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Fireaxe

The Burning Blade 11.4
May 30, 2008, 09:36:46 PM
Because the beast must feed…


                 The Burning Blade

           Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 11.4

                 May 30, 2008

           neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


      “We’ve built this monstrosity of a machine, and there are
     tons of architects always working on it. The problem is no one
     knows what is going on in the entirety. Nothing this complex
     has ever existed in history. I believe what we are watching is
     an exercise in the folly of human ego.”

                 - Mike Arnold, professional trader talking
                 about the financial system but could just as
                 well be talking about any number of systems
                 in the modern world especially our ideological
                 constructs


     Mr. Arnold's point is well taken, and it is one of the reasons
why the concept of an emergent system is so important to understanding
anything in the world today given that the major forces that effect each
of our lives are not controlled by individuals or institutions.  As much as
we might like to simplify the forces that change the world as the result
of a coterie of powerful people who, behind closed doors, make decisions
or plot conspiracies that bend the world to meet their ends, the reality of
the situation is that even the most influential members of our societies are
beholden to forces outside of their control.  Of course, this is not to say
that those leaders do not have any influence at all and that the ones who
make poor decisions should not be removed from power, but merely that
eliminating them does not necessarily solve the problems that plague our
daily lives.  To solve our problems means that we need to understand
where they come from rather than to merely blame the guy "in charge".
     Mr. Arnold makes another good point when he suggests that
what is going on in the financial system is another "exercise in the folly
of human ego".  Certainly there is plenty of that to go around in the
world whether it is the egotistical "Masters of the Universe" on Wall
Street who believe that they have conquered the markets and made
them serve their will, or the vanity of the central bankers who believe
that they have conquered the business cycle and can steer the economy
along a path of constant growth, or the self-indulgent blindness of the
average person who became remarkably trusting of the system when it
promised to make his dreams come true and allowed him to borrow
himself into certain doom.  A great many of us are worshipping at the
altar of our own bloated egos.  And although the "80s" were dubbed
the "Me" decade it seems that the two decades that have followed have
taken this egocentric perspective to such dizzying new heights that
nothing, not even giving to charity, is done if it doesn't boost one's
view of oneself and brought us to the point where admitting that one
is wrong is the most horrifying thing that one can do.
     Will this situation continue to get worse?  Can it continue?
And if it is due to change, how and why would it happen?  It would
seem that psycho-social thinking on a global scale has been moving
from having an emphasis on selflessness to having an emphasis on
selfishness for quite some time.  This change appears to go hand in
hand with the rise of capitalism, an ideology which champions the
individual's desire for self-gratification as a force which drives
economic progress.  Capitalism in turn blossomed under liberal
democracy, an ideology which champions an individual's desire for
freedom.  Combined, these ideologies refocused the attention of the
masses away from what is best for the group towards what is best for
the individual.  In contrast, selflessness is more closely associated with
ideologies such Communism and Socialism which champion feelings of
a social nature, such as the pleasure of vicariously experiencing another's
joy and the warm feeling of contributing to a group effort.  For a while
the world was somewhat balanced between the two extremes with
Capitalism and Communism dividing the world between them after
Fascism was conquered and its excesses exposed.  But the fall of
Communism and the rise of Capitalism and Democracy in the world
over the last two decades mirrors the shift away from selflessness and
towards selfishness, and while ideologies are neither exclusively selfish
or selfless in nature they can have a strong preference for one over the
other.
     In other words, the folly of the human ego which is taking
place in the financial markets is not so much a moral failing on the
part of individuals, but rather their adherence to an ideology which
supports the individual pursuit of wealth.  To a degree the channeling
of greed into productivity benefits society, but when taken to an extreme
the result is social corrosion and a profound lack of trust between
individuals which hurts society more than it helps.  It would seem that
at some point the social order would collapse if selfishness were to
become more and more the rule and we may be reaching that point in
more ways than just economic.  Overindulgence in things such as sex,
food, and narcotics have pushed us close to the point of collapse of
both the institution of marriage and the health care system.  It would
probably be a good idea to reconsider the idea that the self is the most
important aspect of one's world before these systems collapse, but it
appears that we lack the capacity to do so, at least on a collective basis.
However, a collapse will force a reconsideration to take place anyway,
although it will occur in a less orderly fashion, so one way or another
things are going to change.
     In a post-collapse world one might predict that selflessness
would come back into vogue, at least in the "West", where even our
religions seem overly focused on helping us to attain supernatural
rewards for ourselves rather than embracing a larger whole.  It is likely
that group loyalty, conformism, and solidarity will rise in power and
influence in the wake of a collapse, but not before the well-conditioned
focus on selfishness has been purged from the majority.  This would
occur quite naturally in a post-collapse environment where almost
nothing will generate a positive outcome.  Egotism will be associated
with the failures of the past and become repulsive and people will shun
the symbols of their former excesses.  People who continue to behave in
their selfish ways will end up getting punished over and over until they
no longer act that way.  In contrast, people who form into groups will
weather the storms much better.  Also, people will force others to earn
their trust rather than implicitly trust those whom they don't know and
that will force people to behave in more honorable and decent ways.
This phase might follow a period where people become very desperate
and act in the most despicable and devious ways to satisfy their selfish
desires, even more so than they do now.  Of course, these are only
speculations on the mechanisms of how selfishness would be
transformed into selflessness, but the empirical evidence is rather
clear that disasters have a strong tendency to pull people together and
work as a team.  A major social and economic collapse would act like
one long, drawn out disaster which would alter people's psychology in
a lasting or even permanent way.
     Of course, selfless socialism is not the most efficient ideology
and it is far from being immune to excesses.  One need only look at
atrocities such as the Spanish Inquisition and witch burning to see
examples of conformism run amok not to mention the eugenically-
driven policies of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia which resulted in
the deaths of millions.  Also, the stifling of individualism and creativity
inherent in socialistic ideology limits growth, both socially, politically,
and economically.  However, in the aftermath of a collapse it is likely
that we will swing from extreme selfishness to extreme selflessness
rather than stop at an ideal balance between the two.  Moderation has
never held much influence in the realm of human behavior.
     And so I feel that in a post-collapse world we will see the rise
of religions, reborn once more by adapting or ignoring their founding
principles so that they cater to popular sentiment, and also the rise of
secular forms of socialism which have become all but dormant in a
world dominated by Capitalism.  Whatever the form the fundamentals
of those new ideologies will likely be the same, that individualism is to
be discouraged and that the emphasis should be placed on what benefits
the whole.  While refreshing, to a degree, it should not be said that
selfless ideologies will get along simply because they agree on that
particular principle.  In fact, they will be very antagonistic towards
each other since they will still be driven by the fear of the "other"
groups as people are today.  Neither selfless ideologies nor selfish
ones are strangers to war, and as the old system collapses there will
be struggles over the remnants of its spent corpse.  Thus, as always,
we will be Food for the Gods.
     Speaking of "Food for the Gods", the three-CD work is
still undergoing an overhaul in the Fireaxe studio although work on
it is being delayed due to a variety of issues.  There is a lot to do and
not enough time to do it and I refuse to release half-assed efforts.  So
I will have to ask you once again to be patient as I get everything
sorted out.
     A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Meaning of the Songs - The Evil Men Do

     It may surprise you to learn that "The Evil Men Do" is my
favorite track on "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".  There are
a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is that I feel that
it single-handedly destroys the illusions of Capitalism and exposes
the depravity of the corrupted version of that anti-social ideology for
all the world to see.  Also, the emotions, the perspective, and especially
the music make this track one that I love to play loud or sing when
the spirit moves me.  I might be alone in feeling that this track is my
favorite as no one has written me and concurred, so allow me to give
my reasons for liking it as I do.
     First of all, this track is seriously depraved, or at least the
things that the protagonist does and witnesses are far beyond the pale
of civilized society, which is not to say that they aren't unheard of in
the halls of power.  In the previous track, "My Angel" the protagonist
has killed the woman who betrayed him and the "voices" that he hears
at the end of that song are not voices in his head but the voices of the
members of the board of "the Firm".  In "Masters of the Universe"
the protagonist was able to use secrets that he learned from his mentor
to blackmail the board and help him in his rise to power, but after
"My Angel" the tables are now turned.  However, instead of using the
protagonist's crime to get rid of him the board finds an even better use
for the protagonist: he is to do their dirty work.
     In the vocal introduction to "The Evil Men Do" the members
of the board aren't appalled by the murder, or at least they do not reveal
it if they are.  Instead they are relieved that they can no longer be
blackmailed by the protagonist and they now see the opportunity to
use him just as he used them.  So they are sympathetic to his plight,
describing their disdain for the protagonist's "angel", and give him
comfort and reassurance while covering up his crime.  The protagonist
is stunned, expecting to go to jail for what he'd done, but he soon
realizes that even more of what he naively assumed about the world,
such as the sanctity of the rule of law, has been corrupted by the
pursuit of power and wealth.  Emotionally distraught and in a
vulnerable state the protagonist protests, weakly, still clinging to
what is left of his morality until he finally cracks and, in a particularly
touching but dark moment, accepts his new role as the man the Firm
turns to when they need to get something done, no questions asked.
     The protagonist holds no illusions about his new position.
He is enslaved to the Firm and must do its bidding, but his new role
provides a channel for his anger and resentment and he has no sense
of morality to prevent him from using his power in horrific ways.  He
begins by destroying the man who seduced his angel, but goes far
beyond just taking an eye for an eye.  In passages reminiscent of
Tiglath Pilesar's soliloquy in "Written In Blood" the protagonist
describes his exploits in detail, telling of the suffering he brought
down upon not only the man who wronged him but upon his entire
family.  And in perhaps the most sinister part of all he says that none
of his victims were aware of who had destroyed them or that anyone
had been responsible for it at all.  Now, if that doesn't repulse you,
send a chill up your spine, and make you wonder how much that kind
of thing goes on in the real world then I haven't done my job as an artist.
     In the second verse the protagonist gets down to business,
describing the ways in which the Firm corrupts the system and gains
even more power and influence, which enables it to spread its tentacles
even deeper into the halls of power.  None of the things that I describe
are made up in any way.  Democracies are not immune to corruption
and there are numerous examples of people in positions of power getting
bought out, manipulated, coerced, or otherwise bent to the will of one
of more wealthy people or institutions.  The only question that remains
is how deep the corruption goes in our respective governments.  My
favorite part of this verse is the final line, "This is no longer Democracy,
this is Kleptocracy".  The term "Kleptocrat" is one which is often used
in reference to those who governed the former Soviet Union when it
was making its transition to capitalism.  In essence what happened was
that those in power sold off the state's assets, such as the oil industry,
at bargain basement prices to those who would give them kickbacks
and other lucrative favors such as getting the enabling politicians
reelected.  In America this type of thing can be seen when politicians
retire and end up getting large salaries for a do-nothing job in a
corporation or go on speaking tours where they receive large sums of
money to speak to people who, oddly enough, benefited in no small
way from the politician's actions.  There is also the ubiquitous
"revolving door" where politicians become lobbyists and vice-versa
and schemes where the friends and family members of politicians end
up in high-paying positions of "friendly" companies and so on and so
forth.  Again, the only question that remains is how deep this sort of
thing goes but the idea that someone will ride into Washington D.C.
and clean the whole mess up is about as likely as Jesus returning to
earth, or showing up in the first place for that matter.
     The powerlessness of the people to prevent the corruption in
their government and other institutions appears to contribute to the
overall trend towards selfishness.  When one is betrayed by those things
who they trust it is natural to pull away from relationships and stop
giving of oneself to groups and institutions.  This is what happens to
the protagonist over and over in the CD.  He doesn't start off greedy
or selfish, but he ends up that way and mostly against his will.  In this
way the protagonist is a model of society in general, forced into doing
things that they abhor.
     Which brings us to the chorus, which I like very much:

"No one knows the evil men do at the helm of the machine.
No one hears the cries of the fallen, the machine has only one speed.
I can't count the lives I have laid waste to.
Can't stop if I tried because the beast must feed."

     Before we blame the protagonist for being evil and claiming
that he is responsible for the corruption of the state it's important to
look at the larger picture and the forces driving "the machine".  For
one there is the profit motive, and while trying to increase profits does
not necessarily mean that one has to break the law, the competition
between companies in the marketplace does mean that one has to
match or exceed the actions of rivals in order to get ahead.  So if your
rivals are corrupting the government and gaining an advantage that
way then you will need to do the same or worse or you will end up
taking losses or going out of business.  Secondly, those in charge of
corporations do not act exclusively to get rich.  Many have their own
agendas and some are very ideologically driven.  These men will often
have no qualms about bending a few laws in pursuit of the greater
good as they see it no matter how others view their point of view or
their actions.  Thirdly, many people in positions of power, especially
civil servants, are quite willing to become corrupted if they get
something which they desire in return.  And the more that a society
embraces the tenets of Capitalism and replaces the ideals of morality,
honor, and decency with the pursuit of wealth the more that these
forces will combine to create an environment rife with corruption.
In other words, if it wasn't the protagonist who corrupted the state in
the manner in which he did, it would have been someone else.  Thus,
it is not the individual who experiences a moral failure, it is that the
system lends itself to immorality.  And to make matters worse, as
described in the quote above, "the beast must feed", which shows
that the protagonist realizes that he is not in control any more and
that the forces described previously are conspiring push things
to the extreme whether he wants them to or not.
     In the final verse we learn that the protagonist has been
rising towards the highest position in the Firm and will soon gain
such perks as having "a direct line to the president" as CEO.  He
ruthlessly smashes his rivals, both inside the Firm and outside,
crushing another young hopeful, the "son of the chairman", for the
coveted position of running the Firm.  It is here where everything
suddenly falls apart.  The protagonist is brought before the board
and, in a manner not unlike how the mafia operates, is given an
offer that he cannot refuse.  Perhaps my favorite line of the track is
as follows:

"Accept our generous severance package
or have your sordid past turned over to the D.A."

     The line is cold, calculating, and so very…corporate.  Up
until then the protagonist might have come to believe that he had
become too important to the Firm to be blackmailed anymore and
simply knew too much to be let go, but now the cold hands of fate
are wrapping around him and strangling his ambitions once and
for all.  The machine has chewed him up and spit him out.
     It is also here where we learn a few things about the
antagonist in the story, the man who becomes the CEO and who
later ends up interrogating the protagonist.  The protagonist describes
him as "strong and clever" and as "a true believer", setting the stage
for the track "My Reflection" later in the CD.  He also describes him
as the "son of the chairman", with the subtext that perhaps the man
does not truly deserve to be CEO, instead getting to the top due to
his father's influence.  I added that line on purpose, to portray the
nepotism that is often found in corporations, and I would like to point
out that in no way did I intend for the antagonist to be a rather loosely
veiled portrayal of George W. Bush.  Sure, George never would have
gotten anywhere close to the seat of power anywhere he went in his
life if performance was the standard by which he was judged.  In
every instance his father or someone powerful appointed him or
pulled strings to get him where he was.  In contrast the antagonist
is modeled after a righteous crusader who both believes and lives
his beliefs.  Bush, on the other hand, has been accurately described
as a man who is not a Christian in any real way but who believes that
he is.  As such Bush was never truly a danger along the lines of a
Hitler, Stalin, or Torquemada, instead he is a blundering, delusional
oaf who is far less clever than he thinks he is and who believes that
he is strong when he is merely being stubborn.  The antagonist is
something that Bush can never be, a man truly committed to doing
what he believes is the right thing no matter what the cost as opposed
to a man who embraces half-assed measures and talks a far bigger
game than he is prepared to play.
     I love the music on this track as well.  Of the few times that
I've written a song in three-four time, such as "Beyond Zimbabwe"
and "DeathMachine" I've always ended up with something that I
like a lot.  "The Evil Men Do" is no exception and the lightly
swinging time signature mixed with the growling distorted guitars
creates something that sounds like a death waltz.  It matches perfectly
with the theme of the song, that the dance of corruption between the
corporations and the government is unstoppable, dragging you, me,
and everyone else in the world down into a spiral of depravity and
decadence.  The spoken word sections are the darkest on the track
and are backed by two guitars playing a pair of complementary
rhythms.  I love to sit back and listen to those parts intertwine as
the protagonist lays down the ugly truth about the world.  It feels
like I'm being drowned in capitalistic filth.  And before the third
verse, when the guitar solo kicks in and rides on top of the two
rhythms and finally splits into two parts as well it sounds simply
amazing.  These are the moments that make doing all of the
recording and going through all of the trouble worth the effort.
Building to such beautiful musical moments are what writing music
is all about, even if such moment are mired in a track of hideousness
and ugliness, but then, that is the essence of Fireaxe.


The Meaning of the Songs - Death's Angel

"Like a cancer they cut me out of their body
and threw me upon the refuse pile of the world."

     And so begins the protagonist's brutal quest for revenge.
This song, "Death's Angel", is where the protagonist is transformed
from being an embittered, former executive to a crusading terrorist,
casting aside his former ideology and embracing one of his own
creation, but it takes a searing life experience to get him from one
state to the other, and that is what occurs in this dark and brutal
track.
     At first the protagonist dreams of revenge, of dragging his
former employers into the streets, burning down their fancy houses,
and doing unspeakable things to them and their families.  But as his
evil fantasies escalate he sees that it isn't just a few people who
deserve such a fate, but rather the entire system and everyone in it.
In a passage that I just love, and please don't think that I desire to do
any of the things that the protagonist dreams about, the protagonist
delivers a twelve line assault on modern society, skewering the left,
the right, and the center, and damning us all for our collective
irresponsibility.  But rather than start his crusade to destroy the system
that made a mockery of his life the protagonist merely punts, leaving
the world to drown in its own excrement, and decides to kill himself
by overindulging in every earthly pleasure.
     It's a fair question to ask whether or not this part of the CD
is autobiographical in any way and certainly I've had both cause and
opportunity to "get the most out of life" as it were.  Not long ago a
movie came out called "The Bucket List" where a pair of aging men
decided to indulge in all of the things that they always wanted to do
before they died and I know that in the past I figured that if I was
given something like six months to live that I would probably do
the same thing, but when I actually stood on death's door all those
selfish thoughts simply disappeared.  When you accept death, and
I mean truly accept it rather than hallucinate your way into some
fantastical afterlife or spiritual rebirth, one thing that goes away is
your ego.  The future that you see does not include you and so your
thoughts naturally turn to what you can do for your friends and loved
ones rather than what you can do for yourself, or at least that was
how it worked for me.  I could have easily cashed out a big chunk
of my life savings, flown in a number of my most loyal Fireaxe
listeners, and thrown a big party in Las Vegas where we could have
done anything that we wanted to do, within the limits of my money
that is, and had the wildest time of our lives, but those thoughts were
unappealing to me.  Even as my life appeared to be almost over,
instant gratification held no sway over me.  No, I still wanted to do
something lasting and important, even if I wouldn't be around to
enjoy it.  So for me, finishing the musical project that I'd worked so
hard on, "Food for the Gods", was the only thing that truly mattered.
I wanted to give my friends and family the truest expression of who
I was.  If I died it would be my epitaph.
     In contrast, the protagonist in "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess" has no connections left to the world.  He has a big pile of
money but it means nothing to him, especially considering how he
earned it.  He has been betrayed by so many and he has seen how even
his parent's affection can be bought off with simple materialistic things.
The corruption in the world has infiltrated every part of him and
completely robbed him of anything meaningful to live for, so he
decides to kill himself, and do so in a style that is fitting in a world
that is obsessed with pleasure and indulgence.
     The protagonist's suicide attempt is, as one might expect,
fraught with emotional turmoil as his body chemistry is thrown way
out of whack by all of the drugs, alcohol, and fast living he indulges
in.  But as much as he tries to escape, he can't truly get away from
his past, which culminates in a very touching verse:

"Sometimes when I dream I can feel her,
my angel,
a ray of warmth shining on my tortured soul
and I am whole again.
But as I wake her fleeting touch
leaves burning wounds that never heal.
For just one taste of heaven
I pay in the fires of hell.
Fate is cruel,
and if there is a god it deserves to die."

     This is one of my favorite verses in the CD and yes, that part
is very much autobiographical as I have felt that way for most of my
life.  It's a feeling that H. P. Lovecraft captured so brilliantly in his
poem "Nathicana", which I set to music in "Lovecraftian Nightmares",
or at least all but the last two lines of the verse above.  Those lines are
my personal touch and they feel perfect at that point in the CD.  The
protagonist has hit rock bottom, but even then he refuses to give in to
the seductive call of kneeling before an imaginary deity and receiving
salvation.  No, he will find his own way in the world, even if that
means loneliness and death.
     The voice of the antagonist/interrogator speaks up here,
reminding the listener that the tale is all part of the protagonist's
confession.  He hooks on to the protagonist's words and attempts
to spin them in a way that befits his belief system, saying that the
protagonist has merely lost his faith.  The protagonist throws that
notion back in his interrogator's face with another line that I like
very much:

"I did not lose my faith it was taken from me,
but I found something better."

     If faith was an act of sheer will, as many arrogant believers
seem to think that it is, losing one's faith would indeed be a sign of
weakness and moral failure.  However, in reality faith is psychological
conditioning and can be destroyed just as easily as any other form of
conditioning in the human mind.  All but the most pathological belief
requires external reinforcement and when the world no longer works
in a way that supports one's beliefs one's conditioning will break down
and fade away.  This is what has happened to the protagonist's belief
in the system and the ideology behind that system.  The promises that
the system made to him: wealth, power, love, respect; if he only played
by its rules, were each revealed to be a lie.  The system had no honor,
it was just a ravenous beast which used promises to trick its members
into doing its bidding.  Betrayed and cast out the protagonist realized
this and thus the antagonist's words find no traction with him.  But
the protagonist does find something better than what he used to believe,
that instead of covering over his pain and suffering with the pleasures
and triumphs of achieving ideological goals he embraces his pain and
uses it to motivate himself to destroy those who caused it in the first
place.
     The protagonist's rebirth is rather brutal.  He is in some
unspecified Latin American country where the rich live like kings and
the poor live in squalor.  Some of the poor have formed into a band of
"freedom fighters" who decide to kidnap the protagonist and charge a
ransom for him in order to fund their operations.  The freedom fighters
treat the protagonist harshly, after all, he is just another "white devil"
come to exploit them and their countrymen.  After suffering their abuse
the protagonist begs them to kill him since that was what he was trying
to do to himself personally, but they refuse since they wouldn't get their
ransom if they did so.  That turns out to be a serious mistake as the
protagonist has his epiphany.
     The protagonist is denied the easy way out.  He can no longer
escape the pain and humiliation that he suffers not only at the hands of
the freedom fighters but from the world at large. It is here where his
survival instinct kicks in and he begins to fight back, taking revenge
upon his captors.  In the process though he rediscovers himself, or
rather, he rediscovers his anger and resentment and re-experiences
the joy and release that comes destroying those who wronged him.
All his life he's fought back, besting or punishing those who made
him suffer, and when he feels those familiar emotions again as he
extracts his pound of flesh from the freedom fighters his life is once
again filled with meaning.  He is now committed to doing what he
only fantasized about doing at the beginning of the song: destroying
the system that betrayed him.
     Musically this track also has a number of very memorable
moments, not the least of which is the twelve lines where the
protagonist fires away at those he sees as being responsible for the
mess that has been made of the modern world.  Giving each line a
different guitar rhythm makes it sound so much more dynamic than
if I'd cranked out the same riff for each, and adding the descending
church organ to them made the verses come together magnificently.
It both sounds and feels like the protagonist is deconstructing the
modern social order and leaving nothing but wreckage in his wake.
I also enjoyed recording the part not longer after that one where there
is a guitar solo with some odd vocal parts in the background depicting
the protagonist's attempts to kill himself with pleasure.  I love how the
organ and solo guitar complement each other in that section, weaving
a web of sadness which contrasts at first with the protagonist's lustful
indulgences and then joins together as he almost reaches out to an
imaginary deity.  The chorus then hammers home the protagonist's
feelings as he begs for a death that refuses to come.  That all leads
into the centerpiece of the song where the protagonist is singing
against a backdrop which features little more than the church organ.
This is another place where I do not regret spending a large sum of
money to get a microphone of superior quality as well as a vocal
processor which brings out the strengths of my voice.  All the
vocal practicing paid off as well here as I was able to deliver these
lines the way that they needed to be delivered, with power and feeling.
This was another one of those moments that made all the effort that
has gone into Fireaxe over the years worthwhile.
     The second half of the track switches to being more up
tempo, borrowing a little from Latin style music to set the scene.
I like the feel of this part, especially the contrast between it and the
previous part which drives home the change which is happening to
the protagonist in the story.  It jumps from a smooth and depressing
feel to one that assaults the senses and wakes you up, just as the
protagonist is being awakened from his psychological slumber.
Midway through the second half the music begins to build as the
protagonist slowly regains his strength and motivation, culminating
in the same chorus that was played in the first half of the song.  But
instead of clashing with the different musical style the chorus sounds
towering, driving home the protagonist's deepest emotions as it finishes
out the wild and roiling track.  This time around the chorus is not
depressing but uplifting, although in a dark way, as the protagonist
embraces his suffering, channeling it into a force which will enable
him to execute his darkest desires.



The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

     Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

     Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
     Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion            $6      $9
   to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:      $12      $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death            $5      $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares      $5      $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death      $3      $6 - Sold out

     Send everything to:

     Brian Voth
     1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
     Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

     If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
     The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
     Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

     In 2008, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
     My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

     Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
     less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
     profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
     I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
     like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
     gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
     link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
     samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
     you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
     not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
     goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
     do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
     does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
     particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
     likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
     CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
     someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
     raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
     those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
     government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
     and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
     face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
     stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
     side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
     as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
     THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
     CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
     mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
     other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
     I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
     of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
     to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
     institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
     mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
     Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
     song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
     if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
     if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
     the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
     Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
     would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
     trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
     effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

     The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

     Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                                   Brian

The Burning Blade - Fireaxe Newsletter
August 03, 2008, 12:22:59 AM
And I believe that it will be alright if I just have faith in a lie…


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 11.5

         August 2, 2008

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "There are reasons to believe this coming crisis is different
   and bigger than the world has ever experienced. Instead of
   using globalism in a positive fashion, it's been used to globalize
   all of the mistakes of the politicians, bureaucrats and central
   bankers."
            - Ron Paul on the floor of the
            House of Representatives


   "…we have reached a point in financial history that we have
   never seen before. That’s right, no one you are reading and no
   one commenting on our current financial markets is an expert
   on where we are going. So, successful navigation of these straits
   will require a great deal of listening, frankness, and humility –
   things that have always been in short supply within the financial
   system."
         - Doug Wakefield and Ben Hill, financial
         market experts with a firm grasp on the
         limits of their expertise


   Or, to simplify, we're screwed.
   When I was in college I took a course in economics and
expected it to be all numbers.  I figured that economics was a science
and that like the other science courses that I had taken I would be
bombarded with equations, principles, and models that had been
tested and proved over time.  This was not the case.  Economics, as
it stands today, is not a science but is simply yet another pseudo-
scientific discipline ruled by ideologues and is thus very much like
other "sciences" from psychology to business to education to politics.
Proof of this can easily be obtained by pointing out that there are
currently six major schools of economics, along with numerous minor
ones, which all disagree with each other when it comes to the causes
of economic events and policies that should be followed to avoid
problems and increase prosperity.  Economists more resemble the
gambling addict who swears that he's figured out a perfect "system"
that is guaranteed to make you money in the casino than the scientist
who humbly forges on in the pursuit of verifying or falsifying his
hypothesis.  Furthermore, as these economic schools tend to focus on
influencing policy decisions rather than analyzing economies, it can
also be said with some certainty that economic theories are closer to
being ideologies than disciplines.  This would explain the reason why
our financial history is littered with booms, busts, and frequent switches
from one economic policy to another in similar fashion to the way that
our political history is rife with successes, failures, and revolutions.  The
Fireaxe theory states that all ideologies are based on falsehoods and thus
if economic theories are, in effect, ideologies, that they too are based on
false assumptions.  Support for this assertion comes from the ongoing
and worsening financial disaster where the assumptions on which
neo-liberal "Monetarist" economics are based are finally, and painfully,
being proved wrong.  Price stability my foot, or other body part.
   If the idea that there are different schools of economics
is confusing it might help you to visualize the Keynesians, the
Monetarists, and the Austrians as the Catholics, the Protestants, and
the Jews, and to think of Alan Greenspan as the Pope….not at all an
inappropriate analogy given that when Greenspan appeared before
congress he could have just as well been speaking in Latin given all the
gibberish that was coming out of his mouth.  Of course, nothing he said
mattered as long as the economy was going well, and Alan knew how
to goose the money supply and kick problems down the road better
than anyone, so few wanted to challenge him and none were successful
at changing anything when they did.  But now that our problems are
not being solved by, and to be quite frank about this, extraordinarily
dangerous measures that will serve only to further distort a seriously
dysfunctional economy, we will see if Pope Greenspan is anointed as
a Saint and implored to come back and save us or if he is scorned as
a false prophet.  Of course, he's already absolved himself of all guilt
and placed the blame for the current fiasco on others, but whether the
general public will do so remains to be seen.  Personally, I would like to
see Pope Greenspan burned if effigy if not in person and have certainly
heaped a lot of scorn upon him over the years but given that the U.S. is
running a huge deficit when it comes to accountability, among other
things, I doubt that he will be regarded as anything less than a genius.
   Economics is not about the pursuit of truth, instead it is about
generating the justifications necessary to convince a government to make
a given set of policy decisions for an economic system which is based
more in political ideology than sound principles.  This is a tragedy since
the study of money and trade would best be served by a purely analytical
approach using modern computers and finely tuned models, and given
the scope of today's global economy we would all benefit greatly if
things were being run in an efficient, productive, and most importantly,
sustainable manner.  But instead of monitoring a wide variety of
economic measures and using them to make periodic corrections to
the economic system, today's leading economists usually cherry-pick
the economic measures which support their positions and use them to
justify their solutions.  Since economics is not a science, no school
can prove itself right until after its policies have been applied, and so
all of them seek to try out their approaches on the national scale.  The
result is an ongoing battle between rival economic ideologies for
control of the political apparatus with the winner being the one was
being applied when the economic woes at the time subsided.  That
economic ideology then stays in power until the economy inevitably
collapses, as it must since all ideologies are based on falsehoods, at
which point the competition for the new ruling economic theory takes
place.
   This has happened before many times.  In recent years, the
Great Depression marked the end of classical laissez-faire economics
and ushered in the rise of Keynesianism in the West, Fascism in parts
of Europe, and Communism in the East.  All of these economic
theories held that the state must intervene in the markets to some
degree in order to promote stability and ensure efficiency, and after
the global economic collapse in the 1930's it wasn't difficult to point
the finger at an unfettered free market as being prone to catastrophe.
All of these theories failed at one point or another and none are
practiced today.  In the West, after a thirty year reign, Keynesianism
collapsed during the inflation prone years of the 1970's and gave way
to Monetarism in the 1980's, which has essentially spread across the
world and pushed all other theories to the sidelines.  Monetarism
championed price stability as its central focus, which was very much
in need after a period of very high inflation, but instead of being a
return to sound money policies, such as having a currency that is
backed by gold and limiting the amount of debt and leveraging in the
financial system, Monetarism argued that as long as prices were kept
stable, increasing or decreasing the money supply to any degree was
fine since stable prices were proof that the money was sound.  But now
that prices are highly unstable in many areas, the money supply is
being radically increased, and debts and financial obligations have
reached unprecedented levels, the Monetarist's policies are failing and
one can hear the various economic schools positioning themselves
as having the answers to solving today's problems.  As the collapse
continues, as I'm convinced that it will, we will likely see Monetarists
discredited and another flawed school take its place, or perhaps several
schools come and go before a recovery kicks in and a new economic
"god" is crowned.
   As an aside, a year ago I predicted that the current collapse
would likely take about eighteen months to hit bottom.  After taking
a closer look at the Great Depression, which required thirty months
before things bottomed out, I think that my estimate was too optimistic.
So instead of things turning up by the end of the year it may take until
the 2010 before the true bottom is hit.  Of course, given the scope of
the problems in the financial system today, it could take even longer
for everything to come crashing down.  As Wakefield and Hill point
out, we've never been here before, so the future cannot be predicted
to any degree of certainty.  I feel that your best bet is to be prepared
to ride out some serious turmoil and the following malaise which may
stretch out for a decade or more before returning to something more
stable.
   So, is economics a complete crap-shoot that no one can
master?  I would have to say no.  There are a number of economic
principles that most schools agree upon as well as a number of more
or less common sense measures that need to be accounted for in any
economic theory before it is put into practice.  Sound money is one,
which has been proved out over time versus paper "fiat" money.
Another key fundamental which the Monetarists overlook is debt.  An
excessively high debt load always seems to precede a collapse, and
a few years back when I saw that the total debt load for governments,
corporations, and individuals in the U.S., and most of the world for
that matter, was as high as it was before the Great Depression I didn't
need much more to convince me that something truly bad was on its
way.  I try to focus on the big picture and solid principles rather than
get sidetracked on details and short-term performance, and as an
engineer I understand the second law of thermodynamics which in
effect states that "there is not such thing as a free lunch".  Yes, over
the decades I saw the plates piling up and knew that eventually the
waiter was going to come over with a hefty bill, so the question in
my mind has not been "if" it would happen, but when.
   But how did it get like this?  It seems clear to me that much
of it has to do with another "big picture" indicator: the distribution of
wealth; which needs to be kept within an optimal band in order for an
economy to run at full speed.  Wealth is a reward and those that work
hard and contribute more deserve a larger share.  Also, wealth creates
opportunities, allowing people to take risks, like starting a business,
or changing careers.  And spreading wealth around creates a more
"democratic" financial landscape that allows more people to indulge
in the fruits of their neighbors' labor, expanding the marketplace for
all things.  In the two extreme cases: perfectly even distribution of
wealth, and having most of it controlled by a few, one's opportunities
to become richer are essentially zero, your reward will be the same no
matter how good you do, so motivation is lost and productivity lags.
But between those two extremes there is an optimal balance between
rich, poor, and middle class where economic activity is at its most
productive, taking full advantage of people's desires to get ahead and
benefiting from a wide and rich consumer base.  It would seem that
shifting too far from the optimal band to either end of the spectrum
would result in a loss of productivity, but it appears that free market
forces do not keep the distribution within the band and instead tends
to result in the rich having far too much and everyone else far too little.
In the past market forces have been offset with steep progressive
taxation and strong labor unions, but both of these institutions have
been severely weakened in the U.S. over the last thirty years and the
result is a sub-optimal distribution of wealth in the country.
   Now when the distribution of wealth becomes so skewed that
productivity lags, one solution is to tax the rich more and the poor less,
making the tax tables more progressive, and another is to increase the
salaries of the working class, both of which rebalance the distribution
of wealth.  However, a more common "solution" is for the rich to loan
money to the less well to do, which at first results in a temporary
redistribution of wealth and continued prosperity.  But since the loans
must be paid back, with interest, the result in the long term is a further
skewing of the distribution of wealth and an even greater loss of
productivity.  Of course, this can be corrected with even larger loans,
with the loss in productivity being delayed yet longer, but it will result
in the distribution of wealth becoming skewed to an even more extreme
level.  This will continue until either someone who is in power, and has
even an ounce of common sense, steps in and says, "enough is enough",
and puts an end to it, for which he gets blamed for the subsequent
collapse, or the capacity for the debtors to pay back their loans drops
far enough so that the number of defaults exceeds the predicted risk on
the loans and the system of ever-expanding credit starts to turn rapidly
in reverse.
   This, it appears, is the situation that we find ourselves in today.
Debt has become a way of life for many of us, and with the prices of our
houses falling rapidly, our illusion of wealth is being revealed as vanity.
More troubling is that our government is attempting to solve the problem
in exactly the wrong way, borrowing yet more money to pay off those
who extended the loans, which will shift the distribution of wealth even
further off kilter.  Furthermore, with interest rates being kept so low, it
appears that the powers that be are attempting to create yet another
bubble which would allow the have-nots to borrow yet more and further
exacerbate the problem.  If economics was a science we wouldn't have
our lives in the hands of men who are learning via trial and error.
   But isn't the economy growing despite this suggested loss in
productivity due to a misdistribution of wealth?  Well, if you believe the
government's reporting of the inflation rate, which somehow doesn't take
food or energy into account, the GDP in the U.S. is barely above zero.
However, if you subtract the amount of money that Americans have to
borrow from the GDP (around 12%) or use the increase in the money
supply (at least 16%) instead of core inflation, the fable of growth in the
U.S. turns into a horror story of extreme contraction.  Without debt we
are in a depression and the bad news is that we are running out of things
to put up as collateral so that we can borrow more.  Now, if the
Monetarists are right, and they have been wrong at every juncture since
the credit crunch began last summer, the economy will magically get
better by the beginning of next year, which is curious timing since it
seems that if the economy doesn't get better by then that they are in a
position to put the blame on President Obama (or McCain if you
believe in miracles).  However, if I am right, without a program to
aggressively redistribute wealth we will continue to slide downward with
no end in sight.  Another bubble, if it is possible to create one under the
current conditions, would only kick the true problems down the road
further.
   It is true that bubbles are self-correcting, at least in that what
goes up must come down, but contrary to a number of economic theories
the solution is not to leave things alone and let them work themselves
out.  The collapse of the system does not redistribute wealth in itself,
and thus the post-collapse environment will still be at a sub-optimal
level of productivity.  In fact, the distribution can get even more skewed
as many debtors will find themselves absolutely destitute as their
collateral is taken away.  The natural reaction after a loss is to cling
to what one has left and so anyone, even the government, will be hard
pressed to redistribute the nation's wealth after a collapse.  Taking
money from the rich is hard in any case let alone after they have lost
so much, and so it is not so much the height of the boom, nor the
severity of the crash that results in the extended suffering in a
depression, it is the misdistribution of wealth and slowness of the
adoption of measures which redistribute that wealth which prevent
things from going back to the way they were.  Also, the recovery
moves even slower when the banking system collapses, since
borrowing, at least of the type which increases productivity, not that
spent on plasma TVs and granite countertops, is vital to any economy.
When banks end up with little or no capital or go out of business
altogether, the economy grinds to a halt.
   Assuming that this is all correct, how can one go about
getting from a post-collapse economy to a healthy thriving one with
sound money and stable prices and motivated people with many
opportunities to get ahead?  That's the tricky part, because the
distribution of wealth isn't just numbers on a piece of paper, it is a
complex and elaborate set of both physical and financial relationships
which connect everyone in the entire world with everyone else.
Changing things a little in one area can result in large repercussions
elsewhere, so changing things a lot all over the world will have a
profound effect on the lives of billions of people, most of whom will
resist changes as they cling to what is giving them a sense of security.
Add to that the fact that they have good reasons not to listen to what
any economist has to say and they will be even more stubborn.  But as
conditions worsen during a collapse, there will be a growing and very
vocal movement of people wanting change of any kind, and so social
and economic upheaval become inevitable whether it is planned or
forced upon a nation.  This is the legacy of economic ideologies which
allow the economy to become dysfunctional and stay that way for too
long with policies that encourage too much debt and result in huge
disparities in the distribution of wealth.  And so as "change" has
become the leading theme in the U.S. Presidential election, from my
analysis it's going to happen whether we like it or not.  I foresee epic,
world changing events ahead, and most of them will probably not be
pleasant.
   Speaking of unpleasant, I again have been forced to delay
work on the revised version of "Food for the Gods" due to health
issues.  The good news is that no, my cancer hasn't returned.  In fact,
I am past the five-year mark and am considered "cancer free".  And
no, my health is not getting worse due to chronic fatigue syndrome.
In fact it is getting better, slowly, but the aggressive nature of the
treatment has my physical strength and energy levels fluctuating
up and down on an almost daily basis.  I've tried to maintain a strong,
healthy voice during my treatment but the fluctuations make that
almost impossible, and the parts that I need to sing demand that my
voice be at its peak.  Its frustrating, but I am making progress on
the health front, and with any luck I will be strong enough before
the year is over and back in the studio to lay down more tracks.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


Fireaxe interview online at Metal to Infinity

   A couple of months back Stefan of MTI Belgium asked me
to do an online interview to which I readily agreed.  The man who did
the review for "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess", Officer Nice,
sent me a number of really interesting questions and allowed me to
write as much as I wanted in my answers.  As you all know by now, I
enjoy writing and took full advantage in the interview, which I think
turned out very well.  You can read it here:

metaltoinfinity.00freehost.com/InterviewFIREAXE.html

   And the review is here:

mtibelgium.00freehost.com/FireaxeCDreviewEternaldevotionto.html

   And see the rest of Stefan's site here:

users.telenet.be/metaltoinfinity/MTIindex.htm

   And yeah, that first picture is me standing in front of the
poster for "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".  I've still got
one left if anyone is interested in a slightly blemished product.
It's $20 delivered, laminated, and a full 4' x 2 ½' in size.  The
second picture shows me in my studio surrounded by gear.  Well,
it's not a lot of gear to be honest, just enough to get by, but I will
be doing some major upgrades before starting work on the new
version of "A Dream of Death".  Expect another big step up in
sound quality when that CD is re-released.


