Review of "St. Anger" and "Some Kind of Monster"

metallica_tdaxp

What can I say? Metallica rocks.

When I first picked up St. Anger at Best Buy, the week of its release, I was disappointed. The album starts as cliche as possible

“My lifestyle determines my deathstyle”
Frantic

And while some songs have good lines

“Fuck it all and no regrets”
St. Anger

The album underperformed…

Until I read Xenocide by Orson Scott Card, in which a protagonist lives with a misdiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder. Suddenly more of the album made sense:

Been here before couldn’t say I liked it
Do I start writing all this down?

Name this for me, heat the cold air
Take the chill off of my life

It comes alive
And I die a little more
It comes alive
Each momnent here I die a little more

Then the unnamed feeling
It comes alive
Then the unnamed feeling
Takes me away

And then, yesterday, watched Some Kind of Monster, a documentary of the creation of St. Anger

It was amazingly good.

The documentary team was hired to create a “The Osbornes”-style reality tv miniseries, which would show the wacky hijinx three musicians would have writing a new hit album.

The result was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival, a psychological drama of conflicting goals and (non-humorous) unethical therapy.

Further, Some Kind of Monster gives the songs and lyrics of St. Anger new meaning. I hadn’t listened to the album all the way through since August. I’ve listened to it several times today.

Both Some Kind of Monster and St. Anger are highly recommended. Get them both!

Liberal Education, Part I: The Petty Troika

“Must be your skin that I’m sinkin in
Must be for real cause now I can feel
and I didn’t mind
it’s not my kind

Bush, “Glycerine,” from the album Sixteen Stone

Does liberal education destroy the three things that humans want most?


This is a speculative post, made to answer questions by Mark, Chet Richards, and Federalist X, and to expand on some questions I had. This isn’t a definition of a strategy, like “Embracing Victory” — or even a rumination, like “The Magic Cloud.” It is an attempt to clarify my thinking, as well as an honest question. Feedback is warmly appreciated.

In particular, this web series will expand on a comment I made at ZenPundit

If [the root of “4th Generation Warfare“] a crisis of legitimacy of the state, it may be a self-inflicted one.

The grand educational project of the past 130 years has been the destruction of identity. Liberal education is designed to create relativists, to introduce critical thinking, and to break free of the past.

In other words, create a need for belonging where none existed before.

So now instead of widespread if petty sub-national groups, we have a highly-cognitive elite, a middle morass of nothingness, and among far too many a need to belong.

The (slow) rise of competitive primary and secondary education in the United States, coupled with an affinity for Confucian methods in China, may show a rejection of liberal education methods.

Ultimately the morality of liberating or controlling education may be besides the point. If liberal education sows fields for a 4GW harvest, it will be abandoned to defend the State.

and its companion over at Global Guerrillas

Would the weakness of states made possible by liberal education also be a root cause? The education system in most modern countries is designed to sweep away the petty identities students come in with, making them more amenable to 4GW-style revolutionary ideologies.

I would imagine a significant fraction of American ideological-revolutionaries (from SDS to American salafis) share a fantastic liberal education.

I earlier wrote that reality is a sea of friction, but for most of history, human interactions relied primarily on the troika of folk, kin, and trade.

troika_russian_sled

For instance, in The Good Earth the protagonist can be neatly summed up as

Folk: Northern Han
Kin: Wang
Trade: Farmer

Likewise in Atlas Shrugged, our hero Dagney is

Folk: American
Kin: Taggert
Trade: Industrialist

Visually:

petty_troika_md
A troika, a social sled drawn by three characteristics

Even sketchily drawn characters, such as the motorcyclist in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, are best identified by this troika

Folk: American
Kin: Father of Chris
Trade: Rhetorician / Philosopher

Throughout time, it was the interaction of these three categories which provided the conflict of life. Each of these qualities can naturally lead to their own petty leagues

Folk: Tribes
Kin: Clans
Trade: Guilds

And indeed the better part of history is the struggle between these. Until the rise of Capitalism.

The two greatest desires of humans are the needs for power and justice. The most effective movements, such as Holy Wars, combine rewards for the followers (ample tracts of lands, enslaved concubines) with justice for all (That all will hear the Call of the Lord equally). However, in mundane matters the wealth and justice drives directly conflicted. Most historical economic system were essentially zero-sum, meaning that for every winner there had to be a loser. Therefore strife between tribes, clans, and guilds often turned violent. Those who also believed in justice were largely marginalized, except for rhetorical purposes.

Capitalism allows the explosive crystallization of folk, kin, and trade networks. Production capacity continually crimes, reducing the incentive for violence and increasing the incentive for peaceful cooperation. The expanding wealth of a society naturally leads to governments which are able to buy off enemies — to manage crime — which allows for potential internal enemies to be pacified while the societal pie grows larger. Further, capitalism increases the number of proven technologies and techniques, allowing ever greater security. The triple-identity of man as a folk/kin/trade creature doesn’t diminish, but the troika becomes increasingly “petty” from the perspective of the state.

Sadly, the desire of the State to do more soon interfered. Governments failed to focus on decreasing inter-group conflict and protecting citizens against enemies. Instead, the traditionally hegemonic State became imperial, and attempted to focus the citizen around it. Unable to focus the folk, kin, and trade identities around it (the number of States which tried this is small, and includes Khmer Rogue Cambodia), States instead focused on breaking the identities of its citizens.

The tool the State used to do this was Liberal Education.

To quote from Wikipedia

Today, the liberal arts are often promoted as “liberal” in a later Enlightenment sense, as liberating of the mind, removing prejudices and unjustified assumptions. In spite of the earlier medieval meaning, this is regarded by many today as the more relevant sense of the broader term liberal education.

The purpose of liberal arts is snap out the petty engines of the folk, the kin, and the trade. Because all men find themselves under the State anyway, this should create less friction in State-citizen interaction. For similar reasons, States cobbled together out of tribal societies (such as Ba’athi Iraq and Saudi Arabia) try to dilute the influence of tribes, to bring the citizen closer to the State.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that any education with furthers these petty loyalties is illiberal education

The scope of the liberal arts has changed with society. It once emphasised the education of elites in the classics; but, with the rise of science and humanities during the Age of Enlightenment, the scope and meaning of “liberal arts” expanded to include them. Still excluded from the liberal arts are topics that are specific to particular occupations, such as agriculture, business, dentistry, engineering, medicine, pedagogy (school-teaching), and pharmacy.

These illiberal educations still exist, because they help the State promote economic growth. Non-economic illiberal education, such as homo economics and genealogy, have been largely excluded from public education all together.

Through liberal education — through its weakening of the ties of folk, kin, and trade, the State seeks to “push out” from what’s really important, making the citizen more bendable to the State’s desires


Liberal Education, a tdaxp series

Liberal Education 1: The Petty Troika
Liberal Education 2: Liberation and Rulesets
Liberal Education 3: Infection
Liberal Education 4: The Mitochondrial Peace