Generative Energy #28: Talking with Ray Peat: The Origins of Authoritarianism

 
 

I’m incredibly excited to share my third interview with Ray about the origins of authoritarianism. The conversation covers a wide range of topics including Ray’s philosophical influences, former CIA director Allen Dulles, Wilhelm Reich, authoritarianism as a sickness, Nicole Foss’s idea of degrowth, and Ray’s thoughts on an “optimal” society. The conversation was originally recorded on June 24th, 2016. Special thanks to Ray for providing me with his time and my Patrons for making this content possible.

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• Song: Astronomyy - Nothin On My Mind

“The Anarchists are right in everything; in the negation of the existing order, and in the assertion that, without authority, there could not be worse violence than that of authority under existing conditions. They are mistaken only in thinking that Anarchy can be instituted by a revolution. "To establish Anarchy." "Anarchy will be instituted." But it will be instituted only by there being more and more people who do not require protection from governmental power, and by there being more and more people who will be ashamed of applying this power.” — Leo Tolstoy (1899)
“‘When ignorance reigns in society and disorder in the minds of men, laws are multiplied, legislation is expected to do everything, and each fresh law being a fresh miscalculation, men are continually led to demand form it what can proceed only from themselves, from their own education and their own morality.’ It is no revolutionist who says this, nor even a reformer. It is the jurist, Dalloy, author of the Collection of French law known as ‘Repertoire de la Legislation.’ And yet, though these lines were written by a man who was himself a maker and admirer of law, they perfectly represent the abnormal condition of our society. 
In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. If the road between two villages is impassable, the peasant says: -‘There should be a law about parish roads.’ If a park-keeper takes advantage of the want of spirit in those who follow him with servile observance and insults one of them, the insulted man says: -- ‘There should be a law to enjoin more politeness upon park-keepers.’ If there is stagnation in agriculture or commerce, the husbandman, cattle-breeder, or corn speculator argues, ‘It is protective legislation that we require.” Down to the old clothesman there is not one who does not demand a law to protect his own little trade. If the employer lowers wages or increases the hours of labour, the politician in embryo exclaims, “We must have a law to put all that to rights,’ instead of telling the workers that there are other, and much more effectual means of settling these things straight; namely, recovering from the employer the wealth of which he has been despoiling the workmen for generations. In short, a law everywhere and for everything! A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice.” — Peter Kropotkin (1886)
“Probably about 20 to 25 percent of the adult American population is so authoritarian, so scared, so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing you can say or do will change their minds.” “Dogmatism is by far the best fall-back defense, the most impregnable castle, that ignorance can find. It’s also a dead give-away that the person doesn’t know why he believes what he believes.” — Bob Altemeyer (2006)

01:10 - Chatting about Ray’s 2003 Newsletter
01:59 - Defining authoritarianism and Ray’s experience
09:45 - Where did authoritarianism originate from? (Parmenides, Zeno, Plato, Aristotle, and Heraclitus)
12:41 - “The principle of forgiveness was presented as the appropriate response to a world which is always new. The desire for vengeance comes from a delusive commitment to the world of memory. Virginity is constantly renewed in the world of imaginative life. While Blake said that you can’t forgive someone until they stop hurting you, the desire to be forgiven indicates that there is an opportunity to resolve the problem.” (http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/william-blake.shtml)
16:41 - “In 1933 Reich published The Mass Psychology of Fascism, and the next year Freud expelled him from psychoanalysis; that was the year that Andre Breton excommunicated Dali from surrealism. Both Reich and Dali had important (but dangerous) insights into the effects of the authoritarian culture on consciousness—the destruction of reality by the imposition of an “essentialist” attitude. Dali’s Persistence of Memory, 1931, described the fluidity of reality and consciousness. Later, Dali aligned himself with the fascist side, and his 1954 Decomposition of the Persistence of Memory shows the quantized consciousness. Starting in 1945, the fascist culture blossomed in the US, so people who speak English now have constant contact with the dead essences, and very little incentive to evaluate them. Business/government marketing techniques adjust the meaning-units periodically, so that they are always available to provide the needed frame for the discourse of the moment. A lot of work goes into it.” —Raymond Peat
16:54 - The Dulles brothers (The Devil’s Chessboard by David Talbott)
18:04 - Is authoritarianism a disease?
20:38 - Is the environment bracketing our current progress?
21:08 - Nicole Foss on degrowth (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDr71LHO0Jo)
23:37 - Increasing the people’s knowledge, ability and power
24:31 - Food as way to heighten someone’s awareness
26:19 - The food pyramid as a form of oppression
27:44 - America’s authoritarianism vs. other places
31:29 - “In a speech before the National Alumni Conference at Princeton University on April 10, 1953, newly appointed CIA director Allen Dulles lectured his audience on ‘how sinister the battle for men's minds had become in Soviet hands.’ The human mind, Dulles warned, was a ‘malleable tool,’ and the Red Menace had secretly developed ‘brain perversion techniques.’ Some of these methods were ‘so subtle and so abhorrent to our way of life that we have recoiled from facing up to them.’ Dulles continued, ‘The minds of selected individuals who are subjected to such treatment are deprived of the ability to state their own thoughts. Parrot-like, the individuals so conditioned can merely repeat the thoughts which have been implanted in their minds by suggestion from outside. In effect the brain becomes a phonograph playing a disc put on its spindle by an outside genius over which it has no control.’ Three days after delivering this address Dulles authorized Operation MK-ULTRA, the ClA's major drug and mind control program during the Cold War.” — Acid Dreams (1985)
32:26 - What impact would you like to see your research make on society? Reaching the largest amount of people? or a certain type of person? Or are you completely detached from the outcome? “I’d like to see it lead to the disestablishment of medicine. The same general outcomes Ivan Illich worked for.” —RP (https://raypeatinsight.com/2013/06/06/raypeat-interviews-revisited/)
33:20 - Does Ray think an “optimal” society should include medicine or government?
34:59 - David Alfaro Siqueiros (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Alfaro_Siqueiros)