The Meaning of the Songs - God is Pain

   Well, what else would a Fireaxe song be called?
   I recall a somewhat negative review of "A Dream of Death"
where the reviewer bemoaned my use of the words "pain" and "death"
so often over the course of the CD.  True, the subject matter of a typical
Fireaxe song does not stray far from those subjects, nor from "god" or
"dreams" as well, which are conceptually similar according to the
Fireaxe theory, so it probably shouldn't be a surprise to any loyal
listener that a Fireaxe song might be called "God is Pain" since I've
made similar connections in many other tracks.  The difference
between those tracks and this one however is that on this CD the
connection has never been so stark, forceful, and harsh.
   Whereas "My Angel" is the emotional centerpiece of "Eternal
Devotion to the Dark Goddess", "God is Pain" is the intellectual
centerpiece, providing meaning to the entire CD and tying the
various thematic elements together.  Throughout the first five tracks
the listener experiences the agony and the ecstasy of the protagonist's
life and up until this point it appears to be little more than a mere
morality play, the point of which seems to be that if you do bad things
like the protagonist did then you will end up suffering for them.  But
the very end of Death's Angel takes us in a very different direction as
the protagonist is "born again" in a way not dissimilar to what happens
to those who fall in with the Christian Evangelical movement.  Of
course, the protagonist embraces a far different god, but the elements
are all the same, and it is in "God is Pain" that the phenomenon of
rebirth and fierce devotion is examined.
   "God is Pain" explains our need for love and acceptance
as an addiction, describing how it began and how it works in all of
our lives.  The idea that we are all addicted to one thing or another
lies at the heart of the Fireaxe theory, which posits that ideologies
benefit by creating a persistent sense of inadequacy in its members,
a permanent psychological deficit as I have described before, which
constantly demands to be satisfied.  Ideologies do well to restrict the
ways in which this need must be satisfied so that its members must
perform things that benefit the ideology in order to get their fix.  In
this way an ideologically conditioned individual will constantly be
working towards goals which benefit their ideology in order to
satisfy their inner need.  It's the ideal system, since no one is more
motivated than an addict, and complacency and contentment are
eliminated as threats to the system since one always needs a fix, but
is it a reasonable theory?  Well, if you've ever seen the way that
athletes punish their bodies and endure great pain to achieve mostly
mediocre goals, or listened to the stubborn ravings of a religious
fanatic who seems immune to reason and will argue with his critics
with an often frightening conviction, or wondered how a person can
be so driven to succeed that he lets the rest of his life fall to pieces
around him, then you might have already made this connection in
your minds.  Those guys are addicts.  And if you've seen the joy in
those people's eyes when they achieve their goals you might think that
there is something to that notion, at least for some people.  To wit,
there is already an accepted term for the case of the person who works
too much: workaholic; and we often describe the feelings that we get
from our successes as "highs" akin to what we experience when we
take drugs.  So I feel that most people would be open to the idea that
you can become psychologically addicted to something in the same
way that you can be physically addicted, but I also feel that people will
say that these addicts are the exception, not the rule.  However, the
point that I am making in "God is Pain" is that it is psychological
addiction which is the rule and not the exception and that we are
simply pointing at those who are more addicted than we are as the
only ones who have this problem.
   The human brain can produce endorphins, which are as
powerful a chemical as any that can be introduced into the brain,
which give one feelings of pleasure and euphoria.  This is how the
brain naturally works, although in relatively low doses, rewarding
itself when it does something good.  This effect is also functional,
strengthening the neural pathways used to achieve that good thing
so that it can be experienced easier later.  Of course, the larger the
dose of endorphins, the more powerful the high, and the stronger the
desire becomes to regain it.  However, the reward mechanism loses its
intensity each time it is re-experienced, at least if it is achieved in an
identical way, like watching the same movie over and over, and so
variation is important when it comes to getting either the same or a
more powerful reward.  Thus, when you find something that you like,
you first do that thing until it becomes less enjoyable, then you do
something similar to that thing, which gives you renewed enjoyment,
until that becomes boring as well, and then you enjoy another variation
and another until either the possibilities are exhausted or no variation
gives you the reward that you desire.  At that point you'll switch to
something completely different to get the good feeling again.  Now,
some people will get bored with things much faster than others,
revealing differences in people's ability to absorb new experiences,
but the phenomenon works the same way for everyone.  As an
aside, this explains the phenomenon of fads.  First a trend is started
and becomes popular, then copycats follow suit, offering similar but
slightly different experiences, and then eventually the entire trend
dies out and a new trend starts.  This is simply the marketplace
reacting to the masses which are seeking out neurologically
rewarding experiences and are in need of fresh fixes.
   The human brain also contains chemicals which produce
unpleasant feelings when something bad happens or may be about to
happen.  Instead of seeking these experiences out, we try to avoid them,
but avoiding bad experiences is not always easy, especially when
dealing with a complex environment, and so neural pathways must
be built to reinforce pain avoidance techniques.  It is the thrust of
"God is Pain" and a central part of the Fireaxe theory that ideologies
contain tenets which instill a permanent state of inadequacy in
an individual and make them feel that something bad may happen
to them at any time.  This serves to encourage people to be more
adherent to their ideologies out of fear of pain.  For instance, in
Christianity, a believer must live up to the impossible standards set
by Jesus, and no matter how good you were during your life there is
no guarantee that you will get into heaven as that decision is always
left to the Christian god.  Also, Christianity sets up a conflict
between a believer and their own body, convincing believers that
if they do not resist their natural urges that they will end up in hell.
Similarly, in our modern Capitalist system, advertisers spend billions
convincing us that we are inadequate in some way if we do not buy
their product, and the simple fact that great wealth can be achieved
by anyone gives people the impression that they are lazy, untalented,
or in some other way inadequate if they are not wealthy.  Also, the
constant threat of losing one's job, one's health care, one's home, and
so forth, due to either market forces or the whim of an executive can
make one feel as if they are continually under siege.  Furthermore,
over-consumption, a common problem in today's capitalist society,
can put one at odds with their own body as chasing pleasures,
indulging to excess, and seeking out variation on those pleasures
can make one obese, unhealthy, and suffering from a variety of
sexually transmitted diseases.  Now while ideologies do not
necessarily set out to cause the very problems that they benefit from,
the ones which are successful are inevitably the ones that in some
way fuel themselves in this manner, whether intentional or not.
   When a person is constantly beset by experiences which
create negative feelings it is natural for them to seek out positive
rewards to offset them.  What I am suggesting in "God is Pain" is
that ideologies condition a person into a state where they will
constantly feel inadequate unless they have access to rewards.  This
produces the well known cycle of addiction, where one moves back
and forth from feeling bad to feeling good depending on how often
one is getting rewarded for their achievements.  A constant stream
of small rewards can make one feel as if they have no addiction at
all, and most of us seek out routines which guarantee such access,
but for those who are stuck feeling very inadequate, normal rewards
do not satisfy their needs, and so they require large rewards, which
often require extraordinary measures to achieve them.  Because of
the infrequency of attaining extraordinary rewards, people with a
powerful addiction will constantly cycle from highs to lows in the way
which is depicted in the song.  For a while they will be drowning in
depression and despair but when their creative fires have been stoked
and they produce something amazing they are flying sky high, at least
for a while, and then they drop back down into depression again.  So,
should we pity them?  Perhaps, but remember that they do drive our
society, since their deep sense of inadequacy creates a powerful
motivation to do something spectacular.  It is they who are often the
ones who produce great works or do great things that help everyone,
and, of course, who give us many of the positive experiences that we
need to feel good ourselves.  We need and often adore the severely
addicted because they feed our own addictions.
   So how does this addiction all get started?  In the second
verse of "God is Pain" I suggest that it is not something sinister, but
something which we see as benevolent.  However, I describe it in a
very sinister way which probably made a lot of you feel uncomfortable:

"Love is a knife thrust into the heart of a child.
 Innocence is torn away, enthralled by love we must obey.
 Love is a drug and we are addicts,
 quivering, powerless, aching for more;
 and as it slowly turns to gray we beg and plead, 'Don't go away.'"

   Of course, there is nothing wrong with loving one's child,
the problem comes in the amount of love that is administered.  Love
produces endorphins in the brain and the stronger the feeling the
more powerful the high.  Thus, excessive amounts of a "good" thing
will produce an addictive dependency cycle with the child needing
love on a frequent basis.  It is my contention that dependency of this
nature is passed from parent to child.  A parent that has a strong
sense of inadequacy will find a reward in creating a strong bond of
love between themselves and their child.  This bond is created by
the mechanism of positive reinforcement via endorphins and made
stronger through variations just like any other form of conditioning.
Once established in sufficient strength, the parent receives their fix
when they share their love with their child and the child becomes
similarly addicted over time.
   Now, once the child is dependent on receiving love from a
parent, the parent has control of a powerful motivating force.  They
can use the power of withholding that love to make their child jump
through whatever hoops they require.  It may sound sinister when put
in those terms, but that is what is going on whether the parents are
doing it intentionally or not.  Many parents have a need to see their
children excel and personalize their children's successes and failures.
The parents will then either reward their children when they succeed
or become disappointed in them when they do not.  The child soon
learns that in order to continue to get their fix they need to do the
things that make their parents proud of them.  This is how ideological
notions of inadequacy and the cycle of dependency can be passed from
generation to generation in a non-verbal way.
   With this in mind we can look back at the first five tracks of
the CD and see things in a new light.  The protagonist inherited his
addiction from his parents and in the slow part of "Masters of the
Universe" we learn that he did all the wicked things that he did in
order to be successful and thus make his parents proud of him.  Also,
his addiction was what caused him to turn to those wicked ways, but
not until after he realized that he would never get his reward by doing
things by the rules.  One way or another his addiction was going to get
satisfied, for you see, within each of us there is a beast that needs to
feed, and the beasts in some are hungrier than the beasts in others, and
so the result is constant struggle in a world awash in ideologies which
motivate their believers through psychological addiction.  No wonder
we act like animals when we want something.
   Furthermore, the torture of the protagonist by the antagonist
throughout the CD is a struggle between two strongly addicted
individuals willing to do anything, no matter how painful or depraved,
to get what they crave.  Also the protagonist's "angel", though in love
with the protagonist, surrenders to the smooth talking liar who promises
a more powerful and satisfying romantic experience, one which gets
her hooked on the liar's passion which was stronger than what the
protagonist gave her.  Furthermore, the smooth talking liar himself is
addicted to seducing women, going through one after another in order
to satisfy his needs.  And lastly, the antagonist feels the need to go on
a righteous crusade to take over the firm, clean it up, and spread the
new economic gospel.  It is psychological addictions and what they
make people do that form the grisly storyline of "Eternal Devotion to
the Dark Goddess".
   And of the point I made about rebirth earlier, an addiction will
find a way to achieve satisfaction, potentially taking the host down roads
that he does not want to travel.  In "Death's Angel" the protagonist
pacifies his addiction with overindulgence in sex, drugs, and anything
else that he can buy since he can no longer achieve the kind of success
that used to satisfy him.  When deprived of those fixes he finds a new
fix, although a very dark one, in getting revenge against all those who
brought him pain.  Now, while the religious may call this a surrender to
evil whereas when they are born again it is a surrender to good, but
regardless of the ideology to which one converts and the relativistic
terms used to describe their nature the substance remains the same:
born again type "crusaders" are merely using religion as a fix to satisfy
their psychological addictions.  But each fix never lasts for long and the
demands for getting the next are steep, and thus, "God is Pain".
   There is a somewhat mysterious line at the end of the second
verse where I suggest that as the pleasure and rapture of getting one's
fix is fading away, we invite the pain back into our lives.  That may
seem a little too inexplicable and so I feel the need to discuss it some
more.  In the original lyrics I had a third verse which explains this
concept a little better but I cut it out since I needed to squeeze the
project on to a single eighty minute CD.  The verse was as follows:

"Nothing tastes as sweet as something that we've fought for,
 no victory complete, unless our foe is strong and ruthless.
 Nothing satisfies like that which was so long denied,
 and there the answer lies, to feel the joy we must relive the pain."

   The idea here is that a high is only satisfying if the struggle
to attain it was difficult, and so when we need that special fix to offset
deep feelings of inadequacy we seek out rewards that are hard to
achieve, thus inviting the pain and suffering that will come from
such an endeavor.  As the weightlifters say, "no pain, no gain" and
this is true on a psychological level as well.  Unfortunately, as the
addict discovers, the greater the high, the harder the crash and the
deeper the addiction becomes.  When one attains a great reward it
often has the effect of making one less satisfied when it wears off,
and thus success can become an obsession.
   The next two parts of the song describe the cycle of addiction
as it pertains to religion and then to politics.  These are both in the
classic nihilistic Fireaxe vein and I enjoyed writing and recording
them immensely.  The religion in question can be any of the major
monotheistic ones and the politics described can be of any political
party.  Please do not think that what I wrote is only relevant to "those
other guys".  I seek to be an equal opportunity disbeliever and skeptic
and am not trying to hold anyone's beliefs, religious or political, above
criticism.  I see our allegiances to our churches and political parties as
being very much based in conditioning and addiction of the type I
described in the song.
   In the third part of the song I work my way towards the epic
"Tell me what I want to hear" chorus which describes the nearly
blind obedience to one's conditioned "narrative" that can be seen
rather clearly in our society today.  By narrative I am referring to
an ideological perspective on the present, the future, and an often
very revisionist version of the past which ties everything together to
make one's political or religious beliefs appear to be the one true
way.  With the rise of politically biased news channels and the
advent of the internet which plays host to every flavor of narrative,
especially extremist ones which do not generate enough of a
following to afford a more public platform, one can tune in to the
narrative of their choice and absorb local and world events as told
through an ideological prism which matches their own.  Thus, in
this day and age you can be well informed while never having been
exposed to anything that contradicts your current view of the world.
The result that we have people who know an awful lot about certain
things and yet are completely wrong about them.  Yes, ideologies
have adapted to the information age.  Perhaps we should call this
the "disinformation age".  When a person becomes conditioned to
accepting a certain narrative they derive pleasure from it just like
any other addiction and they resist being exposed to alternate
narratives, with the exception of those with a "crusader" type
mentality who expose themselves to alternate narratives in order
to defeat them in their mind, or in an internet forum, and receive
a neurological reward for their trouble.
   The third part of the song ends with the following line
which sums up the crux of the problem: "In the mind a shining lie
is stronger than the deepest truth."  Ideologies can always offer up
a version of reality that is more appealing than anything the truth can
offer.  Would you rather believe that you go to heaven when you die
or that you rot in the ground for all eternity?  Would you rather believe
that you evolved from a monkey or that you were created in the image
of a god?  Would you rather believe that your political party is
righteous and has all the answers or that all forms of government
evolve to become corrupt, self-serving, and resistant to change?
And would you rather believe that you are in complete control of
your life, your beliefs, and your thoughts, or that you are a product
of and slave to your upbringing, your environment, and your brain
chemistry?  It's not just that people like to hear good things, they
need to hear good things and that's what makes the truth so hard to
accept.
   I feel the need for this disclaimer: Fireaxe is not about
becoming popular or accepted and thus I have no intention of telling
you what you want to hear.  That is why the music sounds the way
that it does and why this newsletter often slaughters sacred cows and
turns them into hamburger.
   The last part of the song brings the story back into the
torture room where we hear the protagonist and antagonist going
at each other once again.  The protagonist claims that he and his
"freedom fighters" became a threat to the antagonist's god, but  the
antagonist objects, believing his god to be of the omnipotent type.
The protagonist, in turn, mocks that notion, laying down the ultimate
truth that a god is only a symbol that is held in place by raw power,
in this case, the Firm, which the two rivals helped rise to prominence.
At this point in the story, the Firm has become the most influential
force in the world, controlling the most power nation on earth and
using that power to force all other nations into obedience, in essence
becoming like a god, but in the last line of the song the protagonist
tells the interrogator that he knows that such a god can die and
implies that he knows how to kill it.
   The protagonist's silver bullet, a lie, is what he uses to kill
the god that the Firm has become, as we find out in the final track,
but the groundwork for that revelation is all laid out in this track so if
you want to understand the CD you need to understand "God is Pain".
You see, the antagonist is an addict, addicted to the need to champion
his god and defeat those who threaten it.  Furthermore, his addiction
is so strong that he needs to go to extremes to satisfy it, such as the
way he hunted down the protagonist, breaking every law in his
thirst for justice, in the eighth track.  So when the protagonist sells
him on the ultimate lie, that the world is full of doomsday weapons
and assassins trying to destroy everything that the antagonist holds
dear, the protagonist knows that his divinely addicted rival will not
let the truth stand in his way of his need to save the world for his god.
It doesn't matter that such a plot doesn't exist, the antagonist believes
in it, and that is enough to send him off on a self-destructive rampage.
   The music in "God is Pain" is very dynamic, swinging from
intense passages to sedate ones and back and forth, always building
to climaxes and dropping down to soothing passages before building
to the next powerful moment.  My only regret in the song is that the
"Tell me what I want to hear" chorus doesn't quite jump out at the
listener as much as I wanted.  Perhaps the listener is suffering from
a little fatigue due to the length and intensity of the song or perhaps
I just needed to change a few more things around to make it work
better, but other than that I think that this is another classic Fireaxe
track.
   The up and down swings in the music match the points that
I am trying to make about psychological addiction and the emotional
swings that accompany it.  This song pounds you down and then lifts
you back up only to pound you back down again.  You feel the life of
an addict with its many peaks and valleys, but it is not the same thing
over and over of course.  Variations are the key to powerful rewards.
So the first two verses switch back and forth quickly while the second
two build slowly, peak and then take you down slowly.  Those second
two verses, the ones that deal with politics and religion are my favorite
musically as well as lyrically, with the two matching each other to create
a powerful whole.
   And I would be remiss not to mention my favorite guitar
solo of the entire CD.  In between the first two verses and the second
two is a towering passage featuring pounding rhythms, forceful
choral parts, and a solo where I pretty much outdid myself, stretching
my talents to the limit to make this part of the song sensational, or
at least I, and at least a few others, think so.  If you like this style of
metal, you are in luck because I plan to take Fireaxe even more into
the "classically influenced but still hardcore metal" direction in the
next new release.  Expect to hear much more like that in the future.


The Meaning of the Songs - Viva la Revolucion

   What can I say about this song?  I love it.  I absolutely love
it.  No, that's not self worship, it's just that I surprised myself by
writing a song that I feel is probably the catchiest Fireaxe track of
them all.  So whenever I spin it I feel the urge to air-guitar and bob
my head to the beat as I envision the arrogant fat cats of the world
getting their comeuppance.  Put quite simply, it's a fun song, and
it contains a surprising amount of energy, which is what the listener
needs after the long, slow track before it.
   But as much as the song is about violent revolution against
a corrupt corporate controlled state, its role in the CD is somewhat
contrary to the perceived intentions.  The point is not to tell the truth
about the current state of the world, although there is a lot of truth in
the song, but to follow a narrative which incites people to rise up and
force a change in the system in the hopes of achieving something
better.  This song is the lie, told via half-truths, that the protagonist
uses to encourage his "freedom fighters" to lay siege to the mansions
of the rich and generate an ugly spectacle which will eventually place
him in a position to deliver his ultimate lie to the antagonist.  You see,
coming up with the perfect lie is only one part of the process of making
someone believe it.  No, you have to drive it home with fear and pain,
as described in the previous track, and so the protagonist knows that if
he can start a movement that poses a threat to the antagonist, the
antagonist will be far more likely to believe the protagonist's lie.  And
so the song is in essence the rallying cry of the oppressed against their
corporate masters, portraying the powerful as uncaring and corrupt,
and demanding that they be exposed, held to account, and if they are
truly despicable, put to death.
   That being said, there nothing in the song which can really
be called a lie.  Opening up a newspaper on any given day will
expose you to a number of stories that capture the points that are
made in the song regarding the sorry state of modern capitalism, at
least as it is practiced in countries exposed to an unhealthy amount
of neo-liberal economics.  It omits large amounts of what is positive
about capitalism though, and thus falls in line with the typical leftist
and socialist narratives regarding the state of the world and what
needs to be done to save it.  In many ways it is a mirror image of
"Masters of the Universe" which is closer to the conservative, right
wing narrative, although I exaggerated the extreme positions of the
protagonist in "Masters of the Universe" more then in "Viva la
Revoluction".  It may seem like I am playing favorites here, being
easier on the left than the right, but in truth I tend to side against
the people in power no matter what their beliefs, so with the right
wing being in charge they are getting the harsher treatment, at least
for now.
   Perhaps my favorite part of this song is the "Open the Books"
chorus.  If there is ever going to be a motto for the war against
corporate corruption, this has to be it.  By the time the current
financial collapse is finished and firm after firm has either been
laid to waste or bailed out with massive government intervention if
We the People don't rise up and demand far more transparency in
both the public and private sectors than we have now then we deserve
to have every last scrap of wealth stolen from us.  We will soon learn
that Enron was the rule, not the exception.  We will soon  realize that
the numbers that come out of trusted institutions such as banks and
the government are either faith-based or completely fabricated.  And
we will soon know that de-regulation is the same as leaving the cookie
jar open on the bottom shelf while you leave your children next to it
completely unattended, except that the result isn't a bunch of fat kids
that have ruined their dinner it’s a bunch of fat cat executives and
their errand-boy bureaucrats who have ruined the country.  And while
it's true that the current system can work, with changes, and, as
described earlier, with some aggressive redistribution of wealth
to get things rolling again, I would bet dollars to doughnuts, well
perhaps I should say that I would bet gold and silver against lattes
and kripsy cremes since dollars are losing their value with shocking
rapidity, that most of the world will opt for  something much
different than Democracy and Capitalism as they stand today.
Perhaps a few nations will give Fascism another try.  In any event,
the baby is going to go out with the bathwater.
   "Viva la Revolucion" has a Latin American theme, both in
the music and in the chorus where I shout out some Spanish phrases.
This is because the protagonist ended up in some non-descript Central
or South American country in "Death's Angel" and so I thought that
I would add the character of those nations into the CD.  In many
countries south of the border a man can live like a king if they have
a rather modest amount of money saved up due to the depressed
standard of living there.  When one compares the distribution of wealth
between the rich and the poor, the U.S. even at its most extreme
point in the last century, which is today, falls short of the majority of
its neighbors to the south.  The result of such a disparity is a nation
where the wealthy few are served by the poor and impoverished
masses who have no choice but to serve for whatever the rich are
willing to pay them.  That environment has been a fertile breeding
ground for communism and socialist revolutions and so it is no
accident that the protagonist ended up there since it dovetails into
the theme of the CD.
   But the burning question that I sense out there is: what
are the meanings of those Spanish phrases?  Well, Spanish isn't
the most consistent language in the world, and although there
are plenty of native Spanish speakers where I live, a mere ten
miles from the border with Mexico, they each gave me different
translations of what I wanted to sing.  So I ended up converging
on something which is probably close enough to what I wanted
that it should pass for Spanish.  With that being said, "matemos el
ricos" means "kill the rich" and "queme los elites" means "burn the
elites".  And in case anyone is interested, yes it is really hard to roll
your r's when you are singing, especially for someone who'd never
rolled an r even when speaking prior to recording the song.
   Regarding the music, this is one more example of Fireaxe
fusing together metal and some other musical style, in this case,
Latin rock.  In "Food for the Gods" I merged Persian and Judaic
music into "Gods of War" and "Woe is Israel" and felt that those
experiments were successful enough to continue the trend.  From
the high-hat work in the drumming to the wide-ranging rhythms
in the chorus which added the feel of a horn section, this song
does have both a Latin and metal vibe  I think that it's pretty cool.
The lively beat and chorus provide a nice break from the slower
and more plodding tracks on the second half of the CD, adding
some musical spice in the midst of exceedingly dark songs about
pain, death, and torture.  It stands out, and yet it blends in.
   And yes, I am aware that it follows the conventional
ABACAB format and has a radio friendly duration.  I like to
throw in one or two songs that can be pulled out as stand alone
tracks for radio play on my CDs.  I realize that I need to make a
few concessions to help you folks out there who have radio shows
spread the word about Fireaxe and so "Viva la Revolucion" and
"Masters of the Universe" were crafted with you in mind.  But in
my opinion the concessions didn't affect the overall CD much if at
all.  The story switches from scene to scene in the protagonist's life
and so many of the songs can be pulled out and played as stand alone
pieces without diminishing their impact on the story.  Of course
when they are all rolled together, they become much more powerful.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2008, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both th

The Burning Blade 11.6
October 07, 2008, 08:38:02 PM
I hate to break the news but we're all getting mugged…


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 11.6

         October 7, 2008

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "The rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave
   the rest.  They always did.  They always will."
   "We should remember that the people never act from reason
   alone.  The rich will take advantage of their passions, and
   make these the instruments for oppressing them.  The result
   of the contest will be a violent aristocracy, or a more violent
   despotism.  The schemes of the rich will be favored by the
   extent of the country.  The people in such distant parts can
   not communicate and act in concert. They will be the dupes
   of those who have more knowledge and intercourse."
      - Gouverneur Morris, co-author of the Constitution
      of the United States in a letter to James Madison,
      suggesting that the rich and the poor should have
      separate representative branches in government,
      otherwise "let the rich mix with the poor and…
      they will establish an oligarchy."


