22 May 2008

Self-Righteous Enlightenment

Today, after watching a "controvertial" documentary about discrimination against an extremely marginalized group with a party of 50 or so people, things degenerated quickly.

One person reacted very disrespectfully (I did not see their reaction)and some of the other people in the group, justifiably, were very much offended by the persons reaction. Many of other members of the group, including one of the leaders, leapt eagerly at the opportunity to attack the person for their reprehensible behavior, despite the fact that he expressed tearful remorse and regret. At no point did the person try to excuse themself, but rather, openly admitted the innapropriateness of their behavior.

My reaction was instantaneous. I felt that in a group of voluntary association, as this one was, in which all the members were to some extent or another actively attempting to confront the insidiously heirarchical American cultural system, it was antithetical to attack a person for reprehensible discriminatory views. I will here attempt to justify my reasoning; this is not an attemopt to excuse or justify the bahavior of anyone involved, rather it is a universal implication. "There is no heirarchy of oppresions. Each is terrible and destructive."



The purpose of this association is to acknowledge the existence, and interconnectedness of the causes and sytems of injustice and discrimination, find ways in which we collude, and discover ways to dismantle and resist those systems.

Attacking an individual for their wrong beliefs in that context does not address the cause of the beliefs, which in my understanding is the core purpose of this voluntary association. Attacking the individual is a short term solution to a long term problem.

Being in a position of "oppressed" does not give the right to righteous judgement, rather, it should afford a person the opportunity to operate from a position of understanding of the condition. Granted, it is not an easy position to take, particularly when attacked.
The very real oppression, persecution and butchery of the Jews by numerous other groups in history does not afford them the right to oppress and persecute others any more than the Serbs hyperbolic percieved persecution gave them the right to reciprocally oppress and butcher the Albanians and Croats.

If I believe that violence in any form; verbal, emotional or physical, is wrong, then I believe that violence, even against my enemy, is wrong.

If we seek an end to oppression in all forms, does this not mean that we must end our own personal oppression of others on an all levels?

Attack the issue, educate the followers. Attacking followers creates devotees.

I vigorously disagree with the statement that "sometimes we have to bring up the difficult issues", requires a verbal group attack on the individual(s) whose views are wrong. Violence, verbal or otherwise, has never to my knowledge solved any problem in the long term. In fact, it seems to me that in this context the purpose is to confront and undermine the use of violent power in all its manifestations.

Cruelty does not rectify cruelty.
Abuse of power does not justify vengeance. Neither does it excuse an individual from behaving in an offensive and discriminatory manner.
However, to convulse with arrogant rage and revulsion is to resort to the same boring tactics used by the oppressors.

It is simply; self-righteous enlightenment.

20 May 2008

New Terminology

Watching a documentary film today called The Century of the Self a strange thing occured to me, a new word. I didn't add any letters that werent already there, and I didn't rearrange them. I combined two words that are used to describe our political system. Selective deletion. If these term exists anywhere else, please let me know. Now, a summary of the back story:

The film is in four parts, and I only watched the first part, The Engineering of Consent. It concerns the psychoanalysis theories of Sigmund Freud and how they were used by Edward Bernays in the early decades of the 20th century. In Particular, Bernays agreed with Freuds general principle that human beings are unconsciously savage, violent, and irrational.

If the mass of people are irrational, Bernays believed, in order to keep society from destroying itself, it must be managed by a collection of "experts". Public opinion and policy must be guided. (Enlightened despotism)

His philosophy appealed to the National Socialist Workers (Nazi) Party. Joseph Goebels believed that the individualism of the irrational mass had to be channeled towards social improvement, their rage and violence directed at outsiders. But the term propaganda that Goebells used, had bad associations after World War II. Nevertheless, the Nazi death camps were used by Bernays and his ilk to prove the idea of a universal inner savage irrationality.

Instead of propaganda, Bernays coined the term "Public Relations", and the US government, now afraid of the savagery of it's own people, and eager to protect it's own position turned to Bernays.

