Archive for the ‘Fascism’ Category

Monsters, RPG Heroes, Dark Souls, Fascism, and the end of the world

July 2, 2014

The “end of the world” is an understanding of approaching human annihilation by means of environmental degradation or destruction. This understanding is very old – it goes back at least as far as the early industrial revolution, a deep psychological understanding long before science would be able to provide confirmation. This understanding exists even in people who convince themselves into believing otherwise, like CEOs of American fossil fuel companies.

In a living system, the morality is about perpetuating life. This is true even in the midst of war – wars are ended when their destruction becomes too great for life to bear.

The morality of the living system of earth is ancient – it goes back at least as far as the first conscious beings – a minimum of tens of thousands of years. The morality of the dying system of earth only goes back a few hundred years. It’s fair to say we don’t know what we’re doing with respect to a dying earth.

While a living system goes about it’s life in service to it, a dying system desires to be saved, to be changed, to be transformed into a living system. Zombies call out for “brains” because they want to be alive again, and they consume humans because they want to be human. Likewise, our modern dying earth consumes it’s cultural history in an attempt to revive itself.

Fascism is terrified by death, marking it as the defining political construct of the modern age. Fascism collects all human effort into the state (which is often a function of corporations) and maximizes it’s power.

This is part of the framework of reality into which video games were born. Video games derive from the anarchic “do-it-yourself” desire, which is at least in theory the polar opposite of fascism. Video games, like the computer culture that gave birth to it, are about gaining mastery over an “alternate reality”, the virtual reality of computers and the internet.

Role-playing video games are often about saving the world since that’s what we want to do in real life. We would rather that life on earth continue but we lack the power to make that happen, so we play video games where we do have the power to make that happen within a virtual fantasy.

The worlds we create in video games are not industrial, and therefore are not dying. This problem is typically solved by a deus ex machina – a vastly evil being who seeks ultimate power, which is not the RPG hero himself but rather his foe. This foe, essentially fascist, has corrupted many living beings, transforming them into monsters serving him, and so the RPG hero hacks and slashes his way through the corrupted minions to reach and kill the evil being, thus preventing any further corrupted living beings and rendering the murders “breaking a few eggs to make an omelette” at best or “cleansing the land of evil” at worst.

This classic RPG premise doesn’t correspond to reality. An enraged Yemeni for example even if he could hack and slash his way through American minions to reach the White House and slay Barack Obama who directly authorized the murder of his friend, subsequently killed members of his family, and is the lead spokesman for what the global community calls the “biggest threat to world peace” doesn’t accomplish much. Obama just gets replaced with someone who does the same thing, or even worse due to the justification of Obama’s murder.

Conan the Deathbarian is a fantasy even WITHIN a fantasy. The world isn’t good except for a evil leader – Iraq isn’t a wonderful place now that Saddam Hussein is gone, the United States didn’t improve after George Bush left office, the world didn’t improve after Osama bin Laden’s death. There’s no such thing as saving the world, one corpse at a time. It’s a machistic myth, one consumed by people across the world, as Egyptians are currently discovering in their post-Mubarak era.

Even Hitler, the modern archetype for the “single evil person attempting world domination” is a *product* of his situation, not a cause of it. Germany’s terrible economic status after World War I gave birth to Hitler, but the RPG hero never hacks and slashes his way through economic policy, just through flesh and bone.

As we might say to Jason Vorhees – “murder is not the answer”. Jason Vorhees kills vapid over-sexed teen-agers who immorally defile the pristine state of nature, but he finds out that they just keep coming. Murder is futile. Perhaps Mr. Vorhees could consider that teenagers are vapid and over-sexed out of a sense of impotence regarding their dying world. As the porn industry can tell us, sexual oblivion is a powerful tool to deal with approaching annihilation.

In Dark Souls the main purpose of the protagonist is to provide hope to the world by lighting the bonfires. This hope is defined as some greater reality beyond oneself, manifested in the game’s gods. The world of Dark Souls is filled with creatures who no longer want hope – hence the attacks upon the protagonist who wants to remind them of what they’ve lost. Degree of humanity within the game is defined by one’s attitude toward hope – humans are hopeful and monsters are both hopeless and satisfied in that condition. The subversive element within the game is the questioning of the very people playing the game – do we have hope?

