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.

Change Agent

December 6, 2010

Here I am continuing on line dialogues.

The original question:

So what do you think about WikiLeaks? Can a whistleblower website wake up the public and/or shake up big media and government?

‎”The Public” is an empty signifier. The public has no agency, no consciousness. “You” however is very particular. What I mean is, the public can not wake up, and you can not speak for or even accurately about the public. The question then, in a radical sense is put to you. Has this whistleblower website woken you? And if so, what are you going to do about it? You are the only possible agent of change. This radical you does not negate collective action. In the language of the original question, “the public” is objectified, you stand outside as an observer. What I am suggesting is that we see ourselves as a public agent. This radical consciousness makes subjective, includes you in the public. In this consciousness we can speak subjectively of the public. So the question is put to you. Are you awake? Now what?

Dialogue on Belief

November 27, 2010

This essay was the starting point.

¨belief occurs between the recognition of alterity and the establishment of a contract. It disappears if one of the two terms weakens. belief no longer exists when difference is effaced by a process tending to equalise the partners and give them a mutual mastery of the contract; it no longer exists when difference becomes excessive through a breach of the pact.¨

no.1: so… the contract dissolves according to the development of dialogue ? co-operation? so belief is always in crisis because it is representative of an in-between space but is the expression of positioning?

no.2: Belief in what? In the relationship between “partners”?

The temporality of “belief” in that passage is puzzling. A contract is either established or it isn’t. As such, the establishment of a contract would seem to cancel “belief.”

me: In the quote belief exists in inequality. The grandest beneficiary of belief is God, the absolute authority and most unequal of relationships.

It’s not the contract that dissolves with co-operation, but belief; belief in general.

This idea is puzzling because we no longer relate outside capitalism. There was a time when friends lived together as equals, out of this arose the notion of democracy. The equality necessary for living happily together defined a household. In equality you know your friend.

In capitalism all relationships become a form of exchange. The other is not known, it is belief that allows us to proceed without knowing.

When we give to a friend we know, there is no expectation of return.

When we expect a return from an other, we can only believe. Getting to know the other replaces belief.

I think Nietzsche said something like that. [ “Here the ways of men divide. If you wish to strive for peace of soul and happiness, then believe; if you wish to be a disciple of truth, then inquire.” – Nietzsche ]

so I hope belief is temporary, for the sake of democracy, equality and justice.

no.2: This seems a little quaint, no?: “There was a time when friends lived together as equals, out of this arose the notion of democracy. The equality necessary for living happily together defined a household. In equality you know your friend.” …

E.g., slavery, which preceded capitalism (and was practiced to some extent by the Haida Indians of the Pacific Northwest).

“In capitalism all relationships become a form of exchange.”

This overstates things, rather.

me: no. It doesn’t seem quaint to me. There was a momentary practice out of which the idea of democracy was born. That practice is gone. The idea of democracy in capitalist practice is confused. Property relations are not equal.

And I don’t think you can overstate the damage done and being done by capitalist ideology and practice.

no.3: Please name a time/country/system when we were all equals and friends, Rodger.

Democracy has never in fact happened and this stand in we are under only causes harm. (People should stop saying Communism only brings corruption and dictatorship since neither idea has really been properly tried and Communism only given a fraction of the chance).

Justice is a confusing term that no one understands and which has always been used as a bull flag to whip public sentiment toward supporting atrocity.

I don’t think the comments are “quaint”, they just don’t make any sense.

me: @no.3 Come on.

Look, no.2 was puzzled by the temporal quality of belief. Why is this puzzling. What word doesn’t possess a temporal quality?

What I suggested is that capitalist ideology might be the cause of this confusion. It might also be the source of your understanding, and questions. Capitalist ideology tends to totality. Your statement that Democracy has never in fact happened is correct only if democracy need be total.

So no I can’t point to a historical moment of total democracy. But neither can you point to a total fascism, there was resistance. What I can point to, and it’s noted in Aristotle’s Ethics, is a time when friends would live together in Greek households, not all households were democratic, and not everyone in a household was equal, but the practice of equals managing household affairs gave rise to the concept of democracy.

You can actually tonight practice democracy in your own home. The practice of democracy has existed and can be practiced tonight in small spaces. If totality is the prerequisite for change, we might as well give up on the notion right now.

But change can be incremental. Have you heard of the theory of evolution?

no.3:‎ “But neither can you point to a total fascism”. I wouldn’t try.

I wouldn’t make sweeping statements about “justice”, “democracy” or “equality”, either. None of us really know what those things mean and they only ever cause harm.

me: I’d argue that it’s not knowing what justice, equality and justice mean that is both the cause and effect of said harms
no.3: I wouldn’t. Those words are meant to be bull flags and distractions. Let’s admit that they are that and only that so we can get at the issues.
– end –

some notes on GAI Pride

November 22, 2010

The headline reads:

To end poverty, guarantee everyone in Canada $20,000 a year.

It goes on to ask if we are willing to trust the poor. I ask if the headline writers are willing to go fuck themselves.

I want to start a discussion about a Guaranteed Annual Income. Ending poverty is a necessary step toward strengthening our democracy. I usually say we don’t live in a democracy, because Canadian democracy is so weak, the term shouldn’t be used. It would be more accurate to call our form of state an oligarchy.

