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Ayn Rand, Conservatism, & the Devil – 16 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

Ayn Rand, Conservatism, & the Devil - 16 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

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Introduction: Ayn Rand, Conservatism, and the Devil

As recently as 1991, a survey by the Library of Congress ranked Atlas Shrugged the second-most influential book in the United States, second to the bible. Written as Ayn Rand’s Magnum opus in 1957 Atlas Shrugged depicts a collectivist dystopia. Individual liberty and private enterprise are being expunged by way of taxation and regulation. Donald Trump’s favorite writer, Ayn Rand’s work has been championed by Christian conservatives and plagiarised in The Satanic Bible

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Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, laid the foundation of Modern Satanism in 1969 when it was appropriated by Anton LaVey. More than half a century later Ayn Rand has become the conservative equivalent of Karl Marx; atheism included. Her tenants are touted by right-wing politicians; ideas preached to a majority Christian voter base.

Ayn Rand is simultaneously the mother of contemporary conservatism and Modern Satanism.

Ayn Rand: Red is not a Creative Color

Born to a prosperous family in 1905 Ayn Rand came of age at the cusp of the October Revolution. Her family’s business was subsequently confiscated. They would face continued hardship under communist rule.

However, universities began admitting women and Rand was among the first to enroll. While studying history she was introduced to Aristotle; her greatest influence. She was purged from the university shortly before graduating along with other bourgeois students. 

She arrived in the United States on a visa in 1926 intent on becoming a writer. She’d find success fictionalizing her profound experience under communist rule. The Red Scare in full-swing, she struck a chord during The Cold War and doubled down. Writing romantic odes to capitalism and individuality. 

Fervently anti-communist, Rand became the, “creator of a new form of morality.”  

Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism: Let’s Get Randian

Atlas Shrugged follows the railroad heiress Dagny Taggart. As leaders flee to John Galt’s capitalist utopia American industry grinds to a halt under new government restrictions. Society breaks down and Dagny searches out Galt. When found Galt explains that, “the men of the mind,” are on strike. Withholding innovation from a society that demands personal sacrifice. The book acts as a fictionalized introduction to Objectivism.

An inverted Marxism, Objectivism is a moral defense of self-interest and laissez-faire capitalism. Rand believed the ambitious suffer at the hands of bureaucrats and collectivists. Who infringe the individual liberties of the affluent. 

She saw rational self-interest as a sole moral responsibility and means of cooperation. Cooperation under coercion by the state is immoral, like taxation. 

Simply put Ayn Rand exalts selfishness and admonishes altruism.

Modern Satanism: Ayn Rand for Rebels

Anton LaVey, the father of Modern Satanism, rose to prominence as a Bay Area occultist. A local celebrity, Lavey began attracting notable San Franciscan socialites. He started giving lectures and performing rituals during regular parties. The jumping off point of his first religious   organization, Order of the Trapezoid. A group that later renamed itself The Church of Satan.

Riding a wave of public interest LaVey found a publisher for his Satanic Bible and consequently struggled to reach the deadline a year later. In a flurry of expropriation he outlined his philosophy, it would be Ayn Rand’s.

He lifted his Nine Satanic Statements directly from Atlas Shrugged. They promote materialism, atheism, and self-indulgence. A diluted form of Randian ethics.

LaVey said of his religion, “I give people Ayn Rand, with trappings.”

The New Right: Fair is Laissez-Faire

Late in 2008, with anger brewing over corporate bailouts, Liberatarian views began gaining mainstream traction. Conservative pundits aligned themselves with the growing sentiment and the TEA Party quickly became the focal point of right-wing politics. They would espouse the virtues of Ayn Rand.

She soon permeated the Republican voter base. A match made in heaven, Rand’s philosophy of unregulated markets and individual liberty would help elect senators like Rand Paul. Eventually reaching the White House in Donald Trump, a fan of her work.

She’s even a regular point of reference for Rush Limbaugh. Ted Cruz would be quoted as saying she’s one his, “all-time heroes.” Conveniently sweeping Rand’s atheism  and contempt for religion aside. 

Conservatives have successfully distorted and repackaged Rand’s laissez-faire policies under the auspice of personal freedom. To the benefit of their donors.

Summary: Up is Down, Left is Right

For Rand’s part she’d be embittered by all of this. Republicans and Satanists lie at opposite ends of the political and religious spectrum. Yet they share a fundamental commonality, the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Christian conservatives hold religious beliefs betrayed by votes and political opinions. In support of Donald Trump. 

The Satanic Temple, The Church of Satan’s predecessor, sees a windfall of new members opposing the Trump presidency. As they preach the very philosophy that elected him. 

The cognitive dissonance is undeniable. In the end, a Satanist is an anti-Christian who never read Ayn Rand. Conservatives are Christians who have. The result is the same.

