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12th March 2006
bayon @ : Inviting Anarchy Into My Home
by Liz Seymour; New York Times; March 10, 2006
Greensboro, N.C./ On Aug. 1, 2002, I left behind the comfortably roomy semicircle marked "married-couple household" on the Census Bureau pie chart and slipped into an inconspicuous wedge labeled "two or more people, nonfamily." Having separated from my husband of 28 years the day before, I opened our three-bedroom 1927 Colonial Revival house to a group of men and women less than half my age. Overnight, the home I had lived in for 12 years became a seven-person anarchist collective, run by consensus and fueled by punk music, curse-studded conversation and food scavenged from Dumpsters.
Thoreau famously said that he had "traveled much in Concord." I would venture to say that I've traveled just as much, and maybe more, without ever leaving my house.
It happened like this: My husband and I had come to the end of the line, as married people sometimes do. We had helped each other into adulthood and careers (Bill is a high school English teacher; I'm a freelance writer). We had raised two daughters together, but with Isabell and Margaret grown and both of us entering our 50's, it was clear that our hopes and goals for the next couple of decades were diverging.
Bill longed for quiet and solitude; I wanted noise and movement. To complicate matters, I had become the court advocate for Justin, a 15-year-old runaway from a foster home who had been in and out of juvenile detention since he was 12. After a year of trying to find a workable home for him, I had concluded that the only recourse was to be his foster mother myself.
Now, faced with the prospect of becoming a 52-year-old single mother to a teenage boy and the challenge of supporting us both, I panicked. Trying to imagine how I could make it work, I found my mind turning to a collective house in Oregon where Isabell, my older daughter, had lived the summer before, and to a group of young anarchist artists and musicians in Greensboro whom I knew through both of my daughters.
After Isabell came home from college an anarchist herself, I began to put aside my preconceptions about these people — as disorderly, violent and destructive — and to see them as a community dedicated to replacing hierarchy with consensus and cooperation. (Isabell once described them as Quakers who swear a lot.) Over time I found myself drawn to their hopeful view that people know best what is best for them and to their determination, naïve or not, to build a better world right away. Anarchism, at least as practiced here, seemed to be more about building community gardens and making your own fun than about black bandannas and confrontations with the riot police (although it was about those things, too).
Amid the chaos of my own life I wondered if this approach to living might have something in it for me. Unconventional as it was, I figured it couldn't be any worse than struggling to pay the mortgage and being Justin's mother on my own.
So Justin and I entered a microeconomy in which it is possible to live not just comfortably, but well, on $500 a month. When we pooled our skills in our new household, we found that we had what we needed to design a Web page, paint a ceiling or install a car stereo. Sharing services and tools with people outside the house saved us thousands of dollars a year. If there is a historical model for the way we live, it is not the communes of the 60's or the utopian experiments of the 19th century, but the two-million-year prehistory of our hunting-and-gathering ancestors. Looked at through that lens, the life of our miniature tribe feels a lot like the way people were meant to live.
That account, of course, leaves out the terror I felt through the summer of 2002 as I prepared to open my house to anarchy. Also the occasional awful days and nights early in the experiment, like the evening that began with Justin's skateboard at the bottom of the stairs and that ended with shouting, slammed doors and the skateboard flying out a second-story window. Then there were the guests who wouldn't leave; the short-lived but horrifying rat invasion (brought on, I suspect, by boxes of food from Dumpsters on the back porch); and the friends who drifted out of my life, baffled by my new living arrangements.
I still own about two-thirds of the house, sharing the title with two young women in the collective, Mackie Hunter, a 25-year-old full-time political activist who had an insurance settlement to invest, and Stef Smith, a 26-year-old drummer with a never-to-be-used college fund. Their investment, and my refinancing of the house, allowed me to buy out Bill after we divorced two years ago, and gave them about a third share of the property. Since I do not want to profit from the collective as its landlady, I have decided that the portion of the equity that builds up from my housemates' monthly rent will not go to me if the house is sold or refinanced, but will serve to help keep the collective going. In essence I've converted my capital from the house to the household. Twenty years from now, when I'm in my mid-70's, I may regret giving up my equity in return for time and community, but I don't think so. I'd rather take my retirement now.
The ages in the house span 50 years, from Jodi Staley's 6-year-old daughter, Skye, to me. Justin, now 18, moved out more than a year ago to live with his girlfriend; he hopes to go to a music conservatory. (He turned out to be one of those children it takes a village to raise, and he not only thrived under the group's care but rebelled into surprisingly mainstream respectability.)
None of us work full time. We support ourselves by painting houses, typing legal depositions, teaching (as substitutes), subjecting ourselves to medical studies, cooking in restaurants and writing. The time I save allows me to help care for an elderly relative, cook for a free meal program, spend time with friends and work on a book.
On paper we look like paupers. The monthly cost of living in the house comes to $160 to $245 a person, based on the size of one's bedroom. That includes the mortgage, property taxes, household insurance, utilities (we have an unlimited long-distance plan) and wireless Internet. In addition we each put $30 a month into a house fund that pays for bulk food like rice, beans, olive oil and spices, and supplies like toilet paper, light bulbs and laundry detergent.
As for produce, a typical evening of hunting and gathering in various grocery store Dumpsters brings in plenty of food: cartons of apples, oranges, potatoes, bananas and red onions, slightly soft or spotty perhaps, but still fresh and edible.
Every Sunday it is someone's turn to fix dinner while the rest of us sweep and mop, with Al Green or the Pixies blasting from the kitchen stereo. Since the dining room has been turned into a bedroom (as have the downstairs study and a small upstairs room that was my office), we eat on the screened-in side porch or in the backyard under the crape myrtle tree when the weather is warm, or around the kitchen table or in the living room when it is cool.
On Tuesday night we hold the weekly house meeting. It is surprisingly helpful to know who has a headache, who just fell in love, who is sleepy. More than one set of roommates have blown apart over dishes piled up in the sink and wet towels left on the bathroom floor; then again, so have quite a few nuclear families. We talk things out.
Though our daily activities are a lot closer to the Waltons than to the Weather Underground, we keep "In Case of Police Raid" instructions posted by our front and back doors. It is a reminder that houses like ours in other towns do get raided.
In spite of the stigma attached to the word "anarchist" and the scrutiny openly anarchist households receive, the number of such houses is growing. Anarchists are no longer just in college towns and big cities; there are now thriving anarchist communities and houses like ours in places like Lake Worth, Fla.; Machias, Me.; and Springfield, Mo. The online directory maintained by the Fellowship for Intentional Community lists more than 1,000 collective houses, ecovillages and co-ops in the United States, compared with about 400 in the 1990 directory. Although not all of them identify themselves as anarchist, more than half make their decisions by consensus. Even that number is clearly low: none of the five collective houses I know of in Greensboro, for example, are listed in the directory.
It is a rare week when we do not have at least one guest in residence. One winter we had a Danish filmmaker living in the garage. On a rainy night last spring an entire old-time string band showed up on the doorstep. The musicians had been hopping freight trains around the country and gotten stranded; they played fiddle, banjo and musical saw in the living room and left the next day. Another guest walked from Maine to North Carolina, the first leg of a trip home to Oregon. He stayed for a week, mended some rips in his backpack, then walked off down the driveway due west.
I have friends who tell me they could not live the way I do. I believe them. The constant sound of footsteps on the stairs, the coffee cups in the sink, the mysterious things in the refrigerator that no one claims, the sheer intensity some days of so many personalities rubbing up against one another, is not for everyone. But then neither are more conventional living arrangements. For me, a household of friends — more loosely bound than a family but tied together by loyalty, affinity and shared space — satisfies a need for kinship and companionship that did not end when my family did.
The old house's former incarnation as a middle-class, nuclear-family household still rises up in my mind now and then. Someone will ask about an umbrella or a bottle of aspirin or a pair of needle nose pliers, and I'll picture so clearly the place where the object used to be that for a moment I'm there instead of here. It is not an unpleasant sensation, just a little strange.
For the most part, though, my memory keeps up a pretty sturdy firewall between the time I have come to think of as "before" and now. Where I live now is not utopia. What it is, though, is fun. It is fun to hear people laughing on the porch; it is fun to dance in the kitchen; it is fun to go out on a Wednesday evening Dumpster run. As messy as it is, to my mind it is a lot more interesting than utopia could ever be.
10th March 2006
bayon @ :
THE PREMEDITATED POISONING of human beings, of soils and of other living species can only by the grossest hypocrisy be considered an “accident.” Only the wilfully blind can claim that this consequence of Technical Progress was “unforeseen.” The poisoning and removal of this continent’s living inhabitants for the sake of “higher entities” may have begun in Eastern Pennsylvania, but not during the past few weeks. Eleven score years ago, in the region currently being poisoned by radiation from Three Mile Island, speculators with names like Franklin, Morris, Washington and Hale hid their names behind facades such as the Vandalia Company and the Ohio Company
and they wanted these only to preserve their freedom against further encroachments of Civilization; they preferred death to a life reduced to Working, Saving, Investing and Selling. In a final desperate attempt to drive Civilization and its Benefits to the sea and across it, in an uprising currently remembered as the name of an automobile, their warriors ousted land grabbers and their soldiers from Ontario, Michigan, Ohio and western Pennsylvania. For this uncompromising resistance they earned from the Civilized the title of Savages. This title gave the Civilizers a license to exterminate without qualm or scruple; “Send them pox-infested blankets,” ordered one of the commanders in charge of the extermination. The recently celebrated Bicentennial of American Independence commemorated the day when, tenscore years ago, land grabbers, speculators and their allies determined to accelerate the extermination of independence from the region west of Three Mile Island. The King’s government was too distant to protect investments adequately, and in any case it was Feudal These companies had one purpose: to sell land for a profit. The individuals behind the companies had one aim: to remove all obstacles which stood in the way of the free deployment of profit-making, whether the obstacles were human beings or millennial cultures or forests or animals or even streams and mountains. Their aim was to Civilize this continent, to introduce to it a cycle of activities never before practiced here: Working, Saving, Investing, Selling — the cycle of reproducing and enlarging Capital. The main obstacle to this activity consisted of human beings who had lived on this continent for millennia and who, without Law or Government or Church, enjoyed the sun, the streams, the woodlands, the varied species of plant and animal, and each other. These people considered life an end, not a means to be put at the service of “higher” ends. They did not flock to Civilization like children to a cookie jar, as the Franklins and Washingtons expected them to do. On the contrary. They wanted very little of what Civilization had to give. They wanted some of the weapons,
frontier police organizations like the Paxton Boys were efficient for the massacre of the tribal inhabitants of an isolated village like Conestoga. But such frontier formations were small and temporary, and they were as dependent on the active consent of each participant as the tribal warriors themselves; therefore they were not proper police organizations at all. The speculators allied themselves with idealists and dreamers, and behind a banner on which was inscribed Freedom, Independence and Happiness, took the power of government, military and police into their own hands. One and half centuries ago, the efficient apparatus for the progress of Capital was in high gear. Military and police organizations based on obedience and submission, and not on anyone’s active consent, were ready to go into action against people who had resisted that type of regimentation for twenty thousand years if not longer. Congress passed one of its most explicit bits of legislation: The Indian Removal Act. Within a few years, all resistance, all activity which was not the activity of Capital, was removed from the area stretching westward and didn’t always share the speculators’ aims; it even went so far as to enforce the boundaries established by treaties with the Savages. What was needed was an efficient apparatus under the direct control of the land grabbers and devoted exclusively to the prosperity of their enterprises. As settlers moved into the deliberately vacated lands where the very air they breathed gave them a taste of the recently eliminated freedom, they transformed vast woodlands into enlarged replicas of the hell they had left behind. The enjoyment of trails and forests ceased; the forests were burned; the trails became obstacle courses to be traversed as rapidly as Capital made possible. The variety of hundreds of cultural forms was reduced to the uniformity of a unique routine: work, save, invest, sell, every day from sunrise to sunset, and count money after sundown. Every previous activity, and scores of new ones, were transformed from sources of joy to sources of profit. Corn, beans and squash, the “three sisters” respected and loved by the region’s previous inhabitants, became mere commodities for sale at food markets; their sowers and harvesters no longer grew them to enjoy at meals, feasts and festivals, but to sell for a profit. Leisurely gardening was replaced by the hard work of farming, trails gave way to rails, walking was superseded by the locomotion of gigantic coal-burning furnaces on wheels, canoes from Three Mile Island to the Mississippi, southward from Michigan to Georgia. The Government, quickly becoming one of the most powerful in the world, was no longer restricted to poisoning with pox or to the surprise massacre of villagers; it implemented the Removal with a judicious combination of Platitudes, Promises and Police. The remaining free tribespeople could not resist this combination without adopting it, but they could not adopt it without ceasing to be free. They chose to remain free, and the last free human beings between Three Mile Island and the Mississippi were Removed.The Trail of Tears.
investors, furnished and clothed by the same interests, often by the very same Houses who had provided them with everything else at a rate of profit no previous age would have regarded as “just,” they boastfully wrote their relatives in the old country that they had become their own lords, that they were free farmers but in the pits of their stomachs and in the missed beat of their hearts they felt the truth: they were slaves of a master who was even more intractable, inhuman and removed than their former lords, a master whose lethal power, like radioactivity’s, could be felt but not seen. They had become the liveried domestics of Capital. (As for those who ended up as “operatives” or “unskilled hands” in the factories that produced the implements and the rails: they had little to boast of in their letters; they had breathed freer air wherever they had started from.) A century after the uprising associated with the name of Pontiac, a century filled with desperate resistance by Pontiac’s successors against the further encroachments of Capital, some of the imported farmers began to fight against their reduction to servants of railroad, equipment and finance were swept aside by floating cities which stopped for no obstacle as they filled the air with burning embers and black smoke. The “three sisters,” along with the rest of their family, were degraded to mere merchandise, as were the trees that became lumber, the animals that became meat, and even the journeys, the songs, the myths and tales of the continent’s new inhabitants. And new inhabitants there were; at first hundreds, then thousands, finally millions. When the importation of outright slaves finally ended, surplus peasants were imported from the run-down estates of post-feudal Europe. Their ancestors hadn’t known freedom for so many generations that the very memory of it had been lost. Formerly liveried domestics or farmhands on the estates of increasingly commercial lords, the newcomers arrived already trained to want precisely what Capital had to offer, and the degradation of life imposed by Capital was freedom to them when compared to their only frame of reference. Sold plots by land investors, transported to the plots by railway investors, equipped by farm implement investors, financed by bank
movement became the form of existence of the Labor movement during the century that followed. The politicians who dug the grave of populism were the forerunners of the infinite assortment of monkish sects, modelled organizationally on the Jesuit Order but deriving doctrine and dogma from one or another communist, socialist or anarchist Book. Ready to leap at an instant’s notice into any situation where people began to struggle to regain their own humanity, they squelched one after another potential rebellion by dumping their doctrine, their organization and their leadership on top of people struggling for life. These clowns, for whom all that was missing was their mugs and speeches on the front pages of newspapers, finally became capitalists who took to market the unique commodity they had cornered: Labor. Shortly before the turn of the present century, with effective resistance permanently removed, with a pseudo-resistance which was in fact an instrument for the final reduction of human activity to a mere variable of Capital, the efficient apparatus for the generation of profits lost Capital. The populist farmers burned to arrest and lock up the Rockefellers, Morgans and Goulds directly responsible for their degradation, but their revolt was only a faint echo of the earlier revolt of Ottowas, Chippewas, Delawares and Potawatomies. The farmers turned against the personalities but continued to share the culture responsible for their degradation. Consequently they failed to unite with, or even recognize as their own, the armed resistance of the plains people, the last attempt to keep the entire continent from being turned into an island of Capital — a struggle defeated by ancient Assyrian (and modern Soviet Socialist) methods of mass deportation, concentration camps, massacres of unarmed prisoners, and unabated brainwashing by military and missionary goons. Militant and courageous though many of them were, the struggling farmers rarely placed enjoyment and life above work, savings and profit, and their movement was derailed altogether when radical politicians infiltrated it and equated the desire for a new life with the desire for a new Leader. The form of derailment of the Populist that the gross substances above and below the soil were not the only substances exploitable for profits. It appeared that the “liberated” nuclei of certain substances were eminently exploitable by Capital. The destruction of matter at the atomic level, first used as the most hideous weapon hitherto wrought by human beings, became the newest commodity. By this time the interest payments, freight fees and equipment purchases of farmers, as well as the long-vanished trees and forest animals, had ceased to be interesting as sources of significant profits. Energy companies interlocked with uranium and oil monopolies became empires more powerful than any of the states which served them as trouble-shooters. Within the computers of these empires, the health and lives of an “acceptable” number of farm and city dwellers was balanced against an “acceptable” gain or loss of profits. Potential popular responses to such calculations were controlled by judicious combinations of platitudes, promises and police.all external obstacles. It still had internal obstacles: the various fractions of Capital, the Vanderbilts, Goulds and Morgans, continually turned their guns against each other and threatened to topple the whole structure from within. Rockefeller and Morgan pioneered the merger, the combination of the various fractions: monied investors distributed their monies throughout each other’s enterprises; directors sat on each other’s boards; and each and all acquired an interest in the unrestricted march of every unit of the entire apparatus. With the exception of rare surviving personal and family empires, the enterprises were directed by mere hirelings who differed from the rest of the hands mainly by the size of their emoluments. The task of the directors was to ride over all obstacles, human and natural, with only one limitation: the efficient operation of the other enterprises collectively constituting Capital. Twoscore years ago, the researches of physical and chemical sciences at the disposal of Capital led to the discovery
merchandise interesting to Capital at a stage which ended half a century ago—• The transformation into a literal minefield, using unprecedented lethal poisons and explosives, of a continent once peopled by human beings whose aim in life was to enjoy the air, sun, trees, animals and each other—• The prospect of a continent covered with raging infernos, their loudspeakers reciting their recorded messages to the charred earth: “There is no need to overreact; the situation is stable; the leaders have everything under control——all this is no accident. It is the present stage of progress of Technology, alias Capital, called Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, considered “neutral” by aspiring managers burning to get their “revolutionary” hands on the controls. For two hundred years Capital developed by destroying nature, by removing and destroying human beings. Capital has now begun a frontal attack on its own domestics; its computers have begun to calculate the expendability of those who’d been taught to think themselves its beneficiaries. • The poisoning of people in Eastern Pennsylvania with cancer-inducing radiation by a system that devotes a substantial portion of its activity to “defense” against nuclear assault from abroad—• The contamination of food which is to be consumed by the continent’s remaining inhabitants, and the destruction of the prospects of farmers who had dutifully devoted their lives to growing the Atomic weapons test, Nevada desert.
