Sunday, October 16, 2005

Privilege, Weather Underground, Science, Postmodernism: Another Round with Anarchism

[This thread, starting with queries about white-skin privilege and the Weather Underground and ending with a science vs postmodernism exchange, took place October 2005 on Chicago Indymedia]

By Makhno

I would like to point out that the Weather Underground was an extremely authoritarian group, and the Prairie Fire Organizing League's politics seem to be in the same vein. When revolutionaries start calling for a 'united front' against 'white skin privilege', fascism, or anything else, watch out. That is an old tactic that has been used since Stalinist times to take over movements.

*****

By Carl Davidson

If you really want to get into this, why not go to the source? Read Ted Allen's essay, 'Can White Radicals Be Radicalized?' He was the father of the term 'white-skin privilege' in the 1960s, and all factions studied this piece as a starting point. I have a hard copy if you can't find it on-line.

The Weather Underground didn't have the best line on this; instead I'd look to writings that came out of the RYM2 faction, which tried to implement it more seriously, along with Sojourner Truth Organization and Harper's Ferry Organization (of which I was a member).

Later, of course, the line was developed further by 'Race Traitor' journal, Noel Ignatiev and others.

But the mother lode is Ted Allen's 'Invention of the White Race' (two volumes, Verso) and WEB Dubois's 'Black Reconstruction in America' Re: Discussion on 'Racism and White Skin Privilege Politics'

*****

By Makhno

My interest here is not so much in the idea of 'white skin privilege' per se (although that concept is of very questionable usefulness, as Alan Spector points out); so much as in the way such a notion has been used as an organizing tool by authoritarian political groups such as the Weather Underground to further their agenda.

*****

By Carl Davidson


Naaaw...The idea, as one of the original people put it, is that 'treason to whiteness is solidarity with humanity.' 'White race' doesn't exist biologically (ask a biologist); it's a social construction that makes some ordinary folks feel more solidarity with their rulers than other ordinary folks. If you could truly get beyond thinking you're white, you could see the world more clearly.

But if you're in love with your special privileges and cling to them come what may, you'll love to discredit it however you can. The privileged often use the term 'underprivileged,' but you rarely hear them say 'over-privileged', do you?

And Makhno, if you're looking for the seeds of authoritarianism in the notion, I don't think you'll find it. If anything, it's biased toward leveling us all to our common humanity, albeit with all our glorious diversity.

*****

By Makhno

Carl, again, it is not the specific ideology of 'white skin privilege' which I am critiquing here, but rather, its use by authoritarian political groups to further their agenda of gaining control of organizations and movements. The Weathermen's takeover of SDS is a perfect example of this, but the whole 'united front' concept goes back at least to the 1930s, with its use by the Communist Party in its Stalinist glory days. In addition to 'white skin privilege' other buzzwords used in calls for 'united fronts' these days are 'anti-imperialism' and 'anti-fascism'.

*****

By Carl Davidson

I guess I'm just not in the same 'universe of discourse' here, Makhno.

Or I'm too far removed from the youth. When I was an anarchist in my 20s, when we chanted 'down with patriarchy,' we all thought 'right on!' because we had our fathers in mind. Later on, after we were parents -- and fathers ourselves with responsibilities to care for our young ones, well, it didn't seem quite so simple.

To me, who saw and participated in all this first hand, well, I could easily accuse the Weathermen of many sins, but 'authoritarianism' would be way down on the list, if I put it there at all. Hell, when I and my partner decided to get married in 1969, Bernadine and Mark Rudd sent us a post card threatening, partly in jest, to picket us at city hall for capitulating to monogamy and the state. Or when they stormed high schools, encouraging kids to walk out and rebel against the 'pig principals and teachers,' weren't they being more anarchist than authoritarian?

But some people think that if a group discusses a project, takes a vote on whether to do it, and the project gets a majority, then expecting everyone to lend a hand in carrying it out, no matter which side they voted on, well, that's somehow 'authoritarian.' They don't ever want to be obligated to do anything.

Besides, the Weather people hardly 'took over' SDS. When they were finished drawing their 'You're either with us or against us' lines in the sand, and precious few followed, there wasn't anyone left but them, so they just turned out the lights. You see, they hated the notion of the 'united front,' too.

