Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Legacy of Steve Best

Steve Best...has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts...Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis. - Steve Best

In undertaking to assess the legacy of Steve Best, we will begin very far back, that is to say, with the appearance of his website whose contours will map (to use the language that Steve himself understands), followed by a look at his ideology of Total Liberation By Any Means Necessary (TLBAMN), with which he claims to have made a cogent intervention in the discourse, but of which his "adversaries" and "rivals" have a rather different view, as we will see. We trust that our review may at least serve as an introduction to Steve Best.

Steve's website is, by the common consent of the "Rage Collective," a beacon of light, a jewel of perfect beauty, an impeccably presented artefact consummated in its self-promotional artistry by many hours of devoted labor. It contains a systematically assembled collection of his self-engendered revolutionary compositions, ranging from excerpts from his books to essays to reviews to lectures. Its homepage, which is adorned by the words "Philosopher, Writer, Activist," is dominated by a single photograph of Steve sporting a singular hairstyle (which was very fashionable several decades ago) while posing with one arm resting on his knee which is thrust forward and with an expression on his face which we think may be a strained smile. Indeed, by the look on his face, it is not improbable that he was beginning to feel a steadily inexorable accumulation of discomfort in his lumbar region as a direct consequence of posing in such an unnatural position for what probably was a not insignificant duration of time. In the center of the homepage adjacent to this photograph of himself is a statement about his work, where he claims, in effect, that he is a gigantic colossus when it comes to philosophy. For he says that he "has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts" and even "shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis." Yet isn't it astonishing to see Steve (in this statement) professing openly, without concealment, indeed with the generosity of complete candor, to his extraordinary sense of his importance as a philosopher: a profession in which there is no suspicion of self-discretion (some might even say self-knowledge)? Be that as it may, yet it still should not, or not necessarily, be adjudged to summary condemnation as wrong, in the sense of the seal and sign of his gross egoism: for would it not after all be hypocritical for a gigantic colossus to hide the "power of his thoughts" behind an affectation of modesty and humility?

We cannot speak extensively about Steve's ideology of TLBAMN, for we do not really understand it. But we can say this much: that its whole secret effect lies in its simplicity, that is to say, in its being completely unclouded by analysis, but tinged with a higher meaning. His essay "The Iron Cage of Movement Bureaucracy" will provide sufficient illustration. For it begins with unclouded simplicity, followed by more unclouded simplicity, and ends with still more unclouded simplicity, but again tinged with a higher meaning, viz.:
The message of the animal rights/liberation movement...has everything to do with a revolutionary transformation of human consciousness and all existing social institutions.

Indeed, this pattern - simplicity, simplicity, higher meaning, in that precise order - is the secret formula from which all the "epiphanies" and exuviations of TLBAMN are enthusiastically generated by Steve.

Although we cannot deny that "The Iron Cage of Movement Bureaucracy" represents a "cogent intervention" in the "evolution" of the "epiphanies" of TLBAMN, we nonetheless think that one can in fact learn everything one needs to know about the character and color of this ideology at once, abruptly, and impressively from reading his essay "The Loss of a Halo: Francione and the Mask of Jainism." This essay astonishes us in many ways, among them because, in writing it, Steve was willing to undertake the prodigious strenuousness of creation ex nihilo, laying hold as he did of his ability to generate so much heat from nothing to support the light in which he depicted Professor Gary Francione. For Speaking of Francione, Steve utters these pregnant words:

Filled by toxic hatred...thirsty for revenge...forces of repression and fear...hegemonic...pluralism...ossified...Machiavellian wrestling in the mud[blahblahblah!!!111###???Gooooooo]

Is this not the sort of thing that leaves one hungering mutely for more?

In addition to being the creator of revolutionary compositions, Steve is the author of several classic works in philosophy - timeless classics such as his "High Noon at Jurassic Park: Technofantasies Confront Complexity." Moreover, his account of the pluralist and contextualist approach to the dialectical logic of the enlivened both/and in stark contrast to the stifling iron cage of the Procrustean either/or has had a profound influence on other multidimensionalists, including Anthony Nocella and David Sztybel - two academics whose work will surely one day appear in a reputable journal. Indeed, rumor has it that David once almost brought to the verge of fruition an interesting idea, only for it to evaporate from his brain at the last moment in a fit of absent-mindedness.

And there is something else, too, besides Steve's classical philosophizing. He is the "father" of the Total Liberation Movement (TLM), a vast band of twenty people who were once rumored to be on the brink of bringing down capitalist society. It is said that they were positively on the point of translating "High Noon at Jurassic Park" into Welsh; but that they were foiled by some agency or other which realized that this revolutionary possibility, if eventuated, would trigger the downfall of our dominant identities, narratives, worldviews, and cosmologies by effecting "a revolutionary transformation of human consciousness and all existing social institutions." Nonetheless, in a victory for revolutionary defiance, this band of twenty Total Liberationists are said still to be active, that is to say, to be trying to seize power from the state, mainly by blogging.

Although Steve's critics concede that he was - as he himself tells us on his website - "voted by VegNews as one of the nations '25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians,'" they nonetheless, having also rejected his claim that he "shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis," draw attention to certain difficulties with respect to his ideology of TLBAMN. They imply, namely, that is a systematic exploit in self-aggrandizement masquerading as "critical work" - a hollow ideology filled in with an excess of heavily stylized stupidity (jargon, alliteration, etc.) and a drearily astonishing deluge of absurd fantasies about his imagined "adversaries" and "rivals." Not wanting to enter the fray between Steve and his critics ourselves, we shall leave it up to our readers to decide whether these criticisms correlate with their take on what he is all about.

And, on that note, we shall bring this review to an abrupt close, but not before welcoming the author of TLBAMN into the CCHF (Clowns' Corner Hall of Fame) – that author being, of course, Steve Best. Congratulations, Steve.