I felt like sharing a quote today. This is from one of my favorite sci-fi authors, Ken MacLeod, and expresses some of the sentiments of my last post, only far better than I ever could.
The true knowledge…the phrase is an English translation of a Korean expression meaning ‘modern enlightenment’. Its originators, a group of Japanese and Korean ‘contract employees’ (inaccurate Korean translation, this time, of the English term ‘bonded labourers’) had acquired their modern enlightenment from battered, ancient editions of the works of Stirner, Nietzshe, Marx, Engels, Dietzgen, Darwin, and Spencer, which made up the entire philosophical content of their labour-camp library. (Twentieth century philosophy and science had been excluded by their employers as decadent or subversive – I forget which.) With staggering diligence, they had taken these words – which they ironically treated as the last word in modern thought – and synthesized from them, and from their own bitter experiences, the first socialist philosophy based on totally pessimistic and cynical conclusions about human nature.
Life is a process of breaking down and using other matter, and if need be, other life. Therefore, life is aggression, and successful life is successful aggression. Life is the scum of matter, and people are the scum of life. There is nothing but matter, forces, space and time, which together make power. Nothing matters, except what matters to you. Might makes right, and power makes freedom. You are free to do whatever is in your power, and if you want to survive and thrive you had better do whatever is in your interests. If your interests conflict with those of others, let the others pit their power against yours, everyone for theirselves. If your interests coincide with those of others, let them work together with you, and against the rest. We are what we eat, and we eat everything.
All that you really value, and the goodness and truth and beauty of life, have their roots in this apparently barren soil.
This is the true knowledge.
On this rock we had built our church. We had founded our idealism on the most nihilistic implications of science, our socialism on crass self-interest, our peace on our capacity for mutual destruction, and our liberty on determinism. We had replaced morality with convention, bravery with safety, frugality with plenty, philosophy with science, stoicism with anaesthetics and piety with immortality. The universal acid of the true knowledge had burned away a world of words, and exposed a universe of things.
Things we could use.
-Ken MacLeod ‘The Cassini Division