Any united front, coalition, even mass organization itself, requires cooperation where everyone's interest is respected and everyone gives up a little autonomy in order to work, i.e., for everyone to gain a lot more than they would working alone. The authoritarian mindset wants everyone subordinated except oneself.

I guess I just don't see authoritarianism as a big problem in the left. First, no one has all that much authority on the left, and how does one go in for authoritarianism without much authority? That's what's so silly about the 'Chairman Bob' weirdness in the RCP. He's got some authority within its ranks, but hardly any on the outside. Yet they carry on as if he did, and just look foolish in the process.

Now on the right, authoritarianism is alive and well, since its core program is to restore the patriarchy and structures of privilege, white and male, that have been challenged and weakened over the last few decades.

If you want a fruitful place to harvest on the matter, I'd start there.

*****

By Makhno

Carl, Your fond personal memories of the Weathermen aside, the fact remains that they espoused a rigidly authoritarian political line, as can be seen from the article I posted a link to earlier in this thread:

The last sections [of the Prairie Fire Statement] dealt with the necessity of building a new Communist Party based on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. The tactics for building such a party were to be divided into two parts. The first part was the formation of underground cadre organizations that would begin attack against imperialist power positions within the US. These cadre organizations would weaken the government and inspire the people. The second part was the formation of above ground organizations that would lend support to the cadre groupings and educate the general public. As time went on and processes of internal criticism were carried out, the correct revolutionary position would manifest itself. With this position, a Party could be formed to lead the revolutionary War.

And furthermore:

Other sections of the Weatherman position paper dealt with what it called 'United Front' politics. It stated that the revolutionary situation in the United States would necessarily be different from situations in the 3rd world colonies due to the fact that the United States was the homeland territory of imperialism. It stated that Class politics were different in the United States due to the spoils of imperialism; crumbs of which kept otherwise potentially revolutionary segments of the population from revolting. This section laid out which classes in the United States would be potential friends to the revolution and which class groups would necessarily be enemies. These enemy groups were marked for destruction.

As this article makes clear, the Weathermen made use of both the ideologies of 'white-skin privilege' and 'anti-imperialism' to further their authoritarian political goals, and did advocate a type of 'united front' strategy. While right-wing authoritarianism is a given, left-wing authoritarianism is all too often ignored or excused.

*****


By Carl Davidson

Again, Makhno, I don't see from these quotes what you're driving at, unless it's the revolutionary process itself you find 'authoritarian.' In that case, it applies not just to Weatherman, but any socialist or communist. Google Engels 'On Authority,' where among other points, you'll find the following:

'But the anti-authoritarians demand that the political state be abolished at one stroke, even before the social conditions that gave birth to it have been destroyed. They demand that the first act of the social revolution shall be the abolition of authority. Have these gentlemen ever seen a revolution? A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon -- authoritarian means, if such there be at all; and if the victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it must maintain this rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionists. Would the Paris Commune have lasted a single day if it had not made use of this authority of the armed people against the bourgeois? Should we not, on the contrary, reproach it for not having used it freely enough?' And, yes, the 'white-skin privilege' analysis, while no one has a monopoly on it, is rooted in and consistent with an orthodox Leninist analysis of the relations between class and nation, oppressor and oppressed. Both Ted Allen and DuBois were communists and members of the CPUSA at one time or another.

*****


By Makhno

Carl, It's funny you should use that quote from Engels, since it is the same one I posted on another site recently to support my point about the authoritarian nature of the concept of the 'dictatorship over the proletariat'. Yes, the revolutionary process is inherently authoritarian, if one accepts the traditional paradigm of revolution used by such groups as the Weathermen; however, one of the great advantages of the anarchist critique is our relentless challenge to that very paradigm, our rejection of political power, and all the hierarchy, bureaucracy, and mediation that comes with it.

Of course, not all Left groups subscribe to quite such an authoritarian ideology as the Weathermen did, although all of them, by definition, accept some form of State authority or political power as a given.

*****

By Carl Davidson

Yes, Makhno, but this gets back to our old debate.