If the spirits of the dead could be reborn among the living. Ottowa and Chippewa and Potawatomi warriors could take up the struggle where they left it two centuries ago, augmented by the forces of Sioux, Dakota and Nez Percé, Yana and Medoc and the countless tribes whose languages are no longer spoken. Such a force could round up criminals who would not otherwise be brought before any tribunal. The numerous agents of Capital could then continue to practice their routine of work-save-invest-sell, torturing each other with platitudes, promises and police, inside defused and disconnected power plants, behind plutonium doors. Fredy Perlman 1979
9th March 2006
bayon @ :
Latin American Integration
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Bernie Dwyer
Bernie Dwyer: I am reminded of a great Irish song called "The West's Awake" written by Thomas Davis in remembrance of the Fenian Uprising of 1798. It is about the west of Ireland asleep under British rule for hundreds of years and how it awoke from its slumbers and rose up against the oppressor. Could we begin to hope now that the South is awake?
Noam Chomsky: What's happening is something completely new in the history of the hemisphere. Since the Spanish conquest the countries of Latin America have been pretty much separated from one another and oriented toward the imperial power. There are also very sharp splits between the tiny wealthy elite and the huge suffering population. The elites sent their capital; took their trips; had their second homes; sent their children to study in whatever European country their country was closely connected with. [commas better than semi-colons in the preceding sentence.] I mean, even their transportation systems were oriented toward the outside for export of resources and so on.
For the first time, they are beginning to integrate and in quite a few different ways. Venezuela and Cuba is one case. MERCOSUR, which is still not functioning very much, is another case. Venezuela, of course, just joined MERCOSUR, which is a big step forward for it and it was greatly welcomed by the presidents of Argentina, Brazil.
For the first time the Indian population is becoming politically quite active. They just won an election in Bolivia which is pretty remarkable. There is a huge Indian population in Ecuador, even in Peru, and some of them are calling for an Indian nation. Now they want to control their own resources. In fact, many don't even want their resources developed. Many don't see any particular point in having their culture and lifestyle destroyed so that people can sit in traffic jams in New York.
Furthermore, they are beginning to throw out the IMF. In the past, the US could prevent unwelcome developments such as independence in Latin America, by violence; supporting military coups, subversion, invasion and so on. That doesn't work so well any more. The last time they tried in 2002 in Venezuela, the US had to back down because of enormous protests from Latin America, and of course the coup was overthrown from within. That's very new.
If the United States loses the economic weapons of control, it is very much weakened. Argentina is just essentially ridding itself of the IMF, as they say. They are paying off the debts to the IMF. The IMF rules that they followed had totally disastrous effects. They are being helped in that by Venezuela, which is buying up part of the Argentine debt.
Bolivia will probably do the same. Bolivia's had 25 years of rigorous adherence to IMF rules. Per capita income now is less than it was 25 years ago. They want to get rid of it. The other countries are doing the same. The IMF is essentially the US Treasury Department. It is the economic weapon that's alongside the military weapon for maintaining control. That's being dismantled.
All of this is happening against the background of very substantial popular movements, which, to the extent that they existed in the past, were crushed by violence, state terror, Operation Condor, one monstrosity after another. That weapon is no longer available.
Furthermore, there is South-South integration going on, so Brazil, and South Africa and India are establishing relations.
And again, the forces below the surface in pressing all of this are international popular organizations of a kind that never existed before; the ones that meet annually in the world social forums. By now several world social forums have spawned lots of regional ones; there's one right here in Boston and many other places. These are very powerful mass movements of a kind without any precedent in history: the first real internationals. Everyone's always talked about internationals on the left but there's never been one. This is the beginning of one.
These developments are extremely significant. For US planners, they are a nightmare. I mean, the Monroe Doctrine is about 180 years old now, and the US wasn't powerful enough to implement it until after the 2nd World War, except for the nearby region. After the 2nd World War it was able to kick out the British and the French and implement it, but now it is collapsing. These countries are also diversifying their international relations including commercial relations. So there's a lot of export to China, and accepting of investment from China. That's particularly true of Venezuela, but also the other big exporters like Brazil and Chile. And China is eager to gain access to other resources of Latin America.
Unlike Europe, China can't be intimidated. Europe backs down if the United States looks at it the wrong way. But China, they've been there for 3,000 years and are paying no attention to the barbarians and don't see any need to. The United States is afraid of China; it is not a military threat to anyone; and is the least aggressive of all the major military powers. But it's not easy to intimidate it. In fact, you can't intimidate it at all. So China's interactions with Latin America are frightening the United States. Latin America is also improving economic interactions with Europe. China and Europe now are each other largest trading partners, or pretty close to it.
These developments are eroding the means of domination of the US world system. And the US is pretty naturally playing its strong card which is military and in military force the US is supreme. Military expenditures in the US are about half of the total world expenditures, technologically much more advanced. In Latin America, just keeping to that, the number of the US military personnel is probably higher than it ever was during the Cold War. There sharply increasing training of Latin American officers.
The training of military officers has been shifted from the State Department to the Pentagon, which is not insignificant. The State department is under some weak congressional supervision. I mean there is legislation requiring human rights conditionalities and so on. They are not very much enforced, but they are at least there. And the Pentagon is free to do anything they want. Furthermore, the training is shifting to local control. So one of the main targets is what's called radical populism, we know what that means, and the US is establishing military bases throughout the region.
Bernie Dwyer: It appears, from what you are saying, that the US is losing the ideological war and compensating by upping their military presence in the region. Would you see Cuba as being a key player in encouraging and perhaps influencing what's coming out Latin America right now?
Noam Chomsky: Fidel Castro, whatever people may think of him, is a hero in Latin America, primarily because he stood up to the United States. It's the first time in the history of the hemisphere that anybody stood up to the United States. Nobody likes to be under the jackboot but they may not be able to do anything about it. So for that reason alone, he's a Latin American hero. Chavez: the same.
The ideological issue that you rightly bring up is the impact of neoliberalism. It's pretty striking over the last twenty-five years, overwhelmingly it's true, that the countries that have adhered to the neo-liberal rules have had an economic catastrophe and the countries that didn't pay any intention to the rules grew and developed. East Asia developed rapidly pretty much by totally ignoring the rules. Chile is claimed as being a market economy but that's highly misleading: its main export is a very efficient state owned copper company nationalized under Allende. You don't get correlations like this in economics very often. Adherence to the neoliberal rules has been associated with economic failure and violation of them with economic success: it's very hard to miss that. Maybe some economists can miss it but people don't: they live it. Yes, there is an uprising against it. Cuba is a symbol. Venezuela is another, Argentina, where they recovered from the IMF catastrophe by violating the rules and sharply violating them, and then throwing out the IMF. Well, this is the ideological issue. The IMF is just a name for the economic weapon of domination, which is eroding
Bernie Dwyer: Why do you think that this present movement is different from the struggle that went before, in Chile for instance when they succeeded in overthrowing the military dictatorship? What gives us more hope about this particular stage of liberation for Latin America?
Noam Chomsky: First of all, there was hope in Latin America in the 1960s but it was crushed by violence. Chile was moving on a path towards some form of democratic socialism but we know what happened. That's the first 9/11 in 1973, which was an utter catastrophe. The dictatorship in Chile, which is a horror story also led to an economic disaster in Chile bringing about its worst recession in its history. The military then turned over power to civilians. Its still there so Chile didn't yet completely liberate itself. It has partially liberated itself from the military dictatorship; and in the other countries even more so.
So for example, I remember traveling in Argentina and Chile a couple of years ago and the standard joke in both countries was that people said that they wish the Chilean military had been stupid enough to get into a war with France or some major power so they could have been crushed and discredited and then people would be free the way they were in Argentina, where the military was discredited by its military defeat.
But there has been a slow process in every one of the countries, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, all the way through, there's been a process of overthrowing the dominant dictatorships - the military dictatorships - almost always supported, and sometimes instituted, by the United States
Now they are supporting one another and the US cannot resort to the same policies.
Take Brazil, if Lula had been running in 1963, the US would have done just what it did when Goulart was president in 1963. The Kennedy administration just planned a military dictatorship. A military coup took place and that got rid of that. And that was happening right through the hemisphere.
Now, there's much more hope because that cannot be done and there is also cooperation. There is also a move towards a degree of independence: political, economic and social policies, access to their own resources, instituting social changes of the kind that could overcome the tremendous internal problems of Latin America, which are awful. And a large part of the problems in Latin America are simply internal. In Latin America, the wealthy have never had any responsibilities. They do what they want.
1st January 1999
bayon @ : One person's perspective on the Japanese Left
*posted by sphinx on the libcom forums: http://www.libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8297*
1960 Miner's strike, mass protests outside the Japanese Diet against the signing of the AMPO accords, followed by failed, national general strike. Barricaded politicians inside the diet openly wonder 'is this revolution?' Failure of the strike dooms most of the initiative
1966 Waseda University students go on 155 day strike to protest tuition increases, conflict spreads to other schools, intensification of student activity
1968 Youth insurrection in Tokyo's Oji in wake of Zengakuren snake marches through the neighborhoods against the Vietnam war, abandoned by the Zengakuren in pursuit of the next political spectacle hundreds of kids arrested/imprisoned.
1969 Protests against free speech ban on the campus of Nihon university (Nichidai) mushrooms into a massive campus-wide movement, mostly unrecuperated by the left (busy elsewhere), climaxes in mass negotiations with the administration where the fascist emperor-loyal school board is forced to sign accords guaranteeing student control over studies, free speech on campus, self-organizes spaces etc.) voided the next day by the Prime Minister of Japan himself. Results in street riots and the taking of the university. Barricades are erected and the students set about the creation of a 'counter-university' on the basis of what they want to study. Lecturers come country-wide and teach, I believe there was even a Black Panther that came and spoke. Despite its communism, gender roles are policed and women find themselves doing all the cooking and cleaning. Holds out eight months against police repression and fascist violence until finally succumbing to a combined assault by fascists and the kidoutai.
1990 As the bubble bursts from the economic boom of the 1980s, riots break out in the Kamagasaki neighborhood against police violence. More details written by an anonymous comrade for the new issue of Datacide (http://datacide.c8.com
), go here: http://anti-politics.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1050
On the left:
The logic of 'social cohesion', 'cooperation', 'participation' etc. all originate in Shinto and Buddhist concepts, but took their power in occupation Japan with the help of the Japanese Communist party, who effectively halted all significant strikes and social outbreaks during the occupation and helped defuse the 1960 anti-AMPO movement. By the 60s, the relatively autonomous power of the new Left, emblemized in the student movements and the struggle against the Narita airport at Sanrizuka had grown to the point where the institutional left had been called on their compromises, causing the JCP in turn to employ open violence against what was an emerging communist movement. Yet it is not as simple as saying that 'had the Zengakuren and the Zenkyoto pressed further...' Both of these movements were riven by the plague of 'militance' (some would later become vigilantes), i.e. the fetishization of the gevalt-wielding 'street revolutionary', uniforms (gangified by the sectarian logos on 'militant' helmets) even growing to embrace the antithesis of active critique, the obeying individual in the mass. Watching a film on the New Left a couple weeks ago I saw thousands of men and women in snake marches, five persons to a bar, in rows. They run through the streets, they try to impose their dictatorship. Alongside the columns run other militants with whistles, shrieking at a military pace, a marching rhythm, tweet tweet tweet, tweet tweet tweet.
The student movement, strong because of the relative autonomy of the education process from the career world, quite simply had gone as far as it could go. Its fervor did not spread to all sectors, except for a few sporadic moments it remained isolated from the community of work and the neighborhoods. In the case of the Oji riots the left abandoned a real rupture in favor of spectacle, as I wrote above.
I suppose what was missing was a critique of everyday life. Everything else was ruthlessly polemicized, debated, fought over, murdered over. Dissapointingly, the dictators of everyday life, yakuza, were imagined as having an 'essential role' in Japanese society. Gangster movies were idolized, people talked about the samurai code (though they were also talking about Marcuse, Trotsky and Katayama). This made compromise with people like Yukio Mishima possible, who, while debating with the Zenkyoto said he was sure that what they were doing was 'good for the nation'. The left was occupied by a fascist component as things degenerated and this went largely unopposed, after all if the preliminary logic is standing in front of American military bases shouting 'Yankee go home!' it quite easily fed into feelings of revanchism as well as classic isolationism.
In its own way, the twisted twin disasters of the Japan's Red Armies speak to the final failure of universal emancipation for this period of struggle. The national branch elected to break from the student movement to actuate 'armed insurrection' from the outside, exactly the model of other specialist militias world-wide. After their first training operation was busted by the Kidoutai, they went underground. The story ends in massacre, the leadership conducted an internal purge at the group's hiding place outside of Tokyo, resulting in something like 15 dead out of a group of 20. A standoff ensued with the remaining few members that was televised live all over Japan, allowing the state's triumph against the New Left to be seen by all, but this was as well the 'militant's own paranoid, sickening end.
On the other end of the world, the international fraction of the Red Army was busy teaming up with the terror gangs of the PLO and Hezbollah, and their infamous suicide raid on Lod airport to kill Jews wound up murdering 15 Puerto Rican tourists and only three Jews; the historical shrapnel of this attack allegedly influenced the modern practice of suicide bombing.
