Random Sartwell Quotations on Contemporary Politics

This article is dedicated to the roughly five percent of you who actually own your own minds. Don’t bother reading on if you voted for either Bush or Kerry last time, as the material provided is either over your head or very likely to piss you off. Actually, this is not what I would properly call an article, but is merely a collection of recent quotations from some dude named Crispin who seems to have his shit together:

On fairie dust:

Jane [his five year old daughter] says of her 7-year-old friend, Emma, that she used to believe in fairies but that she doesnt anymore. She has asked me whether she herself, when she grows up, will stop believing. I hope not. And I hope so. I dont have a great deal of respect for adults who believe in fairies. Sane adulthood is entrapment in a world without magic, in a real world.

On terrorism, rule of law and Gitmo:

The Washington Post reports that there have been several suicide attempts among detainees at Guantanamo Bay, where dozens of prisoners are on hunger strikes. You might be suicidal too if you were arrested secretly and held without charge, without trial, without representation, without recourse, for years on end, perhaps for the rest of your life, in solitary confinement.

Terrorists, of course, deserve no better. But calling these people terrorists when no evidence has been or has to be produced is idiotic. And if you simply believe it on the basis of a sheer assertion by the administration, then you are an enthusiast for tyranny. You do not deserve to live in a democracy. Certainly, you are an enemy of the Constitution in its details and in its essence.

One basis of our Constitutional system is what is quaintly termed “the rule of law.” This involves public promulgation of laws that apply equally to all persons, and adjudication by known judges in public proceedings. The Guantanamo prison – and the Bush administration’s domestic and international system of secret detention facilities as a whole – is as clear a violation of the rule of law as anything could possibly be: it is rule by arbitrary decree.

Current events:

First, a quick bracing dip in utter evil: the administration edited and distorted intelligence and exploited September 11 to manipulate the country into war. Then it asserted its right to imprison anyone it pleased, American citizen or not, secretly, without trial, representation, or charge. Then it opened up a worldwide system of secret internment facilities, while frying the citizens of Fallujah with phosphorus incendiaries. Then the Vice President of the United States declared his frank enthusiasm for torture.

Indeed, one might wonder whether the Bush administration is torturing people in order to fight terrorism, or fighting terrorism in order to torture people.

e.e. cummings styled:

it would be nice to have a truly free press at the upper levels, if you get me: major newspapers that are not both investigating and sleeping with dick cheney.

On rap music:

If Thomas Paine or Karl Marx were [here] today, they might be issuing records rather than pamphlets.

Not quite so profound, but contains an interesting link (and allows for recreational activity between Act I and Act II):

you may be interested to know that semen cures depression.

Back to the show: Welfare:

don’t tell anyone this, ok? i just had lunch with the person who runs america’s food stamp program. she or perhaps he is thrilled at the way things are going. she or perhaps he is being allowed to do her or perhaps his work, and her budget just got increased in a satisfactory way. could it be that there’s a human side to the, er, death machine? that quietly, secretly they do right things too? amazingly she or perhaps he did not pay for those incredible crabcakes at lexington market with foodstamps.

The cult of the state:

usually the first argument for the legitimacy of state power goes something like this: people (other than me and my friends) are fundamentally selfish and destructive. so they must be constrained from doing terrible things by force. they need a code enforced by an authority. this whole thing makes no sense if the state itself is a group of people.

usually the first argument for the legitimacy of state power goes something like this: people (other than me and my friends) are fundamentally selfish and destructive. so they must be constrained from doing terrible things by force. they need a code enforced by an authority. this whole thing makes no sense if the state itself is a group of people.

Not quite the end (as we know it, but I feel fine):

if there is any idea that has been demonstrated to be a bad one in the course of human history, it is the political state. take just the twentieth century. the incredible bloodlettings of the world wars are inconceivable without the political state, without the taxation and coercion that make possible gigantic military machines and vast armies. the culmination of these activities is nuclear weapons and the possibility of the complete annihilation of life on the planet earth. only the political state has the motivation or the resources to make such things and the idiocy to believe that it’s in its own interests to do so. the twentieth century will be looked upon as the age of genocide. begin with armenians in turkey, forced collectivization of agriculture in ussr, japanese occupation of china, the holocaust, the killing fields, rwanda, chechnya, darfur: every single one of them requiring and deploying and driven by the incomparable resources and incomparable power and incomprehensible evil of the political state.

Democrats and Republicans:

The position on the war of Kerry and Edwards and Billary has been an exquisite barometer of the polling, from clearly pro, to sheer confusion, to bold opposition. It is worth pointing out that as these folks gaze mesmerized at the polls, people have been dying.

