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In Defense of Anarchism: Conclusion

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Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

There you go, the entire lyrics to John Lennon’s classic (except for the third stanza, a refrain). So simple in concept, so powerful in execution. Interestingly, Lennon’s message reverberated with far greater resonance among his contemporaries than it does today. Apart from the Vietnam fiasco and the age-old gripe against the Establishment, the two-prong thrust by the then-radical left, an ideology which has virtually defined, if not driven, Lennon’s political agenda and put the idea of counterculture on the map, America was still the land of opportunity, or so everyone thought, and there were no signs in the offing it would ever cease. The cultural revolution of the sixties was a unique byproduct of the American brand of idealism, fueled by higher than average education and upper middle class upbringing and comfort. The hippies, the flower children of the Haight-Ashbury, the free speech revolutionaries from Columbia to Berkeley, the faculties of major American universities, all shared in the same socioeconomic background and characteristics; all were children of privilege. Why not today, one may ask, when times are tough, the American middle class as good as nonexistent, and the American dream, the emblem of the New World and the beacon, all but shattered? Why not today when governments the world over and the respective nation-states, their proper charge, are under relentless pressure both from without and within: nearly-global economic crisis and embarrassing disclosures of their duplicitous dealings and machinations?

For starters, let’s just say the relationship between prosperity (or the lack thereof) and apathy, especially in the context of the American experience, is complex. We’ve seen that with the right conditions in place, some of us are given to the idealistic impulse. What’s perturbing is the complacency of our rapidly disappearing middle class. Instead of becoming enraged, it plays the patsy, the role of the working stiff: the harder the times, the more intent it seems on begging for scraps, a mere pittance, ever ready to sell its soul to the company store. But this, I contend, is the result of a false sense of confidence and a false sense of values. The American fat cat has been spoiled rotten; so spoiled in fact, the only thing he’s capable of is to dream of past glories and of recapturing the glorious past. There’s not an iota of sympathy in him, no sense of solidarity, no empathy or compassion, only a sense of the overinflated self. Even America’s poor, surely an oxymoron when you think of it, are all infected with the same sense of hollow values, always envious of their betters, always wishing to be like them. Whether the welfare state is to blame or the natural erosion of human dignity due to overexposure to toxic capitalism, American style (sugarcoated, to be sure), by the attendant set of lofty ideals espousing liberty and individual self-determination, the pride of liberal democracies, it’s the modern-day lumpenproletariat, to use Marx’s apt phrase, and hardly the stuff from which revolutions are made. The truly suffering people of Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen put us to bloody shame.

So don’t count on America’s disenfranchised masses to further the cause of the revolution aiming at overthrowing the increasingly burdensome and dysfunctional institution known as “the state” and bringing us closer to John Lennon’s dream of a stateless society, if not the world at large! The American fat cat may have to undergo an extreme starvation diet, coupled with massive deprivation, both physical and psychological, before the reality finally sinks in and hopefully reignites it with a spark of revolutionary consciousness.

Likewise with the oppressed peoples of the People’s Republic of China or those of India, which nation-states, under the pretense of a “ocialist market system  (a cleverly coined phrase by the masters of Chinese doublespeak) or some other such guise, boast of their phenomenal successes amidst nearly global economic crisis as their socialist-run economies undergo a period of unprecedented boom. These are serious obstacles, I contend, to attaining the desirable state of affairs, let’s kid ourselves not. I alluded, however, to the already existing geopolitical configurations which, however infinitesimally, represent a movement in the general direction and serve, as it were, the first step. In fact, I take the EU, comprising what’s otherwise known as the Eurozone, as one such example and source of inspiration. Granted, it’s still in its experimental stages, not certain to survive the onslaught from both the internal and external global economic pressures, but it still stands, and for better or worse, aside from serving as a new paradigm, it offers interesting insights. Let’s therefore examine it more closely.

I suppose the first thing to notice is the instauration of an administrative body overseeing some of the operations and functions which, under normal circumstances, have always been regarded as the natural preserve of independent nation-states. Board of directors is as good a name as any, and the activities under its watchful eye include such diverse aspects of governance as administering a monetary policy, as well as the criminal justice system. Lest you pooh-pooh the example for insufficient scope of operations, think again. We’re already experiencing a (however slight) shift in the nature of (foreign?) relations between member states. The conditions imposed on Greece and Ireland, for example, as part of securing the EU-administered bailouts speak for themselves. Years ago, when the EU was but a figment of somebody’s imagination, an inkblot on the map, any such scenario would have been unthinkable.

Imagine one state dictating its terms to another and the disadvantaged party just buckling under the demands! In more cases than not, and that’s in spite of the no-nonsense principle of Realpolitik, we would have witnessed open hostilities, if not war, to resolve the conflict. Today, the spirit of cooperation and adherence to prior arrangements specified in the charter is less of an exception than the rule. Say what you will, but the member states no longer relate to one another as independent nation-states; they’re bound instead by an agreement, a precondition which calls for a measure of compliance. If that’s not shedding some of their sovereignty (and authority, I may well add), I don’t know what is.

Also notice that the main locus of the structural change, even though the sphere of activities affected thereby is mostly economic, is the political: it’s the political relations between member states that have undergone however slight alteration (though again, the theater of action has been restricted thus far to matters mostly economic). This is a significant insight, I daresay, especially in light of the fact that in the EU instance at least, it was mainly economic forces and conditions, not political, which paved the way for, and served as a stimulus to, the eventual formation of the European Union: the categorical imperative to become and remain competitive with the economic powerhouses of North America and Asia surely figures in as consideration of the first order and captures the underlying motivation, end of story! The rest: instituting a uniform currency, easing restrictions on travel in order to facilitate a fluid labor market, you name it, was but icing on the cake, all designed with the singular purpose in mind of making good on the original objective. Hence the inevitable conclusion: it’s in the political that any kind of social change is most likely to register and make itself known, regardless of what has led to it (and no, I’m not discounting here the primacy of the economic factors in spearheading the change).

There’s a perfect reason for this. The state, a political institution through and through, can’t be expected to dabble in what works. Quite the contrary, it’s only going to support the economic system in place, jumpstart it if and when need be, use whatever means necessary in order to preserve it against all opposition to the contrary and whatever injustices it may bring in its wake, regardless of what harm or evil may come as a result of it. Why? In the interest of its own survival, I say. Simply put, the economic order only reinforces the political order (you can’t have one without the other), so don’t be expecting the state to cut its own throat.

Couple this now with the fact that whatever internal contradictions may or may not exist within capitalism proper, the system, a moot point I should think, since they’re most likely to be glossed over if not perpetuated to no end by the instrumentality of the State! One is left with an inescapable conclusion that only the state is truly vulnerable to erosion both from without and within; and that, for the simple reason that whatever contradictions may plague this overarching political concept in theory and in practice (and I believe I made a compelling case to that effect), there’s nothing whatever to intervene on the state’s behalf,  for the simple reason there is none above it. There is no substitute for retaliating against the Hydra monster and cutting its many heads, no other remedy except to strike at the source. Consequently, if the state must fall, it will fall of its own accord, case closed. If my thesis runs contrary to Marx’s, so be it. Marx hadn’t paid sufficient attention to the political, his greatest oversight, I’m convinced.

In closing, let me reiterate: the EU experiment is a far cry from the kind of world John Lennon envisaged. Still, it’s a pattern of things to come, the sign of the times, a step in the right direction, an experiment that is likely to be replicated over and over again until it meets with ever greater success. I’ll leave it up to you to imagine a myriad of semiautonomous, anarchistic communities; political, to be sure, but political only in the truest and most meaningful sense: locally; all coexisting under the umbrella of an essentially benign administrative body whose purpose is to insure a modicum of order within the empire. The catch is, unless you believe in aliens posing a threat from outer space, thus making necessary the striking of new alliances for the purpose of presenting a united front against the enemy, there is no enemy, no competition or conflict, no other empire to speak of, only humanity living in unison. I could think of far worse scenarios.

“No countries, no possessions, only a brotherhood of man”   What’s so hard to understand?  John Lennon was a prophet.

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About Roger Nowosielski

  • troll

    Take your neo-Leninism off my bridge.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I wasn’t aware I was guilty of that sin.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Or let’s put it this way: if I’m guilty as charged, at least I had come upon it independently.

  • Clavos

    Wow! Cool blast from the past, Troll!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Well, if the shoe fits …

    Just kidding, Mr. Zorro.

  • Baronius

    Roger, you hadn’t noticed that you’ve been spouting a lot of Marxism lately?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I would think, Baronius, that this article in particular is somewhat anti-Marx.

  • Boeke

    Was that leninism or lennonism?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I surely hope the latter was meant.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Breaking news from BBC: Mubarak is expected to resign.

  • Clavos

    Breaking news from Blogcritics; people are gathering in anticipation of an announcement.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I guess like all good warriors, they know not when to quit.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Live stream video from Al Jazeera English.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    What’s desperately needed is another T.E. Lswrence.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Yes, those Arabian camel-humpers can’t possibly stage their own revolution without an Anglo hero leading them, preferably one with sun-bleached blond hair and with a white scarf streaming in the wind from his neck.

  • Boeke

    Breaking news from the radio: Mubarak thumbed his nose at the citizens of Egypt. He’s not going anyplace. Who does he think he is? Benito Musseroni?

