|This kind of meme deserves|
to be killed with fire.
Thinking you're free doesn't make you free
There's a lot to be said about will-to-power, but the truth is - barriers exist. Way back when I left Christianity and got into occult studies, New Age, New Thought, and Neo/Paganism, perhaps the largest attraction was the belief that the only barriers to personal success, health, wealth, happiness, and the juicy life are the ones we impose upon ourselves.
In a way, this belief is incredibly motivating because it more or less says that you can change your world by merely changing your mind. This sentiment is prevalent in the New Thought consumerism of "The Secret" (largely championed by the convicted felon James Arthur Ray) and teaches you to believe that thoughts become things, and that if you merely want something badly enough, it'll happen. Oh, yes - they tell you to put actions behind your words - but it's what you think that's most important!
Barriers are real, and exist for a reason.
There are a lot of problems with this kind of thinking, but the one that I'm talking about today is the way that this belief encourages you to ignore both stratification and the balance factor. Just because a kid living on skid row wants to be rich, that doesn't mean he's going to become a titan of industry - chances are excellent that he won't. But he could become a local businessman with a network of regional ties.
In life there are barriers to success. Some can be dismantled, some can be avoided, and then - more often than not - some have to be accepted. For best success in life, don't magically think your way to a better place. Instead, recognize the truth of the level of stratifcation at which you exist, and do your best to thrive within it. There are alturistic and philanthropic people who want to break down barriers and elevate everybody to the position of highest privelege and opportunity. And while I surely understand that it's important to care for the jungle which supports the beasts who live within it, I also think that opportunities should not be given carelessly. So they say, don't cast your pearls before swine.
Generally speaking, I think that requiring people to raise their level of stratification by proving their worth and demonstrating why they deserve the things they want is a great recipe for rewarding talent and letting those who contribute things of little or no value meditate on success within the walls of their own creation.
Who benefits from barriers?
As Anton LaVey was fond of saying, "Cui bono?" I saw in the news that the Russian government has banned the Jehova's Witnesses from the country. You can read the whole write-up here, but one of the more interesting things to come from it was the acknowledgement that Church of Satan affiliated Satanists are registered with the government and are allowed to stay. Naturally, critics are questioning why Russia is expelling the Witnesses but letting the Satanists stay, but to my eyes it's not terribly surprising because the Russian government is almost literally in bed with the Russian orthodox church, so religions that proslytize and get all-fucking-preachy about how people should be living their lives are not only attacking Russian cultural heritage in the form of Russian orthodoxy, but also challenging the power and authority of the Russian government to set the norm for how people live their lives. Throw in Russia's long history with atheism under the Soviet Union, and you get a strange mix where other religions are tolerated so long as they don't make a scene.
Hail Rubber Stamp!
For comparison, look at Russia's oh so progressive position on homosexuals and homosexuality: you can be a homosexual and enjoy homosexuality, but you have to stay in the closet and you can't talk about it openly and definitely can't talk about it with kids. See the pattern? It's all to do with who gets to shape public discourse. The Russian government doesn't care that there are Satanists in Russia, they just want to know:
- Who and where they are, and
- Make sure they're not trying to challenge the government or the church for cultural and administrative authority.
Registering with the government is a great way to gain mainstream credibility - what speaks louder than a stamp of government approval? - but it's also reciprocative approval for an authoritarian system which gets to decide what qualifies as a religion and if it's allowed to openly exist. Who'd have thought that a group of Church of Satan members - people who champion individual rights to expression and opposition to unjust tyranny - would support this kind of rubber-stamping process? Feels a bit short-sighted to me - after all, you never know where that axe is going to fall when it's convenient for the executioner. At any rate, now when anybody accuses Putin of suppressing freedom of religion, he can hold up his registered Satanists as defense. Just goes to show: you can't judge an autocrat by his cover!