowly it caught on. Branden soon got the idea of taping his lectures and offering these for sale, which helped spread The Message considerably. By 1968, Branden claims there were NBI chapters in 80 countries, all teaching Ranch’s Objectionable — I’m sorry, Objectivist — philosophy.
Also by 1968, Branden’s marriage had ended and he was secretly shacking up with an NBI student named Patrecia Gullison. The sexual aspect of his affair with Ayn Ranch had long since cooled, but Ayn had been pestering him for several years that it start up again. Branden was especially reluctant, in part because she was now in her 60s. If Branden’s autobiography is to be believed, he had been trying to drop the hint to her for some time that he just wasn’t attracted to her except intellectually any more, but Ranch didn’t want to hear it. Finally, he wrote her a letter explaining his feelings, hoping they could still be friends, but he just couldn’t bring himself to stick his dick in her again.
To say the shit hit the fan understates the matter: like a spurned pre-teenager, Ranch publicly denounced Branden and kicked him out of her little Objectivist circle. Amazingly, she did not tell her followers the nature of the rift, only that he “...presented me with a written statement which was so irrational and so offensive to me that I had to break my personal association with him....”
Branden split from the NBI, turned over his holdings to Ayn, and moved to California with Patrecia, where he took up a psychology practice and began writing cheesy books on self-esteem. Without Branden, the NBI foundered for about six months and then folded.
Had that not happened, I believe that Objectivism would be larger than it is today, as the NBI effectively served as a “church” in everything but name, and Branden functioning as prime proselytizer. Unfortunately, interest still continued in Ranch’s philosophy, which picked up considerably after her death in 1982.
[note to saint: think we should start celebrating March 6, 1982?]
Branden’s autobiography, Judgment Day, came out in 1989, and while every page drips with smarmy admiration for Ayn, I suspect much of this was an attempt to convey his feelings at the time. Parts of it, especially the period of the rift, portray Ayn very poorly. I already disliked primary aspects of her philosophy, but after reading this, I genuinely disliked her as a person. Without mincing words, and basing my opinion solely on the doting testimony of her former champion, Ayn Ranch was an pompous, arrogant überbitch.
But was she the founder of a cult?
I’m sure she would be horrified by that charge, largely for linguistic reasons. She insisted that she had started a philosophy, and being an atheist wanted nothing to do with religion.
A quick semantical digression. A philosophy is any system of beliefs that attempt to explain why we are here and what we should be doing with out lives. A religion is merely a philosophy that answers those questions with some sort of reference to “the Divine.” The lines between philosophy and religion are blurry anyway: is Taoism a philosophy or a religion? Marxism would be another good example: although somewhere between an economic system and a philosophy, in its most extreme its adherents frequently have the same type of zeal that is found in Pentecostal churches.
With me so far? Good.
Branden himself addresses the issue of whether Objectivism was a cult or not, and his testimony is worth quoting verbatim:
There was an implicit premise in our world to which everyone subscribed, and which we transmitted to our students at NBI:
We were not a cult in the literal, dictionary sense of the word, but certainly there was a cultish aspect to our world (in the same way that one might speak, in the early years of psychoanalysis, of "the cult of Sigmund Freud," or "the cult of Wilhelm Reich"). We were a group organized around a charismatic leader, whose members judged one another's character chiefly by loyalty to that leader and to her ideas.
Those bulleted points are well worth rereading, especially in the context that I am arguing that Rand’s philosophical following is a cult. Reread them, and substitute “Ayn Rand” with “Jesus” or “Mohammed”, and “Atlas Shrugged” with “The Bible” or “The Quar’an” and you’ll see what I mean.
Like I said, folks: this is a cult. And a piss-poor excuse for one at that. You’d have to go to Dianetics to get any worse. Even then, at least Hubbard (if www.xenu.net is to be believed) had the excuse of untreated syphilis to explain Scientology. Ayn Ranch was just a pretentious, self-important nitwit who wrote for a like-minded audience. And at it’s most extreme, those like-minded lemmings would constitute a cult.
Click Officer Barbrady for an apt commentary on Ayn
Ask Evil Matt
The Evil One fields your queries, as channeled by Sister Ob’dewlla ‘X’.
Q: Is the mule the only example of cross-species breeding?
A: Not at all. The list would be too long to produce; check out this site. Even then, that’s just among mammals; the plant kingdom is abundant with examples.
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The Hedgehog Corner
By Harriet the Hedgehog
Astrology is one of the oldest studies practiced by you humans, but what is not widely known among homo sapiens is that we hedgehogs invented it first and honed it to a fine perfection while you were still swinging from trees in the Olduvi Gorge.
Every zodiac that is in practice now is ultimately based on an earlier (and of course, superior) hedgehog archetype. Of course, since humans think that they’re the hottest thing on two legs, they merely ripped us off and retooled it to their own obscure pantheon(s), but originally it all comes from hedgehogs.
The constellations that represent each sign were originally in a hedgehog motif. Gemini was the Twin Hedgehogs, Aquarius was the Water-bearing Hedgehog, etc. This extends beyond the signs of the zodiac: Orion was Chuffie the Hunting Hedgehog, Pleiades the Council of Seven Learned Hedgehogs, etc.
Here is a good example to prove this, and its misuse by humans. Probably the most widely known constellation in the sky, at least in North America, is The Big Dipper. The Big Dipper is actually a subset of another constellation, Ursa Major, which uses the Dipper as the Hind quarters and bushy tail of the bear. Of course, bears don’t have tails, which just underscores my point here that you humans are misusing our motifs without really understanding them.
The original schemata for this constellation was Rufus the Confused (why he is confused is a lengthy tale I’ll spare y’all) shown here courtesy FireMuse:
Anyway, hopefully the above illustrations shows the general pattern that can be applied to all constellations. Hopefully this clears up the confusion about how Astrology really works.
Trust no one
and Always keep your lighter handy!
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