Two antithetical groups with the same morality and objective, self-interest. A metaphor for American politics.

Sources: 

https://catholicism.org/ayn-rand-conservatisms-favorite-philosopher.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123146363567166677

https://www.newsweek.com/trump-administration-embraces-ayn-rand-disdain-masses-579685

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/what-ayn-rand-says-about-paul-ryan/2012/08/13/fd40d574-e56d-11e1-8741-940e3f6dbf48_blog.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/09/ayn-rand-in-modern-american-politics/348124/

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The Medici – 12 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

The Medici - 12 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

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The Medici

Renaissance Florence is considered the birthplace of capitalism. An economic system nurtured by the Medici. A family established by a common usurer, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici; founder of the Medici Bank.

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Giovanni symbolically kicked off the Renaissance when he backed Filippo Brunelleschi’s bid to complete the Florence Cathedral with his son. It wouldn’t be completed until after his death in 1429. By that time the Renaissance was in full swing and his descendants would foot the bill. 

With deep pockets and political savvy the Medici would forge the modern world. Namely Cosimo, Lorenzo ‘The Magnificent’, and Anna Maria Luisa whose lasting cultural impact are hallmarks of western civilization. 

They financed architecture, philosophy, art, and science. The Medici were the wealthy benefactors of Michelangelo, da Vinci, Donatello, Galileo, Raphael, and Botticelli.

Cosimo: The Elder

Born 1389, in Florence, Cosimo de’ Medici rose to prominence when he, along with his father Giovanni, helped a friendly cardinal buy the papacy. In return the Medici Bank received the papal accounts. Soon after, the Medici were the richest family in Europe.

Cosimo used this wealth to preserve and restore Ancient Greek and Roman art. Offering gold florins for ancient texts, he inadvertently founded modern archeology when forgeries appeared. He began verifying authenticity; hiring historians to attest to an items provenance.

Cosimo engaged more than 45 copyists to transcribe almost 800 manuscripts. Along with books from his own collection he would found Florence’s first public library in 1436. Saving numerous ancient texts, and by extension history, from the ravages of time.

Among the works transcribed was the first complete translation of Plato.

Lorenzo: The Magnificent

Lorenzo de’ Medici, born in 1449, was schooled from a young age by humanist philosophers. Cosimo, Lorenzo’s grand-father, provided for his education and would instill in him a deep love of culture. 

Maintaining an unprecedented peace in the region Lorenzo was more interested in the arts than finance. The great patron of the Renaissance, he would become infamous for arranging commissioned works by Botticelli, Verrocchio, and Leonardo Da Vinci. Spending 663,000 florins, or around half a billion dollars, on public works in his lifetime. 

Outperforming the cultural triumphs his grandfather had unearthed in antiquity. Lorenzo’s patronage made Florence a de-facto cultural center. He secularized the region and preserved the republic.

At the end of his life a young sculptor caught his eye. He was taken in, tutored, and raised like a son; his name was Michelangelo.

Anna Maria: The Last

The Medici family’s last heir, Anna Maria Luisa, was born in 1667. She would gain power through her arranged marriage to the Electoral Palatinate; ruler of a Holy Roman sub-state. Happily married she would remain childless. 

Instead of a mother she became a great patron of the arts. Collecting paintings by Rubens and early Flemish artists. Not as well-known as Lorenzo or Cosimo she single-handedly saved the entirety of the Medici artistic patrimony. Ensuring no work would be sold, traded, or forgotten.

By signing the Family Pact in 1737 she bequeathed all furnishings, belongings, galleries, paintings, statues, jewelry, relics, and reliquaries of the Medici dynasty to the citizens of Florence. So long as they were never, “removed or transported outside the capital.”

Her donation formed the Uffizi Galleries. A public collection of art that’d otherwise be owned privately and hidden away.

Rothschilds are Boring

Many other members of the Medici fought for progress as well. Using their influence and money to safe-guard controversial scientists, like Galileo, and other secular works from the inquisition. Risking excommunication in the process. 

Others used the families wealth to fight for despotism and authoritarian rule. In stark contrast to the principles of their fore-fathers. 

They are not purely benevolent or without stigma. However, their legacy of patronage is still imitated by the wealthy today. They’re a symbol that encourages charity and public work.

The Medici financed work that served to inspire, promote, and illustrate a shared ideal. One of upward mobility. A common Florentine usurer and his descendants building a banking empire; overcoming aristocracy and circumstance.  
They invented the middle-class.

