Our Evolution

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“… evolutionary novelty comes about when ecological opportunities are truly large.”

(P. Ward, RARE EARTH)

For evolution to be creative, which basically means for it to be able to operate on a radical scale, there needs to be a wide-open field to nurture it and allow it to grow within. The same could be said of any innovations. In the human-made world, our creative evolution, which is manifest in the arts and sciences, is dependent on the economic environment. As such, we can assert that human creativity (artistic and technological) can only come about when economic opportunities are truly large. But what does large in this case mean?

Surely it should be understood as widespread, giving opportunities to as many creative and innovative people as possible. Opportunities in these areas don’t have to mean enormous amounts of money, and certainly shouldn’t be merely big pay offs for projects to make these creators and innovators rich. Rather it should be seen as opportunities to get projects done, because: a) there is a space – a laboratory or work-shop – to experiment and construct in; (b) there is time for the innovators to be able to dedicate themselves to the projects at hand; (c) that there is comfort and security that allows the innovators to work without the stress and pressure of results; and (d) innovators have the opportunity (platform) to present the fruits of their work to the rest of society.

Through this kind of creative and innovative freedom a civilisation can truly evolve. Although this progress depends on the creation of an economic comfort zone for all creators, the problem is not an economic one as such, but rather it is a matter of progressive will.

Under our present system, economics is a hindrance to creativity because instead of nurturing economic opportunities for human innovation it creates barriers and impediments for creators to find the freedom to work in. The question should not be: How can we allow creativity to be financed in our society? But: What kind of economic system can be devised to create a field where creativity and innovation on a massive, evolutionary scale is possible?

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The Cause of Possibility: (Possibility versus Actuality)

 

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Perhaps the most distinctive feature of human reasoning is our capacity to see beyond the actual and perceive possibility.

Possibility is what makes us moral animals and throws us unavoidably into the divisive areas of good and evil and right and wrong. It is through our capacity for seeing possibilities that our tremendous creativity is allowed to bloom. Nevertheless, human society itself is responsible for much repression of possibility and civilisation itself tries to mould actuality into its own image at the price of possibility.

For the most part in contemporary society, that which ought to happen is constantly thwarted by actuality. Thus, poverty ought to be eradicated but actuality seems to turn the idea into some idealistic fantasy; war should be a thing of the past, but actuality makes it eradication impossible; we ought to have eliminated many more diseases and found cures for countless other simple ailments, and yet actuality engenders more new viruses year after year; we should have become more human and less nationalistic, but actuality makes a norm of the nationalistic spirit …

Possibility is constantly being strangled by actuality, and we are gasping in a choking planet. If there is a cause that we should now be defending above all others, it is the Cause of Possibility. Once that is empowered, all the rest of the causes, all the “ought to be” things in the world, will fall into place.   

The Architecture of Air-travel

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The airport could be seen as a gateway to liberty, for, love it or hate it, air travel has given us the wings so many humans must dream of whenever they contemplate the freedom in the flight of a bird. However, the sensation when one is in an airport is not precisely that of being free. Technology has given us the power to fly, but not gratuitously. The freedom to fly comes at a cost: an economic one; a long flight is uncomfortable and expensive, and practicality and profitability demand the design of claustrophobic spaces for travellers. Jet-travel is cramped and stressful, and embedded in the experience is the implicit fact that it if the mechanism you are locked into fails, the metal tube you sit in will hurtle down and crash in a way that will annihilate everyone on board.

Statistically, we’re told, it’s the safest form of travel. Of course, we have to trust the airlines, and hope that their needs to ensure profits will not affect the safety and maintenance standards of the aircraft we are flying in. Nevertheless, each passenger airline is a potential bomb, a potential that was taken full advantage of by terrorists in 2011.

After 9/11 things became more claustrophobic for everyone … or everyone except Power with a capital P. Terror is a liberating force for Power and the latter took full advantage of the terrorists taking advantage of air-travel, to create an authentic space of absolute control in the airports. Rather than feeling that one is passing through a gateway to freedom, airports today seems like an ugly, if thankfully brief, passage through a concentration-camp.