I think the experiences of observing these changes in the political landscape alienated profoundly the generation of Japanese who would become the mid-sub-section-managers of the 1980s and onwards. The movement spoke to no one but itself, it had enclosed itself as 'a movement'. This has not been forgotten, the memories are of course put to good use by the state as evidence of the 'chaotic' nature of social movements to which infinitely preferable is 'peace' and 'cooperation'. At the same time in the workplaces, (as written elsewhere):
"Toyota-style management’s overwhelming victory from the 1960s on up meant two things: management/worker cooperation became a fundamental element of the work experience, structurally, previously combative unions like Sohyo lost out against the collaborationist Rengo union federation, whose goal is put forth succinctly as ‘social cooperation’; second, dislocation of traditional arenas of class struggle (the factory) to the East Asian mainland led to a breakdown of traditional methods of struggle, rendering social movement glacier-like. ‘Post-industrial’ capitalism with Toyota at the helm became the ruling reality with these two shifts. A social environment characterized by corporative unions and ‘civil society’ became more and more impossible to stand outside of. The coerced smile made its appearance, like some ghastly red sun rising. A facade of ‘cheerfulness’ becomes mandatory. Capital is wholly of these mediations; it is the social setting which compels people to accept fate. The only exit sign that haunts capital’s biological power is therefore suicide, and about 30,000 Japanese choose that route every year."
Nakasone's words from are unfortunately unassailable, Japan has proven to be 'the invincible steel ship against communism'. There are cracks under the surface but no light shows through, the contradiction prefers not to understand itself as such. I am not optimistic for the future.
Further reading on these subjects [Note: my associates have all of these articles in PDF now]: 'Beyond the New Left' parts 1-3 by Muto Ichiyo and Inoue Reiko
'Class Struggle on the Shopfloor - The Japanese Case 1945-1984 by Muto Ichiyo
both in the now defunct AMPO journal.
I don't believe that the Anarchist Federation is still active, though there are of course informal contacts in many places. Although I would not endorse the praxis of any communist or anarchist group on the islands, there are some groups out there that even if I disagree with aspects of their orientation, do put in motion some impressive actions.
釜パトロル The Kamagasaki patrol in North Osaka, who while not explicitly anarchist or communist, are part of a broader direct-action based perspective that includes people who are pro-revolution:http://www.geocities.co.jp/WallStreet/9279/
I would criticize their attachment to the critique of globalism and unemployment, which are both particular instances of a larger phenomenon of dispossession.
イラク市民レジスタンス Iraqi people's resistance - A great organization based in Tokyo that is literally the only presence on the Japanese left that openly criticizes the resistance in Iraq and calls for both a defeat of the occupation and a defeat of Islamism. Consistent and impressive coverage of Arabic publications especially vis a vis the WCP of Iraq. Their parent organization, the movement for democratic socialism (MDS) seems to ask all the right questions but come to many wrong answers.http://www.jca.apc.org/iraq
Although this page is old, its link page shows the caliber of consciousness of those involved. Somehow they regard themselves as anarcho-syndicalists but they've translated works from Echanges e Mouvement, Loren Goldner and other communists. This group appears to be inactive anymore, sadly.http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~rruaitjtko/
Fem-net is a great resource for feminist activity around Japan, although it is not pro-revolution.http://www.jca.apc.org/fem/
Internationalism. This is a group I don't know much about but they are together with some of the anti-capitalist Action anarchist/anti-globalization folks and I suspect they are different from traditional Leninists:http://www.ngy1.1st.ne.jp/~ieg/index.html
An individual, Kogawa Tetsuo does great things with micro-radio:http://anarchy.k2.tku.ac.jp/index.html
This page is a great destruction of 'Japaneseness' (English available):http://www.paraverse.org/home.htm
I believe there is some resistance to evictions and institutionalization in Tokyo, there is actually an anglophone person working with park squatters in Shibuya IIRC. But Osaka is the only area standing up directly to the wave of institutionalizations so far. From what comrades tell me, the park resistance is quite indigenous. It's problem seems to be that very few people from 'citizen society' will come defend it and less a dependence on people from outside.
I realize that above I did not cover the impressive riots against the Yakuza and the police in Sanya in the 1980s (which incidentally lead to the closing of its hiring hall). I'll look for more detailed information on this and then post later.
Much of my information on Anarchist groups across the islands comes from rebel_jill and not my own experience, so I wouldn't feel comfortable confirming that. It's not without precedent however. Anarchists have historically poor records of joining wars of national liberation (especially in East Asia), and Japan is no exception. The so-called 'pure anarchists' mostly went over to the side of the Emperor as the Japanese invasion of China broke. Although I have a great deal of respect for the Anarchist comrades that I work with here, generally I've seen some very distressing behaviour within the larger milieu, that mirrors the ideology of 'Japaneseness', i.e. 'We do this because we're Japanese' and/or a total bewilderment at 'foreign' participation or critique of these tiny circles. Not that the communists are much better!
I don't have all the details together on Sanya yet, but I have a great story about self-organization in Tokyo. IIRC in 1996 (after a comparatively large Iranian worker immigration to the country), Iranian day workers were regularly recruited out of Ueno park in Tokyo. One day two big fascist black buses showed up to the park to harass the Iranians and make a stand against creeping 'foreignization'. These organizations and their street presence is now institutionalized in Japanese society with basically no-one standing up to them (except for Sanya and a few brave Anarchists in Tokyo). However, the Iranians did not take kindly to being roughed up and having racist slogans hurled at them so they turned on the fascists and drove them out of Ueno park in a mini-riot. At least for a good while there were no more fascists in Ueno park, and all it took was some foreign workers with guts... Edit: Apparently brawls like these happened almost every sunday back in the bubble era!
*Other links: http://libcom.org/news/article.php/utsobo-park-report-170206http://libcom.org/news/article.php/utsobo-park-report-170206http://www.archive.org/details/NishinariRiotshttp://libcom.org/library/japan
6th March 2006
bayon @ :
So George, how do you feel about your mom and dad?
Psychologist Oliver James analyses the behaviour of the American president
As the alcoholic George Bush approached his 40th birthday in 1986, he had achieved nothing he could call his own. He was all too aware that none of his educational and professional accomplishments would have occured without his father. He felt so low that he did not care if he lived or died. Taking a friend out for a flight in a Cessna aeroplane, it only became apparent he had not flown one before when they nearly crashed on take-off. Narrowly avoiding stalling a few times, they crash-landed and the friend breathed a sigh of relief - only for Bush to rev up the engine and take off again.
Not long afterwards, staring at his vomit-spattered face in the mirror, this dangerously self-destructive man fell to his knees and implored God to help him and became a teetotalling, fundamentalist Christian. David Frum, his speechwriter, described the change: "Sigmund Freud imported the Latin pronoun id to describe the impulsive, carnal, unruly elements of the human personality. [In his youth] Bush's id seems to have been every bit as powerful and destructive as Clinton's id. But sometime in Bush's middle years, his id was captured, shackled and manacled, and locked away."
One of the jailers was his father. His grandfather, uncles and many cousins attended both his secondary school, Andover, and his university, Yale, but the longest shadow was cast by his father's exceptional careers there.
On the wall of his school house at Andover, there was a large black-and-white photograph of his father in full sporting regalia. He had been one of the most successful student athletes in the school's 100-year history and was similarly remembered at Yale, where his grandfather was a trustee. His younger brother, Jeb, summed the problem up when he said, "A lot of people who have fathers like this feel a sense that they have failed." Such a titanic figure created mixed feelings. On the one hand, Bush worshipped and aspired to emulate him. Peter Neumann, an Andover roommate, recalls that, "He idolised his father, he was going to be just like his dad." At Yale, a friend remembered a "deep respect" for his father and when he later set up in the oil business, another friend said, "He was focused to prove himself to his dad."
On the other hand, deep down, Bush had a profound loathing for this perfect model of American citizenship whose very success made the son feel a failure. Rebelliousness was an unconscious attack on him and a desperate attempt to carve out something of his own. Far from paternal emulation, Bush described his goal at school as "to instil a sense of frivolity". Contemporaries at Yale say he was like the John Belushi character in the film Animal House, a drink-fuelled funseeker.
He was aggressively anti-intellectual and hostile to east-coast preppy types like his father, sometimes cruelly so. On one occasion he walked up to a matronly woman at a smart cocktail party and asked, "So, what's sex like after 50, anyway?"
A direct and loutish challenge to his father's posh sensibility came aged 25, after he had drunkenly crashed a car. "I hear you're looking for me," he sneered at his father, "do you want to go mano a mano, right here?"
As he grew older, the fury towards his father was increasingly directed against himself in depressive drinking. But it was not all his father's fault. There was also his insensitive and domineering mother.
Barbara Bush is described by her closest intimates as prone to "withering stares" and "sharply crystalline" retorts. She is also extremely tough. When he was seven, Bush's younger sister, Robin, died of leukaemia and several independent witnesses say he was very upset by this loss. Barbara claims its effect was exaggerated but nobody could accuse her of overreacting: the day after the funeral, she and her husband were on the golf course.
She was the main authority-figure in the home. Jeb describes it as having been, "A kind of matriarchy... when we were growing up, dad wasn't at home. Mom was the one to hand out the goodies and the discipline." A childhood friend recalls that,"She was the one who instilled fear", while Bush put it like this: "Every mother has her own style. Mine was a little like an army drill sergeant's... my mother's always been a very outspoken person who vents very well - she'll just let rip if she's got something on her mind." According to his uncle, the "letting rip" often included slaps and hits. Countless studies show that boys with such mothers are at much higher risk of becoming wild, alcoholic or antisocial.
On top of that, Barbara added substantially to the pressure from his father to be a high achiever by creating a highly competitive family culture. All the children's games, be they tiddlywinks or baseball, were intensely competitive - an actual "family league table" was kept of performance in various pursuits. At least this prepared him for life at Andover, where emotional literacy was definitely not part of the curriculum. Soon after arriving, he was asked to write an essay on a soul-stirring experience in his life to date and he chose the death of his sister. His mother had drilled it into him that it was wrong when writing to repeat words already used. Having employed "tears" once in the essay, he sought a substitute from a thesaurus she had given him and wrote "the lacerates ran down my cheeks". The essay received a fail grade, accompanied by derogatory comments such as "disgraceful".
This incident may be an insight into Bush's strange tendency to find the wrong words in making public pronouncements. "Is our children learning?" he once famously asked. On responding to critics of his intellect he claimed that they had "misunderestimated" him. Perhaps these verbal faux-pas are a barely unconscious way of winding up his bullying mother and waving two fingers at his cultured father's sensibility.
The outcome of this childhood was what psychologists call an authoritarian personality. Authoritarianism was identified shortly after the second world war as part of research to discover the causes of fascism. As the name suggests, authoritarians impose the strictest possible discipline on themselves and others - the sort of regime found in today's White House, where prayers precede daily business, appointments are scheduled in five-minute blocks, women's skirts must be below the knee and Bush rises at 5.45am, invariably fitting in a 21-minute, three-mile jog before lunch.
Authoritarian personalities are organised around rabid hostility to "legitimate" targets, often ones nominated by their parents' prejudices. Intensely moralistic, they direct it towards despised social groups. As people, they avoid introspection or loving displays, preferring toughness and cynicism. They regard others with suspicion, attributing ulterior motives to the most innocent behaviour. They are liable to be superstitious. All these traits have been described in Bush many times, by friends or colleagues.
His moralism is all-encompassing and as passionate as can be. He plans to replace state welfare provision with faith-based charitable organisations that would impose Christian family values.
The commonest targets of authoritarians have been Jews, blacks and homosexuals. Bush is anti-abortion and his fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible would mean that gay practices are evil. But perhaps the group he reserves his strongest contempt for are those who have adopted the values of the 60s. He says he loathes "people who felt guilty about their lot in life because others were suffering".
He has always rejected any kind of introspection. Everyone who knows him well says how hard he is to get to know, that he lives behind what one friend calls a "facile, personable" facade. Frum comments that, "He is relentlessly disciplined and very slow to trust. Even when his mouth seems to be smiling at you, you can feel his eyes watching you."
His deepest beliefs amount to superstition. "Life takes its own turns," he says, "writes its own story and along the way we start to realise that we are not the author." God's will, not his own, explains his life.
Most fundamentalist Christians have authoritarian personalities. Two core beliefs separate fundamentalists from mere evangelists ("happy-clappy" Christians) or the mainstream Presbyterians among whom Bush first learned religion every Sunday with his parents: fundamentalists take the Bible absolutely literally as the word of God and believe that human history will come to an end in the near future, preceded by a terrible, apocaplytic battle on Earth between the forces of good and evil, which only the righteous shall survive. According to Frum when Bush talks of an "axis of evil" he is identifying his enemies as literally satanic, possessed by the devil. Whether he specifically sees the battle with Iraq and other "evil" nations as being part of the end-time, the apocalypse preceding the day of judgment, is not known. Nor is it known whether Tony Blair shares these particular religious ideas.
However, it is certain that however much Bush may sometimes seem like a buffoon, he is also powered by massive, suppressed anger towards anyone who challenges the extreme, fanatical beliefs shared by him and a significant slice of his citizens - in surveys, half of them also agree with the statement "the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word".
Bush's deep hatred, as well as love, for both his parents explains how he became a reckless rebel with a death wish. He hated his father for putting his whole life in the shade and for emotionally blackmailing him. He hated his mother for physically and mentally badgering him to fulfil her wishes. But the hatred also explains his radical transformation into an authoritarian fundamentalist. By totally identifying with an extreme version of their strict, religion-fuelled beliefs, he jailed his rebellious self. From now on, his unconscious hatred for them was channelled into a fanatical moral crusade to rid the world of evil.
As Frum put it: "Id-control is the basis of Bush's presidency but Bush is a man of fierce anger." That anger now rules the world.
*Looted from the Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1033904,00.html*
5th March 2006
bayon @ :
Technophilia, An Infantile Disorder
By Bob Black
(A rejoinder to an authoritarian polemic by "Walter Alter" published in Fringe Ware Review. The magazine didn't publish it, except for several sample paragraphs, but did post it on the Internet. It also appeared in Green Anarchist, BCM 1715, London WCIN 3XX , 5 pounds for 5 issues.)
If patriotism is, as Samuel Johnson said, the last refuge of a scoundrel, scientism is by now the first. It's the only ideology which, restated in cyberbabble, projects the look-and-feel of futurity even as it conserves attitudes and values essential to keeping things just as they are. Keep on zapping!
The abstract affirmation of "change" is conservative, not progressive. It privileges all change, apparent or real, stylistic or substantive, reactionary or revolutionary. The more things change -- the more things that change -- the more they stay the same. Faster, faster, Speed Racer! -- (but keep going in circles).
For much the same reason the privileging of progress is also conservative. Progress is the notion that change tends toward improvement and improvement tends to be irreversible. Local setbacks occur as change is stalled or misdirected ("the ether," "phlogiston") but the secular tendency is forward (and secular). Nothing goes very wrong for very long, so there is never any compelling reason not to just keep doing what you're doing. It's gonna be all right. As some jurist once put it in another (but startlingly similar) context, the wheels of justice turn slowly, but they grind fine.
As his pseudonym suggests, Walter Alter is a self-sanctified high priest of progress (but does he know that in German, alter means "older"?). He disdains the past the better to perpetuate it. His writing only in small letters -- how modernist! -- was quite the rage when e.e. cummings pioneered it 80 years ago. Perhaps Alter's next advance will be to abandon punctuation only a few decades after James Joyce did. And well under 3000 years since the Romans did both. The pace of progress can be dizzying.
For Alter, the future is a program that Karl Marx and Jules Verne mapped out in a previous century. Evolution is unilinear, technologically driven and, for some strange reason, morally imperative. These notions were already old when Herbert Spencer and Karl Marx cobbled them together. Alter's positivism is no improvement on that of Comte, who gave the game away by founding a Positivist Church. And his mechanical materialism is actually a regression from Marxism to Stalinism. Like bad science fiction, but not as entertaining, Alterism is 19th century ideology declaimed in 21st century jargon. (One of the few facts about the future at once certain and reassuring is that it will not talk like Walter Alter any more than the present talks like Hugo Gernsback.) Alter hasn't written one word with which Newt Gingrich or Walt Disney, defrosted, would disagree. The "think tank social engineers" are on his side; or rather, he's on theirs. They don't think the way he does -- that barely qualifies as thinking at all -- but they want us to think the way he does. The only reason he isn't on their payroll is why pay him if he's willing to do it for nothing?