   And now our gods are on their knees.
   Capitalism was allegedly "five-hundred trades away from
Armageddon" according to a pair of traders inside two large banks
as hundreds of billions of sell orders stacked up in money market
funds one morning not long ago.  And Democracy was successfully
thwarted as members of Congress in the U.S. collaborated with Wall
Street to pass a massive bailout bill over the adamant opposition from
a vast majority of their constituents.  They gave a single man almost
unchecked power to spend an incomprehensible amount of money
while giving the citizenry only the promise that he has our best
interests at heart.  Worse still is the fact that the man chosen for the
task was so clueless about what was happening with the financial
system that he thought that everything was sound only a few months
ago.  Passing such an outrageous bill, even in a time of crisis, has to be
one of the most anti-democratic as well as one of the stupidest things
that I have ever witnessed from my government in my lifetime and the
only thing that our representatives could say about it in their defense
was that "we had to do something".  I assume that asking someone
other than a Bush administration insider or appointee about other
possible solutions was out of the question?  How about after the bill
failed the first time?  Without a doubt, the men and women who voted
for the bill are cowards and incompetents and need to be removed from
office as quickly as possible.
   The oligarchy that Gouverneur Morris warned us about has
seized control of the corridors of power, or at least they've made it
obvious who has the power in our country, and they are working their
hardest to transfer as much wealth as possible into their own hands
while making it appear as though they are serving the best interests
of the country.  The housing bubble itself enabled a massive transfer
of wealth from the masses to the rich as the rich made huge profits
selling overvalued houses and handing out trillions of dollars in loans
to people who won't be able to pay them back.  Now those same people
have enabled the transfer of those bad loans to the government while
lowering their own tax burden so that they can keep milking the good
loans while making the rest of us cover the losses on the bad.  Worse
still is that every effort is being made to keep people in their overpriced
homes and making payments, regardless of whether it is better for them
to simply walk away and let foreclosure occur.  The oligarchy would
rather see the masses sucked dry rather than made economically stable
with a bailout, debt forgiveness, or other popular measure.
   As Morris wrote, the rich will take advantage of the passions
of the poor and use those instruments to oppress them.  This they did
with extreme effectiveness in the last decade, promising great wealth
to anyone who invested heavily in a 401k or bought a home.  And now
that the final bubble has burst the masses are starting to wake up to the
oppression of a massive debt burden, a plummeting stock market, a
failing job market, expensive health care, and the onus of a deep
recession, if not a full blown depression, looming before them.  The
rich also took advantage of the congress, using fear to ram a number of
ridiculous bailout packages down the throats of clueless legislators.  As
the majority leader of the Senate remarked that no one knew what to do
over five trillion in liabilities were added to the national balance sheet
with trillions more undoubtedly on the way.  The way our elected
officials rolled over and let the rest of us get robbed made the $700
billion bailout bill seem like the financial version of the USA PATRIOT
act.  They abandoned their responsibilities and sold us up the river,
surrendering their power to control the country's purse strings to a Wall
Street insider whom we are supposed to entrust with fixing the banking
system.  The potential for the abuse of power here is so mind-numbingly
far reaching that it is a real stretch of the imagination to keep believing
that we still live in a democracy.  The U.S. has appointed nothing short
of a financial dictator with nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars to
spend as he will, with more hundreds of billions likely to be added to his
account in future months, and who can pick and choose who he wants to
bail out (his old friends at Goldman Sachs maybe?), who gets the shaft
(old political enemies maybe?), and all with virtually no accountability.
But at least we have the satisfaction of seeing Monetarist fundamentalists
and free market apologists admitting that they have been following a
false doctrine and embracing what they call "socialism". All this from a
group of people who used to laugh at Soviet-style managed economies. 
Of course, it's not socialism if the masses get the shaft.  What we're really
talking about is an oligarchy, a form of government where the wealthy
rule from behind the scenes, but at least we get to pick which servants of
the rich run the country so we can pretend to still have a democracy.
   But it is looking ever more likely that even the powers that
be cannot save the system from itself and the complete collapse of the
global financial system draws nearer with each passing day.  To those who
still don't believe that such a thing could happen and to those who feel
that our leaders were misled into supporting a $700 billion dollar bailout
package I can only say that this time around the cries of "wolf" are real.
The "Masters of the Universe" have screwed up really, really bad this
time and if you've been following the past editions of The Burning
Blade then you have some idea of how it all happened.  If it was just five
or so trillion in potentially doomed mortgages and other loans that are
at risk in the U.S. then the problem is painful to deal with but still
manageable.  Completely nationalizing the loans and adding that
amount to the government's massive debt would surely drag the economy
down, as it would in the many other nations with housing bursting
housing bubbles, but the global financial system would remain solvent.
The problem is that the loans were leveraged into massive bets on trades
in markets world wide, most of which were insured by other institutions
who were also massively leveraged themselves so that even larger profits
could be made off of the mortgages.  But now with the collateral for
those trades going bad and with drastically fewer loans coming in to
enable them to make more gambles to offset the failing ones the game
is up and those massive bets need to be unwound.  So how massive are
these bets?  Well, it's a little hard to believe when you see the numbers,
but there are over sixty trillion dollars in outstanding credit default
swaps and over one quadrillion (notional amount - so let's assume
10% of that is realistically on the line) in outstanding derivatives out
there along with who knows what all else.  So what that means is that
we are not talking about a five trillion dollar problem, but one of over
one-hundred sixty trillion dollars, and all of it thanks to deregulation,
greed, and a conscious lack of oversight on the part of the central banks
and governments in the U.S. and elsewhere.  This problem is too big to
solve and the powers that be are trying to prop up a failing system by
keeping all the major players in the game no matter how much money
they have to throw around or mergers they have to fund for fear that if
the dominoes start to fall and all those trillions have to be written off
that in the end there won't be a single bank or investment firm left
standing.  That so many institutions around the world are at risk is
thanks to the globalization of the modern financial system which was
intended to reduce risk by spreading it around but in the end allowed
excessive risk taking and "moral hazard" to contaminate every market
in the world.  No one is immune.  Thus the desperation and fear in the
eyes of Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke as they met with members of
congress a short time ago.  Their god, Monetarism, is failing them and
things are falling apart faster than they can put them back together.  We
are most certainly facing the possibility of a total and complete collapse
of the entire global economy.
   Of course, I am not saying that in an effort to implore people
to try and stop it from happening.  To the contrary, I want it to happen.
Not because I am an anarchist or suicidal or anything, but because I
want to see a stable, well regulated financial system arise in its place
and I don't see that happening until we clear away the debris of the
rotted and hopelessly corrupt current system.  I want to help to rebuild
my nation when it falls, but I do not want to build a castle on quicksand.
   I suppose that I could gloat, since I predicted that this was
coming, and I could argue with some of you about whether the
economy will bottom out soon and rebound or that things will not be
as bad as I think they will be, but the point of trying to get at the truth
is not to have bull sessions and argue about who is right and who is
wrong but to use that knowledge to prepare oneself to deal with
potential crises.  So, to help you all out in this regard I'll lay out some
possible scenarios and make a few recommendations about prudent
courses of action.
   Firstly, I don't expect the collapse to happen within the next
few weeks or months although the way things have deteriorated
recently it wouldn't surprise me if it did.  Generally when things reach
a crisis level the government begins to intervene with mild measures
which grow more and more draconian as previous actions fail to correct
the growing cascade of problems.  The easiest of these brute force
methods is to simply block certain financial transactions from occurring,
such as shutting down the stock market if it goes down too far too fast
(Russia did this twice in the last few weeks) and limiting the amount
of money that people can withdraw from their banks and investments
to prevent a classic run on the banks.  Yes, they can and will prevent
you from accessing your money when you want it.  These measures
help to keep banks and other institutions solvent, stopping them from
losing capital due to investors selling their stock and depositors cashing
out their accounts.  Now, due to the fractional reserve system, banks
do not have enough capital to pay off their depositors if they all wanted
to withdraw their money at the same time.  This is the case whether the
banks are healthy or not and it works fine as long as the system is well
regulated, the economy is functional, and fraudulent practices are not
running rampant.  People are told not to withdraw their money since
that will always make things worse and can often create problems where
there are none to begin with.  However, in today's case I see no good
reason to keep up our end of the bargain.  We have been lied to and
betrayed by those entrusted to handle our finances.  And even with
FDIC insuring your deposits you should realize that they only have
around fifty billion dollars in reserves to insure around four trillion
dollars in deposits.  All it would take to wipe out the FDIC is for one
major bank to go bankrupt.  At that point, if your bank fails then you
will have to get in line behind everyone else to get your money back
from the government.  That might take a while.  But if you do decide
to keep money in the bank, make sure that you have a recent statement
of your account to show as proof that you are owed that money.  But
given the miniscule interest rates you're getting from your savings
account, it doesn't matter so much whether you're keeping your money
in the bank vault or under your mattress.  Having a stash of bills at
home will protect you from a wide variety of policies and calamities
that can rob you of your savings, and if the economy were to recover,
you won't have lost much in interest when you deposit that money
back into your bank.
   If you have a 401k or other investment in the market it is a
different story when it comes to the potential downside of withdrawal.
Add an early withdrawal penalty of 10% to a major rally in the market
of, say, 20% to 40% and you could end up costing yourself a lot.  Then
again, the market could turn down sharply and you could lose half of
your nest egg or more.  It might be worthwhile to diversify by cashing
out a fair amount of your retirement account and investing it elsewhere,
but with the prices of traditional good investments (stocks, real estate)
falling like rocks you'll need to look elsewhere for assets that either hold
their value or appreciate in difficult times.  Gold and silver are the
traditional "safe havens" when economies are going through major
crises, especially if inflation or hyperinflation ensues.  In many cases the
government will run out of money and resort to funding its operations by
printing up the cash it needs to pay people.  This usually results in inflation
and only temporarily solves the problem, inviting more money printing
and more inflation.  Inflation is bad if you have cash under the mattress,
or savings in the bank, and it can be lethal for people on fixed incomes.
Inflation is good for people who are in debt, but only if they see their
wages going up, the prevention of which seems to be the only thing that
the people in power have been successful at doing.  Another potential
problem is deflation, which can happen if the government steps aside
and lets banks fail left and right without printing money to compensate
for the loss in capital as the Federal Reserve did before the great
depression.  In this case the cash is king since there is so little of it and
prices are forced downwards sharply since no one has any money.  True
that the prices of gold and silver will also come down during deflation,
but they will still buy their equivalent in goods.  But what I expect to see
is stagflation, which is prices going up while wages and growth stay flat.
This will be like a noose slowly tightening around everyone's necks as
wave after wave of declining growth, reduced investment, job losses, and
decreased spending ripple through the global economy.  But whether we
have inflation, deflation, or stagflation, gold and silver will hold their
buying power when nothing else is.  The trouble with buying gold or
silver today is that the markets for those metals fluctuate so much on a
day to day basis that picking the right time to buy is likely to give you a
bad case of indigestion.  Also, the market for precious metals is getting
very crowded as of late and the U.S. treasury is running short of gold
bullion coins so if you decide to buy it may be hard to find them in the
amounts that you want.  I recommend precious metals, mostly coins that
you can hold in your possession, mainly because they are not paper and
their value cannot suddenly drop to nothing, as any Zimbabwean or
Argentinean will tell you about their former currencies.  E-mail me if
you need to find reputable dealers in the U.S.
   The government has the power to do almost anything in a
financial crisis and you shouldn't rule out confiscation as a possibility.
In my mind the closer you have your money, in whatever form it is in,
to your physical person the harder it is for the government to confiscate
it.  They might seize assets you have anywhere: bank accounts, 401k
accounts, etc., giving you an IOU for them which they will pay back in
devalued currency at some later date.  Yes, that sounds criminal, but it's
been done before.  And they might make gold ownership illegal, as the
U.S. did in 1933, forcing you to trade your gold for paper dollars and
arresting you if they catch you trying to exchange gold for goods on the
black market.  And they might make use of the eminent domain power
to seize real estate, making any investment potentially unsafe, save
perhaps for the purchase of a representative or senator of course.
Another possible move for a desperate government is the replacement
of all dollars with a completely new currency, with the exchange rate
for normal citizens being less than one to one.  The government would
justify all of these methods of what is essentially theft by stating,
credibly, that they need the funds to pay for basic services and to keep
foreign investors from pulling their money out of the country and making
things even worse.  As hopeless as this all might sound, the message is
clear, diversify all your funds and don't rely on anyone, especially the
government, to bail you out.  Everyone will be hurting and things which
are safe and reliable will come at a premium.  And watch out for scams
as con artists and desperate people will be everywhere.
   Budget-wise I would recommend cutting back to the bone.
Pay off high interest loans like credit cards but keep the low interest
loans where they are, provided that you can pay them.  If you have a
place to live free and clear then you are going to be doing better than
a whole lot of people if and when the collapse happens.  You might
also want to invest in a small amount of "survival" gear.  Now, I'm not
talking about enough food and water to hole up in your basement for a
couple of years, but having the ability to ride out a week or more if a
major breakdown occurs (such as a power outage lasting for days, the
police walking off their jobs due to their salaries not being paid, all
banks, credit cards, etc, shut down for a week as a new currency is put
in place) is a good idea.  And for self-defense I recommend getting a
good shotgun and learning how to use it.  Handguns are expensive,
hard to hit your target with, and people don't always fall down when
you shoot them with one contrary to what you see on TV and in the
movies.  A shotgun, on the other hand, is much easier to handle and
far more lethal, and you can sometimes survive a confrontation just by
racking it as the sound alone tends to make people run away very quickly.
But please, if you buy a gun, learn how to keep it and use it legally and
safely and don't shoot anyone unless your life is in danger.  Life is not
a video game.  If you screw up, you can end up dead or spending the
rest of your life in jail.
   Long term I foresee something similar to the 1930s depression.
All governments will become quite fascist, as they did during that
period, regardless of who is elected to lead them.  The leader will only
determine the flavor of fascism.  I expect to see soup lines, public
works projects, unemployment, and a lot of sad and angry faces no
matter what policies are put in place.  And if I am right about the
distribution of wealth being a major factor in economic health then
it will take a long time for the economy to come around.  The rich
simply will not part with their money easily and they have a powerful
influence over the government.  Forced redistribution of wealth may
result in a coup and political turmoil will likely break out in many
parts of the world as the suffering grows and spreads.  There are no
easy answers to these problems, so don't believe anyone who says that
our problems can be solved if we just did one or two simple things.
Even wealth redistribution needs to be done in a fair manner and the
power of the free market, a regulated free market that is, must be
unleashed before true recovery can occur.  The global economy is
distorted and dysfunctional and a lot needs to be changed before it will
go back to working properly again.  Even if a leader knows exactly
what he or she is doing, the transformation will not be quick and easy.
   So how does one prepare for global chaos?  There's no simple
answer and you'll each have to find your own paths, but the better that
you prepare yourselves financially, physically, and mentally, the better
off that you'll be.  Get your books in order and diversify your money.
Make your commitment to having a healthy body and diet stick this
time.  And prepare yourself for living with a lot less than you expected.
Reach out to community organizations which will help everyone spread
the burdens and which will come together to help each other in times
of need.  Understand that the big party is over and that it is time to
rediscover the side of yourself that enjoys simple pleasures and
working hard.  It won't be the end of the world, it's just the end of the
world as you know it.  The sooner that you accept that things are going
to be different, the sooner that you can make adjustments and live a
satisfying life.  Take it from someone who survived cancer and slogged
through years of chronic fatigue syndrome.  Don't be afraid to chuck
your ego, lower your standards, and tone down your goals.  Now, I
didn't say stop fighting.  Always fight.  And in the coming times you'll
need to work hard to find the strength to stand up for yourself and others.
But come to grips with the fact that your victories will be more modest
and your rewards less spectacular.  You'll be the better for it if you do.
   Speaking of chronic fatigue, it appears as though my current
treatment, which is improving my overall health, is going to push back
any work on "Food for the Gods" probably to 2009.  Part of that is due
to my personal desire to get better which makes me opt for a more
aggressive approach to treatment.  I'm basically forcing my body to
fight the illness as hard as it can, which puts a heavy load on me both
physically and mentally, but I really want to be out of the woods before
the wheels completely come off of the economy.  In the back of my
mind I fear my doctor going out of business before I'm done getting
better and then what would I do?  In any event, I've written up an
especially long newsletter for you in the meantime.  Enjoy.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Meaning of the Songs - My Reflection

   With an explosive beginning, sweeping away the closing bars
of "Viva la Revolucion", comes a highly dynamic track which has
become a lot more popular that I originally anticipated.  "My Reflection"
contrasts sharply with the previous tracks and provides some revealing
insights into one of the main themes of the CD, that the protagonist
and antagonist are two very similar people.
   How can this be?  The two seem like polar opposites.  But
the closer that you look at them the more clear it is that they have a
great number of things in common.  Perhaps the most important thing
that the two share is their drive.  Both of them will stop at nothing to
achieve what they want.  Both of them rose up through the ranks of
the Firm and were determined to become the CEO with the antagonist
succeeding where the protagonist fell short.  And both are more than
willing to commit atrocities in their desire to destroy each other, not
caring much for the ones who fought, suffered, or died in the process
of allowing them to realize their goals.  Also, neither are particularly
noble, so if you want to read about the white knight versus the black
knight, then open up a book of fairy tales and take a vacation from
reality.  In the real world, ruthlessness, determination, and the
willingness to make sacrifices for the "greater good" are characteristics
that the powerful all share, and if you add to those things the ability to
sell the lie to others in order to win their support and you have a good
description of both of the major players in "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess".
   But what makes the comparison so fascinating is not what the
two men share as much as the differences between the two.  Halfway
through the track "My Reflection" the protagonist puts his finger on it:

"But our difference is your weakness, you still believe."

   The antagonist was described as a "true believer" in "The
Evil Men Do" and in the many passages where he invokes the term
"god" it is clear that he believes in a righteous cause which justifies
anything that he has to do to purify the world.  But is it really just a
belief in a god that separates the two men?  No.  The story goes much
deeper than atheism versus theism.  In "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess" as in other Fireaxe projects and in this newsletter, I use the
terms "god" and "ideology" interchangeably and thus by "true believer"
the protagonist is referring to the antagonist's faith in the system.  The
system failed the protagonist and thus he no longer has any faith in it,
but the antagonist still believes in the system although he sees many
flaws in it which he works hard to correct.  Both see the system as
being corrupt, but one wants to purify and reform it while the other
seeks to destroy it.  On that level you might say that it is a battle
between hope and nihilism.  On one hand you have the antagonist
holding out hope that the system can be fixed and that all can be made
right once again while on the other hand you have the protagonist
condemning all ideologies and declaring that none are worthy of
following.  But on another level there is an undercurrent flowing in
the exact opposite direction, that of a struggle between truth and lies.
The protagonist states that all ideologies are based on lies and that
those lies will eventually corrupt any system, no matter how noble it
is in purpose.  He proves this by slowly corrupting the antagonist
throughout the CD and finishes the job in the final track.
   And so with this in mind we can take another look at "My
Reflection" and see both the differences and similarities between the
two foes.  In the first half of the song both the music and the vocal
styles paint a sharp contrast between the two rivals.  The antagonist
is bellowing with self-righteous fury and his lyrics are backed by
pounding rhythms and intense guitar work while the protagonist is
quiet and smug and his lyrics are backed by light drumming and a
single acoustic guitar.  The men seem to be polar opposites, but a
closer look at what they are saying reveals some profound similarities.
For example, recall the opening verse:

"Don't give me that revolutionary bullshit,
save it for your all controlling state."

   It's no coincidence that this line is very similar to the ones
that the protagonist uttered in "Masters of the Universe".  Both men
have a contempt for the idealism of others, but the difference is that
one has faith in the system of which he is a part and the other does
not.  But how big of a difference is that?  When it comes to all other
ideological systems, past, present, and potentially future, they agree,
with both of them dismissing all other ideologies as being wrong.
And so in numerical terms there's not much difference between the
protagonist dismissing all ideologies as being lies and the antagonist
dismissing all but one of them as being lies, but in psychological
terms the difference is huge.  Ideologies themselves supply their
believers with plenty of reasons to disbelieve in rival ideologies as
it is necessary for their own survival to have believers of other faiths
portrayed as disillusioned dupes.  And to brush off the notion that its
believers are fanatics, an ideology will usually allow the questioning
of its own veracity, making believers think that they are skeptics and
realists, even if its proponents must resort to elaborate word games
in order to establish the ideology as the one true way.  But a deep
questioning of one's own beliefs, that which can make one lose their
faith, cannot come about until one's belief system fails them and the
reinforcement mechanism for their ideology is permanently broken.
This is the most important difference between the protagonist and the
antagonist and it is what the CD portrays in vivid detail.
   The two go back and forth in the first half of the song with
the similarities between the two growing more and more obvious.
The protagonist tells of his exploits in that nameless Latin American
country where he and his "freedom fighters" committed countless
atrocities against the rich and powerful, atrocities which he justifies
by pointing out their exploitation of the working class.  The antagonist
in turn brushes aside his lawbreaking and immoral actions and justifies
them with pragmatism, suggesting that doing anything less would
allow far worse things to happen.  Both showed how exceptional they
are by accomplished what they set out to do quickly and efficiently,
and neither were shy about going to extremes to do so.  Also, one can
find another similarity by comparing the scenes in "My Angel", where
the protagonist is raging out of control and abusing his true love with
the scenes in "Black and Black" where the antagonist is screaming his
head off and torturing the protagonist.  Another thing that they both
share is a profound hatred of each other and an obsessive desire to
destroy their rival at all costs.  And in one of my favorites lines, when
the antagonist says that the protagonist deserves to burn in hell the
protagonist responds by saying that since the torture chamber that his
rival commands is like a living hell then "who are you if not the devil?".
As the similarities build the traditional way of looking at the conflict
as a struggle of good versus evil breaks down completely.  The fairy
tale world is vanquished and replaced with the real one in all its
hideous glory.
   As an aside, one might ask why fairy tales exist, especially
since they are so unrealistic.  From ancient stories of brave knights
slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress and tales of how the
faithful are rewarded for their loyalty while the wicked are destroyed
to modern tales of hobbits and rings, Jedis and Sith, and the lone hero
who breaks the rules and brings down the bad guy, these simplistic
depictions of a battle between good and evil have always resonated
with the public regardless of how little they reflect the world around
us.  But the point is not to lavishly replicate reality, although the
nature of the tales change to match the culture and the ideologies they
support.  Instead the point is to satisfy the ideologically imposed need
which people have to see their beliefs vindicated.  Of course, some
resemblance to reality is required since the tale needs to be accessible
to the individual, but in place of the often random and sometimes
confusing nature of reality the plot is specifically structured to teach
an ideological lesson.  Everything that happens in the story happens
for a reason and that reason is to show that behaving in a certain way
will win you a reward in the end.  For example, in real life a baseball
team may win the world series because a few players had surprisingly
good years, or perhaps the owner spent a lot of money signing star
players from rival teams, or maybe a lucky hit or bad call decided a
close game which put them over the top.  But in a fairy tale, a baseball
team will invariably win it all when they accept and adopt the tenets of
the prevailing ideology, such as having one player learn to set aside his
ego and be a team player, and having another break a bad habit like
drinking, and having a third played inspired by love or religion or
whatever the writer wants to lionize.  But it is their adherence to the
proper way of behaving that wins them the prize in the end.  These
fairy tales serve not only as lessons to be learned, but they also serve
to reinforce ideological messages that often become eroded by doubts
when one sees one's ideals falsified by reality.
   So why not just teach reality instead?  What's so wrong
about learning that sometimes the "bad guys", or rather, the guys
who don't necessarily follow all the tenets of the prevailing ideology,
win?  Sometimes cheaters finish first and aren't caught.  Sometimes
liars get the girl.  Sometimes the rich foist billions of dollars of bad
debt on the public and pocket millions themselves.  Why not teach
what really goes on in the world?  Well, believers will frame that
question in terms of a struggle between good and evil as well, just like
in the fairy tales, and say that while the real world has its problems,
that it can one day be as righteous as the world in our dreams if only
we remain true to the ideals of our ideology.  As long as one keeps
their faith goodness will invariably spread to others and eventually the
world will be perfect, or at least that is what we are told.  And some
ideologies fashion some sort of heaven or happy hunting ground as
a reward for those who kept the faith all of their lives but ended up
with little to show for it.  Such a thing is impossible for a skeptic to
falsify.  But in truth the fairy tale is just a dream.  It is an unworkable
vision of reality that can only be realized for a short period of time, if
at all.  So why do they remain popular instead of being dismissed?
Because it is the impossible nature of the fairy tale which makes it
vital to the ideology.  It must be idealized and unreachable, because
once indoctrinated to embrace fairy tales, a believer will long for the
fairy tale world and find reality unsatisfying, corrupt, and even plagued
by evil.  The believer will then feel compelled to try to change reality
to match the image of the world in their dreams.  This will put the
believer into a state of conflict with their environment, which provides
a critical source of motivation that will generally make the believer
more productive and more determined than a person who merely
accepts things the way that they are.  Motivated believers work harder
at self improvement, are more aggressive in their dealings with others,
and fight with more determination than the more complacent non-
believers.  And ideologies benefit greatly from having legions of
motivated believers since it improves the chances of the ideology to
survive and thrive against rival ideologies.  And thus, fairy tales,
impossible but alluring versions of reality, will always tend to
overshadow actual history since the embrace of the lie imparts a
survival advantage to those who believe it.
   As a further aside, are the stories that I tell in my music also
fairy tales?  Do they propagate an impossible vision of reality to make
an ideological point?  Well, "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is
certainly not a biography, and yes the plot was intentionally crafted to
drive home a given message.  All art aspires to do the same.  But as far
as motivating my listeners to embrace an alternate vision of the world
and to strive to make reality match that vision I can only say that my
music has mostly the opposite effect, which is probably a major reason
for its lack of popular support.  "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess"
is more of an "anti-fairy tale" where one by one the ideals which modern
fairy tales uphold and extol are presented and then shot to pieces.
Instead of indoctrination, the CD strives to deprogram the believer.
For example, the protagonist is the perfect gentleman in his romance
of his angel, but did he win her heart?  No.  She fell into the arms of a
liar and he was powerless to prevent it.  So did he win her back in the
end?  No.  She did come back to him, but she was despoiled in both
body and mind and couldn't love him as she did before.  So did he make
the best of it anyway, accepting her "warts and all"?  No.  It was too
painful for him to accept her and instead he killed her.  Now, the
protagonist did have his revenge against the man who defiled his angel,
which is another well worn fairy tale plot, but in this case his revenge
was so excessive and depraved that it bears no resemblance to the typical
fairy tale.  Instead of a vindication of one's beliefs that acting in a certain
way produces the expected rewards the listener is left in a state of shock,
scrambling to find a nonexistent moral message.  The CD goes further.
When the protagonist does the "right" thing he gets screwed and when
he does the "wrong" thing he gets screwed.  Reality burns him every
step of the way.  And while it's not difficult to have some degree of
sympathy for the protagonist as a result of his many travails, the embrace
of his final nihilistic fate is not one that anyone would find at all palatable.
No, the protagonist is not a figure to be emulated, but rather he is a symbol.
He, along with the antagonist, are the living embodiments of the destructive
and eventually suicidal nature of ideologies.  Now, perhaps someone might
listen to "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" and conclude that the
message is that all ideologies are false and dangerous and thus they must
be destroyed, but that would be missing the point, effectively coming to an
ironically mistaken conclusion.  The point of the story is to try and sweep
away the ideological indoctrination that we have all been subjected to and
to clear a path to reality.  Like I wrote, it is an "anti-fairy tale".
   Now, back to the track "My Reflection".  In the second half of
the song the protagonist expounds upon the critical crossroads in his
life where he and the antagonist made different decisions that took them
down two different paths.  The idea of the song is to show how two very
similar people could end up diametrically opposed.  The first verse is
particularly thought provoking:

"My reflection, why would he ask any questions?
Why would he not believe the lies?
All is perfect in his eyes."

   Why does someone ask questions?  Here it is not so much
a reference to curiosity but a reference to doubt.  Doubts come when
one's vision of reality, or one's ideological fairy tale world, is clearly
contradicted by the real world.  This happens when something goes
seriously wrong.  When things go the way that we expect or anticipate,
we do not ask questions nor do we wonder if the way that we are doing
things is the right way.  Doubt is something that never enters our minds.
And some believers live in such a well constructed fairy tale world that
nothing that happens is in the least bit unexpected, as least from an
ideological perspective.  They have answers for everything and doubts,
when they have them, are generally mild and don't cause them to
question their beliefs for very long.  The world is thus "perfect" in their
eyes.  The protagonist, on the other hand, could never achieve such a
state, at least not for very long.  The system was always failing him
and forcing him to ask deep questions which eventually overthrew his
faith in it.  So here the suggestion is that one difference between the
protagonist and antagonist is that the protagonist suffered just enough
doubt to push him into disbelief.
   The rest of the track asks many questions along those lines.
Perhaps the difference between the two rivals was the antagonist's
privileged upbringing, being the son of the chairman of the firm,
which gave him an easier path to the top.  Perhaps the antagonist,
after having his own true love stolen from him, swallowed his pride
and accepted her in her degraded state.  Perhaps the antagonist never
suffered hardships at the hands of others, or if he did, perhaps he
gave in to them rather than resist to the end.  The questions are left
unanswered and the story doesn't reveal the exact reasons why the two
chose such different paths, but in the end one has undying faith and the
other does not.
   My favorite line of the song is at the end:

"And as his god began to fade, and reason fell away,
faith was all that remained and faith became a weapon."

   Sometimes a fairy tale world becomes so well conditioned
that believers will choose to embrace an ideological fantasy world
instead of reality when the two become obviously incompatible.
Instead of succumbing to their doubts, the believer will become
fanatical and work even harder to force reality to fit their idealistic
vision of it.  This is what happens to the antagonist in the final track,
his faith becomes a weapon to wield against reality.


The Meaning of the Songs - Black and Black

   And now the final act.  The soft ending of "My Reflection"
quietly transforms into the bass driven beginnings of the titanic clash
between the protagonist and the antagonist.  Throughout the song the
scene has switched back and forth between the torture chamber and
the protagonist's recollections but now with one last switch we will
remain in the cold dark place where the secret crimes of state are
committed.  Everything has become "Black and Black".
   As the interrogation begins in earnest the protagonist's
strategy becomes clear.  He wants to attack the antagonist's weaknesses:
his faith in the system and his belief in his god, and so the protagonist
is constantly steering the interrogation in that direction.  So while the
antagonist is trying to break the protagonist down physically and
mentally and force him to tell the truth, the protagonist is trying to
soften the antagonist up psychologically, making him overly emotional
so that he will believe his final lie.  As much as the antagonist believes
that he is in control, asking all the questions and having total power
over his captive, his control is only an illusion, and he gradually
surrenders his control to the protagonist.  In the end the antagonist
has power over the protagonist's body and the protagonist has power
over the antagonist's mind and by the end of the track both end up
being twisted, brutalized, and permanently disfigured.
   One odd part about the interrogation is that the protagonist
has told the truth, as ugly as it is, throughout the entire CD, and yet
in many of the cases the antagonist doesn't believe him, until the
protagonist lies of course, but I am getting ahead of the story.  The
exchanges between the two reveal the perceptual blindness of the
antagonist:

Antagonist:
"Who are you working for?  Who are your contacts?
I want answers.  I want the truth."

Protagonist:
"No, you want a lie.
You want me to vindicate the lies you tell your people and yourself."

   Here the protagonist actually gives away his strategy, telling
the antagonist that what he really wants him to say it exactly what the
antagonist wants to hear.  But the antagonist refuses to believe that he
is as gullible as he turns out to be:

Antagonist:
"I will not believe your lies, I am not weak like your freedom fighters."

Protagonist:
"Everyone is like them,
willing to do anything for their gods and their dreams.
That's how we came to power,
we fed the people the lies they needed to hear."

   Just as fairy tales yield a survival advantage to those who
believe them, lies helped both men rise to the top of the Firm as well
as enabled the Firm to conquer and crush all of its rivals.  One take on
this quote is to wag one's finger at the powerful and shame them for
taking advantage of the gullible masses, but it does take two to tango,
and if the masses lack wisdom and self-restraint then they deserve at
least part of the blame for their own exploitation.  Of course, given
that ideologies are based on lies, almost everyone is vulnerable to
some sort of exploitation, and all sacred cows can be used as Trojan
horses to victimize the faithful.  In our modern world most recently
both the stock market and the housing market were used in this manner
as capitalist dogma professed that stocks are always good investments
and that real estate prices never go down.  We have since found out
otherwise.
   But put that way it sounds as if the market and housing crashes
were the result of some elaborate conspiracy to bilk the masses out of
their hard earned money, and while I do not discount the idea that a few
cynical investors knowingly decided to exploit the gullible, a conspiracy
is not necessary in most cases.  If the people in charge truly believe their
own lies, that is, they whole-heartedly accept their ideology's dogmatism,
they will be the most convincing salesmen of all when professing the
lies inherent in their beliefs.  In their eyes they are not inducing and
exploiting an ill-fated bubble, they are simply receiving their fair share
of the profits from an endless boom which is benefiting everyone.  And
they will even, as we are now seeing, undertake extraordinary measures
to force reality to match their distorted perspective of it.  The most
fanatical of those believers will not part with their faith even when
reality is strongly putting the lie to their beliefs, and they will not
accept the idea that what they believe in is simply not true.  Technically
speaking they are not liars, just disillusioned fools professing their
beliefs.  And as much as this is the case for the Secretary of the
Treasury and Federal Reserve Chief, it is the case for the antagonist:

Antagonist:
"Not I. You were the master deceiver. You are the anti-Christ."

Protagonist:
"The most dangerous liar is the one who believes his own lies, you."

   The antagonist can't see his own misconceptions, believing
instead that his rise to power was due to his righteousness.  This is
revealed in the next part of the song as the antagonist says:

"I cleansed the firm of all your evil,
now it is a tool of righteous power."

   Never mind the lies that the Firm was built upon nor the
illegal and immoral tactics it used to gain its position of power over
the government, the antagonist brushes the past aside and feels that
since he has cleansed the Firm of whatever evil it used to do, at least
given his interpretation of the word, a pragmatic one at best as we
have seen in the CD, that it is now a force for good:

"We spread our ways and the world pays tribute.
We take them down the path to God."

   This is a reference any imperial ideology, such as Neoliberal
economics, neoconservative politics, the well known "White Man's
Burden" or any other ideological rationalization for the domination
and exploitation of foreign cultures.  The imperial ideology always
sees itself as doing the exploited nations a favor, uplifting their culture
to one that is more economically powerful.  In return for this favor
they skim a little of the profit off the top, or perhaps skim more than
just a little off the top as the case often is.  But conquered nations are
not like their conquerors, even though they are made to emulate their
masters, because they are never allowed to achieve full sovereignty.
Instead they remain beholden to their conqueror with their growth
stunted and their aspirations throttled.  And if they do not appreciate
their servitude they are kept in line with fear.  The protagonist points
this out as he turns his rebuttal into another assault on the antagonist's
faith:

"And when they refuse I've seen what you do.
It's not a god but fear you serve:
fear of abandonment,
fear of punishment,
fear of death.
Worship is cowardice."

   This enrages the interrogator and he scales up the intensity,
screaming in his captive's face as he brings pain and suffering down
upon him.  It is here where the protagonist's psyche begins to break
down and he drifts out of consciousness.  In a passage backed by a
lone acoustic guitar he explains why his captor's attempts to break
him down with fear will not work as he no longer fears death.  In
fact, he wants it to happen as he has nothing to live for, and as the
Dark Goddess' angelic voice calls to him from beyond the realms of
death he finds himself yearning for her embrace.  But he knows that
before he dies he wants to accomplish one last thing: he wants to
satisfy his desire for revenge.  And so he must stay awake.
   The next passage is probably the most ugly analogy that I
have ever used in a Fireaxe song and is meant to describe the cycle
of life and death as it pertains to ideologies:

"All gods are born in blood their faithful are baptized in fire.
All gods are patricidal gods, seeking to destroy that which spawned them.
All power is built of hatred and contempt for what came before.
And as the father strangles his son anger is his only salvation.

"One by one his rivals fall until the tyrant is slain.
One god rises up from the ashes and the world is brought to heel.
But that which is born of hatred must have rivals to fuel its anger.
And so it breeds a thousand young to slaughter and feed on its corpses.

"The world is not black and white, it is black and black.
And enthralled to insane gods we fight and die for a lie."

   This is the Fireaxe theory condensed into ten lines and
portrayed as a passion play between the father, which is the ruling
ideology, and its sons, the rival ideologies.  The basic idea is that
ideologies are created in opposition to the previous ideology and
that they derive their source of power from their hatred of that
ideology.  This hatred fuels it to overcome and vanquish the ruling
ideology, becoming the new ruler of the world, but without rivals
the new ruler loses its motivation and so it creates new rivals to fill
the role of the vanquished oppressor.  Thus, it is the oppositional
nature of ideologies that is the root cause of all conflict in the world.
Ideologies must oppose other ideologies since that is how they gain
their strength, and only the strong survive.  Recall the discussion of
fairy tales earlier and how they are lies which put the believer into a
state of conflict with the world.  Ideologically fairy tales will often
portray a rival ideology as being the source of all evil in the world,
even going so far as to blame that rival for the immoral behaviors
of its own believers in the defense of the ideology.  The lie is that
once the rival is vanquished that peace will reign and everyone will
be happy, but of course since the ideology is inherently oppositional
in nature, even if all of its rivals are defeated it will seek out more,
dividing itself into pieces and attacking itself if it can find no other
rivals outside of itself.  And thus, the world is not black and white
but black and black.  All ideologies are afflicted with the same curse
and the world will be a constant struggle for survival and domination.
And though ideologies can be defeated, they can only be replaced
by ideologies which are even more oppositional in nature since that
is the only way to become stronger and remove the ideology in power.
   The antagonist cannot accept this view of the world and dubs
it "madness".  He counters it by saying that the proof that good always
conquers evil is the fact that he has captured the protagonist and has
total power over him, or so he believes.  When the protagonist accuses
him of resorting to the argument that "might makes right" the
antagonist stands that argument on its head, saying that no, "right
makes might".  In essence, there is no difference between the two
statements, but in the mind of the interrogator the notion makes
perfect sense.  He believes that he is powerful because he is righteous,
ignoring the circular logic that the proof of his righteousness is that he
has achieved the most powerful position in the world.  The protagonist's
plan has worked and the antagonist is too emotional to see the flaws
in his logic.  Now the antagonist is vulnerable to the protagonist's lies
but first the protagonist must endure a brutal assault on his body and
his identity as the antagonist orders that his face, the part of his body
that most embodies his unique self, be destroyed beyond all recognition.
   Again the protagonist slips out of consciousness as whirling
blades cut deep into his flesh.  The music here is some of my favorite
on the CD.  The screams of pain and agony give way to the enchanting
chorus of angelic voices inviting the protagonist to quit fighting and
surrender his life.  Then the voices are joined by heavy rhythm guitars
and a solo which just soars above it all.  For me this is musically the
most powerful moment on the CD and perhaps the most emotionally
powerful as well as I envision the protagonist suffering an almost
unimaginable amount of pain.  But this was his choice, this was what
he decided to face back in "Death's Angel" when he embraced the
Dark Goddess and surrendered to his desire to seek his final revenge.
Also recall the line in "I Used to be Young" where the protagonist
says, "If I can just stay sane they'll pay the price".  Now we see that his
will has been strong enough and it is time for him to deliver his fateful
lie.
   Up to this point the protagonist has told the truth, telling the
antagonist about all of the sordid details of his life and confessing his
most deeply held beliefs.  However, it is only when he delivers his lie,
confessing to being a secret agent for some unnamed enemy, that
the antagonist believes him.  The protagonist sells his lie like the
professional liar that he is, sneering at the antagonist, mocking him,
conjuring visions of mushroom clouds and an army of secret assassins,
and finally stating that the battle is over and that the antagonist has lost.
   The antagonist falls for it, stepping squarely into the trap that
has been cleverly laid out for him, and he overreacts in the way that all
terrorists strive to provoke out of their far more powerful enemies with
their abhorrent rhetoric and deeds.  Driven by fear and believing that he
is ordained by his god to protect his ideology from the evil which seems
to be all around him the antagonist crosses the Rubicon, demanding
that he be given the powers of a dictator and insisting that everyone be
stripped of their rights in his search for the assassins and the mysterious
"package" that can destroy an entire city.  His pragmatism is his own
undoing as he willingly sacrifices many of the tenets of his ideology in
the belief that he will be saving the lives of millions of people including
his own.  What's a few lost rights here and there when the stakes are so
much higher?  And in the final lines he reveals that he is not content to
simply perform an internal purging of enemy agents but desires to
declare war upon the enemy nation.  One can image him plunging the
entire world into war.  But as disturbing as that image is, what is
perhaps more disturbing is the fact that the antagonist is reveling in
his new role.  He now gets to live the part of the white knight in
the fairy tale battle between good and evil.  And victory, being so
deeply rewarding to him on a psychological level, is something that
he will pursue without fail regardless of whether his foe truly exists
or not.  Breaking all the rules just provides a greater rush as he is
determined to get the ultimate ideological fix.
   Before 2001 the idea that something like this could happen in
a democratic country was probably unthinkable to many, but today the
idea is almost cliché.  But now, as president Bush is just months away
from stepping down, it seems that the world has dodged a bullet and
that perhaps the worst fears of the president's critics will not be
realized.  It seems as though the United States was pushed to the brink
of fascism or totalitarianism and then drew back as cooler heads
prevailed, proof that the democratic system works.  But I would be
very reluctant to believe that we are out of the woods and scoff at the
idea that constitutional democracies which enshrine human rights as
its highest ideals will never slide into an authoritarian abyss.  I would
instead take the other view, that it was surprising just how fast my
country embraced totalitarian methods, how willingly many of my
fellow countrymen sacrificed their rights, and how silent and compliant
the majority became when confronted with a relatively minor attack.
Yes, I said minor.  Compare the attacks on September eleventh with
less than three thousand deaths to a typical carpet bombing of a city
during World War Two where that many or more would die every
night.  It makes me wonder what my country will do when faced with
much greater adversity, such as the suffering that I know will come
should the global economic system fall.
   So when the opening theme of the CD plays once more and
the protagonist predicts that the antagonist will destroy himself and
half the world as well I don't see the ending as being leftist hysteria
or the moralizing of those who demand that if we do not stay true to
our democratic ideals then this kind of thing will happen to us.  Instead
I see it as the ever-present and perhaps inevitable fate that can befall
any ideology.  There will always be charismatic leaders who see the
world in black and white terms and who are no more motivated and
empowered than when they are fighting to vanquish their ideological
rival.  To them the world is a battlefield with the fate of the entire
universe on the line and given their addictions to ideological
reinforcement their tendency towards totalitarianism and extremism
is something that they are drawn to like junkies.  What greater rush
can there be than being God's all-powerful champion on earth?  What
greater feeling can there be than winning the final battle between good
and evil?  It matters not what an ideology's ideals are since its
oppositional nature can always give rise to its self-destructive tendencies.
When that happens, and it has happened to many nations in different
ways throughout history, then we shall again see all the horrors and
brutality inherent in our ideologies exposed for all to see.  As always,
we are food for the gods.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of

The Burning Blade 12.1
December 06, 2008, 05:02:33 PM
Don't live for pleasure, make life your treasure...


