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Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie, Part I

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The 2008 presidential election was won on the “hope & change” slogan, and thus far the prediction has been half-right.

I can’t address the hope aspect because one person’s hope may be another’s nightmare, but change it definitely has been and its consequences (intended or unintended) are far from clear or assessable at this early stage. What is abundantly clear, however, we’re at the crossroads. And how we act in the present, the kind of decisions we make, will affect our common future and that of the world at large.

It’s refreshing to see that some of us are recognizing the momentous times in which we live and have made it a point to address this and no other issue. I happen to think it’s more beneficial in our troubled times than addressing the pros and cons of this particular piece of legislation or that, the details of it all, be it health care or the stimulus package or cash-for-clunkers.

Kudos to Charles Euchay and Philip F. Harris for their timely articles: may you start a precedent. In particular, I take comfort from the closing lines of Mr. Harris’s well-balanced piece:

Our nation and our planet is [sic] at the edge. The decisions we make now will determine if we rise or fall. The real issue is not have we passed programs in 200 days, it is that we are trying to solve the issues and not hide them in some CIA vault. The remaining problem is that we cannot talk about solutions forever. Decisions must be made now. We know that the ways of the past were a failure. Politicians from both sides of the aisle must now come together and decide. If Obama fails, we all fail!

In that spirit, therefore, let me pick up the baton and carry the discussion through its third leg. What I wish to address are certain systemic changes, changes which I deem necessary if we are to survive as a nation, let alone the presumptive leader of the world. It’s a three-prong approach, political, economic and moral, and reforms in each of these areas are long overdue.

I’ll restrict my politics-related comments to two issues: campaign finance reform and term limits. It’s high time to break up the Washington crowd so as to free it from all suspicion of being beholden to private interests. The sphere of political decision-making must be made distinct from economic decisions because it's a higher call. At the very least, the former mustn't be tainted.

Limiting House and Senate seats to one term only, two at most, would go a long way toward that end. You can hear the usual objections: “It takes time to become an expert and a member of an important committee, blah, blah, blah.” Utter nonsense! It’s not expertise that’s needed in Washington, D.C. but better judgment; and you can’t learn that by putting in your time. We don’t want technocrats in charge of our nation’s future but ordinary women and men – representatives of The People.

Campaign finance reform is the other side of the coin. Setting caps on the candidates’ spending in their election or re-election efforts — the same for everyone, without exception — is an integral part of the healing process, reinstating faith in our politicians. The networks and cable channels should do their bit in providing equal time to candidates running for office, pro bono, as part of public service. All media, in fact, aside from being privately-owned, commercial enterprises, must be made to discharge their duty — to inform the public. They must be made aware that with the privilege of an FCC license there comes a responsibility.

On the economic front, we’ve got to break away from the adversarial model — of (big) business versus the government – which for too long has dominated our thinking. By definition, such a model can only lead to virulent opposition between the two entities or to collusion. Neither alternative is acceptable. It’s far better to use the carrot approach, incentives and tax credits, to accomplish the desired results – which means a more cooperative model of negotiating the dif-ferences.

As part of the program, we should encourage all manner of cooperative ventures — as between the employers and the employees, or the owners and the consumers — after the fashion of supermarket cooperatives in the seventies or credit unions. There is plenty of room for experimentation, of populating our stagnated business model with hybrid entities, and the government should take the lead in encouraging the formation of all such. Far too much attention has been given to the multinationals. It’s small and mid-size businesses which are the mainstay of our economy, the largest em-ployer in fact, and they should be encouraged. It’s mainly from this quarter, small to mid-size firms, that all the creativity and innovation come from. Let’s never forget it.

Along the moral dimension, I’ve already spoken of “the moral equivalence and worthiness of persons,” of the theory of (human) rights which is quickly becoming the focus of modern political theory and the basis of all right-headed, ethical thinking. At present, it’s limited to nation-states, resulting thus in re-inventing the good old concept of “the public good”: and the present healthcare proposal, regardless of its intended or unintended consequences, is a case in point. But soon, mark my words, this torch will spread beyond its present boundaries, to include the world at large. And so will the concept of the public good, to encompass every creature large or small, all part of the same global village. It’s only a matter of time.

Will this lead to a realignment of political realities and shifting allegiances, to making strange bedfellows and altering the composition within the existing power structures? You bet! The human rights concept, and the corresponding notion of universal justice, are too comprehensive to be contained by the boundaries of a nation-state, any nation state, for any such application is bound to be constricting for being parochial: the whole world, all peoples and nation-states, each and every individual are the proper stage.

So yes, the days of the United States as a sovereign nation are limited – if not in this generation then the next. We’ve grown too big for our breeches to contain an idea that’s going to drive our future and shape the world to come until it reaches a new equilibrium point under brand-new configuration.

Yes, I am talking about the New World Order, a confederation of nation-states, a “brave new world,” some have called it, and with great misgivings, I might add. Well, it’s bound to be better than the present, characterized by misguided national loyalties and internal squabbles, the pettiness of it all. We’re capable of better future and it shall be ours — with America’s help of without. Probably without, or in spite of her, I should say, because her people are the greatest obstacle, or so it seems, to human progress. Ultimately, it won’t matter because America won’t matter.

On what do I base these predictions? Simply the fact that we’re undergoing the greatest populist revolution in this country’s history. Obama has been “the peoples’ choice,” no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And what has been the reaction? He’s been fought tooth and nail on practically every single issue. On each and every program, every legislative proposal, he’s been declared dead-wrong. There is nothing in fact the fellow can do what is right, not even in his sleep. I’ll be the first to say that yes, much of what had transpired in the first two hundred days of the new administration can be criticized, but come on . . .

Again, the present controversy concerning health care, the House version, is a case in point. Without getting into the nitty-gritty, the disruptive atmosphere pervading nearly every town-hall meeting devoted to clarifying and discussing the issue, despite the lack of preparation on the part of the congresspersons who are supposed to know better, I have but one comment to make: it’s been a total disgrace.

I know that some have and will call it the reigniting of the American spirit, the radicalization of the silent majority, the reawakening on the part of the forgotten white male, once so prominent in laying America’s foundation and now, all so neglected and made dispensable, the call for freedom and liberty on the part of Everyman. And they’ll regard it as the greatest happening since the War of Independence — so sweet the sound.

Well, I have a different take. Once more, we’re seeing the great unwashed masses — white trash, if you ask me — subjected to politics of fear. Indeed, it’s no different than, when under the auspices of “The War on Terror,” most Americans have been more than willing to give up some of their rights under the Patriot Act. This time, however, it’s the government that represents the greatest menace by way of “death-panels,” rationing healthcare, and whatnot. And in the name of what? Insuring those who, by reason of personal circumstance or the vagaries of the private insurance market, have been left in the cold? Of possibly reducing the overall medical costs when the uninsured check in the emergency rooms and, while not denied treatment, contribute more than heftily to everyone’s insurance costs?

Yet the propaganda continues, and it falls on the receptive ears of our seniors, old farts who have no sympathy for anyone but themselves, a privileged class which has never experienced a setback while America was still believable and going strong, the old and dying remnant which knows nothing of solidarity or class-consciousness, of the common lot uniting all peoples of every color, creed and ethnic background, be they Americans or of any other origin. And why? Because they never had to! And so, their only concern is their own entitlements, screw every-body else.

What a sorry state of affairs to be concerned only with number one? What a legacy for a nation that bills itself as the land of the free and the brave? You want my honest opinion? We don’t deserve to survive. And we won’t if this continues. What we’re seeing is a nation disintegrating before our very eyes, falling apart at the seams, while its people think nothing of it. The public good is the furthest thing from their mind. The spirit is gone, the spirit of humanity and common destiny that awaits not just Americans but all men, the sense of human decency and all the values which make us thoughtful, sentient beings.

I’m ashamed to be an American. For fifty years, I had a love affair with this country, a passionate love affair. For all her faults, I kept on believing in her for she represented a promise, a bright future never realized before, the hope of humankind. No longer! This is the last draw. I have nothing in common with these people. They’re not my people anymore and it’s no longer my country. All allegiances are broken.

Bye-bye, Miss American Pie. You had your chance, your golden opportunity, but you squandered it. The world will go on, with you or without you, and so will humanity’s march toward a better tomorrow. You’re history.

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About Roger Nowosielski

  • Zozobra

    When America’s immigrant philosophers give up on her, she’s doomed beyond question.


  • Darn, Zozobra beat me to being the first responder. Oh well. I will read this tomorrow Roger. I’m late for an important date with a book on CD.

  • Jordan Richardson

    The world will go on, with you or without you, and so will humanity’s march toward a better tomorrow.


    I hope that the rest of the world reconfigures its worship of America and that notions like the “American Dream” and the selfishness that “drives” (more like cripples) the economy in the United States ceases to catch on as an international standard.

    Part of the problem for the future of America is that they are now being beat at their own game by the Chinese. China is becoming a nation of better capitalists than America, as their inventive spirit is producing while the Americans continue to consume. So when you add that into the mix, things in the United States start to look bleak. They won’t be able to maintain this myth of “leader of the free world” for much longer, I daresay the “title” will be relinquished in a decade if the progress in China continues.

    America is reaping what it sows. A culture built on a conception of the Individual or on Ego is destined to collapse, as humanity is destined to collapse due to our foolish misuse of the world’s resources (how we could think our fuel and natural resources would be infinite is beyond me). America is just the ideal example of humanity: taking without giving anything back and expecting without sacrifice.

    People fight in the United States for “liberty” and “freedom,” but what those concepts have become is freedom and liberty for the Almighty Me. When lobbying groups invade the health care debate with their own mandates and poison the well of discourse, scaring people along the way, it’s no wonder nothing gets done. And this happens because the population is too lazy, stupid and selfish to do anything about.

    The world has long been tired of the American Ego, of American selfishness poisoning and eradicating other cultures and societies. There’s a reason fundamentalism is growing around the world and a reason that American distrust and hatred continues to blossom. No matter who’s elected, the underlying current of consumption, greed and corruption NEVER changes. This goes beyond government, big or small, and sits directly in the lap of a people who allowed corporations to become human beings and sold their souls for fleeting superiority.

    Humanity sure as hell has hope, but it isn’t in any particular country or nation. It’s within the whole, it’s within those who still believe it’s a good thing to give, share and live in a sustainable fashion. It’s within those who believe that it’s a good thing to sacrifice of themselves without asking questions about who “deserves” it or who’s “earned it.” It’s within those who believe that being “human” is enough of a fucking prerequisite to deserve health and dignity. It’s within those who believe a nation or country is best defined not by its wealth but how it treats those without any.

    As long as there are people like that in the world, there’s hope for mankind. But as long as there are those resistant to progress and change, resistant to helping and sharing, and resistant to selflessness and compassion, there’s always a threat to our survival as well.

    I’m sorry you’ve become disillusioned with America, Roger, but I don’t blame you for a fucking second.

  • Arch Conservative

    Is there anything more selfish than expecting the government to take from your neighhbor to provide for you?

    People like you have been using emotion and semantics for years to advance your agenda of moral relativism Jordan.

    No judgement. Everyone is equal regardless of their actions. Everyone is ENTITLED to the same thing.

    Merit, personal responsibility….what what’s that.

    I’m disillusioned with America too. We didn’t use to be a nation full of whiney little excuse making pusssies that couldn’t stand on our own too feet and had our hand out every two seconds.

    Now this weekend we get to listen to a bunch of fossils reminisce about how a weekend concert at some farm in upstate NY 40 years ago where a bunch of deadbeats sat in the mud and their own feces while consuming massive amounts of drugs was the greatest thing that’s ever happened to this nation. Such a useless self indulgent display of the “almighty me” phenomena the world has never known seen before and most likely never will again.

    Please….that’s where it all started to go wrong. Ever since it’s been nothing but excuses and enslavement to the federal government.

    Now those useless, shiftless malcontents have all grown up and started driving hybrids. Oh but they haven’t sold out. they all became college professors so that they could poison the minds of another generation with their perverse ideology.

    But recently we have seen a backlash against them and their messiah. Perhaps their is hope after all for this nation and perhaps in these past two weeks we have witnessed the birth of someting extraordinarly great.

  • Clavos

    I invoke Sam Clemens…

  • Georgio

    Roger..I don’t come to this site very much because it has gone down hill for a long time and it is a shame because it has very intelligent ppl on it and YOU are the most intelligence of all of them..
    I was not going to read your article because I was in a hurry and I already read Dave’s usual bullshit and a very informative article from Chaz on Financial meltdown ..I don’t know if you remember me but I’m the guy who retired to the most beautiful place I have ever seen.Skidaway Inland in Savannah Ga..just about everyone is rich here and do’t want change of any kind..they hate Bush because he hurt their bank accounts but they hate Obama more..
    you said despite the lack of preparation on the part of the congresspersons who are supposed to know better, I have but one comment to make: it’s been a total disgrace.
    You are so right Roger …You don’t see this happening when Obama holds a town meeting because the man knows what he is talking about..oh I know someone will say the audience was hand picked but this will be more bullshit.
    you also said “Humanity sure as hell has hope, but it isn’t in any particular country or nation. It’s within the whole, it’s within those who still believe it’s a good thing to give, share and live in a sustainable fashion. It’s within those who believe that it’s a good thing to sacrifice of themselves without asking questions about who “deserves” it or who’s “earned it.” It’s within those who believe that being “human” is enough of a fucking prerequisite to deserve health and dignity. It’s within those who believe a nation or country is best defined not by its wealth but how it treats those without any”..This is such a good point you make Roger and I don’t think most here will appreciate the importance of it..It is something that Obama believes in and wants to accomplish but nooo they will say it’s socialism he wants ..what selfish fools..the othere night I was having dinner with my rich friends ..very nice ppl but when I brought up H/C they got mad they said they don’t want change ..of coarse not they can afford anything they want..when I asked them ..what about the poor they said “they can go to the emergency room”.isn’t that a shame ..but in away that’s a big gain because 6 months ago they would have complained that the bastards are costing us money by using the emergency room …another rich friend emailed me and said “you don’t actually believe that our health system is not the best in the world..so I emailed him the facts that we are rated way down on the list..
    I just hope Obama can get a decent plan passed and after a year when all the lies don’t happen like the death panels etc..they will say “umm dis ain’t so bad after all” just like the prescription drug plan that the seniors did not want..now they say don’t touch it..I could go on and on Roger but I am old now and tire out..keep up the good work Roger.

  • Bliffle

    Archie is SO eloquent that I’m coming out in favor of infanticide. Nothing exemplifies welfare deadbeat socialism more than those damn babies! Always whining and crying for food, grasping , eating , demanding more. And then what do they do when they should be expressing gratitude? They puke on your shirt and poop in their pants! And they get even worse when they’re teenagers! It’s always “me, me, me”, “I want, I want, I want”. It doesn’t even get any better when they’re middle-aged, it’s still “what are you going to do for me next?”.

    Those kids never show any respect or gratitude! Just look at what they want to do now: setup “Death Panels” in the healthcare reform bill! What kind of gratitude is that? What kind of respect?

    We need to do what the Spartans did and have a Valley of the Unfit, so a person could go to the edge and throw the little whiney pukey poopy blood-sucking dependent entitlement-hog proto-socialist into the abyss and have done with it!

    Me first!

    After all, it’s the American thing to do.

  • I’m very appreciative of all the comments thus far, Jordan, Georgio – yes, I remember you, talking about beautiful Savannah (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil comes to mind, Johnny Mercer’s home), Bliffle and Zozobra of course.

    I do apologize that my article was kind of disjointed – it didn’t draw the kind of necessary connections, only suggested them. I couldn’t do it because the emotional response was predominant: I couldn’t get past that.

    I’m grateful, however, for the fact that Jordan, Georgio and Bliffle were able to more fully articulate what was merely implicit: and all of you did a heckuva job doing it. I couldn’t have said it any better.

    In part II I should be able to provide a more substantive, rational analysis behind “the emotion.” I’ll fall back on the writings of Michel Foucault and Umberto Eco (especially as regards their analysis of the concept of power) and marginally on Chomsky’s account of our failing states. But that’s latter.

    One thing is clear, as long as there are people like you, all is not lost and we shall progress. Even within the BC community, there are enough clear-thinking, rational and properly motivated people to concern themselves with the future of humanity – and that’s regardless of what political spectrum they come from. Silas Kain is a perfect example. So there is definitely hope. Whether America shall prove to be the crucible for the necessary social change, that remains to be seen. If we don’t change our ways and embrace a more comprehensive, progressive viewpoint, I’m afraid we will be the followers rather than the leaders. Future will tell.

    PS: Georgio, if I remember correctly, you lean to conservative thinking. It is refreshing to hear you being concerned with the larger picture. We need more people like you.

  • Poland always beckons, Roger. You know, “march, march Dombrowsky!” and all that rot… I suggest you stop whining and read this article from Cluj, Romania.

    I can afford to throw the “love it or leave it” line in your face Roger. I didn’t love it – and I left.

  • Doug Hunter

    America is dying. The sites so called ‘progressives’ come together to spit on it’s memory, scoffing at it’s notions of such things as liberty, freedom, and self determination. Congratulations, you killed it. The ‘progress’ you have wrought is the death of the American dream, the marginalization of this nation, and the turning of the populace into a spoiled, entitled children looking for nothing but a handout (or is it bread and circuses?).

    We desperately attempt to cope with the death of our collective spirit by self medicating, with Ritalin and painkillers, overconsumption, and moral degradation, but we’re finding out that’s a dead end road to nowhere. I appreciate the offer for a ride, but I think I’ll walk.

  • What has liberty, freedom and self-determination got to do with these “protesters,” Doug? They haven’t had an original thought all their life. The fixing of the health insurance system is not contradictory to any of the values you mention.

  • zingzing

    “The sites so called ‘progressives’ come together to spit on it’s memory, scoffing at it’s notions of such things as liberty, freedom, and self determination.”

    gosh, i sure do hate liberty. i’d rather not be free to say that. and freedom! oh, the liberties i would take with that rotting corpse. feh! i don’t even know what to say about self determination. you just tell me what to do about that. that said, i wouldn’t even recognize it if you told me to.

    “Congratulations, you killed it.”

    death to america! haha i spit on you!

  • # 9:

    Ruvy, it’s still my country. I just happen to have nothing in common with probably 30 percent of its people. They may as well be from Mars as far as I am concerned.

  • Roger, I really think your desperate promotion of a New World Order and the destruction of America as a sovereign nation with a unique identity is a terrible idea. When things go awry is the proper response to immediately reject everything in the past and try something new or unproven just because it is new? It seems much wiser to examine why we have the problems we do and to try to fix those problems rather than scrapping everything which has worked along with everything which has failed all in one big spasm of change.

    The truth is that the problems we now have are the result of certain specific policies which can be identified and corrected. Going back to policies which worked for a very long time, but were gradually abandoned is the sensible response. When you act out of panic and desperation you create more disaster, and that’s exactly what you are advocating and what the left is promoting today.

    As Doug said in his over-the-top way, throwing out the values of liberty and individual responsibility and representative government on the pretext of “hard times” is what will truly show that America has failed.


  • I’m not promoting it, Dave. It’s just how I see the future unfold. The American people have lost it. You can’t expect the Wall-Mart consumers to lead the world. And that’s by and large what we’ve become.

    As I mentioned to Doug, I see no inherent contradiction between abandoning the concepts of liberty, freedom and self-determination and accepting however incomplete or less-than-perfect healthcare plan that’s on the table. That’s setting up a bogus set of choices.

    Besides, the protesters at these town-hall meetings don’t strike me as being particularly well versed in the tenets of American political philosophy. The notion of the common/public good is the furthest from their mind. Their objections are not general or philosophical but only self-related, having to do how they will fare as a result of the bill’s passage. Nothing else matters.

  • Doug Hunter

    I was drawing more inspiration from Jordan’s comment. His ideas are our future, perhaps even a bit more ‘progressive’ than yours.

    Read his comment in agreement with the article and tell me if the distaste for the things I mention don’t ring through.

    “I hope that the rest of the world reconfigures its worship of America and that notions like the ‘American Dream’ and the selfishness”-JR

    “A culture built on a conception of the Individual… is destined to collapse”-JR

    “People fight in the United States for ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom,’ but what those concepts have become is freedom and liberty for the Almighty Me”-JR

    Of course it’s for the almighty me. For starters I don’t even understand the concept of freedom and liberty outside of the individual. Even the term individual freedom is a bit redundant. Is it really freedom if someone else, or some other group, is dictating it? The biggest and most powerful group always has freedom so the term has little meaning in that context, the idea is to extend that freedom down to smaller groups and individuals.

    Of course, he realizes that China’s star is rising because it’s competing, producing, and becoming more capitalistic than America. Now if you guys could just put two and two together.

  • I see what you’re getting at, Doug.

    I would want to say, however, that perhaps you’re operating with somewhat exalted, if not unrealistic, concept of freedom. It’s never meant as an absolute kind of thing – especially in the context of a civil society which, according to a legalistic, juridical model, some of those “original” freedoms enjoyed in “the state of nature” are relinquished and subject to limitations by vesting certain powers in the sovereign.

    On the moral level, individual freedom is also mitigated by responsibility – whether to your country (sense of duty) or your fellow men. It doesn’t mean ruthlessness.

  • Clavos

    Don McLean should sue for the gross and inappropriate misuse of his copyrighted song title.

    This article is another verbose pseudo intellectual mish-mash. Another dose of hyperbolic nonsense clothed in overblown, obfuscatory rhetoric and couched in apocalyptic terms, especially the second half.

    Like the Bard’s definition of life, found in Macbeth, it is “…but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

  • It wasn’t pretended to be intellectual, Clavos, just an account of emotion based on my perception of certain events and facts. If you’ve ever been in love with someone and then you fall out of love, you would understand. It’s that kind of accounting – nothing more. A personal statement, if you like.

    Thank you for your kind comments, though.

  • zingzing

    clavos: “…another verbose pseudo intellectual mish-mash. Another dose of hyperbolic nonsense clothed in overblown, obfuscatory rhetoric and couched in apocalyptic terms…”

    you must realize what you’ve done here.

  • Clavos

    you must realize what you’ve done here.

    Uh huh.

    It’s called parody.

  • I think Clavos suffers from all too rigid a dichotomy between emotion and reason not to realize that they’re intricately connected, that reason, more often than not, is a mouthpiece for our emotions, unexamined.

    Well, perhaps it does tell of his real persona, perhaps it doesn’t. Either way, one would have to be a fool not to recognize
    the connection.

    I suppose Dave’s characterization of the anti-protesters as thugs and shills is a different matter – an intellectual exercise at its best – than my calling the protesters old farts who don’t give a shit about anybody but themselves. Mine was an intellectual mish-mash and his a finest work in critical thinking.

    But it’s all in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

  • zingzing

    “It’s called parody.”

    juuuuust checkin’!

    “I suppose Dave’s characterization of the anti-protesters as thugs and shills is a different matter – an intellectual exercise at its best – than my calling the protesters old farts who don’t give a shit about anybody but themselves. Mine was an intellectual mish-mash and his a finest work in critical thinking.”

    yep. that’s the way it goes. laziness on clavos’ part, but then again, we’re all guilty to some degree.

  • The quote from Macbeth was a parody, not your own depiction.

  • The way I see it, he wouldn’t be as biting if it didn’t strike a cord.

  • zingzing

    “The quote from Macbeth was a parody, not your own depiction.”

    it would have been better had it not been so famous a line. if he had dug up some obscure shakespearean reference, that would have taken it over the top.

  • Clavos

    Actually, they both are, Roger.

    But as expected, you missed it.

    O, the irony. The irony…

  • “another verbose pseudo intellectual mish-mash. Another dose of hyperbolic nonsense clothed in overblown, obfuscatory rhetoric and couched in apocalyptic terms…”

    There isn’t enough of imagery here (except for “apocalyptic terms” perhaps) for it to qualify as a parody. Without the quote from the Bard, it’s but an invective.

  • zingzing

    aw, come on roger… let clavos pat his own back. well played, i say.

  • Got it give him credit, though, zing. Nobody accused Clavos of not being erudite.

  • OK. I concede.

  • Doug Hunter

    I say in the spirit of the new America and all that is PC, the victim gets to determine the offense and the meaning of an insult, therefore I must side with Roger. See how much I have progressed.

  • I don’t regard myself as a victim here, Doug. And Clavos is free to call it how he sees it. It’s just that I happen to disagree with his assessment of this article, that’s all. I would be petty to feel offended.

  • Doug Hunter

    That’s funny, I almost referenced that cliche (I’m not a victim!) in my comment. It’s prototypical talk show fodder. Sure, I spent the last 30 years of my life sulking in a shithole crying myself to sleep every night, and now I’m coming on television using my tragedy as a tool to garner sympathy, a skill which I have perfected over the years, but damnit do not dare call me a victim!

  • I failed to get your meaning, Doug. I’m not running a popularity contest.

  • Besides, the protesters at these town-hall meetings don’t strike me as being particularly well versed in the tenets of American political philosophy. The notion of the common/public good is the furthest from their mind. Their objections are not general or philosophical but only self-related, having to do how they will fare as a result of the bill’s passage. Nothing else matters.

    This is an ignorant mischaracterization of the protesters. In fact, their protest is philosophically based and just happens to be manifesting itself on the Health Care issue, but it applies to a wide range of issues which they feel threaten their liberty and rights. They’re just running with Health Care because that seems to be working.


  • Well, I’m glad you’re having such a high opinion of them. I was only going by first impressions. If they’re truly motivated by principles rather than their perception of how the Health Care issue would affect them once passed, then I’m glad. I just don’t have such a high opinion of the American public. I’m glad that you do, though, and I’d like to be proven wrong.

  • Roger, the protesters are NOT a cross-section of the American public. They are part of a growing body of people who are highly motivated by basically libertarian principles who have had enough of government expansion and the erosion of rights. They were very unhappy in the Bush administration, but Obama has pushed them over the edge and radicalized them.

    If you think the protests on Health Care are a big deal, just wait. There are issues coming down the road which will anger them far more.


  • Well, I’m certain they’re aren’t, Dave, so in a sense I’ve misspoken. But whatever the case, we’re up for an ugly confrontation.

    Again, my view of rights is somewhat different than yours. Whereas I think of more encompassing terms, i.e., in terms of extension, you’re focusing on preservation. So that’s where our philosophical differences lie.

  • Five pages which drone on about everything that needs to be fixed, and it’s only Part I?

  • the protesters are NOT a cross-section of the American public.

    At last, a glimmer of truth and honesty.

    The problem is that many conservative commentators pretend that the protesters are representative of everyone who has misgivings about the health care legislation — even though they are really only a radical fringe.

    See how hoppin’ mad America is, the commentators say. And some of this nonsense sticks.

  • Five pages which drone on about everything that needs to be fixed, and it’s only Part I?

    Gotto agree with Monsieur Sussman. You never did read that article ot of Romania, did you, Roger? You really ought to….

  • zingzing

    dave: “In fact, their protest is philosophically based”

    sure, dave.

  • A good account of so-called philosophically-based August revolt.

    A relevant citation follows:

    Spurred on by the success of their efforts to dominate the news at Democratic town hall meetings, conservative groups are reporting increases in membership lists and are joining forces to plan at least one mass demonstration in Washington next month.

    But the conservative mobilization has also created an unusual dilemma for Republican leaders, who want to turn the enthusiasm into election victories next year but find themselves the target of ire from many of the same activists.

    Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the GOP’s Senate campaign committee, was booed at a “tea party” rally in July for supporting the government bailout of the financial services industry.

    And one of the GOP’s most reliable conservatives, Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina, was shouted down at a recent town hall meeting when he criticized a conservative broadcaster and tried to counter claims that children would soon be forced to receive swine flu vaccinations.

    “You cannot build a movement on something that is not credible,” said a frustrated Inglis, referring to the vaccine issue and other false rumors being spread by more aggressive critics of the health bill.

    “Going door to door, I found opposition tending toward hostility,” Inglis added. “At town meetings, the hostility went straight through to hysteria.”

  • As the quote from Inglis points out there are certainly crazies among the protesters. But they are not the majority, just a vocal minority within the vocal minority.

    Like any political movement with any potential for success this one has a diverse base, and politicians like Inglis and Cornyn have mixed records, but if they make some appropriate concessions they ought to be able to use it to their advantage.


  • Wow, Roger, I find sometimes we don’t agree on many things, but in this post, I agree with much of it. In a way it’s enlightening and in a way very sad. I don’t know if I emotionally can stick around to witness the final chapter, but I do know this, I’m not sure I want to.

    Oh, well. Nations rise and fall. Maybe it’s time for the natural progression of things.

  • Bliffle

    Dave seems to be an expert on the genesis of all this neo-hostility, so my question to him is: what exactly are they complaining about?

    Is it the projected cost of the healthcare bill, which has been set at $90billion/year? In which case I wonder why they are not exercised at the $250billion/year middle east war cost?

    Is it the grandma-killing death panels? In which case I wonder why they are not exercised over the insurance company ‘rescission’ policies that can shut the hospital doors in grandmas face.

    Is it an unfocused rage over the vague feeling that they are getting screwed, prompted, perhaps, by the financial industry bailouts?

    Is it just opportunism, a chance to exercise anti-liberal agitation on behalf of the GOP?

    Really? What is the source, o master of Nalle mysteries?

  • Roger doesn’t include it in his Bob Inglis story, but the ‘conservative broadcaster’ in question was Glenn Beck.

    Someone in the crowd yelled that Inglis should watch Glenn Beck. Inglis recommended instead that when Beck comes on, “you should just turn that television off. This man is playing on people’s fears.” There was a roar of disapproval from the crowd that drowned him out for the next several minutes.

    And Inglis is a guy who firmly opposes the Democratic health care bills!

  • zingzing

    but mobs don’t like being told they’re ugly.

  • #40:

    Guilty as charged, Sussman. The follow-up I have in mind is a different level discourse rather than Part II. Poor decision on my part.

  • Interesting development on the healthcare reforms front: possibility of dropping the public option.

    The relevant quote:

    Under a proposal by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., consumer-owned nonprofit cooperatives would sell insurance in competition with private industry, not unlike the way electric and agriculture co-ops operate, especially in rural states such as his own.
    With $3 billion to $4 billion in initial support from the government, the co-ops would operate under a national structure with state affiliates, but independent of the government. They would be required to maintain the type of financial reserves that private companies are required to keep in case of unexpectedly high claims.
    “I think there will be a competitor to private insurers,” Sebelius said. “That’s really the essential part, is you don’t turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the right thing.”

  • Clavos

    Is it the projected cost of the healthcare bill, which has been set at $90billion/year?

    Set by those trying to sell it to those of us who will have to pay for it, whether or not we agree to.

    The CBO sets it at $1+ trillion. I think even that figure will prove to be pathetically low.

    Is it an unfocused rage over the vague feeling that they are getting screwed, prompted, perhaps, by the financial industry bailouts?

    Nothing vague about it. We are and did get screwed; it’s what the government does to its productive citizens. Always has, always will.

    Unless we devise a plan to stop it.

  • Now that it seems the public option is coming off the table, why are we even wasting our time? No true health care reform can be achieved unless it includes a public option. So, now we’ll make it all fluffy, acceptable and more attractive to insurance, pharmaceuticals and the American Medical Association. I’ve been reading the bill, line by line. It seems to me that this bill can’t be debated properly if we don’t read the damn thing! But again, I’m wasting my time. Obama lost. Special interests won. And once again we get screwed.

  • Unless the coops can be boosted to be able to effectively compete. Don’t you think it’s doable, Silas?

  • I wish, Roger. The millions that have been spent by special interests to kill health reform is going to be put on the back of the consumer. Doesn’t anybody get that simple little point? All these dollars have to come from somebody. I’d love to see coops effectively compete. I’d love to see a compassionate health care system that’s balanced between care and prevention. The problem is there’s no money in it. Imagine what could have been done with the millions spent on that new eyelash drug.

  • So Obama has caved under pressure – no real commitment, only political expediency. I hope they’ll find the courage and proceed regardless.

  • Dave seems to be an expert on the genesis of all this neo-hostility, so my question to him is: what exactly are they complaining about?

    I have my sources.

    What they are complaining about right now is Health Care, but it’s just part of a larger concern about out of control government which doesn’t listen to the people and has exceeded any mandate it was once given. They want smaller, less intrusive and less expensive government which performs only necessary functions as outlined in the Constitution, protects our rights and otherwise leaves us the hell alone.

    Is it the projected cost of the healthcare bill, which has been set at $90billion/year? In which case I wonder why they are not exercised at the $250billion/year middle east war cost?

    Many of these same people opposed the war in Iraq and continue to oppose the war in Afghanistan. Others fall into the common category of those who feel it is legitimate to spend for the common defense, but not to spend on things which people should provide for themselves.

    The question I keep hearing is “where in the Constitution does it say anything about a federal role in providing health care?”

    Is it the grandma-killing death panels? In which case I wonder why they are not exercised over the insurance company ‘rescission’ policies that can shut the hospital doors in grandmas face.

    The death panels thing is just one concern which has been played up by the left and right media. Most of those I talk to understand that there is health care rationing under the current system as well, but universally they’d rather that whatever rationing went on was handled by people they hire rather than government bureaucrats, especially working for an administration they see as autocratic.

    Is it an unfocused rage over the vague feeling that they are getting screwed, prompted, perhaps, by the financial industry bailouts?

    I’m sure that’s an element of it. Many of them are rabidly anti-corporate.

    Is it just opportunism, a chance to exercise anti-liberal agitation on behalf of the GOP?

    Opportunists are certainly there, but if you look at the actual GOP groups and leaders most of them are pushing for moderation.


  • As far as the coops, I like the idea a lot. Where things like that have been tried they have worked well. But I don’t understand why it makes a difference if they are included in the legislation. There’s nothing prohibiting their formation now, and I don’t see what they could enact which would suddenly make more coops spring up all over the place unless they just (as usual) hand out tax money to them.


  • I happen to agree with #58, regardless of how the healthcare reforms progress. For one thing, it’s a departure from the usual business model and brings variety into the mix. The main thing is for them to be competitive enough.

    As to legislation, perhaps it’s a matter of giving a nod of approval. I’d hope, however, it would go beyond that – in that the government would play a supportive role to facilitate their formation.

  • Bliffle

    Clavos attempts a clumsy bit of sleight of hand, but fails:

    “52 – Clavos

    Is it the projected cost of the healthcare bill, which has been set at $90billion/year?

    The CBO sets it at $1+ trillion. I think even that figure will prove to be pathetically low.”

    Are you REALLY saying $1trillion per year? Since I stated $90billion/year. Are you saying the real cost will be 11 times what I offered?

    No, I don’t think so. I think you’re trying to confuse people by giving the total cost for 10 years as a single year figure. Or are you really that dumb?

    The total 10 year cost is proffered to be $900billion.

    That’s peanuts compared to the Bush wars, which (in 6 years) have already sent about $2-3trillion straight to the bottom line as National Debt, and which continue to cost $250billion/year to support.

    What analysis do you cite for saying: “…I think even that figure will prove to be pathetically low.”

    The pathetic budgeting of the Bush regime, which said the total cost of the Iraq invasion would be less than $30billion, and it might even pay for itself with oil royalties?

    The administration has changed. Bush is gone.

  • It’s amazing they don’t give a hoot about foreign wars, but when it comes to spending on domestic programs, they’re misers superordinaire.

  • Bliffle

    Dave is dissembling:

    “38 – Dave Nalle

    Roger, the protesters … are part of a growing body of people who are highly motivated by basically libertarian principles who have had enough of government expansion and the erosion of rights. They were very unhappy in the Bush administration, but Obama has pushed them over the edge and radicalized them.”

    IMO they aren’t libertarians at all, because it seems that the first time they became aware of their libertarian principles was when those principles were contra democrats. They were quite content to have Bush trample all over their rights and ignore constitutional guarantees when he was in office.

    How convenient, that they discovered high-flown libertarian principles just when democrats took office.

    No, IMO, they are simply inveterate rightwing partisans, like yourself.

  • Bliffle

    The coop idea is a non-starter. Coops will have to enforce the same discriminatory rules that insurance companies do now to avoid getting just sick poor people after insurance companies skim off rich healthy people.

    Besides, they won’t have the revenue resources, the throw-weight, that the big insCos have.

    It’s an old (failed) socialist idea. Norway tried it in the 50’s when they sought to combat the lightbulb monopoly by subsidizing a small competitor to undercut monopoly pricing and draw monopoly prices down. The lighbulb monopoly simply ignored the puny competitor, let them have a small market share, and still kept reaping big profits (they found they could even increase prices because the puny competitor couldn’t ramp up production enough to threaten them). Eventually they had to nationalize.