For me and at least every other Marxist of any sort, politics is about the 'Who: Whom' ,i.e., 'Who Can Do What to Whom.' In this sense, your revolution is non-political or anti-political. It's really a spiritual quest. Which is fine, but don't mix them up, or have one try to accomplish the tasks of the other.

*****

By Makhno

It's too bad that the only alternative you can see to 'political' is 'spiritual'. As an anarchist, I'm not particularly interested in either option; what I am interested in is creating a society where people relate to each other and work together in a non-political, non-coercive, non-hierarchical way. Revolutionary violence, if there must be any, would only be a means, not a permanent condition, as it is for authoritarian leftist groups that believe in nonsense like the 'dictatorship over the proletariat'.

I do want to thank you for pointing out the Marxist-Leninist roots of such notions as 'white skin privilege' and 'anti-imperialism'.

*****

By sabate

Carl, It's funny that you mention that anti-Imperialism is consistent with Marxist ideology. I can't necessarily say that you're telling the whole truth, though.

Especially due to Marx's support for 'civilizing' the indigenous people of the Middle East, at the objection of his contemporary mainstream liberals. Also, the Stalinist USSR taking over neighboring countries is pretty indicative of this as well.

I can say, however, that your statements are true for many Marxists, especially later--after the USSR was done being a 'defunct worker's state,' as well as some people from the pre-Stalin era.

*****

By Carl Davidson

Reply to 'Sabate.' First, Marx considered his work science, not ideology. When he used the term 'ideology,' it was a put-down. He would have distanced himself from anything like the frame of 'proletarian' ideology vs. 'bourgeois' ideology. He preferred science vs. ideology, if it had to be framed.

Second, there's no doubt Marx was considerably Eurocentric, although in a very critical way for his times. If you want to get at the heart of internationalism, though, read him and Engels on the Irish Question vis-a-vis the English. And remember, he was writing in an era before imperialism was full blown, which rose mainly after the U.S Civil War.

Lenin mainly defined the politics of anti-imperialism, enhanced later by Mao, the Cubans and the Vietnamese. Here the main art of politics is creatively combining national liberation with the project of class liberation.

Stalin's party was primarily a disaster for the Soviet Union. And Trotsky didn't offer anything realistic or better. The one who did was Bukharin, but Stalin put a bullet in his head. As for the 'deformed' and 'degenerate' workers state stuff, I never went in for it all that much. States are states, and they all have warts, even if they're needed for a while and no matter what 'class' they supposedly serve.

Finally, we now live in the era of globalization, and it's best to bracket all the old dogmas and take a fresh look at the world. Some of the old lessons will apply, some will not. Mainly, we should seek truth from facts, not from quotes.

*****

By Vigilante

I really do have to laugh when orthodox Marxists like to claim Marx was free of ideology or idealism for that matter.

There does indeed need to be a critical analysis of anti-imperialism and white skin privilege as it has been painted by a Marxist brush. The brush is usually an economic class reductionist one. Anarchism has always been better in that it was a power and domination critique as opposed to class and economics.

And you're not the fist to talk about 'objective' thinking and seeking facts. The fact is everything we know is constructed through discourse and linguistics.

*****

By Carl Davidson

Vigilante says:

'The fact is everything we know is constructed through discourse and linguistics' Yes, Vigilante, 'everything we know,' plus everything we fancy, dream, and lie about. Wisdom lies in a method to sort them out. I'll stick with pragmatism and science over POMO any day of the week, especially, say, when choosing a doctor or a plumber or someone to help me troubleshoot computers.

As for Marx and ideology, my point was not that he was 'free' of it, but that he opposed it as best as he could, and better than most in his day. He was hardly free of Eurocentrism, as I pointed out.

I also don't think you'll find most Leninists 'class reductionists' when it comes to anti-imperialism, either. Lenin's whole point was to begin from the analyzing the world from the perspective of oppressor and oppressed nations, then bring in the matter of class and other factors. That was also part of the reason for the split between the 2nd and 3rd Internationals, where those in the 2nd International tended to be 'class reductionists' of a sort, but eventually capitulated to their own nationalisms.