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.1

          December 6, 2008

        neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of
   organizations, specifically banks and others, were such
   as that they were best capable of protecting their own
   shareholders and their equity in the firms."
               
   "So the problem here is something which looked to be a
   very solid edifice, and, indeed, a critical pillar to market
   competition and free markets, did break down. And I think
   that, as I said, shocked me. I still do not fully understand
   why it happened and, obviously, to the extent that I figure
   out where it happened and why, I will change my views.
   If the facts change, I will change."
         - Alan Greenspan, testifying before
         congress, taking that first critical step
         towards the realization that his ideology
         was based on bullshit


   Trillions and trillions more.  Nearly nine trillion dollars have
gone into propping up a hopelessly dysfunctional system, and yet the
financial jockeys of the world continue to flog their economic horses
in the belief that the exhausted stallions will miraculously spring back
to life and gallop to victory.  Yes, a little more stimulation is all that we
need.  Never mind the fact that we've been stimulating our economies
almost non-stop for the last thirty years or so and that the imbalances
from all those short term solutions have built up into a massive long
term problem, and still the ones holding the reigns persist.  It reminds
me of those videos you can find on the internet that show a group
of police officers using their Tasers to subdue some poor victim.  I
suppose that most of the time those things work as expected and the
Tasered suspects give up, but sometimes the victim does not go quietly
and in fact becomes more and more agitated with each successive jolt.
And so it goes, on and on, another shock, another scream, with the
officers believing that eventually their actions are going to have the
desired effect.  After all, it works most of the time, so why not try it
again?  But instead it just becomes torture, torture plain and simple,
and the true victim of the whole ordeal is the people's faith in the
system.
   The dollar is no longer based on a gold standard, it used to be,
but in 1971 President Nixon removed the link so that he could continue
to run large deficits to pay for the Vietnam War without having to give
up the rest of the country's gold reserves.  Within five years all the other
major currencies followed suit, enabling the governments of the world,
along with their central banks, to manufacture as much money as they
wanted, just like Zimbabwe.  But unlike the currency of that troubled
African country, the dollar hasn't been a victim of hyperinflation, at
least not yet, but it does take twenty times the number of dollars to buy
the same amount of gold today than it did in 1971 and so the dollar is
not a reliable long term store of value.  The reason for this is that
whenever more dollars are printed, the value of every dollar in
circulation goes down, acting like a flat tax on every dollar holder
everywhere.  When the government creates more dollars, everybody
pays for it.  Over the decades, those in charge of such "fiat" currencies,
money backed by nothing, have done a whole lot of printing, both of
paper money and the purely electronic versions, and today they are
doing a whole lot more of it.  Trillions worth.
   But the fact that they can create as much money as they want
gives the people in charge of the global financial system an infinite
amount of liquidity that they can throw at any problem.  They can
print up trillions, tens of trillions, even quadrillions of dollars, euros,
or yen if they need them.  So it seems as if they should be able to fix
any financial problem that comes along.  So what if Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac are a six trillion dollar liability, the U.S. Treasury can
print up that much money easily.  So what if the credit default swaps
market is a fifty trillion dollar accident waiting to happen, the Fed can
match that amount and more if it has to.  Without a gold standard to
limit the amount of money which can be created it appears that we
can avoid the missteps that triggered the vicious deflation of the Great
Depression.  Just run the presses and we can conjure up enough money
to recapitalize the banks, bail out any and all essential institutions, and
quickly go back to business as usual.  After all, that's how it's worked
for the last thirty years so why should this time be any different?
   Because the problems in our global economy are about more
than just money.  As I wrote about in the Burning Blade 11.5, in order
to have a thriving economy it is critical that the distribution of wealth
is not skewed too far towards either equality or inequality.  Going too
far in either direction makes it progressively more difficult for anyone
to get richer which demotivates the population and inhibits growth.
The mechanism of credit is one way to solve this problem since it
redistributes wealth on a temporary basis, allowing people to access
the capital that they need to improve themselves in some way.  This
in turn results in an increase to the total productivity of the economy
and is the best use of credit.  People can borrow to start or improve
their businesses, make sure their children got a good education, and
so forth, rather than buying luxury items like plasma TVs and SUVs.
And when debt is turned into productivity gains, everybody wins.
The number of defaults are low, the people loaning the money collect
interest, the people who improved themselves jump up to a higher
standard of living, and the rest of the people can enjoy the fruits of a
larger, more productive economy.  Thus, credit is good, but only up
to a point.
   The interest on loans, along with the return on the investment
of capital, which are two sides of the same coin, should not exceed
the total productivity gains in the economy, otherwise individuals and
companies will, on the whole, take in less profit than they are paying
out in debt service.  When this happens the redistribution of wealth
only goes in one direction, towards those who are loaning the money
and away from everyone else.  Now, it is acceptable for this to happen
for short periods of time, such as after a natural disaster or something
where a large infusion of capital is required to create or rebuild the base
for a productive economic system.  The reason for this is that when the
economy is again operating at full speed it can pay back those loans
and still be profitable.  But if debt service continues to siphon all of
the growth in the economy and then some, the distribution of wealth
will grow more an more unequal and the economy will invariably end
up descending into a debt spiral.
   In a debt spiral, the lenders get richer and the borrowers get
poorer and the longer it goes on the worse things get.  But the economy
can still appear to be strong if the lenders keep lending more and more
money, allowing bankrupt individuals and unprofitable businesses to
keep spending as if they were still solvent.  Normally, regulations
restrict the amount of lending, forcing an ugly end to any debt spiral
which usually come after a bubble has burst, but over the decades the
lending market has been deregulated, allowing bursting bubbles to be
papered over with new bubbles and allowing debt to flourish almost
without limit.  When debt becomes too prevalent borrowers end up
needing to borrowing money just to pay the debt service on their
currently outstanding loans, meaning that they will be in an even
worse situation in the future.  And when the whole economy becomes
dependent on ever expanding credit, it's an accident waiting to happen.
But as long as there are loans to be had, everything will appear to be
just fine, and in fact, it might appear that the economy is thriving.
   A debt spiral comes to an end in one of two ways, either when
the lender stops loaning money to the borrower, or the borrower cannot
borrow enough to pay the interest on their debts and goes bankrupt.
When either of these situations happens to an individual the situation
is manageable.  When they happen on a larger scale, such as with an
entire nation, there is a risk of a total collapse of the entire system.  But
it doesn't happen overnight.  A collapse begins with the most vulnerable
part of the economy failing.  In our case it was sub-prime lending.  At
first the amounts seem small and so a bailout is usually the decided
course of action, but all that does is shift the burden to another part
of the system.  In the case of government bailouts, like the kind that
are going on now, the debts are transferred from the banks to the
government, which in effect spreads trillions of dollars of debt over
millions of taxpayers rather than being concentrated in a few failed
institutions.  The immediate problem is solved, but the total amount
of debt remains the same, and the system continues to be caught in a
debt spiral.  As time moves forward more parts of the economy fail
and each time the path of least resistance is to bail out the latest victim
in the hopes that the bailout will be the last and that everything will
go back to normal again, but since the overall debt burden is not
reduced and borrowing is still necessary to keep the dysfunctional
economy going there can be no move back towards normalcy.  If
allowed to continue on this course, the amounts of the bailouts grows
progressively larger and at some point ends up going asymptotic,
meaning that an infinite amount of money will be required to bail
out the economy, at which point the financial system implodes.
Money becomes worthless.
   At that point a new currency must be introduced, but as simple
as that sounds it is fraught with difficulty.  The first problem is how to
distribute the new currency among the people.  Do you trade old dollars
one to one for new dollars?  Do you erase people's debts?  How do you
prevent corruption from distributing the wealth in an unfair way?  And
what is fair anyway?  These are not easy questions, but certainly the
reduction of debts to levels which do not bleed dry the productivity gains
of an economy is a necessary criteria to create a stable and sustainable
system.  But debt erasure alone does not solve the underlying problem,
which is that the economy has maladapted in such a way that it requires
a continuous and growing supply of credit.  Without larger and larger
loans the economy will collapse, and so getting rid of the old loans
simply damages the financial sector and makes it less able, and willing,
to supply the loans that will be needed in the future.  Furthermore, a
maladapted economy can't be changed overnight.  In any economy, a
large amount of capital has been invested to build up the industries
which are currently profitable and industries which were no longer
profitable were allowed to fail and were sold off.  And over that period
millions of people have switched jobs, been retrained, bought and sold
houses, started families, and made a number of significant changes to
adjust to life in the debt-based dysfunctional economy.  A similar
amount of change is needed to bring the economy back to being more
stable, and that requires a similar amount of time and capital.  The
trouble is that those who have the money, and due to a skewed
distribution of wealth they are few in number, will expect a return
on their investment when rebuilding the economy, and that only fuels
the debt spiral.
   Thus the problem is three-fold.  One is the buildup of a large
inequality in the distribution of wealth.  Two is the accumulation of so
much debt that it stifles economic growth.  And three is the distortion
of the economy into a system that is not viable without a growing
supply of credit.  Any solution to the current crisis needs to address
these three problems in order to move us towards a sustainable economy.
The best solution is one which involves taking advantage of market forces
and allows equilibrium to be reached in a natural way rather than being
forced externally, however, in a dysfunctional economic system, market
forces do not always pull the economy towards a sustainable equilibrium
and thus some amount of intervention is necessary to push the economy
into a state where market forces can take over and correct for any and
all imbalances.
   So, given this analysis, one can evaluate the chances of success
of the current economic stimulus plans.  First of all, by recapitalizing the
banks, the current system is simply maintained, which allows more debt
to build up, further distorts the economy towards debt dependency, and
makes the distribution of wealth more unequal.  Likewise, by transferring
debts from the banks to the government there is no reduction in the debt
load, it only allows banks to extend more credit which exacerbates the
existing problems while putting every taxpayer on the hook rather than
just the lenders and borrowers. These solutions are only short term and
only make the problem much bigger in the future.  Bailouts only work if
the problem is relatively isolated and, as it is becoming more and more
obvious, the entire global economy has been distorted by excessive
credit and thus the solution is not quick and easy.  Obama, unfortunately,
appears to be offering only more of the same: borrowing, or printing
money, in large quantities to bail out the banks, the state governments,
and to kick off massive public works projects like FDR did in the thirties.
Having the government borrow makes the problem worse although
keeping people employed and creating jobs does prevent a total collapse
of the economy.  But as FDR discovered, public works projects do not
necessarily get the economy going again since they require heavy-
handed government intervention to make them work.  This prevents
the free market from stabilizing the economy and can result in a
distorted system which is dependent on government intervention.
I personally think public works projects are a good idea since the U.S.
has been ignoring its infrastructure for decades and it needs to be
rebuilt, but those projects will pull resources away from other business
ventures and thus won't stimulate the economy back into being healthy
in and of themselves.
   Obama's plan to shift the tax burden, although only slightly,
will have some effect in redistributing the wealth, but it will be minor
and will probably not offset the shift towards greater inequality due to
the mountain of outstanding debt.  Sadly I see nothing in Obama's plan
that would arrest the current slide, and as the pain grows worse our
leaders will be left with a choice: to stop the printing presses and let
deflation take its toll, or let them run full throttle and push us towards
a hyperinflationary holocaust.  As much as that sounds like an excluded
middle fallacy, the middle ground in such a choice has never been
reached when similar crises have beset economies.  And when dealing
with fiat currencies, the tendency is usually towards runaway inflation.
   There is an advantage to inflation in that it reduces the
amount of debt, provided that the inflation spreads evenly throughout
the economy and reaches struggling borrowers.  Debtors are rescued
but savers and those on fixed incomes suffer greatly, so it is not an
ideal solution.  It has been tried, and I don't doubt that it will be tried
again, even though the $150 billion dollar stimulus package which the
U.S. government distributed to taxpayers with low and medium incomes
this summer didn't do much to stimulate the economy.  One problem
was that the amounts were too small.  To really help people out, and
many people are very deep in debt, any effective stimulus would need
to be on the order of a trillion dollars or more, and even then most of the
money would end up going straight into the repayment of debts and thus
exacerbate the unequal distribution of wealth.  Inflation as a way to wipe
out debts needs to be done in a big way to offset the toll that debt service
is taking on people, but even then the economy is still maladapted and
will require more borrowing.  That, on top of inflation robbing people of
their savings and impoverishing people on fixed incomes, will do more
to damage to the economy than it helps.  Also, although seeing banks
and large corporations fail is emotionally satisfying to the masses, it
does nothing to redistribute wealth.  The wealth of the owners of those
firms is safe from any bankruptcy court, and the owners themselves
will soon find equally lucrative jobs elsewhere.  Furthermore, wealth is
about more than money, it is also about the ownership of commodities,
controlling the means of production, and providing essential services
that people need.  Inflation does not affect the distribution of that kind
of wealth and often makes those things even more valuable.  The
bottom line is that there are no easy solutions and anyone who tells
you otherwise is blowing smoke.
   As to what will happen, I believe that global hyperinflation
is the path of least resistance and is therefore inevitable.  Throughout
history experiments in fiat currencies have always ended badly, usually
in a hyperinflationary spiral which ends in the currency being worth
less than the paper it is printed on.  Yes, harsh deflation, which results
when an economic system built on a gold standard collapses, can
seriously damage an economy, but it is a more survivable event since
the lower and middle classes can generally preserve at least some of
their wealth through physically held cash and accounts in banks which
don't fail.  Hyperinflation wipes the slate clean for debtors and savers
alike, which destabilizes the economy, the government, and even the
very fabric of society.  Faith in the system collapses utterly, and after
hyperinflationary episodes in France in the 1790s and Germany in the
1920s, the result was a dictator rising to power and a world in flames.
I don't want to see my country, or any country for that matter, follow
down that road, but as we have seen over the last few months, every
injection of liquidity into the system has fixed things for a short while,
but not for long.  The system has required larger doses of what was
once a large amount of money and in the future it will require larger
doses still.  A billion dollars is still a lot of money, right?  And as time
moves forwards the numbers will get larger but the effect will always
be the same: temporary relief with another crisis soon to follow.  But
the odd part about the current crisis is that even with all the liquidity
that has been added to the financial system, very little of it has trickled
down to the rest of the economy, with prices remaining relatively
stable.  This makes me wonder if something which could be dubbed
"hyperstagflation" is our fate, where the cost of living doesn't change
in the normal economy and millions of job losses results in a major
downturn, but the financial sector overheats and then completely self-
destructs.  But I think that when the deleveraging of the markets finally
runs its course, perhaps being marked by the bursting of the bond
market bubble, that inflation will simply explode and we will be in for
a rough ride.  All that I can say is, buckle up and hold on tight.  We
aren't anywhere near the bottom yet.
   It's been a rough year for Fireaxe, and although my economic
situation is fine, my health has still not allowed me to go back to the
studio and crank away at all the projects that I have lined up.  Every
now and then I have a day where I am bursting with energy, which
gives me confidence that I will one day be back to full strength, but
for now I must bide my time and lay the groundwork for the future.
Cancer could not kill me.  A hundred billion parasites cannot keep me
down.  And if I have anything to say about it Fireaxe will rise again
and be better than ever.  But not all victories are won with a single
brilliant stroke.  Sometimes it requires a slow, methodical, and
unspectacular approach to defeat the enemy.  Yeah, that kind of
thing doesn't sell well, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't work.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Death of a God

   Welcome to the Fireaxe economic bulletin!
   I apologize for writing about economics in so many newsletters,
but given that Fireaxe is all about ideologies, and that economic theories
are fine examples of modern ideologies, and that Capitalism is teetering
on the brink of disaster, the current global situation gives me a chance
to see how well the Fireaxe theory is holding up and whether or not it
allows me to predict the course of major events in the future.
   One thing that jumped out at me during the last two months
was when Alan Greenspan went before congress and testified that he
acknowledged the presence of a flaw in his financial ideology.  Yes,
seeing the words "flaw" and "ideology" in the same sentence put a big
smile on my face. And while quotes from that testimony received a
lot of press, the full exchange between Senator Waxman and Alan
Greenspan regarding the flaw is particularly enlightening:


Chairman WAXMAN. Dr. Greenspan, I am going to interrupt you. The
question I had for you is you had an ideology. You had a belief that free,
competitive--and this is shown--your statement, "I do have an ideology.
My judgment is that free, competitive markets are by far the unrivaled
way to organize economies. We have tried regulation, none meaningfully
worked." That was your quote. You have the authority to prevent
irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis.
You were advised to do so by many others. Now, our whole economy
is paying its price. You feel that your ideology pushed you to make
decisions that you wish you had not made?

Mr. GREENSPAN. Well, remember, though, whether or not ideology
is, is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality.
Everyone has one. You have to. To exist you need an ideology. The
question is, whether it exists is accurate or not. What I am saying to
you is, yes, I found a f1aw, I don't know how significant or permanent
it is, but I have been very distressed by that fact. But if I may, may I
just finish an answer to the question--

Chairman WAXMAN. You found a flaw?

Mr. GREENSPAN I found a flaw in the model that I perceived is the
critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to
speak.

Chairman WAXMAN. In other words, you found that your view of the
world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working.

Mr. GREENSPAN. Precisely. That's precisely the reason I was shocked,
because I had been going for forty years or more with very considerable
evidence that it was working exceptionally well.


   First of all, it isn't surprising to see Greenspan trying to
defend his ideology by trying to claim that everyone has one.  This is
similar to the method that some religious believers use when arguing
with atheists and its purpose is to obscure the nonsensical nature of
using faith as a proxy for proof.  The basic approach is to claim that
everyone's inner model of how the world works is based upon
uncertainties which are similar to beliefs, and thus everyone follows
what could be described as their own personal religion or ideology.
Often the believer will refer to such an inner model as a "worldview",
a "perceptual system", or a "conceptual framework" as Greenspan did
in an attempt to blur the distinction between faith and proof, in the
process rendering the words religion and ideology meaningless.  The
argument that then follows is that since everyone has a conceptual
framework and since we are all imperfect humans, that all frameworks
are therefore imperfect.  This opens the door to the idea that anything
that anyone believes is doubtful at best and thus who can say what is
right and what is wrong?  This argument reduces both atheism and
religion down to being mere opinions, and suggests that any claims
by atheists that their arguments are based on proof or logic just shows
that the atheist has "faith" in science.  Of course, completely missing
from this argument is the idea that some "beliefs" may be a lot more
concrete than others and that non-falsifiable beliefs are pure intellectual
folly, but believers usually counter that there are parts of the universe
where logic and proof simply don't apply, after which the debate
generally lapses into solipsistic nonsense.
   But unlike religious debates, Greenspan cites the importance
of evidence rather than claiming that there are some realms where the
concept of proof is no better than faith.  He claims that the evidence
supported his ideology for forty years and thus he had no reason to
believe that it was wrong despite the fact that others disagreed with
him.  This is where he uses the "ideology dodge" and it is unfortunate
that Waxman and Greenspan didn't get into a deeper discussion of the
matter concerning ideologies.  The evidence that Greenspan cites only
supported his beliefs because he was looking at it through his rather
narrow ideological prism.  In reality, economic indicators which
troubled a number of economists from many other schools of thought
were showing that great dangers were brewing.  However, had Waxman
pressed Greenspan on this point he probably would have answered his
critics by saying that everyone looks at the evidence through their own
ideological prism and that no one's conclusion about the dangers is
better than anyone else's.
   This is a good stonewalling technique and can be used by
those in power to brush aside criticisms of their policies as well as
suggestions that another course of action be taken.  If all policies can
be reduced to being of equal merit, and when arguing something as
flexible as economics it is easy to point out the flaws in any proposed
system or course of action whether or not those flaws exist, then the
final decision can always be to go with the plan that the person in
power has proposed or stick with the one which he is overseeing.
This stonewalling technique will work regardless of what kind of
results are being produced.  If things are going well you have a strong
case for continuing along the same path and you can say that there is
no reason to do anything differently.  And if things are going badly
you can say that your approach is still the best and that doing anything
else would make things even worse.  It is only when the wheels come
off completely that those in power are forced to admit their own
mistakes and can be made to do something different.
   Greenspan continues to resist accepting any blame for the
current crisis, but his testimony was noteworthy in that he finally
admitted that there was a flaw in his ideology.  This is no small
admission.  A true believer never has to admit that his ideology is
false since he can always distort any evidence to fit his conception
of the world, such as what Alan had done in a number of interviews
since the start of the current collapse.  But Greenspan has lost his
faith and the moment that he admitted it was a very deeply symbolic
one indeed.  It was the equivalent of the Pope announcing that he'd
discovered a flaw in church doctrine and that until it was resolved
there was no way of telling who was going to get into heaven and
who was going to hell.
   So what was his ideology?  Greenspan followed a version
of Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy which she outlined in a series
of essays entitled "The Virtue of Selfishness".  Rand's theories turned
traditional morality on its head, championing the notion of selfishness
and spurning the ideal of altruism.  On the surface this idea is a non-
starter.  If everyone was selfish then our society would collapse into
anarchy as everyone would try to satisfy their own needs at the expense
of everyone else's.  However, Rand adds an important caveat to her virtue
of selfishness and declares that "self interest rightly understood" will
eliminate the problems that would arise if everyone mindlessly pursued
their own personal goals.  The "rightly understood" part essentially
means that a selfish but thinking person would avoid doing things for
short term gain that would come at the expense of survival in the long
term.  For instance, rational people understand that using violence to
get what you want will eventually lead to violent retribution and thus
they will seek more peaceful ways of getting what they need.  Also,
Rand's philosophy does not exclude the idea of people working together
if it results in everyone's mutual benefit.  In fact, Rand declares that
"the rational interests of man do not clash" and thus if everyone
pursues what is best for them, using reason to guide them and not
making decisions based on desires or whims, then they will come
together and create a system that realizes their collective goals.
Thus in the Objectivist's view there is no need for regulation,
morality, altruism, and any external force, save for the defense of
individual rights by the state if necessary, since the simple fact that
people working together for the mutual benefit of all will produce
greater gains than if everyone worked separately as individuals.  Also,
Objectivists hold that if everyone acted rationally and in their own
self interest, that the most efficient cooperative system will arise
naturally, and that trying to impose a system or structure only serves
to make people less efficient.
   From this perspective the push for deregulation and the
brushing aside of moralistic accusations of greed and avarice which
has occurred over the last few decades makes perfect sense.  As Gordon
Gecko said in the movie Wall Street, "Greed is good" and he delivered
a very powerful and persuasive Objectivist argument in support of that
notion.  There are serious problems with the ideology however, not the
least of which is that if people act in their own self interest, but do not
act rationally, they will inevitably take a self-destructive course.  In this
way, Objectivism falls victim to the same problem that Rand finds in
other moral systems whose apologists blame any problems in their
systems on the moral failures of their believers.  Instead of immorality
causing the breakdown of the system as is the case with religion,
irrationality is the cause of the breakdown in Objectivism.  And it is
irrationality that plagued the system that Greenspan created as
Chairman of the Federal Reserve: the CEOs and the stockholders did
not act rationally and as a result acted in ways that brought about their
downfall as well as the collapse of the global financial system.
   Another problem is that even under ideal circumstances, where
everyone in an objectivist society is acting as rationally as possible,
the complexity of modern society is so vast that it is impossible for
anyone to tell whether or not what they are doing is something that is
beneficial to their society in the medium to long term, and so people
are left to guess.  If someone cannot perceive the negative effects of
their own actions they will be prone to make mistakes and they will
likely err on the side of what benefits them the most in the short term.
This is another problem that befell our modern financial system.  New
investment products such as derivatives, credit default swaps, and
structured investment vehicles became so complicated that no one
truly understood them, and since many of them were not being
regulated the opacity of the market prevented anyone from figuring
just how vulnerable anyone or anything was in the event of a market
crash.  And while a more altruistic person would likely stop short of
indulging their selfish needs when faced with the opportunity to
profit greatly with little apparent risk, Rand accurately points out
that ideologies have consistently failed to enforce their moral codes
on their followers and all eventually succumb to corruption.
   But perhaps the most serious problem with Objectivist
philosophy is the idea that rational thinkers will always favor long
term interests over short term ones.  A person who rightly understands
that something like over-fishing can permanently destroy a source of
food will choose to not have fish for every one of their meals, even
though that person may like fish better than any other meat.  This
makes perfect sense.  But as I have pointed out in The Burning Blade
edition 10.5, due to intense competition, strategies for the long term
survival of ideologies are not adequate for survival in the short term,
and thus the most advantageous long term survival strategies will not
survive to realize those long term benefits.  It is this dilemma which
turns corruption and "irrational" behavior into successful survival
strategies.  Consequently, this ensures that no system will be able to
survive in the long term since all will sacrifice conservative strategies
to focus on the here and now.
   Take, for example, a marathon.  The ideal strategy is to run at
the fastest pace that you can maintain over the entire course of the race.
While you can go faster if you sprint, you know that you can't sprint the
entire distance and that if you sprint and then rest and then sprint again
that you will end up wearing yourself out long before you reach the
finish line.  So everyone chooses a fast but sustainable pace and the
winner is the one who is just a little bit faster than everyone else.  For
such a race a long term strategy is best.
   Now, let's change the rules of the marathon a little bit and say
that at every mile marker there is only enough water to supply half of
the runners with what they need to keep going.  The limited supply of
water is analogous to the limited supply of resources available for the
growth of an ideology.  Now, instead of running the race at a steady,
marathon pace and trying to finish the race in the fastest time possible,
the pressure is on to make it across every mile marker in time to get
your share of the water since you know that you can't finish without
drinking.  Naturally the pace will be much higher as the need for
water overrides the need to finish in your best time and now sprinting
becomes more important as the race for the line at each mile marker
become more and more competitive.  With these rules anyone who
tries to go at a steady, sustainable pace would get eliminated early
and the best marathon runners would find themselves forced to
abandon the approach that they had trained for and resort to having
to keep ahead of the herd no matter what the pace was. Everyone
would be running faster than they would want to go, dipping into
their reserves early, and doing whatever they had to in order to get
to the precious and limited supply of water before it was gone.  And
what is more is that no one would finish the race in their best time.
In fact, it would not be surprising to see the winner staggering across
the line, barely able to continue, or to see competitors stopped along
the course, desperately trying to recover from the extreme efforts that
they needed to undertake in order to obtain what they needed to fuel
their next effort.  Sure, it would be an exciting race to watch, maybe,
but not any fun to run.
   I feel that this is a good analogy for ideological competition
in the real world and explains why long term strategies are not viable
under highly competitive conditions.  But to make things even more
accurate I would remove the finish line altogether, making the race go
on forever, and add that whenever a runner drops out of the race, they
are replaced by a fresh runner, which is analogous to ideological
collapse and rebirth.  Now when the race is run you will not only see
people running in inefficient, short-sighted ways, but you will see
frequent turnover in who is leading the race as the best of the
fresher runners beat out the best of the ones who've been running
for longer periods of time.  What a rat race.  In any event, even
though the runners are running in a way that eventually dooms them,
can it still be said that they are not behaving rationally?
   Which brings us back to the flaw in Greenspan's ideology.
Alan believed that the people who ran corporations would act with
rational self interest, not taking on the kinds of risks they did indeed
overindulge in, since he thought that they would avoid doing things
that would lead to the collapse of the system.  He figured that the
Masters of the Universe would turn down larger short term profits,
which might end up turning into losses, in exchange for smaller
long term profits, thus ensuring the survivability of their firms as
well as the system from which they benefited so greatly.  But if you
take the "under-funded marathon" analogy above and apply it to the
business world you can see that in the highly competitive world of
modern Capitalism, corporations are forced to sacrifice long term
stability in exchange for survival in the short term.  Without regulation
to prevent the riskier and riskier financing practices that were building
up over the years the top firms were left with the choice of either
shunning risky investments and losing a lot of their market share,
or embracing something that many of them knew was a bad idea.
It didn't matter how rational they were, the game was geared to
reward those who sacrificed the future for the present, and now that
we've arrived in the future, we are stuck with the fallout from decades
of similar short-sighted decisions.
   Furthermore, the deregulation and loose monetary policies
that Greenspan both advocated and enabled were critical in allowing
the corruption of his Objectivist ideology.  However, that corruption
gave it an advantage over other systems, allowing it to survive and
conquer.  Freed from the constraints placed upon it by the more
moral, in a financial sense if not ideological as well, thinkers of the
past, the Capitalist system surged far ahead of any rival, conjuring
massive amounts of wealth that dwarfed the attempts of any other
system to challenge it.  Rival systems have been all but wiped off of
the face or the earth.  Capitalism has won.
   But the victories of Capitalism aren't limited to the greater
ideology itself.  Over the decades the corruption of Objectivism
enabled its originator, the United States, to maintain its status as
the one true superpower, its financial might forcing Europe to unite
in order to compete with it and forcing Asia to accept trillions in
dollars and IOUs in return for shipload after shipload of the finest
goods in the world.  That will be seen as quite a steal if inflation or
hyperinflation comes to pass since those holding dollars will not be
able to get the same amount of goods back as they gave to earn those
dollars in the first place.  Also, one cannot forget that such financial
hegemony allowed the United States to exercise its military might,
launching expensive wars in other lands while allowing for tax cuts
at home.  And even now, as the global financial system collapses,
the rest of the world still comes to the aid of the United States since
the stability of the system rests upon the almighty dollar.  If the
dollar goes down, everyone goes down.
   Yes the rational objectivist thinkers became irrational looters
and parasites in the end, but had the United States adopted a more
financially conservative and more modest stance over the last thirty
years it would not have reached such heights and would probably be
far less powerful than it is today.  Perhaps the U.S. would not even
exist as we know it.  So it seems that "irrational" is not as ineffective
a trait as Objectivists would lead us to believe.  It appears to have
its benefits, although long term survival is not one of them.
   The Fireaxe theory appears to be vindicated by current
events as Capitalism stumbles and falls.  Using it, and assuming that
this is the death of the god known as Capitalism, I will predict that
there will be a lot of ideological mutation in the years ahead and we
will be beset by dozens of competing philosophies all trying to get us
to embrace them so that they can rise to power.  Also, growth will lag
as a global recession takes hold and without growth to satisfy the
aggressive nature of ideologies and relieve individuals of their sense
of inadequacy we will see vicious and perhaps violent internal
struggles between burgeoning rival ideologies as well as people
falling into depression and despair.  People will flock to religion,
politics, and any other ideologically driven organizations in order
to replace what they lost with the death of Capitalism, which provided
meaning and structure to their lives.  Revolutions may happen,
political turmoil will be a certainty, and the specter of war looms on
the horizon.  And, as always, we are food for the gods.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

   Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
   less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
   profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
   I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
   like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
   gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
   link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
   samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
   you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
   not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
   goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
   do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
   does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
   particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
   likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
   CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
   someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
   raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
   those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
   government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
   and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
   face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
   stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
   side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
   as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
   THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
   CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
   mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
   other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
   I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
   of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
   to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
   institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
   mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
   Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
   song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
   if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
   if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
   the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
   Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
   would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
   trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
   effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

   The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

   Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                  Brian

--
"This is no longer Democracy, this is Kleptocracy."

            - Fireaxe "The Evil Men Do"

Re: The Burning Blade 12.1
December 07, 2008, 06:31:58 PM
I find this Fireaxe Theory interesting and in all likelihood accurate.  If I were a betting man, I'd place my money on Islam being the contender for the apocalyptic suicide cult.  That's why I am so eagerly awaiting Holocaust 2.0 in Europe (this time against Muslims, obviously).  Do you have any hypothetical solutions to this problem?

The Burning Blade 12.2
February 02, 2009, 02:36:57 AM
But if you ask for a rise it's no surprise that they're giving none away.