    This is our fate if we allow the insurance companies to continue to monopolize the market. they will increase their share of GDP 6% per year (or as high as wall street demands they go), just as they have increased GDP share from 9% to 18% in a dozen years. What’s to stop them?

    That is why I doubt the sincerity of the Obamacare protestors: they’ve been getting screwed by the insCos for many years, why did they suddenly discover libertarian principles now? And what do they propose to slow the takeover of the US economy by insurance companies?

  • What if they were subsidized by the government, Bliffle?

  • Good old Kent Conrad from North Dakota has too much power and he’s in the back pockets of special interests including real estate developers, rice growers, industrial farm corporations and, yes, boys and girls, the health care industry. He’s not up for election next year but he’s taken in some serious money from health care special interests this year:

    PFIZER INC. PAC 1000.00

    Members of Congress are all clients of Jerry McGuire — they say show me the money; they get it and the screw us. Wake up, folks. Follow the money trails and read the health care bill for yourselves. This entire debate is bought and paid for by special interests.

  • IMO they aren’t libertarians at all, because it seems that the first time they became aware of their libertarian principles was when those principles were contra democrats. They were quite content to have Bush trample all over their rights and ignore constitutional guarantees when he was in office.

    If you’re going to take me as an exemplar of the group, the go back and READ my articles opposing a wide variety of anti-libertarian Bush policies, like Real ID and the PATRIOT Act. The truth is that they/we were opposing Bush, but no one was paying attention and larger groups weren’t getting on board until Obama and the Democrats stepped in as the primary target.

    Yes, the GOP and the political establishment are using the right-libertarian protesters, but the protesters are using them and their lap dog media to get a level of public exposure they’ve never had before.

    No, IMO, they are simply inveterate rightwing partisans, like yourself.

    Selective memory again. You seme to have forgotten that I and many of these people as well are hardly standard right-wingers of the sort you’re used to. A great many of us support gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, an end to foreign interventionism and other positions which can hardly be lumped into your trite little right-wing box.


  • People like that are a fucking disgrace, Silas. There’s got to be a way to ever stop scum like that from running for public office.

  • Dick Armey, although I certainly don’t think he is a trustworthy source on this matter, compared the proposed government-sponsored insurance co-ops to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    Re: Clavos in #52: The often quoted $1-trillion dollar cost of the House bill is over a 10-year period, so $100 billion per year. The Senate finance committee has informally estimated their bill’s cost at $900 billion over 10 years, or $90 billion per year.

    No one has said the bill would cost $1 trillion per year.

  • So if this is the bill as it’s shaping up:

    with the public option watered down or gone;

    With insurance reform that would remove pre-existing condition and lifetime-cap policies;

    An individual mandate so healthy young people have to join the risk pool;

    And a watered down employer mandate;

    Will our conservative pals still rabidly oppose the bill?

    And Silas, if all that is in it, is it really worthless and has Obama ‘lost,’ as you so delicately put it?

    I could live with such a bill, and I think the Republicans would have a harder time demonizing it.

  • I think it’s an apt comparison. It mightn’t be such a bad idea under the circumstances provided you take the idea of profit making and business-government collusion of interests out of the equation.

  • Handy, regretfully I have to look at this as a huge loss for the President. What’s worse is that this is the prelude for the fight to come — over reform of Social Security. We place all our eggs in the Oval Office basket. Members of Congress remain unaccountable. McCain tried and sold out. Obama tried and he got sold out by members of his own party. At least with the rapidly dwindling GOP, we can always expect the worse. It’s in their blood. Democrats are all hot air. They talk a good game but when it comes down to the wire they take the coward’s way out. We need alternative political parties to work as a coalition against the reigning one and a half.

  • I realize Handy is doing his best to put the best face of this. I, too, am disappointed. It’s really pathetic that with Democratic majority in both houses and the filibuster-proof Senate they’re folding in and by virtue of what – the hotheads at the town-hall meetings which come nowhere near to representing public opinion.

    Politics is the art of the possible, but this is just surrender.

  • Doug Hunter

    re #69

    Public option – good riddance.

    Pre-Existing and Lifetime Cap. It is something that needs addressed, however, I’d like to see more details about how the preexisting condition limitation might work as I can envision several potential pitfalls and ‘unforeseen’ consequences. (clever government regulation would be crucial here) Removing the lifetime cap is already a free choice, there are policies without one, some just choose not to pay for it. I’m fairly indifferent.

    Health mandates – I’m very pro mandate. If society has a mandate to cover you in a basic way (even if only in an emergency) then I think it’s only fair to expect you to pay for that coverage. You can’t, or at least shouldn’t, have one without the other.

    Employer mandate, no strong opinion.

    The parts of the bill addressing worker shortages are good. I don’t know whether it addresses the ability of government to negotiate better prices, if not that should be in there.

  • The bill hasn’t been written yet. There could still be some surprises.

    And as the president said, both left and right have fixated on the public option, which wasn’t the whole package, just a part of it.

    But without it, there will have to be more explicit new rules and regulations for the insurance industry. Liberals in the House may get to write those.

  • Bliffle

    Roger asks a good question:

    “#64 – roger

    What if they were subsidized by the government, Bliffle?”

    In Norway they were. But the problem is that to successfully compete they would have had to ramp up production sufficiently (with taxpayer money) to hurt the monopoly. After an economic war they would have had the same result, just with more casualties, so they simply nationalized the monopoly.

    My fear with private health insurance is that US citizens are too uninformed and passive to break up the insurance monopoly.

  • Bliffle

    If the public option is removed I fear it will be replaced with massive subsidies to the malodorous insurance companies, a very bad move, as they are practiced accounting cheats and this move will end up costing far more than the Public Option.

    It will hasten the takeover of the economy by the insurance monopoly and hasten our descent into economic destruction.

  • It’s a testimony to public stupidity to be so uninformed, failing to realize those monopolies have got to be broken up and that unless they are, the public is an unwitting victim. A nation like that deserves what it gets – keep on getting screwed.

  • IMO, the public option was the most viable component of the proposal on the table, capable of re-establishing credible competition. Of course, the opponents have argued that the private option would end up eliminating private insurers.

    I say it’s nonsense. It is in this area that the Republicans, if they were responsible, could put their foot down to make sure that the public option would not end up eliminating the competition from the private sector. I simply can’t believe that adequate countermeasures could not be taken, and those who continue to argue to the contrary are just full of hot air.

  • Ruvy

    Maybe, instead of whining about “medical care reform”, you should be paying attnetion to what friend Roger writes as the alternative to the Great American Dream he says is dead.

    He wants a “new world order”.

    If I dion’t know him better, I’d say he was shilling for the Rockefeller Foundation. But if he were, they wouild have found him better digs than Christian County in the middle of nowhere, USA.

    No, he is pushing their garbage unbeknownst to the rich boys in Rockefeller Center – or wherever these scum hang out.

    Roger, you should charge the bums for your piece! It’s worth at least $1,500….

  • Doug Hunter

    I haven’t seen any credible information that says eliminating Insurance profits would put much of a dent in overall healthcare costs. Private insurance profits account for about 1% of total healthcare spending. The total cost of administration, marketing, and profits for insurance companies is about 20% of their premiums. As you would likely admit, much of that administration goes towards cutting costs.

    The government skates by with less administrative costs but likely allows a few percentage points more fraud and waste. For example, a high school dropout armed with a laptop was able to submit (and receive) $105 million in fraudulent medicare claims before being caught.

    Medicare Fraud

    Somehow, I think a private insurer would have caught on earlier but of course I don’t have proof, just a gut feeling.

    Anyway, the point is that private insurance only accounts for a third of all medical spending. The 20% of insurance costs that don’t go straight to healthcare providers can’t be cut down to zero and even if it could wouldn’t put that great of a dent in our excess cost compared to the rest of the world (which apparently spends about 50% of what we do per capita)

    By my envelope calculation you could at most save 17% administrative (the 20% private minus 3% government) of the 36% paid by private insurers leading to a maximum 6% overall potential cost savings. Other proposals like eliminating caps and guaranteeing coverage for preexisting conditions would reduce this savings considerably (and we haven’t even addressed the uninsured yet).

    The point is, killing the insurance companies isn’t the magic bullet here.

  • #79.

    Perhaps I should, Ruvy, but why should you be complaining? You’ve been praying for the demise of America.

    Anyways, I was under the impression that joining the BC community would get you the proper exposure. They ought to be doing something with their advertising dollars. So I’m waiting.

  • Doug Hunter

    If there was a plan I thought might could work to cover the uninsured without raising costs or lowering benefits (and I trusted politicians and bureacrats to fairly administer it) it would involve the following.

    Single payer universal coverage – eliminates all marketing and many administrative and billing costs

    Advanced technology for billing and medical records – Saves administrative costs

    Limitations on tort costs as your healthcare would be provided free there’s no need for a big settlement for future healthcare anyway – Eliminates large portion of malpractice and helps alleviate defensive medicine.

    New entitlement tax replacing Medicare – No dumping it off on our kids or hoping someone else will pay for it. Everyone who has income contributes.

    With those changes you might get enough savings to cover the uninsured (their own payroll taxes would go a long way towards covering them anyway) without changing the level of service or increasing much the average cost to a family.

    There’s alot of potential negatives to a plan like that as well, it just wasn’t my intent to cover them here.

  • Perhaps the issue, Doug, is not so much eliminating the private insurers but, in addition to forcing them to be competitive, offering the private option to those that the private insurers wouldn’t touch. So in a way, it seems to me you’re still skirting the issue.

  • I’m not promoting it, Dave. It’s just how I see the future unfold. The American people have lost it. You can’t expect the Wall-Mart consumers to lead the world. And that’s by and large what we’ve become.

    And frighteningly, WalMart would love to get into health care with Wally World Clinics across the Bible Belt. One reason why WalMart doesn’t want preventative measures included in the health care debate is because WalMart consumers would be the first educated in the fact that the crap food and snack items they purchase at their local WalMart are a major part of the health care problems. We’re fat. We’re lazy. And we haven’t the guts to change our sloth-like ways.

    Any health care reform MUST contain two essential ingredients:
    1. Preventative education programs including a reward to those individuals who actively take part in a prevention campaign.
    2. A public health option.

    Why is it that the most “Christian” among us would strike down the public option as quickly as they would strike down a Muslim? Is this somehow at the core of Jesus’ message? Did He advise the apostles to let the sick and poor suffer? The Far Right would have you believe that the Left is responsible for the concept of Death Panels. Truth be told, it is the Far Right who would impose selective death panels upon this society. If they really believe that life begins at the very moment a sperm fertilizes an egg then it stands to reason that every embryo that is expelled from a woman’s body is tantamount to murder. So, let them put their money where their mouths are. Let them put their own women who naturally expel embryos before attachment to the uterine wall before these death panels. At least then we may be able to curb their reproduction.

  • Clavos


    We already have coverage for the genuinely indigent.

    It’s called Medicaid.

    The woman who is my wife’s home health aide (she’s paid by Medicare) has two children. She brought one to the house the other day, I noticed the kid had a pretty elaborate set of braces on his teeth, and speculated to her that they must have set her back a bundle.

    Her reply?

    “No, both my kids get Medicaid.”

  • I know about Medicaid, Clav, and to be it is packed with inconsistencies and waste. I’m an ardent supporter of a public option and if Medicaid is going to be the so-called “option” it needs a major overhaul especially with regard to prevention education. I also believe that we should step back from the traditional food stamp program and return to surplus food distributions. By doing so we are creating jobs and insuring proper nutrition.

  • Clavos

    I know about Medicaid, Clav, and to be it is packed with inconsistencies and waste.

    Yes it is Silas; so is Medicare, with which I have a more than passing acquaintance.

    And that, in a nutshell, is exactly why I’m opposed to the government running our health insurance program.

    Let’s use taxes to pay for everyone’s health care, but do not let the bureaucrats manage it.

  • Why is is, then, that there are still an army of the uninsured, and I’m not going to quibble about the exact numbers?

  • Clavos

    Well, as has credibly been noted in a variety of venues, at least 40% of them are immortal youngsters who choose not to carry it (as did I until well into my thirties), some number of them are “off the grid,” (illegal aliens, unemployed, etc.), and not a few older folks make the same choice as youngsters, betting they won’t need it, and opting to spend their money on other priorities.

    Not everyone is sensible. I’ve met more than one individual who would rather buy a fancy car than insurance of any kind.

    I would also bet that many of the truly indigent are unaware they can get Medicaid.

  • If the public option is removed I fear it will be replaced with massive subsidies to the malodorous insurance companies, a very bad move, as they are practiced accounting cheats and this move will end up costing far more than the Public Option.

    The current proposals all include massive subsidies and increases in the monopolistic power of insurance companies, so why don’t you oppose them?


  • Well, if that’s the case, then the healthcare crisis is nowhere near the kind of crisis it is portrayed as. To begin with, the first group should not be counted about “the uninsurable” or at least the proper distinctions ought to be made. And they could be made to pay for using emergency room services.

    And since the problem is so much less grave than it is commonly believed, the proper solutions should be so much easier to come by without too much of a burden on either the employers or the taxpayers. Nor would they generate the kind of vehement objections that they have.

  • #90

    I’m not familiar with the details of the bill and no, thank you, I’m not about to read the bureaucratic garbage. There are people who get paid to do this, and it should be their job to highlight the key ideas.

    As to the second mentioned provision(s), I would definitely oppose all such if I was certain they’re part of the legislative proposal.

  • Don’t be misled by Dave’s description, Roger.

    By ‘subsidies,’ he means [in part] handing the insurance companies lots of new customers by mandating coverage. But this is not a bad thing.

    Obama describes it as the price we will pay for getting rid of the odious practices of denying or limiting coverage [pre-existing conditions, lifetime coverage caps, dropping someone’s coverage just when they get really ill, etc].

    For those changes not to destroy the profits of the insurers, everyone has to be required to have insurance, including and in fact especially the young and healthy who are stupid enough to think they don’t need it.

    We require people to have insurance to drive a car, and this mandate, properly administered, could be just as beneficial.

  • Clavos

    this mandate, properly administered, could be just as beneficial.

    If that’s criterion, then we certainly don’t want to hand it over to the bureaucracy.

  • My realpolitik side sometimes quarrels with my idealistic liberal side.

    But generally speaking, whenever the president’s policies cause grumbling among the Daily Kos crowd, it’s a good sign. It means he’s making a deal with the moderates that will actually get a bill passed.

    The result will still be further to the left than true-believer conservatives/libertarians can consider tolerable, but the Dem base will make a little noise and then move on. No pun intended.

    It’s partly theater, and partly testing the waters to find the ‘real’ midpoint that will get 60 votes in the Senate.

  • Interesting take, handy, on the realpolitik vs. idealistic strains.

  • Bliffle

    I have two objections to ‘mandates’:

    1-it means that every US citizen will be born owing money to a private insurer. Sounds like slavery, to me.

    2-it’s just another tax system. We don’t need it since we already have a tax system. No sense making things more complicated and expensive than they already are.

    Besides, my nephew in MA says it doesn’t work. Nobody knows how to structure it or how to enforce it.

  • Yes it is Silas; so is Medicare, with which I have a more than passing acquaintance.

    I am intimately familiar with Medicare and while it does have issues, I have to say that overall it isn’t as bad as many would have us believe. I do believe that Medicare standards are applied differently in various parts of the country., I don’t think that has as much to do with Medicare as it does with the local medical providers. With all of Medicare’s problems I don’t think it’s fair to characterize it as a complete failure.

    I also think that people should really start reading the Health Care Bill. We’ve been working nonstop in getting the whole thing online for people to look at in a way where you can go to one section at a time. No doubt the final product will be much different than the original H.R. 3200, but it is well worth reviewing if we are to have an informed debate without the special interest financed hype.

  • Bliffle

    Dave asks:

    “#90 – Dave Nalle

    The current proposals all include massive subsidies and increases in the monopolistic power of insurance companies, so why don’t you oppose them?”

    I AM opposed to those subsidies. Just as I have always been against subsidies to corporations that are ostensibly in favor of providing them employment, a la, “we’ve got to give that F22 contract to Boeing to provide employment for technicians”.

  • Bliffle


    “#94 – Clavos

    this mandate, properly administered, could be just as beneficial.

    If that’s criterion, then we certainly don’t want to hand it over to the bureaucracy.”

    Healthcare is ALREADY in the hands of a bureaucracy: the health insurance monopoly bureaucracy, which is no better than any government bureaucracy, and costs a lot more.

    At least with a government bureaucracy you can complain to your congressperson, whereas a commercial monopoly bureaucracy has no reason to not ignore you.

  • 16


    I don’t even understand the concept of freedom and liberty outside of the individual.

    Neither do I. Why maintain a system where the individual is not free?

    Is it really freedom if someone else, or some other group, is dictating it?

    I agree. No matter who is dictating it–a police the govt or a boss or a king.

    The biggest and most powerful group always has freedom …

    Yes, that is the way the game was set up and the winners rule.

    …the idea is to extend that freedom down to smaller groups and individuals.

    Unfortunately, that’s not the idea Doug. That’s done on occasion and here and there. But, that’s not done on a large enough scale to change much. The way the paradigm is set up, most players will be hoarding. There is never enough power or money to be had–no matter much. People, often deprived of personal power, try to win at the game they’re given and that, to them often means conquest. That is–using that power over others, not spreading it downward. It’s a flawed design.

    What would you say to this kind of life as far as individual freedom?

    How would you like to work doing a job you love? Without a boss? How would you like to live in a community with ‘your kind of folks’, whatever kind they may be…and be involved in having a say in every matter that effects you?

    How would you like to raise children who don’t need to buy everything to entertain themselves? They’re entertained because they love to learn and they are interested and take part in the world. They don’t cry or become hardened to people or afraid of people because bullies pick on them. They don’t feel like they wish they were dead because they weigh three pounds more than someone else or judge people by what they can afford. They don’t have to compete for meaningless grades or learn a bunch of facts to forget next week. Therefore, they love to learn (an inherent state in children, if not manipulated or destroyed).

    How would you like to have grown up like that? What kind of job would you seek out having grown up that way? What kind of result would one expect of entire communities of such people? People who love individual freedom and have learned that to use power over anyone else is wrong–even to get what they call freedom.

    Is it freedom to fight your way to the top of a heap using up your life daily, only to find it doesn’t make you happy anyway? To know commercials are lies, but believe them and act according to them anyway? Is it individual freedom to feel you must look like everyone else? How about being forced to use dress codes determined by others for work and school? Are the places people spend most of their waking hours models of individual freedom? Or are most businesses run as if they were kingdoms?

    How do we call ourselves a free society when most people work or attend school in environments akin to totalitarian dictatorships?

    Of course it’s for the almighty me.

    Real individual freedom is inextricably tied to and depends on defending every single individual’s right to freedom at all times. We have the concept of ‘freedom for all’ but everything we have done has resulted in freedom for only a few, the rest are not free. People have merely created little kingdoms, smaller totalitarian societies, within a larger one where they have the ‘freedom’ to compete to be the ruler of one of them.

    How can freedom come from a model that is based on domination?

  • Clavos

    Healthcare is ALREADY in the hands of a bureaucracy: the health insurance monopoly bureaucracy, which is no better than any government bureaucracy, and costs a lot more.

    Good joke, bliffle!

  • Thanks for checking in, Cindy.

  • Clavos

    How would you like to work doing a job you love?

    I’ve done just that all my life.

    Without a boss?

    The people for whom you do the work are your bosses. If you love to grow veggies and give them away to prevent people from starving, they are your bosses — there are always “bosses:” customers, those who use whatever you make in your work, the community itself, whatever — the end users. They are your bosses.

    If you have young children who are dependent on you, or a sick family member dependent on you, you have a “boss.”

  • Clav,

    When my uncle Ed told the rude doctor (who thought his status gave him more value than someone else), his computer would take a week to fix and instead chose first to repair the computer of a grandma who exclaimed, with a smile, “I’m out of business, I can’t e-mail my grandkids,”–that is how we know the difference between boss as you are using the word and how I am using it.

    I may have a sick family member dependent on me, but that doesn’t mean I’d have to bite my tongue or pander to their every unreasonable whim, or obey their dictates, lest I suffer. I’ve never been told by a sick relative how many breaks I am permitted. I’ve never had a child give me an order. I have had many businesses and yet I never had a customer control my actions or fire me or insist I wear a tie or tell me I have to punch in at 10 to the hour or be docked 30 minutes, or give a less competent younger person a promotion. I’ve never had to tolerate meanness from a customer.

    There is a difference between being responsible to someone/something and having a boss. Merely because they require responsible action or commitment, does not make having a tomato plant or a hamster the same as having a boss.

    I’m glad you’ve always loved your job. I’m sure John Kennedy Jr. loved his too. That doesn’t change my point, as it says nothing about the experiences of most people in what is touted as the recipe for a ‘free’ society.

    And what exactly are we free to do? Apparently, we are free to obey whatever laws our free society demands we obey, even if disregarding them doesn’t affect anyone else–no matter how inane or insane. If our society says you need to build a house in such a way as it will be worth less on the market than it costs to build it–that is all you are ‘free’ to do.

  • Cindy,

    We’ve got to couch the discussion in more comprehensive terms – in particular, “power,” “knowledge” and “truth” as redefined by Foucault (Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews & Other Writings 1972-1977, Pantheon Books, is the definitive text), along with Umberto Eco’s interpretive essay I referred you to a while back.

    The point of contention is that “power,” again as redefined and analysed by Foucault, is an ever present relation in every societal structure – in fact a relation which tends to dominate and characterize most other, seemingly power-neutral relations.

    So the question becomes not how to rid society of the power-mechanism which are ever present in formal (and more importantly) informal and clandestine ways, but rather of devising strategies and tactics to combat these mechanisms so as to offset them and creating thus new possibilities and new creative responses to the oppressive character of “power.”

    Again, I say, it’s a must read, especially for you (and I’d like Mark to get into the discussion as well).

    We’ll talk about it later.

  • Bliffle, #97

    I fail to see the distinction you’re making between a mandate and taxes. What difference does it make what we call it?

  • Clavos


    I understand your point, but if you have a boss who is “mean,” you do have the option of seeking other employment.

    You say, ” I’ve never had to tolerate meanness from a customer,” to which I can only reply you must have an unusually nice set of customers; I find that, like any subset of humans, some of my customers are good and some are bad. Some can only be described as assholes, but the majority are good people.

    Having my wife totally dependent on me means that I am not free to make my own way, everything I do is modified by her dependency, that makes her more of a “boss” than any I ever had in industry — the few times I had an asshole for a boss, I did something about it: either walked myself or figured out a way to defang him/her and/or get him/her out.

    My point is that there are many kinds of “bosses” in life.

  • Roger,

    Foucault mentioned that power relationship in the video discussion with Chomsky I posted you.

    It is a 10 minute video, I think. If you can, please watch that because if you want a discussion with me, it will be valuable to see what Chomsky is saying there.

    You know, I have a great deal of respect for Noam Chomsky, not only because he’s influenced my thinking, but also, because he is an impeccable scholar. He goes directly to source documents. So that if new historical materials are released, he takes the time to read them. So his views are informed by actual available information and are not simply reiterations of things that sound agreeable to him.

    That video is important to me for a different reason. I have been focused on a particular problem about human beings since I was about 15. So, from then until now I have been studying that problem. Naturally, I have formed opinions and made tentative conclusions along the way. In that video, Chomsky confirms some of those conclusions. That is, he has reached similar conclusions, from his own different approach. That is the first time that has happened.

    So, there is something more to me there, you understand, than simply listening to to two people discussing something and deciding which one I agree with.

    (By the way, I have been considering my response to your article here for a couple of days. I like to think about things for awhile sometimes.)

  • Bliffle

    Roger asks:

    “#107 – roger nowosielski

    I fail to see the distinction you’re making between a mandate and taxes. What difference does it make what we call it?”

    No difference.

    “Mandates” are just capitation taxes. It’s a tax you pay just for existing. After all, you ARE breathing the Kings air, drinking the Kings water, and in some way consuming the foods produced by the Kings land. SO you should pay for it, even if it takes a lifetime of abject slavery to pay your bill.

    Very popular in feudal societies and in the American slave society. After all, it cost a great deal of money for slave traders to transport Africans to Virginia so they should be mandated to pay for it, even if it takes a lifetime of abject slavery to pay the bill.

  • 108


    “…if you have a boss who is “mean,” you do have the option of seeking other employment.”

    This sounds nice theoretically, after all, it’s how things are claimed to work. Free market advocates like to use this sort of reasoning. It makes their theory sound like plausible. In reality, one of my mean bosses appeared when I had finally found a job that paid me something I could live on after discovering there were 100 applicants for every job I was qualified for. She also came after I had devoted unpaid time to learning that business and was therefore stretched to the limit financially. It’s easy to say a person can just go find another place to work. This doesn’t even begin to address people who are unskilled and so low on the financial scale that they are unable to freely find decent work and instead have to settle for slave wages whilst doing jobs so demanding or objectionable or physically debilitating that no one wants to do them.

    No Clav, I haven’t had all nice customers. It’s what I mean by my customers are not my bosses. When a customer is rude, I am free to either tell them to take a hike or if I were to need their business (I haven’t found I have ever needed rude people as customers thus far.) I am at least not under their thumb 40 hours a week. I wonder what a boss would think about being told to take a hike.

    A woman once called up the shop when I worked for my uncle. She was referred to him by Toshiba as being one of their best technicians. She started screaming at me on the phone, demanding she be able to talk to him and have him diagnose her problem over the phone. I calmly told her twice that if she didn’t stop screaming at me I would have to hang up. Finally, I hung up. She called back. But meantime when I told my uncle, he said to give her the phone number of his competitor down the street. She became very apologetic and wanted him, as Toshiba said he was the best. My uncle told me to make an excuse that we don’t have the part she likely needs and let her go down the block where she’ll be treated like a number and where the technicians never talk directly to customers.

    Yes, there are many kinds of bosses. When you think about it ‘age’ is a boss of sorts, your body is a boss demanding you take certain actions or pay the price. It’s not responsibility or commitment that is undesirable, that is sacrifice or effort. It’s power differential that is undesirable, imo.

  • As an addendum to the discussion about the bosses. Indeed, the very fact that Clavos puts it in inverted commas is somewhat telling. Here’s an excerpt from Foucault’s response to the following question:

    The question of the exercise of power tends to be conceptualized today in terms of love (of the master) … Is it possible to establish the forms of consent, the ‘reasons for obedience’ whose functioning it serves to travesty?


    The notion of ‘love of the master’ poses other problems, I think. It is a certain way of not posing the problem of power, or rather of posing it in such a way that it cannot be analysed. This is due to the insubstantiality of the notion of the master, an empty form haunted only by the various phantoms of the master and his slave, the master and his disciple, the master and his workman, the master who pronounces the law and speaks the truth, the master who censors and forbids. The key point is that to this reduction of power to the figure of the master there is linked another reduction, that of procedures of power to the law of prohibition. This reduction of power to law has three main roles: (i) It underwrites a schema of power which is homogeneous for every level and domain – family or State, relations of education or production. (ii) It enables power never to be thought of in other than negative terms: refusal, limitation, obstruction, censorship. Power is what says no. And the challenging of power as thus conceived can appear only as transgression. (iii) It allows the fundamental operation of power to be thought of as that of a speech act: enunciation of law, discourse of prohibition. The manifestation of power takes on the pure form of ‘Thou shalt not.’

    Such a conception has a certain number of epistemological advantages because of the possibility of linking it with an ethnology centred on the analysis of the great kinship-prohibitions and with a psychoanalysis centred on the mechanisms of repression. Thus one single and identical ‘formula’ of power (the interdict) comes to be applied to all forms of society and all levels of subjection. And so thorough treating power as the instance of negation one is led to a double ‘subjectivisation’. In the aspect of its exercise, power is conceived as a sort of great absolute Subject which pronounces the interdict (no matter whether this Subject is takes as real, imaginary, or purely juridical): the Sovereignty of the Father, the Monarch or the general will [Rousseau’s concept]. In the aspect of subjection to power, there is an equal tendency to ‘subjectivise’ it by specifying the point at which the interdict is accepted, the point where one says yes or no to power. This is how, in order to account for the exercise of Sovereignty, there is assumed either a renoounciation of natural rights, a Social Contract [see, I’m reneging on the Hobbes/Locke/Rousseau’s theories, Cindy, because they’re legal fiction!), or a love of the master. It seems to me that the problem is always posed in the same terms, from the edifice constructed by the classical jurists down to current conceptions: an essentially negative power, presupposing on the one hand a sovereign whole role is to forbid and on the other a subject who must somehow effectively say yes to this prohibition. The contemporary analysis of power in terms of libido is still articulated by this old juridical conception.

    Cindy: I’ll look that video up and get back to you.

  • “thorough” should be “through”

  • Very good video, Cindy. Up to a point, there is no disagreement. And you know that emotionally, as well as philosophically, I’d like to side with Chomsky on the question of the ideal/real component of such concepts as human nature, self-actualization, justice, etc. You should know by now that my philosophical background predisposes me in that direction. However . . .

    I believe the crux of the dispute turns on idealistic vs. realistic mode. Not to take anything from Chomsky’s desire (or your, or mine as a matter of fact) for a vision of a just and equitable society – and you do know that I myself have been an ardent exponent of some such vision – there’s still something to be said for Foucault’s view that even those highly-elevated concepts which would help us to come up with the requisite vision and lift ourselves by our own bootstraps, so to speak, are themselves conditioned by the existing culture and civilization, and that means class structure and all that comes with it. So Foucault’s reservations concerning Chomsky’s program shouldn’t be all too readily dismissed – on account, for example, that his notions are relativistic. And you do know that I abhor relativism.

    In short, I think there is more to this discussion that meets the eye, and I would urge you to read the volume in question, in particular, The Two Lectures and the chapter right after that. Besides, the dialogue in the video was necessarily watered-down. It couldn’t be helped because it was designed for mass-consumption.

    So I do hope we can discuss the underlying ideas more fully. I think they happen to strike at the heart of my new political philosophy, and no doubt yours.

  • Clav,

    addendum to 111:

    I should have said that my Uncle Ed’s workstation was right out there open to the customers (unlike his competition, where you handed your computer to a clerk, inside a window, after writing down your problem). They could chat directly with him. And being a very warm and fun-loving person, my dear uncle would bend their ears off and amuse them with all kinds of jokes.

    (I mentioned before, I really think you will like him when we have a chance to meet. He actually spontaneously led the Macarena once at a party, people all eagerly lined up to follow him. The funniest part was he had never done it before, so he had no idea what he was doing. It worked out fine, as apparently, neither did his followers. Of course, I think he would make a great Queen! lol )

  • Zedd


    Interesting perspective. I am impressed by your patience. What I find more confounding is how stating the glaringly apparent brings on spirited tete a tetes on BC.

    After observing the bizzare goings on with the protesters this past week, it starts to makes sense.

  • Zedd,

    Great to hear from you. You’ve been too much a stranger – got to visit more often.

  • If the government is “we the people,” then we the people helping our neighbors is a wonderful thing.

    Great article Roger and thanks for the plug. I think term limits probably do make sense-8 years for the House, 12 for the Senate. We limited the President over distrust and the same holds true for Congress.

    Definitely campaign finance reform. It sickens me to see the millions spent when much of that money could be helping others.

    I do not think big business is at odds with government. It is all a show since big business controls the government. They like to make it seem like they are struggling to keep the yoke of bureaucrats off their backs and preserve free enterprise but that is just a myth. Free enterprise died in the Industrial Revolution. All they want freedom for is to do what they please, when and how they please.

    Yes, I have noticed from my short presence here that many either fail to, or do not want to, or cannot see the ‘big picture’. There is a tendency to try to destroy a point by finding a specific example that might contradict the theme and then move the whole conversation that way-into the muck and mire of semantics and useless banter. Like the comment, my house is near the ocean and not flooding so the whole sea rise issue is dumb.

    Those who want to preserve the ‘old world order,’ like the Metternich’s of times past, will always accuse those seeking change as being too radical. Hmmm-the American revolution comes to mind. I agree, we need a new world order. That does not have to be demonized into some world gestapo state. Science is proving that ALL life is connected and what happens to one, happens to all. Our community is indeed the entire planet and all life that Mother Earth supports. Some native Americans had a terrible idea. They thought that the land was owned by no one and that her resources should be available for all to share. That if you treat the land and all life with respect and caring, she will provide. We know that this cannot be right. Certainly, those with the bigger clubs should be able to control all resources for their benefit and that the weaker are meant to be the slaves of the strong. Resources are meant to be devoured and not replenished because the ‘superior’ say so. If they give you a dirty job, be thankful you are working and if you try to control them, you are obviously evil. And, of course, science will allow this to go on forever. The Divine right of Kings says that I am king because God wills it. If He,It, She did not, I would not be king. Same goes for our view of the world. It must be right because we can do it. However, out view of time is very warped. The fee is coming due.

    It is only when we take responsibility for our lives and for all life around us, that we will truly be free.

  • Thanks Philip for a great comment. You’re aware of course that parts of the article, if not the major tone, was one of exhortation, on the order of homily. (Analysis is to follow later.)

    So in that sense, I posed the business vs. government antagonistic model – not as a depiction of reality but rather of a powerful myth which still exercises the minds of the (naive) many: all the clamoring, for example – and the BC pages are but a fairly good cross-section of what transpires nationwide – for “free enterprise” and “free” working of the markets against “excessive: government regulation and controls. And out healthcare debate is but an example of the power of this myth.

    (There is of course, an idealistic component as well – in that in a well-conceived system, decision in the political realm ought to be unaffected by any collusion with private interests.)

  • I knew what you were saying-not sure some others did. How’s it feel to be in the ranks of ‘voices in the wilderness’?

  • Tell you the truth, Philip, never bothered me as long as I can remember.

    I’ve been blessed with great teachers who instilled the importance of thinking for yourself, so this has been my normal condition. But believe you me, we are getting through even though the immediate results are not very encouraging. At the very least, the discourse is on.

    I view it on analogy with the mustard seed parable. All we can do is plant it.

  • Oy!

    Oy! …a couple of regular Lone Rangers

    keep up the reach arounds – you’ll solve all of the problems of the world

  • Clavos

    I knew what you were saying-not sure some others did. How’s it feel to be in the ranks of ‘voices in the wilderness’?

    If a voice orates in the wilderness, and there’s no one around to hear it, is it meaningful?

  • A voice in the wilderness is not all lost, Clavos. Look at Ruvy 2000 years later. Do you need a better example?

    It’s not a Lone Ranger thing either. Just because you decide not to participate, it doesn’t mean the discourse isn’t on. You’re invited, of course.

  • Oy!

    (…no more ‘Mr Nice Guy’)

  • Wit is apparently in the Oy of the beholder.

  • Actually, since physics says all things are connected in a sea of vibration-which mystics said thousands of years ago-a sound in the wilderness is actually heard across the far reaches of the Universe.
    Hi ho Silver!!!!!

  • Re #125,

    Sometimes you can’t help it though. The niceness shines through.

  • Clavos

    @ #126:

    LOL, handy!

  • Mark

    So, here we are.

  • Mark,

    I am a bit confused about modernism and postmodernism. I think I should clearly understand those ideas. Do you think that reading Harvey will help me understand modernism and post-modernism? Or is there something else you could suggest?

  • zingzing

    cindy, i like to think of modernism as a fracturing of the culture (and its products) and post-modernism as after the moment when the thing fell apart and we were trying to put it back together again as something new.

    think of it like a mirror that has giant cracks in it, distorting the view. that’s modernism. eventually the thing will break completely, but, in trying to put it back together again, you think of different things you could make out of the parts. that’s post-modernism.

    but of course, that’s a vast simplification and doesn’t take into account a great many things. stupid metaphors. metaphors are like punching a dog.

  • well, that helps for me as a start. i like to learn something new by first having a framework like that. thanks zing πŸ™‚

    so, my next questions are: what particular aspects of the enlightenment did modernism reject? and does postmodernism reject modernism at all? in some cases?

  • Cindy,

    I’m gonna give you an operational definition. Bear in mind, however, it’s not hard & fast, just of making a useful distinction:

    “The object of this study is the condition of knowledge in the most highly developed societies. I have decided to use the word postmodern to describe that condition.