So while Dark Souls is a classic RPG in many respects, very much within the saving the world, one corpse at a time model, it’s progressive, abandoning the myth of the “single evil world-dominating being” and feels much more human as a result, despite or perhaps *because* it’s filled with the undead.

Other modern RPGs have likewise abandoned the “single evil being” myth, like the Witcher series.

Curiously, these “progressive” RPGs depict fairly terrible worlds, as if to compensate for the lack of a single mega-evil person the evil needs to be spread out everywhere. This is called “realism” but it’s no more real than the brutality in Game of Thrones, a pornographic rather than realistic depiction of brutality.

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Bodies in video games, part 2

September 7, 2013

The only genre, among the several in gaming, that features a variety of body types for the main character beyond “young, tight, supple”, is survival horror, and even then it’s usually a young adult or at most a young/middle aged fit character as the protagonist. Games which have a great deal of body customization *can* sometimes have skinny, obese, or old main characters, but at the logical expense of this having zero effect on anything in the game beyond the aesthetics of the main character. Fat and old characters aren’t slower, for example, and are responded to the same way by NPCs.

The responses so far in this thread (the two following the first) are rather ridiculous, since there’s as much or more to discuss with respect to the topic raised than the hundreds of responses to “boobs in games” threads, for example. The responses can be translated as “we’d rather not discuss the topic because it makes us uncomfortable”. At this point you should be asking yourself why the subject makes you uncomfortable. Consider this reply I’m making now as a possible additional response to the thread, of which countless potential others could occur if gamers can overcome their fear. We’ll see whether that happens.

The Nazis didn’t have to starve their prisoners prior to killing them – it would have been a lot cheaper to just kill them. The point of starving them was to turn them visually into “monsters”, to contrast them against the well-conditioned, well-fed Nazi soldiers, in order to provide psychic justification for the murders.

This is the precise same psychic justification that video games use with respect to the undead. Gamers see a skeleton – they think, “that’s not right, skeletons are supposed to be dead, not alive”, and then they proceed to make things right by making the skeleton dead and not alive. Just like Nazis looked at the skeletal prisoners in their concentration camps and thought “that’s not right, skeletons are supposed to be dead, not alive”, and then proceeded to make things right by making the skeletons dead and not alive.

Cleansing is fascist, and games which feature global cleansing in order to “save the world” can hardly be distinguished from the Nazi project of – global cleansing in order to save the world.

It seems to me to make no sense to have rightfully disempowered Nazism in the real world only to recreate it’s ideology in virtual form and then to encourage gamers to celebrate themselves for engaging in it.

This is especially dangerous because fascist cleansing is very much ongoing in the real world, as the unfortunate black ex-inhabitants of New Orleans discovered in it’s recent whitewashing, as Palestinians experience on a daily basis, as poor people across the US experience through active urban gentrification, as 400,000 hispanics a year deported from the US find out.

Between each other, some Zionists refer to Palestinians as monsters, and they would refer to them as monsters in the broader world if they could get away with it. These Zionists are saving Israel, aka “saving the world” from monsters by either killing them, rooting them out, or heavily exploiting them. Farming them for XP, in other words.

Since 80% of mainstream games feature killing as the primary form of gameplay, and this killing is based on the ideology of cleansing, and cleansing is fascist, this raises the question of what the value is of having gamers engaging in fascist ideology in virtual space on a regular basis, particularly when that engagement is deemed successful when the fascist project is successful – when the world is cleansed, for all the monsters to be killed.

Why doesn’t the gamer ever ask the question of where the “monsters” came from? What are these “monsters”? What is the significance of their anger? So many questions, but the game just gives the player a sword and tells him to start killing, that his killing is righteous, that he will get more powerful as he kills more “monsters”, that his power-gaining is awesome and he should embrace it, and that at the end of the slaughter when all the “monsters” are dead he will have won the game.

What game is being played here, exactly? Who is being killed? And who’s the murderer?

Bodies in video games

September 7, 2013

We talk quite a lot about breasts, their precise size, how they move and how much of them is shown by the developer. It’s a distraction from the much more important issue of how bodies in general are designed in video games.

People in real life typically look nothing like video game characters. There is a shininess, an artificial fluidity in all video game characters that does not reflect the solidity (even in a skeletal Kate Moss) of actual humans. This is also shown by the computer graphics effects in movies.