Artwork:

Portrait of Cosimo de’ Medici – Jacopo Pontormo

Bust of Lorenzo de’ Medici – Verrochio

Portrait of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici – Antonio Fanchi

Sources:

https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/47346/PDF/1/play/

https://www.businessinsider.com/medici-family-2012-7

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_di_Bicci_de%27_Medici

http://themedicifamily.com/Lorenzo-de-Medici.html

http://medicidynasty.com/anna-maria-luisa-de-medici-the-last-of-the-medici/

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A Scanner Darkly Reality – 12 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

A Scanner Reality - 16 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

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Introduction: A Scanner Reality

In 1977 Phillip K. Dick published the dystopian sci-fi classic A Scanner Darkly. Robert Arctor, the books protagonist, is an addict; his mental capacities slowly degrading. Using Substance D an addictive pharmaceutical. A blind servant of an unseen force.

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More than forty years later middle America is in the grips of an opioid epidemic. Four out of five new drug addicts say they began with the abuse of Oxycontin. An opiate that entered the market under the auspice of ‘non-addictive’. Lining the pockets of doctors and corporations alike.

Two stories in seemingly disparate realities. Then again, “Reality, by itself, becomes a story by Phillip K. Dick.”

A Scanner Darkly: A Summary

Robert Arctor is an undercover agent who’s addicted to a pharmaceutical, ‘Substance D’. Working anonymously for the police department, under the psuedonym ‘Fred’, Arctor dwells with a long list of addicts in his family’s former home. A house in the suburbs where addiction is now routine.

Arctor, his cognitive abilities waning, is assigned to investigate himself. Paranoid accusations abound Arctor’s friends begin to turn on him and slowly he loses touch with reality. No longer certain of his own actions Arctor checks into rehab at New-Path. 

New-Path, a federal contractor, is the only option for ‘D’ addicts. Stripping his ‘addictive personality’ Arctor takes on the name ‘Bruce’ and is transferred to a New-Path farm. A secluded operation growing the flower Mors Ontologica; Substance D’s chief ingredient.

Oxycontin: Engineering an Epidemic

Near the end of 1995 the F.D.A. approved the opioid painkiller Oxycontin. Hailed as a ‘medical breakthrough’ it hit the market in 1996 patented by Purdue Pharma. Whom lied in assuring the medical community patients would not become addicted. Aggressively marketing Oxycontin Purdue Pharma bought influence with professors, politicians, and researchers.

It quickly became, “the hottest thing on the street.” Between 1991 and 2011 painkiller prescriptions more than tripled. By 2012 one in three drug users were being prescribed drugs more powerful than morphine. Killing over 400,000 since 2000; with 15 seeking treatment for every death.

After more than $30 billion in profits, in 2018, a Purdue Pharma subsidiary patented an addiction treatment for opioid addicts.

Reality: A Story by Phillip K. Dick

In A Scanner Darkly Substance D is distributed by New-Path. In reality Oxycontin is distributed by pharmacists and doctors. In both cases entities whom society entrusted to cure sickened. All the while turning a profit.

Addiction treatment is a $35 billion a year industry. Those who pay are, “…punished entirely too much for what they did.”

While people die, serve prison sentences, and deal with the consequences of addiction, New-Path profits.

While people die, serve prison sentences, and deal with the consequences of addiction, drug companies profit.

“Every junkie, he thought, is a

Recording.”

“It’s easy to win. Anybody can win.”

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/09/28/652546095/drugmakers-play-the-patent-game-to-lock-in-prices-block-competitors

https://www.usda.gov/topics/opioids

https://www.northpointwashington.com/blog/big-pharma-big-lies/

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Art Theft – 24 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

Art is Theft - 16 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

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Pablo Picasso

“Good artists copy, great artists steal”

Four boys discovered the Lascaux cave accidentally in 1940; a French cave complex with more than 600 parietal paintings estimated at 17,000 years old. The most famous cave being ‘The Hall of Bulls’. That same year Picasso would visit the cave. Emerging to say, “They’ve invented everything.” In 1945 Picasso created The Bull, a series of 11 Lithographs. The caves weren’t available for public viewing until 1948.

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Michelangelo

“The greater danger for most of us lies … in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

Discobulus of Myron, a Greek sculpture from the Classical Period of which the Renaissance was based, figures an athletic youth throwing a discus. The work survives via numerous studies by Roman artists. Like those 1200 years before Michelangelo would spend his youth studying works of the Classical Period, under the Medici. Studies which lead to the penultimate symbol of the Renaissance, ‘David’.

Marcel Duchamp:

“I came to feel an artist might use anything to say what he(or she) wanted to say.”

Davinci’s Mona Lisa is perhaps the world’s most well-known painting. Studied endlessly Marcel Duchamp was the first to parody the work in 1919. As what Duchamp referred to as a ‘readymade’: common objects altered, renamed, and placed in a proper setting. L.H.O.O.Q is a cheap print of the Mona Lisa onto which Duchamp drew a moustache and beard in pencil then appended the title.