    “Science has laways been in conflict with narratives. (I believe I gave you this quote earlier, anyway). But to the extent that science does not restrict itself to stating useful regularities and seeks the truth, it is obliged to legitimate the rules of its own game, It then produces a discourse called philosophy. I will use the term modern to designate any science that legitimates itself with reference to a metadiscourse of this kind making an explicit appeal to some grand narrative, such as the dialectics of Spirit, the hermeneutics of meaning, the emancipation of the rational or working subject, or the creation of wealth. For example, the rule of consensus between the sender and the addressee of a statement with truth-value is deemed acceptable if it is cast in terms of a possible unanimity between rational minds: this is the Enlightenment narrative, in which the hero of knowledge works toward a good ethico-political end – universal peace. As can be seen from this example, if a metanarrative implying a philosophy of history is used to legitimate knowledge, questions are raised concerning the validity of the institutions governing the social bond: these must be legitimated as well. Thus justice is consigned to the grand narrative in the same way as truth.

    “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives.”

    The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, Lyotard

    Sorry Mark and Cindy for responding rather late. I’m still exhausted from daily reading and had to nap.

  • Cindy, as per above, modernism was believing in “Enlightenment,” in particular, believing in “the emancipation” narrative. Postmodernism represents a break. The belief has been shuttered.

  • Be back in ten.

  • BTW, this is a restricted definition, for the purpose of discussing Project Enlightenment and possible prospects.

    A more full-fledged definition would extend to art (e.g., modern vs. postmodern), literature, and literary theory. For these reasons, Zing would be a useful contributors. My hunch anyway is that the modern-postmodern distinction started in art and was borrowed and imported to the present context.

  • That helps, Roger, as that idea about narrative was missing for me (and I lost your post of that–sorry!).

    I’ll write I think I understand and maybe you can tell me where I am wrong or right or what I am missing.

  • I’ll write [what] I think I understand…

  • zingzing

    “A more full-fledged definition would extend to art (e.g., modern vs. postmodern), literature, and literary theory.”

    yeah, the understanding i have of modernism and postmodernism comes from the art world, especially literature. beyond that, i’m useless.

  • Mark

    Perhaps zing is onto something in #132. Until one can get a clear mental image of the look on Duchamp’s face when he realized that he had cracked his masterpiece on the subway, postmodernism will remain an elusive concept.

  • Of course he is. Lyotard’s own account and idea of a solution come from art. I’ll provide the relevant citation shortly.

  • Mark

    ‘morning Rog.

  • Mark, Zing:

    Here is a citation:

    “For Habermas, indeed, postmodernism involves the explicit repudiation of the modernist tradition – the return of the middle-class philistine or Souessbuerger rejection of modernist forms and values – and as such the expression of a new social conservatives.

    “His diagnosis is confirmed by that area in which the question of postmodernism has been mostly acutely posed, namely in architecture, whose great modernists, the architects of the International Style – Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright – were very precisely revolutionaries in the senses enumerated above: proponents of innovations in form and transformations in architectural space that could be expected in and of themselves to transform social life as a whole and, by replacing political revolution (as Le Corbusier put it), to serve as the latter’s substitute (but in that form, the idea is as old as Schiller’s [what a genius, a true Renaissance man] Aesthetic Education of Humankind). Postmodernism certainly means a return of all the old antimodernist prejudices (as in Tom Wolfe’s recent From the Baubaus to Our House), but it was also, objectively, the recognition of a basic failure on the architects’ own terms: the new buildings of Le Corbusier and Wright did not finally change the world, nor even modify the junk space of late capitalism, while the Mallermean ‘zero degree’ of Mies’s towers quite unexpectedly began to generate a whole overpopulation of the shoddiest glass boxes in all the major urban centers in the world. This is the sense in which high modernism can be definitely certified as dead and as a thing of the past: its Utopian ambitions were unrealizable and its formal innovations exhausted.”

    Foreword to The Postmodern Condition, Fredric Jameson

    There’s more but this should do. If one thinks of Project Enlightenment as an ongoing project, then you can think of Modernism or High Modernism on analogy with High Renaissance. Consequently, postmodernism means we fell off our high horse.

    BTW, and I’m getting here slightly ahead, but it won’t hurt, Lyotard places high hopes in precisely a kind of return to High Modernism in arts and literature, to provide a stimulus to rejuvenation of our socio/political forms. He is an aesthete, essentially, much of his life’s work done in that area, so that’s his natural bias. I tend to be skeptical whether the stimulus can come from this direction, but don’t wan’t to prejudge the issue.

    That’s why, zing, you would have things to contribute. In the next posting, I’ll provide Mark’s link to a recent article connected with the subject – dealing with the new forms of modern pop culture. You might have a sharper eye than I, so you’re comments would be appreciated.

  • Hi, Mark. I’m gonna do my damage early AM before I’m gone for a few hours. Perhaps you can put the link to Kirby’s article for Zing’s benefit.

  • Mark

    While zing might have seen the piece already, here’s the Kirby link

  • Thanks. To be continued.

  • Miscellaneous stuff:

    POSTMODERNISM AND ITS CRITICS was written by anthropologists and might be easier for me to comprehend.

    Clement Greenburg: Avant-Garde keeps becoming ‘kitsch’, as Capitalism co opts art for consumerism. He seemed to only care about aesthetics. Which makes him look ridiculous and pointless to me. He is interested in creating forms for the sake of taste. (Why?) Anything new = erudite, anything popular = stupid. Such a brilliant idea of discarding old forms for new and it seems reduced to pomposity (I sense this is the same with other modernist art critics).

    It seems that Greenberg loses favor because of his “antagonism to ‘Postmodernist’ theories and socially engaged movements in art…”

    Pomo for dummies* (from a psycho) by Elvira Black discusses popular culture in an amusing way.

    I started to read the David Harvey summary, which contains interesting things. I am fascinated by the ideas of simulacra and hyperreal encoding and Jean Baudrillard’s ideas. (Which remind me of Guy Debord.)

  • That’s a mouthful, Cindy. But since you’d posted it, I’m gonna have to look it up.

  • Actually, the first link, Cindy, is a decent schematic, but I usually shy from this mode of presentation – too much like Cliff Notes, as though the express purpose was to pass a test.

    I think it would be of greater benefit to explore some of the key ideas, see where they lead, and then bring one’s own thinking to bear. Any overview of the kind offered in that first link is bound to be too general and too superficial.

  • I’m transferring the link to David Harvey from the previous thread. Notice the mention of Fredric Jameson, see comment #144, Cindy.

  • And the book.

  • Althusser on overdetermination.

  • And Resnick and Wolff.

    Now we’ve got a full house.

  • Thanks Roger.

    I’m still very confused. There are a lot of value judgments and I don’t understand them, yet. Modernism sounds good, then bad, then good…etc. I suspect it depends on the perspective of who’s writing about it and what they see. I am looking at modernism and colonialism and postmodernism and postcolonialism, and some other things.

    I will try calling later, Roger. Maybe I can get a list of terms out of the way quickly by just letting you explain the definitions. (I tried yesterday, and if you aren’t around I will try tomorrow.)

  • 150 Roger,

    Yes, I agree. But right now I can’t do that. I don’t have a basic workable understanding. I need an overview. So I am trying to get a grasp. Things may seem entirely clear to someone who knows about them. But for me I see a collage of competing (in my mind) ideas and claims.

    By the way, that outliney thing was made by anthropology students. See–students know what students need. I’m just a student. Thanks for your help Roger. You are a gem. (You just don’t realize how undereducated I am. It should be pretty embarrassing for an intellectual high-brow. But a screw-ball wouldn’t mind a bit. πŸ™‚

  • Just one suggestion for now. Forget about those labels – they’re mostly heuristic for the purpose of making a useful distinction, nothing else.

    Again reread #134 and bear in mind the limited context to which there terms are made to apply: not to art but to characterization of a change in mood; from believing in the rule of reason to a situation – like today – when we no longer believe (because it did not deliver). That’s all you’re supposed to derive from that.

  • Cindy,

    This is just as new to me as to you. Education’s got nothing to do with that – well, it does, but not to the extent you think, we’re pretty even on that score – it has to do with proper strategies when tackling with new material.

    Again, overviews are less helpful – actually damaging, IMO – than most people suppose. All you’ve got to do is take one concept/notion and run with it. Then you move on to the next, and the next.

    So just as I said, let’s just take one article at a time – like Eco’s, for example, and analyse the shit out of it. And then move on.

    The progression of thought is explosive – just the opposite of static or schematic.

  • Okay Roger,

    I will read the Eco thing first and stop with the other things for now.

    (I did find interesting ideas, for future reference. Like challenges to the idea that modernism is over–considering other cultures. And others that suggested modernism and colonialism were hand-in hand.)

  • Let’s focus for now, though: critique of post-industrial societies.

  • Mark

    Those who wish to play along will find the relevant text here. (Of course, you will be missing 5 critical pages in which Umberto discovers god and physical infinity.)

  • BTW, Mark: a good quote for you re Duchamp and postmodern as relating to visual arts:

    “What, the, is the postmodern? What place does it or does it not occupy in the vertiginous work of the questions hurled at the rules of image and narration? It is undoubtedly a part of the modern. All that has been received, of only yesterday (modo, modo, Petronius used to say), must be suspected. What space does Cezanne challenge? The Impressionists’. What object do Picasso and Braque attack? Cezanne’s. What presupposition does Duchamp break with in 1912? That which say one must make a painting, be it cubist. And Buren questions that other presupposition which he believes had survived untouched by the work of Duchamp: the place of presentation of the work. In an amazing acceleration, the generations precipitate themselves. A work can become modern only if it is first postmodern. Postmodernims thus understood is not modernism at its end but in the nascent state, and this state is constant.

    The Postmodern Condition.

    He goes on later to make similar observations about literature, comparing the work of Proust with Ulysses as exhibiting two different modes of exhibiting “the aesthetics of the sublime.” (I’m still having problem with that concept.) I’d be more comfortable discussing those ideas when applied to literature rather than visual arts.

  • Mark,

    How in the hell did you manage to get Eco’s book online? Had I known it, Cindy wouldn’t have to spend good money in order to buy it. The article of interest is “Language, Power, Force.”

    Which vital, critical pages are you talking about? I don’t think they’re germane, even if some such exist.

    Nice try!

  • Cindy,

    You’ve got no excuse not since the text is posted. We’ll be able to refer to disputable passages chapter and verse. And Mark, too, will be able to jump in whenever he will – or so will anybody else for that matter.

    “Seminar on the air” – a kind of thing dreams are made of.

  • I am just reading it right now Roger, out loud to my friend John, who is filling in things I don’t understand. It’s interesting. I just found out what ‘semiology’ means. And literary semiology especially.

    He explained that the professors at our college were using post-modern ideas, in favor at the time, of subjective literary interpretation. This suddenly explains a lot of the problems I had. (He only became aware of this as, at the time, he was reading in literary theory.)

    (I know, it’s besides the point, but it is giving me more clues about post-modernism and how it didn’t save the world from itself or anything.)

  • Roger,

    You can look at many books online in google books. You can also save them to your google library. It’s pretty cool. (But they eliminate pages. so you can’t always get the exact part you want.)

  • Then maybe John can try to explicate the following:

    “The work of Proust and that of Joyce both allude to something which does not allow itself to be made present. Allusion, to which Paolo Fabbri recently called my attention, is perhaps a form of expression indispensable to the works which belong to an aestethic of the sublime. In Proust, what is being eluded as the price to pay for this allusion is the identity of consciousness, a victom to the excess of time (au trop de temp). But in Joyce, it is the identity of writing which is the victim of an excess of the book (au trop de livre), or of literature.

    “Proust calls forth the unpresentable by means of a language unaltered in its syntax and vocabulary and of a writing which in many of its operators still belongs to the genre of novelistic narration. The literary institution, as Proust inherits it from Balzac and Flaubert, is admittedly subverted in that the hero is no longer a character but the inner consciousness of time, and in that the diegetic diachrony, already damaged by Flaubert, is here put in question because of the narrative voice. Nevertheless, the unity of the book, the odyssey of that consciousness, even if it is deferred from chapter to chapter, is not seriously challenged: the identity of the writing with itself throughout the labyrinth of the interminable narration is enough to connote such unity, which has been compared to that of The Phenomenology of Mind.

    “Joyce allows the unpresentable to become perceptible in his writing itself, in the signifier. The whole range of available narrative and even stylistic operators is put into play without concern for the unity of the whole, and new operators are tried. The grammar and vocabulary of literary language are no longer accepted as given; rather, they appear as academic forms, as rituals originating in piety (as Nietzsche said) which prevent the unpresentable from being put forward.”

    The Postmodern Condition

    It’s somewhat off topic, but that’s an example from literature Lyotard uses to make a distinction between modern aesthetics and postmodern one. I’ll transmit the rest of the text once I get my scanner operational.

    The reason why I think this subject is germane to the issue at hand, because I believe Lyotard envisages the postmodern style of discourse and general approach as a kind of limit of what’s possible. So let me close by citing the conclusion to the text:

    “Finally, it must be clear that it is our business not to supply reality but to invent allusions to the conceivable which cannot be presented. And it is not to be expected that this task will effect the last reconciliation between language games . . ., and that only the transcendental illusion can hope to totalize them into a real unity. But Kant also knew that the price to pay for such an illusion is terror. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have given us as much terror as we can take. We have paid a high enough price for the nostalgia of the whole and the one, for the reconciliation of the concept and the sensible, of the transparent and the communicable experience. Under the general demand for slackening and for appeasement, we can hear the mutterings of the desire for a return of terror, for the realization of the fantasy to seize reality. The answer is: Let us wage a war on totality; let us be witnesses to the unpresentable; let us activate the differences and save the honor of the name.”

    I don’t expect and hard & fast response, certainly not right now. Food for thought, though. To be continued.

    It’s somewhat

  • John can’t make sense out of that, Roger. He says he’s not sure what the writer’s trying to say. He would require more to the text, perhaps a lead-in to see if it made sense to him at all.

    And, btw, literature was not his field of study. He was looking at literary theory for other reasons. His interests took the path of history followed by religion followed by philosophy. (So he knows literature like I know philosophy, what interested him, or what he got exposed to in school, if that helps.)

  • I’ll provide some more text later, Cindy. I’m myself struggling with this, but it’s a peripheral issue. Let’s shelve it for now.

  • Maybe Mark and/or Zing will chip in.

  • Mark

    So what do you make of it, Cindy?

    Proust, homosexual and sitting on a fortune, accepts the power/rules of his literary inheritance…how else could he accept that other inheritance; Joyce, child of an entrepreneur and notorious financial schemer himself, figures there is no way to express the inexpressible (or make a buck) if one accepts that power relationship.

  • That’s an interesting take, Mark. To what extent, though, do personal biographies figure in interpreting the literary work(s)?

  • Mark

    I guess that that would depend on who is doing the interpreting. Personally, I would have a hell of a time with any of Joyce’s writing if I didn’t have biographical knowledge of his relationship with the church, for example.

  • So what do you make of it, Cindy?

    I didn’t even try to read it, Mark. I don’t imagine I can understand it. But I am going to give it a try. (A little try.)

  • Roger,

    Do you think it’s possible to escape the influence of our own lives on what we do and think and create?

  • I beg to differ, especially when it comes to artists of renown. Whatever relations or personal idiosyncrasies at work, we should expect them to be internalized in the text, and, if anything, subject to exegesis. Treat the text as a whole. And only afterwards, other resources may be brought to bear – such as personal histories, etc – either as a matter of last recourse or as additional analytical tools.

  • Mark

    So, Rog, you’re saying that there is a ‘correct’ way to approach the texts in order to ‘understand’ them. I doubt it.

  • I’m not arguing or saying that it is. But if there’s anything, a medium that is, through which we can transcend, it is only art. So yes, in that unique sense it just may be possible.

    That’s why I think Kant’s concept of “the sublime,” and the aesthetic of the sublime, is an important one, precisely because it affords a kind of transcendence, the only kind of transcendence possible.

  • Mark,

    I never argued for any “correct” way. I’m only saying that to understand or try to understand a text, you’ve got to start with the text. And then take it as far as it will take you.

  • What do you mean their renown? If they are renowned that means you know something about them, right? But if one doesn’t know anything about them how is their renown of importance?

    So, unless ‘especially’ refers to something like they are ‘special’ and the rules don’t apply to them as apply to mere mortals, then you give away that by renowned you mean you know their history.

    Am I mistaken?

  • What I mean, Cindy, is that people like Proust, Joyce, Beckett and Flaubert have become established as literary giants. So all I’m simply saying is that I owe it to them, if only by virtue of their reputation, to treat their texts as complete and perfect. (“Perfect” means complete in the sense I’m using.)

    Just a digression. Do we need to know much about Shakespeare’s personal life (actually, very little by way of his personal life is known) in order to study and appreciate his plays? What other, extraneous information do we really need?

    I believe Clavos should be able to chip in as well.

  • Mark

    Does an understanding of the hypothesized historical Shakespeare’s relationship with the English Court aid in the study and appreciation of the plays? For me, you betcha.

  • Roger,

    I am not sure about any of that. But if you say something can be gotten out of it. I’ll give it a try, for now.

  • Personally, I usually sit with difficult text and look up everything I don’t understand, including biographical info. When I don’t do this, the text tends to amount to whatever of my own thinking I project onto it–rather than the author’s meaning.

  • The last part is just fine. That’s what “interacting with the text” means. You are supposed to bring your own thoughts and personal experiences to bear.

    Whoever said there’s anything wrong with that? How else are we supposed to read?

  • Mark,

    But only as a secondary, more refined analysis, if one ever gets that far. Don’t you think?

  • I don’t mean to imply by any of this that texts are ahistorical. Far from it. For an example, look up a parable by Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” in Labyrinths or Ficciones.

  • Let me qualify. Does it help knowing something or other about the historical period, the nature of theater in Elizabethan England, or the historical times in which Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides have lived. Of course it does. The last example is a point in case: so much had changed in Greece over the matter of one or two generations, from early Aeschylus’s days to Euripides, that in a sense one would be at a great loss trying to understand the evolution of the tragedy and tragic plays (they were all trilogies at first with a satyr play at the end – a happy ending as it were) over the short timespan – from heroic and upbeat to downright pessimistic. And the form has changed too. So yes, these are important things to know, and if and when I read about that first, it’s because of my interest. So sure, those are aids to understand the text. But there’s still the text to be dealt with – even once you have the context, a historical context if you like.

  • Mark

    Unless accepting the story/narrative of the perfect text replete with meaning is critical to whatever case you’re making, I suggest we move on. To me, talking about it begs the postmodernist question.

  • I agree. I don’t remember exactly how we got detoured, except perhaps by the notion that artistic expression (work of art) offers one, however limited, way of transcendence.

    I suppose I’m still yearning, however subliminally, for some great metanarrative, though I’ve been convinced, I believe, that I shouldn’t hope for any. So it is an existential dilemma I’m facing and have to resolve, not a philosophical one.

    This has been helpful.

  • Roger, I was looking up ‘diegetic diachrony’ and I found your text if that helps. Postmodernism: Foundational Essays by Victor E. Taylor, Charles E. Winquist

  • Wow, I think I understand what Roger said in 191. (without looking anything up) I like this. πŸ™‚

  • I’m glad you looked it up. I was processing wholesale. Thank you for your research. It is a dense text, and everything will be of help.

  • What that means, Cindy, you’re getting the hang of the basic concepts. Soon enough, we shall have a meaningful discussion going.

  • Let me close, Cindy and Mark, on the following rather poignant quote:

    In the course of the past fifty years, each grand narrative of emancipation – regardless of the genre it privileges – has, as it were, had its principle invalidated. All that is real is rational, all that is rational is real: “Auschwitz refutes the speculative doctrine. At least this crime, which is real, is not rational. All that is proletarian is communist, all that is communist is proletarian: “Berlin 1953,” “Budapest 1956,” “Czechoslovakia 1968,” “Poland 1980” (to name but a few) refute the doctrine of historical materialism: the workers rise up against the Party. All that is democratic is by the people and for the people, and vice versa: “May 1968” refutes the doctrine of parliamentary liberalism. Everyday society brings the representative institution to a halt. Everything that promotes the free flow of supply and demand is good for general prosperity, and vice versa: the “crisis of 1911 and 1929” [he’s not aware of the present one] refute the doctrine of economic liberalism, and the “crisis of 1974-79” refutes the post-Keynesian modification of that doctrine. [There’s no account here of the failure of the Christian/religious doctrine of redemption and salvation, but it’s elsewhere.]

    “Missive on Universal History,” in The Postmodern Explained (for children), Lyotard.

    On that note, let me bid you two good night. To be resumed tomorrow.

  • Roger,

    I read the essay, one time through. Do you have any thoughts to start?

  • Why don’t you make some notes (to yourself) and let me reread it again. I think it would be better if you took the lead (for the time being at least), since I suspect you might find it more problematic than I. Once we identify areas of interest, we could move on from there.

    So how about tomorrow afternoon, OK? (Have got to do my share of reading in the AM while I’m still fresh.)

  • Mark

    I went to the public library to check out those five missing pages and found that not only does Taos’ library have two copies of Eco’s book, but both are checked out. I am led to wonder what kind of a place this is.

  • (obviously the place is chock full of weirdos)


  • I thought you were kidding about those missing pages, Mark. If you have a title, I have a hard copy and so does Cindy.

  • I’ve got it now: you’re missing 294-307. I’ll transmit once I get my scanner going.

  • Mark


  • My library, on the other hand, almost never has anything I want to read (unless it’s fiction).

    Forget about my library. The books stores almost never have anything I ever go in to find. (I was stunned that the Chomsky-Foucault Debate was there.

    But I did find something that seems very interesting. Have you ever read Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

    It has a compelling preface by Foucault.

  • Enough “philosophy” for today. I’m gonna finish “Kickboxer 3” movie.

    Au revoir, les enfants.

  • Anti-Oedipus is a classic. I’ll give you a two-line gist tomorrow. Now I’m checking out for good.

  • Mark

    Cindy, I haven’t read it. Sounds interesting.

  • Mark,

    Here is a link with a ‘review/introduction’ and a further link to the preface.

  • Mark


  • Roger,

    If you don’t get to your scanner very soon. I can always scan the pages at work. I really thought Mark made the link for other people.

  • My point is being able to transmit items of interest. I have an HP JetScanner – just a matter of getting the software which I misplaced. I’ll jump on it tomorrow. Meanwhile, there’s enough on the burner.

  • Mark

    On second thought, maybe not quel; it might not be a good idea to transmit pages from Eco’s book using BC. Not to worry, though. Google gave me enough of the book to get a feel for Eco’s presentation of the problem. A relevant quote or two from the missing pages will probably suffice if the conversation goes there.

  • We just send them via email, as an attachment.

  • Mark

    Ahhh…a conspiracy, huh?

    In that case, I’m missing pgs 243, 249, 250, 254 and 256 from the 1986 Harcourt edition.

  • Mark

    (Cindy, I avoid new books where possible. If I have to buy, I can usually find what I need at one of Albuquerque’s fine used book stores. Even newly written books show up pretty quickly. The problem is coming up with an excuse to drive to the ‘big’ city.)

  • The big city. πŸ™‚

    I usually try to avoid new books too. But, it’s amazing how many books I like in the $4 bin at Borders. I have to buy used on the internet, as there are no more used bookshops closer than Albuquerque to me either. πŸ™‚ (I got the Eco book, used/like new for $1.45 +$3.99 shipping)

  • Mark

    hmmm…maybe I should give Amazon’s used books another try. After a couple of problems (especially waiting an exorbitant amount of time for delivery) I gave up on them.

  • Mark

    (Besides, the smell of used books en mass reminds me of my misguided youth, much of which was spent in stacks…attempts a smiley thing, but fails again)

  • lol, one day a smiley will appear as if by magic. πŸ™‚

    I spent 17-30 collecting books (mostly from used book shops) as I always wanted my own library. Then I decided, since the world didn’t work the way I thought, I didn’t need them any more. And I packed them up and stored them. At 44 I gave almost all of them away.

    (I started to collect rare book and first editions though. I have all of them.)

    Now I am working on a new and improved reading library.

  • Roger,

    I am e-mailing you a link to HP where you can download your printer software for free, if you like. Akismet reads the link as spam.

  • Got it, Cindy. I have a site too, from HP. In between the two of them, something should work. Meanwhile, I’m ready for interrogation if you’re game.

  • I still have to read it a few more times. So, it is still unclear.

    What does he mean by this:

    p244. “I’m not sure that we can say that a given language is a device of power…”

    device vs model

    What does he mean?

  • Good question.

    I think the idea why he shies from identifying it as such would commit him to enumerating a whole bunch of other devices – aside from language. But Eco, being a semiologist, would be inclined to think that there is no other form of symbolic interaction among humans other that by means of language (and that would include all extensions of human communications which can be said to derive from language, “body language,” for example).

  • BTW, I had to order a scanner. My model was too old; the software wouldn’t be compatible with my operating system. Any day now, and we’re in business, Mark included.

  • I don’t get it.

  • Okay, let me try this. An example of a model of power would be______________.

    An example of a device of power would be _____________.

  • For Eco, there’s nothing other than language, the only way of symbolic communication. So for him, to call language a mere device would mean there are other devices/mechanisms of “transmitting” power. And since there are none other, he can’t call it a device. Hence, language is a model, an analogy of how we can think of power.

  • So then he doesn’t mean that language cannot be used like a tool to subordinate others.

  • The point is that language is the overall environment for all kinds of tools. For which reason, it is not a mere device but a context of all devices.

  • Why doesn’t he write…’merely’…if he means he’s not sure he can say language is merely device of power. Is it because it’s understood by a sophisticated reader that device is subordinate to model?

  • I understand 229, thanks. You can see the problem I have, though, more clearly.

  • I didn’t assume a relationship between device and model. That’s as close as I can describe my error.

  • So then he’s not saying language itself cannot be used as a device, but that it isn’t merely a device among others.

  • At 7 questions per sentence…I hope I can get a hang of this more quickly. πŸ™‚

  • Don’t worry. Language is the general context, the only intelligible context we have. Consequently, the only games we can play, language games, devices, what else have you, can only materialize through language. And it’s for that reason that language is no mere device. For something to be a device, you’ve got to be able to specify any number of other devices. With language, we don’t have the requisite kind of contrast.

  • I’m not seeming to reconcile Eco’s disagreement about language being fascist (244). I can’t conceptualize why if all language was fascist then fascism would be everywhere and therefore nowhere.

    I do see language like Foucault sees it. And I can’t understand what Eco means.

  • It’s simply a matter of contrast. If everything is fascist, then nothing is – because the term is vacuous. It’s devoid of meaning. For any term in language, in order for there to be a meaning, there must be a negation (or an absence) of what’s being claimed.

    So, for example, to say that “all men are chauvinist filthy pigs” (and that’s a trivial example) is to say nothing (in a cognitive sense) though we can understand it as an expression of sentiment (which is a different kind of utterance/speech act

  • hmmmm, but if fascism is inherent in a thing…I don’t see it, it’s too abstract.

    Okay, how about this. If one can see that language does act like Foucault said, then how can that just be undone by something that looks like (a lot of hot air to me….lol) HA! (sorry having fun)

  • So, is he saying that language can still be fascist (like Foucault said) and at the same time it is something beyond that?

    Or is he saying language is not fascist like Foucault said?

  • Cindy, regarding your first objection, in order for any word or term to have a meaning you have to imagine the absence (of the condition, whatever). Such like “light” would be incomprehensible if we could not imagine “darkness.”

    Second point: I don’t think that F made any specific or explicit claims about language. It’s rather that Eco, as based on Barthes’s lecture, envisages language, with its constraints, as a credible model in terms of which to understand F’s concept of “power.”

    So you have to be clearer about what you mean by “language ‘acting’ like F says it does.”

  • The men example, I am having a hard time with. Because it is clear that all men are not filthy chauvinist pigs. The same thing is not true about language. On the contrary, all language does appear to be fascist.

  • But the point goes beyond your personal experience. What I mean, in order to understand what “chauvinism” is, you have to understand the negation.

  • Okay, language acting like Foucault says. We are all born without language. When we learn it, we don’t make decisions about how we are to learn it, how it will relate to our self. On the contrary, it tells us how we will perceive ourselves. There is no exception to this. It is a universal. (like there is for the men who may or may not be chauvinists)

  • Also, not only does it tell us how we will relate to ourselves and the world, but those who control it will determine what changes are valid and invalid. And therefore over time, the dominating culture is actually controlling the language.

  • Let’s put it this way. Suppose you already understand what facsism is. But to make a claim that all of our language is fascist is to say nothing at all, because what would you compare it to – a non-language? You might say that certain elements or features of our language are “fascist,” in contrast with some other elements or features which are not, and this would be intelligible. But you can’t make such a claim of the totality – because to say that it to say nothing – except as an exclamation, expression of a feeling, etc (which is a different kind of utterance, not a cognitive one).

  • Language is part and parcel of the human condition, so comparisons with humans who don’t speak aren’t very helpful (at this time). There is no question, either, about the constraints. English and French are different, and what you can do in/with one, you can’t do in/with the other. This point was covered (in the article).

    I happen to think you’re trying to load the dice too early (do you know what I mean?) There’ll be plenty of time to do it further on. I just don’t think it’s very productive to place all the blame at the footsteps of language.

  • doorsteps

  • Yes, maybe it would have to be non-language.

  • Yes, I understood the gender is present in French not in English, bit.

    But how do I remove fascism from all language when I see that every human who ever lived had to be subject to learning language and therefore its structure would affect the way they perceived reality? Without their consent.

  • Maybe the opposite of fascism in language is autism.

  • But in that case, we lack a viable contrast, because we don’t know what it is. So all contrasts that can possible be made can be made only within “the given language.”

  • In autism the child can be conceived of as refusing to be dominated by the language.

  • What I’m trying to say, you don’t have to set your line of demarcation that high. There will be plenty of time to make the kind of distinctions you want to make.

    Don’t forget, besides, that it’s only within language that the idea of liberation or emancipation can germinate, to oppose totalitarianism and oppression. Consequently, you don’t want to deprive yourself of the only instrument of liberation. Remember Barthes’s talk about the liberating (cheating) effects of literature, or of the idea of avant garde, breaking the rules.

  • I doubt whether it is a voluntary condition.

  • Well, that’s true but then, say it is biologically based, it’s just another condition of being–autistic children don’t choose but then neither do speaking children.

    Yet there are examples that show that at least some autistic children may be capable of being tempted into a speech world. That they may be able to chose to enter a speech world. So, if they choose that, there is evidence that choice may be involved in some way, maybe only in exiting autism but not entering it.

    Also, consider that some children refuse to speak and by the time they agree, they begin speaking in sentences instead of in the normal way. (anecdotal as related by a professor, not verified)

  • But still, even and when they do speak, there’s nothing but language to choose from.

  • I sense that all this is besides the point of the real problem. Which is that I need a way to conceptualize that idea that if fascism is everywhere then it’s nowhere. And that if I could, what he’s saying would be evident.

    253 – Truly I believe you. And I can set a lower demarcation. Just not without understanding why the author wants me to. Otherwise, I can’t say, “okay that makes sense I can accept that.”

    If you can think of another example, besides the men one. Or maybe when Mark comes on he’ll have an idea of how I can understand it.

  • 256 – Yes, but to continue along the line of reasoning, then they are choosing to allow the domination of the language because they can get something from it, communication. They consent. But even if they consent, they are still dominated as they still don’t get to choose how the language works.

  • In other words, all language speakers, have to accept this thing–language–and whatever effects it has on their perceptions, yet they will never be able to consent to those effects, because they can’t know in advance what they’ll be. They just have to accept the fascist effects of language.

  • Cindy,

    Believe you me, you’ll have enough trouble with Foucault’s concept of power without trying to attack the idea at the level of language.

    Think of it this way: language is the only recourse/resource we have – in addition to the fact that it’s also “the enemy.” It’s like the rules of the game, chess, for instance. Constraining as they are, they’re also necessary because they’d be no game – human life – without them. It’s up to us what moves we make. But rules we’ve got to have in order for there to be a game.

    Another example: “All humans are selfish.”
    Would you know what “selfish” means unless you understood or experienced other qualities in humans?

  • There’s no way to be a human without language, so I don’t understand (do you?) the alternative you’re drawing. All meaningful distinctions and “moves” have to be made within language – since there is no other way!

  • “yet they will never be able to consent to those effects, because they can’t know in advance what they’ll be. They just have to accept the fascist effects of language.”

    Yes, fascist effect, and liberating ones as well. It’s a mixed bag!

  • Think of it this way: language is the only recourse/resource we have – in addition to the fact that it’s also “the enemy.”

    So, then he is not negating Foucault? That is where my trouble is. He says Foucault is wrong. Is Foucault so stupid that this concept is (as Eco says) throughout his entire writing, and he didn’t notice the whole time that this seemingly simple idea (the one I don’t understand.) made it irrelevant?

    Thanks for trying Roger. You can give up any time. I can always try someone else’s perspective. Between yours, Mark’s and John’s, someone is bound to get through.

  • Okay, I can see that it’s a mixed bag. So, I can go with that. I just really wish I understood why didn’t he just say something like that?

    Instead he says: “We can immediately liquidate the first very clear error.”

    That seems to be strongly saying Foucault is dead wrong.

  • Please bear in mind one thing, I am not arguing against Eco at this point. It is rather that I understand Foucault and I don’t understand Eco. If I understood them both, then I could compare the ideas and make a judgment.

  • I don’t think, Cindy, that’s what Eco is doing – which is to say, refer to Foucault. The reference, rather, is to Bathes who make the claim about language being “fascist.”

    Check it out and tell me if I’m wrong.

  • Okay, that’s better. I was mistaken and he’s talking about Barthes. Then, I need Foucault’s full definition of power that he’s referring to, which I don’t see contained here in the essay, is it?

  • Because, for the moment, now I understand Barthes, but not Eco, and I’ll have to look at what Foucault said to try and figure it out.

  • Have I given you a headache yet, Roger?


    Today we will prove that no matter how dense you are….

    Never mind, looks like it’s the same lesson plan tomorrow.

  • I believe you have sufficient quotes in the article about Foucault’s notion of power. There are at least four or five direct quotes from Foucault’s various works. That’s in fact why I thought this article would be helpful, to introduce you to the concept without having to read Foucault’s own works.

  • Don’t worry, Cindy. I never get headache from thinking. And you’re worth it.

  • Tomorrow, then, OK?

    I’m checking out!

  • Roger,

    Is Foucault easier to understand? I did understand Eco’s UR Fascism essay.

  • Goodnight, Roger. And thanks. See you tomorrow.

  • As for Mr. F, definitely so. But that’s the problem. If you’re not careful, he’s got you.

  • Roger,

    I went ahead and scanned the pages and sent them to Mark.

    Could I recommend that you get a google email account? A person can view the documents you attach, right online without downloading. The pdf I sent looked really good by just viewing, rather than downloading. Also, I have used this to allow people in other countries to read things I send when there are program incompatibilities.

  • OK, I’ll get one. Still, my scanner and software should be coming in a day or two, so we’ll be in business.

    How will the google email account help?

  • Google now automatically processes email attachments for a person, so all they have to do is click the link in the email and they can view them right on the internet.

    Previously they always had to be downloaded (meaning you had to have the right software installed on your own computer in order to see the file) and problems would arise with software incompatibilities.

  • It might never help you if you’re always the scanner and never the scanee.

  • I’ll do it then and see how it works.

  • Cindy,

    If you want to kick some ideas around for a while, OK. If this is not a good time, tell me when.

  • Cool, I will be done working in about an hour.

  • Let’s plan it then for 6PM, Eastern Time.

  • 275 – I don’t fall for every Tom, Dick, and Michel, Roger. πŸ™‚

    Just got here. Hope I’m not too late.

    Do you care to start with an idea? I am better in reply I think, being a neophyte. Otherwise I’ll need a few minutes to find one of the ideas I thought was interesting.

  • Sorry, overslept. Better you go first. Or a question? Does anything bother you about this essay?

  • When I understand it, I’ll let you know if anything bothers me. πŸ™‚

  • Mark

    How playful does Mr F believe we can get with the ‘deep structure’ of power?

  • I don’t think I can do this, Roger. I have already forgotten everything I read. It’s too far removed from what I normally read. And I’m not familiar with anything about it. It’s like starting to learn French at chapter 35.

  • That’s an intriguing question, Mark. I don’t want to shutter the bubble yet. Everyone deserves to be shocked and experience the “Foucault effect.”

    To change the subject – do you see anything that Cindy could do to “improve” – sorry, Cindy, I’m only trying to help – her reading habit?

    If you had to name but one thing, what would it be?

  • I’m gonna take ten before you two unleash on me and probably never speak to me again.

    Actually, going for a beer run.

  • That I can think about, Mark.

    Here is what I see. He is saying power is part of relationship, I think. Like a dynamic between people.