As for the Weather Underground, they tended to be reductionist in favor of nations rather than class. They considered US workers counterrevolutionary and were nihilists towards their own nationality. Prairie Fire later backed away from some of this, but that was the core of it.

*****

By Vigilante


CD: 'Yes, Vigilante, 'everything we know,' plus everything we fancy, dream, and lie about. Wisdom lies in a method to sort them out. I'll stick with pragmatism and science over POMO any day of the week, especially, say, when choosing a doctor or a plumber or someone to help me troubleshoot computers.'

Well the fact that you stick with such blind faith in specialists really says something. There's certainly nothing wrong with pragmatism and science so long as it is always decentralized and contextualized and not put in overly materialist/economic shades.

CD: 'As for Marx and ideology, my point was not that he was 'free' of it, but that he opposed it as best as he could, and better than most in his day. He was hardly free of Eurocentrism, as I pointed out.'

He gave the world a grand narrative. That kind of says it all doesn't it.

CD: 'I also don't think you'll find most Leninists 'class reductionists' when it comes to anti-imperialism, either. Lenin's whole point was to begin from the analyzing the world from the perspective of oppressor and oppressed nations, then bring in the matter of class and other factors. That was also part of the reason for the split between the 2nd and 3rd Internationals, where those in the 2nd International tended to be 'class reductionists' of a sort, but eventually capitulated to their own nationalisms.'

The problem with anti-imperialism as defined by orthodox Marxists is that it was never multi-dimensional. The fact that the state was never seen as an imperialist project in itself from the Marxist perspective is proof of this. As a result you back Vietnam regardless of what the 'oppressed' might be doing to the indigenous peoples in that area. Things were not helped by the idiot vanguards redefining communism as state collective. Fundamentally anti-imperialism is way to narrow, and way to Manichean. It needs a good old fashioned anarchist style redefinition which looks at things from a more ubiquitous non-Manichean power analysis as opposed to economic.

*****

By Carl Davidson

'Vigilante' says:

'Well the fact that you stick with such blind faith in specialists really says something. There's certainly nothing wrong with pragmatism and science so long as it is always decentralized and contextualized and not put in overly materialist / economic shades.' I don't think so, Vigilante. Blind faith is the postmodernist's or POMO's cup of tea, as in their effort to get rid of the rigors of science for the 'narrative' where everyone gets to be an expert, whether they know anything or not. They just have to be glib and against modernity.

And as for materialism, I'm more of a devotee of instrumentalism and the metaphysics of quality or The Tao, than the more 19th century notions of dialectical materialism.

Specialist? Goodness, I don't have blind faith in them, I AM one. That's how I make my living, troubleshooting networks and fixing computers. Faith has nothing to do with it. You have to suffer and sweat through mistakes, plenty of trial and error, and a little studying to get to be any good at it.

But back to the main topic, 'anti-imperialism.' I have my own issues with the term, in the sense of how it's used in the mass movement. It's at once both too 'left' and too 'right' -- too 'left' in its use as a way to narrow the antiwar movement into a left bloc, but too 'right' as a negative substitute or diversion from ones own's strategic goal, as in socialism or whatever post-revolutionary alternative you want to pose.

But have you guys seriously gone over the classical literature on the topic, rather than just listen to someone give a dogmatic speech or argue with you? It's hardly one-dimensional and has plenty to do with the state, from Marx and Lenin on the emergence of the labor aristocracy and the 'thousand threads' tying it to the state, to Seymour Melman on the Garrison state.

But if you want to add something new, go for it. Negri and Hardt certainly tried a neo-anarcho-syndicalist perspective, although you practically need an MA in philosophy to wade through their stuff. Don't go that route.

The orthodox, little-has-changed-since-Lenin Monthly Review crowd certainly needs a little shaking up. Some of us have been doing just that at the www.cyrev.net site for 10 years now. Our focus is on globalization, InfoTech, and the emergence of a truly global or transnational capitalist class, as opposed to an American multinational with lots of overseas branches. It has plenty of implications for the state, especially if the components of a truly globalized state are emerging. It adds a whole new level to the hierarchies, and weakness some of those underneath.