    Perhaps he’ll end up hanging from a lamppost.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Well, Alan, I thought I’d draw your attention.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    What is this, a typo war? I can’t decide which I like better, Lswrence or Musseroni.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Freezing his bank accounts should be the next step. That would get him running like a dog with a tail between his legs.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I happen to think Boeke’s was intentional – a pun on macaroni perhaps. Mine wasn’t, I’m afraid.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Anyway, Obama’s to meet with his National Security Council to decide on the next step.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    If “Musseroni” is Boeke’s idea of a pun on macaroni, we should freeze Boeke’s bank accounts.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    “Musseroni”:

    Mussels & Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    The wind from his neck? Did Lawrence have a trach?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Like all Brits, whenever he opened his mouth, gusts of hot air blew out.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    He was a special breed of Brit, Alan, got to give him that.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    You mean because he once actually visited a dentist?

  • Costello

    What’s there for Obama to decide? Other than suggest cutting aid until the Hoser steps down, US should just stay out of it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    An anarchistic society as you describe – like ‘true’ communist or libertarian societies – on anything other than a tribal level is wishful thinking. It’s funny how you and others deride my supposed naivete and gullibility, yet you don’t grok this sociological fact.

  • troll

    Glenn – ‘sociological fact’ – what crap – indoctrination more like it

    take your perverse and perverted relationship with your so-called ‘facts’ off my bridge and your shriveled amygdala with it

  • Clavos

    :-)

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Now then, troll, it’s not your bridge, you just nicked it. Play nice now or the evil space dictator will get you!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    troll –

    Then you join Roger with the ‘wishful thinking’ crowd. There were untold millions who did (and still do) believe in the ‘eventuality’ of a communist paradise, whereas there are millions of others who work towards an Ayn Randian libertarian paradise.

    But nature abhors a vacuum…and what is anarchy but a vacuum largely devoid of power? Try to implement such a system…and someone or some organization with a love of power will move in, and that’s it.

    I deal with what’s real, what’s provable. It’s your prerogative to disagree with me – but I’m quite confident that time will prove my point.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Glenn, I’m going to be more polite than “troll” other than to say that your knee-jerk reaction – because you’re not offering anything of substance – doesn’t merit a response. If you’re incensed because I regard you as incapable of independent thought, then I take it back; but I really don’t think you’re in the position to make any contribution to the subject under discussion for as long as you’re merely reacting. So do come again when you’re good and ready.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    In other words, you’re rather annoyed (if not offended) by my opinion of your premise. I effectively say your entire premise is ill-considered and out of touch with reality, and you of course don’t like to hear that.

    To me, a buddy is one who tells you what you want to hear, but a friend is one who tells you what you need to hear. Apparently, you want a buddy. You have no problem with dishing out (usually) constructive criticism and the occasional insult, but you seem to feel that someone who gives you purely constructive criticism without insult in return should not be a part of the discussion.

    I can’t be your buddy, so I’ll bow out. Bye.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I’m neither annoyed, Glenn, nor offended. Just done my best to be courteous since you were kind enough to grace my thread with a comment, that’s all. And I don’t need a “buddy” either because my thinking always is in the process of development; consequently, a worthy opponent is what I need. But sorry to say, the quality of your comment forecloses any discussion, it’s a stopper. So yes, under the circumstances you had better bow out.

  • Boeke

    There is one group in the world that has mastered anarchism and successfully applied it’s principles: the International Corporatocracy.

    By using the Corporate Veil to mask their own activities, they excuse themselves from all responsibility for the acts of the corporation. Indeed, escaping liability is the primary reason for forming a corporation.

    It’s a one-way deal: the owners of the corporation can effect the world but the world cannot effect them.

    Indeed, that intellectual giant Alan Greenspan said that in a free enterprise system fraud is impossible. As the owner of a corporation you can direct policies that, for example, deprive a client of the proceeds and benefits of his insurance policy and not be subject to recourse by the client. It happens every day.

    What could better express the tenets of anarchism than the privileges of modern corporations?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Your airtight argument leaves me virtually speechless, Boeki. In effect, you’re forcing me to go back to the drawing board and rethink the premises of anarchism from scratch, for which I thank you.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I’m reposting your link on this thread, “troll,” since the issues raised are of direct and immediate relevance to the topic at hand:

    “Freedom and Exchange in Communist Cuba”. Excellent analysis, I daresay, though Les Slater would be less than happy.

    Which brings me to the following. I believe it’s part of my argument, tacit as it may be, that the notion of true sovereignty, and of rightful kind of authority, therefore, are attributes which are proprietary (and exclusively so, one might add) to individual persons and only by extension, to their duly authorized agents. In the interest of simplification, I’m bracketing for the time being the more comprehensive view (such as Irene’s). Ergo, the sovereignty of the State, and its authority, is a sovereignty only by extension, i.e., only when duly authorized to act so on behalf of persons. Since the State’s hand, however, by virtue of having to compete with other state, is forced so as to serve its own ends rather than the ends of the persons, it follows that modern statehood is antithetical to the very purposes for which it was designed.

    All I’m doing is rectifying the error of political philosophers who conceived of the institution as though capable of existing in a vacuum as it were. Hence the only logical resolution: do away with individual states, and you’ve done away with the very rationale for individual state to usurp sovereignty and authority which aren’t their to begin with and which have been granted them only provisionally.

    I’m sorry having disappointed you for not developing my thoughts beyond this point, but for the life of me, I can’t see past an administrative body, such as the EU, as providing the framework within which individual communities can more or less thrive. As far as I’m concerned, the condition of there being “only one state” is a brand new concept, totally unlike anything we’re familiar with. In my lexicon, it amounts to there being no state at all.

    If this smacks of neo-Leninism, I have no idea, but I can assure you: I came by it honestly instead of patterning my thinking after the skeletons of the past.

    If you have an inkling about the error of my ways, I’d appreciate hearing from you. Meanwhile, I asked Cindy to provide me with an independent appraisal lest I missed something

  • troll

    Cuban bloggers for the language impaired

    so who’s disappointed?

    the devil will be in the details of your ‘administrative body’ of course – I suspect that any but the most ad hoc organizations will quickly take their positions far too seriously…probably try to make up stories like about the sovereignty of the(ir) law and such-like

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Most certainly. Old myths never die, or at least they’re hard to put to rest. What I’m banking on, the credibility of such narratives will have been sufficiently undercut.

  • troll

    yet we’re going to rely on the narrative of ‘benign administration’…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I haven’t figured my way yet out of this box.

  • troll

    nor have I

    …we get the dunce caps for now

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Perhaps the surest way to proceed is from a strictly local nexus, with full accountability as regard delegation of power, and then expand from the center. Otherwise, we may as well wait for the Kingdom of God to take its proper hold in the running of human affairs.

    Irene should be happy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    It’s precisely at this point, mind you, that I’d be ready to relinquish the reins, not before.

    An allusion, I suppose, to earlier comments about “nuance” and the proper time to bring eschatology into the picture.

  • troll

    …proceed is from a strictly local nexus, with full accountability as regard delegation of power, and then expand from the center.

    this is the Zapatista model that looks to be working on their small scale

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Strictly for the purpose of closure, how is this for size? Theocracy, properly understood as opposed to how it’s been practice, has come closest to representing a “benign administrative system” because again, if properly understood, the “moral law” has been written at large in the hearts of men. That’s the limit of course.

    Now, even Ruvy should be happy for the fact that an earthly philosopher has reached the height of his understanding.

    Forgive me for speaking in code, but there’s no other way of putting it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Bahrain Protests.

    Reportedly,the ruling class offered three thousand dollars per head to stave off the protests. To their dismay, the discontents were well enough to do not to fall for the cheap trick.

    The Arab world is on fire.

  • cindy

    #37 Boeke,

    Not sure how you get anarchy out of privilege. Where in the principles associatedwith anarchism is it suggested that we should have powder to influence but not be affected by? Where is it okay to be in a position to manipulate and use others? Or to skew the rules toward ones favor at the expense of others.

    Anarchism is specifically opposed to those positions.

  • cindy

    Roger. If organization/power comes down from the top it will be a big flop. ;-)

    Silly mood, sorry…

  • troll

    …don’t you mean T_p down?

  • Clavos

    this is the Zapatista model that looks to be working on their small scale

    And it does — on “their small scale.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Cindy, I believe in #45 I provide the necessary corrective. I’m still at my wit’s end, however, when I try to envisage a necessary kind of integration between the diverse communities other than by means of delegation (and proper accountability of course). You may think, of course, that integration is not necessary, in which case you’re substituting one kind of problem for another.

    Your thoughts?

  • cindy

    54 The Zapatistas use delegates. They are: 1) limited to presenting the decisions made at the local level and 2) immediately replaceable by the community.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Sounds good to me.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Excellent analysis, Cindy, an except from Chris Hedges’s book, Death of the Liberal Class, courtesy of Truthdig. It should be a lesson to all BC apologists for the status quo – I shan’t name names for they know who they are – but I don’t hold out much hope. Lukewarm thinking is all they’re capable of.

    Also, try to make it a point to listen to an hourly show by Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!. Here is today’s sample, featuring Noam Chomsky among the many participants:

    today’s show.

    Also, don’t forget Al Jezeera English, live stream, for the kind of news and analysis you’re not likely to get from our lame stream media. Click on the “You Tube” button for uninterrupted, 24/7 coverage.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    And just in case you or “troll” might wonder, the concept of individual sovereignty far from implies the idea of independence, in fact it’s quite compatible with interdependence, a recognition, that is, that we’re all interconnected.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Up With People

    #43, #44: I shall be y’all’s Queen.