For Power, airports are an ideal laboratory wherein to explore the extents of control that the citizens of the so-called democratic societies are willing to endure, because whenever you travel by plane you are being asked an implicit question: what price (loss-of-freedom-price) are you prepared to pay in order to enjoy the freedom (time-winning-gain) of flying to your destination?

Power knows that the inconveniences, both the excessive controls as well as the possible threats of a hijacking or the likeliness of an accident, gradually become absorbed by society as ‘the way things are’ – an expression which is just as progress-numbing as terms like ‘destiny’ or ‘God’s will’. And this is exactly how things have played out.

To make air-travel less stressful and liberate airports from the concentration-camp models that we have today we need to rethink the whole militaristic conception of air-travel architecture. But, is that possible? Can we make more enjoyable airports? Could flying be a less-claustrophobic and more beautiful experience? Or, does the paradox between the freedom of flying and the measures required to ensure the safety of that experience imply that the airports we have today are the only kinds of airports possible?

The resolution of the paradox is a deep, essential problem, for the paradox is not just a conundrum of airports, but a paradox concerning the human-condition. As with air-travel, so it is with life itself. As with airports, so it is with our cities. The question is the same: Does the conflict between the desire for freedom and the needs of safety imply that the architecture structuring our lives today is the only feasible kind of structure that can deal with that conflict?

Freedom becomes popular when it is safe and safety implies regulation which diminishes freedom. In order to gain anything, how much must be sacrificed? It is a question as old at least as the first magical rituals. But the question we want to raise now is: is there only one solution to the paradox? Might there not be a better architecture than the one we currently have? Why are all the airports the same? How can the best model be so imperfect? Can we design our airports (and hence the entire structure of our societies) in a more comfortable, pleasant, and human way?

Toward a Philosophy of Progress

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Kant divided concepts into those of nature and those of freedom[1], and now let’s introduce a third concept, lying between these two, which is that of nature which has been transformed by freedom.

With the establishment of this third category we can also now envisage a new philosophy between the philosophy of nature and the philosophy of morals that would be a philosophy of progress: which is concerned with what we can achieve through the alteration of nature and which would have an ultimate of creating eternity – because eternity has to be the ultimate aim of all progress.

This philosophy of progress has both technically-practical and morally-practical principles, geared towards that which is not yet practical but which should be, and hence, which should be the aim of freedom.

The existence of progress means that the practical itself is constantly evolving with the development of the technically possible. Or, in other words, the theoretical of today creates the practicalities of tomorrow’s freedom.

 

THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBILITY OF THE IMPOSSIBLE

The philosophy of progress takes, as its first assumption, that anything is possible and that the impossible is a temporary illusion: things are impossible only until we discover how they can be made possible.

Impossibility only exists while a) we are incapable of developing our technological skills enough to be able to render things we desire to be possible; or that b) we lack the desire to render certain things possible. This lack of desire can come about because of b.1) the condition in which the imagined possibility is morally undesirable (e.g.: the creation of a hard-core artificial-intelligence, by which we mean a super-fast, self-conscious computer that would have access to unlimited information instantaneously and the power to control all that information at its own will, should be considered impossible, not because we could never create it, but because it would very easily and likely destroy us if it ever were to be created. Moral undesirability, therefore, renders the theoretically possible a practical impossibility).

[1] Immanuel Kant, CRITIQUE OF JUDGEMENT, Oxford World Classics, OUP, p. 7

Progress, Technology and Human Purposiveness

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The measure of human progress cannot be a mere technological one. Technology has become an end rather than a means to an end because we have lost sight of what authentic human-ends could be.

The classic rubric of the true, the good, and the beautiful, which are basically aesthetic objects when drawn together, would also be truly transforming ones if they were understood as pathways to human fulfilment.

This may sound odd, or absurdly romantic, but if we consider our current motor for fulfilment which is money and examine how technology has become an instrument for manufacturing profits, then we can see how progress becomes swamped in a circular movement that is totally absorbed by the singular notion of making money. The result is that, without an end-notion or a teleological principle, authentic progress towards fulfilment cannot progress at all. Something is needed to pull the activity forward and out of the nihilistic circle of money-making and money-spending in order for any human realisation to be found.