"Info overload is relative to your skill level," intones Alter. It's certainly relative to his. He bounces from technology to anthropology to history and back again like the atoms of the Newtonian billiard-bill universe that scientists, unlike Alter, no longer believe in. The breadth of his ignorance amazes, a wondering world can only, with Groucho Marx, ask: "Is there anything else you know absolutely nothing about?" If syndicalism is (as one wag put it) fascism minus the excitement, Alterism is empiricism minus the evidence. He sports the toga of reason without stating any reason for doing so. He expects us to take his rejection of faith on faith. He fiercely affirms that facts are facts without mentioning any.
Alter is much too upset to be articulate, but at least he's provided an enemies list -- although, like Senator McCarthy, he would rather issue vague categorical denunciations than name names. High on the list are "primitivo-nostalgic" "anthro-romanticists" who are either also, or are giving aid and comfort to, "anti-authoritarians" of the "anarcho-left." To the lay reader all these mysterious hyphenations are calculated to inspire a vague dread without communicating any information whom they refer to except dupes of the think tank social engineers and enemies of civilization. But why should the think tank social engineers want to destroy the civilization in which they flourish at the expense of most of the rest of us?
If by religion is meant reverence for something not understood, Alter is fervently religious. He mistakes science for codified knowledge (that was natural history, long since as defunct as phrenology). Science is a social practice with distinctive methods, not an accumulation of officially certified "facts." There are no naked, extracontextual facts. Facts are always relative to a context. Scientific facts are relative to a theory or a paradigm (i.e., to a formalized context). Are electrons particles or waves? Neither and both, according to Niels Bohr -- it depends on where you are looking from and why. Are the postulates and theorems of Euclidean geometry "true"? They correspond very well to much of the physical universe, but Einstein found that Riemann's non-Euclidean geometry better described such crucial phenomena as gravitation and the deflection of light rays. Each geometry is internally consistent; each is inconsistent with the other. No conceivable fact or facts would resolve their discrepancy. As much as they would like to transcend the inconsistency, physicists have learned to live with the incommensurable theories of relativity and quantum physics because they both work (almost). Newtonian physics is still very serviceable inside the solar system, where there are still a few "facts" (like the precession of Mercury) not amenable to Einsteinian relativity, but the latter is definitely the theory of choice for application to the rest of the universe. To call the one true and the other false is like calling a Toyota true and a Model-T false.
Theories create facts -- and theories destroy them. Science is simultaneously, and necessarily, progressive and regressive. Unlike Walter Alter, science privileges neither direction. There is no passive, preexisting, "organised, patterned, predicted and graspable" universe out there awaiting our Promethean touch. Insofar as the Universe is orderly -- which, for all we know, may not be all that far -- we make it so. Not only in the obvious sense that we form families and build cities, ordering our own life-ways, but merely by the patterning power of perception, by which we resolve a welter of sense-data into a "table" where there are "really" only a multitude of tiny particles and mostly empty space.
Alter rages against obnosis, his ill-formed neologism for ignoring the obvious. But ignoring the obvious is "obviously" the precondition for science. As S.F.C. Milsom put it, "things that are obvious cannot be slightly wrong: like the movement of the sun, they can only be fundamentally wrong." Obviously the sun circles the earth. Obviously the earth is flat. Obviously the table before me is solid, not, as atomic-science mystics claim, almost entirely empty space. Obviously particles cannot also be waves. Obviously human society is impossible without a state. Obviously hunter-gatherers work harder than contemporary wage-laborers. Obviously the death penalty deters crime. But nothing is more obvious, if anything is, than that all these propositions are false. Which is to say, they cannot qualify as "facts" within any framework which even their own proponents acknowledge as their own. Indeed, all the advocates (of such of these opinions as still have any) stridently affirm, like Alter, a positivist-empiricist framework in which their falsity is conspicuous.
So then -- to get down to details -- forward into the past. Alter rants against what he calls the "romanticist attachment to a 'simpler,' 'purer' existence in past times or among contemporary primitive or 'Eastern' societies." Hold it right there. Nobody that I know of is conflating past or present primitive societies with "Eastern" societies (presumably the civilizations of China and India and their offshoots in Japan, Korea, Burma, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, etc.). These "Eastern" societies much more closely resemble the society -- ours -- which "anarcho-leftists" want to overthrow than they do any primitive society. Both feature the state, the market, class stratification and sacerdotally controlled religion, which are absent from all band (forager) societies and many tribal societies. If primitive and Eastern societies have common features of any importance to his argument (had he troubled to formulate one) Alter does not identify them.
For Alter it is a "crushing reality that the innate direction that any sentient culture will take to amplify its well-being will be to increase the application of tool-extensions." Cultures are not "sentient"; that is to reify and mystify their nature. Nor do cultures necessarily have any "innate direction." As an ex- (or crypto-) Marxist -- he is a former (?) follower of Lyndon LaRouche in his Stalinist, "National Caucus of Labor Committees" phase -- Alter has no excuse for not knowing this. Although Marx was most interested in a mode of production -- capitalism -- which, he argued, did have an innate direction, he also identified an "Asiatic mode of production" which did not; Karl Wittfogel elaborated on the insight in his Oriental Despotism. Our seer prognosticates that "if that increase stops, the culture will die." This we know to be false.
If Alter is correct, for a society to regress to a simpler technology is inevitably suicidal. Anthropologists know better. For Alter it's an article of faith that agriculture is technologically superior to foraging. But the ancestors of the Plains Indians were sedentary or semisedentary agriculturists who abandoned that life-way because the arrival of the horse made possible (not necessary) the choice of a simpler hunting existence which they must have adjudged qualitatively superior. The Kpelle of Liberia refuse to switch from dry- to wet-cultivation of rice, their staple food, as economic development "experts" urge them to. The Kpelle are well aware that wet (irrigated) rice farming is much more productive than dry farming. But dry farming is conducted communally, with singing and feasting and drinking, in a way which wet farming cannot be -- and it's much easier work at a healthier, more comfortable "work station." If their culture should "die" as a result of this eminently reasonable choice it will be murder, not suicide. If by progress Alter means exterminating people because we can and because they're different, he can take his progress and shove it. He defames science by defending it.
Even the history of Western civilization (the only one our ethnocentric futurist takes seriously) contradicts Alter's theory of technological will-to-power. For well over a thousand years, classical civilization flourished without any significant "application of tool extension." Even when Hellenistic or Roman science advanced, its technology usually did not. It created the steam engine, then forgot about the toy, as China (another counter-example to Alterism) invented gunpowder and used it to scare away demons -- arguably its best use. Of course, ancient societies came to an end, but they all do: as Keynes put it, in the long run, we will all be dead.
And I have my suspicions about the phrase "tool extension." Isn't something to do with that advertised in the back of porn magazines?
Alter must be lying, not merely mistaken, when he reiterates the Hobbesian myth that "primitive life is short and brutal." He cannot possibly even be aware of the existence of those he tags as anthro-romanticists without knowing that they have demonstrated otherwise to the satisfaction of their fellow scientists. The word "primitive" is for many purposes -- including this one -- too vague and overinclusive to be useful. It might refer to anything from the few surviving hunter-gathering societies to the ethnic minority peasantry of modernizing Third World states (like the Indians of Mexico or Peru). Life expectancy is a case in point. Alter wants his readers to suppose that longevity is a function of techno-social complexity. It isn't, and it isn't the opposite either. As Richard Borshay Lee ascertained, the Kung San ("Bushmen") of Botswana have a population structure closer to that of the United States than to that of the typical Third World country with its peasant majority. Foragers' lives are not all that short. Only recently have the average lifespans in the privileged metropolis nations surpassed prehistoric rates.
As for whether the lives of primitives are "brutal," as compared to those of, say, Detroiters, that is obviously a moralistic, not a scientific, judgment. If brutality refers to the quality of life, foragers, as Marshall Sahlins demonstrated in "The Original Affluent Society," work much less and socialize and party much more than we moderns do. None of them take orders from an asshole boss or get up before noon or work a five-day week or -- well, you get the idea.
Alter smugly observes that "damn few aboriginal societies are being created and lived in fully by those doing the praising [of them]." No shit. So what? These societies never were created; they evolved. The same industrial and capitalist forces which are extinguishing existing aboriginal societies place powerful obstacles to forming new ones. What we deplore is precisely what we have lost, including the skills to recreate it. Alter is just cheerleading for the pigs. Like I said, they'd pay him (but probably not very well) if he weren't doing it for free.
Admittedly an occasional anthropologist and an occasional "anarcho-leftist" has in some respects romanticized primitive life at one time or another, but on nothing like the scale on which Alter falsifies the ethnographic record. Richard Borshay Lee and Marshall Sahlins today represent the conventional wisdom as regards hunter-gatherer societies. They don't romanticize anything. They don't have to. A romanticist would claim that the primitive society he or she studies is virtually free of conflict and violence, as did Elizabeth Marshall Thomas in her book on the San/Bushmen, The Harmless People. Lee's later, more painstaking observations established per capita homicide rates for the San not much lower than from those of the contemporary United States. Sahlins made clear that the tradeoff for the leisurely, well-fed hunting-gathering life was not accumulating any property which could not be conveniently carried away. Whether this is any great sacrifice is a value judgment, not a scientific finding -- a distinction to which Alter is as oblivious as any medieval monk.
About the only specific reference Alter makes is to Margaret Mead, "a semi-literate sectarian specializing in 'doping the samples' when they didn't fit into her pre-existent doctrine" (never specified). Mead was poorly trained prior to her first fieldwork in Samoa, but to call the author of a number of well-written best-sellers "semi-literate" falls well short of even semi-literate, it's just plain stupid. I'd say Alter was a semi-literate sectarian doping the facts except that he's really a semi-literate sectarian ignoring the facts.
Mead's major conclusions were that the Samoans were sexually liberal and that they were, relative to interwar Americans, more cooperative than competitive. Mead -- the bisexual protege of the lesbian Ruth Benedict -- may well have projected her own sexual liberalism onto the natives. But modern ethnographies (such as Robert Suggs' Mangaia) as well as historical sources from Captain Cook forwards confirm that most Pacific island societies really were closer to the easygoing hedonistic idyll Mead thought she saw in Samoa than to some Hobbesian horrorshow. Alter rails against romanticism, subjectivity, mysticism -- the usual suspects -- but won't look the real, regularly replicated facts about primitive society in the face. He's in denial.
If Mead's findings as to sexuality and maturation have been revised by subsequent fieldwork, her characterization of competition and cooperation in the societies she studied has not. By any standard, our modern (state-) capitalist society is what statisticians call an outlier -- a sport, a freak, a monster -- at an extraordinary distance from most observations, the sort that pushes variance and variation far apart. There is no "double standard employing an extreme criticism against all bourgeoise [sic], capitalist, spectacular, commodity factors" -- the departure is only as extreme as the departure from community as it's been experienced by most hominid societies for the last several million years. It's as if Alter denounced a yardstick as prejudiced because it establishes that objects of three feet or more are longer than all those that are not. If this is science, give me mysticism or give me death.
Alter insinuates, without demonstrating, that Mead faked evidence. Even if she did, we know that many illustrious scientists, among them Galileo and Gregor Mendel, faked or fudged reports of their experiments to substantiate conclusions now universally accepted. Mendel, to make matters worse, was a Catholic monk, a "mystic" according to Alter's demonology, and yet he founded the science of genetics. Alter, far from founding any science, gives no indication of even beginning to understand any of them.
The merits and demerits of Margaret Mead's ethnography are less than peripheral to Alter's polemic. It wasn't Mead who discovered and reported that hunter-gatherers work a lot less than we do. There is something very off about a control freak who insists that ideas he cannot accept or understand are Fascist. I cannot denounce this kind of jerkoff opportunism too strongly. "Fascist" is not, as Alter supposes, an all-purpose epithet synonomous with "me no like." I once wrote an essay, "Feminism as Fascism," which occasioned a great deal of indignation, although it has held up only too well. But I didn't mind that because I'd been careful and specific about identifying the precise parallels between Fascism and so-called (radical) feminism -- about half a dozen. That's half a dozen more analogies between feminism and Fascism than Alter identifies between Fascism and anarcho-leftism or primito-nostagia. The only anarcho-leftists with any demonstrable affinities to Fascism (to which, in Italy, they provided many recruits) are the Syndicalists, a dwindling sect, the last anarchists to share Alter's retrograde scientism. It's Alter, not his enemies, who calls for "a guiding, cohesive body of knowledge and experience as a frame of reference" -- just one frame of reference, mind you -- for "diagrams and manuals," for marching orders. There happen to be real-life Fascists in this imperfect world of ours. By trivializing the word, Alter (who is far from alone in this), purporting to oppose Fascists, in fact equips them with a cloaking device.
Artists, wails Walter, "don't believe that technology is a good thing, intrinsically." I don't much care what artists believe, especially if Alter is typical of them, but their reported opinion does them credit. I'd have thought it obnosis, ignoring the obvious, to believe in technology "intrinsically," not as the means to an end or ends it's marketed as, but as some sort of be-all and end-all of no use to anybody. Art-for-art's-sake is a debatable credo but at least it furnishes art which for some pleases by its beauty. Technology for its own sake makes no sense at all, no more than Dr. Frankenstein's monster. If tech-for-tech's sake isn't the antithesis of reason, I don't know reason from squat and I'd rather not.
The communist-anarchist hunter-gatherers (for that is what, to be precise, they are), past and present, are important. Not (necessarily) for their successful habitat-specific adaptations since these are, by definition, not generalizable. But because they demonstrate that life once was, that life can be, radically different. The point is not to recreate that way of life (although there may be some occasions to do that) but to appreciate that, if a life-way so utterly contradictory to ours is feasible, which indeed has a million-year track record, then maybe other life-ways contradictory to ours are feasible.
For a 21st century schizoid man of wealth and taste, Alter has an awfully retarded vocabulary. He assumes that babytalk babblewords like "good" and "evil" mean something more than "me like" and "me no like," but if they do mean anything more to him he hasn't distributed the surplus to the rest of us. He accuses his chosen enemies of "infantilism and anti-parental vengeance," echoing the authoritarianism of Lenin ("Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder) and Freud, respectively. A typical futurist -- and the original Futurists did embrace Fascism -- he's about a century behind Heisenberg and Nietzsche and the rest of us. Moralism is retrograde. You want something? Don't tell me you're "right" and I'm "wrong," I don't care what God or Santa Claus likes, never mind if I've been naughty or nice. Just tell me what you want that I have and why I should give it to you. I can't guarantee we'll come to terms, but articulation succeeded by negotiation is the only possible way to settle a dispute without coercion. As Proudhon put it, "I want no laws, but I am ready to bargain."
Alter clings to objective "physical reality" -- matter in motion -- with the same faith a child clutches his mother's hand. And faith, for Alter and children of all ages, is always shadowed by fear. Alter is (to quote Clifford Geertz) "afraid reality is going to go away unless we believe very hard in it." He'll never experience an Oedipal crisis because he'll never grow up that much. A wind-up world is the only kind he can understand. He thinks the solar system actually is an orrery. He has no tolerance for ambiguity, relativity, indeterminacy -- no tolerance, in fact, for tolerance.
Alter seems to have learned nothing of science except some badly bumbled-up jargon. In denouncing "bad scientific method" and "intuition" in almost the same bad breath, he advertises his ignorance of the pluralism of scientific method. Even so resolute a positivist as Karl Popper distinguished the "context of justification," which he thought entailed compliance with a rather rigid demonstrative orthodoxy, from the "context of discovery" where, as Paul Feyerabend gleefully observed, "anything goes." Alter reveals how utterly out of it he is by a casual reference to "true methods of discovery." There are no true methods of discovery, only useful ones. In principle, reading the Bible or dropping acid is as legitimate a practice in the context of discovery as is keeping up with the technical journals. Whether Archimedes actually gleaned inspiration from hopping in the tub or Newton from watching an apple fall is not important. What's important is that these -- any -- triggers to creativity are possible and, if effective, desirable.