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.2

         February 1, 2009

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "The length and severity of depressions depend partly on the
   magnitude of the 'real' maladjustments, which developed
   during the preceding boom and partly on the aggravating
   monetary and credit conditions."
      - Gotfried Haberler, Prosperity and Depression, 1937

   "To preserve their [the people's] independence, we must not
   let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our
   selection between economy and liberty, or profusion and
   servitude."
               - Thomas Jefferson


   And so it begins.
   No, not the long, hard upward climb out of the hideous mess
that we've gotten ourselves into, but the clash of ideologies and the
struggle to see which one takes the reigns of leadership in the next
era.  After the recent inauguration of a new President in the United
States one might think that the ideological shift has already occurred
and that liberal progressive politics along with Keynesian economics
have won out, but one election means little when it comes to the larger
picture.  The ongoing economic plunge may make victims out of many
prospective ideologies ranging from the left to the right before order
is restored, and the winner may not always be the one that is best, or
even one that works well at all.  History is replete with examples.
   Jefferson and Haberler spoke the truth long ago but their
words will be ignored, drowned out by the hope-filled lies of a thousand
ideologically based quick-fix solutions.  Echoing sound advice that was
true in the days when the Bible was written, and even before that time,
Jefferson shows us the way to long term prosperity.  Perpetual debt is a
sure path to enslavement and thus is anathema to the principles upon
which the United States was founded.  And yet, if one thing has not
changed with the hand over of power in America it is the belief that
debt is the solution and not the problem.  If we borrow enough, or so
it seems that our new leaders argue, and spend it in the right ways of
course, to distance themselves from the failed leadership of the past,
then our perpetual debt will somehow be magically transformed from
an anchor hanging around our necks into a helium filled balloon
lifting us up into the sky.  Never mind that there simply may not be
enough willing lenders out there, or enough able lenders for that matter,
who are willing to underwrite the current fiscal fiasco.  Instead, let's
focus on our wondrous balloon of debt, filled with the stuff that dreams
are made of, to quote the protagonist from one of our most treasured
movies.
   Haberler explains why the current plan is doomed to failure,
and does so in an amazingly concise manner.  It's not stimulus that we
need, but an overhaul of our economic and financial systems in which
our maladjustments are corrected and our debt spiral is brought to a
halt, and that will take time even if we do settle upon the proper
course.  Perhaps we should consider inscribing Haberler's quote on
our next issue of currency, placing it just underneath Jefferson's quote
about debt so that we are reminded of these principles every time we
spend some of our precious, hard-earned dollars.  Of course, such an
undertaking would only make sense if those paper dollars were fully
convertible into gold or silver and not the byproduct of a fiat currency
scheme where the money supply is created by government debt and
private bankers collect interest on that debt ad infinitum.  Let the
coming devastation be our last lesson about the perils of paper money
and the false promises of bankers.
   On a personal level we all understand the problem.  We've
borrowed too much and spent more than we should have and now we
must cut back and save or simply declare bankruptcy and try to start
over with bad credit.  We look at our gas-guzzling SUVs, our watt-
hungry plasma TVs, our sprawling, energy-sucking McMansions,
and the many other facets of how our extravagant lifestyles have
cost us, and will continue to cost us, and our own personal economic
maladjustments are painfully clear.  We look at our credit card
statements, our interest payments, our mortgage debt, and how
much pressure those things put on our incomes and we are painfully
aware that it will take years, if not a decade or more, to get things
back into a healthy balance.  And we know that if we delay acting
and allow things to get worse that it will only take longer for us to
dig our way out of the hole that we, with plenty of help from Wall
Street and Washington D.C., have gotten ourselves into.  And so we
read Haberler's quote and nod our heads and know what we have to
do.  The party is over.  It's time to tighten our belts.
   Yet on a national level, or perhaps it will make more sense
if we think about it as being on an ideological level, so many of us
completely abandon our common sense and venture off into a land
where perpetual prosperity is possible and where our salvation is just
one well-written piece of legislation away, or perhaps for those more
realistically inclined, one four-year term away.  Perhaps it's the fact
that our nation doesn't appear to have a credit limit, or that we've
been brainwashed to believe that tax cuts and stimulus packages
always stimulate the economy more than they drag on it and thus
pay for themselves, or perhaps we are simply in denial, and we'll
only admit to things being a little bit bad and that it's nothing that
having the right people in charge can't fix.  These things are all
true to some degree, but the bottom line is that what we know on
a personal level must be applied at the national level before we
can even think about a recovery, and we all need to lower our
expectations and make a lot of sacrifices or we're just engaging in
wishful thinking at best and suicidal policy-making at worst.
However, it appears that the influence of ideology and the nature
of ideological conflict is responsible for our collective disconnect
from grim reality.  Our gods are leading us to the slaughter.
   According to the Fireaxe theory, ideologies instill us with a
permanent sense of inadequacy which they then exploit by providing
us with a sense of fulfillment which can only be attained when the we
do something to further the ideology.  In essence, ideologies turn us
into addicts who must promote and spread our ideologies in order to
get our fixes.  From this perspective one can see that individual failure
does not disrupt this arrangement.  If a person feels more inadequate
than normal due to economic hardship, they can still receive ample
psychological nourishment from their ideology to keep them going.
If an ideology can provide material benefits, or fill its believers with
hope that the future will be bright, or at least fill their followers with
self-righteous indignation about the current ruling ideology and make
them believe that things will be better when their ideology comes to
power, then the believer can get his fix.  All you need to do is click to
your favorite newscast or website and bask in the glory of what will
one day be.  However, if an ideology cannot provide this glorious
vision it will fail to alleviate the believer's sense of inadequacy and
the result will be a crisis of faith.  If this crisis is prolonged, the
believer will simply stop believing in it and the ideology will become
weaker.  And so, in order to survive an ideology must maintain the
exploitative relationship between itself and the believer.  To this end
the ideology must sell the dream of a prosperous future, and preferably
one that promises more prosperity and requires less sacrifice than the
dreams of rival ideologies.  In turn the believer must embrace that
dream in order to feel validated, and it doesn't matter how much that
dream is detached from reality or how much intellectual slight of
hand is required to make it sound as if it could actually work.  The
end result is that our leaders, no matter how rational or intelligent
they may be, are forced to champion the unrealistic illusions of our
ideologically based needs whether they believe in them or not, and
yes, many of them do believe.  Giving us anything less would be akin
to betrayal and they would soon lose our support and be thrown out
of office.  So our leaders can't tell us that our nation will fall from
power, or that it will take more than a decade before we get even
close to where we were just a few years ago, and they definitely can't
tell us that the last twenty-five years of growth and prosperity was
mostly a debt-based illusion and that hard times lay ahead well into
the foreseeable future.  No, they have to tell us what we want to hear.
   Jefferson and Haberler be damned.
   The worst is yet to come though.  As the financial crisis
continues to fester and our ideologies prove powerless to prevent the
great fall, hope will no longer satisfy us and we will turn to darker
ways of satisfying our ideological addictions.  Fighting in the streets
is a real possibility, but I feel that most of us will simply say, "to hell
with the world", draw back into our own virtual realities, and indulge
ourselves in the escapism of our choice until the storm clouds lift.  I
predict that the real battles will be fought in the halls of power, both
economic and political, and when all is said and done I fear that
much of our treasured legal and political systems will lie in ruins
and what remains will be used as weapons in an ideological war for
supremacy.  As scary as that may sound we've taken some large strides
towards that nightmare reality already.  And as usual, I'd very much
like to be wrong about this, but I will prepare for stormy weather.  I
advise that you do too.
   Speaking of telling you what you want to hear, when it comes
to Fireaxe, I'm afraid that I can't do that in this newsletter either.  I'm
still not yet strong enough to pound away on my voice box and belt out
the lyrics for "Food for the Gods", the re-recording of which has ground
to a halt for nearly a year.  I'm getting closer, but I'm just not there yet.
The good news is that not only am I still composing and stockpiling
musical ideas for future projects, I've decided to finally break down
and learn how to play the guitar.
   Now, that may sound like a joke, or at least an overly modest
admission, and after listening to the solos on "Where Eagles Fly",
"God is Pain", and dare I add one of my old favorites "The Rack", one
might wonder where I get off deprecating myself.  But the truth is that
I am first and foremost a composer, or rather I should say that I'm a
writer of music so as not to compare myself to the masters.  My skills
as a singer, guitarist, keyboardist, etc., were all gained not by sitting
down, studying, and practicing for hours on end until the instruments
and I became one, but by doing whatever I needed to do to sing or play
what I had composed.  And since I don't perform the music live, I
only have to play the parts right once, which leaves a rather large gap
between my skills and that of a true professional musician.
   So when it comes to the guitar, I've never bothered to learn
the fret-board or work on my finger rolls and hammer-ons and spend
hours duplicating all the fancy tricks that the Yngwies, Vais, and
VanHalens of the world make look so easy.  But after being called a
"virtuoso" in a very awesome review of "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess" (thanks Officer Nice) I've decided that it's time get my
chops up to speed and see just what level of virtuosity I can achieve.
So in the future, expect better from Fireaxe.
   But also, don't worry about me to falling into that musical
masturbation trap where I just sit there and play arpeggio after arpeggio
and pretend that my solos are an entry for some sort of "best metal
guitarist" competition.  Those were the kinds of excesses that chased
old school metal off the stage in the early nineties.  Fireaxe is still going
to be all about the emotional content of the song with the solos written
to complement and accentuate the mood of the music.  Now, I don't
mean to demean those guitarists who've spent their lives perfecting
their craft and have recorded some of the most fantastic guitar work
in the world.  You guys seriously rock.  You've been an inspiration to
me and I've learned lots from you.  But showing off and playing "prog
for prog's sake" is dead letter to me.  I see the guitar as purely a tool
of communication and I will use it to tell you how I feel.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Hill

   I've always enjoyed riding my bike, and since riding is more
about endurance than peak exertion cycling has been one of the few
physical things that I can do while working my way through my
lingering health problems.  I've put thousands of miles on my bike
over the years and I very much enjoy the pastime, but it is often that
I wonder what it is about riding that is so rewarding for me.  On an
average Saturday I'll ride upwards of sixty miles or more, with a few
thousand feet of climbing thrown in for good measure, and spend a
good five hours or more just sitting there pedaling, mile after mile.
It's hard work after all, and I sweat, and I hurt, and sometimes I fall
short of my goal for the day, and so sometimes when I'm out there I
wonder what exactly is it that I'm getting back for all the effort that
I am putting into it.
   Is it staying fit?  Well, that's part of it, but I only need to ride
a few hours a week to be in good condition.  I ride a lot more than I
need to for my health.
   Is it achieving that "runner's high"?  Well, no.  I don't recall
ever feeling any sense of euphoria when I've been out there save
perhaps when I reach a new milestone for speed or distance or go
somewhere where I've never been before.  Those times are few and far
between and the "high" that I get is more a feeling of accomplishment
rather than any endorphin rush.
   Is it to get close to nature?  Well, being outside in California
on most days is a wonderful feeling, and traveling through the
countryside is definitely enjoyable, but I don't need to labor on a
bicycle for hours to achieve that.
   Is it to train for some big event?  Well, I do try to ride in the
MS-150 every year and have done so since 2006, but most of the time
I am just out there on my own, rolling over roads I've been down before,
and not trying to build towards anything more than doing even more
riding next year.  So why the heck do I do it?
   Naturally my mind drifts towards ideological causes when I
start to ask questions about human behavior.  I don't consider myself
immune to ideologies or completely detached from their influence.
And when someone goes out and does something that doesn't seem
to result in any personal benefit it's generally a sign that they are
satisfying some ideologically based need.  That is the conclusion that
I have reached regarding my cycling.
   So what do I believe in?  I believe that by working hard,
pushing yourself, and denying your desires for quick and easy thrills
that you can achieve exceptional things and give yourself a lasting
sense of satisfaction with your life.  Yes, there's nothing new or in
any way radical about that idea although in these days of easy loans,
guiltless hook-ups, and instant access to just about any pleasure known
to man in hedonistic quantities the concept of delayed gratification has
become trite and quaint if not outright heretical.  But that doesn't mean
that it doesn't work, and it certainly works for me.
   I'm a victim of ideology and that will never change.  Inside
me is a permanent sense of inadequacy that I too need to alleviate,
just like everyone else, and that means that I am driven to do things
that make me feel worthwhile.  While one can escape the delusional
elements of any ideology, such as creation myths and life after death,
the psychological conditioning from being brought up under a particular
belief system will be with you for life.  Simply put, the imprint of the
ideology which you were raised to follow defines who you are.  It's
part of yourself, and you have to learn to accept it.  In my case the
thing that makes me feel worthwhile is to be exceptional in some
way and usually in the realm of individual accomplishment.  Fireaxe
is certainly a part of that pathology as one reason why it exists is
that it is my attempt to produce exceptional music, and to my ears,
as well as to many of yours, it is.  Fireaxe wouldn't sound the way that
it does and I wouldn't have got to where I am in other areas of life
without the drive to be exceptional.  It's not enough for me to merely
do something, I have to be good at it, and that is the force that has
driven me all these years for better or for worse.  The evidence is
on those CDs.
   For me, cycling is no different, and I very much enjoy the
feeling of doing a ride which is exceptional in some way whether it
be in length, severity of the climbs, or the environmental conditions,
but the key to being satisfied by it day in and day out comes from
re-experiencing the process that I know will lead to great things.  I
don't have to do an exceptional ride each time out to feel good about
myself, or do those exceptional rides very often.  It is the process that
matters the most to me.  Through cycling, I reaffirm in my mind the
way that the world works: that hard work pays off in the end.
   Nothing typifies what I believe in more than riding up a long,
steep hill.  You can't get to the top without working hard for a long
time.  There are no shortcuts to be found, trying to sprint your way to
the top will wear you out before you even reach the summit, and all
along the way your body will send you many signals that it would
much prefer it if you turned around and coasted back to the bottom
rather than kept going upwards.  What gets you to the top is slow,
steady work, dedication to training, and the determination to reach
your goal in spite of any adversity.  This formula is proven out every
time I ride up a hill, and it serves to reassure me that in areas where
the hill is long and my chances of success are in question that sticking
by my principles is the best course of action.
   I'm fortunate to have a job where this is also true.  I'm not
sure that I would fare well in an occupation where I wasn't always
in the process of building something that is lasting and significant.
But when I look around at other areas of life, and how others see the
world today, I realize that my cherished beliefs are not accepted and
respected by all.  This disturbs me deeply because to me the value of
hard work is not an article of faith, it's a confirmed fact.  I know that
throwing it away is a recipe for failure and mediocrity…perhaps not
today, but certainly tomorrow, and as I see it, tomorrow has arrived
with a vengeance.
   The economy is one example of how discarding the notions
of hard work and frugality has resulted in catastrophe.  That's probably
why discussions of the current debacle are so frequently found in these
newsletters.  I'm personally offended by what has happened and have
felt that way since long before the current crisis began.  Instead of
building our wealth slowly, denying tempting indulgences, and
accepting the long term commitment to our dreams we mortgaged
our secure future to buy a fleeting present and tried to cheat our way
to the top of the hill.  But reality smashed our illusions, as it always
does in the end, and now we find ourselves sliding back down to the
bottom.  Years of work is being undone and the efforts of many are
being wasted.  And if that wasn't bad enough, the self-indulgent
feeding frenzy on Wall Street which continues to this very day is
an insult to us all.
   But setting the economy aside, and yes, I've written about
it far too much in these newsletters, don't we manage our personal
relationships in the same reckless and delusional way that we have
managed our money?  Intimacy, once earned through trust, honor,
and commitment, we now share with anyone: friends, strangers, and
often on no more than a whim.  We seem to have no appetite for
making the sacrifices necessary to build a lasting relationship and
instead we are just seeking affection, validation, or little more than
to feel the thrill of conquest.  We've become serial monogamists,
interested only in the fresh, exciting, and exhilarating parts of a
relationship, and we turn away from our partners whenever things
become dull or when conflicts arise.  All the while we cling to the
childish dream that some day we will find our soul mate out there
somewhere and that with them the blissful part of a new relationship
will last forever without us ever having to work at it at all.  Is it any
wonder why we can't achieve lasting success given our focus on
instant gratification and our quest for the perfect mate?
   Commercially we are over-stimulated and bombarded with so
many products that we can pick and choose what we want to indulge
in, satisfying any urge that pops into our minds.  It is said that this is
a good thing, especially for our children, that having an abundance
of toys stimulates more brain activity and that having choices allows
us to become unique individuals who can express our own personal
identities, but is it such a good thing?  We all know that overindulgence
leads to selfishness and egotism and I am seeing more and more of
those repulsive qualities in our youth as well as in our elders.  When
one has fewer choices one learns to make the best of what one has and
appreciates what he gets back from them so much more.  When one is
focused on a single thing one becomes more intimately familiar with
that thing and understands and experiences it on a more profound
level as compared to having a superficial understanding and
appreciation of a larger number of things.  So where does a person
who is used to having their desires catered to find the determination
to keep working towards a goal, day after day, where the rewards are
few and far between?  Today if we don't like what we're watching we
change the channel, and if we don't like who we're with, what we're
doing, or where we are, we change our friends, lovers, jobs, cities,
religions, and anything else, treating them as if their only purpose is
to satisfy our own desires.  We are a nation, no, we are many nations,
and all them filled with spoiled children who refuse to grow up.
   Well, there I go again, sounding like a conservative, or like
so many loudmouthed pundits out there shouting down the permissive
culture of liberalism and secular humanism as if those ideologies were
the cause of all of our ills.  I'm not a conservative, I'm a progressive,
and to me it is quite clear that we cannot make any progress towards
anything if we keep indulging ourselves like a teenaged nymphomaniac
in Las Vegas with an unlimited expense account and a binge eating
disorder.  And in case those pundits and conservatives haven't been
paying attention, in the right wing there is no shortage of selfish and
egotistical people who make a mockery out of everything that they
proclaim to believe in.  Yes, it seems that every few months another
right-wing demagogue gets caught in an embarrassing scandal, but
the corruption runs far deeper than that.  The objectivist foundation
of Monetarism and its support for deregulation is everything that the
right wing deplores about the decadence of the left: no imposed set
of rules, no personal responsibility, do whatever feels good; applied to
the realm of finance.  Also, torture and police state style surveillance
are just as corrosive to society as drug abuse and the sexification of
everything under the sun.  And how long will it be before people
realize that when Republicans promise tax cuts that it's not about
fiscal policy but about the bald-faced bribing of the electorate?  Both
ends of the spectrum are engaged in the same shameful overindulgent
behavior, they are merely doing so in their own unique ways.
   And so, though you may hear the incessant cries of those
who claim that our problems all started when we turned away from
some god or another or that we lost our faith, know that the reality is
that what we really turned away from was the principle of an honest
day's work for an honest day's pay.  Such a concept isn't unknown to
religion, in fact it's central to most of them, it just seems to have been
forgotten in recent years.  Take a look at the "believers" around you,
do they practice what they preach, or at least, what they should be
preaching but probably aren't?  Believing in some fanciful story
about the origins of the universe or the coming of the messiah is an
almost meaningless exercise in self-delusion.  And merely accepting
Jesus as one's personal savior could hardly be called theological heavy
lifting.  No, what separates the true believer from the pretender is
their devotion to doing the things that require hard work and sacrifice.
Does your Christian friend deny himself worldly pleasures or does he
avidly pursue one or more of the seven deadly sins?  Does your Muslim
sister honor her neighbors and treat them fairly or does she see them as
infidels to be cheated and their opinions dismissed?  Does your Jewish
brother admit it when he is wrong or does he vehemently claim to be
right in spite of all evidence to the contrary?  Believers of every stripe,
and many of us non-believers as well, have simply lost the will to do the
things that make us better people.  Our gods have failed us, or at least
we have failed them, not that there is any real difference between those
two ideas.
   So if they cannot teach their followers the value of sacrifice
and hard work then the religions and all other ideologies of the world
are naught but a collection of fanciful stories and tools to control and
dominate the minds of their hapless, overindulgent flock.  The guilt for
this lies everywhere, especially among the self-righteous, for we have
forgotten that our most ferocious criticisms need to be leveled at
ourselves.  Don't get me wrong.  I may detest religion, but I do have a
deep respect for many believers.  They've earned it not for what they
believe in, but for what they do.  They are the exceptions though, and
religion has proved once more than it cannot prevent the moral decay
of its believers.
   So is anyone out there truly surprised that we have arrived at
where we are, staring over the edge of a precipice that doesn't seem to
have a bottom?  Honestly,  if any of you are looking upon the myriad
of exploding bubbles, imploding marriages and relationships, and the
sheer lack of civility between people in public and in private and are
still clinging to the idea that honesty, modesty, and hard work, are
relics of the past, then I invite you to get on a bike and climb up a hill
with me.  Along the way you will sweat, you will suffer, you will cry
out for mercy, and in the end you will understand the way that the
universe works.
   But worry not, such a day of reckoning can be put off to
another time for the savior of the planet has finally arrived.  No, I'm
not talking about Jesus, I'm talking about Obama, and if you have
faith in him he will make the world a better place.  Now, I'm not
making fun of him, I think that he is the most competent and
honorable president that we've had in a long time.  No, I am poking
fun at his followers whose fawning idolatry is both seriously
premature and unbecoming of citizens of a democracy.  But I'm
willing to let slide the rejoicing and the hosannas provided that the
enthusiasm of his supporters is transformed into the dedication,
resolve, and most importantly, humility that will sorely be needed
in the coming years.  Do Obama's supporters, and does the entire
nation if not the world for that matter, understand where we are,
where the bottom is, and what it's going to take to pull us back up?
Simply put, are we ready to climb the hill?
   Personally, I'm skeptical.  As much as Obama may speak
about the process of rebuilding the country not being quick or easy
what will his supporters do when the economy suffers the next big leg
down?  When congress passes his bills and the country rallies behind
him and still the slide continues with no end in sight, what will his
adoring masses do then?  Remember that the generation which
supported him the most is the same generation that was brought up
in an environment of overindulgence, selfishness, and egotism and
that many are liable to drop their support for him on the way down
as quickly as they gave it to him on the way up.  I also see an angry,
fearful, and desperately misinformed opposition which is ready to
pounce on our president after any false step.  As the United States
goes into decline, as it inevitably must, they will heap the blame on
Obama and his party.  And if the recovery doesn't begin until late
2010 it could be the Republicans back in charge of the congress,
resulting in two more years of political gridlock as the crisis continues
to wreak havoc across the globe.
   When I look at the world I see nations full of individuals,
not communities, and thus lacking in the ability to rise up as one
and actually effect real change.  Winning an election is easy compared
with what our forefathers had to do to wring concessions out of the
other, unelected, group of people who run the country.  Over the last
decade or so we've seen corporations consolidating into monopolies
and trusts once more and worker's unions being rendered almost
completely powerless.  How is the working class supposed to raise
its standard of living in such an environment?  I also see the vultures
sitting on the sidelines, waiting for once strong companies, exclusive
real estate, precious commodities, and other things of great worth, to
fall in value so that they can swoop in and buy them up at bargain
basement prices, turning a massive profit when the economy recovers.
The vultures won't help out during the fall and in fact they want the
crash to be severe, thus maximizing their profits.  How will this
encourage people to believe that hard work is the path to greatness
when disasters and shrewd dealing produces the wealthiest people in
the world?  And I see a nation where the rich, traumatized by the recent
loss of a significant portion of their wealth, will fight tooth and nail to
retain what they have left regardless of how much more good it could
do if it was used to rebuild the country, and in a way that doesn't extract
more value than it adds.  How can we redistribute wealth when everyone
feels that they are entitled to every dollar they have and feel that they
are owed even more?  But as the bailouts continue and borrowing, or
even the printing of money, is used to stimulate the economy rather
than doing things which will put us back on a solid footing once more,
the mal-distribution of wealth and the oppressive weight of our debts
will continue to prevent any meaningful recovery from occurring.  It
is true that we could band together to change this, but we are divided,
not united, and we will likely splinter yet more as disillusionment sets
in.  Perhaps a special leader can unite us, and when he tells us the truth
instead of what we want to hear we might follow him anyway, but can
he take us where we need to go?
   A very interesting read about what it takes to redistribute the
wealth in this country can be found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huey_Long

   Huey Long was the populist governor of Louisiana as well
as a United States Senator in the late twenties and early thirties and
spent most of his time and political capital fighting against the rich
and the powerful, at least up until his assassination at the ripe old
age of 42.  The story of his tumultuous life and political career is
fascinating, especially when you look at the ferocity of his opposition
and the steps that they were willing to undertake to stop him from
doing what was best for the people of his state.  Read and understand:
this is what we are up against.  It's not going to be easy.
   In the coming years I see a number of people charging up
the hill, hell bent on reaching the top before anyone else, only to be
out of breath and completely spent as they round the bend and see
many more miles of a road heading upwards.  I see more and more
people gathering at the bottom of the hill and just sitting there,
waiting for something to happen to make it easier for them to get
to the top, but the hill never changes.  Maybe a lucky few will catch
a ride with someone strong, and take the dishonorable way up, but
for the rest of us there is but one plan of action that ensures the best
possibility of success: go slow, endure the pain, and keep pedaling,
but most of all, stay humble.  If there is one thing that the Dark
Goddess despises most of all it's hubris, and her work is far from
being done.  Stay strong and stay modest.  The future is not going
to be about victory, but about survival.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

   Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
   less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
   profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
   I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
   like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
   gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
   link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
   samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
   you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
   not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
   goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
   do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
   does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
   particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
   likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
   CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
   someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
   raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
   those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
   government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
   and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
   face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
   stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
   side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
   as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
   THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
   CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
   mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
   other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
   I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
   of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
   to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
   institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
   mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
   Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
   song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
   if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
   if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
   the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
   Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
   would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
   trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
   effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

   The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

   Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                  Brian

Re: The Burning Blade 12.1
February 02, 2009, 02:54:58 AM
I find this Fireaxe Theory interesting and in all likelihood accurate.  If I were a betting man, I'd place my money on Islam being the contender for the apocalyptic suicide cult.  That's why I am so eagerly awaiting Holocaust 2.0 in Europe (this time against Muslims, obviously).  Do you have any hypothetical solutions to this problem?

First of all, while you are busy imploring the Dark Goddess to destroy your enemies please consider if attracting her attention is a good ideal. :)

On a more serious note I sometimes wonder if it isn't the unique structure of the human brain that makes suicidally escalating ideological warfare inevitable.  If we were able to create a new form of human, or artificial intelligence equal to ours in mental capacity, yet with different "wiring" as it were, would the resulting social order by less volatile?  If so then perhaps we can genetically engineer our way out of the problem.

Or, if artificial intelligence is the answer, then maybe the good guys in those Terminator movies were really the machines.

Sorry for the late reply, I don't usually do much here than post my newsletter and run.

Brian

Re: The Burning Blade 12.1
February 02, 2009, 07:24:52 AM
On a more serious note I sometimes wonder if it isn't the unique structure of the human brain that makes suicidally escalating ideological warfare inevitable.  If we were able to create a new form of human, or artificial intelligence equal to ours in mental capacity, yet with different "wiring" as it were, would the resulting social order by less volatile?  If so then perhaps we can genetically engineer our way out of the problem.

I wonder why we spend so much time on this when the situation is painfully clear:

The truth is both slightly difficult to perceive, and not mentally tangible or pleasing.

So most people are in denial.

Everything else is just working around that.

For example, what idiot really thinks democracy is going to help us? We all know most people are idiots!

Re: The Burning Blade 12.2
February 02, 2009, 07:27:26 AM
The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it

I always love reading this part of your newsletters.

I think what's interesting is that ideologies do exist which do not pander -- that is, do not attempt short term survival by convincing others that they're convenient -- but these are universally ignored.

Maybe the human problem is simply... selfishness, empowered by an ability to restrict which parts of reality we recognize?

The Burning Blade 12.3
April 05, 2009, 07:13:03 PM
With deficits so high that they will touch the clouds…


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.3

         April 5, 2009

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "The things that will destroy us are, politics without principle,
   pleasure without conscience, wealth without work, knowledge
   without character, business without morality, science without
   humanity, and worship without sacrifice."
               - Mahatma Gandhi


   "There was nothing inevitable, unavoidable or unforeseeable
   about the current crisis. At every step, critics warned of the
   dangers of further deregulation. But with the financial sector
   showering campaign contributions on politicians from both
   parties, investing heavily in a legion of lobbyists, paying
   academics and think tanks to justify their preferred policy
   positions, and cultivating a pliant media -- especially a
   cheerleading business media complex -- the sounds of
   clinging cash registers drowned out the evidence-based
   warnings from public interest advocates and independent-
   minded government officials."
               - Robert Weissman


   Didn't we know it all along?  Didn't we sense it coming?
Didn't we feel it somewhere in the back of our minds that we were
doing something immoral, unethical, illegal, or just plain stupid?
Of course not.  We were all caught by surprise weren't we?  And to
think that we are to blame?  Nonsense.  It was all the fault of someone
else wasn't it?  You know, someone in that other political party or
someone whom we already have a grudge against.  Yes, that's it, it
was the greedy rich, or the crafty, communist Chinese manipulating
their currency, or decades of misguided Republican deregulation, or
the irresponsible Federal Reserve whose chairman was following a
flawed ideology, or those corrupt Democrats who got massive
kickbacks from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in return for favorable
legislation, or it was those dirty illegal aliens, or those shady people
who hire illegal aliens, or it was those activist judges who are always
legislating from the bench, or those corrupt judges who are on the take
from big business, or the predatory lenders who sold credit as if it were
crack, or the people who took out loans that they knew that they couldn't
pay back, or it was the fault of one or more of any number of at least
partly responsible parties, or should we say irresponsible parties, that
have brought us to where we are today, with the exception of course
being that we had nothing to do with it.  And let's not forget our mantra.
Let us all open up our windows and scream it out to the world: "If
everyone had listened to me (or whatever pundit, idol, deity, or other
bastion of authority you happen to follow) then none of this would
have ever happened!"
   STFU!  For the love of Ishtar, STFU everyone!
   But alas, there will be no S'ing the FU.  And as we continue
to slide into oblivion the chorus of the self-righteous will only grow
louder.  Let us not forget that magical side effect of blaming someone
else in that it makes us feel more secure and less guilty about our own
failings.  Yes, even yours truly succumbed to this annoying practice.
When I received feedback on my advice/rant titled "The Hill" in the last
newsletter and received a lot of warm congratulations I knew that I had
screwed up.  Sure, the essay started out as an innocent exploration of
my own beliefs and practices, the kind of self examination which is
necessary for one to truly understand themselves and the world, but
while I tried to stick to my usual themes of ideologies and the Fireaxe
theory it seems that along the way I got sidetracked into blasting away
at the all too numerous hypocrites of the world.  I don't think that that
in itself is a bad thing, there are people who deserve the blame and who
need to change their ways, but it seems that no matter how balanced I
make my rants and how evenly I try to spread out the vitriol, it always
seems as though everyone thinks that I am on their side and that I am
talking about someone else.  If that's what you are thinking then you
are seriously mistaken.  When I spread around the criticisms I am
most definitely talking about me and about you.
   I know that I came off sounding too self-righteous in that essay.
I didn't mean to imply that Brian Voth is the almighty hill-climbing
wonder who stands atop a mountain of amazing accomplishments
and pisses down on all the lazy wastes of flesh below.  And when
I ended it by telling everyone to stay modest my own hypocrisy was
prominently on display.  I should have tempered my words and thus I
will do so now.  To be honest, I know all about "the hill" and how steep
and difficult it is because I've put forth half-assed efforts or outright
given up while climbing it more times than I care to admit, and I know
all the excuses for falling short because I've heard plenty of them uttered
from my own lips.  Part of my reason for writing it was to give myself
the kind of motivation that I need to meet the obstacles that I'm going
to be facing for the rest of my life, and life is going to get a lot harder
for almost everyone in the world for some time to come.  I know that
I've slacked off in a lot of areas, coasting along on my talents without
taking the time to really develop them, and I've taken too many things
for granted.  I guess that what I'm trying to say is that I am not talking
down to you from the top of the hill.  Nor are we both standing at the
top patting each other on the back and sneering at those pathetic
creatures below.  No, I am at the bottom of the hill, just like you, trying
to summon up the motivation to face the hard road ahead and end up at
the top, or at least end up somewhere high enough to satisfy my needs
and desires.  Understand that you don't climb the hill once in your life
and that's where you end up.  No, you have to climb it over and over
again so get used to the idea of starting over.  Now, let's plot our course
and find out what we're made of.
   To help in plotting that course, I'll get back to what I like to
think is some clear-headed, sober analysis about the state of the world
today.  And rather than give my less than qualified opinion about what
needs to be done to fix everything, like everyone else seems to be doing,
I'll instead focus on what is likely to happen so that you and I can make
better decisions about how to navigate the rough seas ahead.
   If there are any questions about how ideology has polluted the
world and made rational analysis nearly impossible then they are being
answered by the constant game of shirk and blame that passes for
discourse in political and financial matters today.  Everyone is railing
against someone else and making their case from a purely ideological
perspective based on half-truths and misconceptions.  At a time in
which it is of the utmost most importance to be clear-headed, open-
minded, and analytical about what is happening we have instead
surrendered to the false tenets of our belief systems, clinging to solutions
which worked in another time for a different set of conditions, and
unwavering in our support of them.  This is a sure recipe for failure.
But failure in what sense?  It seems inevitable that we will not choose
the best path out of the mess that we are in and that we will probably
end up switching courses many times, sometimes getting stymied by
entrenched opposition and at others applying truly draconian measures
which will end up doing more harm than good.  Democracy is supposed
to save us from such turmoil, idealistically dealing with crises by having
a group of people who represent a diversity of interests get together and
agree on a solution that works well for everyone.  But if what we've seen
so far is any indication of what is to come, our vaunted method of
governance is going to prove woefully lacking.  As a conscious, self-aware,
thinking people, there is no other way to describe such an outcome other
than failure.
   But failure for one ideology, especially one so powerful and
with so many followers as the one which is currently falling, means
opportunities for all the others to acquire new adherents and gain
ground.  And if the turmoil grows bad enough we are sure to see a
number of new ideologies or modernized versions of older ones appear.
Make no mistake about it, if the old system crashes completely to the
ground then almost everyone's understanding of how the universe works
will be fundamentally changed forever.  As unthinkable is it was only
a few years ago, free-market Capitalism may be on its death bed, with
only the fanatics, and others who did well under the current system,
clinging to the idea that it is the best way to run an economy.  The vast
majority of us may entertain various alternatives, including those which
are seen as utterly repulsive today.  Of course, it's not going to happen
overnight, if it happens at all, but as the misery drags on, minds will
change.
   And as the bickering, blaming, inaction, and poorly constructed
legislation continues to handicap our attempts at finding solutions a lot
of people are going to start thinking about dictatorship in a new light,
as a necessary evil rather than a corrosive and destructive force, since
a dictator would have the power to challenge and uproot our many deeply
corrupted and obstinate bureaucracies and impose his solutions the way
they were meant to be enacted, not some makeshift compromised versions.
The old tale about how Mussolini got the trains to run on time and other
myths about how efficiently Fascist governments can do things will be
unearthed and spread far and wide regardless of any truth in them or the
lack thereof.  Of course anything is going to be better than a democracy
paralyzed by partisan feuding and a financial system paralyzed by debt,
but without well regulated free markets and a stable currency no economy
is going to run at full speed, dictator or not.  However, with free markets
and laissez-faire capitalism associated with the numerous bankruptcies,
foreclosures, unemployment, and who knows what all else that are in
store that are going to bring widespread suffering and misery among the
masses it seems likely that a fascist ideology, by another name most likely,
will be presented as a middle way between Capitalism and Communism
and will gain wide acceptance in many nations.  The first signs of this
trend have already begun as governments worldwide have increased
spending and kicked off large public works projects, which is essentially
the government seizing greater control over the economy and displacing
private enterprise and free markets.  As the economic fallout spreads,
nationalizing privately owned companies, instituting price and wage
controls, protecting national industries, and other measures will likely
be instituted, appearing to be necessary and in many cases being things
that must be done in order to stave off the obliteration of important
national industries.  Fascism will be in vogue to one extent or another,
but what flavor of Fascism will each nation choose?
   As the neo-liberal Objectivist style ideology which has dictated
global economic policy for the last few decades lays dying, the F.D.R.
style Keynesian model has been dusted off and put in its place, thus
avoiding a full scale ideological conflict about how governments should
conduct themselves in a crushing fiscal crisis.  It appears that we already
have a solution when faced with a depression, simply follow the recipe
that the United States followed through the great depression and you too
will emerge as a superpower.  If only it were so simple.
   As the credit bubble implodes and the massive debts that have
built up are becoming unserviceable, we are seeing a wave of insolvency
sweeping across the world.  Individuals, corporations, governments,
and almost everything in between are becoming terrible credit risks,
and who can blame the banks for not lending the money that they have?
Would you lend money in this economy?  But the credit bubble needs
more debt to feed on or else it will undergo explosive decompression,
and so the governments of the world, with the U.S. leading the way in
grand fashion, have jumped into the role of "borrower of last resort" to
take up the slack and prop up a dysfunctional global economy.  The
question on everyone's mind is "will it work?", but already it seems as
if there is not enough savings in the world, or enough willing lenders,
to loan the U.S. and other governments the money they need.  If the
recent G-20 meeting is any indication, U.S. plans to spend our way
out of the mess we are in have been nixed by the rest of the world.
But while they can pull back in buying our debt, they can't stop us from
simply printing more dollars, and not long ago the Federal Reserve
announced that it will step in and buy at least some of that debt, a
paltry three-hundred billion dollars worth.  This is very noteworthy
since it is the first step on the road to hyperinflation.  We do not want
to take another.  While a deflationary spiral is very bad it is survivable.
Hyperinflation destroys nations.
   The pillar which cannot be allowed to fall is the solvency of
the United States government.  If the dollar goes down it will probably
take the global economy with it since so many things hinge on the
rating of U.S. bonds and everything is so interrelated.  It will put an
end to the idea that we can borrow and spend our way out of the next
great depression.  At that point the new Keynesians may lose their grip
on the reigns of power and the battle for ideological supremacy will
begin in earnest.
   So, what will this battle be like?  I think that a lot of us believe
in the idea that at some point things will get so bad that everyone will
simply wake up and see the truth, or at least see things in the same way,
and come together to fix all of our problems.  But as things have moved
forward through this crisis I see things moving in the opposite direction
and do not believe that we will ever end up any more united in purpose
or belief than we are now or were at any other time.  Using the Fireaxe
theory I predict that there will be a further ideological balkanization,
both within and between our nations only with deeper divisions than
today, with those numerous ideologies all clamoring for power and using
any methods at their disposal to gain acceptance.  Truth will be a victim,
not a champion, and fallen rivals won't so much agree with the wisdom
of the victorious ideology, they will simply grudgingly go along with it,
and that will be what passes for consent and unity.  How long it takes
and how ugly it gets between now and when we reach that "consensus"
is anyone's guess but our history books can give us a good idea of what
is in store.
   Speaking of what's in store I believe that I am almost ready to
go back into the studio and lay down the new vocal tracks for "Food for
the Gods".  Well, not new, but re-recorded vocals using much better
equipment than I had back when I first recorded it.  Even better news
is that I may be even better and stronger than before, but more on that
below.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


Back and Better than Ever?