The larger issue is the ridiculousness of physique in video games. According to the World Health Organization, 33.9% of American adults are obese, while 8 other countries in the world have an even higher rate of obesity. Globally, 7.4% of people are obese, while 2.7 billion people in the world live on less than $2 a day in income and are thus (generally) too poor for obesity to be an option.

Even though video games are heavily inspired by the United States and Europe, obesity has not been much of an inspiration for game developers, if the typical tight, supple, well muscled bodies of especially game protagonists but also to a substantial extent other characters is any indication. It’s also very interesting that game protagonists have a considerably greater physique than other characters in the game, especially their victims, who are often depicted as scrawny or normal (ala the undead fodder such as skeletons and zombies or usually the hapless 3rd world soldiers in military shooters). This is a bit reminiscent of well-fed and conditioned Arian Nazi guards murdering ravaged starving Jews, gypsies, or disableds, who often looked like human skeletons, in other words “monsters”, prior to being cleansed by the Nazi protagonists, a small difference being that the Nazi guards were not sporting enough to give the human skeletons a weapon prior to cutting them down.

The other primary issue is age. The median age of humans in the real world is 26.4. The median age of humans in some of the most influential countries for game developers, lets say the United States, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom, is 36.9, 44.6, 43.7, and 40.5, respectively.

What’s the median age of video game characters? I doubt anyone’s researched it, but my sense is maybe the mid to high 20s, with Japanese developers being noted for using very young characters in their games. In particular game protagonists are quite young – even playing a middle aged one such as in The Walking Dead or The Last of Us is strange for gamers. Playing an elderly one would cause most of us to fall out of our chairs in shock and the rest to congratulate themselves for not doing so.

Let’s look at this a bit deeper. Game engines, as John Carmack understands them, are like race cars – the whole point is to make them fast, sleek, and responsive, or “sexy” as he would put it. Fat isn’t sexy, old isn’t sexy. Young, well-conditioned, supple, tight, 6-packed, surgically crafted, etc. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have an engine built on the philosophy of well-conditioned youth and then populate it with people who don’t fit the bill.

Something even more interesting emerges when we consider the history of video games. For much of gaming’s history, game graphics simply couldn’t render a “tight, young, supple” human physique. The game could still have one, as described in the manual and imagined by the player, but it couldn’t show it. And, strangely enough, THEREFORE IT DIDN’T HAPPEN.

I’m straining to think of a single game, even a single one, which had a Lara Croft, Dante, Bayonetta, or Kratos prior to them being able to be graphically rendered as such. Games with primitive graphics which could still render physique, such as the original arcade version of Gauntlet, did not present even the Warrior as anything like Kratos or Dante – really just a beefy lumberjacky guy – the kind of guy one would expect as a warrior.

Just as the not-so-wise John Carmack engaged the game industry in a race for the sexiest engine, game developers of today are in a race for the sexiest possible renderable game protagonist – so Bayonetta battles Lara Croft while Dante battles Kratos and bi-gender Shepard battles sanity.

And game reviewers and “critics” get up on their soapbox to once again talk about boobs, now in Dragon’s Crown. Boobs and how they are shown and isn’t that so fucking terrible. Some fools just can’t see the forest for the trees.

Fascism in art and the Apocalyptic condition

July 30, 2013

Think about a situation where answers are desperately needed, everyone wants to have the answers but no one has them. So philosophers get popular who might have the answers, buffoonish talk show hosts semi-convince themselves into believing they have the answers, holier-than-thou television judges sentence the answers from on-high, superheroes who have the power to impose answers become popular.