    To Do List:

    1) Undercut “divine right of kings” narrative.
    Check. God preferred that we not have kings, because He(KNOWIING HUMAN NATURE) predicted that most would end up taking advantage of their subjects. BUT we must NEEDS have our kings, so God’s been picking out the best of a bad lot for millenia, and recommending them for anointing, although he’d prefer we had no kings. Nothing in there, however, about his being agin’ Queens.

    2)Work on assertiveness skills. Check. Check.

    There.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Up With People: do you really need to be posting under so many names? One might have thought your own was sufficient, unless I am missing something…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Up With People

    I’m gonna go with “you’re missing something.”
    Delete whatever you want.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I don’t want to delete anything, just seeking understanding as always. Feel free to attempt to school me…

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Wind

    Woooooossssshhhhh…

    (get it?)

    :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Clever post, Irene, but you’re operating with an autocratic model in mind, a model on which persons are subjects and need guidance. For elucidation, see #48.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    The following is a transcript of an email from a commenter on another, TD (Truthdig) forum. The handle is “Shenonymous.”

    Feel free to respond to the critique while I’m drafting a response.

    —————————————

    Since it is the topic title in all four of your essays, I was looking for a defense of anarchism and found it missing.

    In reading your essays, I made a sincere effort to do so with an unbiased mind, I wanted to see what it is you see and was not interested in taking a polemic attitude. My first impression is that specifics seem to be absent. You more or less spoke around the subject and not in a definitive way. There is a lot of summarization of different states of things and also what I would call personal ruminations. I was disappointed that you did not elaborate on the model of Eurozone. How will all of what you say actually filter down to the ordinary citizen in America, and then into the world? The harbinger demeanor is still much too vague an idea to get a handle on what it is you are proposing. It looks like you envision larger parceled nation-states, i.e., Oceana (ala Orwell’s 1984), EurAsia, Africanus, Latin/South America. They seem descendents of Thomas More’s Utopia. That is probably a minor issue. But you did not develop it enough to provide an actual approximation of what you mean.

    You stated in your last TD post, “already we’re beginning to see however slight changes in political structures ?more so than in economic ones.” Again, however slight they might be, I’d still like to see what you see for I do not see it. Democracy is certainly on the minds of the greatest revolution in modern time if not ever, Egypt. As I mentioned on another forum, elements of anarchism is glaringly missing from what I call The Peaceful Revolution. With the cascading excitement of protest, none of the other middle eastern countries that are in a arduous and really precarious position have anything on they minds but democratic human rights. It seems to me right now would be the most propitious moment if the socialist/anarchist perspective were to have any traction in the world today. But there are no spokesmen of this allegedly more egalitarian system of national organization. Economic problems of the world are on the brink of beginning to right themselves and the people need to put in place devices that would prevent another near meltdown or complete decimation of the economic systems in the world. With that climb out of the doldrums, I see the world returning to its usual capitalistic economic systematic practices. But I think a huge lesson has been learned. Because I believe that is the economic platform of choice in the minds of the various people of the world, finding positive ways to use capitalism to further the lot of the common person rather than engorge the coffers of the already rich and powerful is the imperative.

    I am still intrigued with the idea of socialized capitalism. It is still very much a hazy program to me and I have to think more on it to see how it could make sense in this world. There is certainly much discontent in the world, and in this country, for change not to be on the dais. I had not thought it could be an abrupt change like what is happening in Egypt. Egypt was a ticking time bomb as are all the repressive other Arab countries that are showing great agitation.

    But I believe Egypt is the new paradigm even for Americans and it is showing in the teachers and unions protests in Wisconsin and students in New York. These are unusual grass roots efforts that along with the publicized courage of the Egyptians will show other Americans that they have the power to change the way their government operates.

    The world might change radically and in a relatively short time after all.

  • Ruvy

    “No countries, no possessions, only a brotherhood of man” What’s so hard to understand? John Lennon was a prophet.

    John Lennon was a drugged out fool admired by millions of drugged out flower children with no brains.

    But no matter how you choose to analyse it, the Sound of the Choo Choo of History is clearly heard coming down the Track – and lots of peanuts have been strown on the track waiting to be turned into peanut butter.

    Sorry, Roger, I never bothered to read your article. It just wasn’t worth my effort, and I’m returning your favor. Nevertheless, the world might change radically and in a relatively short time after all.

  • Clavos

    I couldn’t disagree more with shenonymous when she calls (very prematurely, as it ain’t resolved yet) the recent events in Egypt, “…the greatest revolution in modern time if not ever…,” which is nothing short of absurd.

    Has shenonhymous not heard of the the French and American revolutions?

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Maybe it depends on what you consider modern times, Clavos. For me it would certainly exclude those two…

  • Boeke

    Of course, the Anarchists who rule the global corporatocracy require the services of people to carry the water and hew the wood, but they are easy to recruit, apparently, since there are so many of them. Whether called the mud people, lumpen proletariat, or, as in the USA ‘middle class’ (although they evidence no class at all), they all share hopes of getting table scraps from the aristocracy at the top, so they compete to betray each other.

    The corporatocracy is immune to the laws of man by the nature of their systems of liability avoidance. Thus, freed of restraints by mere men and governments, they seek to be free of the laws of nature and physics, so they seek to avoid death by having their severed heads frozen in liquid nitrogen, and to escape the bonds of earthly gravity by paying millions to go to outer space on a rocket for a few minutes.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I may disagree, Clavos, with parts of her biting critique but I think she’s on target there (the precise definition of “modern times” aside). It’s certainly the most eventful set of events in my lifetime, surpassing IMO the end of the Cold War which still left the general contours of the world more or less intact. Arguably, it’s a toss up.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Roger,

    Some cool ideas for organizing conferences I came across today. You may find them helpful in imagining solutions toward enabling anarchism on a larger scale.

    BarCamp
    Unconference

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Will look it up, Cindy. Temporarily at least, brought Shenonimous into the forum and hopefully, Anarcissie too. So be nice!

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    You want mean ‘ol venomous me to be nice? muahahaha…

    Sure, okay, I will keep things rational and unemotional and ‘anglo-masculine’.

    Anyway, here is the direct site for creating an unconference.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    hmmm, should be: ol’ (my apostrophe is on the wrong side)

  • troll

    …that site has way too much pink in it

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    You mean those of mainstream political persuasion wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I suppose it’s because the kind of heresies espoused here haven’t hit home yet to be concerned with as representing a clear and present danger.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    lol @ troll

    Friends of yours?

  • troll

    geeze…all my relations!

  • Clavos

    Perhaps you and Chris are right, Roger, but shenonymous still is “jumping the gun;” the Egyptian situation is still highly fluid and nowhere near resolution. If, when the dust settles, that country is left with another strongman at the top, or a coalition of say, the Muslim Brotherhood governing, the “revolution” will have accomplished nothing for the people.

    This is not idle speculation; how many times in history have a people overthrown a despot, only to be saddled with another?

  • troll

    Clavos – what they’re twittering from Egypt is that the people now know the way to Liberation Square…time will tell

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    True enough, Clavos, referencing your last paragraph. Still, it’s an incredible accomplishment and it appears to be spreading through the Middle East like wildfire. Only good can come out of it in the long run, the people having being awaken to the despotic rule. And I wouldn’t worry too much about the Muslim Brotherhood, unless my sights were limited at what is commonly perceived as American interests. My position is, it’s their country, so why not let them decide?

  • Clavos

    From what I’ve read about the Muslim Brotherhood, Roger, there would be more than a few Egyptians, particularly among those brave individuals who sought democracy in Liberation Square, who would be unhappy were the Brotherhood to become the ruling authority of Egypt.

    There would be no democracy under their rule.

  • Clavos

    I do agree with you in re the right of the Egyptians to decide their own fate, and am not advocating interference by the USA or any other imperialist power in that decision.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I was well aware of your position on this issue. “Troll” is right in that only the future will tell. At this point, however, I have an emotional investment in characterizing these developments as hopeful.

  • troll

    …it’s hard to be hopeful in the face of the bloodshed in
    Libya right now

    from twitter 10 mins ago: DJMeddi DJ Meddi
    by Tripolitanian
    I Just got a call THEY ARE Killing everyone in Tripoli if you know anyone on the East side, Tripoli needs your help its a massacre!!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    The international community has got to speak loud and clear to put an end to the Gaddafi monster and US complicity.

  • STM

    Al: “Like all Brits, whenever he opened his mouth, gusts of hot air blew out.”

    Lol. I’d concur in part, with the proviso that we always acknowledge the similar failing of our American cousins, who seem to have a wire loose between brain and mouth.

    When they talk, which is long, loud and often, they speak through their arses.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    You’re a tough customer, Shenon. Rather than swallowing the bitter pill, however, let me turn the situation to the best possible advantage in order to clarify what may have been murky. To some of your objections then!

    (1) ”Since it is the topic title in all four of your essays, I was looking for a defense of anarchism and found it missing.”

    I believe I defined anarchism as a viable political philosophy about to emerge in the wake of the eventual demise of the State, filling in the void as it were – a political philosophy whose prime characteristic is the absence of statehood, a condition under which it can properly thrive. In light of the above, a “defense of anarchism” is the underlying topic, however tacitly so.

    (2) “In reading your essays, I made a sincere effort to do so with an unbiased mind, I wanted to see what it is you see and was not interested in taking a polemic attitude. My first impression is that specifics seem to be absent. You more or less spoke around the subject and not in a definitive way. There is a lot of summarization of different states of things and also what I would call personal ruminations.”