   For years I did not dare even to think that I could be fully
healthy again.  It's what chronic fatigue syndrome does to you, or at
least my version of it in which I was dragged down by a collection of
festering infections and kept there for years.  Over that time I've tried
a number of approaches to treat my illness, and many of them made
me feel better, but only for a little while, and each time the hope that
I would recover faded I ended up a worse off than before.  When that
happens month after month, and year after year, it slowly grinds you
down on both a physical and psychological level.  It's not hard to give
in and give up.
   Even now as I am getting better, and occasionally feeling like
I am close to end of this nightmare, I still take a very pragmatic view
of where I am.  I've been disappointed too many times before, so that
is why I am not jumping up and down and telling everyone that I'm
on the verge of being cured.  It might not happen this time either.  It
might not happen ever.  But I can say for sure that in the latest stage
of my program that I've had days where I feel better than I've ever felt
in at least eight years, and to think that I might feel like that again,
and every day rather than just now and then, well, it's enough to get me
pretty excited regardless of my guarded optimism.
   On my good days I almost always take a few moments to sing,
usually something from "Food for the Gods", but I've also taken to
belting out some of my favorites from the band Manowar.  Manowar is
a band that knows how to write battle hymns and on those days when I
am strong I feel that I too am rising above my enemies and crushing
them once and for all.  In fact, should I reach a point where I am
convinced that I have achieved victory over Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,
and Cancer too but I didn't feel like celebrating becoming cancer free
for five years at that time due to my other health issues dragging me
down, I may record the first official non-satirical Fireaxe cover song to
commemorate my return to health.  I'm thinking that doing "Blood of
My Enemies" or "Heart of Steel" would both be very appropriate.  But
for now I will wait and keep the pressure on my illness.  It has a way
of coming back just when you are starting to feel great.
   Even better news is that I've found that my voice is stronger
than ever.  I can really let it rip.  You'll have to wait a little while before
you can judge for yourselves but my range, my resonance, and my
control are better than I've ever heard them before, and that's without
regular practice.  So I've decided that it is time to get my voice back into
shape.  For the first time in a long time my muscles are much better able
to recover from intense efforts, which is what the style of singing that I
do truly is, and if my voice holds up, and improves, I'll be able to get
back in the studio and make "Food for the Gods" sound like it was
meant to sound.  Barring, of course, a relapse or something like the
global economy going completely to hell.
   Also, after a couple of months of practicing my guitar every
day and learning tons of tricks and tips from YouTube, which is a
surprisingly good source for free guitar lessons, I'm getting a lot
better in that area too.  I can do sweep picking and pick muting and
a number of different arpeggios and play faster and cleaner than ever
before.  But what is more is that I'm truly learning the instrument and
it feels much more like an extension of my body rather than a heavy
wooden object in my lap.  I'd like to get to the point where I just will
the music to happen, where it is just a flow from the parts of my brain
that create the music, through my fingers, into the guitar, and then back
into my ear, without me having to stare down at the fingerboard and
think about what I have to play next.  That would be sweet.
   And yeah, after spending so much time working on all the
tricks of the trade it's hard not to get seduced into thinking about
playing in those terms.  For instance, you start thinking that since sweep
picking sounds so neat that you should build a solo, or even a whole
song, around it, or that you should put an arpeggio so hard or so fast
that no one will be able to copy it into one of your solos, or that you
should come up with a new guitar playing trick that no one has ever
done before and make it your trademark move.  But I feel that doing
so takes you away from the music and the reason why one learns to play
in the first place, so I need to consciously fight the urge to be too cute
for my own good and tell myself that the things that I'm learning are
just tools to let me build the music that I feel in my heart.
   Lastly, I regret just talking about music in another newsletter
rather than being able to link you all to a new recording, but know that
I'm still here and making music is still what I love to do.  No matter
how bad things get, Fireaxe will live on in one form or another.


Did I Speak too Soon?

   And now some bad news.  I didn't but just finish writing
about the good news and of all my optimistic projections when I
suffered yet another setback in my recovery program.  My infections
fought back a few nights ago and fought back harder than they'd ever
had before.  Like any other living thing they do not like the prospect
of dying and after I turned up the heat on them they counterattacked.
I spent the last couple of days suffering through chills, weakness, and
dehydration that required spending a few hours in the emergency room
getting IV fluids at one point.  It was not fun.  I'm feeling better now,
but it's been a rough couple of days.  I blame myself mostly, for trying
to get too aggressive when dealing with my health problems.  These
"low grade" infections need to be put to death slowly, at a rate that your
body can flush out of its system, and I pushed myself a little too hard
over the last week, which is something that I tend to do.  It's a failing
of mine.  In any event, I promise to give a full accounting of what I've
been going through at some point in the future when I am healthy and
thus confident that my understanding of my illness and treatment is
correct.  I don't want to hand out bad advice.  There's enough of that
out there already.
   So what can I say?  The hill is long and steep and riddled with
setbacks.  But as long as I breathe, I will fight.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

   Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
   less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
   profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
   I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
   like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
   gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
   link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
   samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
   you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
   not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
   goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
   do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
   does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
   particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
   likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
   CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
   someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
   raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
   those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
   government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
   and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
   face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
   stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
   side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
   as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
   THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
   CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
   mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
   other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
   I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
   of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
   to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
   institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
   mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
   Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
   song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
   if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
   if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
   the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
   Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
   would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
   trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
   effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

   The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

   Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                  Brian

The Lukewarm Butterknife - 12th Edition
April 05, 2009, 07:13:48 PM
Mad as hell at people who are mad as hell...


      The Lukewarm Butterknife

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.3.1

         Apr. 1, 2009

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "Due to the exponential growth of negative equity for
   many homeowners, the top 10% of all Americans now
   control 110% of the nation's wealth."
         - A fictitious but not implausible headline

   "Your money, your house, and all that you've done,
   are defined in terms that don't mean a thing.
   The truth be told: we all die and rot,
   but that truth won't make your heart sing."
         - Fireaxe, "Everything is Bullshit"


   Wouldn't you know it?  After surviving cancer and fighting
my way through chronic fatigue syndrome I'm finally getting close to
being in good health again, but now that I'm fit and ready to join in the
big party that has been going on for the last ten years I arrive only to
find that everyone's either vomiting, lying around in a drunken stupor,
or explaining to the cops why the parking lot three stories below is
littered with the remains of household appliances.  What a rip-off.
I mean, for years Wall Street was handing out free money, real estate
agents were handing out free homes, and millions of hot, sexy, twenty-
somethings were handing out free sex, and there I was, sitting in my
apartment, renting, like a total idiot, with no stocks to my name, and
barely able to get it up because my hormones were so out of whack from
the Chronic Fatigue that whenever I looked at a woman I saw her as a
human being instead of a sex object.  Oh, what a loser I was, even more
so than when I was in high school.
   Honestly.  I could have been rich, well, on paper at least,
living in a house so large that both my bike and my cat could have had
their own rooms, and been bumping uglies with dozens of today's
unbearably narcissistic, liberated young women…well, liberated in
the sense that they've been liberated from any sense of personal
responsibility.  But no, I had to be sick.  I had to eat vegetables while
everyone else was wolfing down triple (bypass) bacon cheeseburgers,
krispy kremes, and fondue, whatever the heck that is.  I had to suffer
while everyone else was having fun.  And now that it's finally my turn
to come out and get my share of the action it feels like I walked out of
my apartment and into a funeral parlor.
   Honestly, it's enough to make me believe in a god, because
someone up there obviously hates me.
   But I'm an optimist.  Seriously.  Sure, my predictions on the
direction that the world is heading in are so depressing that you might
think that I'm one of those mind-numbingly dreadful pessimists, or
worse, a mind-numbingly dreadful pessimist pretending to be a realist
but who practices revisionist history whenever their dire predictions
fail to materialize.  But no, I've always looked on the bright side of
things, and the most wonderful facet of living through the Greater
Depression and all of the misery, violence, and social upheaval that
will come with it is that I can stand before you all and proudly say that
I predicted it all.  Ha ha!  <flatulence noise> And furthermore, Nyah!
All you head-in-the-clouds dreamers were wrong and I was right.  So
there!  And so what if all our hopes and dreams and everything that
we've ever worked for are getting smashed into oblivion?  So what if
the world is going to be a horrible place to live in for the next decade
or more?  So what if there might be a war so destructive that many of
us will end up being killed or poisoned by nuclear fallout?  I don't mind
because I'll have something to look forward to.  You see, when we're
standing next to each other in the soup line, hoping that they don't run
out of gruel by the time we get to the front, you can bet that I will have
a smile on my face because I'm about to tell you for the two-thousandth
time that I saw it all coming.  I predicted this disaster.  And I'm going to
lord it over you for the rest of our lives.  Sweet.
   And speaking of the end of our lives, there's another chance for
me to mock you poor hope-filled unfortunates.  And here I'm speaking
to the believers in an afterlife.  Yes, when we're all dead and rotting in
the ground and most definitely not in Heaven, or Elysium, or Nirvana,
or any other band, you can be sure that I'll be having the last laugh.
Well, the last laugh figuratively speaking, because I and everyone else
who is dead won't be doing anything at all.  We'll just be corpses and
that will be that.  Yes, an eternity of nothingness and the heat death of
the universe is what we have to look forward to.  How does that grab
you?  Muahahahaha!  You see, you wasted all that time going to church
and enjoying the company of fellow believers and feeling good about
yourselves because you believed in some wonderful and fulfilling
illusion.  While I, on the other hand, righteously hid my atheism in
the closet (well, not counting the internet), commiserated with other
non-believers about our dismal public image and  our persecution at
the hands of pundits and evangelicals, and got into far too many
frustrating and pointless arguments about religion with irrational
fanatics.  Ha!  Who's laughing now?  All that time that you spent
feeling safe and warm and loved by some benevolent deity you could
have been grappling with the cold, hard reality that life sucks and then
you die.  And now that the world is about to become a living hell who
is better prepared?
   Well, you are of course.  You've still got your dreams and
your gods and your church is going to be a great support group for you.
Meanwhile I'll be angry about how my fleeting existence is being ruined
by the actions of others and becoming even more convinced that humans
are a backwards step on the evolutionary ladder.  But hey, at least I was
right about the big crash.  So there.
   A big "Hello" to anyone receiving the Lukewarm Butterknife
for the first time.  This is the official parody of the Fireaxe newsletter.
The humor this time around will be darker than usual and you may find
it hard to enjoy or even identify the jokes.  So if you are not laughing
by now, do not consider yourself humor-impaired, just trust that what
you've read so far is hilarious and key off of the reactions of others so
that you appear to be amused by the same things that they are.  There's
no sense in getting ostracized over something so irrelevant as having
your own opinion.


"A Little Box of Sunshine" - Transcript of the second coming of the
KTLB show

Musical Interlude: "I wish that someone would come along and set things
right." <Church organ plays loudly in the background, fades into…>

Brian: Welcome to KTLB!  We are back on the air and better than ever.
I'm your host Brian Voth and this week, like every other week and every
other radio talk show host in the country, I AM REALLY, REALLY,
OUTRAGED!

The "dumb guy" of a paid group of mildly dysfunctional, but each lovable
in their own way, friends:  Preach, brother Voth!

<An awkward silence occurs>

The "laid back guy" of a paid group of mildly dysfunctional, but each
lovable in their own way, friends:  Dude. You jumped in on his "Paul
Harvey pause".

Dumb guy: Uhhhh….

The "overly PC liberal guy": And you said "preach", to an atheist, who
is like, not into that whole preaching thing and, you know, he might
find that offensive.  I certainly do.

The "repentant neo-con, but still a conservative, whatever that means
these days, guy": Oh, for crying out loud, can't anyone say anything
anymore without someone getting offended?

The "smart chick who no one takes seriously because she's hot":  Yeah,
and we should stop people from using hyperbole, because everyone does
that like, all the time.

The "lecherous guy who thinks he's a player": I'd like to go hyper on
your bolees, babe.

Brian: Would you all just KNOCK IT OFF?!

<Another awkward silence occurs, broken by…>

Dumb guy: Yeah. Quiet, you doofuses.

<A longer, even more awkward silence occurs>

Brian: Look, dumb guy, laid back guy was right about the whole Paul
Harvey pause thing, and you blew it. Twice.  And you know what that
means…

Dumb guy: I'm fired?

Laid back guy: Nah, we did that bit before.

Overly PC liberal guy: Outsourced?  Like the millions of good paying
factory jobs that got shipped overseas and were replaced by low paying,
part time retail sector jobs with little or no benefits and health care?

Repentant neo-con conservative guy:  Look, if people want to get paid
more they need to get a better education and find a better job.  Or they
can get more than one job like so many hard working Americans do.

Smart but hot chick: No, those better jobs are being filled by companies
who hire foreign workers on H1 visas for a fraction of what American
workers are paid.  And many of the low paying and part time jobs are
being filled by immigrants who will work off the books for criminally
low wages.  That's the dirty little secret of modern capitalism.  What
we have is slave labor only without the physical chains.  Everyone gets
hurt, except for the rich.

Lecherous guy:  Oh, all this talk of dirty secrets, chains, and jobs
gettin' filled is turning me on.

Brian: No one's getting fired or outsourced.  Those are the gags from
our older shows and they've all gone stale.  We like to keep it fresh and
topical, which means that for screwing up so badly, Dumb guy, we're
inclined to give you a huge bailout, just like our government gives to
Wall Street, and a bonus too.  But no, that joke's been used about a
million times over the last few weeks, and here at KTLB we have to
be creative as well as topical, so instead we are going to hit you with…

Dumb guy: Uh oh.

Laid back guy: This isn't good.

Overly PC liberal guy: Violence is not the answer.

Repentant neo-con conservative guy: Violence can be the answer, but
you have to do it right, like we did in World War Two.  Sure we made
a lot of mistakes in Iraq, but the surge worked.  You can use violence
to reduce violence.

Smart but hot chick:  The surge coincided with the Iraqi Sunnis losing
the civil war against the Shias, that's why the violence went down.  The
Sunnis didn't want to keep fighting both the Shias and the Americans,
that was more than they could handle.  And Al Qaeda was using suicide
bombers against Shia civilians, which made the Shias retaliate against
Sunni civilians.  So when the Sunnis saw that Al Qaeda was counter-
productive to their insurgency, a lot of the Sunni leaders, like the "Sons
of Iraq", sold Al Qaeda out to the Americans as part of a deal.  The
Sunnis also called off attacks against American soldiers and in return
the Americans let the former leaders of the insurgency run the Sunni
provinces.  The Americans are even paying them to "provide security"
in those areas so that they don't have to do it themselves.  But when the
Americans leave, the Sunnis will probably start the civil war up again.
And Iran was also instrumental in reducing the violence in Iraq since
they saw a friendly Shia-led government in charge and they wanted to
keep things that way.  Iran was able to talk Al-Sadr into laying down
his arms so that Maliki would have a stronger hand to play against the
Americans during negotiations.  And play it he did.  So if the surge
worked so well, why did Bush have to make concession after concession
to Maliki's government?

Lecherous guy:  Babe, if you want to see a surge that works, I got
your surge right here, yeeeeeaaaaaah.

Brian:  (sighs) I don't even remember what I was talking about.

Dumb guy: You were going to hit me with something.

Laid back guy:  Ah, man, you didn't have to remind him.

Brian:  Right, our new trendy punishment for bad behavior is that
we're going to hit you with: THE MEDIA SPOTLIGHT!

<Sound effect of one of those big movie set spotlights turning on>

Brian:  Yes, the media spotlight.  The most vicious destroyer of lives
in the modern world.  The entity that killed Princess Diana, drove
Britney Spears and Michael Jackson insane, branded one rather
nutty woman the "Octomom", (what is she, a cephalopod?) and
savaged the reputations and careers of countless others.  Yes, Leno,
Letterman, and Colbert will be making jokes about you every night.
All the embarrassing details of your life will be revealed and broadcast
twenty-four seven on every cable news channel.  You'll be hounded
by paparazzi, accosted by pundits, used as a political football by
attention seekers across the nation, and if you're not careful you'll end
up with your own television show that makes you think that you're
a star but which really makes you into a national laughingstock.
Just ask Paris Hilton, Ozzy Ozbourne, or Joe the Plumber.

Overly PC liberal guy:  Or Bill O'Reilly.

Repentant neo-con conservative guy:  Or Keith Olbermann.

Smart but hot chick: That reminds me of something that Pablo Picasso
was quoted as saying, but the quote can't be confirmed.  Anyway, it
goes like this, "From the moment that art ceases to be the nourishment
of the best brains, the artist can use all the tricks of the intellectual
charlatan. The refined people, the rich ones and the professional
layabouts, only want what is sensational or scandalous in modern art.
And since the days of cubism I have fed these boys what they wanted
and pacified the critics with all the idiotic ideas that went through my
head. Whilst I amused myself with all these pranks, I became famous
and very rich. I am just a public clown, a fairground barker."

Lecherous guy:  You want cubism?  I've got a nice pair of cubes in
my pants that I'll let you paint…with your tongue.

Dumb guy:  Uh, Brian, I'm just pretending to be dumb, you know, like
Larry the Cable Guy.

Brian: Oh, well, heck, you'll be fine then.  Hmm, no need for this…

<Turns off the media spotlight>

Brian:  Now, where was I?  Oh, right, I was OUTRAGED!  And then
I added a Paul Harvey pause to build suspense.

<Not-so-awkward silence where no one interrupts>

Brian:  But since Paul Harvey has passed away we should discontinue
that bit too.  And also, I think that we should honor a moment of silence
for the late commentator.

<Moment of silence occurs, not to be confused with a Paul Harvey pause,
although it is a pause for Paul Harvey>

Brian:  Yes, outraged!  Everyone is!  Outraged at the Treasury department
and the Federal Reserve and Wall Street and anyone with the letters A, I,
and G in their name.  Craigs of the world beware.  First the powers that
be said that the economic problems were contained.  Then they said that
they needed tens of billions of dollars to make them go away.  Then the
economy tanked and they said that they needed hundreds of billions of
dollars to fix everything, but that this time the money was going to fix
the problem for sure.  And when things got even worse they said that
they needed hundreds of billions more dollars to bail people out and
trillions of dollars in guarantees for everything under the sun in order to
prevent the entire financial system from coming crashing down and
destroying life as we know it.  And every time we said:  NO!  NO!  NO!
And every time our corrupt and economically illiterate politicians went
ahead and gave them the money anyway.   And then We The People got
mad and elected a new guy to change all that and he goes ahead and
keeps on doing the same thing that the last guy was doing which wasn't
working.  Seriously, what is the deal?  I am so out-of-my-head nuclear
pissed-off right now that I can barely see straight.

Laid back guy:  Dude, it's a scam.  Face it.

<Then, for the next ten minutes, ten painful minutes, the overly PC
liberal guy and the repentant neo-con conservative guy get into an
argument about economics and politics of the type that we've heard
so many times before over the last few months, or years, or decades
really, that it does not need to be transcribed here>

Smart but hot chick:  Well, you have to hand it to Obama.  He's been
very bi-partisan about his financial bailout plan…both liberals and
conservatives hate it.

Lecherous guy:  Hey, "bi" is okay with me.  Bring a Japanese girlfriend
and we'll have a real bi-party-san.

Brian:  Well, here's the latest deal.  One trillion dollars.  One trillion
more dollars are going to get dumped down the rat hole that Wall Street
has become.  And here's how they're selling it to us.  See if this sounds
familiar.  The government steps in and buys a bunch more toxic crap
from the big banks, banks that should have been put out of their misery
and liquidated long ago.  Well, actually, it's like, other people are going
to put up a fraction of the money to buy the toxic crap but We The
Patsies will put up most of it.  That's why they call it a public-private
"partnership".  But the partnership part of it is just spin because the
government is taking most of the risk.  Anyway, the banks are going to
unload a bunch of toxic crap that no one wants to buy at the prices they
are asking because it's all toxic crap and everyone knows that it's almost
worthless and so the government is going to buy a trillion dollars of it.
It's a screw and we'll be lucky if we only lose half of our investment.
Yeah, five hundred billion at least.  But here come the Masters of the
Spiniverse to tell us that the toxic crap isn't worthless, it's just under-
valued because the market is gripped with fear and paranoia.  That toxic
crap is only a little bit bad, they say, and if we buy it at a discount and
we are patient enough we'll see a big return at the end of the road.
Cha-ching!

Dumb guy:  Uh, you lost me.

Brian:  Sorry.  Okay, here it is in a nutshell.  They've got stuff that no
one wants to buy but they tell you that it's worth a lot more than this
low, low price that they're willing to sell it to you for.  It's a steal at
these prices!  You're guaranteed to make money.  It's a "can't lose"
proposition.

Overly PC liberal guy:  Hey, that sounds like my real estate agent.

Repentant neo-con conservative guy:  And my stock broker.

Dumb guy:  And my dead-beat brother-in-law.

Laid back guy:  Dudes and dudettes, it's snake oil.  It's a scam.

Brian:  My point exactly.  It's a scam.  And this is like, so much worse
than the AIG bonuses thing.  I mean, people got so angry about that
and that was only a measly  $165 million.  This is a trillion dollars
that we're going to lose this time around.  That's six-thousand times
more!  So everyone should be six-thousand times angrier about this
than they were about those bonuses.  I mean, I'm so outraged that
I've been searching around the internet for instructions on how to
build a guillotine.

Laid back guy:  Dude.  Lighten up.

Brian:  Lighten up?!  Lighten up!  You know, I ride in the MS-150
every year.  That's where we ride our bikes one-hundred and fifty
miles over two days to raise money for the victims of Multiple
Sclerosis.  But this year you know what I'm going to do?  I'm going
to sponsor my own ride called My-401k.  I'm going to kidnap bankers
and force them to ride four-hundred and one kilometers every day
until their friends and relatives cough up enough money to make up
for what I lost in my retirement fund.

Repentant neo-con conservative guy:  Hey, not all bankers are bad.

Overly PC liberal guy:  I have to agree.  It's the system that's corrupt.

<But they don't really agree, and tragically another boring argument
about deregulation, what Democratic presidents did, what Republican
presidents did, and what the Federal Reserve did, and all argued using
talking points rather than facts and logic erupts between the repentant
neo-con conservative guy and the overly PC liberal guy until one of
them brings up the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act and the rest of the
dysfunctional but lovable friends are forced to bind and gag the pair
to get them to shut up>

Brian:  Praise to Ishtar.  If only we could do that to all the people who
keep that ideological argument crap going in real life.

Dumb guy:  Yeah, we shouldn't play the blame game.  We need to
set fault aside and solve our problems.

Brian:  NO!  We SHOULD play the blame game.  And we need to
get it right.  None of this ridiculous political grandstanding.  I want
to see judges and lawyers and real prosecutions, not some powerless
bi-partisan congressional investigating committee whose purpose is
to find a scapegoat and whitewash everybody else, themselves included.
I mean, how can we fix the problem if we don’t know, or at least we
don't agree, how it happened in the first place?  And when we find
out how it happened we will know exactly who is to blame.  It's not
some game, it's called justice.  And we need it, badly.  But you see,
that will never happen, because the guilty people want to keep the
ill-gotten gains that they made under the corrupt system and so they
want to sweep the whole blame thing under the carpet.  You know,
they'll convict Bernie Madoff and make it seem like justice was served
but they'll let everyone at the big banks and the hedge funds and
everywhere else get off without even a slap on the wrist.  Most of them
will even get to keep their jobs even though they screwed up about as
badly as anyone can.  And the reason why the government lets all that
happen is because most of them are enslaved to their party's leaders
and their parties are all about giving back to their campaign fund
contributors.  It's one big circle of payola.  And here's a news flash for
you, it isn't just the Republicans who are on Wall Street's dole, now
those supposedly pro-labor Democrats are also in the business of
paying back their Wall Street pimps, and all with our money.

Dumb guy:  But isn't everyone's fault?  You know, we all went along
with it, so we all deserve some of the blame.

<Sound effect of Brian's head nearly exploding, or is it a sound effect?>

Laid back guy:  Dude, calm down.

Brian:  I AM NOT TO BLAME!  I lived responsibly.  I lived within my
means.  I didn't play the market, or buy or build or flip or refinance some
monster-sized house, or buy a bunch of crap on credit  to help "stimulate"
a dysfunctional and doomed economy.  I've earned the right to act like a
self-righteous a-hole and that's exactly what I'm going to do.  In fact, I
didn't just live modestly, I was out there warning everyone about the
problems that were building up, but did anyone listen to me?  Noooooo.
I was mister "doom and gloom".  I was laughed at and ignored.  But now,
now the devastation is finally here.  Well folks…can you hear me now?!

Laid back guy:  Dude...seriously, chill out.

<But Brian got even more angry>

Brian:  And here's where you all better listen and listen good.  I'm not
the only one who's not responsible for any of this crap.  There's a lot
of us out there.  And normally we're a quiet bunch who just mind our
own business, but when we get really, really mad, like now, do you
know what happens?  Yeah, we go all Fascist on you.  That's right,
Fascist with a capital F, and…well, capital punishment too.  Does that
scare you?  Well, it should.  You see, while everyone else was out there
lying and cheating and having fun, we were sitting at home, playing by
the rules, and doing everything prudently.  But now, now that the people
who lived large, broke the rules, and ended up in trouble want us to bail
them out, well we're going to rise up and put our foot down.  On your
necks!  Oh, you're going to be sorry, because we're going to do a lot more
than just give you all a stern lecture about your moral failings.  No, we
won't be reading from the bible, or telling you that "we told you so",
and we won't be delivering pretty speeches about how to motivate
yourself to get up off your backside and climb up "the hill".  No, we'll
be marching you up that hill, at gunpoint, and chained at the ankles so
that you can't slink away like you did from all your other responsibilities.

<Stunned silence fell over the studio as the others felt too nervous to
interject anything, and were a little afraid as well>

Brian:  Yeah, we'll find us a dictator.  Someone tough, and disciplined,
like we are.  Not like any of the panty-waste politicians that get up there
and tell you what you want to hear and then turn around and do whatever
their campaign contributors tell them to do when they get elected.  I
mean, the lefties called Bush a dictator.  Give me a break.  The man is
an incompetent coward.  He proved it on September eleventh and he
proved it again during Katrina.  He's useless.  We all saw the footage.
When a crisis comes along he just sits there like a bump on a log.
He was a dictator?  He was a leader?  Get real.  Bush couldn't lead
lemmings over a cliff.  (Editor's note - lemmings do not actually
commit mass suicide as portrayed in a Disney documentary some years
ago, please check out http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/lemmings.asp
for a more detailed explanation)  And Obama?  A dictator?  The righties
in this country have lost their minds if they think that Obama's got the
guts to chart his own path.  No, he's acting like one of them now, one
of the Washington elites.  He promised change, and that's what happened.
The bastard changed.  And don't get me started about Reagan…or Clinton
either.  Or rather, either Clinton either.

<Fortunately both the repentant neo-con conservative guy and the overly
PC liberal guy were bound and gagged and so they weren't able to speak
up and defend their mighty heroes>

Brian:  And there's going to be no more of this pathetic two-party system,
and no more arguing about which side is right.  That's all just a stupid
distraction anyway these days.  You know what the difference is between
the two parties?  Democrats are sniveling, spineless, and wrong; and
Republicans are confident, forceful, and equally wrong.  Choose your
flavor of incompetence and corruption and cast your ballot.  Maybe it
will be counted but it isn't going to matter.  No, when us pissed-off
responsible type people get our backs up there's only going to be one
party in this nation, and if you aren't loyal to it then say hello to a forced
labor and re-education camp.  We're going to tell you what to do because
you're too stupid to follow the rules.  We're going to take away all your
privileges because you're too irresponsible to use them wisely.  We're
going to tear down all your false idols in Hollywood and on Wall Street
and in Washington and on television and on the internet and drag you
kicking and screaming into the real world.  And we're going to send
out a swarm of brownshirts to smash every symbol of this screwed up,
consumerist, "anything goes" culture of yours and force you to bow
down before the god of GROW THE HELL UP!

<A pause follows…not a Paul Harvey pause, more like a Paul Hitler
pause>

Smart but hot chick:  <hesitantly, but bravely speaking up> Brian, it
might not be as bad as you think it is.  The markets have been stable
for a while now and they're going back up.  Maybe cooler heads are
prevailing.  And while things will be bad for a year or two maybe they
won't get really bad.

Brian:  <Gets one step closer to the edge and he's about to break>
Listen.  What has happened with every prediction that the "experts"
have made so far?  Remember how they said that the housing market
could never go down, or the DOW was headed to thirty thousand, or
that the economy was fundamentally strong, or that if we threw enough
money at the problem that we'd avoid a recession, or…or…or.  And
when they were proved wrong each and every time they just made new
predictions, pretending as if they had any credibility left, and those new
predictions were just like their old predictions only they lowered their
estimates just enough to make it seem like things were going to get
better a little further down the road, like in six months or a year or so.

Smart but hot chick:  Yes, but…

Brian:  Okay, so how do I know we're doomed?  I'll make it simple.
It's all about debt.  You know how high debts are today don't you?

Smart but hot chick:  Yes, even higher than they were before the
crash of 1929.

Brian:  And the government thinks that they can solve the problem by
borrowing more and then paying off the banks so that they will start
lending again and everyone else can borrow more.  They're trying to
solve the debt problem by creating more debt!

Smart but hot chick:  Well, when you say it like that it sounds
really stupid.

Brian:  It is!  And here, Obama is projecting a deficit of $1.8 trillion
in 2010, which is almost as much as the total number of dollars that
all of the Asian countries combined are holding, meaning that even
if they were willing to lend us all that money, and they'd have to be
stupid to do so, we'd wipe out all of their savings in less than two years.
And that's just using Obama's rosy projections, which don't include all
of the other spending he's going to need to do to make good on the
trillions of dollars of guarantees that Uncle Sam has made in our
names over the last year.  We're broke, our country is broke, and our
leaders are trying to borrow their way out of debt.  It's insane!  And
now the Fed has started printing money and opened up that can of
worms.  I swear, it's like being on a plane and finding out that the
pilot is blind.  Soft landing?  Fat chance.

Smart but hot chick:  But what if it all works?  What if you're wrong?
You've been wrong about things before you know.

<The sinister, and rather discomforting sounds of Brian chuckling
can be heard>

Brian:  Oh, I'd love to be wrong.  I've made a good living for myself
in this screwed up economy and I wouldn't mind seeing the madness
of the last ten years keep on going for the rest of my life.  I'd love to
be sitting right here with you five years from now when everything is
back to normal, or whatever it is we call this perverse state of being,
and we could just laugh about how foolish I was back then.  So if you
like you can hold on to that naively optimistic dream because yeah, it
might all come true.  And if you're so inclined you can cling tightly
to your smooth-talking, pretty-boy president and his crack team of
economic advisors who are still following a failed economic ideology
and your oh-so-knowledgeable-about-the-great-depression chief of the
Federal Reserve, and you can have as many trillions of dollars as you
want to throw at the problem and you can  pretend that it's going to
be enough to save you.

<And now Brian's sinister tone turns into raging anger>

Brian: So go ahead, bet against me!  Put up everything you've got
against what I've got.  Going to print up a few trillions to bail out a
deficit that no one wants to finance?  You'd better keep those printing
presses running full speed around the clock because I've got over a
quadrillion dollars in insanely overleveraged derivatives ready to
smash everything you've ever built into a million pieces.  And do
you like bailing out AIG?  Well get ready to do a lot more of that
because that was caused by only a few tens of billions of dollars of
Credit Default Swaps going bad.  I've got fifty trillion more where
that came from and it's going to rain down like fire from the sky on
every financial institution on the face of the planet.  And all your
mighty economic wizards are going to be running around with a big
money hose hooked up to the Federal Reserve trying to put out the
fires, but water isn't going to come out, only paper, paper dollars.
And you know what?  Paper burns!  So take your hubris, take your
experts, hell, you can even take all your gods and angels and try to
stop the mother of all bubbles from devouring everything that you
hold dear.  You say that Jehovah is with you?  And Vishnu too?
Well, I've got the Dark Goddess on my side and she is pissed!
You've got no chance.  Bush had no chance.  Obama's got no
chance.  McCain wouldn't have had a chance either.  Do you think
that Jesus is going to come down and save the markets?  Good luck.
Who do you think killed Jesus when he came down the first time?
So bring it on, Jesus!  Let's see a second coming.  The Dark
Goddess will send you back to heaven nailed to a cross made of
greenbacks, upside-down this time, and faster than you can say,
"Why hast thou forsaken me?"

<And now Brian started screaming as loud as he could>

Brian:  Hear my words and listen this time!  The sky is falling!  All
the dead, well, at least the dead economists, are rising up from their
graves!  The stars are right!  We're all doomed!  It's gonna be lights
out!  Do you understand?  LIGHTS OUT!

<What could be the most awkward silence of all time descends over
the KTLB studio.  Several minutes of dead air follow, more dead even
than Paul Harvey.  Finally the silence is broken.>

Brian:  Well, to hell with this.  I can't do this anymore.  It's April
Fool's Day and I'm trying to be funny and I just can't do it.  I'm just
so full of anger and hatred and frustration that it all comes out
sounding like the most awful bile that I can produce.  I'm sorry.  I'm
done ranting and offending everyone.  And I'm done broadcasting
too.  This is it.  I'm taking KTLB off the air for good.  It's over.
Good night.  This is Brian Voth, signing off.

<end of transcript>

And so Brian left his paid group of mildly dysfunctional, but each
lovable in their own way, friends behind, jumped on his bike, and
pedaled for home.  He had a lot on his mind and being alone on a
bicycle is a good place to get some thinking done.  So as he rode he
pondered the economic crisis, the political madness, the world, and
what his place was within it all, and as usual he couldn't come up
with any satisfactory answers.

Then some idiot driving an SUV and talking on her cell phone at
the same time cut him off as she suddenly swerved into a parking lot,
leaving Brian with no way to avoid running into her.  It was the kind
of thing that happened a lot on that particular road…some dumb ass
cutting you off.  In fact, Brian had taken to calling it "Dumb ass cuts
road" because you could almost always expect someone to nearly
run you over when you rode on it.  Normally Brian would have been
on his guard for someone doing something stupid, but this day his
mind was focused elsewhere and so with a heavy thud, he paid the
price for not paying attention.

Thus, it was on the road to "dumb ass cuts" that Brian fell off of his
bike, struck his head on the pavement, and had what could have been
called a religious experience or a divine revelation if Brian hadn't
been an atheist.  So instead we'll just call it a fortuitous brain fart.

It was not a vision.  No deity spoke to him.  A choir of angels that
sounded a whole lot more impressive than what even the most costly
Yamaha keyboard could produce was not heard.  But for one brief
moment Brian felt something that he hadn't felt since his childhood:
a wonderful feeling that filled his heart with everything that had been
missing from his life as he now knew it.  For an instant Brian felt safe,
warm, and loved, and not only that he also felt reborn, and with a new
and powerful sense of purpose.  It was as if a door had opened and a
universe of infinite possibilities stood before him, and there he was,
looking through that doorway and feeling like a kid again, wanting
to go running through it and explore everything that life had to offer
with a sense of wonderment and fascination.  It was that feeling, that
glorious, exhilarating, and innocent feeling that pulsed through Brian's
mind as he fell, and that feeling changed him forever.

The clueless driver, oblivious to what had happened, drove off, leaving
Brian with a flat tire, some road rash, and a nasty bruise on the side of
his head, but as he patched himself and his bike back together he could
think of only one thing, "I must experience that feeling again, and help
others to feel that way as well."

Once he was home Brian swept away all the trappings of his former life,
tossing oodles of his once treasured objects into the garbage or pawning
them off on eBay, and he devoted himself to his new mission in life.
Opening up an old notebook to the nearest blank page the founder of
Fireaxe began to describe in words what he had experienced only in
feelings on that fateful day, and oh how the words flowed.  The decades
old pencil in his hand was almost flying over the page as the inspiration
poured out of him.  And as he wrote, his message of a return to a long
lost place and time took shape on the page before him and grew more
powerful with every stroke.

Brian worked all through the night and halfway through the next day,
not wanting to sleep before he had completed his epic masterpiece for
fear that that feeling, that fleeting feeling which had inspired him,
would be gone when he awoke.  And so, with his fingertips sore, his
palm covered in graphite dust, and his eyelids desperately yearning to
close, Brian scrawled out the final words of his personal revelation
before succumbing to the sandman, collapsing face-down on the essay
that would soon change the world and everyone in it.

The next day he posted it to the internet.

For a while nothing happened, and Brian's newfound sense of purpose
began to fade.  He wondered if this had been another illusion, that his
essay had been just one more thing that he had felt strongly about but
which no one else did.  He also wondered if anyone was going to read it.
After all, with so many people writing blogs these days it was hard to
get any attention paid to your writings, and what was more was that the
people who'd want to read what he wrote, well, they were probably
spending their time writing those other blogs.  So as nothing continued
to happen, Brian spent a lot of time staring into the void, wondering
how it was that he'd been so wrong about something which he felt so
right about.