If you put your position on war at the mercy of polling numbers, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that you actually believe. Their advocacy of the war was meaningless; their hemming and hawing through the election was meaningless; their opposition now is meaningless.

If murder polled well, these people would tax you to have you hit. When the murder numbers went south, they’d mutate into beatific Gandhian pacifists. That is not a hypothetical assertion.

By comparison, the Republican position is clear, consistent, principled, honest. It would be altogether admirable if it weren’t absolutely abominable.

Thus, American politics presents us with an interesting dilemma, a kind of pointed cosmic test. Satanism or nihilism? Hell or the void? Eternal damnation or perfect extinction? Evil or nothingness?

Before I cast my vote, I have one question: how are Satan’s job approval numbers?

Not quite the meaning of life, but almost:

Perhaps the deepest, most vexing question of human life is this: How can fallible creatures such as ourselves find the truth?

I am pleased to announce that after years of exhaustive research, I can answer this question, once and for all and unanswerably, with absolute deductive rigor. The probability that X is true is inversely proportional to the number of people who believe it. I term this The Principle of Inverted Consensus.

Of course, if you made it all the way through to the last quote without going into some sort of apoplectic seizure, you already knew (either by study or natural inclination) the truth contained herein. Learning how to reverse this trend must be our uncompromising mission.

18 Comments
  1. One of my favorites from Hicks: “A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back, he ever wants to see a fucking cross? Kind of like going up to Jackie Onassis with a rifle pendant on, you know.”

  2. I remember once finding some sort of Sartwell tie to los Defeatists, but didn’t know he blogged there. Now I have another source for quotes. :)

  3. I love Crispin Sartwell- his column is almost always thought provoking. He and Sharon Presley edited the essays of Voltairine de Cleyre and bound it in a book titled “Exquisite Rebel
    The Essays of Voltairine de Cleyre — Anarchist, Feminist, Genius.” The result was an absolutely, fantastic read. Thanks, Stephen, for adding the little disclaimer warning the right and left of the content. It may save me the time of reading many ugly emails later.

  4. Michelle,

    We already got a nasty link off this posting. But one can’t say they weren’t forewarned.

  5. Crispin himself voted for Kerry, which makes the idea that “the material provided [will be] either over your head or very likely to piss you off.”

  6. Hmmmm, Crispin voted Kerry? That seems a little odd considering this: http://www.crispinsartwell.com/someoneelse.htm
    and the part that specifically states, “What Nader is doing might throw the election to Bush. On the other hand, I’m going to vote for Michael Badnarik, and the libertarians might throw the election to Kerry.

    But I’m telling you, if you don’t jump off Kerry, you vote for our political culture of cowardice and lies and contradiction and emptiness: they are your own cowardice and lies and contradiction and emptiness. Yours.”

  7. Just read SG’s link. Guess Sartwedll did vote Kerry and I stand corrected. That said, he hardly seemed happy about his vote. This especially seems odd coming from him, but I guess it further demonstrates how reasonably intelligent people get f’d by the crap Republicans and Democrats spew about wasted votes. The US has more than two political parties and as long the two in power peddle the fear that a vote for a different party doesn’t count, we will see the same. It really is sad.

  8. after voting libertarian from 1976 to 2000, and after promising to again, i voted for kerry. i hated al gore beyond measure. but i found myself wishing he had won, if nothing else for the sake of the poor chumps being abducted and tortured, and the civil liberties of americans.

  9. Electoral Chaos Theory was interesting. I might have to chart a proof for the next third party campaign I run.

    I understand the concerns about torture and civil liberties, BTW. We are all over those issues here, as well.

  10. As a libertarian who voted for Badnarik, I understand Crispin’s confusion. I still haven’t figured out if Kerry’s so-called wishy-washy demeanor was the result of the laborious process of thinking things over and coming to one’s own conclusions, or the general confusion the Demoplicans have experienced since 2000 and before.
    Basically, he took so long to declare his opposition to the war that I stopped caring. It was like hearing all those “teasers” about the new Star Wars films years before they came out: you cry “Wolf!” without cause too much, you get eaten.
    I remember there was some “controversy” over Badnarik supposedly not paying his taxes for some years. My first response was, “Good! A man who has the guts to practice what he preaches, even though he may very well end up in jail.”
    I’ve voted my conscience–not what others told me–since 1992, when I proudly voted for Andre Marrou. I intend to continue, in spite of the third-party bashers who claim we put George II in office.