*****

By Vigilante

It's late but why not.

CD: 'I don't think so, Vigilante. Blind faith is the POMO's cup of tea, as in their effort to get rid of the rigors of science for the 'narrative' where everyone gets to be an expert, whether they know anything or not. They just have to be glib and against modernity.'

Rigors of science! lol. Perhaps monsieur Davidson can try and conceive of these rigors for 30 seconds without using language or discourse.

CD: 'And as for materialism, I'm more of a devotee of instrumentalism and the metaphysics of quality or The Tao, than the more 19th century notions of dialectical materialism.'

Instrumentalism is certainly another cup of piss that needs to be thrown.

CD: 'Specialist? Goodness, I don't have blind faith in them, I AM one. That's how I make my living, troubleshooting networks and fixing computers. Faith has nothing to do with it. You have to suffer and sweat through mistakes, plenty of trial and error, and a little studying to get to be any good at it.'

Well if you like doing things with those hands of yours fine, just don't construct an economic system where people are forced to service others.

CD: 'But back to the main topic, 'anti-imperialism.' I have my own issues with the term, in the sense of how it's used in the mass movement. It's at once both too 'left' and too 'right' -- too 'left' in its use as a way to narrow the antiwar movement into a left bloc, but too 'right' as a negative substitute or diversion from ones own's strategic goal, as in socialism or whatever post-revolutionary alternative you want to pose.'

First of all the fact that mass movement figures in anything is problematic. 2nd, it should not be enslaved to leftist or rightist ideological discourse, and 3rd, the goals should be in the means.

CD: 'But have you guys seriously gone over the classical literature on the topic, rather than just listen to someone give a dogmatic speech or argue with you? It's hardly one-dimensional and has plenty to do with the state, from Marx and Lenin on the emergence of the labor aristocracy and the 'thousand threads' tying it to the state, to Seymour Melman on the Garrison state.'

The problem is the state is subordinate to you overly narrow view of capitalism, and as a result many orthodox Marxists end up backing countries like Cuba and Venezuela. This shows a fundamental denial of the anarchist critique of the state as such. And what makes it one dimensional as I said is you will support the new rulers of Vietnam while ignoring what they do to the indigenous people in that region. As Nietzsche put it 'Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster...for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.'

*****
By Carl Davidson

Vigilante says:

'Rigors of science! lol. Perhaps monsieur Davidson can try and conceive of these rigors for 30 seconds without using language or discourse.'

You miss a subtle point here, V. Science is something you have to DO first, (as in examine, investigate, experiment, test, etc.) then 'discourse about' what the doing has revealed. It's not the same as criticizing literature, where all you have to 'do' is read a text and deconstruct it in any way you please.

You think the 'rigor' of science is funny?

Fine, you can choose your doctors on whether they're into POMO discourse or not. That's make the ones' who sweated a little rigorously in the lab more available for the rest of us still stuck in the Enlightenment.

You want to throw out instrumentalism?

Fine, but then just how do you determine whether any given anarchist theory or the state is 'true' or workable or even desirable? Taking a vote would be a tyranny of the majority.

No, once you get rid of these things, then, like Makhno, your politics is collapsed into a spiritual quest at best or nihilism at worst.

Also, most, if not all, of us would-be Marxists know the state, like the market, have been around a long while before capitalism and will undoubtedly be around for a while afterwards. So it's intertwined with capitalism today, but hardly a subset of it. Among other things, the state's a function of scarcity and class divisions, and will leave the stage of history when they do.

As for the Vietnamese and their minorities, I know a bit about it, and had a long discussion with a Vietnamese general and some other cadres about 'Kinh chauvinism' toward the Mountain tribes back in 1969. They were quite self-critical, explaining how Uncle Ho used the negative example of the KKK to help them get their heads straight. And I and others didn't ignore it, but wrote and spoke about it over the years.

But my support for the Vietnamese people and the groups leading them was based on the justice of their cause and my internationalist duty, not on whether they had a 'state' or not, or on whether they were free from sin. You can distance yourself from that stand if you want, but you won't be in very good company. You find yourself lined up with a bunch infested with superpower arrogance.