A week later he got an e-mail from someone who'd read his essay
and was gushing with praise, thanking Brian profusely for writing it.
The next day another e-mail came in which the sender also sang
Brian's praises, and that was followed by a third in which the author
told of being so inspired by the essay that she'd decided to change her
whole life and was now happier and more productive than she'd ever
been.  In the days that followed Brian got more such e-mails, and in a
few weeks time he was getting so many that he couldn't answer them
all individually.  But try he did.  Alas, he could not keep up with the
flow and in a month's time his mailbox was completely packed with
unanswered e-mails.  It was amazing.  His message was resonating
loudly with others and many were asking him to write another essay,
building on the growing movement that he had started.  Exited, elated,
and feeling oh so vindicated, Brian was more than happy to oblige.
But he decided to go one step further than merely write another essay.

And so Brian bought a digital camera and made a YouBoob video.

It was unlike anything that anyone had ever seen.

Like so many of the other self-made videos on that site it was nothing
more than one person talking into the camera, but it was what Brian
said that made it so different.  He began graciously, thanking his many
supporters for their sentiments and their stories and even mentioning
a few of them by name.  There was nothing revolutionary about that,
but simply doing it reminded people that civility hadn't been completely
killed by the internet, at least not yet.  And it made them think that
perhaps their own manners could use a little cleaning up in the future.
It would be the first of many times his viewers would question
themselves.

On the table before him Brian had a stack of books, and one by one
he opened them and began to read.  One was the Bible, one was the
Koran, one was Mao's little red book, and there were many, many
others, each one of them held in high regard by the followers of one
ideology or another.  Brian didn't add any of his own commentary as
he read.  It wasn't necessary.  The passages explained themselves.  At
first the words seemed ancient and irrelevant, as if they had been
washed away by all the changes and advances of the modern world,
but as Brian spoke them they erupted with life again, sounding ageless
and eternal as they rose up to take their rightful place as the foundation
of humanity's wisdom.

But they were not happy verses, and they did not fill the viewers with
a sense of pride and faithfulness.  It was quite the opposite really.  For
the passages that Brian had chosen were ones that spoke out against all
of the transgressions that the faithful of every faith, as well as those
who had no faith, had committed against their neighbors, against their
enemies, and against themselves.  Sin after sin, scandal after scandal,
wrong after wrong, the list seemed endless but no one dared turn away
as they watched.  Brian spoke calmly and forcefully, sparing no one
as he read from those books, and in the minds of all those who listened
they did hear not Brian's voice, but the voice of what in their hearts
they knew to be that of the supreme authority shaming them for what
they had done and were still doing, and admonishing them for ever
believing that they were so righteous that they no longer needed to
adhere to the more difficult practices of their beliefs.

And when Brian closed the last book and set it down before him there
was no one in the world who had watched the video who did not feel the
immensity of their own guilt as well as the overwhelming desire to make
things right once more.  They were ready to commit their lives to making
up for the evils which they had brought into the world.  That was when
Brian began to speak in his own words.

"When I was young I used to have a tiny box that once held staples but
which had outlived its usefulness in that regard.", Brian began, his voice
taking on that quality of reminiscence that puts people's minds at ease.
"I kept it in my desk at school, right beside all my textbooks and
notepads and pencils and all the other things which I'd come to associate
with the drudgery of learning and making good grades.  Most of the
time I spent at my desk I would be doing my schoolwork, completing all
the exercises to the best of my ability, but every now and then I'd have
a little free time, and during those times I would pour my creative
energies into making something that I, and perhaps a few others, would
appreciate and enjoy.  Then I would fold it up neatly and place it in that
box, on top of the other wonderful little things that I had made, and put
it back amongst the boring books and the dreary notepads."

"Over time that little box filled up with a number of amusing things:
some drawings, a story or two, more than a few cartoons, whatever I
had felt like making at the time.", Brian said, waxing nostalgic, but
not getting lost in his own story.  "And that little box I began to
associate with pleasure and wonderment, for whenever I added to it,
or even when I just opened it up and looked through all the things
that I had put into it, I once again felt the joyous feelings that came
from performing a labor of love.  It was like having a little box of
sunshine in my desk, and it made going to school seem not so bad."

"I don't know what happened to that box.  It's gone now.  And gone
with it are all those little reminders of how wonderful life can be.",
Brian spoke, building up to the point of his story.  "The sad part is that
I didn't know that it was gone for a very long time.  I didn't realize that
something was even missing.  I suppose that I was too distracted by all
the other things in my life to notice that I no longer had my little box
of sunshine.  So all that time I wasn't putting anything into it, and it
wasn't there for me to look through and remember that life can be a
beautiful thing."

"But now, now I know that it's gone.  And I know what I have to do.",
and now all those who were watching could feel something arising
deep within their hearts as if they knew what Brian was going to say
next, but they still wanted to hear him say it.  "Friends, neighbors,
fellow humans, let us make our world into a little box of sunshine,
and let us start filling it with all the things that makes this world worth
living in.  Let us all contribute, and give, instead of being selfish and
only taking what the world has to offer.  We must do this so that we,
our children, our children's children, and all who come after us, can
look at what we have done and be filled with pride, happiness, and
the passion to go forth and contribute their own things of wonder."

And that was all he said.

And that was all it took.

Within hours the internet traffic to and from YouBoob overloaded
the servers and the site had to shut down.  But within hours Brian's
loyal supporters were quick to put the video on mirror sites across the
globe and before long thousands of people were watching the video
and buzzing about what they'd just seen in chat rooms and bulletin
boards everywhere.  It seemed that everyone wanted to see it and
soon millions of people were logging on to the internet in search of
the video that their friends and family members had told them that
they absolutely had to see.  But alas, the internet was not designed to
handle such a heavy load, and although millions of people were able
to watch Brian's humble video, and were transformed by the
experience, hundreds of millions, nay, billions of people were left out.

That state of affairs could not go unanswered.

And so it was hastily arranged for Brian to deliver his YouBoob
message on live television and to have it broadcast simultaneously
across the world so that everyone within walking distance of a
television could watch it.  But that didn't seem to be good enough
and so telecommunications companies got into the act as well and
offered to beam the speech across their networks so that anyone
with a cell phone could hear it too.  And as news of the soon to be
broadcast speech spread over the planet via newspapers, phones,
and word of mouth, people of every faith, color, and creed began
to realize that something truly amazing and unprecedented in the
history of humanity was about to happen.  It was a truly exciting
time to be alive.

Television crews were dispatched to Brian's humble apartment,
intending to broadcast the speech in the same place that the
original video was made, and somehow resisting the urge to sex
the presentation up to the gills as Hollywood so often does.
Instead they would try their best to duplicate the look and feel of
the original recording.  But just minutes before the camera crews
arrived and Brian's apartment was transformed into what seemed
like the focal point of the entire universe, a visitor came and
knocked on Brian's door.

It was one of Fireaxe's oldest and dearest supporters, someone who'd
known Brian since the early days of his musical project, back when it
was still difficult to find and download porn from the internet. Brian
was surprised to see him and welcomed him inside to share in his
moment of triumph, but what surprised Brian even more was what
his friend had to say.

"So who the hell are you now anyway?"

Brian was speechless.

"Are you the Destroyer of Dreams?  The Servant of Pain?  Or are you
now one of the Masters of the Universe?", the man said angrily, and
more than a little disappointedly, about what he'd seen the creator
of Fireaxe become.  "I saw your video.  It was crap.  For years you
railed against ideologies and shot everyone's dreams to pieces.  You
burned through politics, religion, and economics and left nothing
sacred.  But now you're about to infect the entire world with the most
insidious dream that anyone has ever seen!  You've become the enemy.
So tell me something so that I know for sure, were you full of it then,
or are you full of it now?"

"Look.", Brian began, regaining his composure.  "I spent what,
thirteen years blasting away at everyone's most cherished ideals,
slaving away over my guitar and my computer, pouring money,
time, and my life into Fireaxe, and what did I accomplish?  I had
maybe two-hundred listeners at the most, maybe a couple dozen
people who thought that my music was good enough to recommend
to others, and most of the people who heard my message didn't
even understand what I was talking about.  It's the same thing with
my newsletters.  I mean, I could have had the same effect on the world
if I just drove out in to the desert, miles from anywhere, and screamed
my damn fool head off for an hour or so every couple of months.  But
now, thanks to a fantastic, life-changing accident, I'm seeing things
in a whole new way.  And now my message is reaching people, a lot
of people, and I'm changing their lives for the better.  I'm finally
giving them what they need.  Look, I'm still the same person.  See,
you know that box I was talking about in that video, my little box of
sunshine?  Well, Fireaxe was one of the things that I've been putting
into that box all these years.  It's my contribution to the world.  But
you see, the box is bigger than Fireaxe.  Fireaxe was just what made
me happy.  But what I'm giving to the world now is something that
can make everyone happy."

The man considered those words, but didn't hesitate with his answer.

"Creating Fireaxe was what made you happy, and so yes, the music
you wrote fits nicely inside the box, but the stories you told with your
lyrics and the meaning behind those lyrics, those are far, far bigger
than the box.  Your ideas are large enough to contain that little box of
sunshine, and every other box in the world for that matter.", the man
retorted.  "Listen, I don't agree with everything that you've written
or sung or said.  In fact, I find some of it offensive, and some of it
makes me wonder if you've completely lost your mind.  But I always
want to read what you've written, and hear what you've recorded, and
that's because you make me think, and that's a rare thing in this
world.  You, Brian, make me question my view of the world and my
place within it.  You challenge me to expand my horizons.  You force
me to sit down and ask myself if what I believe and feel strongly about
is a load of crap.  And to be honest, a lot of the time I hate you for that.
Sometimes you're a real pain in the ass."

Brian sat and listened as his admirer turned the tables on him, forcing
the creator of Fireaxe to examine his own beliefs.  But he also thought
about the authors and directors and musicians and others who had
shaped his ideas and challenged his beliefs and how much he respected
and admired them even if he didn't agree with them.  Then Brian
wondered if he'd become one of those influential creators, and that was
an awesome thought.

"And that's why you're not popular.  Well, that and the fact that you
play a style of music that's essentially dead.  But you don't tell people
what they want to hear.  In fact, you tell people what they don't
want to hear.  And there isn't a big market for that.", the man added
with a wink and a grin.  "But people like me need people like you.
Not to tell us what to think or what to do, but to tell us that there's
more to the world than we think there is.  I mean, what do you get
when you turn on the television, or the radio, or go to the movies, or
click around on the internet?  All you see is someone trying to tell you
what you want to hear.  They're just trying to pleasure you for money.
They're whores.  That's what they are.  Whores.  So maybe you get off
on someone making you feel good, or maybe you get off on someone
making you feel angry at people you don't like, or maybe you get off
on feeling afraid of some boogeyman.  They don't care.  They'll just
do whatever they need to do to get you off and then take what they
need.  Honestly, it's like an ideological Sodom and Gomorrah out
there."

And Brian appreciated that vivid imagery very much.

"And that's why we need you.", the man said as he drew his soliloquy
to a close. "You're not a whore.  You're not a sellout.  You're the exact
opposite.  You're a heretic.  You're the village atheist who keeps us all
honest, or who tries to at least.  But even though the masses just block
you out when you do the Fireaxe thing, remember that I'm still out there
and I want to hear what you have to say."

And after that moving speech Brian could do nothing but rethink his
newfound perspective on the world.  It made him wonder if he'd truly
seen the light or if it really had been all an illusion.  A few moments
later the camera crews pulled up outside and the big show was about
to start.  Brian's friend headed for the door, not wanting to be around
when things got crazy.

"Thanks.", Brian said as he nodded respectfully to the man who cared
enough about him to tell him exactly how he felt.  "You've always been
of great intellectual value to me too."

And then he was gone and the madness began.

The second, professionally done, recording of Brian's message isn't
available at YouBoob anymore, and neither is the first one as popular
outcry demanded that it be taken down.  Perhaps you can dig it up
somewhere on a mirror site if the PC police haven't gotten to it yet,
but of the people who saw the live broadcast, and they number over
a billion, there are a few who remember what Brian said well enough
that they can retell it almost word for word.  It started out the same as
that modest little YouBoob video did, with Brian sitting at a table with
a stack of books at his side, but what he said the second time around
was quite a bit different than what he'd recorded before:

"Friends, neighbors, fellow humans, you're all missing something,
something that you need more than anything else in the world.
Sometimes you feel it strongly, and sometimes not much at all,
but the need is always there.  That's what these books were written
to do.", Brian began, passing his hand over the Bible, Koran, and
the other revered texts.  "Their purpose is to make you feel that need
and allow you to alleviate it, but only if you follow what the books say
and spread the word.  The books turn you into addicts, into drones,
and into slaves."

"They promise you a little box of sunshine, something that can fill
your heart with joy now and then so that you can endure the toil of
hard work and the pain of conflict and do what's necessary to hold the
book that you accept to be true higher than all the others.", Brian said,
speaking calmly and forcefully.  "And they'll tell you that box is out
there somewhere, hiding just around the corner, and if you just follow
the book that you'll get there."

"But is that little box of sunshine just a dream?  Is it just make-believe?
No, it's real.  I know it's real.  And when you open it up you feel the
most wonderful thing in the world.  That little box will wipe away all
your tears, take away all your pain, and make you feel whole again.
It's worth fighting, and dying, for.",  Brian continued, putting feeling
into the words and making them come alive.  "Very soon we're going
to need to open up that little box of sunshine because we've painted
ourselves into the darkest, ugliest corner that the human race has
ever been in, and we've got a lot of death, and suffering, and misery
ahead of us.  Let's be honest.  Did we really think that things could
go on being so good forever?  Did we truly believe that we were at
the end of history?"

"And so as things get worse, and we feel the need for relief, we'll all
be searching for that little box of sunshine, the most wonderful thing
in the world, and fighting over it when we find it since there isn't
enough to go around.", Brian added, his voice grim and foreboding.
"But just how wonderful can that little box be if we judge it by its
fruits?  You as well as I have seen what it does to people, how it
changes them when they pursue it, and how they forsake their morals
and principles just to get their daily fix from it.  And so I can come to
no other conclusion but that it is not a gift from a god,

Re: The Burning Blade 12.1
April 05, 2009, 07:48:26 PM
For example, what idiot really thinks democracy is going to help us? We all know most people are idiots!

Good point.  I think that the advantage of democracy, and thus its ability to rise above past ideologies, is not its theoretical ability to formulate coherent policy (it doesn't) nor it's assumed capacity to free individuals to pursue rational self interest (a Randian -Objectivist Fallacy), but that it enables people to move up in the social hierarchy and motivates them to do so from a purely selfish perspective, thus exploiting basic human nature to a greater degree than any prior system.  While the love of a father figure, such as with a dictatorship with a rigid class structure, also takes advantage of human nature by keeping the "idiots" in an eternal, childlike state of submission, the demands of a large, modern, and complex system are too great for a single person, or even a group of people, to direct in an efficient manner.  A system like Fascism is great if it is focused on a simple task or implementing a workable solution, but Democracy, even with all of its wastage and incoherence and overindulgence is generally flexible enough to adapt and address complex problems, especially ones that no single person can understand.  It's advantage appears to be that no one controls it and thus it can evolve to find novel, unconventional solutions.  The downside appears to be that it cannot evolve to meet ALL challenges, especially self-inflicted ones like the current mass idiocy that may likely destroy the entire global financial system, and so a reversion to a Fascist order seems to be the logical course seeing as how it will be required to fix the problems created by the democratic regimes.  Once the system is back on track though it is likely that the more efficient system of Democracy will flourish again (and trouble will, of course, follow once more).

Re: The Burning Blade 12.2
April 05, 2009, 07:57:04 PM
Maybe the human problem is simply... selfishness, empowered by an ability to restrict which parts of reality we recognize?

That's a pretty good summary of all the fancy bullet points I made above.

All other forms of life on our planet are certainly selfish, but lack that critical empowerment to imagine a world bigger than what they've experienced.  With that comes the inevitable downside that humans can imagine a world that simply doesn't exist, for instance, one where a god takes care of everyone, or one where money does grow on trees. Our selfishness decides our fate. If you had a choice, which world would you choose to live in?

The Burning Blade 12.4
June 05, 2009, 09:43:53 PM
And I believe that it will be alright if I just have faith in a lie…


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.4

         June 5, 2009

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "The foundation of all Mental Illness is the unwillingness
   to experience legitimate suffering.”
            - Carl Jung

   "What to do to escape all the pain?
   Let the madness dream salvation."
            - Fireaxe "River of Madness"


   The sickness is everywhere.
   Accounting laws were changed and now the banks can
report huge profits instead of massive losses, California legislators
and voters alike are unable to either raise taxes or cut spending,
the U.S. government is borrowing and spending like there is no
tomorrow, and my nation's newly elected president is backpedaling
on his campaign promises so fast that it's starting to look as if his
opponent had really won the last election, or that there was no
election at all...that it was all merely smoke and mirrors with a
new spokesman appointed to serve up the same old policies, or at
least the same old policies with a few minor variations added to
them in order to keep up the appearance of change.
   This is more than people taking the path of least resistance:
delaying the onset of our legitimate suffering in the vain hopes that
it will all go away or that it can be foisted off on to someone else by
when the day of reckoning arrives.  No, this is ideology at work.
And while I wouldn't go so far as to use Jung's quote to equate
ideology with mental illness, although some ideologies certainly
make their followers think and act as if they were crazy, I will say
that one of the things that ideology excels at is redefining what
"legitimate suffering" is.  Through faith an ideology allows their
believers to act in stupid, cruel, oblivious, hypocritical, and self-
righteous ways while all the while believing that they are doing
what is right and fair and just.
   It is faith in Monetarist economics that enable bankers,
the Fed chief, and the Secretary of the Treasury to believe that the
banks' toxic assets are worth far more than market value and thus
do not need to be marked down.  It is faith that tax cuts always
help the economy and that tax hikes always hurt it which sends the
Republicans to the polls.  It is faith that entrusting the government
to take care of those in need is the best way to form a social safety
net that drives Democrats to vote for their candidates and initiatives.
It is faith that what worked for FDR in the thirties will work again
under very different circumstances today that has led to what could
well be a suicidally large stimulus package.  And it seems to be
the case that my president's faith in reciprocity has him making
concession after concession in every which direction in the hopes
that those who he has done favors for will return them when it
comes time for him to roll out his big legislation.  Everyone seems
to be talking about making tough decisions, but nobody seems to be
actually making them.
   With ideology on call to twist the facts and force them to
fit a predefined conclusion one never has to break down and accept
legitimate suffering.  One can always blame someone else for
causing a problem and insist that they suffer instead, or cling to
the belief that imminent suffering can be put off until it disappears,
or try one's best to make oneself and everyone else happy in the
hopes that one isn't setting oneself, and everyone else, up for a
bigger fall in the future.  Even Christians, whose ideology is built
upon the ideal of embracing suffering, legitimate or not, all too
often find ways to avoid feeling humility, enduring pain, and
admitting that they were wrong about something.  If there was
truly proof that there are no gods it is that the arrogant believers
of the world have not been struck dead where they stand.
   Legitimate suffering today would seem to entail that
everyone set aside their ideologies, admitting that at least for now
that they may not offer the best solutions, and come together to
work on our numerous and extremely serious global problems,
but for people with power, money, and influence on the line, and
especially for those who have already suffered and feel that they
have endured their share of the pain if not more, making further
concessions is unacceptable.  So instead we are running away from
legitimate suffering and towards a more fervent, even fanatical,
embrace of our ideologies.  We crave ideological validation to
compensate for our losses as reality gives us less and less to satisfy
our needs.  We search for new dreams to replace the wreckage of our
old ones and give us hope again.  And as we all pull away from each
other and retreat into our own ideologically constructed fantasy worlds,
open-mindedness, rational discussions, genuine compromises, and
painful concessions become unpalatable and our needs and desires
turn towards imposing our will on the irrational and uncooperative
others.  Extremism on one side invites extremism on the other and
the middle ground rapidly disappears.  The roots of fascism,
totalitarianism, and dictatorship are becoming all too clear, and
their reemergence seems inevitable.
   In the U.S. we have two political parties who are each
becoming more and more fascist by the moment.  This didn't happen
overnight, it has been brewing for decades.  The Democrats are the
party of government fascism: of more and more regulations over
everyone and everything, of frequent government intervention into
the economy, of the government taking care of the impoverished,
the sick, the elderly, the disabled, and anyone else struggling to be
economically viable, and of the government imposing progressive
social reforms on the entire country.  Of course, they do not admit
to being fascists and instead frame their reforms as being necessary
to guarantee the promise of equality, to restrain the ruthlessness of
the powerful, and to prevent the uncaring nature of the free market
from causing more damage to the nation than it benefits it.  There
should be no argument that they have a point, that "corporate fascism"
needs to be opposed lest it turn us into a nation of wage slaves and
beggars, but in their efforts they built an equivalently dangerous
monster in the form of an all-powerful state.
   The Republicans are the party of corporate fascism: of less
and less government regulation and intrusion into business matters
(though intrusion into social and personal matters is acceptable to them
in order to placate their religious base), of freeing people from forcibly
taking care of their less fortunate neighbors (a number of whom have
brought their misfortune upon themselves), and of giving individuals
more rights to do as they will with their own property (which gives
those with more property far greater "rights" than the rest of us).
Of course, they cloak their fascism in the language of liberty, that
they are liberating the people to do as they please and freeing them
from an oppressive tax burden, but their libertarian efforts mostly
end up freeing big business to exploit their workers, fleece their
customers, and abuse the legal system to meet their own ends.
The Republicans also have a point, that government fascism needs
to be opposed lest it turn us into something out of a George Orwell
novel, but in their efforts they've unlock the ghosts of robber barons
and monopolies past which are making a mockery of the free market
system that they so adamantly defend.
   And so we have balance, right?  As long as both parties
are fighting against each other, neither one can impose their brand
of fascism upon the country, correct?  Regrettably that is not the
case as both parties agree on one thing and that is that "We The
People" need to surrender more of our power, our wealth, and our
rights to either the state or to big business.  They are the elites and
they will run the country for us while we reward them for their
splendid governance by voting them into office year in and year out.
We are just pawns in their great chess match, beasts of burden to be
used and discarded, political footballs whose tales of suffering and
woe are condensed into sound bytes and used as artillery against the
other side.  Our roles are to empower them to achieve the victories
that they crave so very badly and in return, or so they promise, we
can share in the bright shining dream that they have woven for us.
They explain the world to us using their ideologically tainted media
outlets as if we were children who could not figure things out on
our own if we were given the facts, all the facts, and without spin.
Unfortunately not enough of us seek out the drier, spin-free sources
of information and many of us demand that the media do nothing
more than reinforce our ideological beliefs on a regular basis.  In this
way watching the news has become like attending church, it is a ritual
which satisfies the believers and prompts them to assist and spread
their ideology.  But of course it is in our rulers' best interests that we
do not figure things out on our own, not that we would all arrive at
the truth, there is too much diversity of opinion and ideological
contamination for that to occur, but that we might realize that we
don't need our leaders as much as we believe that we do and that we
would demand, or simply take, the power that we have surrendered to
them back into our own hands.  This is the nightmare that haunts the
power elite and it has echoes throughout history: the Jews refused to
subordinate their god to the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Romans; the
Protestants found their own path to their god that did not go through
the Catholic church; and the Americans, French, and Russians all
discovered that they did not need a King, a Pope, or a Czar to rule
over them.  Perhaps the next revolution will be the popular acceptance
that things which are "too big to fail" are "too big to exist" be they
banks, corporations, or governments.  Spare none the axe for if left
too strong they would surely become a tyrant.
   But a revolution, that sounds like too much work, and
throwing one's self against the corporate and government fascists
with all of their amassed power and wealth seems like asking for
a great deal of suffering, so I would think that our particular form
of mental illness will persist, that we will side with one group and
rail against the other and believe that everything will get better once
our people are in control…and in complete control if necessary.
   Speaking of getting better, I've slowly worked my way back
to feeling pretty good after the dehydration episode that sent me to the
emergency room two months ago.  That can happen when you get too
aggressive when it comes to slaughtering your intestinal parasites and
you're not drinking enough water to flush out your system.  And yeah,
"flush" is a perfect word for it.  My bathroom has been getting a serious
workout as of late.  But anyway, I've learned my lesson and I am back
on track.  Some day soon I will start training my voice with the intention
of finally re-recording the vocal tracks for "Food for the Gods" and
getting the whole Fireaxe thing back in gear.  I thank you all for your
patience and your good wishes.  Here's to good health!  May I get mine
back and may you never lose yours.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Life Cycle of the Ideology

   If there is one good thing about living through such
tumultuous times, and I believe that the bulk of the tumult is yet to
come, it is that I can observe what is happening in the world at first
hand, which gives me a better opportunity to understand how ideologies
are born, how they grow, how they mutate, and how they become
corrupted.  As things have progressed since that world-changing event
on September eleventh I've immersed myself in studying how both
individuals and ideologies react to such paradigm shifting events.
Now with the credit crunch continuing to grind away at the heart of
the ruling Capitalist ideology I have the rare opportunity to put the
Fireaxe theory to the test as well as fill in the details about how and
why ideologies eventually die.
   In this essay I will describe what I believe to be the life cycle
of the ideology, the steps along which they progress from birth to
death, and try to account for the variations that we see in the different
belief systems.  Much of this I've discussed previously in other
newsletters, in Fireaxe music, and in the outline below, but here is
my first cut at tying it all together and condensing it down to a more
easy to understand framework.
   Yes, even condensed it is a long essay, and it seems to only
scratch the surface in a lot of places, but I think that it ties a lot of
loose ends together and presents a large part of the Fireaxe theory
in a concise and organized way.

What is an ideology?

   In the Fireaxe theory, an ideology is a set of rules generally
formulated about an abstract central concept, such as a god or a notion
like "freedom", and which governs the behavior of its members.  The
rules comprise of laws, morals, ethics, and social norms which allow
the members of the ideology to form systems of complex relationships
between each other for the betterment of all.  Ideologies form a symbiotic
relationship with their members in which the members serve their
ideology, making it stronger by contributing to it and helping it
spread, and in exchange they receive material, psychological, and
"spiritual" rewards.  Successful ideologies are the ones which
empower and motivate their believers to win more converts and
deliver more wealth and power to the ideology.  The strategies
employed by different ideologies to gain power and influence vary
widely but the end goal is the same for all: to survive and thrive.
   Ideologies are thus a collection of individuals all acting in
coordinated ways which further the interests of the whole and thus
they can be compared to organic life forms which are collections of
cells which act in concert to the benefit of creature.  Extending this
analogy allows the likening of competition between ideologies to the
Darwinian struggle between organisms in nature and indeed the
survival strategies for ideologies and organisms fall along similar
lines: they both stake out territory, gather and consume vital
resources, fight with each other, grow in number or size, and seek
to spread to neighboring areas.
   The analogy is not perfect since humans are able to switch
ideologies or follow a blending of two or more ideologies while
organisms remain much the same from birth to death.  Also, ideologies
can mutate much faster than life forms can evolve, which makes the
ideological world a much more dynamic and potentially unstable place.
Nonetheless, the analogy is strong enough to use in understanding and
analyzing ideologies and their effects on human behavior as well as
regarding them as entities which act in their own self interest.  In
this regard it is possible to describe the life cycle of ideologies, from
birth to growth to mutation and death, as if they were living entities.

Birth

   Ideologies are born when a member of an ideology become
dissatisfied.  Dissatisfaction starts when the symbiotic relationship
between the believer and the ideology breaks down, which generally
occurs when the ideology is not delivering enough rewards to the
believer.  These rewards can be of any type: material rewards such
as wealth and power, psychological rewards such as recognition,
appreciation, and indications that ones goals and dreams are slowly
coming true, and "spiritual" rewards such as the promise of eternal life
or the satisfaction that one has resisted temptation.  Material rewards
are the strongest form of reward and a shortage of them can quickly
lead to anger and despair, such as when basics like food, shelter,
or medical care cannot be easily obtained.  Such shortages can be
compensated for with psychological and "spiritual" rewards and it
is common for people living in poverty or suffering from hardship
to dream of winning the lottery,  to proclaim their moral superiority
over the "spoiled", the "greedy", and those who take life for granted,
and to celebrate their certitude that their suffering in this life will
guarantee deliverance to a glorious existence in the next, but such
rewards do not always make up for material shortages, especially for
those who are used to having more.  And even with adequate material
rewards, a shortage of psychological and "spiritual" rewards can drive
a person to become dissatisfied with their ideology, and the promises
and propaganda of rival ideologies can sow the seeds of doubt and
discontentment as well, and if that dissatisfaction lasts long enough it
can sever the bond between ideology and believer, often permanently.
   Ideological dissatisfaction, which can also be called a
"crisis of faith", creates an immediate problem for the individual
since they can no longer receive many of their ideological rewards,
especially those of a psychological and spiritual nature.  Things
such as praying, paying taxes, and giving to charities no longer give
the individual the same feeling of satisfaction since the framework
which made these acts of selflessness and humility meaningful has
been brought into question.  What use is it to pray to a god who
doesn't seem to listen, or to send money to a government which will
only spend it on wasteful projects?  As doubts grow, the ideological
conditioning in the mind becomes undone, usually over time, but
sometimes it happens all at once, and the rewards which once
satisfied the individual now leave him or her wanting.
   This presents a serious problem since, according to the
Fireaxe theory, ideologies imbue their believers with a permanent
sense of inadequacy which can only be relieved when enough
ideological rewards are received.  When the ideological bond breaks
down the deficit does not go away, and this tends to leave the
individual feeling worthless, isolated, depressed, and in need of
something to fill the void.  It is not unusual to find people who have
lost their faith in what they believed in indulging themselves in a
number of material excesses, such as sex, drugs, alcohol, and other
thing which make one feel better or at least less inadequate, but it is
unusual to find people who can completely compensate for a loss of
ideological rewards without embracing another ideology.  Most people
will fall into a state of confusion or depression and seek out something
to replace what was lost, trying out this belief system or that belief
system or even trying to work out a new path on their own.  It is
those who try to find a new way to offset their permanent sense of
inadequacy who sometimes give birth to a completely new ideology.
   The litmus test for any ideology is whether or not it satisfies
the needs of the individual.  It does not need to be based on truth to
any degree, it merely needs to be plausible enough to make the feelings
of inadequacy go away.  For instance, if a Christian had a crisis of faith
and stopped believing in a god, she would not be able to embrace the
idea of a glorious afterlife in heaven to alleviate her fear of death.
However, if she were to adopt a belief in technologically advanced
aliens who communicated with her telepathically and told her that at
the end of her life they would come and take her with them to their
home planet where they would make her young again, that belief
would fill the void left behind when she stopped believing in heaven.
Also, this example shows how atheists can come to believe in a version
of eternal life that doesn't involve a divine being or the need to worship
one.  Technology can substitute for divine fiat on a conceptual level,
such as how some atheists embrace Cryogenics as a way to extend their
life, or believe that some day robotics will be developed to a point where
their consciousness can be transferred into a machine, and thus they
too can alleviate their fear of death through the denial of their own
mortality.
   But a new ideology doesn't have to be simply a refurbished
version of their old one with aliens standing in for angels, it can be
very different indeed as long as it satisfies two requirements: one,
that it must alleviate the believer's sense of inadequacy through some
kind of reward system; and two, that it must solve the problems of the
believer's former ideology which caused her to stop believing in it in
the first place.  Meeting these two requirements is not a simple task
and can require a long period of trial and error before an adequate
replacement ideology is found.  Also, the second requirement implies
that the new ideology will be in conflict with the old since it inherently
suggests that the old ideology is false.  Being in conflict with another
ideology will make more demands of the believer and thus the believer
will need more rewards to compensate, which can often be gained
through winning arguments, achieving victories in political and social
policy matters, or showing in some other way the superiority of the new
ideology.  But even if the believer stays in the closet to avoid conflict
with members of the old ideology, the new ideology will still be more
of a burden than the old since it is necessarily more complex.  It must
do everything that the old ideology did, plus it must solve the problems
that the old ideology did not.
   The basic principle is that ideologies necessarily get more
complicated as time goes forward and as new ideologies replace the
old ones.  Ideologies are not simple things, they generally comprise a
large number of ideas, rules, and explanations that can fill the pages
of a thousand books or more.  Primitive ideologies could contain all of
their rules on stone tablets or in a single tome, but modern ideologies
require volume after volume of laws and regulations which seemingly
address every facet of human interaction.  So how does a single person
create a whole new ideology all by themselves?  In short, they don't.
Rewriting an entire ideology is more work than anyone can do and so
in general a new ideology borrows a lot from the old out of convenience,
but there will always be at least one central difference which separates
it from the former ideology, something that will often be mostly
conceptual in nature but around which the rest of the ideology can be
formed.  For instance, the notion that "all men are created equal", or
that "self interest rightly understood" will naturally lead to a more
perfect social order if it is left unregulated, can be used as a guide to
remake the old ideology into the image of the new.  Once the central
concept has taken root, the rest of the ideology can be formulated
around it, uprooting and replacing the borrowed parts of the old as
necessary.
   Armed with a new concept which forms the basis of a new
ideology, the believer will change their way of thinking and acting in
accordance with the new ideology and note any changes in their life,
especially whether they are receiving, or seem more likely to receive,
the rewards that they need.  If the results are positive they will reinforce
the belief in the new ideology, if not, the new ideology is likely to be
discarded and another one tried out.  Once they find a new approach
that "works" for them, the individual will often seek to spread their
discovery to others.  At this point the new ideology has been born.

Growth

   An ideology grows by spreading to other people which means
that a successful ideology must do two things: one is that it must
inspire its members to spread their beliefs to others; and two is that
it must appeal to and work for a large variation of individuals.  It is
the second requirement which is the most difficult to achieve since
people vary greatly in their life experiences, views, and needs.  For
instance, while alien and high technology based ideologies may have
a strong appeal to sci-fi buffs, they are relatively inaccessible to those
who have had little exposure to "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" style
fiction or who find those subjects fanciful or too far fetched to be real.
But a determined believer, one who is driven to find converts because
his new ideology rewards him for doing so, can always find ways to
repackage or alter his ideology to broaden its appeal.  For instance,
if someone was trying to spread a "Star Wars" type ideology and he
found that having the movies set in a time long ago and in a galaxy
far away made them seem too irrelevant and inconsequential to most
people, especially compared to religions whose sacred ground you
can visit without having to leave the earth, the believer might change
the ideology to say that the story happened in our galaxy, and in the
present, and that one day soon we will be swept up into the battle
between the empire and the rebellion.  All of the sudden the idea of
investing time and energy into becoming a Jedi Knight, or at least
the idea of developing any fledgling Jedi skills that you might have
to the point that when a Jedi Master comes down to visit Earth that he
will take you on as an apprentice, takes on a sense of both relevance
and urgency.  Yes, it doesn't square with what George Lucas wrote,
but it's far more exciting, and who is to say that the movies are perfectly
accurate?  Maybe Lucas didn't have a high enough mida-chlorian count
to channel the scripts for his movies accurately.  Yes, an ideology can
explain away anything and still be believed as long as it still "works"
for believers, and if changes need to be made to win more converts
that isn't a problem provided that the changes don't cause the ideology
to lose more converts than it gains.  Most ideologies go through
many changes as they grow in order to gain a broader appeal, and
although changes to the central ideals are more difficult to make,
changes of any kind don't necessarily invalidate the ideology.  If
people still believe in it, then it is the "truth".
   Thus, the way that an ideology spreads is very similar to
the way that anything spreads through our culture and successful
ideologies will usually take on characteristics that increase their
ability to spread.  This can result in the ideology being "dumbed
down" for the masses, or injected with current cultural trends and
notions, or merged with competing but similar ideologies.  In this
way the growth and mutation of an ideology is not unlike how a
movie idea is developed in Hollywood or how a large project is
undertaken in a corporation.  To win the support of each new person
the ideology usually has to be changed in some way to impress them,
accommodate them, and meet their own particular needs (as well as
stroke their egos).  Each new convert makes their mark on the ideology
and those changes get carried forward to the next person.  But as the
ideology grows it becomes more difficult to change things since those
changes will invariably start to conflict with what others hold as core
beliefs.  If the ideology changes too much it may stop working for the
original believers who may demand that no more changes be made to
it and attempt to exert an autocratic control over the ideology, dictating
what is part of it and what is not.  This can work, but it can also arrest
the growth of the ideology or splinter it into several factions.  However,
once an ideology gets beyond a certain size it will be beyond anyone's
ability to control.  This may seem bizarre or ironic, but it is not unheard
of for the person who invented an ideology to disown the beliefs of those
who changed it and popularized it.  Even ideologies which hold up one
person or a group of people as their supreme leaders are not completely
beholden to their decisions, for leaders are only leaders if their followers
follow.  Simply put, once an ideology reaches a critical mass of believers,
it takes on a life all its own.
   As an ideology grows and slowly starts to replace the old
ideology it must do more than merely provide psychological comfort
for individuals, it needs to form complex systems of human interaction
that empower it to an equal or greater degree than the old ideology.
If it cannot achieve this, it will not be able to make much headway in
changing the old ideology or winning converts and will probably end
up as little more than a cult or an eccentric social movement, but if it
does prove to make its members superior to the ruling ideology it may
one day challenge that ideology for supremacy.  For instance, if we take
our "Star Wars" type ideology and assume that those who follow it
become committed to some kind of "code of the Jedi" which stresses
physical conditioning, mental discipline, and a strong sense of honor,
followers who once spent their free hours playing video games and
surfing the net would now be busy transforming themselves into more
attractive, capable, and admirable people.  Such changes would help
them in achieving their life goals whether Darth Vader was real or
not.  Their ideology would then begin to attract followers based on the
results it was achieving for its adherents rather than any connection
to a popular series of movies, and casual supporters would start making
adjustments to their behavior to accommodate the young movement.
The ideology would be growing, gaining power and support, and
changing things.  But to really grow beyond the nerdish subculture
the ideology would need to be expanded to be about more than just
the possibility that one could become a real Jedi Knight and provide
meaning, guidance, and ideological rewards for those from other walks
of life so that they are motivated to contribute as well.  If the ideology
can accomplish that it doesn't matter how contrived or silly it is, the
fact is that it works and that its influence on the world is both real and
formidable.  It would be a force to be reckoned with.

