When studying the Absurd Arts of History, the disciplined student soon uncovers particular patterns and occult designs within the human condition under civilization.
Empires come and go; they bust forth suddenly, and then implode within. Meanwhile, other states commit various legal crimes, and later embrace the art of war with divide and conquer methods. Most of human history records these outrageous deeds, which often refer to sinister and heroic men. Our historical heroes have often become great through the losers’ blood and scattered intestines across thousands of battlefields.
True culture comes out of the Earth, but it also erupts within the scarred lands of human combat, meaning dead, mangled bodies with all of the rotting flesh of humans, animals and plants; violence has also birthed the mutated fruits of human civilization, or as we say today, culture.
This historical truth displays itself perfectly through the decade of 250 BCE, from 260 to 250 BCE in the European Gregorian Calendar; although the events did not happen in Europe, but instead, commenced in the Indian subcontinent.
At one time, before the Great Mughal Empire, over a thousand years earlier, there was the Maurya Dynasty, or the Great Empire of the Maurya. This empire almost conquered the whole of the subcontinent, leaving only scattered unknown parts of the deep north, the east, deep south and the island of Sri Lanka, who were not directly under imperial rule. This is not to say that those little kingdoms did not pay their taxes or tributes to the imperial leaders.
The Maurya Empire of the Ancient Indian subcontinent, was not just any imperial master, it also helped create the spiritual power and mystical reputation of this particular world region.
Still to this day, Europeans have ventured into this European-colonized, tourist realm for a spark of spiritual solace, guidance, ecstasy, or simply to smoke hashish and opium – and hopefully enjoy it with the homeless religious ascetics, called ‘Sadhus.’
Other superficial, Europeanized tourists hang out in particular regions, such as Goa, in order to try the harder stuff, such as Molly, Acid, Heroin and Cocaine. Little do they know that Modern India helped receive its spiritual-mystical reputation from a very powerful empire that ruled there about 2,250 years ago!
One particular Maurya emperor solidified imperial power and grandeur for centuries to come. His name was Asoka. In pre-Machiavelli fashion, he managed to murder most of his siblings, so he alone could grab the throne. He was of a powerful build, possessing long stands of black coal hair and he had the dark eyes of a vulture. He was not only a plotter, but a mighty warrior and soldier who commanded thousands of troops, soldier-executioners.
A province had rebelled against the mighty Maurya, and his new role was to destroy this rebellion. He did just that – and with a terrible fury of public executions and the complete destruction of cities. Like a good military commander, he murdered thousands. The region had the name of Kalinga.
Asoka brutally conquered ‘the enemy,’ but he was also smart enough to adopt a new religious ideology in order to safely rule and maintain power. He publicly stated that he repented of his harsh military exploits, and needed to make ‘spiritual amends,’ and even heal the wounds of war and conquest, for both victors and defeated.
His majesty became the first Indian dynastic ruler to embrace the religion-philosophy of Buddhism. It was Asoka that actually transformed the philosophy of mental discipline, also called the Dhamma, into Buddhism, the world religion.
His imperial forbears did similar things. The first emperor of the Maurya became a Jain religious ascetic, living naked and fasting in a small room until this death – after the great conquests of course.
Asoka changed the laws to reflect Dhamma ethics: no stealing, no adultery, no sedition, no insults, no street brawling, etc. He helped establish the first universities in the world, and especially the one in Nalanda. He financed the Sangha, meaning the body of monks, to copy and organize the multiple sacred texts, or sayings of the Buddha.
Asoka even facilitated the monks to preach the message of the Dhamma to other parts of Asia. Buddhism eventually spread west to Gandhara, (modern-day Afghanistan, Central Asia and eastern Iran), and within a few centuries, moved east to the Indochinese lands and the Malay archipelagos. Asoka transformed the Maurya dynasty, from an empire representing ambition, ego, conquest, war and the bad death, to a universal regime of right conduct and right rule. Official, shoddy history displays the Leader as a righteous ruler that realized the error of his imperial ways. He made right by fostering the spread of the Dhamma on an international level.