There’s a word for this – fascism. It’s the same situation Germany was in in the 1920s and 1930s – they had their pride demolished and their bellies emptied. I don’t know if I agree that Ender’s Game is fascist, I won’t use the term neo-fascist because I believe there’s little neo about it – it’s very similar to the situation in Nazi Germany.
Fascism in art can be misconstrued – anyone could produce art *about* fascism without the art being fascist. So the question about Nicolas Winding Refn’s career for example I believe is clear – he’s fascist. He’s on the record as stating that his movie Drive is about heroism, not about fascism. His other movies are less clear. But even Refn is sympathetic, for example the female lead in the movie Drive is clearly terrified into submission by the fascist social reality all around her, and the male lead is terrified into violence by the same social reality – so Refn presents fascism in a very honest and impressive fashion. Drive is the best movie *about* fascism ever made even though it was made by a fascist. Perhaps the accurate thing to say about Refn is that he’s an artist first, and a fascist second, whereas even the more artistic Nazis had the order reversed. This might just be indicative of a more apocalyptic time, where even fascists don’t really believe in fascism because they believe there’s no real future for fascism to exist within.
Another argument for this being neo-fascism is that unlike the 1930s, technological mass distribution now rules the world, so art can help impose a fascist worldview in a much more powerful way than the relatively primitive Nazi propaganda films of that era. One could argue cynically but probably correctly that it was precisely the failure of Nazi propaganda that led to an explosion in mass media distribution, television the most obvious example. Once fascism fails the answer must be to create a more powerful version of it, just like the failure of the Soviet Union led to increased surveillance and control within “free” societies which had “won” the Cold War. This inverts the old Roman process of the loser in a war imitating the victor.
The logical thing with Orson Scott Card is to examine his career – if he’s fascist he’s not likely to write one book expounding his fascism while the rest have nothing to do with it. Refn’s career for example is all about men searching for meaning in life, and imposing meaning with great violence when none is presented to them. I’ve only read a couple of Card’s other books and was offended by them, but I’ve never recognized the precise nature of the offense, and they weren’t about fascism in the clear way that Ender’s Game is. Much like Refn’s Drive though, Ender’s Game is a great work of art, and is very sympathetic towards the main character.
There’s always more going on in the world than meets the eye, and to return to my previous point, one major difference between Nazi Germany and today is the understanding of human apocalypse. Ecological collapse was not widely believed in back then, so the Nazis really did envision a long term history for Arian rule. They had hope in the future of humanity. Fascists of today have no hope, just like the elite have no hope, and regular people have no hope. Noone believes in the future, or at least in a future that contains happy and healthy human beings. Fascists, just like everyone else, don’t see a future in fascism, so what’s the point of them being fascist?
It’s like different architects getting together to debate what kind of building to construct. A fascist building, a democratic building, etc. If a tsunami’s just going to destroy the building anyway, then what does it matter?
Apocalypse creates a crisis of meaning, giving advantage to humans who no longer care about meaning. This is insidious, because apocalypse is not just an ecological status, or an industrial status (nuclear weapons), or a psychosocial-technical status (global surveillance), or a political status, it’s also a personal status. Once one no longer cares about meaning one builds a future with no meaning, and then there’s no reason for the world to continue even if it otherwise would. But it’s increasingly illogical to build a future with meaning when there’s no future to contain the meaning.
In other words, the ecological reality trumps all other issues, certainly issues of fascism vs. democracy. Whether the earth is going to sustain human life in the future overwhelms all other issues.
This itself has deep and very unfortunate implications in it’s monomania. Aren’t women’s rights important? Isn’t racism terrible and very damaging? Since every other issue becomes meaningless in the face of human extinction, there’s no ability to care about these issues, just like a man who has been stabbed no longer cares about his wife, he just cares about getting healed and THEN he can go back to caring about his wife.
Fascism vs. democracy only matters in a world containing humans to actually experience one or the other.
To be fair though, issues like women’s rights, racism, and of course fascism vs. democracy IMPACT whether or not humans survive in the world. I’m a global socialist precisely due to the terrible destructive nature of capitalism and the fact that getting rid of capitalism is one of the best methods of enabling the continuation of human life.
So the fight for democracy is still important even in these dark times. It impacts human survival.

Operation Sentinel: The High-Tech Police State Takes Shape

August 18, 2008

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The House That Rupert Built

June 25, 2008

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Comcast’s Spooky Employment Opportunities

June 2, 2008

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Our ‘Managed Democracy’

May 21, 2008

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Riot Squads, Privatization, and the National Front: David Peace’s GB84

May 21, 2008

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US Citizens Sue Government for Illegal Detention

May 3, 2008

Part 1

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Whistleblower talks about Bush wiretapping

April 12, 2008

Part 1

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Corporations – Command Economies

April 12, 2008

It’s extremely illogical if nothing else that the same people who fervently defend corporations are those who deride communism. In communism a small localized elite establish policy for an economy (that of a nation). This policy is then handed down and expected to be carried out, with punishments for those who do not do so.

In a corporation a small localized elite establish policy for that corporation. This policy is then handed down and expected to be carried out, with punishments for those who do not do so.

Alright then, so what are the *differences* between corporations and communism, which lead some people to celebrations of the former and demonizations of the latter?