We believe, and have tried to show in many of these writings, that the principle motivating force for pulling us out of the circle has to be necessity. Only after necessity has been embraced will the great aesthetic ideas be feasible as purposeful motors for humanity as well. Only through authentic human-necessity will the seemingly non-utilitarian notions of aesthetics become powerful life-affirming elements capable of drawing forth the true Sapiens potential of humanity as a vital element in the vast idea of the Universe itself.

Our relation to the Universe is an aesthetical one, but so is our relationship with the world we live in and our very survival in this world will depend on how quickly we can make the leap forward from the economic animal of the money-system to the aesthetic being of authentic human-fulfilment.

Human purpose cannot be disassociated from the Universe which we depend on for our existence, without being fatally short-sighted. Through association with the cosmos, the ends of physics have to also be metaphysical or transcendental ones – knowledge is an unending voyage unto truth; purposeful actions are movements toward good; and all creative acts are born out of the passionate struggle unto beauty.

Once these concepts are allowed, through necessity, to become motors for our life-affirming instincts, authentic purposefulness can begin to become manifest.

Power and Life

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If any human-progress[1] has been made along the unwinding of the largely anti-human historical process, it can be found in Power’s[2] fascination with Life.

This is essentially a capitalist fascination and has resulted in life-preserving structures in civilisation like welfare and health services. But Power’s seemingly democratic interest in Life came at a price, for the mastery of Life also gives the Master the right to demand sacrifices. Capitalism’s interest in Life is generated by its need to maintain a demographic abundance to serve in its work-force. By making Life a priority, capitalism binds Life to its own economic model. Power ensures Life, but only as long as that Life is entwined within its own system. Not only does the service of Life that Power provides ensure survival, it also obliges Life to serve the Master and even die for the System in its wars: patria potestas. Power preserves you and guarantees your safety, but it may also demand the ultimate sacrifice from you if the need should arise.

By looking after the needs of Life, Power has been able to ensure that societies remain democratically docile and this has allowed democracy itself to run its course without threatening Power in any way. Nevertheless, it has also allowed for the potential of real human-progress by promoting Life as a value in itself.

The next great leap in human-progress can only come through a great Life-affirmation, that will, in itself, break the bonds binding Life to Power and to Wealth, in order for Life itself to become the driving motivator for humanity. Life is not Will to Power, Life is the very alternative to Power.

According to Foucault, the modernisation of our Western Society came through a transition in Power’s fascination with Life from life-as-blood to life-as-sex.[3]

A positive future transition would evolve in a way that moves away from life-as-sex into life-as-necessity.

If Power were to make this transition itself, then it could also save itself, but it seems easier to imagine Power being democratically replaced by Life than for it ever to be seduced by Necessity.

[1] by ‘human-progress’ we mean progress that is made for the benefit of humanity as a whole

[2] We give Power and Life capital letters to distinguish them from the common definition of those terms: by Power with a capital P we are talking about power as an invisible, but active and ubiquitous force which is firmly tied to the power wielded by all wealth and the organisational structure of the capitalist economy; Life with a capital L differs from the common definition by representing the idea of human life within the framework of the economic system driven by Power.

[3] See Foucault, HISTORY OF SEXUALITY, Vol. I, p.148.

REALITY AND COHERENCE

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“The world of everyday life is not only taken for granted as reality by the ordinary members of society in the subjectively meaningful conduct of their lives. It is a world that originates in their thoughts and actions, and is maintained as real by these.”

(Peter L. Burger and Thomas Luckmann,

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF REALITY)

 

For reality to exist for someone, the world has to be perceived as a coherent place. Once coherence is lost, reality itself breaks down and madness sets in. But this doesn’t mean that the coherence we perceive is real.

In fact, it may be quite the opposite: a coherence constructed out of a pattern which we are told exists but doesn’t at all. One such fantasy is the economy.

The economy seems coherent, although we hardly understand it. Its coherency comes from the fact that we are constantly told about it; about its behaviour and about what our governments and bankers do to keep it running smoothly or drive it out of crises. We know that when things go wrong with the economy it will affect our lives and condition our own behaviour psychologically and materially.