  • Mark

    …re-examine the youtubed discussion between Chomsky and our Mr F with this article in mind — might help

    read the article quickly twice without spending time pondering — then pick it apart again on a third go-round

    read its reflection in a mirror

  • Okay, I can do the first three things.

    “read its reflection in a mirror” (that’s funny)

  • Roger, no need to be sorry. I don’t mind help any more than I would if I was expected to understand an engineering article or a computer science proposal. Thanks, Roger.

  • I like “the reflection in the mirror” phrase. Seductive.

    And since Mark didn’t take me up on it, let me put my foot in the mouth.

    Cindy – I don’t believe you’re submitting yourself (sufficiently) to certain things you read. You’ve got to allow yourself to become seduced first by the text instead of resisting. And then regroup. Reading is like having a dialogue (with oneself).

  • Or like having a love affair with the author. This kind of reading reconsistutes the subject by putting him or her in a relationship with “the other.”


    Because there is no subject apart from a relation.

  • Mark

    …don’t know about all that (though it sounds delightful), but, for me, when when confronted with a ‘new language’, I like to let it kinds wash over me for a while to get a feel for its rules.

  • Right, you’ve got to become immersed in it. Except that F’s writing (and there are some poignant passages in the article) is seductively simplistic at the glance than you think even a child could understand it.

  • You’re mistaken Roger. I’m not resisting. What I got out of it at all (which I can’t remember at the moment) was intriguing (at the time, whatever it was). But I’m not you. And if you knew me better you’d understand that. Take my word for it.

  • Mark

    Do you not find Foucault’s view of power as being part and parcel of all social relations, from top down and vice versa, problematic, especially in light of your anarchistic leanings?

    There is always another ‘number class’. Power is illusion.

    So, what’s anti-power? We need to use it to form the transcendental synthesis. How can I feed my neighbor without ‘allowing’ a power relation to enter the equation?

  • I finished the postscript to Lyotard’s work today, and it was almost a catharsis. Haven’t had such an experience in a long time.

    It had to with the oral tradition, when writing was barely getting invented and the experience of reading the text:

    A short quote:

    “A six- or seventh-century B.C. Greek who comes upon an inscription (a phrase), most likely cut into the stone of a funerary monument, will begin to voice the letters. Most such monuments had inscriptions that read something like: ‘I am the repository of the glory of so-and-so.’ Our reader does not repeat words that were said by someone (the person whose body lies in the tomb never uttered them, and the monument never spoke), but he lends his voice, or she lends her voice, to these inscribed words. He lets his voice be occupied, appropriated, not by the words of another, but by words that were already there, without belonging to anyone. This is an important moment, for the intrusion experienced by the reader precipitates a sudden awareness of the self as this self is in fact invaded. It is not irrelevant to recall that some very early Greek inscriptions equate the process of reading with anal penetration. The sense of self is constituted in such a moment, and then the familiar process of natural causality takes over to induce the belief that such a self must have always already existed. Natural causality suppresses the importance of the moment of the constitution of the subject by leading to the inference that there had to have been such a subject all along for it to experience itself as invaded.”

    The last is a reference to the Nietzschean model of reverse causality.

    “It will be recalled that Nietzsche denounces the so-called naturalness of causality in the case of the bee sting. , according to which first a bee stings us, then we fee pain, and we feel this pain as being caused by the bee. Nietzsche argues to the contrary that first we feel the pain, then we look for what may have happened to us; we see the bee, and we infer that the bee stung us, causing the pain, so that, for Nietzsche, the actual temporal sequence is not bee – sting – pain, but pain – bee – causal inference leading to the narrative [that funny word, again!] of bee – sting – pain.”

  • I’m sorry, Cindy. I don’t want to presume anything.

    I don’t think I follow you, Mark. “Number class.” And how do you mean “illusion”?

  • To feed one’s neighbor like you suggest – Christ’s way is the only way I can think of.

  • Mark

    Just give me a word for anti-power to work with. Gandhi’s pacifism was close, I think, but it didn’t catch on.

  • Mark

    Replace ‘number class’ with order of infinity.

    Power is illusion — when you get right down to it, no one but you is the boss of you. Power is an excuse.

  • Well, “humanitarianism” is one, but it’s so misused if not watered-downed.

    But the problem is not so much on an individual level. In that case, all we’re talking about is individual development.

    I was thinking in terms of the social/sociological problem. It is here that theory is found inadequate.

  • Cindy,

    Please don’t stay mad. I didn’t mean to be critical, only offered what I thought might help.

  • Sort of like “the mentality of the victim”? Yes, it is that, too, insofar as the liberated consciousness is concerned.

    But isn’t it also “real” in some concrete respects?

    To hold on only to the first aspect of the definition, we can think of a “happy slave” because in his or her mind they’re not a slave.

  • Did you read Tolstoy’s work Mark? On pacifism? Just curious. (sorry, butting in with irrelevancies)

  • Mark

    Until the happy slave becomes aware of the relationship is he a slave?

  • Roger,

    You are a funny duck. I didn’t get mad. I’m just trying to explain that most people I meet don’t struggle with attention and memory as much as I do.

  • Mark

    Yes, Cindy, and that’s totally relevant, imo. How can it be made a fad?

  • I would have never suspected anything. And I’m sorry.

    You not saying now that ignorance is bliss, Mark. Or to put it another way, can we speaking meaningfully of a distinction between true and false consciousness?

  • There is, however, a positive application of this concept, Mark – in forms of the Buddhist response to the world. Which is to say, “go with the flow.” A radical statement of this philosophy might be put thus: “Enable your enemy.”

  • Mark

    No, Rog. I’m saying that the master/slave relationship requires awareness on the part of both parties.

  • Mark

    And yes, Rog. It’s all in the ‘sticking and yielding’.

  • Which is Foucault’s point exactly. We’re all accomplices.

  • And that’s how you disarm them – a form of “passive resistance.”

  • Mark

    …hey! This shit works.

  • Consequently, liberation can come about only on the individual level, one individual at a time, then as a result of any mass movement.

    Very unMarxist. BTW, that’s Lyotard’s view too.

  • The sad thing about it is, it deprives us of theoretical subject matter. I’d miss that.

  • Mark

    Think hula-hoop.

  • I’ve told you so ages ago when I invited the few minds (Les Slater included) to a powwow. But you guys had shot me down for being “elitist.”

  • ‘Power is illusion.’

    What creates the illusion? How does it start? Where do we get it?

    Something is in what Eco was discussing about there not being two things one with power and one without, but consent. (It’s not very clear yet.)

  • Can you think of a passage? I’ve made notes of the main points, so I could address any issue you raise.

    How does make a useful distinction between power and force. The latter is like billiard balls and the response is immediate and calculable – like pararellogram. The former is subtle and symbolic, entrenched in language and ideology. And the response/resistance is indirect, by way of making accommodations.

    Also, try to zero in on the distinction he (Eco) makes between straight causality and a symbolic relationship (like a husband and his barefoot and pregnant wife). The former is irreversible; not the latter. There are things the wife can do to change the nature of the relationship.

  • Mark

    What creates the illusion? How does it start? Where do we get it?

    How else can we make a buck?

  • Mark is being more philosophical than I am, and that’s no small feat. First the hula-hoop thing, which I can’t decipher, and now this.

    A real sphinx.

  • Zedd


    You invited. I’m here. What’s the discussion about or is it free-for-all?

  • Creating an illusion/ideology/indoctrination that would make sense in practical terms would be one that would divert the person’s attention away from “reality.”

    So if power is “unreal” as a matter of fact, and all of us just live happily in all kinds of symbiotic relationships, what would be the point on the part of the “ruling class” to try to reify power as something real.

    Perhaps the host-parasite relationship might be of help.

  • It’s free for all, Zedd, especially those of keen mind and humanistic impulses, which you so splendidly exhibit. Why don’t you re-read the thread first, from (say) #100 or so, to get a gist.

  • That is one part that intrigued me p247 (except I wasn’t fond of the parallelogram thing which was confusing).

    With a husband and a wife there are two people. There’s no immediate complex community. So, the consent or dynamic is easier to see. (It’s recognized, for example, in family dynamics related to alcoholism as ‘enabling’.)

    The problem is all the parts of the community are interacting and then creating a consensus. The part of the wife is now played by a group, interacting in some complex way and creating consent–a consensus to consent.

  • Mark

    So if power is “unreal” as a matter of fact…

    How about: There’s nothing unreal about illusion.

  • Mark

    Rog, the hula hoop reference was to an image of 1950s neighborhoods of people all out on their sidewalks being excellent to each other. How do we make it a fad?

  • It’s a good point, Cindy, about the problem of extrapolating from one, closely defined nexus (like husband and wife) to the community at large.

    The point Eco is making is that when it comes to symbolic (read: power) relationships, the wife can adopt any number of strategies to free herself from what she may perceive as her husbands dominating ways and attitudes. And so in that sense, symbolic, power relationships are reversible, or at least they can be deal with by any number of modifications, behavior adjustments, and so on and so forth. But it’s not the case with force, or the notion of causality that Eco tends to equate it to. In the latter case, there’s no room for such maneuvers. The response must be direct, one must meet force head-on.

  • Hi Zedd. πŸ™‚

  • Of course not, to the extent we don’t see it for such and act accordingly. But the contrast with “the real” is not obliterated for the fact and it still stands.

    Plato’s “cave analogy,” for example.

  • Yes, #334. I understood that when I read it. But, I forgot it. That’s very helpful–to reiterate it like that.

  • I hope you don’t think I’m being contrary, Mark, just for the hell of it.

  • Mark

    I don’t see the validity in Eco’s distinction. Force doesn’t have to be met head-on ala a brick wall. Obviously, even force can be manipulated.

    So, where am I misinterpreting his meaning.

  • Mark

    Not at all, Rog. And I hope that you don’t think that I’m merely being flippant for its entertainment value…

  • The way to go from there, Cindy, is to Eco’s conclusion (last page) where he states:

    “Here another suspicion arises. Perhaps it isn’t that the given language is different from power because power is a place [locus] of revolution, something denied to language. It is that power is homologous to the given language because, as the former is described to us by Foucault, it can never be a place of revolution. That is, in power there is never any distance between reform and revolution, since revolution is the moment when a slow process of gradual adjustments suddenly undergoes what Rene Thom would call a catastrophe, a sudden turn; but in the sense in which a collecting of seismic movements suddenly produces an upheaval of the earth. A final breaking point of something already formed in advance, step by step. Revolutions then would be the catastrophes of the slow movements of reform, quite independent of the will of the subjects, casual effect of a final compounding of forces that obeys a strategy of symbolic adjustments ripening over a long time.”

    Which is to say that the taking of the Bastille, for example, was just the icing on the cake – should I say in response to Marie Antoinette saying “Let ’em have cake!”

  • Eco relies on physical causality when he speaks of “force.” But when he speaks of “power,” he couches it in terms of symbolic relations. Do you not see the merit in this?

    And no, of course you’re not being flippant.

  • Mark

    I’m not convinced that this distinction doesn’t mask the extent to which our relationship with nature and physical causality is symbolic.

  • 326 – Mark,

    What creates the illusion? How does it start? Where do we get it?

    How else can we make a buck?

    That’s how I conceive of why it starts. But how does it get inside us.

    In a domintor culture, the dominator mindset is in everything. It’s in games, in the delivery of education, success is defined by that mindset. So, it’s in what we first experience and what we’re taught throughout life. And it’s what we live in. A paradigm we’re primed for. It how we expect things to be.

    So that illusion is instilled, indoctrinated. We believe it. And so does everyone else.

    When we try to interest them in our hula-hoop they don’t want to buy it. But when they were young they would have bought it. Before they were fully set, like a cake that’s not fully baked.

  • I admit that all terms of language – even physics terms and concepts, such as “force” – are symbolic. So if the entire language, to include ALL language games, are “symbolic,” then there is a sense perhaps in which the distinction is strained.

    I’d like to refer you, however, to Eco’s account of the development of weaponry in European history, pp 249-250. He characterizes these developments as “ralationships of force.”

    His conclusion (p. 250):

    “We do not say to a force: “No, I won’t obey you”; we develop techniques of checking it. But we don’t react to a relationship of power with a mere and immediate act of force [I take it, “if we’re clever, that is]. Power is far more subtle and exploits a far more widespread consensus, and heals the wound received at that point, always and necessarily marginal.”

    Aside from that, I’m convinced that all terms of language are distinct from one another – a matter of the difference. So even if Eco is not correct about identifying the exact point of difference, the difference is there.

    What I find illuminating about this, Foucault himself had never made any kind of distinction. He spoke only of power. So to say the least, Eco opened the area for investigation.

  • That’s the illusion of diversion, Cindy, that you speak of. An illusion to makes us see what’s unreal as real. None of us have a problem understanding this concept and the motive.

    But Mark spoke of “power” as an illusion.

  • Mark

    So how does one teach without ‘passing it on’?

  • Mark,

    You’re exhibiting a side of you I never knew.

  • ‘always and necessarily marginal’

    Could you explain what he means by just that bit?

  • I understand (have experienced) what Mark meant by power is an illusion.

    So, let me try to reconcile that with what you are saying about diversion.

  • Mark

    Rog, I’m actually very practical and am interested in finding active processes for ‘disarticulating inherited historical dilemmas’ — href Wobblies and Zapatistas

  • I believe what Foucault (or Eco’s interpration of F is), is that it’s erroneous to think of power as emanating only from the center. Hence, any resistance or opposition is at the margins.

    Let me provide another citation:

    “This idea [of power as emanating from some center] has been sufficiently criticized, and Foucault’s notion of power intervenes, in fact, to show its anthroporphic naivete. A trace of this revision of the concept can be found even in the internal contradictions of various terrorist groups: from those who want to strike at the ‘heart’ of the state to those who, on the contrary, unravel the strands of power at its edge, in the points I would call ‘Foucaultian,’ where the prison guard, the petty merchant, the foreman are engaged [attacked].”

    The latter kind of response, Cindy, is what I regard as striking at the margins.

  • I, too, Mark, would wish for a happy ending. But the problem is, what am I going to do with my philosophical impulses?

  • I’d be interested, Cindy, in your trying to make the connection.

  • Mark

    Duchamp turned to chess with an exclusive vengeance.

  • Mark

    (It is a matter of aesthetics after all, isn’t it?)

  • at the margins is marginal

    Right, because that’s what he was talking about–the margins. Okay. I see what I’m doing wrong a little better. (maybe)

  • I love that game. It alleviates my aggression impulse.

    I suppose aesthetics trumps philosophy. And I can live with that on a personal level.

    But what am I going to do about saving humanity – the Jesus Christ complex?

    Don’t you yearn for immortality?

  • So here we come upon another independent variable to complicate things, the Schopenhouer’s concept of the will.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

  • Mark

    Rog, though I’m stepping on an article that I pretend to hope to write in my next life:

    We who do not posses talents required by the revolutionaries should content ourselves with

    welcome the stranger

    visit the prisoner

    succor the widow

    feed the hungry

  • I couldn’t agree more.

  • And yet, you’re so theoretically astute.

    I’d hate to see this talent go to waste.

  • It reminds me of an essay I read long time ago, by Isaac Berlin, I believe, on Tolstoy –
    The Hedgehog and the Fox. Cindy would be interested.

    The point that stuck in the mind, is the distinction between “a good man” (the peasant) and the Socratic ideal, culminating in the expression that “unexamined life is not worth living.”

  • Mark

    Compare with The Razors Edge — the over examined life is delusional.

  • Mark

    btw Rog, you will find those principles of action listed in 360 discussed in Wobblies and Zapatistas referenced above. The notion of ‘settling’ for them is mine.

  • So how does one teach without ‘passing it on’?

    In addition to your list, Mark. I think this question itself might be at the top of mine. I wonder if everyone who ever saw that their was something wrong didn’t have that same exact question in mind.

    That question is perfect to me. It’s the question I had in mind from the minute I saw there was a problem and decided I wanted to do something about it–how do I not pass this on.

    My nephew just told me what his latest idea of a career* is–a counselor. I’ll have to try to find out if he has this question in mind.

    (*Though my favorite was at 8, when he wanted a career hang-gliding or being a parachute guy.)

  • So practically speaking. My question is, how to we get Mark’s question inside people.

  • You mean “Maugham’s novel”?

    I’ll have to look at it.

    If both of you thing it’s essentially a matter of “transmitting,” then I couldn’t agree more.

    Think of Ray Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451.

    Lyotard’s “solution” is no different in fact – liberating individual consciousness.

  • Cindy,

    I have an perfect answer to the question you’re putting. I’ll transmit it over in a day or two.

  • Mark

    I’m hoping for the Great Serendipity or Well’s comet whichever comes first.

  • Mark


  • One more thing, before I close for the night – you’re talking about “over-examined” life.

    We may be operating here with different notions of identity – the modern vs. the traditional one. I have an interesting article to transmit to both you and Cindy, in regards how personal identity is a factor, especially insofar as it has undergone a drastic change over the last three hundred years. Definitely something to consider.

    On that note, let me close. It was a rewarding session from my point of view, and I hope you’re not disappointed. I should hope we can continue.

    Good night.

  • Doug Hunter


  • Mark


  • Mark

    wannabe nerds

  • lol, Mark

    Maybe Roger is going to call the CDC.

  • night night…philosophers unlimited…

  • (forgot this)


  • By the way Doug, we aren’t nerds, we’re trendsetters. Have you ever seen the likes of this sort of conversation on BC?

    Next thing you know it will be attracting every modern day Aristotle, Kant, and Nietzsche. There will be ads for togas and halos and …

    (fade out)

  • I’m sorry Doug couldn’t get the flow. But he surely showed his hand – labeling whatever you fail or do not care to understand.

    I suppose I’ll remember that when it comes to practical discourse on such matters as politics. But I thought he had possibilities.

  • Mark,

    I’m having few problems with your anti-positional stance does far. I’ll enumerate:

    1) Contrast between “force” and “power”

    One can think here on analogy with physical forces, any natural phenomena. We do speak of “social forces.” But even from metaphorical uses or occasional/frequent misuses, one can think of such things as mass migrations (of population), invasions, etc – the kind of changes in the social environment Duby talks about concerning the Three Orders (Eco’s article). So at this level, we can speak of “forces.”

    Now, once (social) adjustments are made by way of meeting those events – whether by direct confrontation or any other means – the situation stabilizes, certain relations (of reciprocity, for example) are formed and symbolized, become part of language and therefore part of the social fabric, then we can speak of “power.” So I think some such process is at work to turn “brute force” into “power relations.”

    2) By insisting that “power” is but an illusion (I like though the idea of anti-power) you’re in effect denying there is any problem – and deprive us thus of the subject matter.

    A suggestion: Perhaps it would be more constructive to speak in this case of “social relations/relationships” in general and their characteristics – e.g., relations of dependency, of reciprocity, of functional and dysfunctional relationships, and so on and so forth.

    I believe that was in essence Foucault’s idea to begin with. For strategic purposes, in order to shock us, to make us aware of the extent to which are formed by those relationships, he uses the term power as being part and parcel of (almost) every social relationship, from top down and vice versa. But if all relationships are power-laden and “power” is the essentially and indispensable element of every relationship, then the term “power” becomes vacuous. So perhaps what Foucault is actually doing – he uses the term “power” as a shorthand for social relations.

  • I’ve already been described by Silas as wearing a toga and a laurel, Cindy, so I may as well keep up the appearances.

  • What’s CDC?

  • Mark

    For 1 – Man stands staring at Tree. Tree says, “I’m growing.” Man goes off and paints a landscape…..a few years later Man comes back, cuts Tree down and builds a house.

    What kind of a relationship is that?

    For 2 – I agree that F’s technique of argument invests too much timeless power in ‘power’ (leading to a degradation of meaning?)

    But, clearly, there is a problem. People are out there treating one another like shit.

  • Mark

    (…and destroying the planet in the process.)

  • Mark

    I like Doug’s uncompromising stance: the individual is essential.

  • Doug Hunter

    #380 My comment was meant to invoke a chuckle, not be insulting. Please carry on, it’s an interesting read.

  • (1) I suppose the relationship turns from having been “cooperative” at first (live and let live) to being “instrumental,” one of making use of something (for a purpose).

    You’re not suggesting that “using” Nature is necessarily or always wrong. (We can talk about ecological balance, e.g.) The alternative would be to keep living in caves or huts. The same goes, IMO, for the food chain, don’t you agree? although I can see why some would object.

    Of course, when applied to social/human relations, the situation is more sticky.

    (2) I don’t have a personal problem; I believe I’m doing my best not to treat others like shit. But there is a “social problem” insofar that most aren’t like me and the modern culture encourages “use of people” and promotes the instrumental idea of Reason. Performativity (of the system) is the end these days, of knowledge, science, and technology – what can it get us and how fast. So in that sense, there is a “social problem” which calls for “solutions.”

    Again, solutions can come on the individual level – e.g., what can I do in order not be caught up in the rat race and live out my human values. On the social level, however, and this is what exercises me, what kind of environment can we create that would facilitate the recapturing of our humanity.

  • For a while, Doug, I thought I was wrong about you. I’m glad that I wasn’t. You do know, I hope, that I can be “down to earth” as well.

  • You’re hitting on something important, Mark, about the individual. I’ll provide an informative quote from Lyotard concerning “republicanism” vs. “democratic mindset,” which Lyotard, interestingly, equates with totalitarianism. In a sense, L’s position vindicates, to a point, some of Dave Nalle’s ideas. I’ll do it shortly.

  • OK, the distinction originates with Kant Perpetual Piece

  • CDC = Center for Disease Control

  • “Republicanism is more than the separation of powers: it demands the fission, even the disintegration, of popular identity. It is not just about representation: from the perspective of language, it is an organization of regimes of phrases and genres of discourse that relies on their dissociation, thus allowing a ‘play’ between them or, if you prefer, preserving the possibility of accounting for the event in its contingency. This organization I will call deliberative.”

    Further down:

    “In the republic there is, by definition, a prevailing uncertain about ends – an uncertainty about the identity of the we. . . . . the question of a final identity does not arise in the narrative tradition [of ‘primitive’ cultures]. (And the Aryan narrative [e.g., Wagner, Hitler] says the same thing.) In the republic, there are many narratives because many final identities are possible; in despotism, there is only one because there is only one origin. The republic inspires not belief but reflection and judgment. It wills itself.”

    “Memorandum on Legitimation” in The Postmodern Explained.

  • Thanks, Cindy. How can I do it myself if I mess up next time?

  • Did you mean then so I could get inoculated with an anti-nerd vaccine?

  • lol Roger, not quite. I meant so that you can find out how to stop the transmission of the dominator disease.

    To end the italics, you skip the first tag (the first ‘i’) and you just use the second tag (like you normally do to end your italics).

  • Doug was just kidding.

    BTW, you had better take advantage of my fire power, you and Mark. I will be attending shortly a three-week truck-drivers course (paid for) – 7AM-5PM, except for weekends. So pick my brains while you still can.

  • Mark

    consideration in the mix:

    In Fanon’s analysis, violence is conceptualised in two predominant ways: as an instrument for achieving and sustaining political power and as a sui generis force or energy. In the former sense, violence has the capacity to make the world; in the latter sense it operates on analogy with physical laws, in which the imposition of force provokes a reaction, which may either be directed inwardly and self?destructively by the oppressed, or productively directed against the oppressor.


  • Diversion.

    (This is just musing.)

    Sometimes it seems we’re holding two competing things in mind. (We, meaning all the people in our culture.) An idealized idea of what we’re supposed to do and then the reality of what we actually do.

    I see this like a theme that is replicated everywhere.

    Example: The United States of America stands for truth, justice, etc. (This is repeated even though the United States of American might be murdering people left and right.)

    (I’ll have to think of more examples.)

    It’s the sense of believing we are doing one thing (the utopianized thing) when we aren’t doing that, we’re doing something else.

    I think children seem to recognize this duplicity. Then little by little, the more they experience it, the more normal it becomes. It becomes normal to say you do one thing and really be doing another.

    Somehow our sense of reality gets diverted. Like a hat trick. In order for magic to work, the audience has to consent to be tricked. We know that the magician isn’t really sawing anyone in half.

    Power is an ‘illusion’ and it seems maybe little by little we agree to give up what we first knew.

  • Mark

    How are your kidneys, Rog?

  • The Wretched of the Earth

    I still have the text. Didn’t he continue along the lines originated by Sorel?

  • lol…(mixed up example)…going to be tough to make sawing the woman in half into a hat trick…

  • Is my thinking affected thereby?

  • Interesting presentation, Cindy, about “power.” It’s almost like a parable.

  • Mark

    lol Rog — if you’re going into trucking they’re going to take a beating.

  • So according to #399, Fanon appears to subscribe to a kind of distinction between a “social mechanism” on the one hand and “brute force/resistance” on the other.

  • Or, I see what you mean. I only need it part time to supplement my meager income – not to get rich or anything. I’ve been in the business for over twenty years in California – although it was vans and step-vans rather than rigs.

  • For a while I thought you might be referring to my drinking.

  • Some time I hope you will both agree to read and discuss my favorite thing: The Arts of the Contact Zone

    It’s probably the most important thing I’ve ever read, in a way.

  • Mark
  • Only if it has a bearing on what exercises me right now. It’s the first time in a long time that a philosophical problem has become a personal one for me.

  • Mark

    good plan, Cindy.

  • You mean, her book?

  • Tell me if you think it has bearing, Roger.

    (It’s not a book, just a 6 page text–of a speech she gave.)

    Pratt defines contact zone (a description she coined):

    “I use this term to refer to social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today. Eventually I will use the term to reconsider the models of community that many of us rely on in teaching and theorizing and that are under challenge today.”

  • (Pratt is a world-changer, Roger.)

  • This is one link.

    I see what you mean, Cindy. In a way, it’s similar to the French notion of the differend. Let me quote again:

    “This dissensus, Lyotard’s differend, is the condition of justice in a reading society, for it makes us into the kind of heteronomous pagan subjects . . . Such subjects are capable of the kind of justice that Eric Havelock recognized as existing among these early Greeks, namely dike, which is something that cries aloud, in opposition to the much later diakaiosune, the interiorized sense of justice that appears contemporaneously with Socrates’ logocentrism. It is the justice of heteronomy, of irreducible difference. It is a type of justice whose exercise does not subject anyone to a law that is alien to him or her and thus is not an injustice; it is a justice that does not legislate and does not derive from legislation, but we will see that it is not therefore lawless.”

    “Afterword” by Wlad Godzich to The Postmodern Explained

    You should like that, Cindy. Right down your alley.

  • I saw it already, Cindy. Check my #417 concerning the celebration of “the differend.”

  • She describes the operation of what Eco was saying when he spoke about ‘the neighborhood’.

  • Well, it is relevant therefore, as you can see from my comments above. There is such a thing as serendipity, you know – a great many thinkers converging on the problem and, independently, coming up with similar solutions.

  • Mark

    Saw a bumper sticker a few years ago — “I ? Manuel”

    Just figured it out.

  • Mark

    That ? should have showed up as a heart of course.

  • ΒΏQue es Manuel?

  • Mark

    Some inventchins are GRATE!!!!!!!!!!! My inventchin would be a shot that would put every thing you learn at school in your brain


  • Mark is more of a mystic than I would have believed. It must be for didactic reasons.

    Cindy, the whole idea Pratt’s talking about – e.g., resistance to other languages, cultures, etc., has of course much deeper, personal roots. It all goes back to a kind of lococentrism.

    You did not comment on my #416. Didn’t you find it relevant and on topic?

  • You should have said in a dustbin.

  • You guys know we’re about to break a record. They might revoke the site on general principles.

  • lol, Mark! I forgot that part. πŸ™‚

  • 424,

    I’m still thinking about it, Roger.

  • OK, Cindy. I’ll be starting my class on Monday. Three more days of freedom.

  • I’m reading the paper Mark put in 398. Very interesting so far.

  • OK, I’ll get to it once you give me the gist. At present, I’m coasting if you know what I mean, laying low, basking in my intelligence and intellectual superiority, all of the above.

  • I’ve already been described by Silas as wearing a toga and a laurel, Cindy, so I may as well keep up the appearances.

    Oh, Roger. How about the sequin studded codpiece? Got one of those?

  • Silas, I AM an exhibitionist par excellence – as I’m certain you can detect from my posts, but only in a peacocky kind of way, as a proud male. So no, I have no Liberace style costumes. Although I’ve seen him in person in Latin Quarter, NYC nightclub of old.

  • (Roger, I am going to the 1st annual NJ anarchist bocci ball hoe down on Sat. whatever that means, never played it…i think you take the small anarchists and toss them and…..lol. I discovered I have a neighbor who is an anarchist. Until he invited me, I really thought he wouldn’t ever speak to me again. When we met for coffee, I had to take matters into my own hands (since he didn’t) and pow wow with his children. After an hour of no one being able to finish a single sentence. The kids were fine with that and we immediately intuited we’d have a reciprocally rewarding relationship, based on mutual respect. I didn’t know if I would be considered inappropriate–since this parent’s idea of non-authority meant the children should dominate everyone. But, apparently, I’m forgiven. πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I will be available Fri and Sun)

  • But you’re still available today, no?

    BTW, have you been raised “in a community”?

    Just asking.

  • You have no idea how great I am with kids. They’re all delightful, for the most part, and they have this uncanny ability to sense “the spirit,” if you know what I mean – something which adults very quickly learn to forget.

    There’s nothing more delightful.

  • Yes, and today…

    Raised in a community? You mean as opposed to being reared by wolves? (Never mind, that’s a community, too.)

  • I meant, like a hippie community.

    So we can still correspond today, yes or no?

  • You mean, like a commune? No. But amongst extended family. My mother is a dominator (but not a controlling one–which is sort of weird). Her siblings were the right age in the 60s. (My father, whom I spent summers with, was someone I never saw raise his voice. And we loved to watch scary movies together.)

    They’re mostly civilized now. (And all of them strangely close–yet still struggling over the domination thing.) But I grew up watching the grown-ups engage in screaming battles (with me at 12 saying things like…”If you can’t discuss this rationally, I’m not going to be a part of this conversation. If you ever decide to converse I will be happy to participate.”)

  • lol @ Silas.

  • You’re saying “they’re mostly civilized now.” Is it because they no longer have the energy to fight?

    I, too, had a rather tumultuous childhood, meaning my parents always fought, over kids and the matter of discipline. Mother was always protective, but kids know when deserve a little beating (they ask for it, IMO), and it never hurts if it’s not brutal. But it was just two parents, no other kind of interference, and it was kind of good. It wasn’t idyllic but it was a happy one. Children very quickly learn their parents’ weaknesses and foibles, and make up their own mind as to what is right. At least I did.

    So my question really is, I suppose, was there love?

  • They grew up. They were born on the mean streets of Newark, NJ in poverty. And they we’re all still very young when I was young–including my mother, who was the oldest, and a month into 19 at my birth. Yes, much love. They have a be there without hesitation or question kind of fierce love.

    I can’t say I agree with violence toward children. I do think it hurts. And I find it completely unnecessary.

  • And, I agree with children on the issue when they oppose the “do as I say not as I do” rationalizations of their parents.

  • Never mind the last line – all I meant is rightly administered discipline, because kids are contrary, always challenging and “asking for it,” as if to make certain the parents care. At least that’s my experience and I have no regrets.

    So you and your mom and dad ought to have been like close friends – almost siblings.

    The Italian origins, however, argue for some kind of extended family. And from my experience, all Italians – American Italians, (perhaps) I should say – are very congenial. Love flows.

  • Children very quickly learn their parents’ weaknesses and foibles, and make up their own mind as to what is right.

    That sounds right to me too.

  • I am glad you have no regrets. I have heard that from many believers in corporal punishment. In my experience, though, what you’re describing is the result of the quality of the relationship children find themselves in. It is not a given that children act like that as a rule (or to any extent that would require any sort of violence).

    (My father was Italian. I lived with my mother’s family. My maternal great grandparents and my paternal grandparents were all immigrants. Immigrants who are poor tend to live in extended family situations. So, your family had enough money?)

  • “the quality of the relationship” Not meaning good quality or poor quality, but rather the qualities contained in or the dynamics.

  • No, money wasn’t the issue, not in Poland. My father was a stage actor in Polish National Theater, which carried lots of prestige in communist Poland. But I’m rich in childhood experiences – like going for two-month vacations to the country every year, things like that. So yes, I’ve had a very happy childhood.

    What bugs the shit out of me, how do we allow our children, the most precious thing one can possibly have, to become dehumanized? Every child’s natural inclination is to embrace the world and everything that’s in it, without an once of discimination or prejudice. And yet, we definitely fail as parents. And we have only ourselves to blame. How can such a wonderful creation as a child ever turn bad? It’s disgraceful. There’s no greater sin.

  • Here’s what I think. If you look at children in a variety of relationships, and in a variety of cultures, you can see that human nature isn’t what people believe it to be.

  • Human nature is not fixed. Every individual is a testimonial to the fact that it’s so. We are, by nature, trusting. The symbiotic relationship between the child and the mother. But then, the trust gets broken, once a child enters the world.

    You know the rest of the story.

  • Just got my scanner. I could install it in a minute, but you’re not ready for it, apparently. Still need to respond to earlier comment.

  • If you plant an oak seed, there is an expectation from the seed in order for it to develop according to its potential. It needs water and nourishment and sunlight. It can survive within a range of situations. Too much or too little of what it needs. But, there is a smaller range where it thrives.

    If we have a forest of oak trees all who’ve gotten too little water (or too much) and it is those oak trees that we look at. We’ll be wrong about our theories of the nature of oak trees.

  • But, if we examine the oak seed and we then plant it in a variety of places, we’ll find that the nature of the oak tree isn’t what we though. We only saw one way an oak tree can look.

  • That’s Aristotle concept – having to do with the distinction between actuality and potentiality.

  • It figures. Aristole beat me to ‘my’ theory. πŸ˜‰

  • Don’t feel bad. He had beat most everyone. There are only to ways to go since the ancients (with minor variations, of course, or footnotes if you like) – the Aristotle’s way or Plato’s. That the major dichotomy.

  • (Okay Roger, I’m going to settle in and concentrate on your post now. I’ve been distracted as a friend is building my exciting project for me and I keep going to look. This being our last season on the lake here, I wanted to have a floating platform made that can be pulled in and off-shore, allowing one to put an inflatable mattress down and float out in the lake for sleeping under the stars. A real waterbed!)

  • You are getting indoctrinated in philosophical thinking, Cindy, whether you realize it or not. Good for you. I hope you think it’s fun rather than waste of time.

    I certainly don’t want to contribute to your delinquency, or taking you away from more important concerns.

  • Don’t worry and take your time. I’m gonna take a cat nap.

  • So, which one, Aristotle or Plato applied that idea to the dominating culture?

  • …they have this uncanny ability to sense “the spirit,”…something which adults very quickly learn to forget.

    There’s nothing more delightful.

    You have no idea how great I am with kids.

    I bet I have a pretty good idea. πŸ™‚

  • Both believed in potentiality – via education.

  • Okay then Roger, I am safe. That’s not ‘my’ theory. What I put above is an analogy about ‘my’ theory, which concerns why people think that human nature is what they think it is. It’s like those oak trees. See?

    I am sure plenty of people have said ‘my’ theory before me. But, I don’t think it would be Aristotle or Plato.

  • People use the “human nature” argument to justify what they will. It’s supposed to serve as some kind of appeal. IMO, it’s a lame argument and I try never to use it.

    But the idea of potential – any potential, whether in a human or any other living thing – is a potent one. The biological model (and why not since we’re talking about life – bios – of growth and nourishment and all the right nutrients is very much apropos.

  • So, the story starts with dominator-ville and and egalitarian-land. The people who live in dominator-ville play the game, lets take over and control everything. And the people in egalitarian-land don’t play that game.

    You can anticipate what the world looks like now based on the dominator game. And everywhere you look you see humans that look like their nature is selfish.

  • No, they couldn’t, Cindy. Only those from the other land could see that. But those who are all caught up playing the first game couldn’t see that because there’d be nothing other to compared them(selves)too.

    Do you disagree?

  • Did Mark get upset with me?

    Check out the other thread, please.

  • BTW, I’m asking Jason Campbell to join us. His voice would be a welcome addition.

  • 466 – I agree, Roger. That’s the main reason I think people make a mistake about human nature.

    (Okay I will check it out.)

    [I am so pissed off. The lake nazis just showed up. I barely managed to maintain humoring them. They said they’d have to stop us until they can review and approve our plans. I told them then only way to do that is if they send someone over who can kick my ass. (I know they won’t approve it.) I plan to leave it there anyway until winter and then I’ll take it out.