Intuition is important, not as an occult authoritative faculty, but as a source of hypotheses in all fields. And also of insights not yet, if ever, formalizable, but nonetheless meaningful and heuristic in the hermeneutic disciplines which rightfully refuse to concede that if they are not susceptible to quantification they are mystical. Many disciplines since admitted to the pantheon of science (such as biology, geology and economics) would have been aborted by this anachronistic dogma. "Consider the source" is what Alter calls "bad scientific method." We hear much (too much) of the conflict between evolutionism and creationism. It takes only a nodding acquaintance with Western intellectual history to recognize that the theory of evolution is a secularization of the eschatology which distinguishes Christianity from other religious traditions. But having Christianity as its context of discovery is a very unscientific reason to reject evolution. Or, for that matter, to accept it.
Alter is not what he pretends to be, a paladin of reason assailing the irrationalist hordes. The only thing those on his enemies list have in common is that they're on it. Ayn Rand, whose hysterical espousal of "reason" was Alterism without the pop science jargon, had a list of irrationalists including homosexuals, liberals, Christians, anti-Zionists, Marxists, abstract expressionists, hippies, technophobes, racists, and smokers of pot (but not tobacco). Alter's list (surely incomplete) includes sado-masochists, New Agers, anthropologists, schizophrenics, anti-authoritarians, Christian Fundamentalists, think tank social engineers, Fascists, proto-Cubists . . . Round up the unusual suspects. Alter's just playing a naming-and-blaming game because he doesn't get enough tool extensions.
"How many times a day do you really strike forward on important matters intuitively?" Well said -- and as good a point as any to give this guy the hook. Riddle me this, Mr. or Ms. Reader: How many times a day do you really strike forward on important matters AT ALL? How many times a day do you "strike forward on important matters" -- intuitively, ironically, intellectually, impulsively, impassively, or any damn way? Or do you find as day follows day that day follows day, and that's about it? That the only "important matters" that affect you, if there even are any, are decided, if they even are, by somebody else? Have you noticed your lack of power to chart your own destiny? That your access to "virtual" reality increases in proportion as you distance yourself (a prudent move) from the real thing? That aside from working and paying, you are of absolutely no use to this society and can't expect to be kept around after you can't do either? And finally, does Walter Alter's technophiliac techno-capitalist caterwauling in any way help you to interpret the future, much less -- and much more important -- to change it?
4th March 2006
bayon @ :
THE FIRST WAR IN THE WORLD
*a Tlingit oral history. Looted from http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/nw/tmt/tmt033.htm*
A man named Xaku'tc! was very fond of hunting and hunted almost every day with his brother-in-law, bringing home seal and all sorts of game which he had speared. There was no money in those days.
It was winter. One morning when he went out he speared a porpoise near the place where a devilfish lived, and began to skin it there, letting its blood spread out over the water. He told his steersman to keep a sharp lookout for the devilfish.
While they were moving along slowly skinning it, they saw the color of the devilfish coming toward them from under the water. It had its arms extended upward ready for action.
Xaku'tc! had a big spear ready by his side, while his brother-in-law began to sharpen his knife and thought to do great things with it. When the devilfish came up out of the water he jumped into the midst of its arms along with his knife and was swallowed so quickly that he was able to do nothing; so his brother-in-law had to fight by himself. After he had fought with it for a long time he killed it, and it began to sink with him. The canoe stood up on one end before it went under, and he climbed up on the thwarts as high as he could go. At last the devilfish went right under with them, and finally floated up again at a place called Narrow point (Kulîsa'o q!a).
Some one must have witnessed this fight, for they cut the devilfish open to see if the hunter were there, and found him stowed away snugly inside of it. That was the man that people often talk about in these days as Xaku'tc!. He it was who killed the devilfish.
Afterward his spirit came to one of his friends. People now try to get strength from him because he killed this devilfish. In olden times, when one killed a great creature, his strength always came to another person. Then his strength came to a certain person, impelling him to go to war.
They used to put a light, thin-skinned coat on this person's back to try his strength by endeavoring to pull it off, but they were not able to do so. They would pull this coat as far back as his shoulders, but, try as hard as they might, they could not get it farther. Then [the spirit in this shaman] told his name. He said, "I am Xaku'tc!. I have been swallowed by a devilfish, and I come to you as a spirit (yêk)." Many people came to see the shaman when he was possessed and to try him with the coat which no one could pull off. What do you think it was that held it on his back? After they had tested all of his spirits they started south to war. They were always warring with the southern people. They and the southern people hated each other. When they went down with this shaman they always enslaved many women and sometimes destroyed a whole town, all on account of his strength.
There was a brave man among the southern people, called Q!ôga', who liked to kill people from up this way. One time a little boy they had captured escaped from the fort where he was. He had a bow and arrows with him. The brave man discovered where he was, went after him, and pulled him out from under the log where he was hiding. But meanwhile the spirits in the canoes of the northern people had seen Q!ôga'. Then Q!ôga' took the little boy down on the beach and said to him, "Shoot me in the eye." He put an arrow in his bow and took such good aim that the arrow passed straight through it. The point of this arrow was made of the large mussel shell. The brave man fell just like a piece of wood thrown down. The little boy had killed him. Then all ran to the little boy and took off his head. The chiefs passed his dried scalp from one to another and wondered at what he had done. They named him ever after Little-head (Qâcâ'k!u), and the man he killed was called One-Little-head-killed (Xûgâ'wadjaget). Even now they relate how Little-head killed the brave man. Then the northern people came around the fort and destroyed everybody there, some of those in the canoes being also killed.
After that the southern people started north to war. They had a shaman among them. On the way they came to a man named Murrelet (Tc!ît). When this man was young, he had been trained to run up steep cliffs by having a mountain-sheep's hoof tied to his leg or neck, and being held up to the walls of the house and made to go through the motions of climbing. They said, "Is this the man they talk about so much who can run up any mountain?" This is what they said when they were chasing him. Then they caught him and took him into one of their canoes.
Now the war chief said to his friends, "Let us take him ashore to that cliff." So they took him to a place called Bell point (Gao lîtu') where part of the town of Huna is, to try him there. They said to him, "Murrelet, go up this cliff." When he attempted it, however, he fell back into the canoe. All the people in the canoes laughed at him. They said, "Oh! you little thing. Why is it that they say you are the best runner up this way?" After he had fallen back the third time, he said, "This is not the way I am dressed when I go up a cliff. I always carry a stone ax, a staff, and a flint, and I always carry along a seal's stomach full of grease." They prepared these things for him and gave them to him. Then he started up, wearing his claw snowshoes, which must have been shod with points as strong as the iron ones people have now. He stepped up a little distance, shook himself, and looked down. Then he called like the murrelet and went up flying. The warriors were surprised and said, "Now give him some more things to put on his feet." They talked about him in the canoes. They said, "Look! he is up on the very top of the mountain peeping at us." Then he lit fires all along on top of the mountain. All the war canoes went along to another place where was a sandy beach.
Then they tied all the canoe ropes to the body of Murrelet's steersman, intending to use him as an anchor. Murrelet heard him crying and ran down the mountain toward him. He turned the world over with his foes. a As he came he made a noise like the murrelet. When he got near he told the man to cry very loudly. Probably this man was his brother. It is rather hard to say. Then he said, "I am going to cut the ropes now. Cry harder." So he cut all of the ropes, and they ran off, while the war canoes floated away. Afterward, however, the warriors found where they had drifted to and recovered them.
Then they started for the fort toward which they had originally set out and captured it.
One high-caste woman they saved and carried south. They took good care of her on account of her birth. At the time when she was captured she was pregnant, and her child was born among the southern people. They also took good care of him; and while he was growing up his mother would take some of his blood and put it upon his nose to make him brave.
For a long time he was ignorant that they were slaves, until one day a young fellow kicked his mother in the nose so that it bled. Then they told him, but he said, "You people know that she is my mother. Why don't you take good care of her even if she is a slave?" After that a spirit possessed him. It was sorrow that made him have this spirit. Then he ordered them to make a paddle for him, and they made him a big one. His spirit was so very powerful that he obtained enough blankets for his services to purchase his mother's freedom. Afterward he got ready to come north with his father and mother, and they helped him to load his canoe. Before he started his father's people asked him not to bring war down upon them. No one else went with them because his spirit was going to guide them.
When they were about to start they put matting over his mother, and, whenever they were going to encamp, they never went right ashore but always dropped anchor outside. How it happened they did not know, but on the way up his mother became pregnant and what was born from her had strength. This strength was what brought them up. During that journey the shaman never ate.
When they came to the beach his friends did not know at first who he was, but his mother related all that had happened. Then his friends came in and began to help him show his spirits. He was getting other spirits from the country of the people he was going to war against. From his wrist up to his elbow he made as many black spots as there were towns he intended to conquer, and, while all were helping him with his spirits, the spots one after another began to smoke. His father told him to remember the place where he had stayed and not destroy it. So, when the spots burned, the burning stopped at the one at his elbow which he simply cleaned away with his hand. This meant that he would extinguish the fire at that point and not fight there.
Then all of his friends prepared themselves and set out to war. They came straight up to a certain fort without attempting to hide, and the fort people shouted, "Come on, you Chilkat people." They had no iron in those days, but were armed with mussel-shell knives and spears, and wore round wooden fighting hats. They destroyed all the men at this fort and enslaved the women and children. Afterward they stood opposite the fort, took off their war hats and began to scalp all they had killed. When they got off they put the scalps on sticks and tied them all around the canoe. They called this, "Shouting out for the scalped heads" (KêcayAt-dus-hu'ktc). They felt very happy over the number of people they had killed and over the number of slaves they had captured. There were no white people here then, not even Russians. It was very close to the time when Raven made us. The people who were doing these things were Kâ'gwAntân. They had started to war from Lucâ'cak!î-ân and KAq!Anuwû'.
After that all the southern people started north to make war, coming by the outside passage. The first place they reached while rounding this island was Murrelet-point fort (Aolî-tc!î'tînû). One canoe started off to spy upon them and was chased ashore but was carried across a narrow strip of land and so got back. Therefore this place is called Things-taken-over (Â'nAxgAlna'). Then they came right up to the fort, destroyed it, and captured the women. There must have been a hundred canoes coming to war. In those days they always used bows and arrows.
A certain woman captured here said, "There is another town up the inlet from us." So they started up about evening and, when the tide was pretty well up, passed through a place where there is a small tide rip. They caught sight of the town far back inside of this and exclaimed, "There's the town." Then they landed just below it and started up into the forest in order to surround it. When it became very dark they began to make noises like birds up in the
woods. In the morning they descended to fight, and the women and children began crying. They captured all. Meanwhile the tidal rapids began to roar as the tide fell.
One woman among the captives was very old. They asked her what time of tide to run the rapids, and she said to herself, "It is of no use for me to live, for all of my friends and brothers are gone. It is just as well to die as to be enslaved." So she said to them, "At half tide."
Then two canoes started down ahead in order to reach some forts said to lie in another direction. They rushed straight under and were seen no more. The old woman was drowned with them. So they made a mark with their blood at the place where these two canoe loads had been drowned to tell what had happened. It may be seen to-day and looks like yellowish paint.
Next day the remaining canoes started out when the tide was high and came to another fort next morning. While they were around behind this a woman came out. Then they seized her and ran a spear up into her body from beneath many times until she dropped dead without speaking. So this fort came to be called, Fort-where-they-stabbed-up-into-a-woman's-p
rivates (KAk!-kagûs-wudû'watA'qînû). Then the people fought with clubs and bows and arrows until all in the fort were destroyed, and started on to another. When they made an attack in those days, they never approached in the daytime but toward morning when everybody was sleeping soundly. Both sides used wooden helmets and spears.
At this fort the women were always digging a big variety of clam (called gAL!), storing these clams in the fort for food. The fort was filled with them. So, when the assailants started up the cliff, one of the men inside struck him with a clam shell just under the war hat so that he bled profusely. He could not see on account of the blood. Then the man in the fort took an Indian ax and beat out his brains. Afterward all in the fort seized clam shells and struck their foes in the face with them so that they could not come up. They threw so fast that the canoes were all kept away; so that place is now called Where-clams-kept-out-the-foes (Xa'osîxani-gâL!). For the same reason this was the only fort where any people were saved, and on the other hand many of the enemy were destroyed by the fort people.
Now they left this fort and came to another, landing on a beach near by, and between them and the fort was what they supposed to be a fresh water pond. Then one of them called Little-bear-man, because he had on a bear-skin coat, began to shoot at the fort with arrows. But the people in the fort shouted to him, "Do not be in such great haste. The tide runs out from the place where you are." Then the bear man said, "The people here say that the tide runs out from this place, but [I know] that it is a fresh-water pond." Presently the tide began to run out from it as they had told him, so he chopped some wood, made a fire and lay by it to wait. After the tide had ebbed they began to fight, destroyed everybody there, and burned the fort down. Close by the site of this fort is a place called Porpoise-belly (Tcîtcîû'k!).
The warriors thought they were getting much the best of the people up this way, but really only a few were left to look after the forts, most being collected elsewhere.
After they had destroyed all the people in four forts they landed on a long sandy beach to cut off the scalps. When there was no time to scalp, the heads were carried away until there should be more leisure. Scalps and slaves were what people fought for, and they dried the scalps by rubbing them on hot stones or holding them near the fire. Then they again started north. This raid consumed the whole summer.
Southward of Huna was a fort on a high cliff, called Jealous-man fort (Caosîtî'yîqâ-nuwu'). It was named from the man who encamped there who was so jealous of his wife that he would let no one else live near him. When the foes all stopped in front of him, and he could hear them talking, he began to quarrel with them, saying, "You big round heads, you want to destroy all of the people up this way." While they were talking back at him one of their canoes struck a rock and split in two, and, after they had rescued the people in it, they began talking about this circumstance, saying, "If we wait any longer he will quarrel us over as well." So they left him and went on north.
The next fort they attacked is called Huna-people's fort (Hû'naqâwu-nuwu') and it stood just where they were going to turn south again. Here they had the greatest fight of all, and the fort people killed many of them. Finally they broke up all the canoes of these people and started south. At this time they were overloaded with the slaves they had taken, but they went in to every fort they passed near and broke up the canoes belonging to it. The last of these forts was called Fort-that-rapids-run-around (Dâtx-xâtkAnAda'-nû). When they had destroyed all of the canoes there, they said, "Will you people bring any more wars upon us? You will not dare to fight us again." They felt very happy, for they thought that they had destroyed all of the northern people, and that no more raids would be made upon them.
Most of the northern people, however, were encamped along the coast to the westward, and, when they heard what had happened, they came from Yakutat, Alsek river, and other places to Lucâ'cak!î-ân. They talked together for a long time and finally decided upon a plan. All the men began to sharpen their stone axes, and, when that was finished, they came to a big tree they had already marked out and began to chop at it from all sides. This was the biggest tree ever known. While they worked, the women would come around it wailing and mourning for their dead friends. It took two days to chop this tree down, and, if anybody broke his stone ax, they felt very sorry for him and beat the drums as though some one were dead. Then they cut the tree in two and took a section off along the whole length where the upper side of the canoe was to be, and the head workman directed that it be burnt out inside with fire. So all the people assembled about it to work, and as fast as it was burnt they took sticks and knocked off the burnt part so as to burn deeper and to shape it properly when it had been burned enough. There was one heavy limb that they let stand, merely finishing about it. This work took them all winter. During the same time they bathed in the sea and whipped one another in order to be brave in the approaching war.