Our civilisation is obsessed with the economy, so: How can it not be coherent? How can it not be real?

And yet: it is only coherent while we believe it to be. In actual fact, it is very similar to any religion – its coherence depends on the faith of its followers. The economy has a wide collective following, but once the collective starts to doubt its coherence the aura of reality around it quickly starts to fade and its coherence becomes cracked and wobbly.

The greatest barrier against progress is not a fear of change so much as a fear that the reality we believe we are immersed in will be rendered incoherent. That is the fear we need to overcome; because the truth is, it already is and always has been essentially incoherent.

Radicalism and the Closet Alt-Right

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The capitalist-built edifice we are all living in is cracking apart. Our architects have made a thorough inspection of the cracks in the wall and recommend a demolition rather than any vain attempts to prop it up and renovate. The problem is not in the façade, but in the very foundations and supports that just cannot keep holding up this far too bulky, overgrown and overweight monstrosity.

The foundation of capitalism depends on a perpetual growth, albeit moving cyclically along, with periodical episodes of recession and even depression, but impossibly perpetual nonetheless. Impossible because this idea of eternal swelling needs an inexhaustible supply of resources to feed its insatiable hunger.

We are now at a moment in capitalism’s great banquet, when the impossibility of this eternal orgy of consumption is becoming well apparent to those of us within the building. The resources that our capitalist-edifice is sucking up out of the planet it is perched on are limited, and that limitation and its effects on the environment around the edifice are becoming frighteningly obvious and tangible.

In short, it is imperative now that we pull this edifice down and build something better – something that will blend in a harmonious way with the environment that it exists in. An environment that it needs to maintain in a healthy way to ensure its own existence and guarantee a high quality of life for all those residing in the edifice.

So, capitalism must go. And, yes, whilst being an honest analysis of the situation, this is also a radical one and a dangerous one. In fact, much of the thinking currently revolving around this crumbling-edifice syndrome is even more dangerous than the current-situation itself.

Instead of looking forward to constructing a new edifice out of the rubble of capitalism, the new radical ideologues are spending great deals of time and money in re-hashing old ideas, moving theological revolutions (ISIS and other radical evangelicals); communist nostalgias; and the ugly growing reactionary wave of the alt-right.

With the legitimacy provided by Trump’s victory taking the presidency of the United States, there has been a proliferation of alt-right ideas in the social networks by a species of closet alt-right complainers; neo-Nazis that haven’t yet come out of the cupboard, they live, like the U.S. President himself, in a space of denial, screaming forth their perverse ideology of fear and hate from the safety of their dark cubbyhole, which they wrongly assume, hides their true colours from the world outside.

The closet alt-right person will typically slip into someone’s Twitter or Facebook feed and post a radical, unmistakeably alt-right statement – something like “if the Nazis had won the war the world would be a better place,” or “Auschwitz was a leftist-plot,” or “the white-race is in danger of extinction.” Of course, anyone expressing such ideologies are flying a swastika flag and announcing that they support fascist ideologies, but when this obviousness is pointed out to them, they claim that they are not fascist sympathisers at all. Hence the term “closet” fascists.

But how should we interpret this? Because the closet alt-right denies the alt-right, does that mean they also, deep-down know that their ideas are morally repugnant, but that, nevertheless, they believe them to be necessary. Well, the first problem with their reasoning is that they can’t really be both at the same time. Authentic morality points humanity in the direction of where we ought to be, or ought to be going, and the morally repugnant indicates the exact opposite – where we should never be. Alt-right morality, therefore, can only be morally acceptable in an alt-right society – which means a racially pure and ideologically singular society of like-minded fascists. In any other kind of society, the alt-right morality is abhorrent, perverse and totally inappropriate – hence the need for the neo-Nazi to stay hidden in the closet. But Trumpism has given them wings. They know the President of the most powerful nation on Earth is one of them – he’s a closet Nazi, and they can learn from him and his obsession to vomit-forth alt-right messages from his Twitter account.