    They’re really ‘nice’ people, sort of didn’t know what to say to someone who says ‘well, then, make me’ in a sort of half-joking humorous/serious way.)

  • I have no idea who you’re talking about – lake nazis.

  • I am no mind reader Roger. But, being a poker player I would go all-in (bet all my chips) that Mark was being playful.

  • We live on a lake, the lake, itself, is owned by a private association. The men who rule it want to boss people around. It’s the only way they can achieve orgasm–thinking about dominating everyone (since I doubt they know how to bring their wives to orgasm, and their wives probably think about what color to paint the ceiling while they fulfill their ‘obligation’).

  • oh, yeah, well…then their wives stop sleeping with them…lol…you get the point.

  • That’s an awful arrangement. I wouldn’t consent to it in a million years.

    Had an opportunity to get a little property in the Poconos and build on it, but those co-op rules I just couldn’t live with,

    Same with my sister and my brother-in-law. They have a 2 mill condo in Sarasota, but it’s an association, and they have jack shit for rights.

  • Are you renting or owning?

  • Peter Pan

    Not upset with you, Rog.

  • Thanks. I think MS has more than one brain-cell – perhaps just never had the right teachers.

  • Peter Pan

    Mark S is wicked smart. He just feels the need to defend common usage which in this case is embroiled in subterfuge imo.

  • Nothing wrong with common usage when the context is right.

    I’ve always had a suspicion he plays a kind of game. To what purpose, I have no idea, nor do I care to know.

  • Roger, you can be Tinker Belle*. πŸ™‚ Silas would like that.

    (*Or as my 3yo nephew used to call her: Jingle Bell.)

    Own Roger. It was built by my husband and he loved it. Not a big deal to me. They only harass on occasion. They shut up about all the kids coming to play on our rope. They only own the lake not our property. I will lie to them about the sq footage and by the time they figure it all out, my sleeping raft will have fulfilled it’s intention.

    People who run boards don’t know about important things like sleeping on a raft under the stars.

  • Wittgenstein had a good saying about that, but don’t quote me exactly, something to the effect of intelligence trying to seduce the language.

  • Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?”. They ask: “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” “How much does he weigh?” “How much money does his father make?” Only then do they think they know him.

    If you tell grown-ups, “I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows and doves on the roof…,” they won’t be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them, “I saw a house worth a hundred thousand francs.” Then they exclaim, “What a pretty house!”

    (quotes from my uncle ed’s favorite book, which then became mine too.)

    anybody recognize it?

  • Sounds like a dream house. But what’s the idea of owning the lake? What does that entitle them to?

  • Peter Pan

    In the Investigations, I think: ‘philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language’ or something like that…

  • It’s the Lake Association. It entitles them to ‘manage’ the lake and make rules.

  • Right, that’s the one: you’re surprising by the minute.

    Anyway, the case seems to be he’s trying to hide his utter confusion (from himself as well as other) by verbiage. So the usual MO is precisely the departure from ordinary usage (because he couldn’t get away with it otherwise).

  • Of course, I sort of stood W on his head. He means it’s the language, through its false analogies, that leads us astray.

    But I suppose a process in reverse is possible as well, when we purposely twist language for whatever reason. And MS seems to fit the bill.

  • 416

    It sounds like he’s talking about ethics?

  • Anything to do with justice has to do with morality and ethics. But the point is of celebrating the difference, the kind of “cultural zone” Pratt talks about. For only from acknowledging everybody’s uniqueness, and respecting it, there can come about the right kind of human spirit. No?

  • Q: It sounds like he’s talking about personal ethics–conscience?

    It’s a different idea. I recommend you read Pratt. I noticed you read a paper on her. People seem to read what they think into what she says. Maybe that’s an idea imagined by the author of that paper.

    Here you go: Arts of the Contact Zone (pdf)

  • I don’t thing you’re reading me right. I’m talking about acceptance, tolerance and human interaction/exchange across all cultural or individual boundaries. If that’s not what Pratt’s idea is all about, then I’m completely off.

  • Well, let me see, exchange across boundaries, yes…but it’s not quite about tolerance and acceptance. Though, it could lead to that–it may not. But it’s not, merely, exchange across boundaries, either. There is something else happening there.

  • Tolerance is the first step, Cindy. Acceptance and interchange are next. Then a sense of solidarity gets formed, about the humanity of each and everyone of us. That’s the process, ain’t it?

    And celebrating our uniqueness and differences is the key – because even for all the solidarity, we’re still individual and distinct and worthy of respect in our own right. We aren’t ants nor do we aspire to be a society of ants.

  • I mean, think of this. Why do we need Pratt to tell us…like so many people have…that we should encourage exchange across boundaries and tolerance and acceptance?

    That’s not very revolutionary, is it? Why should she coin a phrase for something that seems to be a standard message?

  • 493 – Nope. That’s not coming from Pratt at all.

  • I would be interested in whether you read her text or the person who wrote the paper’s work?

  • I will. But so far, you’re not very convincing. “Coining a phrase that seems to be a standard message” is no kind of argument. We need to keep on getting reminded, of getting back to the basics. And for that reason alone, it’s no argument for revolutionary thought. So as I said, I’ll oblige you and read the text. But so far, you haven’t been able to articulate the manner in which her main idea differs in essentials from what I’m talking about.

  • I’m not trying to. I want you to see it yourself.

  • Cindy,

    I love you and I respect you. You have a great mind, and I always pay attention to what you say. But it cuts both ways. There’s no other way to go between equals, and we are equals.

    I don’t have any stake at denigrating your favorite author. What would be the purpose in that? All I’m saying is that my brief skimming of the work – and I admit, it was brief and skimming, but I’m usually on target – it seems to me that what she’s saying in not all that different from the ideas I expressed. So I think you owe it to me not just to ignore it and dismiss it offhand but give it a serous consideration, because I don’t usually say things lightly. What I say most of the times merits serious consideration. I do it to you, and I expect nothing less.

    I will read her stuff tomorrow. Meanwhile, good night.

  • Roger,

    I’m not trying to dismiss what you’re saying. Just like you wanted me to experience Eco for myself. I wanted you to experience Pratt.

    My comments were said to encourage you to read the text for yourself. You are wrong about your interpretation. You cannot skim it and comprehend it. Granted you probably usually can do that. Not this time.

    She is not ‘my favorite author’. This woman has done research and has revolutionary observations to contribute. They are new and they are changing the world.

    If it helps you gain respect for her, here are her credentials. She is an NYU Silver Professor who has made original key contributions to her field.

  • I spent a lot of time with this paper in a class in fall 2007, Roger. (With my second best teacher ever.) I’m not dismissing what you are saying casually.

  • OK, Cindy, I’ll give it a read tomorrow. Please don’t take make comments in a bad way.
    We’re friends.

  • Cool beans Roger. (And I won’t take them in a bad way.) Now off for a book on CD. Have a good night. πŸ™‚

  • Roger, you can be Tinker Belle*. πŸ™‚ Silas would like that.

    Hmm. I picture Arch as Tinker Bell, Andy as Eddie Haskell, and Roger as The Beaver. I just left that one open for a host of double entendres!)

    And, Roger, fascinating that your Dad was a Polish actor. That’s how Karol Wojtila got his start. Acting even in pre-Communist Poland days was always an honored profession from what I’ve been told. Sto lat!

  • Silas, never mind the Polish pope. That’s for later. But for you, I’ll be whatever you heart desires, because you’re so sweet.

    Night night.

  • Cindy? Is it me or is Roger being awfully “nice” to me? First he’s gonna be a sequin-studded codpiece wearing, toga draped, laurel wreath crowned fairy. Second, he’s calling me sweet. He’s really gonna fuel the hate fires of certain arch conservator-ships.

    Good night, Roger. Sleep tight.

  • All right, guys, I think it’s time to regroup because I think we’re somewhat losing focus. I can identify three possible causes and problematic areas – the purpose of the discourse, the content, and lastly, the ordering of content – and I’ll address them separately.

    1) Purpose

    I take it for granted that the purpose all along has been that of INQUIRY. That’s what I believe the discourse ought to be about, or at least directed by the spirit of inquiry. From my (admittedly selfish) standpoint, after having read good chunks of Foucault and some of his critics, and other thinkers, I am trying to consolidate and come to grips with some key and problematic concepts – power, force – to test the limits to which these concepts are usable in the analysis, deal with whatever inconsistencies that may inhere – in short, to clean the terms of the discourse so all of us could feel comfortable about proceeding further. And that takes patience and a slow hand. If you’re purposes are different than those, then you should let me know and I’ll have to proceed with this enterprise by myself. I assumed, however, that the subject matter holds your interest, and I hope I wasn’t wrong.

    2) As to content – we’re talking about terms and concept of social/societal analysis, analytical tools, things of that nature – in order to be able to analyze and appraise the conditions of postmodern, industrial societies.

    3) The order of content: accurate analysis should proceed attempts at solutions. It’s inevitable that some solutions would suggest themselves in passing, but I think it would be more prudent to try to arrive at the accurate picture first of what we’re dealing with before trying to solve problems whose exact nature is either hazy or poorly formulated.

    So let me just give a few examples of how the discourse has suffered thus far and come to a standstill.

    a) our discussion of the “power” concept didn’t go anywhere. The suggestion that it is an illusion did not eradicate the problem of dominance and societal control of the individual – in short, it did not dispose of the problem or showed it to be a pseudo-problem but only shoved it under the rug. I don’t know about you two, but I find this kind of “resolution” not only highly unsatisfactory but against the spirit of relentless inquiry I’ve been talking about.

    b) the force vs power distinction. Mark first presented reservations and then quoted Fanon who seems to support the distinction. So which is it? Another matter left hanging and unresolved.

    I can understand that some people are very careful about making “positive statements” for fear of being wrong, and maybe Mark it on this cautious side – more comfortable with posing pointed questions and the like. But guys, all of us have go to go on the limb and stick our necks out – in short, we’ve got to be coming out with “positive” formulations and reformulations in order to test the limits, experience the errors, and finally come up with cogent enough language, all cleaned-up and yes, perhaps even revolutionary, so we could see and understand the subject matter in a new light.

    Nothing ventured, guys, nothing gained. You’ve got to take risks.

    Did I make myself clear?

  • Mark

    Rog, I thought that we had cracked that nut and determined that a fad of some form of passive resistance (anti-power) to the demands of post-industrialism was the road forward. Hence my throwing the Arendt/Fannon argument into the mix.

    However, if you want to spend more time on getting the terminology clarified I’ve no objection.

    On ‘power is illusion’: far from denying the reality of the problem, this claim is that we’d best examine the nature of our ‘illusion system’ as it is what is real to each individual.

    Sorry if my tendency to jump (hopefully forwards) offends you.

  • (yes, that was comprehensible)

    When I think about Eco’s distinction between force and power, I really think it’s not that important whether it’s accurate or isn’t. It seems his point was only a matter of conceptualizing that power isn’t rigidly defined. Maybe he used a bad example with force?

    It seems to me the idea of power being an ‘illusion’ is tied into the idea Eco has–it’s reversible, changeable, flexible. If we are involved in a dynamic with a dominator (say the wife of an alcoholic, who feels a victim), we cooperate with being dominated (in some ways, I can see it as ‘enabling’ domination. Counseling for the family members of alcoholics aims at helping them recognize this and step outside the role of victim to the oppressor.)

    I like this alcoholic example as I can see things more clearly, so to continue…

    When a spouse of an alcoholic begins to change a few things seem to happen. S/he steps out of the victim role, stops trying to control the dominator, often after this–the dominator changes. The alcoholic spouse will often change as a result of the change in the dynamic of the relationship…whereas previously both parties were stuck in the symbiotic dynamic between them.

  • In any case, what the ‘victim’ spouse saw as power over her by the other…was not really there, but was something the victim spouse helped to create. It was an illusion, but it was one that could get someone killed.

  • Doesn’t offend me, Mark, at all. I think I’ve given sufficient indication that I appreciate your mind. So it’s my fault for not having been insistent that I wasn’t done with it. And yes, if “power” is an illusion, than we definitely should look into “the nature of the illusion system,” as you called it.

    So for starters, Cindy, and I haven’t read your last comment yet!), how can you speak of man’s domination of man (and of nature) in the same breath as saying it is an illusion. I’m still having a problem with this.

    But I do thank you for not taking my long comment in a wrong way – I wasn’t being critical, only trying to identify common purpose and the few areas where I felt we’re running into snags and methodological differences.

  • (don’t worry Roger, hard to feel trounced upon by a guy dressed in that get-up Silas has you wearing πŸ™‚

  • From your #509, Cindy, I gather the following:

    Because the relationship is “reversible” and subject to all manner of strategies, resistances and readjustments – in short, because the nature of the relationship is always subject to change (if one or the other party so wills it and takes whatever measures), THEREFORE it is an illusion.

    I’m sorry but I don’t this necessarily following either in a logical or conceptual sense. I don’t understand.

  • Consider that my normal git-up, then, for these brain sessions, and we’ve just licked another potential problem.

  • Yes, that’s what I think about ‘illusion’, let’s see how Mark sees it.

  • Did you see Shawshank Redemption Roger? That’s a good example, I think.

  • OK, let’s see if I can make some headway with your example.

    Your argument essentially is that the reason why the previous “dominance” relationship was illusory because the wife wasn’t quite aware as to what was happening, the factors involved, the strategies that all along have been available to her but which (because of her “ignorance”) were as good as nonexistent. Which is why she felt “helpless and dominated.”

    So from the vantage of time, once she has full grasp of the situation and made all the right moves, she suddenly realized that what?

    That the “power” wasn’t “real”? That she made it up (in her mind)? That she had been an accomplice? (I’ll say “yes” to that one.) That the power was therefore “illusory”?

    I’m not so certain about the last one.

  • What is happening there? The man is in prison, after all, for years and years. Imprisoning a person’s body is a pretty huge amount of power to have over them. But he doesn’t conspire with the illusion–and so he’s free.

  • Mark

    Cindy, you’ve got it right. The Eastern concept that the world of effect-effect-effect — the changing world — is an illusion holds here….but it’s not very satisfying.

  • I think it’s too early to move on to the transcendental sense (of freedom) – i.e., free in spirit but not in the body. I’m not saying it’s meaningless, nor am I denying that our state of mind, state of consciousness, etc. – in short, not cooperating with certain aspects of “external dominance” – is not a (perhaps even crucial) factor in that, transcendental sense.

    But you can’t completely write off the physical constraints either – or at least not always. So yes, he was free but he was still in prison. (Again, I’m not denigrating the poetic point.)

  • But that’s taking the concept of “illusion” to the limit – nothing what we regard as “real” really is so.

  • (It’s only an extreme example, Roger. The alcoholic’s wife actually did recover.)

  • We may as well re-read Bhagavad Gita.

  • I think she was an accomplice. That’s sort of what Eco seems to be saying (but I may be projecting).

    The people in the neighborhood are getting something in return. The wife of the alcoholic wanted to get something from him. The Shawshank Redemption character (had his mind insisted on his physical freedom, in order to be free) would have been like the other characters, who were subject to that demand that reality be a certain way.

  • But now we’re doing the right thing – proceeding with the cases. That’s how you test concepts.

  • non-resistance to evil is the proper response to aggression

  • 519, 525 – Yes, so now I am clearer and I need to look elsewhere.

  • In other words, Cindy, I’m not quite convinced (unless of course we adopt extreme Eastern/Buddhist view) that inadequate awareness (of the situation, relation, the extent of one’s participation in it or enabling it) is sufficient condition to regard the situation as “having been an illusion” – as though it was ONLY a matter of what was in the mind. And now that the mind is free at last, the illusion had burst.

    I don’t deny that there are uses of “illusion” in THAT sense, but I also believe there are other uses/senses of the concept which do not rely ENTIRELY on what the subject happens to think at any given point in time but are more responsive, instead, to some “objective” validation, which is to say, confirmation against reality.

    So it is the latter sense of the term that I’m trying to salvage here, and re-introduce it into discussion, if possible.

  • (Roger, don’t forget to read Pratt…okay?)

    Prat observes some things about how people empower themselves in situations of asymmetrical power relationships (thus interfering with the dominator game), and how the dominator promotes the action of the game.

  • The part that you got from Pratt was her motivation…how do we undo this? as dominators how do we undo the dominator mentality in ourselves and how do we support the process by which the marginalized culture is empowered.

  • Can you give me the link? (And I will.) But I don’t want to proceed too fast. I believe now we’re doing the right thing. The concept has got to re-emerge from re-examining the cases. So I’ll be working to that end today – unless you think it’s unimportant. But I want to get clearer on this “illusion” thing and to what extent does it apply (and when it doesn’t apply). Again, I think it important that we overcome this hurdle.

  • Pratt has that question, that Mark put to me. How do we teach so we don’t pass it on?

  • Meanwhile, though, do you want to kick this subject around or no? Let me know.

    I’ll be back in ten.

  • I agree (528) But just so you see that alcoholic family counseling is practically doing something, in the real world. If the people in the neighborhood (Eco) do something they can change the dynamic. Gandhi did something (which he learned from Tolstoy). Tolstoy was not a Buddhist.

    (bad of me to bring in the Shawshank guy–it was an extreme example–but the culture is in prison to a game)

  • Mark

    Cindy, I’ve read Pratt’s piece repeatedly, and, while I find the problem described nicely, I don’t find an overall solution offered — rather it is a call for radical experimentation and some some particular examples. Where has her work taken her since ’91?

  • I do want to discuss it, I’m fresh out of ideas though. I was going to keep reading the Arendt contra Fanon thing.

  • Cindy, you can multitask, can’t you?

    Anyway, that’s what I think. While Mark is pushing perhaps for the “more comprehensive” sense of illusion is because it’s a helpful tool of individual liberation when it comes to PRACTICE. It is less helpful, however, for analytical purposes and theoretical discourse (unless one buys into, more or less wholesale, into the philosophy of subjectivism). So I can understand Mark’s interests here.

    As to running out of ideas – not to worry. They emerge from the cases. So let me pose one for you: In what sense to you regard the housewife example as a limiting one (“extreme” was the term you used)?

  • See, I’m like a dog, and I’m not going to let go off the bone until I’ve pulverized it to a pulp.

  • OK, I’ll pick up the ball.

    Two main reason why the “housewife” case is a limiting one.

    First, because it’s indisputably pathological, which is to say, further, that the relationship is also dysfunctional one. But one can think of a whole array of “power-laden” relations which are anything but: in fact, both parties may be viewed as benefiting from the relation, although it may still be (according to Foucault at least), a “power relationship.”

    For example, the apprentice-master relationship (in the context of the medieval guilds, e.g.), whereby it was the standing arrangement for an apprentice learning the trade and eventually becoming self-sufficient, himself a master; a student-professor relationship in the medieval Universities (same idea). Employer-employee, and we could go on. Obviously, both parties benefit from the relationship, it is consensual; moreover, it’s utterly functional: both the employer and the employee earn their livelihood from being so related – again, even though (according to F), it’s a “power relationship.”

    The second limitation has to do with a scale. Which is to say, although the husband-wife nexus serves as a good illustration of power/dominance being exercises (in this case, pathologically), I’m not certain to what extent the exact same dynamic transfers to “collectivities,” i.e., groupings or classes, for example. And it is here that Duby’s example (from Eco’s article about the Three Orders) can advance the discussion further.

    Your serve.

  • I like chaos, Roger.

    Ideas are like a colorful palette. You’ll find you’ll need to be a dog with a bone though…or I will leave red half done and wander off onto blue for awhile, and come back to red later.

    So, yes, it’s fine. And don’t hesitate.

    So, let me think about what you asked.

  • Chaos is the initial state of things, Cindy. But then came Chronos, and he created Cosmos. And the human mind is godlike – intent on creating order out of chaos.

    I’m only fulfilling my destiny.

  • Let me just put forth this idea. It’s inherent in my world view.

    All non-voluntary relationships of domination and submission are in a sense, to me–pathological.

    I recall something interesting about Duby’s idea, I’ll have to reread that.

    538 clarifies nicely. (You have a helpful ability to do that.)

  • 542 lol Roger, and you look quite fashionable doing it too. πŸ™‚

  • #544: Thanks, Cindy. The least thing I’d want to do is to disappoint my BC audience. The show must go on.

    As regards #543, the whole point seems to be that precisely unlike the housewife example, a great many relationships of “domination” are functional, consensual, and marked by a degree of reciprocity in that both parties benefit therefrom – so they’re not therefore pathological. So that seems to be the crux of the matter.

    Yes, re-reading Eco’s account of Duby would be helpful.

  • 536 – Mark,

    My practical solutions come from understanding her observations.

    I see things happening between cultures, individuals, even a book and a reader, where there is an asymmetrical power relationship–and therefore, that have to do with marginalization and domination–that have to be overcome before insight is possible.

    I’m not sure how I can put this into words. Words sometimes fail to be a good tool for me. They seem inadequate to what I’m trying to say. But I see this as key to creation of empathy, for one thing. (again ’empathy’ is only part of it and inadequate)

    Experiences of deconstructing and recognition, and overcoming have taken place for me personally, using Pratt’s observation as a tool. It’s hard not to see that experience as necessary. I am inadequately trying to describe why it’s important.

    I like the idea of a fad. I need to learn more about why that’s your solution.

  • An interjection:

    I wish Bruneleschi was here. Energetic, fearless and full of ideas, but Dave estranged him And Les Slater, too: here, I may have been the culprit. (Can anyone bring him back into the fold?)

    Mark is a gem, but I’m afraid he may be too advanced for me. Mark, I promise I won’t slow you down – it’s only that I’ve got to arrive at my own understanding. Agreeing with you wouldn’t serve any purpose, not in the long run.

    BTW, I’ve told you I invited Jason Campbell to join our discussion – if only to moderate it at times so as to keep it “on course.” I apologize for sounding so dictatorial, but I believe in proceeding slowly. I hope I’ll be able to convince both of you that it’s the right way. By the results.

    Carry on!

  • 545 –

    I don’t see that many examples that aren’t pathological to me (some more than others or in different ways). The housewife is getting something out of it. The worker is also getting something out of it. The wife is only a example of how the dominator, in this case, is not ‘nice’–doesn’t provide a cozy, pleasant set of rules to (pretend to) play by.

    Both the housewife and the worker are slaves. The worker’s position is a pathological position. It causes misery, alienation. It’s life destroying. Witness the self-help market, drug addiction, alcoholism–the ‘please give me answers/or let me escape this because I feel like something is wrong’ market.

    Pathology, as I see it, is an extension or caricature of the ‘normal’. It is not independent. Manic, depressive, schizophrenic, psychopathic–these are all things we all have some experience with.

    A grain of sand or a pile of sand–it’s a degree. The housewife is only pathological maybe to a degree more than the worker or maybe with different qualities involved.

  • It’s all “pathological,” Cindy (and I grant you the matter of degrees), once you accept the “power” paradigm that Foucault suggests. I’m still at the stage where I’m questioning the applicability of the paradigm to the extent he has in mind. So this is one area that needs to be explored further. We can’t just take his word for it and run with it – however enticing the idea might appear.

    So having said that, let me turn the ball to you: in what senses, exactly, is “the worker’s” situation pathological?

    If you want to take a break, let me know. I don’t want to press you, not this very minute. We’re having an ongoing discussion, aren’t we?

  • I wish Bruneleschi was here. Energetic, fearless and full of ideas, but Dave estranged him And Les Slater, too: here, I may have been the culprit. (Can anyone bring him back into the fold?)

    My guess is no one could estrange him in the way you think they did. He mentioned health problems. My guess is he found something more interesting to do or perhaps his health isn’t as good. In any case I don’t know him or have any contact with him.

    (It’s just my guess.)

  • I don’t know what Foucalt says, really, Roger. LOL, let me read about that too! (I need Manuel’s shot, really badly.)

  • The first one, at least (I’m not talking about Les), was getting quite exasperated with Dave, name-calling and all that BS. They had long run-ins.

  • I have my own ideas, Roger. I don’t have very much experience with what philosophers say. I often find that when I read something it can sometimes agree with what I already think. (Thus, my theories aren’t really mine.)

    I have no intention of just accepting Foucault’s paradigm (even once I find out what it exactly is).

  • I am trying to say I am a stranger to philosophers–not philosophical thinking–which is part of the life of any thinker. I come to my views through the social sciences–a different way of looking at things–not something that can exist outside reality though. The fields are bound to be looking at the same things, in other words.

  • I didn’t suggest any of the kind, Cindy, only made a connection.

    As a point of fact, Foucault’s position happens to be that all “power-laden” relationships, contrary to being “pathological” – are as a matter of fact “normal,” the way of the world.

    Quite a radical thesis, don’t you think?

  • If Brunelleschi hadn’t taken that famous name we could track him down. (I can always figure out where a person called roger nowosielski is chatting).

  • OK, let me install my scanner so I’ll be able to transmit things.

    Back in twenty minutes, I guess.

  • Then I think (to whatever degree I understand him) he’s right. (subject to change with additional information) We can’t ever remove power from relationships. That’s why domination is pathological.

  • Domination doesn’t respect the power of the other person. It’s anti-humane and therefore pathological.

  • Okay, I’ll read Duby.

  • One more thought. Human nature. I address human nature as critical, because I think it is in us to assess. Meaning even as children we relate to the world and reach conscious conclusions about human nature…then we act according to those conclusions.

    Power-laden relationships: If that means domination is normal (in the sense of natural), then I think Foucault has ‘normalized’ the dominator mentality.

    Meaning people look around and see it everywhere and think it’s natural. But that is because they come from Dominator-ville. (There still exist egalitarian societies, I have heard. I am going to, soon, be looking at those via an anthropologist who wrote about her work in The Myth of Male Dominance).

    Their story has just been marginalized by the dominating culture (until it’s forgotten and out of sight).

  • I just want to make a note here (for myself, mostly–so please feel free to disregard it) about something Dr.D said. He pointed out the other Inca guy whose story is in the historical record. It’s important to see why his story is told and how it changes reality in the larger world. Dr.D as a creature of the dominating culture thinks he’s getting the Inca world-view from that. Pratt explains why he’s not. He’s only getting the view of what Les described (or maybe only what I took from it) to me via Malcom X’s ‘house negro’.

  • I should be back in ten. Almost done.

    I’m not ignoring you, just so you know.

  • (never entered my mind πŸ™‚

    (I’m trying to discipline myself to read Duby. Before I go write to MarkS or continue thinking about the dilemma of the guy whose wife doesn’t want sex–with him anyway–in the other thread.)

  • I just posted a rather feisty response to MS. He’s acting a baby, and I don’t go for his moaning and groaning.

    Yes, Cindy, with the likes of me you’ll have to discipline yourself – sorry.

    Just installed the scanner and it should work like a dream.

    Imagine – world’s secrets at our fingertips.!

  • I’m gonna celebrate with Jim Beam.

    Wish you and Mark were both here so we could have a real powwow.

  • Just for the record. I dissent with your view of MS.

  • But, let me quickly say, it was just for the record. I just finished Duby. Let me get back to what we were doing.

  • Well, “it’s my story and I’m sticking with it.” The remark about “thinking not being [as much]fun as pontificating” had kind of confirmed the picture.

    Anyways, I challenged him on this point, so if he’s the real McCoy, he’ll respond. If not, I can’t worry about the living dead.

    So I’m all ears, princess.

  • Employer-employee, and we could go on. Obviously, both parties benefit from the relationship, it is consensual; moreover, it’s utterly functional: both the employer and the employee earn their livelihood from being so related – again, even though (according to F), it’s a “power relationship.”

    Just a more direct reply to this, and another analogy, first.

    Both parties benefit, but it’s like a sweat shop worker benefits from getting work (she gets to eat). A sweat shop worker also consents. And the sweat shop worker’s relationship is also functional. And both the boss and the sweater earn their ‘living’ from the relationship. (Yes, a more extreme example–as in comedy it’s not funny unless it’s a caricature–in analogy, for me anyway, it’s often elusive unless it is extreme.)

    It’s the same as your ‘regular’ worker, as I see it, qualitatively. It’s a power relationship, it just isn’t as bad as the one the sweat shop worker is in. If there are two kings, and one is cruel and one is kind, it doesn’t make life with the kind one completely consensual (in one sense), just more comfortable. It’s the only game in town, in other words.

    If I come to play and everyone is playing monopoly, I can play Chinese checkers, but I won’t get and of the monopoly money which is the currency of the game (let’s me eat). So, I don’t get the chance to consent to what game shall we play. I only get to consent (submit) to monopoly. Monopoly is a rigged game that favor’s the dominator.

    Now, let me take awhile with the other part, because it’s going to be difficult for me to express what I think intelligibly.

  • Well, I would have to say that it works by the formation of ‘contact zones’ between the various groups Duby described.

  • a la Pratt.

  • A qualification:

    By “consensual” I don’t mean (necessarily) that matters are all fair and square. More often than not, perhaps they’re not and so “consensual,” in this sense, does come to mean something on analogy with “acquiescence,” no question about it – because the relationship in question is better than none. So I hope we’re squared on this one. It is, in a manner of speaking, holding a gun to someone’s head, in extreme cases, and saying: cooperate or else. So what is the poor chap to do? So “one game in town” is a good analogy.

    A master-apprentice relationship, on the other hand, appears more “benign.”

  • I agree, with all of that. 573

  • Let me read the “Contact Zones,” then, but I don’t want to comment too far ahead – insofar as solutions go. I’m not ready.

  • Good deal. I will take care of a few things, that need doing.

  • The problem is, Cindy, according to Foucault, most social relations, even at the microscopic level, are of that nature. There’s just no way we can get away from the “power spectrum.” It’a haunting us forever. And getting rid of one power relation – whether by clever strategies or revolutionary action – is going to put us back at another relationship, a different one but still “power-laden.” In short there’s no escape, no way out.

    That’s the “Foucault effect,” in a nutshell.

    Congratulate me for making it childishly simple.

  • Congrats (and thanks). Then, I agree with Foucault (I think) insofar as I am understanding him correctly. That is why the only way that makes any sense is non-domination. Precisely because there is no way out. It’s that very nature of power relationships that point to the fact that they can never work.

    That is why a different paradigm is the only appropriate response. Anarchism is not merely some ideology some peaceniks dreamt up because it would be beautiful. It is the only sane solution to the dilemma.

    It has been/is being used before. It’s not new, nor is it non-existent. And if I imagine an advanced culture (like in the movies you respond to movie examples, right? they’re like art) they have to be anarchists.

  • To (maybe) help you understand Pratt’s importance to me, think of how we know that their were people who opposed slavery in Aristotle’s time.

  • To go back to Mark in 536, with some maybe more lucid understanding. (maybe not)

    I don’t find an overall solution offered — rather it is a call for radical experimentation and some some particular examples.

    Yes, I agree with that. But, it’s changed me. It’s given me a way to imagine possibilities for solutions. It sort of contains an ingredient that must be involved. It gives more direction to my own ideas about the direction those radical experiments should take. Like knowing how an engine works, you can’t just leave off the carburetor because you don’t understand what it does. (Or maybe you can! LOL But, you know what I mean.)

    Where has her work taken her since ’91?

    I don’t know that. I should find out.

  • Mark,

    You shouldn’t ask for “solutions” from Pratt. It’s good enough she presents the case – conceptually and historically. What more can one ask for?

    It’s out job! And I’m thankful she didn’t end with (complete) closure.

  • Mark,

    You shouldn’t ask for “solutions” from Pratt. It’s good enough she presents the case – conceptually and historically. What more can one ask for?

    It’s out job! And I’m thankful she didn’t end with (complete) closure. (by Roger taken from elsewhere)

    I’m not so sure he is asking as much as he is noting.

    (But still, I’d like to think he has a strategy of his own that he is passionate about and that I’d love to discover. About the fad.)

  • I was being facetious, Cindy. Trying to get a rise out of him.

  • Not the way Silas might think, good ole Silas.

  • And I hope I haven’t interfered. πŸ™‚

  • See, you just took it all wrong, as per comment above. What’s the matter of you two? Intellectual stimulation ain’t enough?

  • I would marry Silas (if he’d agree), if I were single. We could enjoy listening to Edith Piaf sing La Vie en Rose, dance around the house in togas, look at the humorous and loving side of all things, and yet cheat on each other, without worries.

  • Roger,

    I just hoped I didn’t spoil your intention by being serious. That’s all.

  • (How can you get a rise out of someone who knows you want to get a rise out of her/him?)


  • Anyways, I can discuss parts of Pratt, but I’d rather get back to Mr. F.

    As per Pratt, fascinating article, in a way. She could have presented it as a totally fictitious narrative, with the “autoethnographic text” as though imaginary – an old practice by the original novelists.

  • (My seriousness made you tip your hand.)

    I do adore you Roger, and have empty hands. (You know the ‘without weapons’ thing.)

  • Silas would be a better match for you, and you know it. He’s a teddy bear and I’m a scorpio. Though I’m a teddy bear too. But you’ve got to catch me on the right side. But anyways, are you ready for business?

    And no, I’m not jealous.

  • Yes, I am ready.

  • Well, here’s the problem. According to F, all social relations are “power-laden,” from the most corrupt and abhorrent to the best kinds there is. So in that sense, there’s no getting away from it, no escape to speak of, because no matter where we go, we’re bound to end up with another “power relationship.”

    In short, “power” is the kind of quality which informs all social relations. It’s one of the constituents. There’s no human/social relationship, in other words, without “power” being a part of it. And in that sense, “power” and “relationship” are almost synonymous.

    See the problem?

  • I should be teaching in College de France.

    What am I doing getting a truckdriver’s job?

  • Yes, I do see the problem.

    Can you imagine a relationship where each person is equal? (serious question, meaning imagine one, and then tell me what you think)

    In every relationship one person can dominate the other using power. Is that the best choice is what I mean.

  • What am I doing getting a truckdriver’s job?

    Expanding your horizons?

  • Well, of course, in an ideal setting – man and wife communicating and sharing. All love relationships.

    But what bothers me is Foucault’s such an extensive concept of “power,” as though permeating each and every relationship. It can’t be right. There’s got to be some limits. But perhaps before we deal with the limit question, it might be instructive to look at some Duby examples.

  • I’m no stranger to physical work. Done it for twenty years. Next life perhaps.

    I’d still make a hell of a lecturer in the world’s most famous academies.

  • Could you visit Christine’s last site (in Culture)? She asked for you.

  • I think so too. But even more so with this new question you’ve gotten.

  • suerly

  • lol she’s not asking for me, she’s holding up a cross.

  • 603 – Cindy
    Sep 11, 2009 at 5:47 pm
    lol she’s not asking for me, she’s holding up a cross.

    Cindy, that’s funny!

  • lol πŸ™‚

  • Ain’t that a sign of a peace pact – in any religion? Unless one’s a vampire.

  • 598 – Roger,

    That’s fine, a relationship. (and I guarantee if it’s ideal it will be egalitarian) But, say, a group of friends. Have you ever been with a group of friends and had to decide something? Like which movie you’d attend?

  • Roger–What Christine recognizes in my comment is that it is also a sign of warding off the devil. πŸ™‚

  • Perhaps we can commence sometime later, since you’ve got to get ready for tomorrow’s meeting?

  • I kind of was aware of that but didn’t want to go there.

  • Let’s go to Duby – the Three Orders.

  • Sounds good Roger. Jutro jest kolejny dzie?. πŸ™‚

  • What the hell was that? “Tomorrow’s another day,” I reckon.

    It’s a barbaric language (I shouldn’t say that because we had great poets.)

    Speak out or forever hold your peace.

  • Anyway, if you want to quit for the day, fine with me. Just say so. I feel we covered lots of ground. Whatever anyone else may say.

  • Yes, tomorrow is another day. In a lovely language.

    Barbarians? Some of the most good-hearted people I know are Polish.

  • Roger, I thought you were calling it quits. I will be handy if you get an idea. I am working on a poem.

  • Well, Cindy, I’ll introduce you tomorrow then to some of the best in Polish literature. It’s comparable to the best works of Byron, and of course, in the Romantic tradition.

    Good night, and till tomorrow.

  • I sure hope the other attendees are not like me. As I have to figure out what I’m bringing to eat tomorrow.

  • Cindy,

    Since you’re still up and kicking, you might want to look at the following.

    It’s a Polish national poem by a bard.

    Give it a quick read and get back to me – only with the initial reaction. I’m certain it will be worth your while.

  • Roger,

    A few pages in I noticed that is a 278 page poem! I am not sure how long you would need to take a ‘brief look’ but for me it would take a year! lol

  • Wallstreet is on, I can hear it in the next room. I’m called away to witness the despicable Gordon Gekko.

  • Another link.