    Lest you missed it or simply glossed over parts of the presentation, here are some of the salient, surgically-precise points, if I be allowed to say:

    (a) The State is a defunct institution, destined to its eventual demise by virtue of internal contradictions. It was originally conceived in a political vacuum, as though capable of existing unto itself – a justifiable assumption since the empires of old, ancient Greece or Rome, knew no equal. It stands to reason that the political philosophers of old shared the same limited viewpoint. And as part of that assumption, since the institution of the State was considered unchallenged by any other political entity of note, the State could be thought of as capable of fulfilling its intended function of endowing and defining politics with and in terms of morality (Aristotle).

    (b) This (mis)conception was soon put to rest by proliferation of worldwide conflict whereby states were in a manner of speaking forced to compete with one another, which reality (contrary to the presuppositions and the best intentions of political philosophers) made it impossible for states to act in the best interest of their citizens/subjects by instilling morality into the life of politics. This once-noble project, in the interest of the State’s own survival, was put on the back burner and remained there ever since. The Aristotelian dream, whereby the political represented the pinnacle of human social development and form of association, and the State the final court of appeal in all matters pertaining to universal justice, had come to an abrupt end, again for failure to anticipate the conditions on the ground. It’s the practical thus that ended up to be the undoing of an otherwise perfectly-envisaged abstract concept: it rendered it unusable for the purposes intended and ridden instead with internal contradictions between high expectations, on the one hand, and what it could actually deliver on the other.

    (c) The institution of statehood received a new lease on life through the writings of Thomas Hobbes and followers, but it was no longer fired by the classical, Aristotelian idea of morality as constituting the heart and soul of politics. With the exception of Rousseau and parts of Locke perhaps, the predominant idea behind the institution, it’s raison d’être, was the imputation of sovereignty (and by extension, of authority) by fiat. (The euphemistic way of putting it was in terms of the reference to “social contract,” a turn of phrase which to this day has proven to exhibit extraordinary longevity.) Since the sovereignty and the authority of the Church in all matters pertaining to life and death were undergoing rapid erosion, it was necessary to devise a surrogate in which to vest those very qualities in the interest of maintaining the established order of things. It thus fell upon the State, a totally secular institution, to fill the vacuum made possible by the dwindling authority and sovereignty of the Church. Mind you, however, that in addition to being afflicted with selfsame conditions on the ground, of having to compete, that is, with institutions of more or less equal power and stature, the State no longer carried the old promise of guaranteeing (and fulfilling the desire for) universal justice: its primary reason for being was effectively reduced to that of mere survival; and only secondarily, if and when the circumstances allowed, to matters of justice. It is thus that the Greek ideal, for all intents and purposes, has virtually disappeared from modern political landscape. And in the absence of that ideal, what remained of the State’s once-intended function has also been reduced to that of self- maintenance or self-preservation.

    (d)It follows that the State can no longer be counted upon to serve the cause of social and universal justice but represents in fact the greatest obstacle to attaining those ends. Even the economic system in place, exploitative as it may be – and the capitalist system of production has no equal – is less of an evil than the State itself for the simple reason that the State is committed to making full use of whatever resources at its disposal to secure its comparative advantage (and the economic system in place is without a doubt one of its most important resources). Hence, striking at the economic system in order to alleviate some of the social injustices is tantamount to barking the wrong tree, for in addition to encountering the usual and expected opposition from the captains of industry, one will have the State itself to contend with as the staunch defender of the economic order. It’s in this singular respect that Marx was off the mark, in underestimating the vital role of the State in preserving the economic order. It’s not through abolishing that order that the State will wither away, as he had imagined, but vice versa. The State itself must be struck down and obliterated since it is the root of all evil: once done, the economic relations will right themselves anew.

    Now, Shenon, I believe these are fairly novel if not original points; to say the least, I haven’t encountered anything like that in any of my readings. And when so put together, they form the structure of my argument.

    In the following post, I’ll tend to the remainder of your critique.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    An addendum to the above.

    One should mention the last-ditch, metaphysical efforts of Hegel to endow the State with its originally conceived glory by dressing it in the garb of the spiritual. It was a departure from Hobbes and a valiant attempt to return to the politics of Aristotle. It is here that Marx, Hegel’s disciple, took the wrong turn by focusing his attention on matters strictly economic. Had he challenged Hegel straight on, as he ought to, this brilliant presentation by yours truly would have been an old hat and the history of the world might have taken a slightly different turn, but we shan’t speculate.

    So here you are, Shenon, a history of Western political thought in a nutshell! – in under five minutes or less.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    In regard to utopian thought in general, let me cite a selection by Ursula K LeGuin, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” courtesy of Anarcissie.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    A response from Shenonymous to #89 et al.

    I’m still working my way through the four essays. Roger, I can see you fervently believe what you wrote. Keeping that in mind, it seems governments are not some kind of sheet that is thrown over “We The People.” They are not bestowed unless it is a feudal monarchy. Rather, We The People create our government. There is no such entity called Government that swoops down from the sky and announces itself even if it seems that it does. If a government become oppressive, tyrannical, such as feudal monarchies more often than not do but other forms of government do as well, such as Soviet communism, and lasts that way for a long time, it is due to any number of reasons. Then a rebellion usually happens, even if it is centuries in coming. Reindoctrination can be very slow in coming. I do not see democracy as inimical to the people. Just the opposite, oppression is and oppression also comes in many forms. It can be a pernicious development without the people who may not be conscious enough or educated to notice as it happens. I think that is the way it usually happens.

    A society of people and its government are created simultaneously. I’ not sure at what point a collective become a state, as there are a variety of idiosyncrasies that could be descriptive of a state. No two in the world are alike and I would find it interesting and relevant to describe their samenesses and differences.

    Not meaning to be hypercritical in reading the essays, it is just that my critical thinking training and long involvement with philosophy has made me always look for tight and thorough argument. Premises and conclusions need to have a coherence and solid grounding. Too often good thoughts are vitiated because too much is assumed and thought to be understood. In Plato for instance, Socrates always paused the dialogue to make sure the primary characters had equal understanding, that they were speaking the same language, that terms were well agreed to, and he sought consensus as they went along. He always took pains to explain what he meant and referenced his arguments. I am always jarred by leaps of logic.

    In Part I, when you say “the state is a defunct institution destined to its eventual demise by virtue of internal contradictions,” you do not give any example or reason. It appears as a dogmatic statement arising out of a pre-conditioned notion of what you want to use as the bricks of your viewpoint. This is largely the force of your treatise.

    When discussing such topics of real importance, I like to go slow so that missing the mark of real understanding happens and not just a nodding head consensus because of the gravity of the topic or because it is thought it makes sense. I want to know that it makes sense and why. My experiences have shown me that people are too impatient to get to conclusions. I think that presents an obstacle to truth. I don’t want “a” truth, I want “the” truth. I think that kind of exploration is methodically painful especially if an opinion is already fast n one’s mind. I don’t mind prodding exploration, I look forward to it. And like I said, I am not into polemics just for the thrill of it or to be testy. For instance, how can I determine what you say is true when it has all the features of a personal opinion or conclusion? I think ego embroiders many blog essays, then a defensive posture is posed preventing the avenue to true enlightenment leaving only a world of opinion mistaken for truth. I am forever asking those who make grandiloquent statement to provide references or reasons why I or anybody else ought to believe their beliefs or judgments. I often get into trouble with the egotisticals, since pet theories are overly valued, are grasped dearly and I am often berated in their defensiveness. Perhaps it is the scientist in me that says all theories are up for testing. Again, Socrates described it as seeing if ideas are wind-eggs (farts). I am no longer surprised to read people who like to be cute and live on that reputation, who show claws or fangs of sharp remarks. Personally I want to know if what I believe or think is full of shit. I am willing to work along with someone who genuinely wants to further truth and excise the crap that might be in my head.

    I have not yet seen what you think are the virtues of anarchy and how it would work in an ethnically and values diverse country of precisely 310,891,408 accessed 2/26/11 at about 3:13 am, there is one birth every 7 seconds and one death every 11 seconds. Birth has the edge. I gave this statistic of the United States since this is the biggest example of an experiment where anarchy is allegedly to be the best form of government or state whichever term you prefer.

    Isn’t anarchy also a political construct? You say in Part I the state is a real construct. In what way is it real if it is a construct? Is it like a building? Is there anywhere you can stand and point to it and say, “C’est l’état !” This is the State!? Abstract terms like the state or the corporation are merely convenient ways to talk about a faceless aggregate.

    There is much more to mine out in the four essays. It is not that I have misread or glossed over parts of the essays. I am reading them with all seriousness. You stated that you “defined anarchism as a viable political philosophy about to emerge in the wake of the eventual demise of the State, filling in the void as it were, a political philosophy whose prime characteristic is the absence of statehood, a condition under which it can properly thrive.” I did not find that definition in the essay Part I, which was partly my complaint that it was not defined early in the treatise. You do say in Part II “In the closing segment of this three-part series, I will lay out the foundations of anarchism as a political philosophy, the only viable political philosophy for our times.” It is a bit odd to find a definition in the conclusion of a treatise. It inductively proceeded then from an assumption to a conclusion. And you do not define it in Part III. So we do in fact have to wait until Part IV, Conclusion. Yet when I go to Part IV, it is not found there either! Where is it? Exactly? Am I to glean it out of the essay as tacitly expressed? I obviously need some help.