Yes, the edifice is crumbling, but the problem is universal, all of us, the whole of humanity will be affected by its demolition. Because of that, to pull it down and build a new, morally-repugnant construct for humanity would be tantamount to bringing about the end of humanity as we know it; not in order to create the Übermensch of the Aryan race that the Nazis fantasised about, but to create the most barbaric form of humanity that exists and represents the basest kind of human-being and the worst kind of human stupidity – the morally repugnant kind.

The edifice is crumbling, and we need to pull it down and rebuild. But with new ideas that will create a human partnership with the planet and the resources of nature; with technologies that will liberate all of humanity to be intelligent creators; and with a human purposiveness that is focussed on where we are going as a Sapiens entity in a Universe of information. With purposiveness comes happiness, and with happiness comes a better quality of life, but human purpose always has to be human-purpose; a purpose for all. To achieve this, we need fearless thinkers who have authentic moral view-points, cultivated around positive ideas of what humanity as whole ought to be … not from fearful, abominable preachers, whinging from the shadows of their closets.

SCIENCE VERSUS INDUSTRY: Part One: OBSERVANCE, AND WHY REVOLUTIONS DON’T SUCCEED

 

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“When a new system comes into existence, its intellectual basis, the results of science, is to be found in a new principle of trust, and then the critical epoch is over.”

— August Comte

The positivist philosopher, August Comte, believed European history could be read as a long transition that displaced the military-theological feudal system.[1] The description is very simplistic: there has been an evolution towards high-tech industrial developments powered by science, but the military-theological structures that have always maintained power and control are still there. In fact, they seem to be getting stronger rather than diminishing.

Comte, like most positive thinking in the last two hundred years, based his optimism on science, but he envisaged the power of science to be operating in tandem with industry, and this was his mistake. For science to be a positive, transformative agent on human society it needs to be in control of that transformation: it must control industry rather than being a mere tool for profit-making. Science today is merely a submissive puppet in industry’s rapacious game of accumulation and domination.

In Comte’s defence, he himself was fully aware of how easy it was for feudalism to make a come-back after a progressive revolution, for he had already seen how quickly the retrograde power of Napoleon’s dictatorship was able to install itself after the Revolution. Because of that, he thought very deeply on how a post-revolutionary regression to the military-theological system could be avoided.

Firstly, Comte reasoned, political imagination had to be observant. And what Comte meant by being observant was that it must be conscious of what it needs to look for and what it needs to fear.

Here we find a reason to explain why Comte, despite our need for positive political thinking, has been largely ignored by theorists – for to be observant in Comte’s sense of the word would imply that the political imagination of any revolution would be conscious of any retrograde thinking that could give credence to the military-theological power base embedded within the same revolution. What Comte assumed was that that power base had to have been vanquished by the revolution, but that never happened, and never will happen whenever the success of a revolution is seen as dependent on military force rather than passive surrender. If the force of the system can only be vanquished by a greater force, the force will only be substituted by more force and this creates a snowballing effect that amplifies the basic problem itself. Likewise, an observant revolution can never take place through Parliamentary-political processes. The congressional politics of our current representationally-democratic systems can never really be observant because they can never truly liberate themselves from the kind of power they are supposed to be vigilant of.

Comte’s argument is therefore correct – but unrealistic. After the French Revolution failed a new revolution was needed and came via Marx and the spirit of the proletariat. The communist regimes were vigilant, but half-heartedly. Where communism was largely effective in escaping the theological paradigm, it could do nothing to escape the militaristic, and hence the theological returned in the communist regimes through the dogmatic personality cults of its military dictators.

The Second World War, and the subsequent arms race of the Cold War, gave industry and its faithful tool science, a fertile field for cultivating and accumulating enormous wealth. The Cold War was a conflict between military-theological-industry (and science) and military-antitheological-industry (and science), in which the real winners were Industry and the Military; and science was always their faithful hound.

Likewise, observance became a vigilance of rivals (on the industrial plane) and their theological or antitheological enemies (on the theological plane). Then, with the collapse of the antitheological, the communist threat was very quickly replaced by a new global power: the guerrilla/military-theological feudal power that is Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or Isis.