Andy Warhol:

Reporter: So you’ve just copied a household item then? Why have you bothered to do that? Andy: Because it’s easier to do.

In 1916 bottlers of Coca-Cola formed a committee and convened to select a design. Soon distinct green bottles with an embossed script began to appear nationwide. Thirty years later less than 1% of Americans could not identify a Coke bottle by shape alone. In 1962 Andy Warhol displayed hand-painted depictions of the bottle in an art show The Grocery Store.

Summary:

Show me something you think original and I’ll show you a lack of reference.

The Beatles lifted lyrics and melodies from Chuck Berry. Hunter S. Thompson typed out Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby word for word while practicing prose. Vermeer traced his images using Camera Obscura. Originality is just a pseudonym for ‘beg, borrow, and steal’. 

Creativity is being brave enough to rip something off.

Be brave.

Sources:

http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric/lascaux-cave-paintings.htm

http://www.euskomedia.org/PDFAnlt/munibe/aa/200503217223.pdf

https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/pablo-picassos-bulls-road-simplicity/

http://www.accademia.org/michelangelo/

http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/definitions/classicism-in-art.htm

https://www.wikiart.org/en/marcel-duchamp/l-h-o-o-q-mona-lisa-with-moustache-1919

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.H.O.O.Q.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Warhol

https://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/the-story-of-the-coca-cola-bottle

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/beatles-5-boldest-rip-offs-54145/

*Disclaimer: This zine features digital reproductions of famous works.

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Dark Net Market – 16 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

Dark Net Market - 16 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

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Dark Net Market: Drug Dealing and Bitcoin

The use of stolen credit cards and fraudulent identities is nothing new; not for the internet. But prior to 2008 no one ordered weed online; the digits required were tethered to a real world identity. All that changed with the advent of Bitcoin. For the first time anonymity and online purchases collided. An encounter that birthed the Dark Net Market, or DNM.

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The anonymous transfer of value offered endless online possibilities. It was a matter of time before websites like the Silk Road popped up. Founded in 2011 by Ross Ulbricht, under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” 70% Silk Road’s sales were narcotics. The first true online black market.

Buyers could use escrow to purchase drugs and have them delivered via individual listings with Bitcoin; much like Ebay. With weapons, illegal software, and supposedly hitmen also available for purchase. Those who listed did so at their own risk. Using Tor, an open-source software allowing for anonymous communication, and a VPN sellers, as well as their clients, were the equivalent of digital ghosts. Until they weren’t.

With time operational security lapsed, data began leaking, and the United State Government took notice. In 2013 the arrests began in earnest. Ross Ulbricht received a life sentence for his participation. When charges finally identified him it was international news.

Not everyone met hand-cuffs to such fanfare. Unlike the analog dealers of yore Silk Road sellers and those like them plied their wares without strong arm tactics; IT and coding knowledge were the prerequisites. Not brutality and a lack of remorse. They don’t make for catchy headlines.

As a consequence they are little known. But there are those out there shining the light on DNM arrests. One such person is Gwern Branwen. Documenting arrests since 2013 http://gwern.net/DNM-archives has become a digital ledger of dark net happenings.

Using his work I put faces to names along with the drugs associated. Narcotics users might have otherwise put themselves in harms way to obtain.

Those represented were noteworthy dealers. 

Sources:

https://www.gwern.net/DNM-archives

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darknet_market

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Moonero – 12 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

Moonero - 12 Page 8.5 x 5.5 in. Saddle-Stitched Booklet.

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Don’t Buy Monero

Created in 2012 Bytecoin was written using the Cryptonote algorithm; utilizing an entirely different codebase than Bitcoin’s. An early attempt at creating an opaque cryptocurrency Bytecoin utilized “ring signatures” to obscure transactions. However, it was a bit of a scam. When users learned 80% of the coins to be mined already existed miners, the backbone of any cryptocurrency, began to flee. What followed was the creation of Monero.

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Born of the frustrated Bytecoin community seven developers began working on a fungible digital currency that didn’t require public ledger. Launched in 2014 Monero brought credibility to CryptoNote coins with it’s fair-distribution; lacking a pre-mine. Privacy it’s primary mission, Monero is considered by many the ‘Swiss bank account of crypto’.

With Monero’s development came a lively community of users and  a never ending onslaught of inside jokes. Little known memes found in Freenode chat rooms, Telegrams, and subreddits. Attracting both hackers and investors the cryptocurrency is one of the spheres most colorful. Giving birth to forks of its own. Forks such as the meme coin Wownero.

A personal favorite, and community participant, I decided to memorialize a bit of Monero’s history, better-known memes, and culture. 

Sources:

https://web.getmonero.org/get-started/what-is-monero/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monero_(cryptocurrency)

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