    I will take your definition as it appears in your reply #89 to my post #65 you printed on the website. I will deal with that next time and hopefully the rest of your texts. But please be patient as I have a lot on my plate. I know, it is a plate I’ve constructed, but it is as real as your state! (interjecting some humor here)

    Regarding the utopian: I replied to the LeGuin reference on TD and it more or less said:

    Le Guin’s story is in many ways a beautiful idea. The setting of Omelas can be described only as a city of incredible splendor, a place where there is unsurpassable prosperity, sui generis, and of course unimaginable joy. As with all Brave New Worlds, there was a price for it all. For Omelas to remain so splendid and the people happy, a boy must be kept, perpetually, in a filthy basement. He is mentally handicapped and deeply terrified of two brooms that are leaning against the basement’s wall, and only as long as he is there and no one, absolutely no one may speak with him, will our splendid Omelas remain the perfect city that it is. For one’s utopian dream, what has to be sacrificed for others? One’s dream may not, most likely not, be any others.

    What does the sacrificial boy represent? It is said that Myanmar is the happiest country, anarchical, run by a military junta. Right there I would argue that it is not anarchical if run by a military junta! But leaving that aside, the people of Myanmar offer only smiling faces. They seem to be the happiest people on earth. But are they really? I know the U.S. and England do not accept the changed name from Burma. Perhaps their child soldiers are the boy in the cellar? Some of us are always so quick to demean and reduce our worth of character when in the world Amnesty International even though it condemns America’s Guantanamo, there are even worse scandalous treatment of human beings in the rest of the world. What kind of utopias are promised to them? What do they have to barter for it? Estonia’s language laws? Or Zimbabwe’s practice of food distribution? Can these poor wretches even barter anything if they have nothing? It seems to me that Le Guin is making a inciseful criticism of utopia.

  • troll

    …mining wind eggs of ‘egotisticals’ for intuitive leaps of logic holds promise

    the Socratic dream of a reasoned world remains unfulfilled – one need only look at murder war starvation stats for evidence – and not for lack of trying

    …not that it isn’t a cool technique – an experience not unlike walking down a garden path

    Rog…a statement of what you mean by ‘anarchism’ would be useful

    1 death every 11 seconds in the US and 1 every 4 seconds from starvation alone worldwide

    what’s wrong with this picture?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I think the definition is an emerging one, “troll.” What you’re asking for is a description of a future situation before we get there. It’s not exactly as though the unfolding of history always or necessarily follows in every single respect preconceived patterns, however logically sound. I should hope so, because resolving of contradictions, a logical enterprise in one sense, has a way of eventually manifesting itself in the turn of human events. Still, I’m trying to be respectful of the vagaries of history and the force of the unexpected or unpredictable, and keep thus the required kind of tension (and balance).

    My first impression is, Shenon is somehow conflating, or failing to appreciate the distinction between, a historical and logical analysis. There are important overlaps or areas of intersection, to be sure. The trick is to recognize the general principle and its many applications.

  • troll

    I hesitate to take a completely wait-and-see attitude

    why should one think that an anti-hierarchic non-domination based administering agency will emerge?

    why won’t another totalitarian structure develop and function ‘viably’ for a significant time?

    how about some boundaries of what anarchism might look like to serve as a ‘compass’ for folks on the ground

    shoot – even capitalists call themselves anarchists these days

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    (1) I don’t believe “wait-and-see” is an accurate description of my methodology and general line of attack; if anything, only a recognition that even the best plans may fall short of the mark.

    (2) It has already emerged, sort of, in the political/economic realities of the EU, however imperfectly so. (At present, I have nothing else to go by, on a large scale). Admittedly, the face of such large-scale organizations would have to undergo significant makeshifts in order to qualify. In time.

    (3) That’s a tough one, but the push towards decentralization of power is part of the picture.

    (4) Capitalism, too, will assume a different face in the absence of the main institution supporting it, the State.
    Generally speaking, I see it as a simple matter of problem solving, a kind of activity we humans aren’t strangers to. Though presented under idealistic, logical garb of pointing out the inconsistencies and contradictions inherent in what may have been at first a perfectly conceived concept – the State – the resolution of those inconsistencies and contradictions will take the form of a practical solution – and that can only mean doing away with the State. The practical will eventually follow the logical.

    We have ample examples from the past that such is the march of history.

  • Anarcissie

    I think states and governments are specific social constructs which evolved in previously-existing communities; I don’t know of any evidence that shows that communities and governments are always coexistent.

    By ‘government’ I mean specifically a permanent institution of social coercion, not something like ‘the traditions and mores of the tribe’. I think there is a good deal of anthropological evidence that humans not very different from ourselves lived without the benefit of government as I define it for most of the time they have been on earth. By ‘state’ I mean the dependent institutions which grow up around the government. (For more on this see http://www.1freeworld.org/govandstate_az31.html)

    If we understand government and the state as a positive, indeed, violently aggressive assertion made against a very different preceding and evidently viable social order, then I think the shoe of justification is on the other foot: it is up to fans of government to justify it. This is, of course, a reverse of the usual terms of the argument, where anarchists are made to start from the position of being senseless rebels against a manifest and eternal order.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Exactly my point, Anarcissie. As I am about to point out to Shenon, the very concept of “government” has become corrupted by association with that of the State. And as such, it’s no longer credible.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Except for the order. I would think the State is a primary concept, the government a secondary one. One couldn’t speak of a “government” in absence of the State.

  • Anarcissie

    How about the Mongols? They collected tribute from various states, communities, tribes, and in that sense ‘governed’ them, but did not usually bother to erect a state. If you saw Alexander Nevsky, these are the people A.N. is dealing with at the beginning of the film, and who offer him a job (which he turns down), before he goes off to fight the Teutonic Knights, who were trying to found a state in what is now the Baltic States. I think Eisenstein was being more or less anthropoligically correct, maybe even historically accurate.

    My guess is that the earliest forms of government were raiding parties who exacted tribute from tribespeople, and only later enslaved them, which would necessitate fixed, fortified encampments, slave pens, repositories for weapons and food, and other peripheral accessories — the state.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Interesting progression, from a tribal, nomadic lifestyle and mode of organization to one which is sedentary (corresponding perhaps to a transition from a hunting-gathering to an agriculture-based economy).

    The Teutonic Knights offer an interesting, intermediary type of example in being the secular arm of the Holy Roman Empire which, just like any empire, was bend on conquest. Without some such tangible expression and manifestation of power, the authority of the Church, though rarely questioned throughout the Christendom, was (shall we say?) ephemeral and dependent on papal diplomacy which consisted of being able to play one kingdom against another in order to exercise its will. Those kingdoms/powers weren’t states qua states just yet because they couldn’t claim sovereignty, the essential ingredient, which was still firmly anchored in the Church. Which is why I’m inclined to reserve the status of full-fledged statehood for a through-and-through secular institution having a sovereign sway over a well-defined territorial domain and the populace therein. And on this operational definition, such sovereignty wasn’t possible while the Church still held valid claims to it. Only with the waning of the authority and the influence of the Church the State came into being.

    Same with “government.” The term had come to be so closely associated with statehood that when we think of government, we think of a legal arm of the State (not just of “management” or an administrative system).

    So I suppose we have two kinds of analysis, historical (which is what Shenon was looking for) and linguistic. I contend that State is a very sophisticated concept and the mere fact that a number of historical forms may bear certain resemblance to what we today understand by “the state” doesn’t make them so. In short, the birth of the state had to await its conception (which isn’t to say there wasn’t a progression of sorts which paved the way for the eventual formation of a full-blown concept).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Your thoughts?

  • Anarcissie

    Wikipedia has a reasonable take on the etymology of the word state and its conceptual development. The concept seems mainly to have been developed in the modern era (that is, after 1400). However, this does not mean states had not existed for a long time previous to that time; for instance, we speak of the city-states of the ancient world. These indeed had governments and other permanent institutions and a structure of social relations ordered by laws. It seems to me the main new development in the modern era, beginning I guess in the 16th or 17th century, was the idea of the total state; before then I take it ruling classes were not very concerned with the details of the lives of those they ruled unless they impinged directly on their interests. At a certain point, however, totalitarian claims on the people begin to occur. Take public schools: the idea of setting up a universal system of compulsory education paid for out of taxes, to which every single child is subject, would have astonished people only a few centuries ago, but now they are an assumption and a lack of them deemed barbarity.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Beyond etymology (since I’m in the business of re-writing and when need be, perfecting the dictionaries).

    The popularity of the term “city-state,” patterned after the polis, derives no doubt from contrast with “nation-states,” and it’s a useful comparison in that both share important characteristics: a measure of autonomy, self-governance, a set of laws, a measure of territorial and ethnic/cultural integrity – generally speaking, a level of sophistication we moderns can appreciate and relate to. And yet … the Greek cities, except for Athens perhaps, and Sparta, weren’t stable enough as “stand-alones” unless they entered coalitions. In fact, it wasn’t until the Delian League under the Athenian leadership was formed that the Persian invader has been turned away and we can speak of the Athenian Empire. So “permanency” is one of the characteristics (“satellite states” is an extended and derivative meaning).

    Rome presents a different case. I suppose we can speak of “the Roman State,” but the Roman Empire is the most prevalent usage. It might be fruitful to inquire why. My gut feeling is that except for the city of Rome, the seat of the government, and the immediate provinces, the integrations of the rest (of what came to comprise the Roman Empire) took the form of colonization. (Augustus was a visionary and his program of taxation and civil service approximates the kind of outreach modern states are known for, while Alexander the Great aimed even higher.) So “integration appears to be another characteristic. Which is why I suspect that nation-states represent the paradigm of statehood – ethnic and cultural bond – whereas the EU, to cite one example, a form of departure. And yet, both the Athenian and the Roman Empires were endowed with their respective “governments,” most notably so during the Octavian rule.