Argument #1: Corporations are less powerful than communist states and therefore less threatening.

This is true in the case of many corporations, but not all. Many corporations now have a higher GDP than that of most nations. And given the tremendous privileges given to corporations under the law, their size and power are very much unchecked, unlike that of nations. No rational human being can say that in today’s world communism is more threatening than corporations (and corporatism, the political system of power than corporations wield).

Argument #2: Corporations compete against each other which leads to gains in productivity, unlike communist nations.

That’s false on both sides. Communist nations do compete against other nations in terms of economic performance. The Soviet Union for example was a failure of economics. Most giant corporations do not so much compete against other corporations as compete against local governments, with respect to repressing any laws that favor workers and allowing low costs for resource extraction. Having defeated the local government, profit naturally ensues, in the same sense that if I was to go to a neighbor’s house, extort him into giving me his family’s money in exchange for a kickback, profit to me would necessarily ensue. This would then be described as a “free market transaction”. That is to say, I am free to extort and run a “successful corporation” which is “more productive” than the competition. If others go out of business as a result that’s merely “competition” which weeds out companies that are “inefficient”.

But to be fair, corporations also compete against other corporations. They mainly do so through marketing and advertising, since their products are tremendously uniform (not that they are beyond hyping any minor difference in the product). This marketing and advertising establishes utterly irrational links, having nothing to do with the product. Hence the “Be Like Mike” campaign that helped Nike sell shoes. While Michael Jordan would probably have performed considerably worse if wearing sandals instead of shoes, the type of shoe he wore had more to do with who was paying him more money (and most improving his image and marketability) than anything else. Hence Michael Jordan himself would have “Been Like Mike” had he been wearing Adidas’s.

So, obviously, this competition does not result in gains in productivity, unless you consider irrational advertising to be in some way productive. It certainly doesn’t help Nike produce more shoes at a lower cost, and the price of Nike shoes reflects that.

State Dept. Renews Blackwater Contract in Iraq

April 8, 2008

Part 1

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The Audacity of Depression

April 4, 2008

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Exposing the NSA’s Warrantless Wiretapping Program

April 3, 2008

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

China, Olympics, & Propaganda; Democracy or Economy; Destroying a 5,000-Year-Old Civilization

March 30, 2008

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Sitting Out but Standing Tall: Tokyo Teachers Fight an Uphill Battle Against Nationalism and Coercion

March 22, 2008

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COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story

March 19, 2008

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Black Prison Gulag and the Police State

March 6, 2008

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Economic Meltdown

March 5, 2008

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The Obama Doctrine?

March 4, 2008

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Imperial Fascism

March 3, 2008

This is very noticeable in both Japanese animation as well as American media. It’s the lone hero fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds. This kind of media prepares the citizenry for fascism.

Democracy never features a lone hero. Democracy is about mass popular movements constraining and ultimately controlling the elite. I have yet to see this portrayed in any elite media. It’s not difficult to reason why.

It hardly matters whether the lone hero defeats the “evil empire” or not. All that happens is the lone hero will then have the power, and the people will be in a similar situation.

Anime portrays the common people as helpless victims of the vast destructive war between the “good guys” and “bad guys”. Screaming in terror is common – faceless and then a corpse is also common. A democratic story would show the democratic struggle rather than people living mundane apolitical lives followed by violent death.

But it can’t be portrayed this way – since the lone hero model, whether it be Chuck Norris, Arnold Swartzenegger, Shinji Ikari, Motoko Kusanagi, or any of countless others and all it implies (a complete lack of democratic energy in the populace) presents an extreme vision of fascism, which is the propaganda model the media wants to portray, and consistently does portray.

Imperial media shows two sides battling for power, with the winner getting the right to enslave the people and the loser receiving subjugation. Yet, sadly, it’s the people themselves who make up the majority of the viewers of this material. Of course, the media does not portray the battle in those terms. It’s portrayed as one side fighting “for peace, justice, and freedom” and the other fighting “for domination, subjugation, and slavery”. George W. Bush’s rhetoric is hardly any different.

Taslima Nasrin & "Free Speech"

February 27, 2008

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The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War

February 25, 2008

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Are police officers your friends?

February 19, 2008

There are people driving around with guns who are trained and willing to fire those guns accurately at humans. This is at the very least a dangerous situation for anyone who is not friends with such people.