What is quite ironic about this official history is that if Asoka was so saddened by his past ruthless behavior, then why did he not forsake his throne, like the Buddha did, as Gautama Siddhartha, some centuries earlier? Asoka could have rescinded his conquest of Kalinga, and even let the other subjected provinces decide for themselves, if they had wanted to pay taxes to the Great Maurya.
Asoka ‘felt remorse’ after his successful, initial conquests, and this is the key to understanding the grand historical mystery concerning conflict, culture and power.
Culture, or Human Culture, represents a chaotic blend of mental illusions, fantasies and manipulated mind obsessions constructed into everyday actions. Culture births from Agriculture, but it grows strong through State manipulations of past conflicts.
Culture first derived from Agriculture, the Violence of the Hunt and the Gathering of fruits-leaves-fungus-nuts, with the complete Art of food preparation also called, ‘cooking.’ This base of culture always began in the agricultural arts, or really the sacred lands, or the Earth of the people. The word culture even comes from the larger term of agriculture.
This truth about culture also explains why many bigots and ethnocentric creeps often enjoy the foods of cultures that they despise. Do not many Mexican haters in the United States also love their enchiladas, margaritas, tequilas, burritos and tacos? Most modern humans make cultural associations towards a particular culture’s foods.
State propaganda often repeats a false media image against a particular culture in order to encourage hate and murder. All state apparatuses understand that Culture can also grow through legalized murder, or warfare.
But as Culture gets more sedentary, routine and boring, the human condition under civilization needs to create, formulate and fantasize about what they are – and what they are not. This dualistic mental game, or Identity Creation, births the imagined ego.
The State always transcends such lies into transformative truths. The State Institution instructs the subject slaves about who they are, their essential characteristics, and who they are not – implying their opposites, or their enemies. Think on the American Cold War during the 1950s-1990s A.D., and now the US War against the Terrorists.
The most obvious methods in this identity construction are through a shared, common language and political symbols. The subject slaves know their particular symbols of rule, i.e., the emperor, the king, the prime minister, the president, etc., and they fully comprehend their ‘special language.’ Every subject can fully understand his or her fellow subject, even with slight accents, while the potential enemies speak a whole different idiom.
As the people transform into prideful and spiteful subjects, the State can easily motivate the ‘people’ to intellectually support – and even commit their loved ones to die for the State through continual warfare. And as the society becomes more complex and larger, some families hold even greater possessions than their neighbors, all of which become public signs of higher economic status. Class differences emerge, and so there is not only external war, but internal warfare, or Class War.
All of this war and conflict creates History. History is the final foundation of culture. Food, the State, Conflict, Imagined Ego Identity Crises, Language and History merge into humanity’s sacred vomit of Culture.
As Anarchists, many of us believe that Culture can resist the State. Yes, a counterculture can do such things, but the origins of culture, will always return to its fetid source: towards some Authority, and energy draining conflicts. Even the most antagonistic counterculture can fall prey to State and Corporate co-optation, sell-out practices. Think on pop-punk, MTV raps, and contemporary, classic rock stations.
If Culture is not the truth, and does not represent true authenticity in resisting the State and Capitalism, then what does not sell out? Where does the power of the people come from? The answer is only one moral practice: the Code of Honor.
The Code of Honor comprises: Mental Control or Mind Discipline, Defending Human Dignity, Gentlemanly-Gentlewomanly Prudence and Honesty, Courage to Act when hunted by the murderers of the State or the Elites, and boldly facing our Actual Deaths.
Even if such individuals form an armed cohesive guerrilla unit against Tyranny, i.e. the American Revolution, and even then, lose the gun battles and their lives too, i.e. the Spanish Republicans, they will eventually win the cultural war against the State and the political-economic Elites. Why is this? Honor with Integrity always defeats False Honor with Legal Criminality.
Culture is just two sides of the same rotten Human Coin.