    You speak of re-emergence of the statehood form in Europe after 1400, and full blossoming in the 16th or 17th century. I would place it with the times of Thomas Hobbes (not Machiavelli, the Italian city-states being but a replica of the Greek ones).

    Another thing of note: neither the ancient Greece nor Rome faced the Church as the sovereign and the source of (ultimate?) authority. Hence my argument that only with breaking from the Church that the institution of the State comes of age and becomes sophisticated and mature. Prior to then, we had only types.

    Speaking of sophistication, you’re touching on Foucauldian themes. The totalitarian outreach of modern nation-states in terms of establishing systems of uniform education, health/sex practices, criminal justice, imprisonment – all are means of social control. By the same token, they’re also the “desirable” objectives of liberal democracies.

    A double whammy!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    OK, Shenon, let’s deal with your first objection,

    You say, “… it seems governments are not some kind of sheet that is thrown over “We The People.” They are not bestowed unless it is a feudal monarchy. Rather, We The People create our government. There is no such entity called Government that swoops down from the sky and announces itself even if it seems that it does. If a government becomes oppressive, tyrannical, such as feudal monarchies more often than not do but other forms of government do as well, such as Soviet communism, and lasts that way for a long time, it is due to any number of reasons. Then a rebellion usually happens …”

    It seems to me you’re still operating within the confines defined by the dogma of classical political thought and liberal democracies which have sprung as a result – American version, I daresay, since “We The People is a dead giveaway. In support of your argument, you cite earlier versions, a “feudal monarchy,” for instance, claiming thus that all of a sudden, we moderns have been freed of all dogma and ideology that has been the trademark of all societal organizational forms of the past. (Let’s not forget here that the so-called “feudal monarchy” was ideologically grounded in the divine right of Kings,) Granted, the notion of “social contract” whereby “We The People” bestow the government with all its vested powers is an improvement and an attractive idea to boot, especially to the modern mind, but that doesn’t make it ideologically free. Why? Since the notion of sovereignty is proprietary (quality) to individual persons; consequently, any act of relinquishing that sovereignty (of and conferring authority, which comes part and parcel) to an agency outside the individual, however “legal” or sound on paper, is a myth. It may be a pretty myth, but it’s still a myth. (All myths, if they’re to survive, must be pretty.) Only a system that’s based on the sovereignty of the individual (free will) is not a myth: granted, a dogmatic type of statement, but it will serve for the purpose of making the required kind of distinction. (By “sovereignty” I don’t mean here no recognition of interdependence: no person is an island.)

    Apart from these general considerations, the myth of “social contract” suffers from conditions on the ground – the State’s inability to deliver according to the terms of the contract. It could do so, ideally, if it were a sovereign unchallenged – a precondition which guided its conception. Then and only then it could devote all its energies and wherewithal to administration of justice, unencumbered by other concerns. The political reality, however, of having been forced to compete in the international arena with other states of pretty much the same stature – my main thesis! – makes the State, as a political institution of first order, uniquely unfit to discharge its originally intended function of bringing justice and morality into the land. It’s uniquely handicapped in this respect, and replacing one government with another – whether by means of an open rebellion or legal means such as elections – is but window dressing because the malaise is systemic and traceable to the very institution which, in spite of the best intentions on the part of the founders, was conceived as though capable of existing in a virtual political vacuum marked by the conspicuous absence of honest-to-goodness competition. A fatal flow and – I hate to sound like a broken record – the undoing of an otherwise perfectly workable political construct.

    In the last part you say, “then a rebellion usually happens …” Indeed, we’re seeing it in Cairo, in Libya, and in Wisconsin. Let’s not forget though. Liberal democracies are a fairly recent development, yet already we’re beginning to see the cracks and fissures. More and more people are getting dissatisfied with their government, any government. The US is a perfect example, the Tea Party yesterday, Wisconsin today. It’s only a matter of time when the realization sinks in that no government can function under the present setup.

    (2) “A society of people and its government are created simultaneously. I’ not sure at what point a collective become a state, as there are a variety of idiosyncrasies that could be descriptive of a state. No two in the world are alike and I would find it interesting and relevant to describe their samenesses and differences.”
    See preceding comments whereby I speak to the relationship between the government and the State and to the evolution of full-fledged concept of statehood from lesser forms (types).

    This should do for now except for saying I disagree with your reading of Ms Le Guin’s parable. I see it as a criticism of a pseudo-utopia. Some people are leaving Omelas because they can’t accept the proposition that their relative happiness is predicated on however slight or insignificant suffering of even one individual (but at this point this is not germane to our discussion). If I failed to address some of your concerns, please let me know. Meanwhile, I’ll re-read your response and see whether I missed anything myself. You’re packing a whole bunch into your criticism. It would be much easier (for me) to have to respond on a point by point basis, one point at a time.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    The closing segment of an interview with Prof. Horace Campbell on Democracy Now! March 2 show:

    “It is precisely because the Western strategic thinkers understand the potential for revolution in Saudi Arabia, along with all over the Arabian Peninsula, why it is urgent for them to intervene in North Africa, because from the time of Cleopatra right down through the Nazis in Germany, the occupation of Libya, right next to Egypt, was strategically important for access to North Africa and Arabia. So the strategic thinkers in Washington, in London, in Paris and Brussels are considering that with the impending isolation of Israel, with revolutionary processes all over Arabia and North Africa, it is very important for the West to have a foothold.

    “It is in this very moment they need ways to divert the working peoples of North America and Western Europe from the practice of capitalism. As we’ve seen in Wisconsin, the workers in Wisconsin gained confidence, gained support, gained courage from the peoples of Egypt. We’ve seen signs where the people say they’re standing up for their rights. In moments like these, when the Governor of Wisconsin is cutting back on expenditure on health, on education, for the poor, and the Pentagon is spending over a trillion dollars in its budget, it is times like these that the conservative forces need to whip up a new militarism in the United States of America to divert attention from the struggles of the working peoples, from students, from women, from the youth, who are against the capitalist system as it exists. We are in the midst of the most intense capitalist crisis since 1930s. This struggle internationally is a struggle against capitalism.”

    On another key note from the show, the protests in Iraq against the corrupt government received a silent treatment by the Western media and Western powers – a testimonial to the kind of “democratic” regimes we’re in the habit of installing.

  • Anarcissie

    Hobbes stands at the outset of liberalism, the anti-Locke.

    And liberalism certainly came to imply the total state, summed up very succinctly by Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address: ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people'; that is, the total involvement of the entire population in the state, in state relations like governance, both as governors and subjects. No one escapes. Lincoln’s mystical view of the Union is well known. It sometimes makes me wonder if he had read Hegel: ‘Es ist der Gang Gottes in der Welt…’, the state as a sort of godlike hyperbeing. And his definition was uttered appropriately in the midst of one of the modern era’s first total wars, if you don’t count the extermination of the Indians.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Great post, Anarcissie. You’re making me rethinking Hobbes. I like William E. Connolly’s” account in Political Theory & Modernity.

    Are you suggesting that Locke’s view of liberalism was less encompassing? I’d tend to agree, but what were his measures to fight off the totalizing effects of the state?

  • Anarcissie

    I haven’t read Locke thoroughly enough to recall his suggestions as to political forms. Perhaps we could rely on Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers, who virtually quoted Locke in the Declaration of Independence, and seem to have applied Lockean ideas to the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. The government was to be inhibited by the famed ‘checks and balances’ and warned off some areas outright. It is also divided vertically into three supposedly independent branches, and horizontally as well, so all the parts can impede one another. The one thing they could be counted on to unite in defense of was property. I would expect to find something in Locke pointing in this direction.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    You might want to check the following out, Anarcissie.

    “William Connolly – Capital Flows, Sovereign Practices and Global Resonance Machines,”, a lecture by Connollly at Watson Institute for International Studies.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    William E. Connolly’s home page.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski
  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Another book of note, also from Google Books, The EU’s Role in World Politics A Retreat from Liberal Internationalism.

    Description:

    “Debates on EU foreign policy have been dominated by two opposing schools of argument. One includes a broad range of work that extols the virtues of a European liberal concept of power and the other sees the EU’s commitment to cosmopolitan liberalism and soft power as a sign of weakness rather than strength.

