mlahey at artic.edu
Sun Dec 11 11:05:46 EST 2005
our society bulges out of control like a cancer, and we're looking for ways to
rein ourselves in.
we see the sickness and we think there's a political solution to it.
in western philosophy, the traditional definition of power (the subject matter
of politics) is: the ability to impose one's will.
in the normal exercise of power then, we are faced with deciding what we want
(our will) and then strategizing the best way of imposing it.
why don't we ever say to ourselves, I could use that strategy, but it's the one
that got us all here in the first place?
culture must be reproduced if it is to survive. So if we have a culture we are
heartily sick of, which threatens to make the future of our globe a future of
many slaves and an elite group of masters, why not just refuse to reproduce it?
Reasons why not that I have experienced: 1. People will hate you 2. survival is
a lot harder when people hate you.
those reasons just aren't good enough for me.
Why do we think the solutions to our problems lie in the philosophical canon of
the culture that has successfully reproduced itself in spite of so very much
When will we be able to wake up from this nightmare? The double bind of being a
leftist in America: grumpy with our existing power structure, we develop
resistance and critiques and movements; yet we base them safely within the
traditional bounds of discourse outlined by the dominant (Euro-descended)
culture, lest we fall too far down in the heirarchy.
As Fuller said: don't fight the system, make the system obsolete by creating a
In order to do that, we need to have the courage to put ourselves in the shoes
of another person - or even another species! Not as a goofy game, but to
think, what if that was me...
In our current system, certain things are dangerously lacking, certain things
are at a dangerous level of overdose. The defense of the ego is the benchmark
for how well we are surviving (do people approve of me? do I own nice things?
do people envy me?) - yet as a species, the same thing is killing us. Having
more than enough to survive - in wealth, status, reputation - you could say
that America was founded on this principle. We're driven to the point where
we're blind to all else. Forget living lightly on the land, because in our
culture the mark of status is how heavily you live on the land.
In this society, empiricism has amputated our sixth sense. Intuition is known
only through some old sexist cliches. Spirituality is a sort of kitsch, very
quaint, that produces as a residue some aesthetically interesting objects. We
don't valuate others because concentrating valuation only around ourselves
sends us upwards in the heirarchy.
It's our choice to rob value from others this way. For example: A Swiss man I
met told me that Indonesians are stupid. "If you ask them for something that
belongs to them, they just give it to you!"
yes, this is indeed stupid, if you are dealing with someone who won't do the
same for you. To valuate someone, who in turn devalues you. However in the
context of this Indonesian's culture: the flow of value is practically
torrential compared to the US. The flow of time as well: tell a friend that
you'll come to his house at 1, spend a few hours goofing around, sing a little
karaoke, visit your grandmother, and you'll end up there at 4, but no one
cares. "Rubber Band Time", in which no offense is meant and none taken.
Westerners take advantage of this system: accepting valuation from others,
finding critiques, moral ground, whatever, not to reciprocate. It's
colonialization on a face to face level. A German, who proselytizes for bamboo
architecture: "In Germany I was nobody, but in Columbia they treated me like a
prince". In Bali the Indonesian elite whisper among themselves, "That guy is
here because he's a reject from his own country!" How true that has been for
so many, from Columbus and Pizarro down to the many lost trust fund babies that
litter Asian beaches.
It's sad that when looking for our revolution, we cast about looking for those
more desperate than we are, to fight it for us. We are comfortable, soft,
lulled to sleep by the satisfaction of our bodily needs. If we were willing
even to endure a level of *Social* discomfort for our revolution, that would be
something. But we're not. We're all Hans Castorps, getting stuck in the spiders
web because of our good breeding and good manners, hopelessly bourgeios.
I keep thinking that in those extreme levels of ostracism for the system, are
located the portals to the alternate realities. Follow your stubbornest
convictions and mistakes down to the bottom, they are wormholes that take you
to dream destinations. And do it flagrantly in the face of those who would
hold you to another standard. They will be jealous. They will despise you
because you've undermined their iron grip on what's valued in society and
what's not. The more angry they are, usually, the more you know you've done
Quoting Trebor Scholz <trebor at thing.net>:
> Now, yes, there needs to be a topical orientation. This focus results from
> moments where we feel politics directly impacting our body, our life
> directly. I think for each of us there was a moment or moments that
> motivated us to do the work we do.
> In my initial post I talked about the feelgoodiness that you describe.
> >the individual act of resistance - personal politics needed to have a
> >center which to organize around otherwise what do we contribute to --
> >feeling good about ourselves - is that the goal or the reward we seek
> >-- obviously, any program formulated at this point does not come with
> >s"trategy, tactics or form - building such models is were individual
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