It gets back to the original topic of this thread. The end game in Vietnam, according to Nixon at the time, was 'to change the skin color of the corpses,' sort of like what Bush wants to do in Iraq. It was a white supremacist war, and in that conflict, I'll side with the people of color with a just cause in defeating my 'own' bourgeoisie, whether the oppressed have a state or a party or not.

*****

By Vigilante

CD: 'You miss a subtle point here, V. Science is something you have to DO first, (as in examine, investigate, experiment, test, etc.) then 'discourse about' what the doing has revealed. It's not the same as criticizing literature, where all you have to 'do' is read a text and deconstruct it in any way you please.'

I know it's hard for Carl to admit this, but everything down to the concept of science as we know it is shrouded and social constructs. The examination, experimentation, and testing is based on these social realities and can never be separated.

CD: 'You think the 'rigor' of science is funny?

'Fine, you can chose your doctors on whether they're into POMO discourse or not. That's make the ones who sweated a little rigorously in the lab more available for the rest of us still stuck in the Enlightenment.'

First of all to begin with doctors are based on specialization to begin with. In a free society a combination of old and new forms of more natural health care should be administered in a more reciprocal way in relation to social and individual. The arrival of the doctor is part of the alienation of are own health and direct sustenance.

CD: 'You want to throw out instrumentalism?

'Fine, but then just how do you determine whether any given anarchist theory or the state is 'true' or workable or even desirable? Taking a vote would be a tyranny of the majority.

'No, once you get rid of these things, then, like Makhno, your politics is collapsed into a spiritual quest at best or nihilism at worst.'

Your first point is like instrumentalism itself is based on a more centralized view of society. I want a world where many worlds fit, and it need not have a blue print of any kind. Primitive society lasted over a 100 000 years without this.

And a bit of spiritualism and nihilism are not bad things to incorporate into ones subjectivity at all.

CD: 'Also, most, if not all, of us would-be Marxists know the state, like the market, have been around a long while before capitalism and will undoubtedly be around for a while afterwards. So it's intertwined with capitalism today, but hardly a subset of it. Among other things, the state's a function of scarcity and class divisions, and will leave the stage of history when they do.'

And equally speaking class divisions and scarcity are predicated on the state. The development of these things was reciprocal in nature. Thus the need for a revolution that destroys capital, state, along with work, industrialism and other oppressive things equally (some easier then others but non the less important)

CD: 'As for the Vietnamese and their minorities, I know a bit about it, and had a long discussion with a Vietnamese general and some other cadres about 'Kinh chauvinism' toward the Mountain tribes back in 1969. They were quite self-critical, explaining how Uncle Ho used the negative example of the KKK to help them get their heads straight. And I and others didn't ignore it, but wrote and spoke about it over the years.'

The 'meowist' self criticism I take with a grain of salt. This has not stopped the continued suffering of those peoples.

CD: 'But my support for the Vietnamese people and the groups leading them was based on the justice of their cause and my internationalist duty, not on whether they had a 'state' or not, or on whether they were free from sin. You can distance yourself from that stand if you want, but you won't be in very good company. You find yourself lined up with a bunch infested with superpower arrogance.'

LOL, Internationalist duty! What Leninist trash. The only duty one should have is too ones self or affinity. This is a perfect example of separating means and ends and the fucked up results that come of it.

CD: 'It gets back to the original topic of this thread. The end game in Vietnam, according to Nixon at the time, was 'to change the skin color of the corpses,' sort of like what Bush wants to do in Iraq. It was a white supremacist war, and in that conflict, I'll side with the people of color with a just cause in defeating my 'own' bourgeoisie, whether the oppressed have a state or a party or not.'

While fighting white supremacy is important, one must remember that a given race depending on the material situation could easily have made it Asian supremacy. Manichean binaries need not apply. And why side with the people of color who did the same thing to the mention indigenous peoples.

*****

By Carl Davidson

Ah, Vigilante, what are we going to do about you...

Science and instrumentalism, like any other human endeavor, is connected to social constructs, but hardly reducible to them. Of course you can separate the accomplishments of science out. Otherwise, how would you ever make something like, say, a windmill, that works?