  • Get the movie (see link above) for the power of the spoken language. As good as Shakespeare’s. And it comes with subtitles, but spoken Polish, even to my cultivated ear, (and yes, barbarian to the core, not my ear but the language), makes a hell of an impact. So it will certainly be, if not more, in your case.

    Good night.

  • Ah, my sweet, sweet Cindy. What I would do! I would dance around the floor with Cindy to Piaf, and then Aznavour singing Dance in the Old Fashioned Way. I’d sweep her off her feet as her flowing layers of chiffon billowed in the breeze. Afterward, we would retire to the veranda and sip cognac whilst listening to the crickets chirp in time to the strains of Mama Cass’ Dream a Little Dream of Me.

    As for Roger I cannot say what I’d do because this is a family channel and I would not want Archie to pop a blood vessel.

    On second thought…

  • Mark

    Rog #547 – I spend my days hangin’ with the houymies; how could some of their nature not rub off?

    (goes to flick a fly with his tail and realizes that in his imperfection he is lacking one)

    Now a couple of questions:

    1) What do you think your having turned Wittgenstein on his head this morning means concerning your relationship with language and this analysis?

    2)From #577 – The problem is, Cindy, according to Foucault, most social relations, even at the microscopic level, are of that nature. There’s just no way we can get away from the “power spectrum.”

    If what you say in the first instance is correct then couldn’t solutions be found in modeling our behaviors following those associated with the exceptional relationships and ‘build out’ from them?

    (What does the fact that this contradiction ‘slipped out’ say about biases and this analysis?)

    Do the limbo rock – how low can you go…what’s your relationship (that word again) with your own thoughts?

  • Mark

    Cindy, in some sense my question/observation about Pratt was a ‘trick’. I’m not convinced that solutions can be pre-formulated; I suspect that they will emerge out of chaotic and radical experimentation like hers.

  • Mark,

    Let me respond to #626 first. Yes, the solutions may emerge ad hoc. Or to use another term, it’s what Adorno called “micrologies.” But I want to look it at more closely and some pieces by Walter Benjamin.

    Now, let me get back to your puzzle.

  • Well, there are two problems with (2). First, the extent to which the proposition is meaningful (we spoke of depleted meaning already, remember) And second, the “question” (and good ones always do!) already contains the germ of a solution. That’s why I liked your idea of “anti-power.”

    As to W, I’ll have to get back to you later, but perhaps I hinted at it already.

  • Mark,

    Food for thought. The proposition in question, about power being implicated in social relations. Perhaps rather than thinking about meaning, one should first decide what kind of proposition is it – logical, tautological, empirical? The form of the sentence may be misleading.

    Another question:

    How is the statement “all language is fascist” different from the kind of statements Foucault makes about social relations and power.

    Another idea: Foucault may be using the notion of “power” and analogy with how the notion of “gravity” (or some such explanatory construct) is used to behavior of physical bodies. And if one can make sense of this account somehow, that would provide another way to read him.

    I’ll do some reading and be back later.

  • Picnic canceled for rain (almost forgot about the 3 months of constant rain in May, June, July). We had one month of summer (almost one), now it’s done.

  • Mark

    Rog, do you think that aesthetics can serve as an escape from the modernity/postmodernity trap on a social level?

    Benjamin’s relevant text

  • Mark

    btw, I’m not intending to ignore 629. Got side tracked trying to figure out F’s use of ‘fascist’…

  • the modernity/postmodernity trap

    Can you tell me something about that. (or give me something to read?) I’m still confused about modernity vs postmodernity. They seem like an awful lot of different things.

  • Mark

    Cindy, I think you can get a feel for the distinction by looking at what folks in the art world consider to be the post postmodern solution. Here’s an example.

  • Mark,

    Thanks for directing my attention to Fanon vs. Arendt article. A very useful addition. We should discuss some aspects of it – it’s kind of nice rounding things up. I see the potential for progress.

    Cindy, you should read it too and join. I see you’re done with your party.

  • Of course – re aesthetics. That’s Lyotard’s main thrust in so far as charting out lines of effective resistance vis avant garde movements not only in art but in language games. Even Pratt appears to be hinting at that (have to look more closely). I have an idea that Adorno’s notion of “micrologies” (Walter Benjamin is important here too) has to do with identifying areas of discontinuities – chunks of human life – where constructive resistance and dissensus are not only possible but are also likely to be most effective.

    Foucault did not make that fascist statement, It was Barthes rather flippant statement about language being fascist (in that it compels us to speak), which Eco in his article (within the first few pages) criticizes.

  • Okay, here is my latest contribution.

    It’s an illusion because we create it. Is there scarcity? Does scarcity really exist? Is there really not enough of anything to go around?

  • I agree, Cindy, is a nebulous concept. But so are other constructs like electron, for example, or gravity. See remark above where I entertain the idea of “power” as a kind of ready-made explanation of many social and human relationship (in a manner that, for example, gravity is used to understand the behavior and relationships between physical bodies) – not necessarily the best explanation (I’m not arguing for that) but one explanation which sort of helps us understand.

    So this supposedly theoretical use of the concept of power is perhaps a more fruitful way of talking about it – rather than in terms of whether it’s an illusion or not.

    Tell me what you think.

  • My fear with private health insurance is that US citizens are too uninformed and passive to break up the insurance monopoly.

    You’re not paying attention, Bliffle. This is WHY we are having protests over this issue. The people WANT the monopolies which government regulation created broken up and they know that this legislation written by and for those monopolies is only going to strengthen their stranglehold on healthcare.


  • I’m afraid, Dave, that something may have happened to Bliffle – it’s close to a month that he hadn’t posted. Either this, or the last general discussion on civil discourse and name-calling. If I remember correctly, he was one of the targets. In any case, he hadn’t posted since.

  • I can tell you my experience. (It’s better than what I think as R.D. Laing points out.)

    In order to envision a different world (when I discovered that this isn’t all that can be) I had to see the discrepancy between what I was being told and what really is. When I saw a discrepancy, I would think–‘hey, that’s not the only way ‘it’ is.’ So the person who was doing the telling (enforcing reality)…I could see they were just going along with something that someone else enforced on them.

    (R.D. Laing was wrong? πŸ™‚

  • That came out confused. (It’s not as confused in here. Let me wait awhile and try again.)

  • Cindy,

    I think I have a feel what you’re getting at. Remember, however, the distinction made earlier, and you kind of agree, between what’s in the interest of the subject – in terms of “liberation” and getting from under situations which in the past were deemed oppressive and characterized by control and dominance – and objective analysis.

    Do you remember the remark in question?

  • I’ll go back and look, in a minute.

  • We’re past the illusion thing, aren’t we… Okay. I have to read some more of the stuff Mark put here, before I can continue.

  • Mark,

    You’re a gem. I’m about to read.

    The texts Lyotard mentions are One Way Street and A Berlin Childhood. It’s those that Adorno calls “micrologies.”

    What would be the Adorno’s text?

    Anyways, can’t wait till you can online. I’d like to go over the Fanon/Arendt paper. Cindy too would benefit.

    Cindy, have you finished that paper? It’s really worth reading. Can help us all to situate the problem/s.

  • The frickin’ keyboard is swallowing parts of my text: can get online . . .

  • That’s what I’m getting as the key idea thus far (only page two) – the significance of mechanical reproduction of art on analogy with the Gutenberg revolution (since print, says Benjamin, is only a special though an important case – of making literature, in this case, available to the masses).

    So let me try to extrapolate and shoot myself in the foot as it were: as literacy (not in the popular sense but in the classic, philosophical sense) is apparently on the decline, (mechanical) reproduction of art works assumed an added significance but virtue of their much greater availability to the masses.

    An example – a “street theater” as a popular form of re-enactment of revolutionary ideas and themes – not all that difference, come to thing of it, of the function(s) performed by the Elizabethan theater, if only in terms of its mass popularity.

    Just first impression(s).

  • 646 That’s the one I am working on. Arendt vs Fanon. I’ll be ready.

  • It took me three hours earlier today to get through it, but it was worth it. Now I’m working on the Benjamin paper.

    Let’s raise Mark from his “dogmatic slumber.” We need him.

  • You guys are taxing my limits.

    I can’t maintain intellectual freshness and firepower forever, not for twenty four hours without feedback.

    In the future, we’ll have to designate specific time(s) in the interest of productivity.

    Again, food for thought.

  • It’s interesting, Mark, that musical performances thus far receive no mention. It would appear they seem to escape the vicious cycle of reproduction and the loss of the authentic and the aura because each performance is, in a manner of speaking, a unique event.

  • That article was fascinating. I understood it just fine…but it’s very dense with analysis at the end there–making it easy to forget the details.

  • Well, I can’t be any good, Cindy, not at this time. As I said, we had better synchronize in the future.

    I am a genius, but a Wittgenstein kind of daredevil and source of inexhaustible energy I’m not. I know my limitations; besides, I value my personal time, meaning time off.

    I’m not a thinking machine.

  • Mark

    Rog, my apologies for not being around while the fire was hot. Power as ‘the ability to act in concert’ certainly puts it in something of a more positive light that F’s presentaion.

  • lol Well, excuuuuze me.

    You are more like a dancin’ machine ain’tcha Roger. πŸ™‚

  • I’m wasted, guys. Not blaming anybody. Let’s just figure out some time for tomorrow. I’ll pick the message up early AM.

  • Mark

    (here’s the missing ‘t’ from my last)

    I have a full day of plying my trade tomorrow starting mid-morning for you easterners. I will be around in the early AM as usual.

  • I’ll be there!

  • Mark

    Cindy, did you find the blurb on reconstructivist art useful?

  • I am only a bit into it, Mark. But, I’m finding it very helpful. It’s a good sort of layout for me. Thanks for selecting that one.

    (I will be sure to come here in the morning rather than doing anything silly like sleeping in. πŸ™‚

  • (here’s the missing ‘t’ from my last)

    (don’t look now, but I think you have two ‘t’s now and you didn’t need either)

    hand’s you an ‘n’

  • Silas,

    That Patricia Henry thing killed me.

    (Don’t want to mess up the young man’s thread any more that I already have. Just had to say.)

  • Yep, Cindy. Silas surely leapt out of his closet. And never mind the tantrum. And what’s a dancing machine?

    I’m thinking more of a jumping jack.

  • Mark

    Rog #636 Foucault did not make that fascist statement, It was Barthes rather flippant statement about language being fascist (in that it compels us to speak), which Eco in his article (within the first few pages) criticizes.

    But what Foucault did say famously is that fascism is what makes us love power and desire that which dominates and exploits us……? I find this usage even more obscure than Barthes’.

  • lol Roger

    …morning, gentlemen…yawn

  • Mark

    How’s the coffee this morning?

  • I think it’s happy. Sounds like it anyway.

    Can’t wait to meet it.

    I think Baritone gave NM back to Mexico last night.

  • hmmmm, Foucault sounds more like a psychoanalyst in that last comment.

  • Mark

    The old families here consider themselves to be Hispanic rather than Latino…

  • My impressions:

    Arendt’s ideas about politics and as tool sounds right. But I agree with the authors’ analysis that Fanon’s everyone/thing is embedded in power is right. Which is reminiscent of Foucault’s power in all relationships.

    I think we can’t escape power, but that it can be asymmetrically or equally held.

    (so far)

  • Arendt’s idea about politics as opposed to Fanon’s.

  • As for Foucault, maybe his fascism thing is reasonable, considering we are in a culture that is drunk on power.

  • Mark

    I think Foucault needs to explain ‘good power’ and ‘bad power’. If power is viewed rather as that which enables and results from cooperation and another term – violence – is introduced to differentiate relationships of domination from those that we would consider more positive ones, does that help the analysis?

  • Mark

    (Damned rural electric companies…we’re having a series of brown-outs this AM. If it continues, I’ll have to shut down.)

  • Yes, I think so. Maybe, power then is like a tool, whether used for violence or for creating community solidarity and action.

    And also we can’t escape that we look around and these uses of power surround us.

  • …surround us and effect us. Thus we are embedded.

    (okay Mark)

  • (Roger seems to have fallen back asleep.)

  • Mark

    Power as tool implies that we can ‘set it down’ which all of the parties seem to agree isn’t possible without withdrawing from social relationships all together.

  • I agree that it isn’t possible to eliminate power from the relationship without withdrawing from it.

    But, I just can’t figure why two things can’t happen at the same time in philosophy.

    (This is educational in more than just coming in contact with philosophy. –no easy trick going there either– But maybe these ideas will give some coherence (organization) to my ideas. I am an ‘overthinker’ and will just keep going until I confuse myself temporarily. This is like limits. But I don’t know why yet, as I don’t see the need for limits.)

  • Well, okay a tool can be set down. But Arendt specifically said a tool like an extension of ones own body no? (Or was that one of 6the other ones?)

  • Roger is on the way. He did fall asleep. πŸ™‚

  • OK, can I set the dimensions?

    First, Arendt’s is, sorry to say, old-fashioned and outdated, after the classical, mode of analysis. She idealizes the practice of politics (her talk of “political act/action, e.g.) and therefore her idealistic conception is wide off the mark when it comes to description of the normative practices.

    Don’t forget the things she responds to – the fear of totalitarianism being most important. But lots have changed in the world since then – mainly, distrust in reason and rationality. Yet, she’s trying to use reason and rationality to vindicate politics as theory and practice – just like Habermas, in his complex if not convoluted way, is trying to do.

    Good ideas – Arendt – and we’ll use her, but be careful.

  • (Hispanic vs Latino They identify with the colonializers as opposed to the colonialized. The dominant group. Modeling the high status group–on a group level. Like what happens in a school–on an individual level.)

  • How could reality be old-fashioned?

  • (Roger, just want to make sure you see Mark’s post on the previous page about his electricity problems, which might lead to his sudden disappearance.)

  • Fanon, on the other hand, is much more sensitive to the trends of postmodernism (having had first hand experience with colonialism himself), so in many ways he’s a precursor of Foucault. I suspect that Foucault draws on Fanon in lots of ways – especially the phenomenological account of the “power-violence” complex – but fails to give the latter credit.

  • Mark

    But Arendt specifically said a tool like an extension of ones own body no?

    Perhaps, but I think that I would react categorically differently if someone were to take a sledge hammer to my keyboard than I would if the attack were on my hand.

    But, I just can’t figure why two things can’t happen at the same time in philosophy.

    I’m not clear on your meaning here. An example would help.

  • I have. Is he living in rural Minnesota?

  • Arendt sounds like what I experience as a protester and activist every day..

  • Taos, NM he’s in a ‘different world’. πŸ™‚

    Even in my last house we had brown-outs. All rural electric co.s seem to.

  • Cindy – don’t you see her idealization of politics as a problem? (Or do I have to get the passage.) I’m not yet awake,

    Mark, chip in.

  • Mark

    Rog, Arendt’s natality and council governance reminds me of the actualized Zapatista post post modern political movement.

    They see their idealism as basic and creative.

  • Two things: Why can’t power be both a tool and a social relationship?

  • I wasn’t speaking of that. I’m referring to her conceptualization and setting of distinctions – carving out politics as an honorable and respectable practice – which in the real world is not.

    I am afraid, Mark, we are still operating from two different perspectives which explains the disagreement: you are looking at praxis, solutions, and what works; I’m still preoccupied with description and analysis.

  • More concisely, you’re an activist and thinking like and activist and I am still a theoretician.

  • It’s very possible, I don’t really understand yet Roger. I only know that my experience with other people around the world sounds just like what she is describing. Building an alliance, joining together, disseminating ideas throughout the world, raising awareness, trying to change minds and get new members, providing encouragement, support, and education as a political community, rethinking and delineating our goals as individuals and as a group–that is local, national, and international–which might be expressed as changing the world through creating political alliances.

  • Which is power.

  • The Zapatistas, for example, are a local group, but are allied (and aligned) with the world social movement to create a new world.

  • Mark

    While I deny the distinction between theory and praxis, I’ll try to be good.

    …but I can’t quite…

    I’m referring to her conceptualization and setting of distinctions – carving out politics as an honorable and respectable practice – which in the real world is not.

    For some — note my example — in the real world, politics is once again honorable.

  • Correct, Cindy – no one disputes that and the positive applications of using power you and Mark speak about – myriad of applications. But I am still concerned with understanding and with appropriate descriptions – that’s why I keep harping on this issue, because “power” concept is so elusive (as Foucault is using) – so real yet ephemeral like.

    Again – is it a used as a description
    as an explanation

    My suspicion is, in part at least, Foucault is using it as a form of psychoanalysis – that a psychiatrist would do to a patient. I think it’s important to ascertain what is/are the most likely usages.

  • So it is in my case, or at least that’s my conception of what it ought to be all around. But that doesn’t change the fact that for the most part it isn’t and, as you said, people still keep on treating one another as shit.

    Don’t forget, I’m just as much in the classical vein as you – and only three months ago many of my pieces on BC have been on the order of exhortation and homilies. I can’t do it any longer – precisely of the gap. There’s time to preach and time to use the critical eye.

  • Can you give me something concrete as an example, Roger? Words are very abstract and I don’t have the whole history of philosophical argument at my disposal.

  • So, when you guys discuss ‘categorical’. It’s meaningless. and sounds like the adults in a Peanuts cartoon.

  • Cindy – Like Aristotle’s treatise on politics, for example, talking about morality, ethics and politics in the same breath – the idea of just state, e.g., as necessarily derivable only from ethics and morals. And that’s just one example — of how things ought to be. And it’s great, because these represent the ideal(s). But it won’t do to analyse the actual practices, because they’re corrupted. And proper analysis must take account of these corrupting influences. Then, after you do, you can work on correcting or eliminating them.

  • (Not to worry though. I have purchased both Philosophy for Dummies and The Everything Guide to Understanding Philosophy, despite my friend John’s almost undetectable wince and attempt to steer me to some more ‘acceptable’–and equally incomprehensible, history. No snickering.)

  • 705 – Very helpful, Roger. Without that clue, I would never have understood. Thanks.

  • OK, here’s the relevant passage:

    “There are also problems with Arendt’s argument. Some of these problems relate to tensions within her argument between her aim to wholly distinguish between violence and politics and her reliance on a mutual dependence between them. More substantively, however, these problems relate to Arendt’s insistence on defining violence in purely instrumental terms. It is the latter issue that takes us back to Fanon’s phenomenology of violence. Arend’t work [this is the key sentence] is notorious for the way in which it is preoccupied with drawing conceptual distinctions as a prerequisite for normative arguments about political like. [And although] in On Violence, she makes clear at the outset that the categorical distinctions she draws are ideal types, which are always mixed together in practice. . . . However, this mixing in practice is accompanied in Arendt’s text by a certain amount of theoretical fudging of the two concepts.”

  • about political life . . .

  • Well, that’s why I have the dilemma about the idea of power as a tool. Because violence seems to be used by the parties in power like a tool. But, I don’t go along with Fanon suggesting that the outcome is natural or all there is–or that that is how it works (just because that is how it has or mostly or can be seen to work). I see Arendt as describing something else that can happen.

    It seems as if violence is the means of obtaining power then violence continues to be in the toolbox of those in power.

    Maybe violence is a tool, not power.

  • Mark

    But it won’t do to analyse the actual practices, because they’re corrupted. And proper analysis must take account of these corrupting influences. Then, after you do, you can work on correcting or eliminating them.

    Too linear — awareness of the corrupting influence and solutions to them both arise out of actual practice. There is no ‘after’.

    Rog, perhaps my problem with this analysis of Foucault’s meanings and with most of your previous work on BC stems from my opinion that the revolutionaries need neither preachers nor psychiatrists…the dominators do.

  • Revolutionaries come in all manners, forms and sizes, Mark. There’s no set formula and all kinds of resistances are always at work – at countless level. Reread Eco’s last page where he argues on behalf of abolishing the hard & fast distinction between revolutionary and reform activities, they’re all part of the same process. So when we see some “act,” like the storming of the Bastille, we think of it as finally and ultimately decisive. Eco argues, and I agree, “Wrong.” It but the icing on the cake, an event like an earthquake that’s been building up and building up for quite some time until it finally erupted. So we all have work to do, and we all can do our own thing.

    But I wasn’t suggesting that you’re wrong in your first paragraph. So perhaps it is my peculiarity that I want to understand. Not everyone is built the same way. Still, you wouldn’t suggest that Foucault had no impact and his work was therefore useless: for one thing, he woke me up (and Cindy did too!)

  • I think you’re getting to hung up on these tool distinctions. Don’t forget they served Arendt’s specific purposes, that’s all. If her purposes aren’t yours, then why do you want to be rigid about it.

    The question really is: What’s the import of this for you whether it’s a tool or not? What hangs on it?

  • Not being rigid, just don’t know what aspects are important to understand. You need to start thinking of a child learning a new language. Making mistakes is necessary. It’s okay to consider me that way in this situation. (My ego is not very hurt by not having every experience in the world. So, I don’t care if I look foolish.)

  • I didn’t mean it as a critique, only to elicit your own thoughts why the matter of it being or not being a tool is important to you in connection with either the power or the violence concepts.

  • You’re asking me to describe what’s important for me in a language I don’t understand. So, what’s important for me is practical. How do I use whatever understanding I have to change others?

  • 715 – Ah, I see Roger.

  • Understanding power, how it works, what it is, how violence maintains itself would help that goal.

  • Mark, I didn’t mean to estrange you by trying to keep the discussion at the theoretical level. I can understand why you may be impatient the idea, especially if at present activism is all-important for you. But you do have a theoretical streak, too. (I remember your citing Robert Merton, for example, so it’s not exactly that you’re a stranger to my concerns.)

  • Mark

    …change others? No way. I govern myself; I do not govern others…basic anarchist idea.

    Off to work.

  • Yes, change other’s conceptions. Otherwise it’s worthless. Changing others has nothing to do with governing others. I change someone if I smile at them.

  • The reason that to create a new world, one must be that world is the effect it has on others. It changes them.

    If not then we are in our own world.

    (You are really fooling with me, I think. lol…have a good day πŸ™‚

  • change does not have to be conceptualized as governing it is also affecting…and it’s inescapable. we can do anything without changing others. we will change others whether we want to or not.

  • we can do anything (should be) we can’t do anything

  • But what has the idea of tool got to do with that? Arendt used it for a specific purpose: you want to accomplish a certain, immediate result, and you result to violence as a tactic to attain the result (or in a more comprehensive way, to create spaces for politics proper to be able to function). In contrast, her vision of politics was not so much result-oriented but process-oriented – e.g., the councils where people meet and discuss issue and come to a consensus. (Again, an idealistic vision of society capable of consensual agreement). So politics was like a “normalized” way of life for her, and violence, an occasionally useful tactics (tool) when “normal” would break up. So that was the cash value of the tool idea for her, to make the kind of distinctions she wanted to make.

    But power, whether in political or social relationships, is according to Foucault, kind of embedded in them (you’ve said it yourself). So I don’t see how reducing such a complex state of affairs to the simple ends-means schema would be (offhand) an aid to understanding. It’s oversimplifying.

  • I know what I’m got to do, Cindy. Apparently, you haven’t read a Foucault text, so I’ll email you one. You’ve got to get a sample to become enmeshed – and you can’t appreciate the power of Foucault thought unless you become enmeshed. I hoped that Eco’s article would help, because it did provide a number of key quotations from F; but I see it wasn’t enough. You’ve got to experience the gestalt. So I’ll do it shortly, but first, I’ve got to make my cigarette and coffee run, OK.

    Be back in thirty. Meanwhile, feel free to post.

  • I have no idea what Mark had meant? Did I suggest that I want to dominate anyone?

  • By 720, you mean?

    Nope, he was challenging what I said was my goal.

  • But, he’ll have to clarify for me what he means, for me to understand that. Because I do want to change others. Why write an article or give a lecture or create a graffito? Why teach anyone how to paint, or sing or play piano? Why care what anyone else thinks or find ways to help them see what we mean? Why bother even trying to understand them?

    If our idea, say, is to raise awareness, what is the point of doing that and claiming not to want to change others? If I am in a protest on the street with signs and chants, I am there because I want to change the awareness of others.

    If we need to feed the hungry then we need people to change in their awareness of the hungry. Yes, I can go and feed the hunger. But, there would never be a reason to protest unless I wanted to change people. If I didn’t think it would result in some change, why would I do it?

    We are always changing people.

  • Good deal, Roger. I do have the essay by Foucault, Truth and Power

  • (Mark is like Les, he flusters me, lol)

  • Roger, do you think I have changed you?

  • 725 – I’m thinking about it awhile.

  • 725 – Okay, I see that, now. Thanks.

  • (“he was challenging what I said”…with the aim of changing me.) I rest my case.

  • Do you mean the whole paperback – i.e., the collection of essays?

  • #729: Exactly.

  • No, it’s in the Chomsky Foucault Debate book.

  • I see. I’m going to pick up an essay then and transmit. Give me a little time.

  • 729 (much like with Les, my case is not rested)

    Why even comfort another, if we don’t want their state to change. Imagine writing a symphony or a book and then just throwing it in the trash can.

  • OK, Cindy. Just managed to send it (via Gmail, note different call letters).

    It’s as good a piece as any, explaining the whole project, methodology, and setting up the entire framework. Not easy reading but I think it’s a must. So take your time.


    Let me know if you got it. It’s still a new technology for me (with scanning), so it took me so long. I’ll figure a quicker way.

  • I believe you named the file by hand? It caused an error, it appears as .docx, this should be .doc or I can’t open it.

  • Mark’s #674 is on target and should be explored. It’s a fruitful line of inquiry.

  • Well, I had to name a file. If you can’t open “docx” type of document, how do I convert it to “doc”?

  • Let’s do this in e-mail. It might take some time.

  • Do you mean to copy the text of the attachment into the e-mail body?

  • nope, i mean read your e-mail (boy i feel smart again πŸ™‚

  • 674

    “I think Foucault needs to explain ‘good power’ and ‘bad power’. If power is viewed rather as that which enables and results from cooperation and another term – violence – is introduced to differentiate relationships of domination from those that we would consider more positive ones, does that help the analysis?” (Mark)

  • I think that’s good. 674 I went off on the next page and forgot what it said.

  • Re: my transmission, I suggest you read only the first lecture first, so we can discuss that before moving one. I’ve just re-read it, but take your time – you’ve got to get used to his style.

  • Roger. I just read page 108 (a solitary page) then the next page is 79, lol (but it’s not the beginning of anything). Could you just give the pages numbers if you get a sec?

  • The first page is the last, Cindy. Then move on to p. 79 and stop with end of p. 92 (it’s all in order except for the mentioned glitches.

  • Check your email roger.

  • Roger, that worked perfectly. Thanks I understand it.

  • Could you call for a second, forgot to say something.

  • OK, I’m done. Tomorrow’s another day.

  • Mark

    When in fact we speak of violence, and this is what bothers me about the notion, we always have in mind a connotation of physical power, of an unregulated passionate power, an unbridled power, if I can put it like that. This notion seems to me to be dangerous because, on the one hand, picking out a power that is physical, unregulated, etcetera, allows one to think that good power, power not permeated by violence, is not physical power. It seems to me rather that what is essential in all power is that ultimately its point of application is always the body. All power is physical power, and there is a direct connection between the body and political power. Foucault, Psychiatric Power: Lectures at the College de France 1973-1974 pg 14

  • Roger,

    I only found the critique of Nancy Hartsock’s Foucault on Power. If I can’t find it then I will settle for the critique which supports Foucault. But it’s a feminist perspective, so I’d like to find it in original, if possible, and read it on its own merit. I’ll put it here when I do.

  • Hey, horse shoe guy. πŸ™‚

  • Mark

    I’m an advocate of Digger actions in which food, stuff, street performances, labor, smiles are freely given without attachment to outcome. This is an in your face affront to accepted mores and turns lassiez faire on its head. If people change as a result, that’s their business. That’s what I call anarchist protest.

  • I agree with that, It doesn’t change what I said. I don’t thing you understand my meaning.

  • Mark

    Perhaps not. We can work on it tomorrow. I’m overcooked for today.

  • Me too. Too much reading. Have a good night.

  • Mark

    You too.

  • Very interesting excerpt, Mark (#757). Will respond after 6PM (it’s a part-time working man for me now); Nancy looks interesting too, Cindy, and thank you.

  • Okay Mark…I will try to explain so you can hear (which itself is one example of how we change others).

  • I’ve got too much work to do at the moment. I’ll try later.

  • Mark

    Rog #629 The proposition in question, about power being implicated in social relations. Perhaps rather than thinking about meaning, one should first decide what kind of proposition is it – logical, tautological, empirical? The form of the sentence may be misleading.

    imo, Foucault makes this statement as an intuited generalization from his experiences of particular social relationships — synthetic aposteriori

    How is the statement “all language is fascist” different from the kind of statements Foucault makes about social relations and power.

    I am unclear about how Barthe (and Foucault) use the term ‘fascist’.

  • I have to think about it, Mark. I won’t be able to contribute much for the next couple of days. Preparing for taking the permit test for CDL, and it’s grueling. I’m not mechanically oriented and have to learn a whole bunch of terminology and get the sense how it all works. It’s much more complex than I thought and it’s brand new to me. So thanks for keeping the thread alive, and I’ll interject when I possibly can.


  • I’m not mechanically oriented and have to learn a whole bunch of terminology and get the sense how it all works. It’s much more complex than I thought and it’s brand new to me.

    I hear you. (ahem) πŸ˜‰ Hope you are having some fun. Good luck with your test.

  • I answered you more fully on the other thread. I’m beginning to understand the angst you sometimes feel.

  • Mark,

    I am still thinking about things. Have to pick an approach. Don’t give up. I like to take time to think.

  • Taking time to think is more important than most people realize.

  • I’ll make it, but I feel as deficient, defective and stupid like…

    Yeah. I expect everyone does. It’s sort of interesting in a way, experience outside the comfort zone, do you think? (maybe not until it’s over).

    But I shall overcome.

    Einstein would be all thumbs in rug hooking class, I’m sure. It’s definitely pressure though.

    (Amazing insight for me into how the ‘special ed’ kids might feel. I can compare notes on feeling stupid with one I know. πŸ™‚

  • Right. All of us need such experiences. It makes us realize how fragile we all are, how less than perfect, how unacomplished.

    The term is humility.

  • 760-Mark,

    A preliminary question. I’m wondering if you disagree with the purposes of the Digger Guerrilla Theater as expressed by this description? The crucial description starting where it says: “The motives, aspirations, and practice of U.S. theatre must be readapted…”

  • What’s your link, Cindy? I’ll be here for half an hour. Tomorrow’s my test for the permit.

  • Akismet isn’t letting me post this site. I am working on a creative way to post it.

  • Cindy,

    All you’ve got to do is to change a phrase or two. Most of the times it works.

  • Thanks Roger. It the url, though and nothing I’ve tried is working.

  • d i g g e r s


    From the home page navigate : history/ALC Counterculture/Guerrilla Theater

    There is also some stuff under Risk/Assault on Social Theater

  • Change ALC to ALF

  • Great Roger…So you’re done with school after that? Do you have a job lined up already?

  • Anyway, I have an interesting insight to share. Got into a discussion with the “home boys,” in the class I’m in. And they’re not dumb, far from it – a cut above “the general South.” But you just can’t get through to them. They’re convinced beyond the slightest doubt that all the poverty and discontent and ailments in the world, but in America most particularly, is a simple matter of personal responsibility.

    The accepted opinion is that equal opportunity is there for everyone “to succeed” (that loaded word again), and all those who reap their “just rewards” deserve all they get for not trying. (The fact that they “try” and their sibling or whatever limited experience they’ve had with those who didn’t is sufficient evidence for them to draw such wide sweeping conclusions.)

    What’s really happening, the country is being divided in half – the working poor, on the one hand, who have thoroughly bought into American values where the dollar is kind, and all “the poor” (mind you now, only a step below them) who have only themselves to blame for their poverty.

    Little do they realize that their own measure of “success” amounts to nothing more than comfortable living – certainly nothing compared to the rich and famous, and the CEOs and all the crooks on Wall Street. No! That doesn’t bother them at all; nor do they ever connect the lowered living standards in this country, its present unemployment rates and our economic troubles, to the unscrupulous actions by the major players. Such thinking is entirely foreign to them.
    And why, one might ask. Because for as long as they consider themselves as “morally superior” to all those beneath them, it’s sufficient for them. “White trash” they themselves may be, so long as they have their “nigger” to kick around and elevate themselves thus in their own eyes, makes them feel worthy and self righteous and incorrigible.

    It’s really depressing. We’re not moving forward at all. I have no idea what it will take to have folks like this – and they’re all “decent human beings” and not necessarily religious – have a change of heart.

  • No, after the permit, almost three more weeks of OJT, to prepare you for a driving test with the state trooper. If you pass, then you get your Class A license (CDL).

    I’ve been pre-hired by a major trucking company; and they don’t turn you loose after you’ve put in sufficient hours to be able to operate on your own. (You wouldn’t believe the kind of responsibilty these truckers bear on their shoulders, just to chase the ugly buck).

    But my long term intentions are limited – just to generate sufficient income to make ends meet. Otherwise, who would discuss Foucault and Lyotard and Eco with you?

  • Well, that brings me back to the other thing I said about ‘changing’ people. Several times, that idea came up. Two occasions I remember were, one where you suggested that it was up to us to change Dave. I said that it wasn’t my job to change Dave or anyone else. Another was when Mark questioned my claim that I was ‘all about the facts’ and you were ‘all about theories’. He asked how would I convince Doug (change Doug’s mind) and I said roughly: I can’t change anyone’s mind, I believe people only change themselves, so my presumed audience was someone other than Doug-perhaps some other reader…

    Well, those things are still true. I don’t believe we can ever change people–people only ever change themselves, out of free choice. I further feel that attempts to change people will likely come to a bad end.

    So I have a conundrum of trying to put into accurate words what I mean when I said change as I did above. Because I also mean that.

    In his last comment, Mark added another part of what I am pondering. The idea of ‘attachment to an outcome’. Because I have similarly seemingly contradictory ideas about that as well. In that, in one sense attachment to outcome is, both undesirable and destructive, in another sense with complete detachment from outcome we could not write a piece of music that would inspire sadness or joy–because simply by aiming to produce those things we are attached to the outcome in some way.

    This is taking time to sort out. Maybe I should just choose different words. Maybe I will. But not yet, as I don’t want to miss something new I might discover about change and/or attachment.

    I’m not sure if you can relate this to your fellows at school.

  • Ah, okay, three weeks was in there. Great, so you are set with a job.

    Are you planning to respond to Mark about the ‘fascist’ question he posed? I’ll be interested in what you think when you do.

  • Mark

    Cindy #776 — yes. Misguided hubris of the young activist and hardly an expression of anarchist sentiment, imo.


  • Mark

    …but I add quickly, much must be ‘readapted’, esp. human nature.

  • So, Mark, to clarify. And setting aside the idea that writer has about what he thinks the theater must exactly change to be.

    If I were to simply say this. I am starting a theater and it’s aims are to:


    direct toward change

    be an example of change

    You would think that is not consistent with anarchist action?

  • If I understand it correctly, I think I agree with you. This was the first “encounter,” and I’m rather mildly surprised that the discussion we had had was rather polite, nothing unlike what you usually see on BC. We all listened to one another.

    What I suspect, the kind of ideas I expressed (e.g., to the effect that perhaps, just perhaps, not all “poor” should be held responsible for their poverty, was something they’ve never heard before.

    All these people suffer from limited exposure. However little or much they’ve traveled, it was limited mostly to the South or the Midwest. If only for that reason, they’re severely limited. All they know, the kind of daily diet they grew up on, was their parents’ “family values,” and the reinforcement of the same from their teachers and peers. It’s no surprise they’re such one-dimensional thinkers. There had never been anyone in their limited life experience to ever countermand their take on things and offer an alternative viewpoint. They’re stuck and they’re doomed.

    So this was a positive experience, in a sense. What they’ve heard from me, I’m certain, they’ve never heard from anyone before.

    You know, you can never judge the conversation by its cover. You’ll never be able to turn a person the first time around, that’s almost axiomatic. But you never know when the seed will germinate. And one thing I’m certain of, I’ve certainly made them all thing, though of course they wouldn’t dare to show.

    So you see, I’ve done my bit – not quite a “revolutionary theater” but something akin to that.

    We all have our respective role to play, and Mark is wrong in thinking there’s only one way to affect social change.

  • Okay so how do you conceive of readaptation of human nature?

  • It’s interesting. My mind is sharper and more lucid when I mingle with the hoi poloi and “dirty” my hands with physical work.

  • I’ve never had any problem with the human nature concept as though something fixed and not malleable.

    I think it’s most a matter of social conditioning.