Toward spring they got inside of the canoe with their stone axes and began to smooth it by cutting out the burnt part. Then they began to give names to the canoe. It was finally called Spruce-canoe (Sît-yâku). The thing they left in the middle was the real thing they were going to kill people with. Finally they finished it by putting in seats.
Now they were only waiting for it to get warmer. In those days there were special war leaders, and in fighting they wore helmets and greaves made of common varieties of wood.
There was a shaman among these people named QâlA'tk! belonging to the Nâste'dî. Because they were going to war, all of his people would come about him to help him capture the souls of the enemy. One time he said to his clothes man, "Go out for food, and be brave. The head spirit is going to help you." So the clothes man went out as directed and the spirit showed him the biggest halibut in the ocean. For the float to his line he used the largest sea-lion stomach, and, when he began to pull it up, it looked as though the whole ocean were flowing into its mouth. But the shaman told him to be courageous and hold on though the hook looked like nothing more than a small spot. It did not even move, for the strength of the spirits killed it, but it was so large that they had to tow it in below the town. Then all the people who were going to fight cut the halibut up and began to dry it. There was enough for all who were going to war and for all the women left at home. When it was dried they started to pack part away in the canoe. Then they pushed the canoe down on skids made of the bodies of two women whom they had captured from the southern people on a previous expedition and whom they now killed for the purpose. Meanwhile the southern people thought that they had destroyed all of those at the north and were scattered everywhere in camps, not taking the trouble to make forts. Finally all the northern warriors got into the big canoe and they started south. It took probably ten days to get there. At the first camp they reached they killed all the men and put the women and children down on the sharpened limb alive. Of one woman who was saved they asked where the other people were, and she said that they were scattered everywhere in camps which she named. After they had destroyed the second camp they enslaved more women, whom they also put upon the sharpened limb. As they never took any off, the number on this increased continually. Then they asked the woman: "Didn't you expect any war party to come down here?" She said, "No one expected another raid down here, so they built no forts."
The big canoe went around everywhere, killing people, destroying property, and enslaving women. The women captured at each place told them where others were to be found, and so they continued from place to place. 'They destroyed more of the southern people than were killed up this way. When they thought that they had killed everybody they started north, stopping at a certain place to scalp the bodies. Then they reached home, and everybody felt happy. They not only brought numbers of slaves but liberated those of their own people who had been taken south. Since that time people have been freer to camp where they please, and, although the northern and southern people fought against each other for a long time, more slaves were taken up this way, so the northern people did not esteem the southern people very highly. This is said to have been the very oldest war.
On the Origins of War
by John Zerzan
War is a staple of civilization. Its mass, rationalized, chronic presence has increased as civilization has spread and deepened. Among the specific reasons it doesn't go away is the desire to escape the horror of mass-industrial life. Mass society of course finds its reflection in mass soldiery and it has been this way from early civilization. In the age of hyper-developing technology, war is fed by new heights of dissociation and disembodiment. We are ever further from a grounding or leverage from which to oppose it (while too many accept paltry, symbolic "protest" gestures).
How did it come to be that war is "the proper work of man," in the words of Homer's Odysseus? We know that organized warfare advanced with early industry and complex social organization in general, but the question of origins predates even Homer's early Iron Age. The explicit archaeological/anthropological literature on the subject is surprisingly slight.
Civilization has always had a basic interest in holding its subjects captive by touting the necessity of official armed force. It is a prime ideological claim that without the state's monopoly on violence, we would be unprotected and insecure. After all, according to Hobbes, the human condition has been and will always be that of "a war of all against all." Modern voices, too, have argued that humans are innately aggressive and violent, and so need to be constrained by armed authority. Raymond Dart (e.g. Adventures with the Missing Link, 1959), Robert Ardrey (e.g. African Genesis, 1961), and Konrad Lorenz (e.g. On Aggression, 1966) are among the best known, but the evidence they put forth has been very largely discredited.
In the second half of the 20th century, this pessimistic view of human nature began to shift. Based on archaeological evidence, it is now a tenet of mainstream scholarship that pre-civilization humans lived in the absence of violence—more specifically, of organized violence.
Eibl-Eibesfeldt referred to the !Ko- Bushmen as not bellicose: "Their cultural ideal is peaceful coexistence, and they achieve this by avoiding conflict, that is by splitting up, and by emphasizing and encouraging the numerous patterns of bonding."1
An earlier judgment by W.J. Perry is generally accurate, if somewhat idealized: "Warfare, immorality, vice, polygyny, slavery, and the subjection of women seem to be absent among our gatherer-hunter ancestors."2
The current literature consistently reports that until the final stages of the Paleolithic Age—until just prior to the present 10,000-year era of domestication—there is no conclusive evidence that any tools or hunting weapons were used against humans at all.3 "Depictions of battle scenes, skirmishes and hand-to-hand combat are rare in hunter-gatherer art and when they do occur most often result from contact with agriculturalists or industrialized invaders," concludes Taçon and Chippindale's study of Australian rock art.4 When conflict began to emerge, encounters rarely lasted more than half an hour, and if a death occurred both parties would retire at once.5
The record of Native Americans in California is similar. Kroeber reported that their fighting was "notably bloodless. They even went so far as to take poorer arrows to war than they used in economic hunting."6 Wintu people of Northern California called off hostilities once someone was injured.7 "Most Californians were absolutely nonmilitary; they possessed next to none of the traits requisite for the military horizon, a condition that would have taxed their all but nonexistent social organization too much. Their societies made no provision for collective political action," in the view of Turney-High.8 Lorna Marshall described Kung! Bushmen as celebrating no valiant heroes or tales of battle. One of them remarked, "Fighting is very dangerous; someone might get killed!"9 George Bird Grinnell's "Coup and Scalp Among the Plains Indians"10 argues that counting coup (striking or touching an enemy with the hand or a small stick) was the highest point of (essentially nonviolent) bravery, whereas scalping was not valued.
The emergence of institutionalized warfare appears to be associated with domestication, and/ or a drastic change in a society's physical situation. it, this comes about "only where band peoples have been drawn into the warfare of horticulturalists or herders, or driven into an ever-diminishing territory."11 The first reliable archaeological evidence of warfare is that of fortified, pre-Biblical Jericho, c. 7500 B.C. In the early Neolithic a relatively sudden shift happened. What dynamic forces may have led people to adopt war as a social institution? To date, this question has not been explored in any depth by archaeologists.
Symbolic culture appears to have emerged in the Upper Paleolithic; by the Neolithic it was firmly established in human cultures everywhere. The symbolic has a way of effacing particularity, reducing human presence in its specific, nonmediated aspects. It is easier to direct violence against a faceless enemy who represents some officially defined evil or threat. Ritual is the earliest known form of purposive symbolic activity: symbolism acting in the world. Archaeological evidence suggests that there may be a link between ritual and the emergence of organized warfare. During the almost timeless era when humans were not interested in dominating their surroundings, certain places were special and came to be known as sacred sites. This was based on a spiritual and emotional kinship with the land, expressed in various forms of totemism or custodianship. Ritual begins to appear, but is not central to band or forager societies. Emma Blake observes, "Although the peoples of the Paleolithic practiced rituals, the richest material residues date from the Neolithic period onward, when sedentism and the domestication of plants and animals brought changes to the outlook and cosmology of people everywhere."12 It was in the Upper Paleolithic that certain strains and tensions caused by the development of specialization first became evident. Inequities can be measured by such evidence as differing amounts of goods at hearth sites in encampments; in response, ritual appears to have begun to play a greater social role. As many have noted, ritual in this context is a way of addressing deficiencies of cohesion or solidarity; it is a means of guaranteeing a social order that has become problematic. As Bruce Knauft saw, "ritual reinforces and puts beyond argument or question certain highly general propositions about the spiritual and human world…[and] predisposes deep-seated cognitive acceptance and behavioral compliance with these cosmological propositions."13 Ritual thus provides the original ideological glue for societies now in need of such legitimating assistance. Face-to-face solutions become ineffective as social solutions, when communities become complex and already partly stratified. The symbolic is a non-solution; in fact, it is a type of enforcer of relationships and world-views characterized by inequality and estrangement.
Ritual is itself a type of power, an early, pre-state form of politics. Among the Maring people of Papua New Guinea, for instance, the conventions of the ritual cycle specify duties or roles in the absence of explicitly political authorities. Sanctity is therefore a functional alternative to politics; sacred conventions, in effect, govern society.14 Ritualization is clearly an early strategic arena for the incorporation of power relations. Further, warfare can be a sacred undertaking, with militarism promoted ritually, blessing emergent social hierarchy. René Girard proposes that rituals of sacrifice are a necessary counter to endemic aggression and violence in society.15 Something nearer to the reverse is more the case: ritual legitimates and enacts violence. As Lienhardt said of the Dinka herders of Africa, to "make a feast or sacrifice often implies war."16 Ritual does not substitute for war, according to Arkush and Stanish: "warfare in all times and places has ritual elements."17 They see the dichotomy between "ritual battle" and "real war" to be false, summarizing that "archaeologists can expect destructive warfare and ritual to go hand in hand."18
It is not only among Apache groups, for example, that the most ritualized were the most agricultural,19 but that so often ritual has mainly to do with agriculture and warfare, which are often very closely linked.20 It is not uncommon to find warfare itself seen as a means of enhancing the fertility of cultivated ground. Ritual regulation of production and belligerence means that domestication has become the decisive factor. "The emergence of systematic warfare, fortifications, and weapons of destruction," says Hassan, "follows the path of agriculture."21 Ritual evolves into religious systems, the gods come forth, sacrifice is demanded.
"There is no doubt that all the inhabitants of the unseen world are greatly interested in human agriculture," notes anthropologist Verrier Elwin.22 Sacrifice is an excess of domestication, involving domesticated animals and occurring only in agricultural societies. Ritual killing, including human sacrifice, is unknown in non-domesticated cultures.23 Corn in the Americas tells a parallel story. An abrupt increase in corn agriculture brought with it the rapid elaboration of hierarchy and militarization in large parts of both continents.24 One instance among many is the northward intrusion of the Hohokams against the indigenous Ootams25 of southern Arizona, introducing agriculture and organized warfare. By about 1000 A.D. the farming of maize had become dominant throughout the Southwest, complete with year-round ritual observances, priesthoods, social conformity, human sacrifice, and cannibalism. 26 It is hardly an understatement to say, with Kroeber, that with maize agriculture, "all cultural values shifted."27
Horses are another instance of the close connection between domestication and war. First domesticated in the Ukraine around 3000 B.C., their objectification fed militarism directly. Almost from the very beginning they served as machines; most importantly, as war machines.28
The relatively harmless kinds of intergroup fighting described above gave way to systematic killing as domestication led to increasing competition for land.29 The drive for fresh land to be exploited is widely accepted as the leading specific cause of war throughout the course of civilization. Once-dominant feelings of gratitude toward a freely giving nature and knowledge of the crucial interdependence of all life are replaced by the ethos of domestication: humans versus the natural world. This enduring power struggle is the template for the wars it constantly engenders. There was awareness of the price exacted by the paradigm of control, as seen in the widespread practice of symbolic regulation or amelioration of domestication of animals in the early Neolithic. But such gestures do not alter the fundamental dynamic at work, any more than they preserve millions of years' worth of gatherer-hunters' practices that balanced population and subsistence.
Agricultural intensification meant more warfare. Submission to this pattern requires that all aspects of society form an integrated whole from which there is little or no escape. With domestication, division of labor now produces full-time specialists in coercion: for example, definitive evidence shows a soldier class established in the Near East by 4500 B.C. The Jivaro of Amazonia, for millennia a harmonious component of the biotic community, adopted domestication, and "have elaborated blood revenge and warfare to a point where these activities set the tone for the whole society."30 Organized violence becomes pervasive, mandatory, and normative.
Expressions of power are the essence of civilization, with its core principle of patriarchal rule. It may be that systematic male dominance is a by-product of war. The ritual subordination and devaluation of women is certainly advanced by warrior ideology, which increasingly emphasized "male" activities and downplayed women's roles.
The initiation of boys is a ritual designed to produce a certain type of man, an outcome that is not at all guaranteed by mere biological growth. When group cohesion can no longer be taken for granted, symbolic institutions are required—especially to further compliance with pursuits such as warfare. Lemmonier's judgment is that "male initiations... are connected by their very essence with war."31
Polygyny, the practice of one man taking multiple wives, is rare in gatherer-hunter bands, but is the norm for war-making village societies.32 Once again, domestication is the decisive factor. It is no coincidence that circumcision rituals by the Merida people of Madagascar culminated in aggressive military parades.33 There have been instances where women not only hunt but also go into combat (e.g. the Amazons of Dahomey; certain groups in Borneo), but it is clear that gender construction has tended toward a masculinist, militarist direction. With state formation, warriorship was a common requirement of citizenship, excluding women from political life.
War is not only ritualistic, usually with many ceremonial features; it is also a very formalized practice. Like ritual itself, war is performed via strictly prescribed movements, gestures, dress, and forms of speech. Soldiers are identical and structured in a standardized display. The formations of organized violence, with their columns and lines, are like agriculture and its rows: files on a grid.34 Control and discipline are thus served, returning to the theme of ritualized behavior, which is always an increased elaboration of authority.
Exchange between bands in the Paleolithic functioned less as trade (in the economic sense) than as exchange of information. Periodic intergroup gatherings offered marriage opportunities, and insured against resource shortfalls. There was no clear differentiation of social and economic spheres. Similarly, to apply our word "work" is misleading in the absence of production or commodities. While territoriality was part of forager-hunter activity, there is no evidence that it led to war.35
Domestication erects the rigid boundaries of surplus and private property, with concomitant possessiveness, enmity, and struggle for ownership. Even conscious mechanisms aimed at mitigating the new realities cannot remove their ever-present, dynamic force. In The Gift, Mauss portrayed exchange as peacefully resolved war, and war as the result of unsuccessful transactions; he saw the potlatch as a sort of sublimated warfare.36
Before domestication, boundaries were fluid. The freedom to leave one band for another was an integral part of forager life. The more or less forced integration demanded by complex societies provided a staging ground conducive to organized violence. In some places, chiefdoms arose from the suppression of smaller communities' independence. Protopolitical centralization was at times pushed forward in the Americas by tribes desperately trying to confederate to fight European invaders.
Ancient civilizations spread as a result of war, and it can be said that warfare is both a cause of statehood, and its result.
Not much has changed since war was first instituted, rooted in ritual and given full-growth potential by domestication. Marshall Sahlins first pointed out that increased work follows developments in symbolic culture. It's also the case that culture begets war, despite claims to the contrary. After all, the impersonal character of civilization grows with the ascendance of the symbolic. Symbols (e.g. national flags) allow our species to dehumanize our fellow-humans, thus enabling systematic intra-species carnage.
*From Green Anarchy #21, Fall/Winter 2005-06. The footnotes and more articles in the !library at www.greenanarchy.org*
3rd March 2006
bayon @ : Aggregation of Naxalite-Maoist Activity in Rural India for February
JAMUI: Naxalites inhabiting the Jamui area on the Bihar-Jharkhand border hope to liberate the masses from their class enemies. And, for this precise reason, the dreaded People's Guerrilla Army (PGA) has virtually taken over the entire region for all practical purposes.
One among their ranks is self-styled 'area commander' Suleiman. Greeting this correspondent with a Laal salaam in his booming voice during the latter's visit to the are recently, Suleiman, dressed in olive-green fatigue with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle slung across his shoulder, definitely cut an impressive figure among his similarly attired comrades-in-arms.
While some stood by tentatively, others were busy preparing lunch.
The sun piercing through the thick forest cover was a respite from the bone-chilling westerlies. "We guard our posts and take on the class enemies," Suleiman said.
*Friday, February 03, 2006 01:15:57 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK*
WARANGAL: Ten naxalites have surrendered before police in Andhra Pradesh, police said on Friday.
Six Maoists - M Ravi alias Sudharshan (20) of Rangapur village, K Sammakh alias Kishore 21 of Chintagudem, M Ramadevi alias Srilatha, D Narender alias Babu of Thimmmapet village, B Shankar and his wife K Anitha -- surrendered today before Inspector General of Police (Warangal) B L Meena.