But with your romanticization of primitive society, maybe that's not your concern. But we needed a little instrumentalism, even at the dawn of our species, to avoid being eaten by the other carnivores, if nothing else.

Some doctors are specialists, but some are generalists, and study the earlier healing arts too. But if you have a youngster that gets appendicitis, I hope you bracket these notions and get him or her to a hospital licketey split, and find a resident who did well in the lab over literary criticism.

Internationalism is Leninist trash? Thanks for the backhanded compliment -- I'll plead guilty to such trash any day. But I thought you guys were into mutual aid and solidarity. But I guess it's only for your friends and your local affinity group, not of the 'an injury to one is an injury to all' variety.

Besides, my politics are value-centered, especially the core values of liberation and compassion. I try to start and end with the 'ends', with 'means' making the bridge, as in the impermanence and interconnectedness of all things.

And of course, in theory, any nation or people might think itself the dominant one, but that's beside the point. Which one has plundered most of the world's resources and practiced lording it over all the rest for the past several centuries? Or is it too 'practical' to deal with the matter at hand?

*****

By Vigilante

Well Carl, first of all the so called accomplishments that you speak of has always been part of abstract ends for civilization. The one thing that the early 20th century scientists such as Einstein and Heisenberg did was to demystify science from what it was, and what many people fell for (including Marx)

And I am hardly one to call primitive society perfect; however it has been the most egalitarian model that humans have operated on thus far. And hunter-gathering is hardly instrumental; it is more a spontaneous thing much like other forms of life.

On the point of doctors, in a future egalitarian society, I am hopeful that there can be more individual and reciprocally way of healing ourselves.

And as far as international solidarity goes, there is certainly nothing wrong with it. But an international system is what is hegemonic. The best thing we can do for each other internationally is to let communities exist locally with at the same time acknowledging a sense of oneness. Immanent multiplicity Agamben calls it I believe.

And just because the US is the baddest monster in the world at the moment is no excuse to support other states. All you do with that compromising attitude is give others room to rise.

*****

By Carl Davidson

Well, vigilante, I suggest you take a look at 'Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War' by Barbara Ehrenreich, in order to get a better take on the situation of our species in the hunter-gatherer days. If their mode of staying alive in the face of their predators of other species was largely spontaneous rather than creatively instrumental, I doubt we would be here now. You might consider why old sabre-tooth is extinct, and not us.

As for Einstein and Heisenberg, I don't think they 'demystified' 19th century science, as much as they pushed the envelop to explain phenomena far from equilibrium and resistant to the Newtonian paradigm.

But if you're maneuvering curves on the freeway, Newtonian physics works just fine. Ignore it at your peril. Besides what would either of our quantum heroes done without Newton's calculus? I don't think science has to be demystified; rather, it's the universe that's the locus of mystery, and science helps push back the Veil of Maya, so to speak.

Your global localism, with all localities doing their own thing, wouldn't help much, say, in dealing with new emergent strains of influenza, would it? Or in the anarchist future, do even viruses and bacteria limit themselves to mutual aid?

We all support states these days, vigilante, if not directly then indirectly. You might gripe about it, but you go along with the program in the daily practical sphere with the rest of us nonetheless. Unless you're writing from prison for non-payment of taxes? So I certainly wouldn't make the fact that a liberation movement established governance in their liberated areas into a black flag that would signal me and others to withhold our support. Their values and practice within that governance, and where they aim their fire, is far more important, at least to me.

17 comments:

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Carl Davidson said...

by Vigilante
17 Oct 2005

CD: 'Well, vigilante, I suggest you take a look at 'Blood Rites : Origins and History of the Passions of War' by Barbara Ehrenreich, in order to get a better take on the situation of our species in the hunter-gatherer days. If their mode of staying alive in the face of their predators of other species was largely spontaneous rather than creatively instrumental, I doubt we would be here now. You might consider why old sabre-tooth is extinct, and not us.'

Well it looks like this is getting semantical. There was obviously coordination in how to survive(which came at the expense of some fauna unfortunately), however this is hardly the instrumentality that Heidegger so rightfully critiqued ages ago.