But the question should we trust the poor, reveals economic inequality, in practical terms. Words like equality and justice are mere abstractions in a state where poverty exists. What exactly are we trusting the poor to do, or not do, if they were given the means to feed themselves and protect themselves from the weather? What about the working poor who could them tell their exploitive employers to go fuck themselves? Are we to trust that this will happen or are we trusting that a completely oppressed and marginalized group when freed from a state of complete lack will continue to be silent? What about parents? Would  GAI end daycare worries? Would the end of daycare worries, bring up achievement levels in schools? Would it increase community involvement? This idea has great social potential.

What surprises me, is that this idea is getting the play in the media that it is. I guess it’s being played as a bad idea. And playing to the given idea that people deserve their station and the idea that if people want money they should get a job.

Get a job? This is 2010. Technological advances in production processes have cut the number of people needed to make all this stuff that keeps the economy… that sentence died in conception. The economy suck. But technological advance and human leisure. These were the ideas driving progress. The big idea that one day we wouldn’t have to work as hard. Turns out that’s not been the case. It also turns out poverty is still a problem. What do you say we start a war on poverty. According to experts, $20,000 guaranteed ought to do it.

I’m all for it. How about you?

Here’s a post (and here) about GAI. Let’s keep the conversation going.

Response to education article

November 15, 2010

This is a great article. But doesn’t it in a way blame teachers? In the sense that the responsibility for change is placed on teachers.

Capitalist practices are not going to change, the exploitation of children, families, society and government, (willingness does not render null exploitation) by capitalist practices are “what is”. We are living in a world driven by exploitive/capitalist ideology and practice. This practice needs (our/my practice needs) to change, or it will continue, but who is going to change it?

Governments are willing accomplices, their ideology, the basis of their decisions is capitalist. Capitalists are not going to willingly change. Families are isolated, overworked, willingly following along to keep their children fed. Society is organized by capitalist practices. Children are learning to be part of the system that is currently limiting and exploiting them, learning that this is the world.

Teachers are complicit in the demise of our school. You can’t be neutral on a moving train. If you know what is happening is wrong, and you continue to do it, in the hope that someone else will fix the policy that drives you to perform less than adequately for the needs of developing children, then while you individually do not have the power to change the system — your job is on the line as a steady stream of newly trained teachers graduate, and if you make waves — you sure do have the power to band together with other teachers, and concerned parents, who understand the problem and together work toward a better way of developing children.

The article squarely puts teachers in the position of agents of change. But most teachers have been thoroughly indoctrinated by capitalist ideology, meaning they are not agents of change, but agents of capitalist ideology. There is a selective process. Society is not a natural construct. Teachers are not to blame. I see them as part of the larger problem encompassing all of us.

One last thing. There’s a line in the article: “What particularly grieves me is that, whatever happens, it won’t be a consequence of any real understanding of education.” This abstraction of education is problematic. How can an understanding of education fix education? Really what do they know of education who only education know? To fix education you need an understanding of political economy, critical theory, Spinoza and Dewey, Democracy, everyday life, the good life (ethics, and human possibility) to fix education we need to think ourselves beyond the limits of capitalist ideology, we need to discover what a body is capable of, and through experimentation (warm and loving and forgiving experimentation) develop the body to its fullest potential. So yeah, education has nothing to do with education, it has to do with freedom and democracy and community development (and love if you understand the radical side of it). We can live better.

Another set of links that I could write about later…

November 11, 2010

The soft war against women presents a set of facts with a conspiracy theory like analysis.

Erica Jong on the Madness of motherhood is very different presentation of another conspracy-like social ill. note:

Here’s a defence of capitalism. An excellent example of the cynical reason that undermines the possibility of thinking our ways through toward social change.

When we realize that the human condition is a capitalist construction, and our selves are conditioned in this complex, we can recognize cynical self-defence as a defence of the military-capitalist complex. (See number 10)

The solution to her inability to raise a child on her own was to pay a nanny. you said it, schizo, she, I’m not exactly sure what she’s doing, but she throws up all these examples of communal child rearing to oppose attachment parenting practices, which might be cool, if she was advocating and educating toward these, i’d agree, better child-rearing practices, but she isn’t. She’s simply saying that attachment parenting is too hard, and that paying a nanny is easier. Hard to argue with a statement like that.

“Do the best you can. There are no rules.” If you take this to mean that in any given situation you ask “what’s the best thing to do here?”, give it some thought and then you try to do that best thing, try to achieve the best, even if you’ve got to break a few rules. That’s fucking awesome if it’s meant that way. But at the end of this article it means nothing to do with the best. The way it reads in this article, is like, “Do whatever is easiest for you. Nothing matters”

What both these articles have in common is niether takes a deep look into what change could be made for the better.

The essence of conspiracy beliefs lies in attempts to delineate and explain evil,’ whose ‘locus lies outside the true community’.[xi]

“…in both cases heroic, rogue individuals are set up against truly collective conspiracies, framing the impotence of the individual to affect real structural change or reform without making any attempt to posit a possible alternative, reformist – let alone revolutionary – subject.” [link]

Friends of Democracy

November 5, 2010

Today I have 462 Facebook-friends. And today I start a campaign of negativity. We do not live in a democracy. We do not even know what democracy means. Will a continuous barrage of negative messages and direct questions spark a conversation?

This is just a random article about how to deal with negative people. But I do expect to be ignored.

This video discusses the ideology of positivity and how it maintains social injustices.