If human beings are essentially evil and irrational, they must be distracted. People must be trained to desire things that they do not need by selling them the idea of product as individualism in order to control and channel that desire, direct it, and maintain the power of the "expert" elite.

At the 1938 Worlds Fair, Bernays took part in an exposition of the "world of the future" called "Democracity", in which a utopian society was available thanks to the availability of commodities. Thus, the ideological marriage of Democracy and Capitalism was complete, desires are in charge of passive consumer participation in politics.

After the attacks on September 11, 2001, what was it that G.W. said? Go out and buy, go shopping, spend money. Consumption is patriotic.

What do I call this unholy union of "participatory democracy" and consumerism?

Democrapitalism

Sources:
The Century of the Self: The Engineering of Consent. Prod. Adam Curtis. Digital Video Disc, Successunlimited Publishing(?). 2002

14 May 2008

A Parting Shot At Desmond Morris

I finished reading Morris's 1967 book The Naked Ape today, and let me tell you it was a long hard ride. Morris is trained as a zoologist and as I mentioned earlier in Analyzing The System of Patriarchal Academe he attempts to explain away a great deal of cultural practice not only with evolutionary biology, but cultural imperialism as well. As I mentioned in that earlier blog, I suspected that Morris would attempt to explain warfare as a natural biological behavior.
I was correct in a roundabout way.
Morris claims that:
"The strong urge towards mutual assistance to which (co-operativeness)gave rise has become susceptible in intra-specific(species) agressive contexts. Loyalty on the hunt has become loyalty in fighting, and war is born. Ironically, it is the evolution of a deep seated urge to help our fellows that has been the main cause of all the major horrors of war." (Morris 143)

So are we to believe then that the patriotic propaganda eschewed by agressive regimes is merely an expression of biological group unity? How then do we explain the dichotomy of helping certain "fellows", and not others? This would again suggest that racism and nationalism are biologically natural.
In this context, Morris offers four potential solutions to warfare, the second of which is to
"..de-patriotize the members of the different social groups; but this would be working against a fundamental biological feature of our species." "The natural tendency to form social in-groups could never be eradicated without a major genetical change in our makeup, and one which would automatically cause our complex social structure to disintegrate."(Morris 145)

So, yes, Morris is suggesting that racism and nationalism, as well as warfare are natural. The only possible scenario which he claims to be viable is "massive depopulation, or a rapid spread of the species onto other planets.."

I could continue with an analysis of his take on religion (a product of a biological need to be submissive) inter-species relations (a product of sexual atraction to various animals), or bacteriological illness (psychosomatic response to a subconscious need to be groomed), but I think you can gather that the man appears to be off his rocker.

Sources:
Morris, Desmond. The Naked Ape. New York: Dell Publishing Co. ,1973.

11 May 2008

Selective Honesty

I have always found the gleaming ideal of “equal opportunity” to be somewhat humorously macabre when held up to the somewhat more bleak reality of our social fabric. Richard Robins statement about Disney’s sanitization of history is only the tip of the iceberg, and simply its most dumbed-down, consumer-friendly manifestation. History books of every size and shape promulgate similar messages from classrooms to homes around the world.

History written by the victor as it were.

It should come as no surprise then that the systems of oppression and privilege would be cleaned up and presented as natural progress and held up as an ideal of achievement and success. It is a very effective way to avoid the issue of domination if the culture is constructed in such a way that participants strive to be as much like their oppressor as possible. Robbins states that the culture of consumerism consciously masks the consequences of participation, much as the culture of discrimination uses (or declines to use) language to mask the consequences of domination according to Wildman.

The two are inextricably intertwined, that is, consumerism and domination. We use the language of equal opportunity and entrepreneurialism to mask the fact that economic domination is very much entrenched alongside racism, sexism etc. I would even remove the capital “c” and include capitalism within that growing list of oppressive “isms”. Yes the language is used or not used to obfuscate systems of domination; that is also the very essence of advertising. Tell people what you want them to hear. Has it not been a long struggle of many years to enact consumer protection laws? Manufacturers fight tooth and nail to keep the dangers of their products or the damage that they have already done hidden from the consumer. The Federal Trade Commission has been empowered to prohibit “unfair and deceptive acts or practices in commerce.” (an ironic combination), but it is nevertheless common practice to tell “partial truths” in advertising.

