The latest from Stan Goff: Let's Talk About Sex

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at
Mon Jul 7 10:23:57 MDT 2003

Stan Goff, whose writings about military matters have occasionally been
commented on this list, has a profoundly mind-blowing new column on the
Freedom Road Socialist Organization web site.

Here is a little taste:

Fear in the wake of violence against oneself can transform us, as rape
victims can testify. But there is a different transformation that
happens when one commits the violence against others.

The taking of human life is simultaneously the cultural initiation into
full masculinity and the most powerful of our social taboos. So
powerful, in fact, that the armed forces - and the society itself - have
to convey an elaborate system of rewards on those who kill to offset the
psychic conflict. The actual act does not always play out like Sylvester
Stallone. It plays out more like Ted Bundy.


In the act of taking human life, of transgressing every boundary, when
there is no fear, when there is no necessity for self-defense... in the
act of murder, not out of any particular passion, but just to exercise
that absolute power, there is an indescribable freedom. Freedom from
every convention. The most perfect freedom is knowing that nothing is
forbidden, and that we are limited only by our fear, and that our fear
is gone. It's a freedom most people do not want to know, because they
sense that once they know it, they will have irrevocably stepped out of
everything they "know" and into a place where the possibilities of their
own agency are bounded only by death... which is nothing really, no
different than being on an operating table, no different than being
numb, no different than what we were 100 years ago when the vast
majority of us were dead, no different than what we will all be 100
years from now, in a universe that is infinite in time and space, that
will swallow and thereby erase every consequence. We learn by doing, and
some deeds will teach us the unteachable, and when we go beyond, drawn
into these actions by masculinity, we pass through heroism with all its
constructions and rules and limitations and leave it behind. If heroism
in combat is what James Redfield (Nature and Culture in the Iliad)
called "the frontier between culture and nature," then true freedom lies
one step outside society, beyond that cultural boundary, beyond any
rules of human interaction.

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