   As an aside, one might point to the Fireaxe theory and
state that it is my personal ideology: that it is my substitute for my
former religious beliefs and that I'm trying to spread it to others.
To that I would answer that the Fireaxe theory is a poor substitute
for any religion or ideology since it runs directly counter to any and
all notions of creating a utopia in this life or finding salvation in the
next.  Personally, I find my rewards in my incessant attempts to
show that I'm an exceptional person, of which trying to formulate
a theory which explains how the world works is one such attempt.
It's something more to place into my little box of sunshine.  And as
far as spreading it to others is concerned, if that was my intention I
would sex the theory up with some outrageous and controversial
views, obscure many of the precepts with difficult and impenetrable
language, give it lots of "feel good" hooks to allow believers embrace
it and want to spread it around, and most importantly I would add a
utopian vision of the world and the way that it would be if everyone
were to understand my theories and put them into practice.  Doing
such things would prove my theories correct while simultaneously
negating the premise on which they were founded, and while that
would be an entertaining thing to witness I would find it repulsive
to purposefully disillusion people.  So for now I will stick with being
boring, pessimistic, and essentially irrelevant.

Conflict

   Unless the process of mutation an ideology undergoes as it is
growing reduces its ability to motivate its members, it will inevitably
come into conflict with the ruling ideology and with other competing
ideologies.  Each ideology is trying to make the population follow its
own set of ideals and the rules they set out for their believers generally
conflict in many areas and on many levels.  Recall that implicit in the
new ideology is the idea that the old ideology fails in some way and is
therefore flawed.  The new ideology was born to replace the old and
succeed where it failed.  But those in power, who are following the
old ideology, will usually not see the flaws in their beliefs.  After all,
the system works for them: they receive their rewards in return for
their service; but even if they do suspect that it isn't working as well
as it should they have vested interests in keeping the old ideology
going and will tend to defend the status quo.  Powerful ideologies
can usually crush weaker ones, usually by imposing hardships on the
members of the new ideology so that their suffering outweighs any
rewards they get from it, but the battle between ideologies all comes
down to the level of dissatisfaction in the general population towards
the ruling ideology for that is where the competing ideology gains its
strength.  If too many members of the old ideology are not satisfied
with it and the new ideology appears able to correct the problems with
the old, the conflict between the two will generally not be settled
quickly or easily.
   Ideological warfare is fought first and foremost on the
battlefield of the mind.  The goal of this warfare is for each ideology
to convert the members of other ideologies into believers or to at least
make them obey its rules.  The fighting can take place on multiple
levels and can involve anything from physical violence, propaganda,
the threat of violence, imprisonment, and persecution, to less
aggressive tactics such as political infighting, subtle persuasion,
material rewards, and virtually any other method that can influence
people towards an ideology and shift the balance of power.  The
intensity of the conflict is generally proportional to the level of
disagreement between the ideals of the competing ideologies.  All
ideologies do not necessarily differ on a fundamental level, which
would make them incompatible, and sometimes the differences
between them may only be slight.  If there are few and relatively
minor differences between the ideologies the conflict may end up
being resolved without too much fighting.  And resolution does not
necessarily mean the eradication of one ideology or the other.  One
side may simply concede in the areas where the two conflict or both
may strike some compromise which preserves the character of both
ideologies while allowing them to get along.  The conflict and the
resulting resolution may also end up changing either or both ideologies,
essentially mutating them in minor or major ways, but even if an
ideology makes concessions it doesn't necessarily force it to change
any of its ideals or beliefs.  Instead an ideology can always frame its
concessions as being merely temporary setbacks on the road to reaching
their ultimate goal and they can promise their believers that if they keep
fighting and supporting the ideology that one day they will achieve the
victory that has been denied them.
   Intense ideological conflict occurs when two or more
ideologies have fundamental differences which cannot be resolved
in a more diplomatic way and force must be used to one degree or
another.  Conflicts of this magnitude are quite common between
ideologies and all ideologies which aspire to rule must be prepared
to fight for their survival, using violence if necessary.  If an ideology
cannot defend itself through force of arms, it will eventually fall to
an aggressor which can.  This is not to say that non-violent struggle
cannot succeed against a violent foe.  Martyrdom, for example, is
often a powerful psychologically influential force and in the end the
battlefield on which ideological conflicts are fought is in the mind.
Martyrdom, and here I refer to non-retributive self-sacrifice rather
than the suicide bomber variety, makes an appeal to the basic
humanity of the martyr's foes, challenging them to kill an unarmed
innocent, which usually violates many of the ideals of his foe's
ideology.  Many members of ideologies will see the contradiction
and hypocrisy in defending their ideology by breaking its rules and
thus refuse to do so.  However, during such intense ideological
conflicts, ideals are often set aside and a pragmatic view of the
conflict takes hold.  When an ideology is fighting for its survival,
or at least when its members believe that they are being threatened
with extinction, standing by one's ideals can be rationalized away
and brutalizing the enemy can be seen as being necessary to serve
the greater good.  From this point of view a small part of the ideology
is temporarily violated in order to preserve the whole.  Thus, appeals
to a foe's better nature, such as through martyrdom, are not necessarily
effective.  On the other hand, committed believers will often stand
loyally by their ideological ideals out of principle, believing that the
greater good is undone by the corruption of their beliefs and respect
the martyrdom of a weaker foe, even when faced with annihilation.
This may seem illogical on the surface, but if, for instance, an ideology
has a belief in an afterlife and judgment, its members will often
devoutly follow their ideology, even  unto the death of both, since they
believe that they and their ideology transcend reality and thus they
will not desire for either to become corrupted.
   Such commitment on the part of its believers is vital to the
survival of the ideology.  During ideological warfare, rewards may be
few and far between as resources get consumed during the fighting
and so believers must satisfy themselves with dreams of eventual
victory and the promise of great rewards for themselves, their families,
and their loved ones in the future or in another world.  The stronger
that an ideology has been conditioned into the thoughts and behaviors
of the believer the more easily he can envision future glories and
receive psychological and "spiritual" rewards and thus the more
hardships he can endure for his ideology.  Things which weaken this
conditioning, such as witnessing the corruption of the ideology, need
to be avoided since they can demotivate the believer and cause them
to contribute less to the ideology or to forsake it completely.  Also,
ideologies which survive intense conflicts are the ones which are
very good at conditioning their believers to resist the pressure of rival
ideologies in whatever form it comes in: physical, intellectual,
"spiritual", and anything else.  War in any form is a brutal and
frightening experience that most people want to avoid, but being
able to endure more suffering than your foe helps you to win a conflict
and thus ideologies benefit when they provide ample comfort to those
who are making extreme sacrifices in its name.  But to be effective,
this conditioning can't occur only during wartime, and thus even
when at peace a successful ideology will make sure that its members
are immersed in propaganda, rituals, and simulated fighting in order
to toughen them up for potential conflicts with rivals.  Additionally,
it helps an ideology to be in constant conflict in order to build up such
preparedness in its believers, and being at war also provides an ideology
with a justification for why its believers must make do with fewer
rewards.  After all, you can always blame the enemy for any and all
shortages and promise that your followers will get plenty of rewards
if they work hard to win the war.  But such an approach doesn't work
forever, and even the most hardened warrior will grow weary of sacrifice
eventually.
   There are ways other than total victory in which violent
ideological conflicts can be resolved.  One way is for one ideology to
absorb the other, mutating in the process, or for both ideologies to be
forced into an alliance against a third ideology.  Alliances can eventually
lead to a unification of principles between the two ideologies as they
adopt what is best of the other and discard what is not.  Another
possible resolution of a serious conflict is for the rivals to continue
to fight but with less aggression, essentially providing each other with
a "boogeyman" rival to use to build up preparedness in its members
and blame hardships upon.  In this way low grade warfare becomes
mutually beneficial to both ideologies and such a relationship can
continue on for centuries.  Rivals can unite when faced with a common
foe and then go back to infighting once the threat has been rebuked.
Thus, even though conflict consumes resources and often destroys
the lives of its members, it can be more beneficial to an ideology than
it is detrimental.  Aggression is often a survival advantage for an
ideology.

Corruption

   Ideologies will inherently become corrupted due to the
unrealistic promises that they must make to their believers in order
to win their support.  The fact that an ideology must make such
promises is due to a number of reasons.  First, the growth of an
ideology is dependent on it being able to appeal to people who are
already under the sway of a different ideology and to do so it must
promise more than what the other ideologies promises to deliver.
Second, modest goals will render an ideology impotent if and when
it meets those goals since the believers will become satisfied with
what they have achieved and will no longer be motivated to help the
ideology to grow further.  And lastly, unrealistic promises, if believed,
will motivate believers far more than modest, realistic goals, and
having highly motivated believers adds to the power of the ideology
and gives it a survival advantage over others.
   Of course, no ideology can deliver unrealistic promises, but
they can all claim that they can at some point in the future, and as
long as they deliver sufficient rewards in the meantime to keep the
dream alive in the minds of their followers they can sustain their
believers' commitment and support.  This seems to ensure that
eventually the unrealistic nature of the promises will become clear to
all and the ideology will collapse, but this point can be delayed by
bringing more converts into the ideology which adds to its wealth
and power base and provides enough rewards to satisfy the members
of it who have been working for it longer.  This is essentially how a
classic Pyramid Scheme works but with ideologies the rewards can be
anything of ideological value instead of just wealth.  Of course, the
end result is the same no matter what is coveted, but until the inevitable
collapse occurs the ideology will have a growing number of highly
motivated and aggressive believers supporting it and thus will make
it a formidable force in any ideological conflict.  And though an
ideology's long term survival may be doomed due to its need to attain
the unattainable, its short term survival is made much more likely,
and it will often be able to conquer and absorb many other ideologies
before it meets its end, especially those which put long term survival
ahead of short term gains.  This dynamic forces similar behavior from
other ideologies because when one ideology sacrifices the long term
for the short term and becomes aggressive, other ideologies must follow
suit in order to compete, while makes the future uncertain and the
present unstable.  A study of the behavior of ideologies in both recent
and ancient history suggests that short term survival, that being
measured in terms of decades rather than in centuries, at the expense
of long term survival is more the norm than the exception.
   Thus, ideologies have a need for constant growth in order
to compete with other ideologies.  This growth can be in any realm:
the Capitalist pursues greater profits, the churches send missionaries
to gather converts, the militarist seeks to conquer nations, the Socialist
gathers more workers to unite against the elites, etc.  The form of
growth which satisfies the believers is dependent on the ideals of the
ideology.  The ideology also convinces its believers that by achieving
their own personal rewards, the rest of the world will benefit as well,
and successful ideologies present their members with a utopian view
of the world that would be brought about if everyone were to follow its
edicts.  For example, the belief that Capitalism will pull the world out
of poverty and make the most efficient use of all resources possible is
one such promise, and the belief that if the world is converted to one
religion that its messiah will return is another popular one.  The trouble
is that there are physical limits on the growth of an ideology, imposed
either by other ideologies competing for the same resources or by the
lack of infinite resources in the world, and so at some point the supply
of rewards for the believers will begin to run dry.
   Corruption begins when there are not enough rewards to
go around for all of the believers who need them.  At this point
dissatisfaction will set in among those believers who go without,
but ideologies will often resort to spreading false hopes, half-truths,
and using outright lies to keep their members believing that a great
reward is not far off in the future and that they need to keep working
hard in order to obtain it.  In Christianity this can be done by
proclaiming that every natural disaster, war, famine, or other major
catastrophe is a sign that the end times are near and that Jesus will
be coming soon, probably within the lifetime of the believer.  In
Capitalism this can be done by either increasing the money supply
so that everyone can have more paper money (even though doing so
makes each dollar worth less) or by convincing everyone that their
long term investments will be worth even more than they expected
when it comes time to cash out.  With any ideology it works the same:
the thing that the ideology holds most sacred, and which in the minds
of its believers has been established as being a source of undeniable
value and reliability after years if not decades of reinforcement,
becomes bastardized and corrupted in order to make it seem as though
the ideology is still growing.  And while this corruption might appear
to be a conspiracy led by a number of scheming individuals, it is more
likely the case that those responsible are blinded by their own ideology
or swept up in their own hubris and are either unaware that they
are undermining their own faith or convinced that their actions are
temporary measures which are necessary to support the ideology until
better times arrive.  In a world of ideological competition and conflict,
the illusion is necessary for survival since appearing weak can
demotivate the struggling ideology's believers as well as invite rival
ideologies to attack.  For a while these illusionary rewards work as
well as the real ones and the ideology remains strong, but in time they
too will fail to satisfy, and eventually the members of the ideology will
become tired of all the sacrifice and begin demanding the real rewards
that they feel that they have earned.
   At this point force is often needed to keep the dissatisfied in
line.  Those with the most power and influence will use their power
to continue to get their share of the rewards, or more than their share,
in whatever way is necessary, and as long as they are receiving
adequate rewards they will hold true to the belief that their ideology
is working.  It works for them after all.  This reinforcement will skew
their perception of the world and they will often see those who complain
about their lack of rewards as suffering from some moral failing rather
than seeing the ideology as being impotent.  They will hold that the
dissatisfied people simply need to be more devout and follow the rules
of the ideology with more fervor, and that if they do so that they will
be able to get their rewards too.  Such rationalizations permit the
powerful to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the less powerful, and
to justify using force against them if necessary.  It's for their own
good after all.  Such neglect and poor treatment of the dissatisfied
serves to incubate new ideologies which will oppose the ruling
ideology.  In turn the emergence of conflicting ideologies will justify
the use of more force by the ruling ideology.  This can become a
vicious circle and end up spreading deprivation and dissatisfaction
to all members of the ideology.  When the corruption gets past a
certain point the game is over.  The ideology cannot provide sufficient
rewards and it can no longer stand as it was.

Mutation

   Ideologies that collapse due to either losing an ideological
conflict or falling victim to corruption, or which stagnate and lose
ground to rival ideologies, often go through a period of inner conflict
and turmoil before emerging in a mutated form.  Mutation follows
the principles outlined in the previous sections: that dissatisfaction
gives birth to new ideologies which are similar to the original but with
the problems which caused it to collapse possibly corrected, that these
new ideologies will themselves mutate and grow within the collapsed
ideology if they appeal to a broad range of supporters, that conflicts
will develop between the inner divisions of the old ideology, and that
those conflicts and their resolutions can follow one of many possible
courses.  There also exists the possibility that the mutating ideology
adopts ideas from rival and other ideologies, especially successful
ones, to replace the failed ideas within.  However, during mutation,
the ideology seldom changes its central ideals and tends to remain
true to all or most of what gives the ideology its particular character.
If collapse ends up changing the ideology's central ideals, it is probably
more accurate to state that the old ideology has died and that a new one
has taken its place.
   Ideological mutation differs from biological mutation due
to the flexibility of the human mind and its ability to switch ideas
rapidly.  Whereas biological mutation requires many generations of
small changes to create a creature distinctly different from the original,
ideologies can be formed within the time span of a single generation.
If you think about an ideology, with its ideas and  rules of behavior,
as a strand of DNA, each part of the strand is a separate idea which
is integrated into the larger whole.  Making changes to an ideology
is as simple and fluid as individual humans adopting new ideas and
rules of behavior and discarding the old ones.  As these ideas propagate
through the believers of that ideology, which can happen quickly, the
whole ideology mutates into a new form.
   Just as with evolution the process isn't without occasional
missteps, and natural selection is very much a powerful force in
determining which ideas remain in the ideology and which ones do
not.  Sometimes seemingly good ideas, when put into practice, produce
poor results and must be discarded, but because of the flexibility of
the human mind, ideologies can rapidly converge upon workable
collections of ideas and rules.  But while the human mind is very
flexible, ideologies may be less so, and some ideologies are more
flexible than others when it comes to tolerating new ideas.  Both
flexibility and rigidity have their strengths and weaknesses since
new ideas can be either good or bad for an ideology.  Rigidity has
the advantage of staying with something that is tried and true, but
in a world of ever-changing rival ideologies, what is tried and true
today may not be as effective tomorrow.  Too much rigidity will
inevitably lead to an ideology becoming inferior.  Flexibility has the
advantage of allowing an ideology to find better solutions to problems
which help it to grow and compete, but all change is not necessarily
good, even if it appears to be so at first since the full impact of an
ideological change may not register for years or decades.  Too much
flexibility will inevitably result in an ideology making too great of a
commitment towards a strategy that will fail, possibly catastrophically,
in the future.
   The principle of natural selection, applied to ideologies, is
the driving force in determining which mutations "work" and which
ones do not.  Contrary to the opinions of believers, an ideology does
not "work" because it is the truth, it works because the behaviors
that it enforces upon its believers place the ideology at a survival
advantage against other ideologies.  While the truth, defined as
being something that can be empirically demonstrated beyond all
reasonable doubt, can be an effective weapon in ideological conflict
since ideologies which can embrace a truth which reveals a rival as
being flawed are at a distinct advantage in a propaganda war, all
ideologies must hold as a central ideal a set of unreasonable
promises that they can use to motivate their believers to a greater
degree than their foes.  These unreasonable promises run counter to
the truth, and thus all ideologies are flawed at their core, but these
flaws are a necessary requirement for the survival of an ideology.
These flaws allow the ideology to "work", at least in the short term,
by promising its believers spectacular rewards which motivate them
to work as hard or harder than their rivals.  And thus a critical
requirement for an ideology is that it must be able to convince its
believers that its promises are not unreasonable and that they will
come true.

Death

   The death of an ideology occurs when either everyone who
believes in it is dead or when it mutates to such a degree that it no
longer follows its central ideals.  In the latter case, the ideology may
still bear the original name and carry with it many of the same ideas
and rules as its predecessor, but if the central ideals have changed it
is probably easier to conceptualize what has occurred by stating that
the original ideology is dead and by giving the new one a different
name.
   An ideology will fall out of favor when it no longer "works",
causing believers to try to alter it or abandon it altogether.  This can
be due to the ideology becoming too corrupt, by it losing a conflict
with a rival, or by it remaining stagnant for too long and thus
ending up inferior to other ideologies.  All three cases will generate
dissatisfaction among its believers and result in mutation, but to
change the central ideals of an ideology the amount of dissatisfaction
must be very great.  Such deep changes don't come easily and inner
conflict is usually the result with those who benefited the most from
the original ideals and rules lining up behind the ideology and those
who benefited the least demanding major changes.  This inner conflict
is generally fought between groups which can be called the Orthodoxy
and the Reformers.  The Orthodoxy are those who cling to the original
ideals of the ideology and the Reformers are the ones who want change.
In the beginning the Orthodoxy is in charge, but as the conflict rages
the group which is more or less in control can change back and forth
many times before victory for one side results.  If the Reformers are
victorious, or threaten to tear the entire ideology apart, the changes
that result can be deep enough to essentially kill the old ideology, or
move it far enough away from its original central beliefs that it is
something completely new.  If the changes are not so deep the ideology
can stay reasonably true to its original nature, but if a number of such
changes are forced upon an ideology over time then it is inevitable that
it will move beyond its original central ideals.  At such a point its
distant predecessor can be declared dead even though some of its
ideals are still in practice.  An example of this is the polytheistic
religion of ancient Greece.  Although the Greek gods are no longer
worshipped and their rituals are no longer performed, the impact of
Greek philosophers on virtually every ideology today is significant and
often profound.  Their gods may be dead, but their influence is alive
and well.
   Ideologies can die a more violent death as the result of war
where one ideology conquers the other, but it is not necessary to
exterminate the remaining population to kill the ideology though,
usually a catastrophic defeat is enough to convince its believers that
their ideology is flawed and they will be open to accepting a new
one or at least to accepting major changes to the old.  In such a case
the conquering ideology needs to swiftly replace the system of
rewards which the former ideology bestowed on its followers with
an equivalently satisfying system of its own.  A conquered people are
a very dissatisfied people, having lost their former rewards systems,
and a conqueror risks giving birth to new ideologies which are opposed
to it if it does not address the needs of the conquered.   Such new
ideologies can be very difficult to eradicate since their followers will
see themselves as having nothing to lose and everything to gain by
fighting and will be highly motivated to restore what had been taken
from them.  But if the conqueror is successful at getting its ideology
working among the conquered people, is generous in handing out
rewards, and is careful about abusing its new members and thus
giving motivation to the resistance, the conquered people will work
hard in support of the conquering ideology.  If all goes well the
conquered people will follow an ideology similar to the conqueror,
but with elements very similar to how it was before mixed in, like a
hybrid ideology, and the conqueror will be itself rewarded with a
loyal and prosperous ally.  The death of one ideology is often
followed by the birth of another.  And so the cycle continues.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for surv

The Burning Blade 12.5
August 01, 2009, 01:27:47 AM
All the powerful stink of corruption. All that's noble is drowned in lies.


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.5

           July 31, 2009

        neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

   "The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace
   and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking
   powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent
   than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce
   as public enemies all who question their methods or throw
   light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern
   Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two,
   the one at my rear is my greatest foe."
         - President Abraham Lincoln

   "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have
   great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t
   have both."
         - Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis


   Is democracy dying?  Such a question is easily dismissed
out of hand.  Of course Democracy isn't dying, far from it, in fact it's
spreading to every corner of the world and being seeded in places
where such an egalitarian form of governance has never taken root
before.  How could this not be proof that democracy is thriving and
that it is without question the most superior form of government that
the world has ever known?
   And yet, what Abraham Lincoln decried during his shortened
presidency and what Justice Brandeis observed some seventy years
ago should give us all pause to consider if our assumptions about our
beloved system of government are as correct as they appear to be.  To
be sure, the distribution of wealth in the United States today is more
heavily weighted towards the very wealthy than at any time since the
Great Depression, and concurrently we are witnessing the corruption
of our government via lobbying, high stakes campaign funding, and
the ubiquitous "revolving door" where former members of government
take jobs with the corporations they aided with generous legislation,
where banking executives are hired by the Treasury Department and
who then end up giving billions to their former firms, and where
industry insiders are appointed to be regulators, and very lax ones at
that over the industries for which they used to work.  However, in his
quote, Justice Brandeis mixes two different forms of power, that of the
political and that of the economic, and seems to jump to the conclusion
that imbalances in one will automatically disrupt the balances in the
other.  Are the two not separate and distinct?  The answer is that the
two forms of power are very similar in nature and very tightly connected,
and thus as goes economic equality, so goes political equality.
   Democracy is based on the idea that everyone is equally
represented.  Everyone is allowed to cast one and only one vote, thus
distributing the political power in a democracy evenly among all of its
people.  Ideally this ensures that nothing occurs politically without the
support of a majority of the people and that the will of a majority will
inevitably be expressed as action undertaken by the country's leaders.
However, if political power is not evenly distributed throughout a
society, then the will of the majority can be thwarted by a powerful
minority which can effectively enslave the rest of the population to do
its bidding.  In practice, democracy is not perfectly egalitarian as it is
not efficient to gain the consensus of a majority every time an initiative
is put forth by the legislature and thus the political power of the people
is generally exercised only occasionally, usually in a general election
every few years, with the elected representatives left relatively free to
make decisions for the people as they see fit.  This keeps the decision-
making process efficient while still allowing the people to influence the
overall process.  However, if a democracy's representatives are allowed
to wield too much power, or they become relatively immune from
popular influence, the efficiency gained through easier decision making
will be offset by the fact that those decisions will inevitably benefit only
a relatively small number of people, such as the legislators themselves,
the lobbyists who influence them, their friends, relatives, and cronies,
and whichever part of society whom they relate to the most.  When
power is concentrated within a small number of individuals, that power
is generally used to benefit those individuals in a disproportionate way,
and if their power is not checked, those individuals will be prone to
seize even more power for themselves, concentrating it further, and
use it in even more disproportionate ways to benefit their own particular
interest groups at the expense of all others.  The concentration of
political power is inherently undemocratic.
   Economics and the distribution of wealth works in a similar
fashion, and here I will quote more from Justice Brandeis:

   "We learned long ago that liberty could be preserved only by
   limiting in some way the freedom of action of individuals; that
   otherwise liberty would necessarily yield to absolutism; and in
   the same way we have learned that unless there be regulation
   of competition, its excesses will lead to the destruction of
   competition, and monopoly will take its place."

   "A large part of our people have also learned that efficiency in
   business does not grow indefinitely with the size of business.
   Very often, a business grows in efficiency as it grows from a
   small business to a large business; but there is a unit of greatest
   efficiency in every business, at any time, and a business may be
   too large to be efficient, as well as too small. Our people have
   also learned to understand the true reason for a large part of
   those huge profits which have made certain trusts conspicuous.
   They have learned that these profits are not due in the main
   to efficiency, but are due to the control of the market, to the
   exercise by a small body of men of the sovereign taxing power."

   Wealth, and economic power, works best when it is allowed
to concentrate, but like political power, it is only efficient when that
concentration is kept within certain limits.  If power is too spread out,
it cannot coalesce to form structures which maximize efficiency, but if
power is too concentrated it becomes tyrannical and survives not by
being the best but by crushing all rivals with brute force.  As we have
seen over the last few decades, by deregulating the markets and allowing
economic power to concentrate via mergers, globalization, and financial
leverage, we have lost our economic efficiency as well as our financial
stability and we now face the dilemma of how to deal with institutions
which have been dubbed "too big to fail" but which by all rights should
have been allowed to fail years ago.  Instead of shutting them down,
liquidating their assets, and dispersing their economic power to create
more balance, our government, led by former employees of those very
institutions, either props them up at the people's expense or merges
them into other massive institutions, further concentrating economic
power and exacerbating the problem.  Indeed, these "failed" institutions
continue to make huge profits while the masses struggle or go bankrupt
and yet we are no closer to a solution to the problems which became
visible two years ago.  And thus, the concentration of economic power,
greatly aided by concentrated political power, in a few institutions and
individuals has created something akin to a black hole in the financial
universe, drawing in all our wealth and hard work and giving us
nothing in return.
   Our leaders tell us that if we surrender more power and wealth
to them that they can solve all of our problems.  That is exactly the
opposite of what needs to be done.
   The powers that be have done all that they can to preserve
the current economic system, but the system is dysfunctional and
serves mainly to exacerbate the existing mal-distribution of wealth.
Capitalism only works when profits are redirected back into the
system in ways that make it more productive, but in the current
system the profits are drained out of the system and into the bank
accounts of the very wealthy.  Productivity is slashed in pursuit of
short term profitability and long term profitability is made possible
only through ever increasing amounts of debt.  For example, take the
case of a company which manufactures goods in the United States.
The CEO notices that high wages for American workers are cutting
into the bottom line and decides to move the company's factories
overseas to save on labor costs.  So they fire their American workers,
who end up getting jobs at the local department store selling the same
products that they used to make, only now they are making $8 an
hour instead of $24 an hour.  The executives get richer and award
themselves bonuses, which they invest in, say, financial institutions
who loan that money to the former factory workers.  In essence what
used to be the workers' salaries are now being given to them in the
form of loans.
   Now, let's say that half of the workers borrow money to make
up for what they no longer get in salary and half cut back on their
spending and live within their means.  The half that cuts back will
cause a drop in demand for the things that they used to buy, such as
the goods they used to manufacture, which will result in less profits
for the company which may have to lay people off.  However, the
half that runs up debts will keep up the demand for things, and if
they are allowed to borrow more money than they used to make they
can also do such things as buy bigger houses or speculate on the
markets.  This debt-based buying causes an increase in demand which
drives up prices on houses and stocks.  That in turn allows the debtors
to borrow even more money against their houses and stocks, which are
worth more now, allowing them to buy an even bigger house and yet
more stock.  This is called asset inflation and is a driving force behind
credit bubbles which are highly destructive when they burst.  The more
that people buy the more they can borrow and the economy appears to
be booming, but it is all an illusion.  The increases in the prices aren't
due to any increase in productivity, which has remained relatively
constant, they are due only to the increase in the amount of money
which can be borrowed, money that has to be paid back, and with
interest.  For a while everything works wonderfully: the wealthy
executives make a good return on their investments, the banks turn a
tidy profit, and the borrowers get to live the high life.  But loaning
money which serves unproductive purposes such as the inflating of
asset bubbles is not Capitalism, it is wealth extraction, and the more
that it goes on the more wealth will slip through the fingers of the
working class and concentrate into the hands of the rich. As time
moves forward, one by one the debtors will reach the point where they
can no longer borrow more money nor make their interest payments
and they end up bankrupt.  Slowly but surely demand for houses,
stocks, and everything else fades away to nothing, the bubble bursts,
and the economy seizes up.  At this point the wealthy executives have
plenty of money, and the banks have plenty of capital to back new loans,
but the general public is insolvent and so little borrowing happens.  A
recession sets in.
   Furthermore, in a shrinking economy, most new business
ventures are going to end up losing money or failing, and so those with
money will be unwilling to invest in any new start-ups.   The problem
is not a lack of capital, the problem is the concentration of that capital
in the hands of a few along with the demand by those few to always
make a return on their investment, and make as large a return as they
possibly can.  The wealthy did not get that way by accident, and they
will generally not spend money unless they can make more money in
return, which will result in the further concentration of wealth and the
further enfeeblement of the economy at large.  In other words, the rich
get richer and the poor get poorer, but one doesn't have to be a Marxist
to understand that the mal-distribution of wealth is a problem not just
for the poor, but for the entire economy.  Being rich is not a problem
in and of itself, and in fact the desire to become wealthy is one of the
driving forces behind Capitalism, but when too many people become
too rich, money no longer flows through the entire economy and the
opportunities available to others evaporate.  When one can't get ahead
one stops trying, and the rest of us are deprived of their contributions.
   Political power suffers from a similar malady.  Those in power
tend to be those who can assemble power: drawing money, influence,
favors, and leverage from a variety of sources; and thus concentrating
power in themselves is what they become quite good at.  Whether they
gather power for altruistic purposes or whether they do so for their
own selfish reasons matters not because in either case the successful
ones will be the ones who accumulate power and do not let it go.
Furthermore, like wealth, the more political power you have, the easier
it is to gather more, and so the tendency is for power to concentrate in
individuals and in institutions.  As a case in point, many of us in the
United States are very disappointed that the current president, as well
as his political party, has not reversed the rather large number of laws,
signing statements, and questionable programs which the previous
administration enacted during its reign that usurped power and rights
from the people.  We made our demands, we received promises, and we
voted, but once they got elected our leaders stopped listening.  The
lesson is clear: once the government seizes power, it is very reluctant
to give it back.
   So, what does the future hold? Well, we've now entered what
is likely to be the last stage of a terminally ill economic system.  With
the collapse of the residential real estate market and the growing
instability in the commercial real estate market, the borrowing required
to support an insanely unstable bubble has ground to a halt.  Most of us
either don't want to borrow, don't need to borrow, or can't get a loan.
Without more debt, the credit bubble will burst, so in steps the
government to borrow for us, using its triple A credit rating to take out
the necessary two trillion dollars in loans needed to keep the financial
system afloat.  So far it has worked, in as much as we've staved off a
total collapse, but it appears that we will need to borrow that much or
more every year into the foreseeable future or else the greatest bubble
in history will explode.  It seems inevitable that a major catastrophe
will occur in the near future, and all the while our debts grow larger
while the bottom lines of the banks grow fatter.  This is no longer
democracy, this is Kleptocracy.
   This is the system that we in the west are really exporting
around the world.  It is democracy in appearance, but behind the
scenes one can find the movements of wealth which guide the hands
of the policymakers regardless of their nationality and political
leanings.  Yes, there are two or more rival political parties vying for
power in most democratic nations, but more and more their battles
are becoming a feud between groups of wealthy people while the
rest of us are left to struggle, suffer, and hope.  And as global wealth
continues to concentrate into the hands of a few we can expect things
to get less and less democratic no matter which party is in power.
Democracy may not yet be dead, but it is growing weaker with every
compounding of the interest that We The People owe.
   Speaking of dead, every nasty organism that decided to
set up shop in my intestines over the years, or perhaps even decades,
has been thoroughly obliterated.  My latest tests show that my treatment
program is working.  Candida Albicans…dead.  Salmonella…dead.
Dientamoeba Fragilis…dead.  And now, finally free of infections and
inflammation, my guts can be reloaded with beneficial organisms that
will help me get back to being healthy again, or so the theory goes.
I'm optimistic about my future, and eager to find out if all the hard
work and sacrifice I've gone through over the last year and a half will
at last pay off.  I'm also eager to get my life back on track.  On the
Fireaxe front, all of my studying and practicing is paying off and I'm
getting awfully good with this guitar.  Now I'm itching to show you
all what I can do with it, well, without showing off or making an
ass out of myself.  Should the next phase of my treatment ratchet up
my strength and energy I'll probably feel inclined to crank out that
Manowar cover I've been wanting to do and that would seriously rock.
Hail and Kill!
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


A Dark Future Awaits?

   You might have noticed that the media is trumpeting the idea
that the worst of the crash is over and that a recovery is just around the
corner.  This would be great if it was true, but keep in mind that while
the experts are saying that the economy will be rolling again in six
months that they have been saying the same thing for the last two years,
so it is hard to put much faith in their prognostications.  As foreclosures
and job losses mount I'm inclined to believe that this is a false bottom
and that we have more misery ahead.
   I will continue to prepare for rougher times and I urge you to
do the same.  As to what the world will look like in the coming years
it is hard to predict, but I did find a very interesting speech given by
a Russian named Dmitry Orlov who witnessed the financial collapse
of his country in the nineties and how his fellow citizens coped with it.
I'd take what he says with a grain of salt, but he does provide a lot of
food for thought.

http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22183.htm

   Since the last newsletter was long, this one will be short.
Take care and good luck.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

   Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
   less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
   profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
   I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
   like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
   gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
   link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
   samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
   you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
   not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
   goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
   do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
   does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
   particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
   likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
   CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
   someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
   raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
   those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
   government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
   and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
   face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
   stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
   side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
   as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
   THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
   CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
   mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
   other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
   I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
   of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
   to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
   institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
   mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
   Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
   song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
   if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
   if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
   the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
   Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
   would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
   trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
   effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

   The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

   Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                  Brian