Archive for January, 2011

book marks

January 21, 2011

I’m interested in considering these two links together.

A blog post on Redefining Relationships does an interesting job of “radicalizing” monogamy. And this video on Pacifying MLK‘s message exposes a flip side of a very similar phenomenon.


Delusional optimism

January 11, 2011

Still on about the trap of pessimism in the face of delusional optimism, or megalomania.

Take the saying, “With God, all things are possible.” and tweak it a bit and you can see my criticism. Say, “With delusional optimism, all things are possible.” But we don’t want possibility. We are radical and we want change, real change, not the possibility of change, or some changed imaginary future. This is like believing in a heaven, or future good. This is a thought trap.

And the reaction, pessimism is a thought trap as well. The question is what is possible now, not with optimism, or God, but with our actions in this moment?

The revolutionary location

January 5, 2011

A question of some import to a radical theory of living well is the revolutionary location. Where are we revolutionary? How to live well is always in deliberation, but here I’m wondering about where to live well. Does location condition life?

Location is conceptual as well as physical.

This discussion isn’t coming out of nowhere. Where are we revolutionary, and where are we blowing so much smoke? Here again is a kind of trap. I view a lot of global political criticism as a kind of megalomania. It’s not that this criticism is wrong, or unnecessary, and in concert with local efforts may be justified, it’s that this criticism is delusional. The trap I’m about to fall into is pessimism. How many words were types in opposition to the most recent invasion of Afghanistan and Kuwait? How many bodies marched demonstrations to stop the action? How ineffective was this effort?

Now I’m against war and colonizing resource rich lands. But criticism on this level is not radical. It’s delusional. It’s delusional in the sense that the active relationships that make up the world validate the war and colonization. Denunciation of the war on the level of language and thought, and momentary denunciation at that, to return to, or never leave your job, your abode, your private property, your consumption of the resources extracted through war and colonization. Of course quitting your job, giving away your tools, home, and walking the earth like Jesus while radical is not living well.

But it is in the local sphere where we can act. We can work our entire lives in vain to make just our schools more democratic, but we can make our homes more democratic tomorrow morning. We can scream and shout, paint sign, write brilliant articles and organize against the racism in our government’s border policy, and the borders will remained closed, but we can open our relationships tonight.

The trap I’m falling into is the either/or. But I’m advocating living well, living radically. We are not without examples. Nowtopia covers a few. Without making the changes where the changes can actually be made, calling for massive, superstructural change is like talking to God.

Writing in 2011

January 1, 2011

This year I’m going to more focus my writing. This past summer I started a broad strokes and this year my plan is to fill them in. This will be a year of writing in progress.

I’ll start by filling in the the first broad stroke – A radical theory puts the locus of control in your hands. Looking over the broad strokes the numbers aren’t really that distinct and some of the later numbers explain the earlier ones. But this is all an exercise in writing so I’ll go forward with the plan and see where it takes me.

I start from the basis that that we need change. This change is guided by a radical theory. Like the famous quote from Walden, (“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.”) theory dictates. And like Marx’s eleventh thesis, (“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”) the point of theory (praxis) is change.

What’s necessary for revolutionary practice is control. Where does the locus of control reside? Before I simply answer that I want to note that there are many traps that critical thinkers fall into, and not just traps, but grooves. You’ve probably met many critical thinkers who’ve fallen into the dismissive groove, rolling along dismissing all others as quaint. And there’s the conspiracy theory trap. For many in this groove or trap, the issue is a complete loss of control. When we conceptualize the world as a thing, we lose control. The world as an object is totalizing. Yes Marx says that the point is to change the world, but his conception of the world is not totalizing, the world is not an object, but an ensemble of relationships. These relationships are social, and practical, you are one of the points in the ensemble of social relationships that make the world, which has no existence except as a mental construction (concept). The world, the system, god, these concepts have no material, they are not objects, cannot be levered. If we lose control, if the locus of control resides outside, we lose agency, the ability to change our relationships.

The conspiracy theorists are not completely insane. We are living in a policed social. Our relationship to knowledge is not open and free. Capitalist controls resources. Governments control education and health care in a tight relationship with a militarized capitalist complex. And dissent is criminalized. But despite this, the locus of control resides in us. We are free to create social relations as we desire. Yes, social relations are policed, but no police state is total, compliance is still voluntary.

We have control of our own actions in all of our relationships. It is in this place where we have the control to make changes in the ensemble of human relationships we call the world where radical theory can be practiced.