CD:'As for Einstein and Heisenberg, I don't think they 'demystified' 19th century science, as much as they pushed the envelop to explain phenomena far from equilibrium and resistant to the Newtonian paradigm.'

Obviously they used the techniques of Newton to get to their discoveries, however if one takes those discoveries to their conclusion as the pomos have done, then you realize science as it has been know for all of civility must be left behind.(Einstein who was a god believing man and others like him had trouble doing this, hence his futile search for a universal theory) Science as such should obviously continue, however it should be administered in a more non heirarchical, chaotic manner in a similar vein to art. For one thing the platonic based mistake of separting material from mysticism needs to be rectified. Derrida did a similar thing to philosophy. Just as Deleauze said you leave philosopy a philosopher, we should leave science as scientist, but on a much more reciporical contextually relatavistic level. As Feyerabend(sp)said, we really don't know shit.

CD: 'But if you're manuvering curves on the freeway, Newtonian physics works just fine. Ignore it at your peril. Besides what would either of our quantum heroes done without Newton's calculus? I don't think science has to be demystified; rather, its the universe thats the locus of mystery, and science helps push back the Veil of Maya, so to speak.'

The thing is, Newtonian science has been a tool of all that building highway shit. I want a more free flowing chaotic existance and Newtonian physics are hardly essential for this. While what he said was important, he and his ilk still can't explain where physics comes from. Deleauze's idea of force and difference which is not seaped in all that 'objectivity' nonesense us a good thing to look at.

CD: 'Your global localism, with all localities doing their own thing, wouldn't help much, say, in dealing with new emergent strains of influenza, would it? Or in the anarchist future, do even virues and bacteria limit themselves to mutual aid?'

Really Carl! Your point on influenza shows that you really can't think out of the box. Have you considered the fact that most deseases on record go back to the agricultural society. The best way to deal with the flue thing would be to kill that on a major lever(some will exist but hopefully on a sustainable more local level) and make a transition to a permacultural society, and of course quit eating domesticated meat.

CD: 'We all support states these days, vigilante, if not directly then indirectly. You might gripe about it, but you go along with the program in the daily practical sphere with the rest of us nonetheless. Unless you're writing from prison for non-payment of taxes? So I certainly wouldn't make the fact that a liberation movement established governance in their liberated areas into a black flag that would signal me and others to withold our support. Their values and practice within that governance, and where they aim their fire, is far more important, at least to me.'

What exactly is your point? Obviously a community like Christiana or East Wind will be surrounded and intertwined by various oposing social relations, obviously you want the type of relations like christiana and east wind to spread, however if it spreads, let diversity rule, and even in the even that the spreading doesn't happen(Chiapas) its still great that their is an attempt to change the the social relationship on that level. Better then setting up a state fu show.

*****

by Carl Davidson

17 Oct 2005

Reply to Vigilante:

I think you're right, V, we're just in very different 'lifeworlds,' so to speak.

Heidegger took out instrumentalism? Hardly. Dewey and James are in a dynamic new wave of development, while the old Nazi mystic and Grandpa of the POMOs, is still stuck in the Ground of Being. That's said with a little affection, since I spent a few years of my youth pondering Sein und Zeit and Glassenheit, before I moved on. I concluded that what's valuable in the work of the old denizen of the Black Forest is put much better in the comments on the sutras of the awakened one.

Evaluate science like art? You've got to be kidding. I'll stick with experiments or calculations that can be repeated by anyone -- much more democratic than your average art historian or art critic.

You're worried about Plato's dualisms? Or the reverse dualisms of the materialists? That's exactly what the monism of James and Dewey's instrumentalism was designed to cure.

Where does physics come from?

It comes from human intelligence, from time immemorial, trying to discern the stable, inorganic patterns of The Tao and then translating them into the repeatable language of mathematics.

We don't know shit? No, we've learned quite a bit, but it's an ongoing quest.

You want a free flowing existence, chaotic and free from highways?

Montana beckons, Vigilante, but I'll warn you. It's cold in winter up in the Beartooth Range. You might want to take a scientific survival guide or two, rather than Delueze and Derrida, to help tease a little order out of the chaos, especially if you want to make it to Spring.

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