Meena said during the forthcoming 'Medaram Jatara' (fair) police has decided to carry out aerial survey of the areas keeping in view naxalite threat to VIPs.
A report from Prakasam district today said four naxalites surrendered before the superintendent of police on Thursday.
The naxals are Damsani Animma alias Lakshmi alias Prasanthi (23), Dy Commander Vinkonda Joshna alias Malathi (18), Kaluva Nageswara Rao alias Suresh (21) and Baker Nagaratnam alias Sujatha.
*Friday, February 03, 2006 11:02:10 pmPTI*
RAIPUR: A constable was killed and four policemen injured in a naxalite attack at a police station in Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh early on Monday, a senior police official said.
"A large number of naxalites attacked the Arra police outpost in the district, killing one constable and injuring four policemen, before escaping with some weapons," Director General of Police Om Prakash Rathor said.
The constable died on the spot and the injured policemen were rushed to the district headquarters, Jashpur Nagar, about 400 kms from Raipur, Rathor said.
The naxals also blew up the communication tower, cutting off the link between Jashpur district, which borders Jharkhand, and other areas, he said.
"I have talked to the DGP, Jharkhand as the naxalites might have come from Simdegah and Gumla districts to carry out the attack in Chhattisgarh. A joint combing operation is being planned," he added.
Senior police officials have rushed to the spot and efforts are being made to restore the communication link, the DGP said.
*Monday, February 06, 2006 09:58:45 amPTI*
TIRUPATI: Police and the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) security officials on Monday denied reports that Maoists had visited Tirumala recently.
TTD chief security and vigilance officer Balakrishna told TOI that the reports that eight naxalites, including four women, visited the Veda Pathasala at Dharmagiri in Tirumala, was baseless.
According to the reports, the eight naxalites even carried some prasadam, water and food packets from the Veda Pathasala stores and distributed them at a naxals’ meet in the Nallamala forest in November.
District SP V Venugopala Krishna also denied the report, saying that the police were maintaining a strict vigil at the Tirumala ghat section.
*Tuesday, February 07, 2006 01:35:51 am*
RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh police along with Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh police departments and the CRPF on Tuesday launched a massive combing operation to nab the Maoists responsible for twin attacks on security forces in Jashpur and Dantewara on Monday.
Chief minister Raman Singh on Tuesday claimed these attacks would not deter the state police. Chhattisgah DG spoke to his Jharkhand counterpart and claimed Naxalites were suspected to have ex-filtrated to Gumla and Simdega districts of Jharkhand, after attacking Aara police station.
An IAF helicopter was used to evacuate the injured and deceased policemen from Bhejji. BSF sent its Avro plane to fly bodies of Nagaland policemen to Kohima.The DGP and intelligence chief had visited Jashpur on Monday and claimed 500 armed Naxalites had attacked the police post.
Home minister Ram Vichar Netam said the jawans fought gallantly and two policemen were killed and another eight others were injured guarding the police station.
Police and home minister were mum over the escape of seven other jawans present in the police station at the time of the attack, a discrepancy that raises questions about official version of the attack.
Netam said Naxalites had made annoncements over the public address system in the village asking people and police to surrender. "This is their usual practice when they attack the police", Netam claimed and denied the allegations that the policemen surrendered to armed Naxalites.
Chairman of state sports and youth commission, Ranvijay Singh Judeo claimed he had warned state government about the outpost being looted by Maoists in a high-level meeting of core group of the party in which the CM and home minister were present.
*Wednesday, February 08, 2006 02:00:15 am*
RAIPUR: Eight CISF jawans were killed and nine injured when a large number of heavily-armed Naxalites attacked a sensitive explosive depot of the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) in Dhantewada district of Chattisgarh in the small hours on Friday, police said.
"A large number of Maoists past midnight attacked the explosive depot of NMDC located at Kirandul, about 550 kilometers from the State Capital, and killed eight CISF jawans and injuring nine," Dhantewada police sources said.
The Maoists also looted 14 Self Loading Rifles (SLR), one 9 mm pistol, two wireless sets and huge amounts of explosive material, including detonators and fuses, stocked by the PSU for its own mining activities, the sources said.
*Friday, February 10, 2006 09:10:04 am*
BANKA: In yet another incident of Naxalite attack here within a month, a group of CPI(Maoist) activists burnt down six tractors near Bara-Panchgachhia bridge on the Chanan river under Belhar police station in Banka district on late Wednesday evening.
All the six tractors were completely damaged in the incident, sources said.
According to the police sources, a large group of extremists descended on an area where canal repairing work was in progress and first opened indiscriminate fire.
"As the labourers scurried for cover, taking advantage of the situation, the Naxalites set ablaze all six tractors parked nearby. The tractors were owned by a Rajasthan-based construction,"Banka SP DN Gupta said.
The firm had reportedly refused to meet extortion demands of the extremists.
*Friday, February 17, 2006 01:43:10 am*
KURNOOL: Two top leaders of the CPI (Maoist), including its area committee secretary Karrem Narsappa, were killed in an alleged encounter at Buddaram forest in Gopalpeta mandal of Mahbubnagar district on Sunday evening.
Narsappa was the main accused in the case pertaining to the killing of Congress legislator C Narsi Reddy, his son C Venkateswar Reddy and nine others in Narayanpet on Aug. 15 last year.
According to Mahbubnagar SP, K Srinivas Reddy, a patrol party came across a group of Maoists in Buddaram forest and retaliated when the guerrillas fired at them.
He also said the patrol party was continuing combing operation in the region to nab the naxalites, who managed to escape into the forest.
*Monday, February 27, 2006 01:59:49 am*
RAIPUR: In an attempt to bring the work at Defence establishment, NMDC and Railways to a grinding halt, the Maoists exploded an "extra-high tension" power line at Bastar region of Chhattisgarh and injured two Naga jawans in a landmine blast when they were attempting to repair the power line, top official sources said today.
The Naxalites exploded four pillars of a 220 extra high tension power line at Bodeli of Dantewada district in the wee hours yesterday damaging two of its pillars, Principal Secretary Energy Vivek Dhand told reporters.
From this "extra high tension line", electricity is being provided to sensitive Defence establishment located at Mardum and also the National Mineral Development Corporation's (NMDC) Bailadila mines, from where best quality iron-ore are exported to Japan and other nations, Dhand, who is also the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, said.
This line not only provided power to the Railways of the region but also electricity to the entire south of Chhattisgarh, mainly known as Bastar region, he said.
The top official said the act was a serious threat to the lives of the inhabitants of the tribal region as any one coming in contact with the extra high tension line could die.
He added that the tower was standing only on two pillars instead of four "and any time it may collapse and with that the entire system of the south region of the state could crumble down".
Meanwhile, the sources said when the electricity official had gone to the spot on Sunday to carry out repair work, the naxalites triggered land mine blasts injuring seriously two jawans of the Nagaland Battalion, who have subsequently been airlifted to Raipur for further treatment.
*Monday, February 27, 2006 03:15:01 pm*
RAIPUR: Maoists on Tuesday triggered a landmine blast targetting a truck which was carrying about 100 people in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, official sources said.
About 100 villagers were coming from Errapore to Konta when the Maoists triggered a landmine blast on the vehicle near Darphaguda, about 500 km from Raipur, sources said.
"The number of casualties and those injured could not be ascertained," Bastar IGP M W Ansari said. Other sources have put the number of dead at 100.
Superintendent of Police (Dantewada) Praveer Das said Naxalites have also opened fire on the police parties who were trying to reach the spot.
"Police have not yet reached the spot and it is difficult to say about the condition of the travellers. But all of them were returning back after attending an anti-Naxal meet at Dornapal of the district," he said.
*Tuesday, February 28, 2006 01:14:43 pm*
bayon @ : Chaos
CHAOS NEVER DIED. Primordial uncarved block, sole worshipful monster, inert & spontaneous, more ultraviolet than any mythology (like the shadows before Babylon), the original undifferentiated oneness-of-being still radiates serene as the black pennants of Assassins, random & perpetually intoxicated.
Chaos comes before all principles of order & entropy, it's neither a god nor a maggot, its idiotic desires encompass & define every possible choreography, all meaningless aethers & phlogistons: its masks are crystallizations of its own facelessness, like clouds.
Everything in nature is perfectly real including consciousness, there's absolutely nothing to worry about. Not only have the chains of the Law been broken, they never existed; demons never guarded the stars, the Empire never got started, Eros never grew a beard.
No, listen, what happened was this: they lied to you, sold you ideas of good & evil, gave you distrust of your body & shame for your prophethood of chaos, invented words of disgust for your molecular love, mesmerized you with inattention, bored you with civilization & all its usurious emotions.
There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no path; already you're the monarch of your own skin--your inviolable freedom waits to be completed only by the love of other monarchs: a politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.
To shed all the illusory rights & hesitations of history demands the economy of some legendary Stone Age--shamans not priests, bards not lords, hunters not police, gatherers of paleolithic laziness, gentle as blood, going naked for a sign or painted as birds, poised on the wave of explicit presence, the clockless nowever.
Agents of chaos cast burning glances at anything or anyone capable of bearing witness to their condition, their fever of lux et voluptas. I am awake only in what I love & desire to the point of terror--everything else is just shrouded furniture, quotidian anaesthesia, shit-for-brains, sub-reptilian ennui of totalitarian regimes, banal censorship & useless pain.
Avatars of chaos act as spies, saboteurs, criminals of amour fou, neither selfless nor selfish, accessible as children, mannered as barbarians, chafed with obsessions, unemployed, sensually deranged, wolfangels, mirrors for contemplation, eyes like flowers, pirates of all signs & meanings.
Here we are crawling the cracks between walls of church state school & factory, all the paranoid monoliths. Cut off from the tribe by feral nostalgia we tunnel after lost words, imaginary bombs.
The last possible deed is that which defines perception itself, an invisible golden cord that connects us: illegal dancing in the courthouse corridors. If I were to kiss you here they'd call it an act of terrorism--so let's take our pistols to bed & wake up the city at midnight like drunken bandits celebrating with a fusillade, the message of the taste of chaos.
*looted from Hakim Bey, The Temporary Autonomous Zone*
bayon @ : Only A Tsunami Will Do -- for a post-feminist anarchy
Only a Tsunami Will Do
For a Post-Feminist Anarchy
by Rita Katrina-Andrews
"Are you ready to smash the reefs of the old world before they wreck your desires? Lovers should love their pleasure with more consequence and more poetry. Some of us have fallen in love with the pleasure of loving without reserve — passionately enough to offer our love to the magnificent bed of a revolution."
—Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
Anarchists who cling to Leftist ideology as if it's a life raft are not worth the energy of a tirade. But, when another self-described post-left anarchist used an essentialist feminist scheme to explain away a much more complex situation, one of my peri-menopausal rants became inevitable. If it leaves you cold and uninspired – good; I'll have reflected the subject matter well. If you are already preparing your defense, gwan-get to a 'safe space' to vilify me as 'maleidentified', 'manarchist' or ... But look, I'm not dissing you, 'sister' or 'brother'; always do what pleases you most. It's just that the endless 60's reruns of "Men: Oppressors – Original Problem" and "Women: Nurturers – Only Solution" are tiresome. Depressing. Frustrating. And the latest newsflashes, "Man Deviates From Essential Nature, Becomes More Feminine; Crochets Scarf" or "Woman Takes Male Privilege; Abuses Iraqi Prisoners" are just spinning attempts to aerate a stagnant pool liberally polluted with the flotsam and jetsam of feminism's (p)receding two Waves.
When feminists proclaimed "the personal is the political" they conveniently ignored the fact that politics require de-personalization; de-uniquing and de-individualizing, massified roles with near verbatim scripts. I insist, the personal can only be the anti-political – ungoverned and ungovernable unique humans whose liberation can have no interceptors, interpreters, or redirectors. For those who need to identify the roles and scripts of my life to better position me on their revoltving stage – here's some personal for you.
I'm a woman/female/girl. Mostly 'caucasian'. Omni-sexual. Enslaved by mother starting age five (ironing boards don't fold that low for the young maids?). Army brat raped by military intelligence father for six-plus years starting at age ten until I swore the 'masculine' vow to kill him if he touched me again. Battered for years, never fully broken. And no matter how hard They squeezed, an intractable rebel girl. I was also (and still am when it suits me) a damned good actress (or is it actor), which saved my ass more than once. I left 'home' as soon as I found a way out – and oh, what a way! Mother, military wife – age 17. Prostitute in training, age 19. Single mother of two by 24. Sexy bartender, thieving comptroller by 29. Kick-ass electronics tech, ace network engineer – 33. With one final agonizing push from below, disgusted corporate executive – age 35. Throughout it all, scores of lovers, but damn few close and trusting relationships – male or female. Who do you trust in a world filled with used/users and ideologues who can rarely be 'real'? All this Progress and Success in the 'man's world' brought death too close by 40. I ignored the warnings for two more years while I searched for a gradual escape. Once I realized that route didn't exist, I simply bailed. For 7 years I embraced life as a stinking desert rat and outlaw. My only aspiration then, as now, is to be a 'wild thing'. By doing what I wanted, when I wanted – and mostly alone – I gained a level of health I'd not had at any age. Now I'm 50 and the long-forbidden tears of pain merge with those of rage when I hear anarchists spouting the same shit, thousands of different days later; "conform to appropriate behavior or else". My health is waning again and I have real playing to get caught up with/in, but I can't escape this reeling stage no matter how remotely I go! Everywhere life suffers and dies before its time, if my experience is any reflection and it's us human 'brothers' and 'sisters' doing the murder while indignantly pointing the finger (some preferring the middle digit) at each other. Sibling rivalry has gone global and our quarrels, deadly.
"Separation is the alpha and omega of the spectacle." —ibid
Look in the goddamn mirror – look all around you! No one is like you and no one can really know you – maybe not even yourself. But you think you've got everyone else figured out. Look for sacred, fleshy mounds. A dick? – Man, don't trust him; patriarch, violent, oppressive, privileged, testosterone-poisoned, rapist-in-waiting, in need of punishment. Breasts? – Woman, nurturing, kind, earth-loving, safe, survivor, in-need-of-sisterly-support. Damn it! So many generals armed to the teeth with generalizations! Our allies can't be distinguished/extinguished by appearance OR homogenized experience; neither can most of our enemies. Believe it or Not —Ripley.
Redefining the root of oppression as the patriarchy is not a well-thought out critique, it's a well-marketed cliché designed for a captured audience (and another buck-oh-five bumper sticker). Of course, the obvious rulers on the world stage are mostly men whose power and glory comes primarily through the Institutionalized hierarchy of violence. And yes, many homes are the domain of god-thefather with woman and child beaten into supporting roles. But to reconstruct the entire world on a patriarchal foundation, radfems had to ignore women's roles in the design and enforcement stage. Women also rule (there are few who who don't dominate someone/thing; hierarchy is ubiquitous because of its success/ access/-ibility to everyone). If women's power has come primarily from the institutionalized hierarchy of manipulation, matriarchy is supposed to be desirable? Fuck that! My liberation cannot be measured in the incremental subtleties of physical pain relieved. And no amount of revisionism can disguise the shifty-shifting roles we all play in this CO-creation: heroes and heroines, saviors and damselsin- distress, villains and innocents and...
Alert! Alert! Most every frightened fear-monger was raised by a mother. Do you think she might have some role in creating the monsters their offspring become? Or are the domineering, child-beating, Abu Graib, star-quality commandeers of the global-stage-sanscock simply patriarchs with pussies? What do you call women who urge – if not order – their men to war to return as heroes protecting the oh-so-sweet and suddenly available booty? From ancient Helen of Troy to the re-released Lysistrata, the cunt is no stranger to the imperial battlefield. Tell me, is it gender, class, or race privilege that keeps the blood off the hands of the Albrights, Elizabeths, Thatchers, Rices...? Is it sexism that keeps women 'behind the lines' stuck with the 'inferior' roles of director, coordinator, or yellow-ribbonier of the men who slaughter for 'freedom'?