In Comte’s terms, positive progress has not only been thwarted by not being allowed to move forward at all, it is in danger of collapsing right back into feudalism. The observance of industrial rivals is still a first priority, but the vigilance of the capitalist system has another annoying fight with terrorists to contend with. Terrorists and other militants fighting a guerrilla war to reinstate feudalism as another kind of military-theology. Force breeds more force, and the neo-feudalism we see spreading through central Asia breeds another kind of feudalism in other parts of Asia, America and Europe. What Comte called feudalism, we now call populism.

There is of course nothing positive or forward moving toward human fulfilment in any of our current power-struggle scenarios.

What has failed to take place in order for Comte’s optimistic plan to unravel itself, has been the lack of prevision in science, or the lack of scientific criteria in the development of political programmes that have abused science for military and profit-making purposes.

Comte believed that only advanced “scientific prevision can avert or mitigate violent revolutions.”[2] What he did not mean when he said this, was that the scientific prevision should be invented in military projects and reactionary wars of rivalry.

But if this is what he didn’t mean, what did he mean? How could a scientific prevision have made our world a better place than it is today?

We will try and answer those questions when we continue in Science versus Industry: Part Two.

pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/science-versus-industry-part-two-the-revolution-we-need/

[1] See Mike Gane, AUGUST COMTE, Routledge, p.31

[2] Ibid, p.33

PROGRESS VS THE GRAVITY OF WEALTH

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PROGRESS

Progress is change with continuity. Revolution breaks continuity.

However, when the change gravitates into a cyclical motion, revolution is needed to reinstate progress.

In a positive, progressive sense, revolution is a poor term for the idea of this interruption of cyclical motion because it implies a new kind of cyclical motion rather than a positive redirection with a continual-change momentum. In a practical sense, however, all revolutions have in fact been redirecting-breakaways that have gravitated back into cyclical motion.

An analysis of this reality indicates a pessimistic vision of a never-ending cyclical reality. But, does it have to be so? And if so, why?

Nietzsche and Deleuze argued that this had to come about because ideals and purposes cannot be sustained once they are achieved. But, what happens if purpose has a deliberately unattainable objective? That purpose becomes the purpose of always becoming rather than the maintenance of what is? That it becomes motored by progress and creativity itself? Could this not be the basis for a forward pushing drive for humanity?

Yet, if this is possible; how is it that we’ve never been able to manage it before?

 

WEALTH

What is the gravity that has constantly pulled progress back around itself into a cyclical form?

That gravity is “wealth”. “Wealth” as a driving force within the libido of our very civilisation itself.

Any deep analysis of civilisation will always indicate (either positively or negatively, depending on the stand-point from which the analysis is carried out) the role of Wealth in the creation and maintenance of all civilisations. In other words, civilisation is a construct erected by Wealth in order to move all accumulations in an upward way that benefits Wealth itself. All revolutions, so far, have been simple replacements of Wealth without ever removing Wealth from the central position of society.

Wealth uses its own gravity to bend continuity, drawing it back and looping it in cyclical knots.

For this reason, the main foe to human progress is Wealth.

Cycles are necessary for the perpetuation of Wealth – and this explains why we have always had a cyclical reality. For Wealth to perpetuate itself it needs cycles. Wealth has always been the centre of Civilisation; therefore, Civilisation has always had a cyclical form.

If we now interpret Lampedusa’s famous political axiom: “In order for things to remain the same, things have got to change” from this point of view, we see the clever reversal that Wealth itself needs to bring about in order to maintain itself, takes place by bending the curve of progress so acutely that it can curl down and around and perpetuate itself as a cycle.

So, is continual progress impossible, or is it merely inconvenient for Wealth?

If progress is defined as economic growth, then continual progress is impossible; but if progress means an advance of humanity as a whole in the fields of learning, creativity and general well-being, then the answer is the latter – it is not impossible, it is only inconvenient for Wealth.

Wealth is diminished in authentic human progress, and maintained by a politics based on slave-creating economies that function in cyclical forms. For human progress to be possible we have to declare war on Wealth.

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