Cats and Theories
a blog by coticheque
a blog by coticheque

Can a worker be happy?

Can a slave be happy? A toiler of coal mines? A peasant cultivating the fields? (Alright, a peasant could be happy, as Christian holidays celebrated in Middle Ages apparently totaled up to 200 days per year). An Animal Laborans who does life maintenance for a living, ‘a beast of burden, a drudge condemned to routine’. A Homo Faber who merely reproduces artifacts of material world. Was a worker ever supposed to be happy?

Aristotle wrote that human happiness is thought to depend on leisure, because the most supreme virtue and pleasure are attained through contemplative activity. In order to cultivate virtue we need free time (that’s why the poor or farmers cannot attain true happiness). Leisure is the most serious activity in human life, the freedom from occupation, what we do when we’re free of necessity to work. It tells much more about us as human beings than our occupation or how we earn money. War is bad, and peace is only needed to make sure citizens have leisure. A truly good political regime should allow its citizens to contemplate and philosophize – by ensuring they have enough of free time.

We learn about happiness from the great books. Books are written by those who have time. Gentleman scientists, intellectuals, aristocrats, wealthy amateurs, inheritors of generational property and family wealth. The class of aristocracy. Some bloody duke sitting in his estate passed on by ten family generations, occupying free time by hunting ducks and maintaining correspondence with ladies from neighboring estates. How come we started to accept that their thoughts on happiness could be considered even vaguely applicable to the dismal subsistence of the laboring class?

Rethinking the institutions of reproduction

‘Mirrors and copulation are abominable, since they both multiply the numbers of men’ wrote Borges. Alas, the number of men needs to be multiplied sometimes in order for the population not to die out. What’s more, after reading Dawkins, it’s difficult not to view reproduction as the only truly objective goal of human life (because a human-centered viewpoint is myopic and hardly objective, while a gene-centered perspective on human life is broad and impartial).

As a civilization, we’re at the beginning of exciting times. The future is bright, and what science already allows us is a fascinating progress in the quest of liberating man from the dictate of obsolete nature. Challenging mainstream views on reproduction is still a taboo because many family-related institutions are considered sacred. But excessive attachment to customs is just a traditionalist legacy. I’m certain that in the next decades we’ll see radical changes related to the following spheres of reproduction: from fertilization and gestation, to the social arrangements of childcare and family life in general.

Why don’t Russians just overthrow Putin?

In the previous post, I described five conditions that need to be in place in order for a revolution to happen. It’s not just about masses of people coming to streets. It’s an intricate combination of numerous complex factors.

Now let’s analyze the current situation in Russia through the lens of these factors. Why don’t Russians just overthrow Putin? Well, we’ve been trying for 10 years!* Alas, it’s not that easy. Here’s why. And most importantly – what to do about it.

The oil prevents large economic crisis

Historically, most revolutions are triggered by at least some sort of an economic crisis.

It’s not easy to admit it, but the present-day Russia is following the development path of Gulf monarchies, not European nations. It shares way more similarities with countries of Arabian peninsula than I wished to admit. Dictators sitting on large stockpiles of oil deposits have almost infinite resources to invest into reinforcement of their military, as well as to maintain an okay-ish level of population’s wellbeing – so that people don’t get hopelessly desperate.

It’s obvious that Putin’s regime was carefully watching the unfolding of Arab spring revolts of 2010s. During those times, 4 presidents were overthrown, and political regimes in 6 more countries underwent significant changes. Alas, none of the oil-rich countries of the Arabian peninsula were shaken by revolutions. Massive uprisings in Bahrain and Oman were quickly suppressed thanks to the oil-financed troops of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Any emerging revolts in Saudi Arabia and UAE were shut down before even being able to unfold properly. Oil was also the reason why revolution went so horribly wrong in Libya, the only country in the region that had oil out of the neighboring Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, etc.

How to organize a revolution

Organizing a revolution is a delicate business. It’s a bit more than just coming to the streets en masse. Alas, it’s of so much importance these days that we would all benefit from some theoretical background of what makes a revolution successful.

In general, revolutions are rarely a good idea. They disrupt the cultural lineage (think of the communist revolutions) and give rise to dictatorship just as often as to equitable political regimes. But sometimes the government is so authoritarian and intolerably bad, that any change is better than the status quo.

In the past years, we’ve seen some unsuccessful revolutions. Protests and revolts driven by people, civil resistance, peaceful demonstrations. Those turn out to be terribly inefficient as the authoritarian regimes learn how to build up more arms. Look at Belarus in 2020, where half a million people protested on streets for almost a year, and achieved pretty much nothing. Other revolutions, such as Arab Spring uprisings of 2010s, may have technically succeeded but have given rise to an even bigger inequality in the long run. It’s quite an understatement to say that these cases are rather demotivating.

What went wrong? According to the political scientist Jack Goldstone, there’re five conditions necessary to create an ‘unstable social equilibrium’ that can lead to a successful revolution and a state breakdown. These factors are the following. The country has to be in a state of economic distress. The government needs to piss off military, economic, and religious elites. All social groups should resent the regime equally. There’s a need for at least some proto civil society with a more or less functional political opposition. The alternative political rhetoric should be circulating restlessly. And finally – the regime must be so bad that no foreign power would be willing to support it. Voila! The government is in a perfect position to be overthrown.

Obituary to the best of us

One point I always wanted to make is that there exists a right-wing political opposition in Russia and the government oppresses it just as much as the liberal opposition, if not even more. And it’s been under siege, strangled and almost dead by now.

A paradoxical point about Putin’s Russia is that the regime stands no tolerance to any potential competition, even among those ideologically aligned with it. Last week they assassinated one of the most talented and promising women in the present-day Russian political field. The tragic night, the catastrophic night. A self-explosive devise was installed in the car of Alexander Dugin – meant to be for him, yet detonated when his daughter was driving. For those who don’t know, Dugin is the most prominent and profound of Russian philosophers among the currently living. He influenced my generation quite immensely. Belonging to the ‘post-modernist right’, sometimes mad, sometimes ironic, declaring truth in cold blood, juggling the theories of Heidegger, Schmitt and Evola, the levels of depth he dares to reach are unmatched by anyone. His 29 year-old daughter was equally remarkable: a political analyst, journalist, I could clearly see her being elected as president in a decade or so. Playing dark ambient under the mesmerizing title Dasein May Refuse, recording footage from Azovstal, giving constant political commentary to foreign media, and most importantly continuing the course of thought of her outstanding dad. Who’s not the biggest proponent of Ukraine as a country obviously, but you won’t blame an advocate of the united ‘Eurasian world’ for that (we’ll discuss it later).

I heard the news in Vienna. It was supposed to be the first day of my vacation, yet I’m sitting here shattered. If you know the recent history of Russian politics, the flavor of such news is unmistakable. Plotting shady conspiracies, killing two rabbits with one shot, discovering a fake trace of your opponents, and hurting two enemies at once. These schemes are all too familiar, way too typical not to be recognized as the methods of Putin’s Federal Security Service or FSB. Despite the claims of catching a supposed murderer in only 48 hours, as well as blaming some shady partisan groups linked to a questionable Kremlin politician, it’s clearly just a bluff. Reminds me of yet another FSB bluff, a laughable case from April this year, when the police claimed to have caught a Ukrainian terrorist group planning assassination of a state-affiliated journalist – presenting as evidence a staged photo of the terrorists’ basecamp with a carefully arranged flat-lay of Mein Kampf, t-shirts with swastika, and three ‘Sims 3’ video games (obviously confused with ‘3 SIMs’ – task received as a part of the order).

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