    Can you suggest a more fruitful and discrete way of looking at it?

  • Mark

    790 – right.

    792 – by readapting my own nature.

  • You’ve got to be more explicit, Mark.

    Was Artaud’s No More Masterpieces, or Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto, just another example of a “misguided hubris . . . [on the part of]the young activist”?

    And if so, why? Because they were “men of letters” rather than hard-core activists in the pure anarchist tradition?

  • 792 was for Mark’s 789.

    But, I would like to have some time to think about how to word what I think about human nature. I think of it is as a fundamental category. That’s why I focus on it. I think that people from the time they begin to think about the world, make judgments about ‘how people are’. These strike me as considerations about human nature. I think from what a person believes about human nature, a lot of their opinions might flow.

  • My nature has already been “readopted,” and you can either believe it or not. But that’s not the problem, unless you’re concerned with individual salvation.

    There’s a society at large to deal with, the “social problem,” the fact that people continue to treat one another as shit (to use your own words). So my or you or Cindy being “a saint” is only one aspect of the equation. The trick is, how do we make others see it and make the world a better place.

  • I realize that.

  • I don’t think it’s a fundamental category, or at least that it ought to be – because it tends to rigidify thinking. When so used, it becomes as it were a postulate from which whatever you’d like to prove follow. And the argument, for this very reason, is always bound to be inconclusive, simply because different views of human nature would naturally lead to different results. And there’d be no other way to reconcile the differences and resolve the dispute other than referring back to the “human nature” concept, rigidly adhered to by either side. So there’s got to be a compromise at this basic, postulate level in order to arrive at a resolution.

    Wow, I’m lucid tonight. And I don’t mind blowing my own horn.

  • Mark

    …how do we make others see it and make the world a better place.

    I gave this approach up.

  • In that case, there’s nothing left except living your own life according to your best lights. And I’m doing that already.

    Does it mean, therefore, that I’m ready for ascension? I’d tend to disagree. I’d like to think, rather, that my job on this here earth ain’t over and done with.

    Hence I am.

  • 796 – Mark,

    Okay then. I think I might have an understanding of your view and I probably I could understand it, imagine my own defense for it, giving it thought. It’s intriguing.

    But rather I’d hope to hear you explain it sometime. I thought that I got your meaning when you discussed the Staughton Lynd’s list and how you would say ‘do only that’.

    But that is not my personal choice of action. And I can also defend my views and see them as critical and vital. And so of course, we have to disagree about what anarchism is. I don’t limit possibilities in that way. I consider many different practices consistent with anarchism.

    However, I also suspect that you don’t because you don’t believe that change can’t come about any other way. Is that close enough?

  • Mark

    …there’s nothing left except living your own life according to your best lights.

    Exactly so.

  • My thinking is also not quite consistent with your ideas either Roger.

    This is a philosophical discussion I like.

  • But we have another example – that of JC.

    If I go by your, what I consider, limited definition of what ought to count as a well lived life, I should have been translated years ago. But since I haven’t, I’m led to believe that my purpose or destiny haven’t been fulfilled.

    To put it more succintly perhaps, I think one must take an escatological view of life, if only in the Aristotelean sense.

  • That’s the fun of it, Cindy, that the disagreement concerns noble purposes. You can’t have that with the obstinate, self-centered view of the Right. One’s got to be able to step outside of themselves to make things really interesting and worth fighting for. Everything else is self-serving and banal, beneath thought.

  • Mark

    I thought that I got your meaning when you discussed the Staughton Lynd’s list and how you would say ‘do only that’.

    The hubris of the old…I probably should have said, ‘as I have none of the talents required by the revolutionaries, I should content myself with, etc”

    …you don’t believe that change can come about any other way.

    Change is going to happen in any case.

  • Mark

    destiny?, ascended?, translated?


  • Yes, I think you did say, ‘none of the talents’ now that I recall.

    Yes, change is going to happen in any case. But, I’d expect that you conceive of your choice as the necessary action to bring about another world, no?

    ‘Talents required by the revolutionaries,’ could you say more about that?

  • That is correct. Change is gonna happen regardless. But we still have got to act as agents rather than as spectators. There’s besides, a good argument to the effect that in the ultimate sense, and for all the unintended effects that come about with or without human design, you can’t make sense of history unless you trace it down to reasonable or unreasonable purposes and doings of us as human agents, mere mortals that we may be.

    I’m not in the position to present you with a foolproof argument at this time – too much bourbon – but I’ll make it a point to do so tomorrow. Unless of course you’re ready to concede.

  • 808- Roger,

    That’s the fun of it, Cindy, that the disagreement concerns noble purposes.

    Yes, that IS the fun of it for me too. πŸ™‚

    But, I don’t have the answers for what everybody’s got to do. I am still working on the answers for what I’ve got to do.

  • He’s creating reality. I would think, Roger. By being it.

  • Apparently, you’re not familiar with theological terms. So just in case,

    “translated” means “having arrived” (there being no more business for you to do on earth);

    “ascension” is pretty much the same idea;

    “destiny” is an aspect of human worthiness, the fact that we count and make a difference. It’s a Roman idea;

    And I don’t have to explain what escatological viewpoint is all about;

    So perhaps our difference stems from the fact that humans are glorified monkeys on your view; I happen to think they’re a “miracle.”

  • But so am I, Cindy. The difference being perhaps that what I’m explicit about, he chooses to remain silent.

  • Glorified monkeys? (Is that because he’s an atheist you said that?)

  • What do you mean Roger? ‘he chooses to remain silent’?

  • We are all creating reality Roger. He’s creating another world, a different world.

  • Not at all. It’s simply a cosmological view. One’s conceptual system, and everything that follows therefrom, believe it or not, rests on fundamental questions – of the kind I’m posing – than most people would suspect.

  • He’s not taking no action, that is his action.

  • (Of course this is what I see him as saying. I can hardly speak for anyone else.)

  • Simply this. Mark, as you had said, “is creating reality by being it.” Mind you though, these were your words, not his. He direct statement was that there’s nothing one can do but being their (best) self.

    So in a sense, you were the one who had articulated the hidden meaning on his behest, and I’ve taken it even a step further. It is therefore the case that you and I are being more explicit concerning the deeper meaning of his remark than he was willing to do himself.

    That’s the sense of him being silent as regards to implication of his statement.

  • Perhaps he feels that other actions are counterproductive, or useless, and that is the only valid action, the only way the world can change into the one he wants to emerge.

    Perhaps as he imagines that other world, all other actions cancel that action out (the one he is doing).

    (Reaching for the right words to describe what I see Mark as saying.)

  • 822- Silent. Okay I see that.

    (Don’t trust what I say about what anyone else thinks, though. Not that you would. Just a caution. I am putting down my unverified attempt to understand someone else. It’s a guess.)

  • Roger,

    Am I tempting you too stay up too late?

  • Taking no action is “taking action” too, But so was my intercourse today with “the homeboys.” (See earlier comment.)

    So the point really is, we’re all agents, no matter what we do or don’t do. One can’t just escape the fact unless they retire to a hermitage. One way or another, we’re an influence on our fellow women and men, regardless of our intent in the matter.

    So, for example, when I had the discussion today with the homeboys, I was but a normal human interaction. I had no hidden designs and neither did they. Shit happens, and occasionally, people communicate and share ideas. That’s the human way. And that’s all you can do.

    So again, I’m not shying from spelling out the implication of normal human interaction or dialogue. But Mark appears more comfortable to remain noncommittal about those very implication, as though his voice or action or inaction did not count.

    I can understand him not wanting to take the responsiblity for the shape of the world, even less so for being, in however limited sense, an agent of change. But for him to deny the obvious fact that regardless of what he does or does not do is of any consequence, as though he lived on a desert island, a recluse of a man, is, to say the least, puzzling. And that’s the point I was getting at.

  • Is it taking no action? I see it as taking a direct action.

  • hmmmm…in any case, Mark seems to have wandered off…

    And soon I am off to bed. (And another chapter of another Spenser case.)

    Did you consider my 823, Roger?

  • Acting or not is one and the same. You make your imprint on the world.

    What I’m afraid of, Mark’s voice is one of disappointment, verging on cynicism. It’s for that reason alone, that a cosmological, escatological view, is indispensable. Which is to say, you can’t look to humans alone because they’re bound to disappoint you. You’ve got to look beyond.

    I’m good for another twenty minutes. It’s been interesting.

  • Mark

    Who the fuck is this guy you two are talking about?

    …not taking responsibility for his actions?

    …denying that his actions are consequential?

    …taking no action?

    You’re tripping.

  • I’d like to believe I did. See the last comment and tell me if I haven’t.

  • Okay 20 minutes. That’s good.

  • Mark

    I’d expect that you conceive of your choice as the necessary action to bring about another world, no?

    Necessary for whom?

    The ‘talents’ question is a toughy. It’s answer can be determined by finding out just what they’re asking for. I haven’t kept up, but I imagine the Argentinian workers probably still need lawyers with political pull in their country’s courts.

    imo, Cindy’s recent twitter action with the Iranians was an example of applying a talent aiding….something.

  • He’s wandered back.

  • Necessary for that event to unfold.

  • I didn’t mean to talk in absentia, but you did disappear for a while.

    I’m glad you’re rebutting, but those conclusions appear follow from your last statement – about people living their own lives amounting to the best they can do.

    I totally agree. All I’ve tried to do is to spell out the implications.

    So finally we’re on the same page.

    Whoopsie do!

  • Necessary for whom?

    Hmmm, you mean who needs to take that action for the world to bring about a better world?

    What I am getting is that you would think everyone would. No?

  • Ultimately, and I’m gonna harp on this point over and over again, everything is a result of human action or inaction. So the statement, “necessary for the event to unfold” makes perfect sense. Certain things just would happen or come to be unless…

    And the bottom line is – is always comes down or can be traceable to human agency.

  • I’m not sure which he means 835 or 837, or both, or neither.

  • Mark

    Those are not the implications.

    Cindy, obviously, I’m trying to avoid prescribing.

  • Roger,

    He spelled out his agency though.

    Staughton Lynd’s list.

  • Avoid prescribing for everyone? I think you’re saying.

    Those are not the implications.

    So, can you say then you say more about that? About what I’m trying to guess about?

  • Maybe I should have asked if that is what everyone is doing in the world you see.

  • I’m losing track of this conversation. It’s going in more than one direction.

    I’ll bring up the JC example as a needed corrective – in my mind, a revolutionary par excellence. I can’t think of a better model. And it does takes full awareness and consciousness of what you’re about – one’s purpose and the mission.

    I’ll look up the Lynd’s list you’re referring to. But as of now, that’s my understanding.

  • Well, I think, of course. It’s everyone being their best and treating everyone else well.

  • 845 refers to 843

    visit the prisoner, succor the widow, feed the hungry…that list

  • Mark

    …implications…I was referring to Rog’s claim that he was spelling out the implications of my comments.

    Avoid prescribing for everyone? I think you’re saying.


    What are you trying to guess about?

  • Mark

    You left off ‘welcome the stranger’…each of those can be treated as a category of action.

  • Who’s suggesting any such monstrosity – like prescribing anything to anyone? There should have never been any need for such a disclaimer – not as far as I’m concerned, and I’m certain doubly true when it comes to Cindy.

    Every person is an individual, with their special strengths and weaknesses, and it would be asinine we should all be the same. Again, each and everyone has got to play their part, whatever it may be, according to their god-given talents. It always is a team effort, the least unexpected results coming about from the least unexpected of quarters. Always has been, always will be.

    But we’ve still got to do, as individuals, our part – which is to say, to continue on being responsive to the call of humanity. Everything emanates from that, and tactics and strategies are secondary and the question of individual talents.

    There isn’t one set way of resistance. It’s resistance that matters.

  • What are you trying to guess about?

    I think it was wrapped up by the prescribed answer. And your pointing out that the ‘implications’ bit was for Roger.

  • Roger,

    He’s answering my question in 837 with prescribing.

  • Mark,

    I have no question you’re a deep thinker, perhaps even on the mystical side. My obsession, however, is quote the contrary: to spell out what can be spelled out. I’d like to know what exactly I’m dealing with, angels or demons.

    We probably agree more on most matters (including this one) than meets the eye. It’s just a matter of different styles.

  • I asked if he thought it would be necessary for everyone to do this. He’s not prescribing what everyone should do.


  • My guess: resistance, per se, isn’t his way.

  • continuing with my guess: creation is.

  • Are you saying that your appeal to individuals to be responsible and responsive, to try to make a difference, is being read as though an act of prescribing?

    I agree with you, but I see Mark’s point to. It’s a matter of being sensitive to any kind of “domineering” – perhaps the ultimate stance of an anarchist in a domineering world.

  • I think I see what you’re trying to say. And on this view, “resistance” is but an old hat, retrogressive and reactionary, because it plays into the same game, albeit a different “move” but still part of the same game.

    In contrast, “creation” is like a negation, a kind of refusal, an anti-concept.

    So in effect, Mark is working with Hegelian dialectic. He believes in transcendence.

    Two months ago, I would have swallowed it like the best medicine. But Foucault had cured me of that. Which, BTW, opens another topic.

  • Mark

    How about – one becomes what he resists and perpetuates the myth of inevitable conflict…?

  • I agreed with you in essence, in #857.

    The question though, I’m posing, whether transcendence is a real possibility.

    We’ll have to discuss this further on.

  • V=OK, good night, you two.

    I’ve stayed longer than I intended, but it was worth it.

    We should continue.

  • That’s very good–the myth of inevitable conflict. I couldn’t have said that clearly in 30 sentences. It’s the same reason for being a pacifist.

    In fact I just thought better of typing what I was going to about when you said to me, ‘you become what you resist.’

    Maybe not in a thread.

  • But anyway, then you typed it out. Right after I erased what I would have said. That’s funny.

    I’ll tell you another time. But I used to be a creator. That’s why it didn’t make sense to me. As I tried to apply it to the point at which I changed. And I wasn’t a resister at that time.

    I’m off too. Got a date with a new chapter of a new Spenser on CD.

    Great stuff. Good for the brain.

    Night night, Mark (and invisible Roger).

  • 826- Roger,

    I am thinking about that. I think I misread it. I think I sense a similarity in something I think. Maybe we can discuss that next time you are available.

  • Mark

    Rog says, He believes in transcendence.

    Rather, I see transformation…transcendence implies directionality which I question. Even our ‘inherited material conditions’ guarantee nothing.

  • I see transformation…

    Me too.

    …transcendence implies directionality which I question.

    That’s good. It puts sense to things things, when I think about it. I can see that.

    It seems I tested that idea though–transcendence–by a variety of ways and means. Though I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. It wasn’t intentionally testing–it was looking for ‘the truth’. I gave it up as a dead end, in any case.

    ‘Even our ‘inherited material conditions’ guarantee nothing.’

    That, I’m not sure quite what you mean. It says something to me about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs not being sufficient. But I could be mistaken.

  • There is a point Staughton Lynd makes, that I think is relevant to this conversation. I’ll try to find it.

    And juxtapose it with Roger’s 826, and my ideas about change, and Mark’s comment about skills of revolutionaries–and things being needed.

  • 858- Nope. I was wrong. It’s not the same as my reasons for pacifism. Which are more along the lines of all ‘wars’ of all sizes are ‘justified’.

    I may be wrong again, but it struck me in quite a different way today. Something I don’t recall ever thinking. The idea of conflict being a ‘myth’.

  • I can’t find the quote. I’ll try to put it into the best words I can.

  • 867 ‘inevitable conflict’

  • This is an interesting discussion, especially since the turn it took. And I find many things valid about Mark’s position. But again, it kind of veers off the/my topic in that, once again, we’re moving into the area of individual change, the most intelligent course of action to adopt with respect to the world and the events about them – in short, how to live a well-formed (thoughts through) life.

    There’s nothing wrong with such concerns, and they’re admirable. But aside from being on their face value anti-theoretical (not necessarily a bad thing), they still carry hidden theoretical implications (or metaphysical presuppositions, if you like), as one would expect they should. And in this particular case, they appear to emerge from the tradition of the Eastern/Buddhist philosophy.

    Again, not to deny the merits of such a philosophy, the least thing that could be said is that it is in spirit and by virtue of its content, essentially anti-theoretical, against the analytical tradition of the West and therefore foreign to it.

    Again, no reflection on its merits from the point of view of individual development and growth – how can one deny that? – but still . . .

    So again, I will say that the distinction between the two sets of concerns – i.e., that of individual development and growth, on the one hand, and that which results in the analytical/theoretical approach on the other – is a valid one and ought to be maintained.

    The reason perhaps I’m less interested (from the intellectual standpoint) in the former – the existential question, that is – is simply because I regard myself as fairly accomplished on that score. Consequently, my interests and concerns are theoretical and analytical. To wit, I have a pretty good idea how to act and respond to the people and the world. But my understanding of the world I live in, and the human society, is lacking. It is that what drives me, and my practical knowledge of how I ought to act and respond to others isn’t much of an aid when it comes to the other question. It is singularly unhelpful.

  • Hiya Roger. πŸ™‚ Did you pass your test?

    I started to read your comment (not a simple one, so…) will reread it in a few. (as dinner is almost done and hungry gets priority over everything).

  • Whatever your comment is…I only got to the ‘veers off part’. I hope you will humor me as my husband said to me today, “you seem like you’re ‘evolving’.” When I asked why he thought such a thing. He said, “It’s just a feeling I get.”

    So, this has merit for me. I need merit.

  • I can illustrate my point in another way, perhaps. The conflict between the emotional and the rational is a common one for humans, and we owe it to ourselves trying to bridge it, because that makes for human growth, not to mention the internal consistency of his or her views.

    So emotion ought to be the prime mover in bringing about the reconciliation (because of – not only because how we view and interpret the world is affected mostly by our emotions (especially when they’re unexamined), but also in a far more important respect. We do have control over our emotions, we can choose to be hateful or loving, self-centered or other-centered, and so on; in short, we have the greatest degree of freedom when it comes to deciding who we are going to be, what set of values should we embrace, far greater when it comes to the many ways available to us when it comes to “interpreting the world” (which ways are limited by unexamined emotions). In a nutshell, there in – in the area of emotions – there lies the greatest potential for individual change, simply because it’s a matter of willing. And by willing, we become.

    But having said all that, there still remains the problem of reconciliation (between emotions and reason). For even assuming we’ve made a great deal of progress in the first-mentioned area and are living the values which are (let’s say) impeccable, there is only so far that we can go with this when it comes to interpreting the world. Surely, it will be a better and more enlightened view (when compared to those who are moved by hatred and care not to look into the darkness of their heart), but still … certain facts may be stubborn and defy even the most benign and well-intentioned interpretation.

    This is the background. And in light of this, I happen to sense (more on Mark’s part than Cindy’s) a certain disconnect between the two aspects of human personality – as though there was some kind of a hidden wish to deny reality, to write it off, as it were, as if it were nonexistent, simply because we may wish it to be so.

    Whether this kind of motivation is operational in Marks’s case or not, I’m not in the position to tell. Nor is it important in the long run. But what does matter is that certain cognitive pronouncement are being generated for whatever reason – one being that the idea of conflict is a myth.

    For the life of me, it strikes me as naive, but I know that Mark’s not naive. What then? It must be the emotion happens to dictate the reason; and if reason seems to contradict one’s cherished view of the world, what simplest way is there of resolving the conflict than by denying the reason and make it subservient to the will of emotion. An exercise in wishful thinking, in other words.

    But this is precisely the same kind of mistake we’re all too familiar with – with brothers and sisters from the opposite camp. Unwittingly, they’re beholden to views which are dictated by their unexamined emotional state. And in their case, it’s also a matter of emotion making demands on reason, only in reverse.

    Well, what I say is that it oughtn’t to be. I can understand this myopia when it comes to the latter case. But in Mark’s? Because he’d reached a higher plane, he ought to know better. Be high-minded and noble insofar as your personal life is concerned; but don’t make it blind you to the ugly reality.

    But no! Instead of the antagonistic view of the world, we’re being presented instead with an idyllic view of essentially a “co-operative society,” very much so along the lines of Hannah Arendt.

    Be true to yourself, I say again, but don’t let it blind you. Since you’ve already attained a state of enlightenment, you are in the perfect position to see the world fairly and square in the face.

    One half of the battle has already been won. But there’s still the other half.

  • Thanks for asking.

    Passed the main part. Have to redo parts tomorrow. It’s a piece of cake. Besides, I’m not a defeatist. No person or subject matter can keep me down. I can’t afford to get down that spiral.

    PS: If you think the comment you referred to was complex, read the next one. And enjoy your dinner.

  • Your husband is right, Cindy. I’m on fire.

  • I apologize, he made that reference to you. But we’re all have a part in this, Cindy, and I don’t mind taking credit. This thread has been great. And I know it’ll continue, till infinity.

  • I am going go to leave both your comments alone for now (as they are really aimed to Mark).

  • 876

    Why are you sorry? Who made ‘that reference to me’? My husband?

  • Mark

    But what does matter is that certain cognitive pronouncement are being generated for whatever reason – one being that the idea of conflict is a myth.

    Rog, we will get nowhere, you and I, if you persist in misquoting me and making up stories about who I am.

  • No, Cindy. The comments are for general discussion. I only used Mark as convenient shorthand for what I wanted to say. Mark will respond, I’m certain. But you, too, are a part of this discussion.

    Re: the last part of your comment: I mistakenly assumed the reference was me. But you can understand this, I’m sure, the peacock that I am.

  • Roger,

    My husband and I are simpatico. We have no jealousy of anyone.

    Evolving, to him is a wish he has that I could go back to being as free with the world (people) as I was in the 10 years he first knew me. He hopes I can trust and like people like that. That’s it.

  • I am not sure we will get very far, Roger, by analyzing other people. I am sure I object to any sort of analysis other than self-analysis. This conversation has much more wonderful things it could reveal if we each simply speak for ourselves.

    “Even facts become fictions without adequate ways of seeing ‘the facts’. We do not need theories so much as the experience that is the source of the theory.”

  • I wasn’t analyzing Mark. It was just a vehicle for saying what I felt needed to be said to complete the circle.

    I hope you understand that, Mark. Think of it as a strategy.

  • Mark

    I understand completely.

  • Just a chess move, to get the discussion going. Provocative, yes, but not mean.

  • I’m turning in – another battery of tests tomorrow so I’ve got to get up early AM.

    Will post then.

  • Mark

    As I said, I understand. But realize — you have sacrificed this pawn. Good luck on tomorrow’s tests.

    For closures’ sake: back where I conceptualized F’s statement as synthetic aposteriori I introduced an error. As his generalization is a logical process, synthetic is inaccurate. So it is, rather, analytic, making the statement a hypothetical (not empirical as I proposed).

  • Okay Roger. Good luck on your tests.

    I wish I could easily put down everything I thought today. (I will eventually.) It’s mostly down on scraps of paper when they were handy throughout the day. I am buying a digital voice recorder with a voice-to-print program.

  • 887- lol whatever (that means, I am sure by now, I’ll never need to know)…

  • Mark

    Just a little Kantian bullshit about perspectives.

  • whew….

  • Doug Hunter

    As a representative of ‘the other’ I’ve enjoyed lurking in on your conversation here. I was reading your #876 and I wanted to have a disagreement but before I can properly do that I needed clarification of a couple of points. (on second thought I ask for clarification but go ahead and make assumptions you can correct later)

    You speak of “the opposite camp” and I’m wondering exactly who that encompasses. My initial assumption is that it is those you disagree with politically, essentially me. In reference to those people you speak of “unexamined emotional state”. That seems to imply that you believe in some ultimate truth (that of course you happen to be privy to) that if everyone would just ‘examine’ themselves they would find.

    I don’t agree with that or the idea that everyone across the spectrum from you is unexamined in the first place. I believe my philosophy and worldview have been consolidated enough to close most of the major gaps and eliminate many points of cognitive dissonance. It may not be abstracted to the point yours is, but too much abstraction just leads to meaningless nihilism (or some comforting fantasy of ultimate truth religious or otherwise)

  • Hi Doug,

    (Not sure what else to say, since I am at a loss for all that ‘stuff’, 873 (I think) being what you meant?)

    Happy to have an’other’ view. πŸ™‚

  • Doug Hunter

    You’re correct Cindy, I did mean #873

  • Mark

    Doug, I cannot respond for Rog. For my part, however, witnessing peoples’ ongoing inhumanity leaves me with some pretty severe cognitive dissonance.

  • Mark

    …strike ‘witnessing’ and insert ‘participating in’ in my 895, Doug. This is an active process after all.

  • Doug Hunter

    What makes you think you’re participating in inhumanity?

  • Mark

    Because I don’t accept that domination is necessarily human.

  • Doug Hunter

    Hmmm. I can’t even get past the word inhumanity, sort of like the word unnatural. Are there even such things? This is nature and we are humans. What else is there?

    Humans occupy what seems like a unique position (from our perspective) in nature so it’s hard to make much comparison, but I don’t necessarily see the type of empathy you idealize in the natural world. Perhaps inhumanity is quite natural and human which would also explain its prevalence.

  • Mark

    I understand that somewhere along the line we marginalized the sentiment behind such expressions as ‘Man’s inhumanity to man’.

    What types of empathy do you see in nature?

  • Doug,

    If you could create a world of your own design, what would you dream up?

    It’s all up to what you want to make it. No rules. No democrats and republicans or left or right, or laws–just you. Can you tell me what that world looks like as far as people? Just your magical world. Would everyone have enough? As descriptively as you can–if you will.

  • Doug Hunter

    #900 I had a lengthy response but the intertubes swallowed it so I’ll try and summarize.

    Very little. Our basic understanding of the evolution of life is even described as ‘survival of the fittest’. Depending on social arrangements there may be varying levels of concern, but it seems this is usually only for one’s progeny or a small family group, certainly not a universal phenomenon that I can think of.

    If it makes you feel better I don’t think humans will be around much longer to spread their inhumanity. We will either be forced to evolve with the aid of technology and men in white labcoats or destroyed at the hands of those same things. We are watching the final chapters unfold as we speak (relatively speaking, we could be talking hundreds of years but certainly nothing like the millions of years most species reign).

  • Mark

    #902 I agree with your last — the world will turn, if not in one of the directions that you predict, then in some other.

  • Doug Hunter

    #901 A very thought provoking question. I have difficuly envisioning much more than incremental changes from our current existence. I must assume that the world I design must be somewhat functional not solely magical happy fantasyland.

    In my world we probably have a few less people than the current one. As education and intellectual pursuits would be much more highly sought after the trend would follow to replacement level birthrates with virtually all children being planned, loved, and raised by their family, not just the parents but Aunts, Uncles, grandparents, etc. The trend would be toward more multigenerational living arrangements and families and extended families would be closer (not to exclude those outside the family but just as a social net)

    The idea of money would return to what it should be, a representation of what you have contributed to society (rather than making people suspicious that you have stolen from it). All necessities of life would be guaranteed for every human but the desire to contribute back to society and to enjoy the luxuries would keep people employed. Fancy gadgets would still abound, but the focus of people’s consumption would turn from material things (useless Chinese crap) to events and experiences. This would provide for more diverse economic opportunities. Work would still be necessary but the focus would be on intellectual fields, arts, music, performance, and service. Science and technology would be prized not only for their contribution to the new easy life of man, but just for the simple sake of knowledge.

    There would be a greater sense of commons with natural resources being reserved through public organizations, at the same time the idea of private ownership of property would remain for your homes and estates. For example, you might own your property for living but if oil, gold, or some mineral is found underneath you would not solely benefit from this. You didn’t create it, you just had the good fortune to be sitting atop it.

    Meritocracy would reign. The limited government necessary could be funded mostly with estatelike taxes between generations. Doesn’t that play to the spirit of meritocracy rather than riding your predecessors coattails?

    Government would exist as I can’t imagine the complete end of all conflict but it’s strength would be local and only a loose confederation at higher levels.

  • Doug,

    Thanks for coming in. I’ll respond later in detail because right now I’m pressed for time. I’m talking only of making the necessary (I think) connection between a person’s emotional make up and their political and other kinds of views. Whether people realize it or not, there is an intimate connection on either side of the spectrum – which is to say that such emotions of love or hate do drive our perspectives. So my position is that it behooves a responsible thinker to be aware of the fact, and the extent to which their views are colored thereby. That’s all.

  • 800

    I don’t think [human nature is] a fundamental category, or at least that it ought to be – because it tends to rigidify thinking.

    By ‘fundamental’ I meant to imply unchangeable. I think we begin as children to experience people, then we decide things about people–how they are, what are their possibilities or impossibilities. Other people tell us their ideas about people too so we incorporate these. Pets do the same thing (they expect people to behave in certain ways). We have to draw conclusions about human nature in order to survive.

    I hear people repeating their conclusions everywhere.

    See Doug’s comments at 902
    Mark’s ‘myth of inevitable conflict’ is an idea that says something about the way people see human nature–i.e. conflict between people is inevitable.

  • 904

    A world based on love, community, creativity, fairness, a turning away from consuming toward experiencing, a concern for the common good is how I see what you described.

    You didn’t create it, you just had the good fortune to be sitting atop it.

    That’s my feeling about land.

    Government would exist as I can’t imagine the complete end of all conflict but it’s strength would be local and only a loose confederation at higher levels.

    How local can ‘local’ get? How small?

  • #906. I didn’t mean it this way. People use “human nature” to the effect of saying “this can’t be done, it’s against human nature.” I was arguing against such a move. It’s not good enough form of appeal.

    Mark, one way or another, we’re got to come to some agreement here, or at least an understanding that you and I may be moved by different interests, or at least acknowledge the fact. Otherwise, we’ll be coming back to the same old point and the conversation will be at cross purposes. Don’t you think so?

    What’s your view, Cindy? You haven’t expressed yourself on this yet.

  • People use “human nature” to the effect of saying “this can’t be done, it’s against human nature.” I was arguing against such a move. It’s not good enough form of appeal.

    Yes, I think I understood that. But I’m saying that is what I see people to be doing. So to say, ‘it’s not good enough move’ suggests you are aiming your view at an argument rather than understanding what reality is. Am I wrong? You are suggesting that’s not going to advance thinking? Or another way, are you saying–we should dispense with doing that; it holds us back? If that is what you are saying, then you are constructing a ‘best method’ to ‘enlightenment’ (substitute your favorite word)?

    (Is that what philosophy is?)

    We have different ways of thinking. I should explain what I do.

    I try to see what the world is. When I feel I have an understanding I try to use it so as not to do harm to me or others, and to enlarge my understanding of how to connect with people as individuals. I put it into the actions I take between me and another.

    So, when I read Pratt, for example. She says something about what the teacher is doing in the classroom based on how she fails to hear Manuel. (My version of why the teacher does this is that the teacher is indoctrinated into the POV of the dominant culture. This is my experience of myself and others.) I use this information that I see as ‘being so’–being reality– (I try/struggle to be flexible enough with what I believe ‘is so’ so that I can correct my errors or allow new ideas in to compete with my old ones.) to change my interaction with people. So, the ‘experiments’ Pratt is discussing, for me they are potential ways to support/set the stage for/promote/assist change between people. In other words, by understanding that a contact zone can be created (or denied), then as a person I can try to create contact zones with people. As a teacher or with children who are stuck in a school system that is mind-numbing and anti-creative, I can be a teacher that creates a space conducive to change happening. I can use my knowledge to do things in the world that enable people to connect. If I don’t have this knowledge then I can’t I am blind.

  • Let me think, briefly, on your last question, Roger.

  • Oh, when I said what I try do with people? That is ideally. I also do other things when I don’t care or am not my best.

  • So, does what I said answer that question? If not, tell me what you want to know.

  • No problem with most of your comments, Cindy. That’s how you free minds. I was only objecting to use of the human nature concept as though an obstacle. And as to interaction with people, you always have to take it one-on-one. And it’s a special problem with special ed children and those with a language handicap.

    I’ve just gotten through three hard days of grinding. They don’t convey understanding to you (even if they have it), only try to have you commit everything to memory. If it’s understanding you’re after – at which point memory is rendered obsolete (because then you can always work things out), you’re on your own, or have to take the initiative with the teacher, to answer your questions.

    I have no problem with that (i.e., taking the ball in my own hands), but most people do. And they are the victims of our education system which measures performance by tests, not by understanding. Lots of people get lost in a shuffle this way: they somehow pass the test but they still know jack shit. (Yes, I got my permit, but only because I’ve made it a point to understand the subject matter, not by memorizing answers to the test quiz or trying to learn nomenclature – technical terms which are foreign to me.) Yet, that’s not how our educational system is geared. Passing the test, making the grade, are the only things that matter – “performativity.” Nobody gives a fuck whether you know what you’re doing so long as your answers are correct. The ultimate failure of “objective knowledge,” I’d say.

    Consequently, we’re on the same page in this respect, But I’ll still like you to deal with the questions I posed.

  • Which questions Roger..what are the comment #s?

  • I’d like you to think about different interests which spur intellectual activity. In Mark’s case, for example (and mind you, I’m not analyzing), the underlying intent is pragmatic and self-directed – which is to say, what’s the most reasonable and enlightened way to live? In my instance, the interest is theoretical – trying to understand the world I’m living in.

    So to reiterate, both concerns (and interests) are perfectly legitimate. They each can lead, if and when pursued passionately, to good results. In the first case, to a life well lived; in the second, to understanding. But I don’t see (yet) how they meet. And until I do, I’m bound to think they lead to different inquiries. The trick, seems to me, is to be able to connect the two – for “good life” should lead to proper understanding of the world. Yet, in Mark’s case – and again, I have to reiterate, I’m using “him” as a pawn, for strategic purposes insofar that he represents a kind of position – is doesn’t come together.

    Why not? Because (it’s my limited understanding), “his” interests and concerns, set of values, have become the prism through which he sees the world. And because Mark is good, he believes the world is. “His” ideals, just as it was the case with Hannah Arendt, take over. They color the reality for “him.”

    Well, my position is that we should do our darnedest to eliminate the blind spots. For however our desire to see the world after our own image, we’ve got to be able to make a distinction between our desire and how things really are. And so, Mark (again, I’m using him as a pawn – a type, more precisely) tends to believe in the possibility of a co-operative society, whereas I tend to see it as essentially warring and in conflict.

    And it won’t do at this point to stick me with the reminder that “resistance is futile” (because if you’re “resisting,” you’re playing the same game, and therefore, to the hands of the enemy). Why not? Simply because, as I’ve been trying to say, it’s a limited advice, only to those who need it – a dear Abby kind of thing. But it doesn’t help me to understand what’s going on, and that’s what I’m after.

    So in short, Mark’s (again, I’m talking of “types”) reminders are anti-theoretical. They tend to write off the entire problem, as though there wasn’t any kind of SOCIAL problem. It tends to reduce everything to the level of the individual.

    Well, I’m not satisfied with that.

  • I don’t think you’re understanding Mark’s position. (Tip: Maybe you should ask him what it is, instead of telling him. πŸ™‚

    I can’t tell you what his position is (I’m not him.), so let me try to tell you, a little, how I am thinking about what he said and what it means to me.

  • I don’t mean to suggest that I do. (THAT would be analyzing!) All I’m doing is offering a prompt to thinking – drawing a contrast between the alternative positions.
    It’s an abstract question, one to be addressed to in general, irrespective of the person who holds such a view, Mark included.
    (And I’m not saying he does!)

    Again, think of it as a prompt – to elicit response.

  • Okay. Then I guess I don’t think they are alternative positions.

  • If I am using my knowledge of the world and my understanding of people to do the things I think need doing, and not do the things that need ‘not doing’, I’m not sure how much more there is to do beyond that.

  • They’re alternative because the concerns are different. You granted before the distinction between the pragmatic (or the existential) and the theoretical.

    It’s the same thing again, although under a more complex guise.

  • But what you’re saying in #919 doesn’t go beyond wishing. It’s but a program, albeit an admirable program. It doesn’t address the reality, or how to get from point A to point B – which is to say, how to make things happen. And I suggest that unless we have a clear picture of where we’re at, how can we possibly hope to change the world.

  • It doesn’t address the reality, or how to get from point A to point B – which is to say, how to make things happen.

    I see it as exactly addressing that. Not only understanding reality, but very practically addressing the problem, and in a way that might be the only one that could work.

    (Though I still have to discuss why I don’t think Staughton’s list is complete.)

  • And I suggest that unless we have a clear picture of where we’re at, how can we possibly hope to change the world.

    I think Mark’s solution is based on a very clear picture of where we’re at.

  • So Roger, if you felt you had discovered the problem and found a workable a solution, would you need to now go work on how to understand the problem?

  • Still, I am have my own questions about what Mark is saying. because I see contradictions (regarding certain ways of thinking about resistance), at the moment.