    This book judges the EU on its own terms as a liberal power, examining its policy record, rather than simply asserting that the EU’s liberal commitments in themselves denote either a superior or inferior foreign policy approach. Youngs argues that the challenges facing Europe’s role in the world appear to be in its retreat from liberal internationalism through a series of case studies on policy areas: trade, multilateral diplomacy, security, development cooperation, democracy and human rights, and energy security. Presenting detailed evidence that show the EU is moving away from cosmopolitan strategy, Youngs asserts that Europe needs to reassess its foreign policies if it is to defend the kind of liberal world order necessary for its own and other countries’ long term interests.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Interesting excerpt from the introduction to book linked to in #112:

    “In normative terms, sovereignty involves a state’s right to govern itself, to shape its own destiny, and this is definitely constrained by the notion of universal rights; some states, for example, in the European Union(EU), have accepted this constraint and internalized international standards – but others, especially in Asia, but also including for most purposes the United States, have rejected the idea on the basis that self-determination (let alone constitutional and responsible government) requires a strong doctrine of sovereignty.” page xii

    This is of import because some sort of federation is the most likely geopolitical structure that will emerge if we’re ever to move away from the present notion of nation-states as bearers of “absolute sovereignty.” Hence the relevant question: in what respects the United States, the federation, differs from, say, the EU? One natural answer which suggests itself has to do with the origins. The US was conceived under different circumstances and for different purposes. The formation of the union to function as one sovereign state could be said to figure in as the main objective. Hence the relationship between federal law/legislation and federal powers to state-issued legislation and powers is markedly different from that obtaining in the case of the EU.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Another interesting excerpt from the aforementioned text:

    “Instead of providing an idealized conception of sovereignty to hold up against its critics, we pursue a different task. We show that our central concern is the possibility for politics. This emphasis give us good reason to appreciate the constraints of sovereignty, but also good grounds to judge theoretical and practical alternative to the sovereign state. That is to say, alternatives must be assessed by the extent to which they expand our political and moral horizons in international affairs. (my italics, page 2)

    Fair enough, but this opening statement displays a built-in bias. To wit, in selecting “international affairs” as the overriding context within which to evaluate the possibility for sovereign-free politics, the authors beg the question by assigning positive value to the state of international affairs under current practice. The object of investigating the possibility of politics without sovereignty ought to aim at envisaging the future contours of “international affairs” under (radically) new conditions (rather than taking the existing conditions for granted and assigning them positive value).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    William Connolly on “resonance machines,” an example.

  • Shenonymous

    I guess I am a beast as per your last email!

    My interests are only in “right” thinking and if that is a long and winding road, then so be it. You say, be reactive! Speak from the gut. Being reactive is not what I consider as thinking reasonably. It allows irrational emotional restlessness to override the truth.

    I don’t have a comprehensive worldview, or a set of coherent ideas, nor do I have any hidden goal. The only one I have with respect to this blog is to see whether what you claim has any verity.

    If I have an ideology it is closest to the liberal one. The history of people has shown a constant conflict between liberty and order. Of course I value my freedom and liberty. But there are limits I realize that are by the very nature of the society in which I choose to live that are essential to maintain order and justice.

    I do not believe in the sanctity of the individual. I am a social animal, evolved that way right from the beginning of human life. Evolution does not produce one individual, it produces a population. And as I see it, if that population is to survive, which is the basic imperative, individuals who cognize their individuality must train themselves to cooperate.

    I am not procrastinating participating in this blog. I am struggling. Most of the beliefs I’ve come to have about living in a society from the time I was child to now as an older adult have definitely been challenged. Discussing these issues with those who have a definite one perspective that in my gut feels not quite right I am finding very difficult. I need to bow out of conversation so that I may find more information so that I can come to some better understanding of what is the reality of the world I live in. There is a lot I can say, a lot to which I can react, have “gut” feelings about but that does not ease my discomfort that I simply do not know enough to speak intelligibly. I’ve written pages and pages of my thoughts and have tried to coalesce them, distill them into some articulate form and at this time I find I cannot.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Shenon, that was only a figure of speech, endearingly so, I had hoped. Sorry you took it the wrong way.

    And btw, look at the excerpt linked to in #112. IMO, it provides a context for the discussion.

  • troll

    Shenonymous – our traditional catechisms as expressed in #117 are suspect

    consider for example your Being reactive is not what I consider as thinking reasonably. It allows irrational emotional restlessness to override the truth.

    my experience with systems is that ‘reactivity’ based on ‘irrational emotional restlessness’ – an aesthetic experience – is an invaluable tool in the search for proof – which leads me to question the validity of an absolutist rational/irrational juxtaposition

    …it’s usefulness as a rule for governing the progression of thought is limited as there’s an ‘interpenetration’ even at this seemingly basic level of ‘contradiction’

    ymmv

    The history of people has shown a constant conflict between liberty and order.

    is it any wonder that a history written by barbarians [technical term for folks who are trained to willfully bracket their empathy] would be a history of conflict?

    …just a couple of responses from this swine to your pearls

  • Anarcissie

    Connolly’s essay on the link or ‘resonance’ between Evangelicals and (certain) business-interest rightists seemed short on evidence.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    What would count as evidence in presenting a case like that? Max Weber’s classic was the original thesis, and I think Connolly improves on it. Besides, I think the very idea of a resonance mechanism that’s intriguing here and deserving of further thought, regardless of this or that application. And let’s not dismiss the idea of resentment which fuels the notion.

    Considering you’re pessimistic about the human condition and all attempts to rise above it, I should think you’d embrace Connolly’s notion of a mechanism. Speaking for myself, I find it depressing.

  • Anarcissie

    Connolly’s abstract ideas are reasonable, I suppose, but they need to be grounded in evidence obtained from real-life evangelicals and capitalists. Here’s another, simpler theory: rich people buy off leaders of various political factions, so that it appears that every faction supports whatever the rich people like. Evidence: records of political contributions, continuity of government policy despite changes of party and rhetoric.

  • Shenonymous

    Meaning to revisit sooner, this week was spring break, and I’m sad it is over today, the first day of spring, but squeezing my life into my life, I found some time to devote to this forum, about which I am very interested and I apologize I was not able to apportion more time. As all of you probably know, life is full of distractions. So with this mea culpa,…

    I will start with looking at Roger’s comments at #94 where he says, “ My first impression is, Shenon is somehow conflating, or failing to appreciate the distinction between, a historical and logical analysis. There are important overlaps or areas of intersection, to be sure. The trick is to recognize the general principle and its many applications.

    To better understand what you mean, would you please make the distinction between “the general principle” you are talking about and one or two of its applications. And where do you see the overlapping of an historical and logical analysis and how I am conflating the two?

    To begin to address your comments at #105, I would say that more than disbelief, I understand the utopian political program anarchism to be a “doctrine” that urges the abolition of government or governmental restraint as an indispensable condition for full social and political liberty and that anarchists advocate the use of violence to undermine any established government. I don’t know anyone who would not want justice to have free sway in their society, whether or not they have it. It seems justice is the only way to have a society succeed. When you say they “must raise up the despairing, and by all means in its power lead them back to their lost faith in society.” Where do you find this despairing situation? And if there is such, how do you propose the “raising up” is to take place. Will just a few armed anarchists like Timothy McVeigh be enough of a squad to at start a firestorm? But first don’t you have to make sure it is really what the people who is being championed want?

    I think you may have misunderstood what I was saying when I mentioned feudal monarchy, I meant that participatory governments are not imposed as they would be under feudal monarchies. While I have not forgotten that feudal monarchy encompassed the Divine Right of Kings, I am not sure what is your point here. I did not say nor even imply that all of a sudden moderns have been freed from all dogma and ideology…

    As you know, sovereignty may apply to states as well as individuals.

    Sorry troll (at #119), I am not able to follow what you mean here. What aesthetically irrational experiences did you have that yielded proof and proof of what?

    As an absolutist rationalist, I find the aesthetically irrational useful only in the pursuit and creation of art.

    Before I can make any conclusive assessment of anarchism I believe there must be a sturdy understanding of freedom because anarchism is all about absolute freedom and everything else follows from the premise that personal freedom is the primary state of human life. If I do not have that correct, I’m sure you will correct my lens on this observation. So I propose that the definition of freedom, after Steiner, is the power to determine action and thought without restraint. I go further to say that individual freedom is a mental construct because in nature individuals are not created as individual but are created as part of a group. A society, in a manner of speaking, is a natural phenomenon. Once humans developed consciousness of their individuality is when morality also developed for then awareness of being one of a group and how one behaved towards others and others behaved towards the one becomes tantamount to living harmoniously thereby promoting the health of the species. This evolutionist view leads me to a perspective on rights which I will devote spend some time on in my next visit to the forum.

    I look forward to any discussion. Too bad the site does not have a notification feature such as is found on websites as Truthdig.

  • Anarcissie

    This site has notification through RSS.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Good to know, Anarcissie. I was just going to contact the management.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    @123,

    OK, Shenon, let’s start with the Logical/conceptual- vs. historical analysis distinction.

    My presentation in the four-part series on anarchism was in essence a conceptual analysis/deconstruction of the concept of modern statehood, taking rightly or wrongly Thomas Hobbes as the progenitor of the concept. Thomas Hobbes presents his argument on behalf of the institution in terms of his metaphysical/conceptual system – which includes nominalist philosophical position in vogue at the time, and invents in the process a theory of the subject. However, there are also historical forces/motives at work which render Thomas Hobbes’s ideas ripe for their time – the general decline of the authority of the Church, the Cromwellian era which followed the decapitation of the English king, etcetera. The need to anchor absolute sovereignty (and authority) in the modern institution of the State was made viable and ripe for historical reasons. Yet Hobbes was a philosopher, not a polemicist, and he doesn’t justify his concept in terms of those reasons but in terms of his own metaphysical/philosophic system which he constructs for the purpose.

    For an example of the kind of interplay between the historical and the conceptual, see the end of part III, in particular my reference to R. G. Collingwood.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Let me take a stab at paragraph 2, if I understand it correctly.

    (a) I don’t advocate the abolishing of governments by violent means (though I recognize the actions of people who do as responses to the culture of terrorism exercised by the state); my argument is that states will fall of their own accord. Their influence, as far as I can see, is already on the wane (as exemplified, for instance by the developments in Libya, as well as the very fact that the action taken against that rogue state is undertaken by a UN resolution, the court of the international community, that is. So think of anarchism on my terms of presentation. Let’s forget old associations.