This is the essence of the creation of need and the creation of dissatisfaction that underlies the culture of consumption. The framing of the discussion is everything, and if we don’t ask questions we only get what the dominant parties want us to hear, reinforcement and justifications for their positions of power.

Sources:
Wildman, Stephanie M. with Adrienne Davis, Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America, New York, New York University Press, 1996

Robbins, Richard, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, New Jersey Allyn & Bacon, 2007

10 May 2008

Your Label Is Offensive

I'll eventually quit drinking.
Not because I need to, or because it's bad for me, though those things might have some influence. No, I'll quit because I'm tired of being intellectually stagnant.

My parents think I'm a functional alcoholic, as if that were constructive or somehow revealing of some great, self-medicating mystery.

The only thing that bothers me about drinking is my reduced brain power. No doubt that when I'm drunk I can't think properly or critically, but often the day after, my brain is still clouded, and I resent the fact that I can't properly focus and articulate and hence produce. There is a great deal of cutting critical speculation inside my head along with all that artwork, and the liquor just doesn't assist it's articulation. So, when I get rid of it, it will be because of that, not someones out of context judgement.

Here is something that intrigues me, I found a blog of note which has some bearing on the subject. I'm not yet sure if this guy is cool, or full of shit yet, it'll take some observation, but I found him through an interesting article I read for class in which a quote from him was used as a chapter opener. I figured he was old, or dead, but nope, blogging with a vengeance. Seems pretty smart and poignant, for now, let's see: This Blog Sits At The Intersection of Anthropology and Economics

It Goes To Show, You Never Can Tell

I'll go out on a limb and say that I think this girl is pretty unique.
Intoxicating, beautiful, clever and forthright. Cynical and suspect.
When she's near me, my wavelength decreases and my signal increases pitch.
I can't seem to get enough. Yet,
I never know what is going on with her, can't tell what's going on in her head. She doesn't tell me, she's not very communicative, she remains an enigma.
She almost tried to tell me once that she was falling in love with me, but it faltered, and was gone...
Now, I only wonder if I'm pushing too hard, asking too much, giving more than she's earned.
She hasn't told me. I hate guesswork.

09 May 2008

Screamin',


There are certain times when, occasionally, I wonder if it might be, fun, to watch world society go down in flames. The Final World War? We've created such a plethora of fictional and prophetical ends. To witness it would be like, the sequel that actually was beter than the original.

05 May 2008

Facets

I can see now that reality exists in fragments of perception.
A personal reality is the disparate input of physical environment plus the various outputs of other independant observers. How their outputs impact us depends on our angle of deflection.
Bullshit.
That's all a bunch of hooey.
What I mean to say is that our reality is really in our perception of our environment. I can see the humor and fascination in the dead squirrel on the sidewalk just up the street. At moments I can see the humor in people making mistakes I've made a million times.
I can see the fear in a culture that tries to ignore death around them every day and the longing people feel to communicate their feelings.
Is there more power in anything besides meaningful expression?
To speak your heart?
I see things in three ways;
1.) My perception, which I am intimately familiar with on a physical and emotional level.
2.) Others perceptions, which I am only aware of from physical cues and clues.
3.) Collective perception, that is the way people react as a culture, or in a crowd, again only tangible to me through cues and clues. Ultimately unpredicable and intangible because it involves innumerable combinations of the first two.
Conclusion, reality ultimately exists within me.

04 May 2008

Tool

What does it mean dude?

Who Knew

I'm in a tumble. It's all too much, and I feel like a dandelion seed.

02 May 2008

Self Hate

Self Hate is very potent.
It is so much more than a feeling. It is a blood poison, a creeping toxin which eats away at your waking hours. It turns you into what you fear most, It empowers desolation and anger and other-hatred. It justifies sadness and hopelesness.
I've hated myself for so long that it's hard to immagine what it looks like outside.

No joke, it's not pretty.

Every time I stumble over this shit it seems new.