    That plus the thing I want to add to Staughton’s list so that it would work for me.

  • Roger? What happened to you?

  • Sorry, I was exhausted by the past three days of cramming and it suddenly hit me.

  • “I see it as exactly addressing that. Not only understanding reality, but very practically addressing the problem, and in a way that might be the only one that could work.”

    ” think Mark’s solution is based on a very clear picture of where we’re at.”

    I don’t think this has happened. Neither of you have articulated it yet. I, too, can come of myriad of observations as to what’s wrong – people treat other other like shit, the evil system, anything and everything that comes to mind, that may appear to be the right things to say right now, perhaps less so tomorrow. But when you take it all and put it together, it’s nothing but a string of loose ad hoc observations. And if it does hang together somehow, you don’t know exactly how. That is neither knowledge nor understanding, just snippets of insight and it’s not good enough for me. I’ve got to see the coherent whole, identify the disease, rather than respond to mere symptoms and deal with it on the fringes. The solutions must be holistic, and so must be the understanding. At least those are my standards.

    So are you saying now that Foucault’s writings, and those of Lyotard and great many other modern thinkers, are to be discarded because either of you have arrived at a perfect understanding of what ails all postmodern, post-industrial societies? I’m not ready to make that leap and I continue to struggle with the material. I’m really surprised that either you or Mark have come to such an enlightened position that you consider yourselves to have figured it out all. Well, I haven’t, and I’m still challenged by some of these writings.

    Not to say that solutions don’t arise out of practice, at least partial solutions, and I believe that you and Mark are addressing this point. But these, to my mind, are only partial solutions, workable in only some context and not in others, and derivable only from partial understanding. Again, not to take anything away from the merits of this procedure, it’s not good enough for me. I’m searching for a complete picture and complete and perfect understanding.

    I’ll be back shortly, have got to see my sister. Post if you please, and I’ll be back later.

  • No it’s not articulated yet. So, then if he didn’t articulate it, why do you think I believe it to be based on a clear view. Since I can’t read his mind.

    (I didn’t finish reading your comment yet. Just wanted you to know I’m back. –Pictured you had slid under the table and were snoring.)

  • I’ve got to see the coherent whole, identify the disease, rather than respond to mere symptoms and deal with it on the fringes. The solutions must be holistic, and so must be the understanding. At least those are my standards.

    I’d agree with that. Those are my standards, as well.

  • Well, according to Mark, though – see Mark, I’m sacrificing that pawn over and over, soon enough it will be a bishop or a rook – there’s nothing left to discuss, only to do. If that’s what you both wish, I’ll close this thread and talk to myself.

  • Roger,

    I never said there was nothing to discuss.

  • Well, perhaps this is the problem, then. We’re running into two separate threads, in my opinion, lines of thought, but you happen to think they’re one and the same. I disagree.

  • Besides that, I never said that I accepted Mark’s solution completely. To do that would take resolving plenty of questions I have. Things are unanswered for me. And it doesn’t solve everything I think needs to be solved.

    I was just saying I think it is based on clear understanding, sounds plausible to me and might very well be the only real solution.

    So, you don’t have any answer for 929? Don’t care for a guess?

  • I need a quick smoke brb.

  • As I tried to explain in a couple of posts ago, I happen to think that Mark’s views (and yours, too, to an extent) are colored by wishful thinking, by how you’d like the world to be. And although you may find a few isolated examples to support your faith and confidence in a vision of a cooperative society, it’s not good enough evidence for me. What I see instead is contention, war, conflict and struggle. I, too, would like to see a better world, but again, my desires don’t blind me to what I see as stark reality.

    I’m going to have to insist again that the emotional and the rational have got to separated if the purpose is analysis. Integration is necessary insofar as the person’s vision and sense of values are concerned – and that’s how it should be. It ought to be the driving force. But it shouldn’t cloud one’s perception of, and assessment of, reality – because it it does, it’s wishful thinking.

    I’ve been harping on this point time and time again, and the reason is: I’m convinced that unless we agree on this, there’s nowhere to go. We’ll always going to be tripped by this very point, it’s that basic.

    To reiterate, these are two divergent interests – the practical one (how to live) and the theoretical one (having to do with understanding). They’re not necessarily altogether out of whack, there is a connection (perhaps a necessary connection) but to express that is further down the line: at least I’m not capable yet of articulating the relationship. And so, until we do, we’ve got to come to treat them as though they were distinct.

    So why the hell doesn’t anyone dare to address this point. Instead, we keep on beating around the bush. No progress whatever.

  • I, too, have no doubt that Mark’s statements derive from clear understanding. There was never doubt. I never questioned that, let alone argued to the contrary. But that’s not the point. Yet you seem to make it a point because you may think I was attacking him. Nothing is further from the truth. So get this thing out of your mind. I’m only presenting two contrasting viewpoints – for everyone’s examination and inspection.

    There is no other way to debate. Again, it’s got nothing to do with personalities or actual persons. It’s all about ideas.

  • Okay, I have discussed my ideas with you before. But maybe I have never explained why I think what I do.

    So, let me try to say some things I see. Don’t confuse what I see with what Mark sees. I have never considered his idea about the inevitability of conflict as a myth. I think that is intriguing. And I will keep thinking about that.

    But here is a little of how I see things so far.

  • No, I don’t think you were attacking him. I was addressing your comment in #921.

    And I suggest that unless we have a clear picture of where we’re at, how can we possibly hope to change the world.

  • Yes, it is intriguing, as intriguing as the earlier statement to the effect that “power” is an illusion. It’s the same class of statement – true in one sense, questionable in the other. But I thought we’ve been over this before and arrived at a kind of understanding. So why keep on getting bogged down with it again?

  • #921 was an overstatement. We all “change the world” by what we do or fail to do, and whether we realize it or not. And to be honest, that’s also Foucault’s idea of mini, microscopic changes at every level of society, having to do with every human interaction, that make up the big picture. So this is not something I’m arguing against. It’s rather that this still comes short of having “the big picture.” It’s that and nothing less than that what I’m after. So both of you just have to let me know if you’re up for the ride.

  • The power is an illusion idea–I think I didn’t understand what his meaning was there–it was different than mine.

    But let me try to get an approach to start. (Now I need a coffee, brb)

  • We’ve been over this before. It’s an illusion from the point of view of being able to overcome it, once we realize we don’t have to participate. But it’s not an illusion in the “objective” sense because control and domination are part of everyday life. So perhaps we had overcome this hurdle before proceeding any further.

  • Okay that hurdle is hurdled.

  • I can think this fast. I need to consider an approach.

  • I think I’ll call if you aren’t too tired. It’s much easier for me to talk ideas than type them.

  • We’ll gonna have to resume tomorrow. Got to be up 3AM tomorrow for driver training. State requirement: it’s all about “performativity.”

    To be continued.

  • Have a good night. Good luck with ‘performativity’. Hope it gets better with your class experience.

  • 3 a.m.???!!??

    They’re strict in Kentucky…

  • They’re slave drivers, Dreadful. I guess they want to instill in you the regimen. It’s a heckuva job, not as easy as meets the eye – plenty of responsibility and not enough pay.

  • Back in the saddle, Cindy. But where’s Mark?

  • Hi Roger,

    I just popped in for a moment. I am getting ready to start dinner. Can we synchronize? A minimum of 45 minutes would work for me.

  • (I was just going to ask John to read some things in the thread is why I stopped in. And there you are! Hope your day was okay.)

  • Leave a reply. I’ll work with any time from 5:30 on.

  • That’s great.

  • Okay…(fashionably late)

  • Likewise, but I have an excuse, want to be a truck driver, silly me.

  • You know what I think the problem with the world is, Roger? People are not wearing enough hats.

  • I’ll look at it later unless it’s essential for further progress. I’ve got itunes on.

  • So Cindy. Are you in or are you out?

  • After ten hours of grueling and mind numbing experience, I’d like to believe I’ve rejoined the human race.

  • Cindy,

    I’m coming again. Are you in or out?

  • And the following is an appeal to Mark. Where are you, weatherman? Or perhaps you think I and Cindy should resolve our difficulties first? How clever of you.

  • OK. I’m suffering from sleep deprivation. So come in or we shall have to call it!

  • Hi…it was just a funny, Roger.

  • (Please don’t stay up on my account.)

  • I’m working on fumes, Cindy, but my mind is still active.

    I would like to move the discussion forward.

  • Okay, it’s your baby Ken.

  • Knock knock are you there?

    Yes I am.

    Knock knock…who’s there? Is it you.

    Why, indeed it is. Were you expecting someone else?

    Well, that is nice. We are both here. Or are we? Hmmmmm…..

    Please speak or ???? (wonders if she has slipped into the twilight zone)

  • I don’t know the idiom, so I’ll let it go. But to come to the question, what about the distinction between the pragmatic/practical/idealistic and the theoretical and the real?

    Do you think it has merits? Because thus far, it’s been our stumbling block.

  • Yes, I’m here. Your red robin hood.

  • Maybe…I’m not sure. How about we test it.

  • Pratt, is an example of the theoretical, is that what you mean?

  • While you are away tomorrow. I will try to put down a bit about what I think.

  • Or do you take Sunday off? In any case I will try some time tomorrow for having something down.

  • I don’t think so. Her entire work appears to have germinated from empirical observations. Unlike with Arendt or Foucault, both of which are moved by the ideas (although in opposite direction). That’s the key distinction.

    I’m still talking about seeing the world through rose colored glasses and starkly.

    In other words, one’s beliefs and value system should not affect the vision.

    It’s a simply matter of the distinction between facts and values. The latter should not override the facts, however much we’d like the world to conform to our wishes.

  • Our meeting of the minds needs to develop an understanding. Otherwise I think we are talking past each other.

    If you believe that rose colored glasses are involved. I think you need more information. I think your assessment is premature.

    I’ll be happy to try to answer any questions you have to test your rose colored glassed hypothesis.

  • Yes. First day off, really, in six. I’ll recover. Interestingly though, I’ve been sharper in my thinking and way of expressing it than I’ve been in years.

    I think it’s a matter of trying to squeeze one’s “infinite wisdom” in a limited amount of time. Necessity is a mother of invention. And so is scarcity. So I guess I’ve been compensating for lost time.

  • Perhaps you’d like to know how I decided domination was the problem?

  • (Cool, you can sleep in. I feel better then.)

  • We talked about it before. All I mean is seeing the world how you’d like it to be rather than as it is.

    I think that Mark is somewhat affected by his idealism (you less so).

  • Yes, I’ll be fully functional tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’m not ready yet to call it quits, not until we come to an understanding of this, I believe, critical issue.

  • I don’t think that is the case. What information would help you to understand why?

  • Fire away!

  • I have typed up a bundle of things. Not knowing what is helpful I didn’t post any. So, if you help me to find how I can demonstrate what I mean, I may have the information down already.

  • How about if I post how I got to the conclusion of domination? What it entailed? It’s not quite how one would get to any conclusion based on idealism.

  • I think you’re complicating things. All I’m talking about is the interests of a “revolutionary” vis a vis that of a “theoretician.” Marx and Lenin were definitely in the last-mentioned camp; and so were Camus, Fanon, and people like that.

    I can’t think of a “pure revolutionary” offhand, which is to say – ideas matter.

  • Fire away, as I said. We’ve got to get through this hurdle. I thought we were over it days ago, but apparently it ain’t the case.

  • What I had in mind isn’t going to help. You best ask a question to test what you think. I can’t operate in a vacuum and hand you ‘whatever’ when I don’t know what you are missing.

  • Clavos

    β€œCindy, I’m coming again. Are you in or out?”

    Now, THAT is funny!

    Think about it…

  • I think you’re right. Somehow, it’d just slipped.

  • funny…ummm…now let’s move on lol

  • Clavos

    “Somehow, it’d just slipped.”

    Roger, you’re on a roll…

  • It just happened. I wasn’t thinking.

    So yes, I’m ready if you are.

  • Tell you what, Cindy. I’m exhausted. Can we pick it up tomorrow morning?

    I’d like to provide a synopsis of Foucault’s first piece. Meanwhile, think about the unresolved issue. OK?

  • Okay. Have a good night.

  • Thanks and you too. Two more comments and we’re at a thousand. Can you believe it?

  • Over time, I have examined various social (education, etc), interpersonal (relational, parenting, etc), and individual (psychological, self-image, etc) problems. That was the shape my search for meaning took. I was interested in practical solutions to problems.

    How do we get along or fail to in relationship. What is problematic in education, child-rearing, etc. How can we improve. I applied what I came to understand worked. But, I didn’t find a unifying solution.

    Only when fortuitous events led me to test domination as the problem (not simply one of the problems) did the solutions that I had discovered to work, coalese into a sensible explanation. Reflecting backward and reexamining what I knew–those solutions that seemed to work best all pushed in a certain direction–which could be roughly construed as being away from domination. So, essentially, I turned the hypothesis into one that tested domination as the overarching disease. Once I did this I discovered that the problems under all those categories I just listed above and others, are eliminated.

  • I’m putting various ideas here. I don’t know if they’ll help or not.

  • Mark,

    Here is a simplified example of my dilemma about resistance. The Iran people were resisting oppression. If helping them is the revolutionary action that is correct–then what does that say about their action? How is their resistance different from any other resistance to oppression?

  • But Cindy,

    That’s precisely what Foucault, Lyotard and modern thinkers are doing. They have identified “power” and “domination” as the major malaise plaguing all societies and the post-industrial ones, such as the one in which we live, in particular, Their thinking, therefore, is to understand the nature of this “domination,” its many different facets and manifestations. Understanding what’s happening, even the many guises, is the key to what can be done, how can we correct things. Many don’t see the possibility of there being a “unitary” solution that would solve all the ailments – only partial ones, and one at a time, working on the fringes, as it were. Adorno, referring to parts of Walter Benjamin’s work, spoke of “micrologies,” and Foucault and Lyotard in particular picked up on that. So in this respect, I essentially agree.

    What would be helpful, I think, it you tried first to think about this in the abstract, in terms of the general underlying ideas. Then you would see that concrete applications and concrete thinking you’re exhibiting in #998 follow the same pattern and that we essentially don’t disagree,

    Do you see my point, though, about the value of examining the nature of the problem in all its ramifications and manifestations? I believe we were quite progressing nicely along the way until this recent hurdle had come up.

  • Good morning, Roger.

    Breakfast by men today… Poptarts! lol

    Just big overgrown kids, I think πŸ™‚

    Let me attend to your comment.

  • Good morning. We broke the thousand mark. Which begs further question: Where is Mark?

  • Also looked at the column “Most Comments.” We’ve been on the top or near the top every single day. It’s like being number one or two on the charts for some many consecutive weeks. Good showing, I’d say.

  • But there is a solution. And different people see it in different ways, but essentially it’s always the same end. Eliminate domination.

  • Mark,

    Another question I have. How do you see the hula hoop type fad as different from changing people? ‘How can we make it a fad?’

    I’m having trouble seeing the difference in my ideas about changing people and that idea.

  • Right – but we have to understand the complex manner in which it touches everyday life – even in areas one would least suspect. That’s why it’s essential to work with ideas (I’m not saying practical solutions don’t emerge from practice, but much of it is ad hoc.)

    Let me give you an example. I’ve never had an engineer’s aptitude or interest how things work on a practical level (e.g., the combustion engine, etc.) But now I’m required to have a rudimentary knowledge at least for the purpose of passing the test. So rather than trying to learn the material in the shallow way and commit most of the test answers to memory, I started asking questions and arrived at an understanding. And with understanding in place, I am therefore ready to tackle the practical questions that come up (matters they ask you about in the test), but not by means of memory any longer, but but thinking about it and working it out from ideas to their practical applications.

    That’s why I say that ideas always (or almost always) come first – the source of all practical inventions. Do you see the point?

  • Yes, I do. That’s part of the reason I want to be a teacher. You just described a natural way of learning. The way we just do it. Think how children learn: they ask questions all the time.

    So, if you can imagine learning about an engine from your Uncle Joe, you might be leaning over the edge trying to figure out why this did that, you might ask him questions, you might be going over to your bike and pretending to do what you just leaned about what Uncle Joe was doing.

    We learn just like we learn language. We don’t teach children to speak and learn language. They know how to do it. If a child wants to learn science–hanging out with a scientist is a good way for her to do that.

  • Right, but I was merely providing an example why we have to be quite comfortable with the underlying ideas before we can be really facile in the practical realm. If you understand the concepts of “power” and “domination” to your utter satisfaction, that’s fine with me and I have nothing more to say. The same goes for Mark. But my point is that I do not have (yet) the proper understanding, the kind of understanding I’d be happy with.

    Don’t think that Mark haven’t spent hours on theory. He turned to “the practical” after having done his homework, and must feel his understanding of the problem(s) is sufficient to move to the next stage. Well, good for him, but I can’t say that for myself, which is why I keep on groping.

    So perhaps I’m at a lower level of development than you two, in which case I’ll have to proceed by myself.

  • Right – but we have to understand the complex manner in which it touches everyday life – even in areas one would least suspect. That’s why it’s essential to work with ideas (I’m not saying practical solutions don’t emerge from practice, but much of it is ad hoc.)

    I think there is plenty of information out there. People have been writing about this for a long time.

    That’s why I say that ideas always (or almost always) come first – the source of all practical inventions. Do you see the point?

    Yes, I think I may understand you, but I also think things happen with people in other ways too. We aren’t quite practical inventions.

  • 929- No it’s not articulated yet. So, then if he didn’t articulate it, why do you think I believe it to be based on a clear view. Since I can’t read his mind.

    That wasn’t something you chose to respond to. But, that’s basically what I meant. That there is information out there. People see what they see so they see different things and get different ideas…but the information is there to work with.

  • We broke the thousand mark.

    Oh, I forgot to congratulate you. Congratulations. πŸ™‚

  • I agree with #1011 – but somehow I’m getting the feeling that I am experiencing a resistance from you – resistance to thinking (or certain kind of thinking, I should say.)

  • Okay. I’ll try to cooperate. So, where do we go?

  • That’s not what I’m looking for. You yourself have got to become convinced that it’a a valid approach, and it doesn’t encroach on your practical engagements with people and the world; for inquiry purposes, you may look at it as two separate activities.

    Let me give you an example. It’s been customary and traditional to see “power” as on outgrowth of economic practices and interest – the latter serving as a structure and the former as a superstructure – and it’s still a useful way. But Foucault’s analysis have shown that we may also view power as deriving from non-economic terms. And the model he suggested is a non-cooperative society, the non-economic explanation (of “power”) having been couch in such fundamental terms as war, struggle and conflict.

    So my question to you is: did you not find his analysis insightful and helpful, suggesting perhaps other avenues and approaches? I did. Well, that’s an example of how thinking about it “in the abstract,” in terms of the ideas themselves, is one way to go.

    It’s at this point that we ran into the difficulties, when I suggested that practical and theoretical interests don’t necessarily coincide (for inquiry purposes) and that both kinds of interests are commendable and have their own merit. But I also suggested that in Mark’s case (and yours too, to an extent), the practical interests may not only color your worldview but also make you antagonistic to theorizing – as though being committed to the latter activity means you couldn’t be committed to the former. But that’s utter nonsense. There is no conflict, only two different, equally valid foci – so long as we’re careful not to allow the commitment to practice to distort thinking.

    It’s at this point, to the best of my understanding, that all hell broke lose, or rather, that I ran into a wall – both from Mark and yourself. So my question is why?

  • My personal understanding of power was from the interpersonal. Then much, much later, I looked at economic ideas. That is why I am interested in Marx–I want to fill in what I missed. So, I am not sure that what Foucault said has given me anything new to do.

    Now let me think about the rest of your comment.

  • so long as we’re careful not to allow the commitment to practice to distort thinking.

    Can you say more about that? I’m not quite sure how practice can distort thinking.

    So my question is why?

    I don’t know. I have absorbed mass quantities of theories and they helped me along the way. I picked out what I discovered was useful and discarded the rest–as I presume everyone does. So, I don’t object to hearing and thinking about people’s theories.

    I don’t really know what’s not working here.

  • How do you decide if what Foucault says makes sense to you?

  • Something makes sense to me if it informs my action.

  • A practical interest – like working towards a self- and others-liberation – may become a predominant approach to the point of skewing other approaches and activities. (The key word here is “interest.”)

    So let’s say you and Mark see practical successes here and there, like the Zapatista, for example, and limited as though they are (and I’m not minimizing anything), you take it to represent a larger picture. Your interest makes you do so. Consequently, you may tend to view the entire society according to the mini model – thinking along the lines of consent and co-operation). And this is the kind of example of the person’s interests (and desires, for a better world, in this case) can run ahead of one’s thinking. Consequently, you tend to view the society and the world along these lines, rather than in terms of war, conflict and struggle – quite an opposite picture, I should say.

    So this is perhaps one of the things that’s not working, your not wanting to come to terms with what I’m saying. The second may be an aversion to “abstract thinking.” It’s more common than you think. It requires special training, and people who have not been exposed to it have quite a difficulty with this. I’m not saying this is the case here, but you might want to look at it.

    A related reason – you may have grown suspicious of “theorizing” in that it tends to miss so much what’s true about human practice. Again, many people have. Even “thinking” tends to be disparaged by many practice- and results oriented people, because they tend to think it’s not touching enough, directly and immediately, on the practical problems they are exercised about; they therefore come to a view that thinking is irrelevant.

  • Oh and Mark,

    I forgot to put in 1006, I also see an attachment to outcome in the hula hoop fad.

  • We are getting somewhere with your last comment, Roger. Give me a short while to think about it. But, it won’t be very difficult for me to reply to that.

  • It’s like theoretical knowledge of mechanics I spoke earlier: without such a knowledge and understanding, you’re at a loss as to how things work in practice.

    Same here, it must make sense and translate into actions and practice. But “making sense” is also ascertainable in another realm – how it jibes with your general understanding and experience. Just as you reject certain things you read when you find them off-the wall, it’s no different here. You agree with the author, or disagree with them, in the course of exercising your critical faculties. It’s like anything we read.

  • I’ll run to Starbucks for some coffee. Will be back.

  • (Since Mark and I are both mentioned, I want to just note that I can only speak about myself. I can’t know what he does or why unless I actually ask him. In this case I can’t even venture a guess about how another person goes about seeing and understanding things.)

    let’s say you…see practical successes here and there, like the Zapatista, for example, and limited as though they are…you take it to represent a larger picture. Your interest makes you do so.

    I am not sure what you mean by ‘take it to represent the larger picture’. I don’t think that’s what I see myself as doing.

    Here’s a closer thing to what I am doing:

    I notice something is wrong when I am young. I work on understanding what’s wrong (the material comes from everywhere–human encounter–theory–research–explorations into other ways of thinking). I change myself according to what I understand. I keep doing this and focus on the things that work. Ultimately, I am sparked to look more closely at the domination issue after two things occur 1) someone puts Pratt in front of me (along with some other texts), 2) Someone puts information in front of me that helps me discover other people (Argentina worker-run factory movement) have already been doing this–working on eliminating domination (and probably have always been and always will be). I notice some of what they think are solutions are ones I have already incorporated into my life and ones I already have experience with. I decide that the only solution is to eliminate domination. Then, I educate myself as far as what what solutions do they propose. What other ideas do they have? I begin to test some of what I have learned about things I never considered (and this is relatively recently–so I am a neophyte and still learning, testing, keeping, and discarding ideas). I notice more people are also experimenting with eliminating domination–Zapatistas…Greek anarchists, etc. I think about and experiment with ways to advance the cause.

    That is a reasonably close summary.

  • Oh, and I seek out community with other people in whatever way I can–in person, on the internet. That is important for me. Without that, I have no support. Some are resisting, some are creating, some are supporting, many are disseminating information. I am experimenting with all those things at this point.

  • Well, that’s a good description of the process. So if you’re not affected by “practical interests,” that’s fine. As to Mark, I only posed it as a challenge. He’s yet to answer, so this is only a side issue.

    But what do you have against pursuing the inquiry into the concepts of “power” and “domination.” All I have learned thus far, they’re more complex than meets the eye. We’ve been progressing fine all along the way until now. I would have thought that that should also figure among your chief interests. Was I wrong?

  • #1026. Great, by why should that interfere with your theoretical interests, trying to understand better?

  • But what do you have against pursuing the inquiry into the concepts of “power” and “domination.” All I have learned thus far, they’re more complex than meets the eye. We’ve been progressing fine all along the way until now. I would have thought that that should also figure among your chief interests. Was I wrong?

    It doesn’t interfere with my interest. I am always interested in understanding things better.

    So, let’s discuss Foucault then?

  • So if you’re not affected by “practical interests,” that’s fine.

    I think I might not understand that. I see myself as very focused on practical interests.

  • What I meant – if “practical interests” don’t present you with a blind side, that’s all.

  • The practical interests are:

    I like Staughton Lynd’s conception of ‘accompaniment’. So, that is my practical interest how do I do that, as a teacher and as, and in the world at large. Plus, what things can I do that help raise awareness about people who are suffering? How do I act to not reinforce the illusion of scarcity? Things like that. These are very practical things I can do.

    I will begin soon, for example, working on a direct action campaign regarding slave labor. To make people directly aware of which products are using slave labor, when they buy them. I am not sure where it will go. I imagine it could be effective. It depends on if other people think so. They would have to implement it. I hope to disseminate that.

  • ooops, Oh, lol, I get it.

  • I was under the impression that in addition to all that, you’re gifted with intellectual curiosity.

  • 1034

    See 1029

  • I should have noted I was leaving for lunch-making. Got involved in making something more complicated than the few minute thing I’d originally planned.

  • No problem. But the interest has got to come from you, Cindy. I can’t make you being interested, and I don’t want a captive audience. I thought we had a fruitful discussion going until . . . I don’t know what transpired, but somehow it looks to me that both you and Mark have lost interest.

    It’s no problem and I can live with that. But you’re not going to have me speaking to myself. I can do that in private. So the initiative has got to come from you.

    So perhaps it’s best under the circumstances if we just shelve it for the time being until you’re ready – I mean really hungry. It’s no good this way that I need to convince you about the importance of the kind of thinking I’m talking about. It has got to come from you.

  • Well, I don’t know how to demonstrate my interest to your satisfaction. I’m suggesting you begin and I would like to understand. You did notice I was interested when you explained it on the phone?

    But I can’t even remember where we left off. So, you would have to pick it up. Besides I think it is a little more familiar now. I also bought a book on Foucault and feminism.

    Up to you. But, I can’t possibly start the conversation at this moment without going back and reviewing.

  • Will do then. I’m going to have to give you a synopsis of Foucault’s article we have covered thus far. Perhaps it will come together for you.

  • very cool, gracias

  • We’re going down to sit by the lake. bbl (be back later)

  • The gist of the article is simply this, Cindy.

    “Power” has traditionally been understood as having its basis in more fundamental, economic relations. (To put it in Marxist terminology, if economy and economic relations are “structure,” then power and power relations are “superstructure.” And this has been the case with either the Hobbes/Lockean model or the more recent, Marxist model which relates everything to capitalist mode of production.

    In the latter case, this derivation of power relations from economic relations is rather intuitive and easy to see. Less so in the case of the former, legal/juridical model based on the notion of contract. But as you have very aptly pointed out, the idea of contract is inherently related to the notion of value. Hence, the notion of power as a kind of “commodity,” and therefore understood in economic terms. Hence, in Foucault’s words, “power is taken to be a right, which one is able to possess like a commodity, and which one can in consequence transfer or alienate, either wholly or partially, through a legal act or through some act that establishes a right, such as takes place through cession and contract” (p. 88).

    So Foucault doesn’t deny the economic foundations of power or the efficacy of such an understanding/explanation – only questions whether there are other ways of understanding it (other than in economic terms), because he thinks it’s a rather naive model, not taking account of the perfidious uses of power – such as via the means of control and surveillance – in this age of post-modernity (namely in our day and age, and in particular, in the context of post-industrial societies.

    I’ll move to the second point in my next comment.

  • To continue.

    Foucault then asks (p. 89): “What means are available to us today to conduct a non-economic analysis of power?” We need additional tools, is the general idea, because economic derivation fails to explain some of the more insidious uses of power in modern, post-industrial societies, so benign at first sight yet so debilitating (precisely because we don’t recognized them as such).

    Well, some view power, says Foucault not as “exchanged” (in line with the economic model) but rather as “being exercised and existing only in action.” Others yet think of it as a “relation of force.” Foucault picks up on the last idea and asks: what sort of exercise does exercising power involves? what are the mechanisms?

    The usual answer people give here is that “power is essentially that which represses” – represses nature, that is, the instinct, a class, individuals. And here, these people take their lead either from Hegel or Freud or Reich. Good as far it goes, Foucault argues, but he’s not happy with this answer. It fails to satisfy if only because it’s not complete. So he looks for a more comprehensive definition.

    It’s at this point that he focuses on the idea of power as essentially representing/or being properly understood by, “the way in which relations of forces are deployed and given concrete expression” (p. 90) And that’s how Foucault identifies the weakness of the “repression” theses by arguing to the effect that power is nothing other than war (except continued by other means) – in essence, therefore, struggle, conflict and war (reversing thus Clausewitz’s famous formulation that war is diplomacy conducted by other means).

    It is thus, that Foucault is capable of doing away with the Lockean/Hobbesian model of the sovereign and the civil society. How?

    Because “oppression,” obviously not justified according to that model – i.e., when the sovereign breaks the law and oppresses the subjects (a model, that is, whereby power emanates from the center) is not even given sufficient mention. Indeed, even that view of power as essentially “repressive” – as when the laws are not abused but the subjects are repressed nonetheless – is not sufficient definition for Foucault. In short, he manages to defeat the old notions of power even given the best case scenario: which is to say, when the sovereign and the laws are just and yet . . . power still represses.

    So the model of society which emerges in the course of this analysis – whereby power is an outward expression/manifestation/superstructure of struggle, conflict and war – is one of a society in conflict, characterized more by dissensus rather than consensus. To quote:

    “if it is true that political power puts an end to war, that it instills, or tries to instill, the reign of peace in civil society, this by no means implies that it suspects the effects of war or neutralises the disequilibrium revealed in the final battle. The role of political power, on this hypothesis, is perpetually to re-inscribe this relation through a form of unspoken warfare; to re-inscribe it in social institutions, in economic inequalities, in language, in the bodies themselves of each and everyone of of us.” (p. 90)

    So on this account, relations of force are the structure, and power relations, such as get form to reflect the relations of force, the superstructure (and this includes the institutions). Why struggle and conflict?
    Again, because force or forces, whenever applied, create a resistance. Think of it on analogy with physical bodies in motion – billiard balls for instance. Action produces a reaction. And we can speak of “social forces” on analogy with physical forces – e.g., migrations of populations from the country to the city, or the opposite movement from the inner city to the suburbs. These are but some examples, and these sociological phenomena do act as “forces” in that they affect the previous equilibrium.

    Now, Foucault’s definition of power in terms of war, struggle and conflict (and resistance, of course) is broader and more comprehensive than the earlier one (in terms of “repression” alone), because in addition to absorbing the notion of repression, it also takes into account the idea of struggle and resistance against repression (and therefore, against oppression as well).

    I’ll move to the last point in my next post.

  • Summary.

    Foucault examines the implication of reversing the Clausewitz’s formula:

    1)seeing politics as sanctioning and upholding the disequilibrium of forces that was displayed in war.
    2)none of the political struggles, the conflicts waged over power, with power, for power, the alterations in the relations of forces … – none of these phenomena in a political system should be interpreted except as continuation of war. They should … be understood as episodes, factions and displacements in that same war.
    3) the end result can only be the outcome of war, that is, of a contest of strength, to be decided in the last analysis by recourse to arms. The political battle will cease with this final battle. Only a final battle of that kind would put an end, once and for all, to the exercise of power as continual war. (pp. 90-91)

    So there are two solid hypothesis, according to Foucault, as alternatives to the understanding of power in terms of economic relations serving as foundation. And these are”

    A) The Freudian/Reichian hypothesis of power as “repression.”

    B) The Nietzchian hypothesis which argues that the basis of the relationship of power lies in the hostile engagement of forces.

    Now, these hypotheses are not irreconcilable (as I argued in the preceding comment); they seem to be linked in that repression can be seen as the political consequence of war (read here: a peaceful, civil society, with laws, but a society which, underneath it all, is still a continuation of war); and no differently perhaps from the way in which oppression (according to the classic, Lockean theory of political right) can be seen as the abuse of sovereignty in the juridical order.

    Thus the two major systems of analyzing power:

    1) the contract-power scheme with oppression serving as transgression of the limit (the juridical classical theory of political right)

    2)the war-repression schema, where repression is not regarded as abuse (as oppression was according to the first schema) but rather as “the mere effect and continuation of a relation of domination.” And on these schema/view, repression is none other than the realization, within the continual warfare of this pseudo-peace, of a perpetual relation of force. (pp-91-92)

    Schema number 1 addresses the view of a civil society, whereby power is understood to mean nothing abuse – in short, oppression. Schema number 2 (more cognizant of the reality that the society is not civil at all, or civil only in a superficial sense, but actually a warring one and in the state of perpetual conflict) holds that power isn’t just abuse but repression as well (and therefore much more insidious. In the first case, the opposition is between what’s legitimate or not (legitimate or illegitimate authority, for example), and for that reason is naive. In the second, the opposition is between struggle and submission.

    However, the notion of repression is not sufficiently understood yet, and Foucault finds it inadequate “to the analysis of the mechanisms and effects of power that it is so pervasively used to characterize today.” (p. 92).

    I believe what will follow is supplementing the analysis in terms of “the positive effects” of power – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

  • OK, Cindy, the last three posts are the gist of the article. But I can’t be doing this all the time. You’ve got to struggle with these texts just as I do. I don’t need a captive audience, as I said, but active participants.

    So shall we do it the right way from now on? If I didn’t think you were interested in these matters or not capable of thinking at this level, I wouldn’t have tried.

  • Roger,

    I didn’t realize what you were doing or I would have suggested I just review it and call with questions. (winces at the idea you spent your day off doing that)

    Thanks Roger.

  • Well, I needed it for myself as well, as a handy reference. Now we can both proceed. Apologize for the tone – still recovering, I guess, from the gruesome week. I didn’t mean it to put it quite that way, and wished I could take my last comment back, but it was too late.

  • Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing. πŸ™‚

  • Thank you for being gracious.

  • Okay done.

    …the end result can only be the outcome of war, that is, of a contest of strength, to be decided in the last analysis by recourse to arms. The political battle will cease with this final battle. Only a final battle of that kind would put an end, once and for all, to the exercise of power as continual war. (pp. 90-91)

    I’m not sure how he gets to that conclusion.

  • For several reason. One what on earth is a ‘final battle’? (Sounds like something from a science fiction tale.)

    How can war put an end to war? He just said that if there is a war that establishes a society, then it follows that war continues via political power and is embedded throughout that society and in all its institutions.

    So how does it follow that some strange war to end all wars will result in peace?

  • I think he’s using it only as a hyperbole – to say that strife and conflict will be with us always. So when he speaks of “the final battle,” I think he means it in an apocalyptic kind of sense, as the Battle of Armageddon, which is to say the end of times.

  • On analogy with the biblical theme, which is that when the saints will have finally won, all the evil ones will have perish. Hence no more conflict.

  • lmao, farking philosophers…they put hyperbole in there with dead seriousness!!!

    Hopefully they don’t do that too often.

  • He’s missing any idea of cooperation in that analysis.

  • Foucault’s style is as polemical as it gets. He wants to persuade you, whether you’re willing to go along with it or not. He takes no prisoners. Consequently, there’s plenty of repetitions and amplifications of the same theme.

    “The final battle,” as I understand, is meant to work the same way: only then we’ll experience nirvana – which is to say, never. Unless you believe in “the end of times when conflict and strife will be no longer.” But that’s not in store for the human world.

  • Well, I can tentatively go along with his idea until he gets to that idea. I think he is myopic.

  • Co-operation is talked about later. Remember, power relations are consensual (Eco’s housewife example). We’re all enablers.

  • Besides, it’s not so much being myopic as a matter of strategy. The traditional model of power, as though emanating only from the center, which is to say only from top down, has been so dominant one, so ingrained in most people’s thinking, that it has got to be defeated at all cost: hence, the necessary emphasis on war, conflict and strife to undermine the notion of a co-operative, consensual society.

    What Foucault offers at this point is a mental remedy – or a therapeutic shock, you might say.

  • I start at the level of looking at the infant and go up from there to discover how the dominant culture myths are indoctrinated.

    My conclusion is that if we do not indoctrinate those myths we get a dif