    (b) the state’s sovereignty is granted it (John Locke’s idea) by the consenting subjects, and can be withdrawn at will. You’re arguing for it while presupposing ideal conditions. Well, my argument is that those conditions no longer obtain (if they ever did), because in the real world, given inter-state competition for prestige, resources, etc., the states have because entities all their own, forced to be moved more by their own interests (which includes survival) than by the interests of their subjects and justice.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    The penultimate paragraph.

    (a)I don’t believe that my concept of anarchism entails that notion of freedom, let alone any kind of freedom conceived as an absolute (right?) In fact, it has always been sound policy, IMO, and sound thinking to have a right kind of “rights-responsibilities” mix, the one mitigating the other. So yes, I agree with your “evolutionary” mode of thinking, whereby freedom and rights make sense only within the larger framework whereby we as individuals acknowledge the nexus of interdependence. In fact, apart from that nexus, acknowledged to boot, I wouldn’t understand what freedom is or means. (Perhaps we both should devote some time to this subject.)

    (b) So therefore the question becomes: How it can be anarchism if it doesn’t guarantee the individual “absolute freedom”?

    (c) Your notion of harmonious communities and of propagating the well-being of the species is an attractive one. (Perhaps you’re closer to my idea of what anarchism is/ought to be than you think.) It’s known otherwise as an “enclave” theory of morality. I would add one necessary proviso. You’d still need, however, a(n)(absolute?) moral justification as to why the species ought to be preserved.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Lastly, concerning the aesthetic impulse, Shenon – why do you wish to delimit it to works of art only? what about thinking?

    Just like an idea can be thought of as a starting point of an eventually perfect execution of a composition, why do you deny it such powers when it comes to thought?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    A belated response to your #122, Anarcissie.

    Why not look at Connolly’s notion of “mechanism” as a supplement to your admittedly simpler theory of some people buying other people off? It’s definitely Foucauldian in important respects, hinting at the invisible hand, as it wore, exercising its insidious influence in the realm of human affairs. Granted, Connolly doesn’t develop it to the same extent Foucault had done in such instances as sexuality, the penal system and psychiatric/medical professions and means of societal control, but still, I find Connolly idea intellectually satisfying and intuitively sound. In fact, I regard it as a form of “invisible hand” explanations, as per Nozick, for instance. (BTW, do you find Foucault’s own accounts empirically satisfying?

    Also, have you listened to Connolly’s lecture on Hegel and “global resonance machines,” as per link in #110?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Shenonymous, Anarcissie, Cindy & “troll”:

    I’ll be back at this site by Friday at the latest. Meanwhile, feel free to post any responses or comments.

  • troll

    Sorry troll (at #119), I am not able to follow what you mean here. What aesthetically irrational experiences did you have that yielded proof and proof of what?

    As an absolutist rationalist, I find the aesthetically irrational useful only in the pursuit and creation of art.

    the usefulness of ‘irrational emotional restlessness’ becomes clear (for example) in the study of mathematics and formal systems theory…when battling demons in higher order number classes (view these as levels in the math logic video game) one learns to pay attention to the hairs on the back of his neck

    Rx: a week of reading Father Brown stories

  • Anarcissie

    Occam’s Razor, I suppose. I’m not denying resonance, I just don’t see it as an important causative principle. If plutocrats can buy the allegiance of workers, students, housewives, liberals, conservatives, union leaders, businessmen, hobos, hipsters, why not that of Evangelicals?

    The only audio or video material I have been able to metabolize which was not art for art’s sake was a collection of Feynman’s ‘lost lectures’.

    troll’s remark reminds me of the famed ‘Weirdness Quotient’. When you get out on the Edge, be it in science, mathematics, art, war, romance, dirt farming, or motorcycle racing, things stop making sense. If they make sense, you’re not out on the Edge any more.

  • http://saveblogcritics.blogspot.com/ Alan Kurtz

    Extensive coverage here of Saturday’s rioting in London, with colorful pictures of hooded anarchists smashing things. What’s interesting is how the anarchists leveraged an otherwise peaceful protest by the Trades Union Congress, a 6.5 million-member federation representing the majority of UK trade unions, and in so doing attracted far more media coverage than any standalone anarchist smash-fest could’ve hoped for.

    It’s quite a contrast with recent U.S. union-organized protests, such as in Wisconsin involving state workers. Whatever anarchist presence might’ve lurked in those demonstrations, it failed utterly to divert attention to itself. How do you explain that? Perhaps America has only armchair anarchists, a bloviating bourgeoisie who’d sooner book a fortnight at the Ritz Hotel than to wield a battering ram to shatter plate glass windows on the hotel’s storefront shops.

  • Anarcissie

    They had some provocateurs in Wisconsin — more like Republicans than actual anarchists — but the demonstrators were fairly well organized and on the lookout for that sort of thing.

  • http://saveblogcritics.blogspot.com/ Alan Kurtz

    … more like Republicans than actual anarchists …

    My point exactly.

  • Anarcissie

    So your point, as it stands, is irrelevant to a discussion of anarchism or anarchists. Want to tie it in somehow? I want to present my anecdotes, but you’re not offering much of a platform.

  • http://saveblogcritics.blogspot.com/ Alan Kurtz

    My point is that America’s self-professed “anarchists,” presumably such as yourself, talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Instead they act more like Republicans than actual anarchists.

    If that’s irrelevant to a discussion of anarchism or anarchists, please forgive my intrusion into this lofty realm. But I get the impression none of you “anarchists” need a platform from me in order to present your anecdotes.

  • troll

    …stumbled across this reading of Feyerabend’s take on the Weirdness

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    As usual, Alan’s talking from both sides of his mouth. His very complaint against what he views as this site’s unduly strict censorship, along with the recommended solution, is precisely along anarchistic lines of self-regulation/self-rule.

    So once again, we’re being treated to another random instance of Mr. Kurtz’s willful misrepresentations – this time conflating principles with a method.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    @133

    I’m less than happy, Anarcissie, with your application of Occam’s Razor to the case at hand. Two reasons.

    First, the uncanny staying power of capitalism (especially in the overdeveloped West where the majority have tasted the bitter fruits of the system); yet they keep on voting against their interests. So unless you’re going to fall back on the idea that we’re dealing here with a kind of mass hypnosis, the simple explanation simply won’t do.

    A related point. The theory that everyone can be bought off (including the evengelicals) rings untrue. It presupposes that by and large, we’re dealing with dishonorable persons. And even if you were right (to a point) about the higher echelons, what about the rank and file? Are they all dupes?

    For which reasons, it strikes me that an underlying mechanism may well be at work to account for this kind of behavior on the part of those who ought to behave and act contrary to the ways in which they do. And the idea of resentment, which fuels the actual behavior, appears to resolve the seeming paradox.

  • Anarcissie

    I do have a mass-hypnosis theory, which I call ‘the shadow of slavery’ — the cultural after-effects of the seven thousand years or so, from the beginning of history until the initial victories of liberalism-capitalism, in which most humans were serfs or slaves. However, I could be wrong — the need for domination (active and passive) could be inscribed in our genes. In that case we’ll just kill ourselves off in the not-too-distant future, and there is not much point in worrying about the political details. So that could be your underlying mechanism.

    As for buy-offs, these are usually masked in such a way as to preserve the honor of the purchased. Or some of it.

    Alan Kurtz seems to be just making stuff up; I was hoping for some more fantasies, but no luck.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I tend to be skeptical of anything smacking of genetic determinism, Anarcissie, but that’s just me. No question, we’re dealing with what may be called a “complex system” (see brief discussion on today’s Weekend Edition on NPR, so perhaps Connolly’s is but a valiant stab at trying to attain a holistic understanding of what is by definition irreducible to simples.

    Anyway, this may well be a moot point, an effort on Connolly’s part to justify his conviction that a “no state” solution is beyond the realm of possibility. Hence the dire need to invent the notion of a “global resonance machine” which could then be exploited for weak spots as part of guerrilla warfare striking at the fringes. Jean-François Lyotard had a similar idea when (after Walter Benjamin) he spoke of paralogies (The Postmodern Condition).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Shenon, you might consider posting on this site until your email situation gets cleared up. Anyway, I’m looking forward to your input.

  • Anarcissie

    The idea of ‘resonances’ is interesting, but I don’t see it as a necessary mechanism of social control. Having a lot of money would be more effective. That is, ‘Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.’

    We can probably count on our established order to destroy itself — to continue destroying itself. Apparently power really does corrupt. The question is what is to come after. Voltaire, or someone like that, said history was the sound of boots going up the staircase and slippers coming down, but when the boots get heavy enough, the staircase itself will break.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    An update on Libya:

    A five-minute history of British involvement in Libya, presented by Jason Pack of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford.

    Click on World Update, 31/11/2011 show. The relevant segment starts at 44:30 minutes into the show, and will be available for your listening pleasure for the next seven days.

    Here is one of Mr. Pack’s article on Libya in the Christian Science Monitor, “Upheaval in Qaddafi’s Libya isn’t just another Arab uprising”, although somewhat dated (Feb 23, 2011). If and when I come across more recent stuff, I’ll provide the link.

    I thought it more appropriate to post these links on this site rather than on Libya-dedicated RJ’s site. After all, I’m not concerned that much with the prospects of Mr. O’s impeachment (small potatoes, IMHO), but with liberation movements the world over and overthrowing of tyrannical (as if there were any other) states.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    On related news, Syrian opposition form National Transitional Council, in anticipation of the falling of the Bashar al-Assad regime.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Arab Views of US Motives,” an extract from an article by Dr Burhan Ghalioun of Sorbonne, the elected head of National Transitional Council (see #147).