"It is easy to see why bourgeois thought, strung up as it is on a rope of radicalism of its own manufacture, clings with the energy of desperation to every reformist solution, to anything that can prolong its life, even though its own weight must inevitably drag it down to its doom." –Raoul Vaneigem
Women's Studies (Institutionalized Herstory) produce new leaders who mimic the strategies of their historic predecessors, who succeeded in defining nationalism as a unifying birth identity. But, feminists are way behind in marketing their massified set of values: a common (politically correct) language, generalized shared experience as victim/survivor, loyalty to The Cause, and an "incredible commonality of vision". And as do patriots, these feminists often treat me as a traitor because I refuse to join their "Liberation" Party.
Stars of the new-age feminist stage hawk their wares in honor to the goddesses — deities worshiped by the earliest domesticaters of field and home. Some point to these matrilineal and matriarchal societies of old as models for a postpatriarchy future. I can't help but wonder; if early civilized women's rule was so fucking excellent, why was it ended? Is it possible their subjects objected to being controlled; consequently genderizing their oppressive experience? Roles couldn't have been exchanged after a masculinist revolution, correct?
But let's get real. We don't know shit about the distant past with ANY certainty so lets stick with today. Teachers are mostly female, and along with the mommy dearests – and aides de camp Mattel, Disney, and countless other spectacular brands seared onto our overly large brains – have primary responsibility for schooling/punishing the wildness (as in the spontaneous self-exploration of the curious delights and even pains of life) right the fuck on out of us. "Be good girls and boys – the Machine needs you to behave in order to use (then kill) you efficiently later." Or am I still blaming the big-V, glossing over an innate female naiveté, ignoring a forced ignore-ance of woman's subjugation and oppression?
Bullshit! Women are intelligent, aware, and more than innocent bystanders or collateral damage in the brutal war on life; far more than empty vessels to be filled by Man's cock and ideals. Women are as capable of greedy, destructive, bitchin' behavior of our own accord as we are of submissive (eventually selfdestructive) acceptance of another's brutality. And here has always been resistant women fighting – often alongside men – against the imposition of another's order. All humans have a wide range of traits and tendencies that can't be reliably tied to her 'blood' or his 'nature'. Some men are brutes and some women are, too. Some women nurture, others don't – but that doesn't make them brutes (or masculine). Some men nurture – which doesn't make them wusses (or more feminine!). And when does violent self-defense become offensive aggression; compassionate nurturing force compliant pacification – both tools of the Masters? Do we want to demolish gender roles or redefine them?
A dominant and dominating force fixing us in our proper place is the elevation of a mass – identifiable, controllable, and homo-non-genius – above all. Well... not above our overlords and ladies of course. Class IS one of the deep and suck-ulent roots maintaining the divided and conquerer and we ALL give aid and comfort to this enemy. But most feminists have to diminish the class – and race – factor or risk exposing their own bourgeois white roots and concomitant goal of wresting power from their male classmates. And they NEED our help to get it/up.
Feminist consciousness-raising focused a magnifying glass on men's oppression of women. A useful beginning perhaps, but the scope was never expanded to explore the greater duality we share as both possessor and dispossessed. Women still don't talk about the shit we ought to be talking about if we are going to spend so damn many words and trees on our liberation. Feminists talk about taking back the night (I'll take a whole lot more day, thank you!) while the fucking pigs guard their flanks. Does it matter if the swine are women? Men are relegated to the back of the line if they're permitted at all (as though the night is safe for men and as if these women have shit to say about who is or is not allowed in the streets!). Hey mamas, guess what? Your ass-end is one of the most vulnerable points in your rigid formation – you can't see what's coming! You send the 'brothers' to the back (sound familiar), elevating the 'sisterhood' to it's proper place of leadership, prominence, and self-protection. In reality, those men have got your back while you still play the fool.
There's also a lot of woman-talk about female objectification and male privilege, of the necessity for a step-by-step consensual intimacy and of an ever-expanding definition of rape. Objectified? Damned right! I am one of trillions of (barely) living beings redefined as Capital's objects – things of usefulness until we're useless and then we're nothing. Was my raped-pussyobject damaged more than my brother's smashed-face-object? Is the old Anglo man's labored dying breath – black-lunged from years as miner-object – more privileged than the African girlchild's starvingbelly- object of colonial-diamond/ gold annihilation for all those pretty rings on the all those pretty fingers, sold to the highest bidder for the legally-objective right for both actors to get what they want when they want it? Fuck that shit! You want to measure and rank our tangible pain along with abstracted privilege!? What coldhearted measurement device do you have, feminist woman? And when will you stop sacrificing – and I mean sacred-fixing – our (w)hole to be used against us while we prop up the Masters' limp, yet somehow still-potent play for the Accumulation of Everything?
And don't tell me that you – astute and clever woman – don't know how to wield the weapon of your 'femininity'. You want Power? Control? Domination? Women wrote their own book, it's just not in print. We rarely even talk with each other about the ways we can and do manipulate; taunt and tease, offer and withdraw affection (or sex), flatter and ridicule – men (and women and children) into doing our bidding. This is not the unfortunate yet righteous feminine response to the masculine power trip. It is the interactive, tightly-scripted Play For More Power and Control men and women act out together. We know how much men want and need and love to get up all next to us; to feel us, to feel us feeling them. Stroking bodies, nurturing love, licking wounds, and ... oh damn! You know what? I love it too! I love her smooth breasts and soft pussy; his hard cock and rough chest. A man's sweet whispers and a woman's ardent bites. When we're uninhibited and unmediated by rigid con-sensuality; certain we're lovers not abusers and rapists – we're ALL there. If we fumble in our desire and unfamiliar passions, why the surprise that anarchists are not perfect in their every gesture and word? Our fluid, wild, and lusty dance has long been reduced to lock-step marches: a puritan morality by the Right and gender, sexual, and reproductive rights by the Left. As we tear down our habituated facades, we may still be 'inappropriate' at times. Repressed (and who isn't in some significant way) – do we oppress? Shattered and afraid – do we attack those we're closest to? But our necessary attack is (un)bound to explode somewhere! Can we help each other with our aim?
And, the eco-feminist's (and is every feminist really an eco-feminist?) reified Earth is not my Mother! My mother raped me as sure as my father, whether she turned away in silence or handed him the lotion. The 'earth' is symbiotically-conflicted, wildly-simple, amazingly-complex, violent-nurturing, male/ female/hermie/ungendered, multi-colored, undefinable beings living alone, together. Humans included, once for FREE! Why anthropomorphize, genderize, then parentalize – always spectacularizing – it's uniquelyindividual- wholeness? If 'Earth' is 'Mother' – we are ALL motherfuckers! Raping her with our death machine-beauty aids-tofu-packages thrust into too-shallow graves unlubricated with recycled-sustainable lies. Oh, but those clear-cut mountains DO remind me of a shaved pussy – I'll grant you that. Still lovely living mounds, but scraped raw for what? And please don't distill your reasoning to "for the Man's wood". Distillation doesn't make for purity, it merely relocates unwanted elements to where you can't see or smell or taste them anymore. And it will not help your cause if it is indeed one of a healing nature.
Anarcha-feminists, I thought you might be accomplices in my genderless, raceless, classless, open-armed eternal struggle for immeasurable freedom. The double female identifier surely hinted at your narrowed perspective, little changed from before you became an 'anarchist'. Your battle of the sexes continues while all around you extinction gives a shit about identity – gendered or other Otherness. I'm a fucking anarchist – opposed to ALL hierarchy, which presents itself in ways both gross and subtle, Institutional and institutional Focusing on one of its forms is useful at times, but why would any anarchist extract then isolate – even equating or elevating – one type of domination over another? Hierarchy does not equal patriarchy. Individual women who call themselves feminists (WHY?) DO have relevant ideas, critiques, and experiences for anarchists to consider. But feminism cannot be re-formed into an image of anarchy and anarchy has no need of reformation in the image of Woman.
"When will you stop identifying with what defines you?" — ibid
None of my rant denies the reality of female subjugation (or of the male's), of sexism (or racism or classism...) or of a temporary usefulness of segregated safe-spaces. Breaking free of our chains is difficult, possibly embarrassing. At times even painful and dangerous. But how can self-imposed confinement ever be liberatory? How will we create new worlds devoid of separatism when we use it as The Strategy? This tirade IS a dismissal of the one-sided, non-selfreflecting, and non-self-critical discourse and massified divisiveness that dominates all political theory and practice, including feminism. The roots of our subjugation are deep and tangled; each strand feeds and supports itself and the structure it is inseparable from. Clipping one will not destroy the whole; roots are both regenerative and cooperative. This is why some anarchists and other radicals declare the whole-tangled-mess our enemy. It is civilization (patriarchy does not equal civilization) rooted in an all-encompassing domination over the land and over every entity sustaining and sustained by it. It is life as war whose strategies include aggressive, violent attacks AND subtle, destructive manipulations.
Men, women, ...fighting for the elusive Happily- Ever-After-Plus-$'More. This powerful enemy includes a mindset requiring controlled, predictable (despite acknowledging its impossibility), identifiable order according to a Mass-ter plan. But it is perhaps, first and foremost, the loss of the unique individual, alienated from self and others, masked in a divisive pseudo-libertarian-unity. We are unified only in our misery, guilt, and blame – wasting away in our too often self-selected, segregated, readily-identified roles – in reality, easily monitored cells. Male, female, black, white, straight, gay....And no kinder and gentler feminine warden will release us; if we want out we need to break out and burn the prison down. And our opportunities are rapidly disappearing. There's no Womanhood to exalt, no Manhood to destroy. If anyone treats you in a way you don't want – deal with them as individuals. Don't tag them as proof of a misbehaving aggregation; anarchists neither accept nor impose representation. Missteps amongst comrades – even with strangers – are opportunities to explore our roles and (usually unspoken) expectations. If a John is abusive, a Kat dangerous, take them out [of that position] in whatever way you see fit. When we directly and consistently refuse and resist every imposition of another's will/ leadership/order/coercion and remain open to insurrectionary inspiration in any form, we embrace a means never-ending.
Find yourself, man/woman/.../child – let me find myself. If we've got a groove let's dance it into the streets where we'll get it on. Watching each others' back as we explore the unfamiliar night where strangers are unique, but really not so strange. Can we learn to trust our intuition/instincts/senses, our comadres Y compadres who live in their own skin, instead of on ideologies built on the irrationally rationalized fears of others?
FUCK! We've got to destroy this stage/platform before it gets kicked out from under nearly dangling feet and noosed and hoodied heads. And I want to lay my naked and wounded being on the newly exposed dirt alongside the sensual, raging, gentleness of a tribe of free lovers of life while I still can. With my tears of pain and rage unabated, I ask you most urgently – why do you wave away potential accomplices while playing The Droll Revolutionary instead of embracing us in the infinite ecstasy of revolutionary play?
*looted from Green Anarchy Magazine, Issue #21*
bayon @ : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct. A thinking mind cannot feel.
*Poster's Note: The use of masculine pronouns in this article (looted from http://www.1stpm.org/
) do not reflect the opinions of the poster. Hopefully there are some interesting thoughts in the article that can be gleaned despite the sexism.*
Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.
If there are no gaps there is no emotion.
Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.
When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.
There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.
People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.
Man becomes machine.
A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.
A (travelling)society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.
A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.
FAST VISUALS /WORDS MAKE SLOW EMOTIONS EXTINCT.
SCIENTIFIC /INDUSTRIAL /FINANCIAL THINKING DESTROYS EMOTIONAL CIRCUITS.
A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY CANNOT FEEL PAIN / REMORSE / EMPATHY.
A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY WILL ALWAYS BE CRUEL TO ANIMALS/ TREES/ AIR/ WATER/ LAND AND TO ITSELF.
A THINKING MIND CANNOT INTENSIFY / SUSTAIN ANY EMOTION.
While this statement is generally true for all emotions, it is particularly true for all painful emotions.
Empathy = Sadness + Worry ( for the suffering of others )
It will be found that empathy activates the same parts of the brain (neural circuits ) which are activated by sadness and worry. The chemical changes in the brain and the rest of the body are also the same.
Sadness and worry ( for the suffering of others ) are emotions of the highest level.
In a society in which visual ( verbal ) speed and breathing- rates are fast pain / remorse / empathy cannot be experienced. It is impossible.
IN A FAST SOCIETY SLOW EMOTIONS BECOME EXTINCT.
Proof of the link between pain and slow visuals / words :-
In the last century man has made thousands of movies / films on various themes / subjects. Whenever pain / tragedy is shown in any film the visuals ( scenes ) and words ( dialogues ) are always slowed down. In many films tragedy is shown in slow motion. At the most intense moment of pain the films almost become static / stationary.
Tragedy-films provide direct proof / evidence of the link between pain and slowness.
Pain can intensify / sustain only when visual ( and verbal ) speed slows down( stops/ freezes).
CHANGE IN VISUAL SPEED OVER THE YEARS
One thousand years ago visuals would change only when man physically moved himself to a new place or when other people ( animals / birds ) and objects ( clouds / water ) physically moved themselves before him.
Today man sits in front of TV / Computer and watches the rapidly changing visuals / audio.
He sits in a vehicle (car / train / bus) and as it moves he watches the rapidly changing visuals.
He turns the pages of a book / newspaper / magazine and sees many visuals / text in a short span.
The speed of visuals ( and words ) has increased so much during the last one hundred years that today the human brain has become incapable of focussing on slow visuals /words through perception, memory, imagery.
If we cannot focus on slow visuals / words we cannot experience emotions associated with slow visuals /words.
IN A FAST SOCIETY SLOW EMOTIONS BECOME EXTINCT.
Before the advent of Industrial Revolution Man's thinking was primarily limited to :
visual processing ( slow visuals )
verbal / language processing ( slow words )
Today there are many kinds of fast thinking :
visual processing ( fast visuals )
verbal / language processing ( fast words )
If visual / verbal processing is fast we cannot feel slow emotions.
Scientific / Technical thinking ( fast )
Industrial thinking ( fast )
Business thinking ( fast )
(3), (4) & (5) ARE ASSOCIATED WITH NUMBERS / SYMBOLS / EQUATIONS / GRAPHS /CIRCUITS / DIAGRAMS / MONEY / ACCOUNTING et
As long as the mind is doing this kind of thinking it cannot feel any emotion - not an iota of emotion.
In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
In a thinking ( scientific / industrial ) society emotion itself becomes extinct.
EMOTION IS WHAT REMAINS IN THE MIND WHEN VISUAL /VERBAL PROCESSING SLOWS
DOWN (STOPS/ FREEZES)
There are certain categories of people who feel more emotion (subjective experience ) than others.
If we attempt to understand why (and how) they feel more emotion we can learn a lot about emotion.
Writers, poets, actors, painters (and other artists)
Writers do verbal (and associated visual) processing whole day- every day.
They do slow verbal (and associated visual) processing every day.
(A novel that we read in 2 hours might have taken 2 years to write. This is also the reason why the reader can never feel the intensity & duration of emotion experienced by the writer)
Poets do verbal (and associated visual) processing whole day- every day. There is more emotion in poetry than in prose.
This happens because there are very few words (and associated visuals) in poetry than in any other kind of writing.
There is a very high degree of freezing / slowing down of visuals & words in poetry.
Actors do verbal (and associated visual) processing whole day- every day. During shooting / rehearsal they repeat the dialogues (words) again and again (the associated visuals / scenes also get repeated along with the dialogues)
Painters do visual (and associated verbal) processing whole day- every day. They do extremely slow visual processing - The visual on the canvas changes only when the painter adds to what already exists on the canvas.
There are some important points to be noted :
All these people do visual & verbal processing - whole day - every day.
They do slow visual & verbal processing.
They do not do scientific / industrial / business processing whole day - every day.
Most of the city people doing mental work either do this kind of mental processing which is associated with NUMBERS / SYMBOLS/ Equations / Graphs / CIRCUITS / DIAGRAMS / MONEY / ACCOUNTING etc?or they do fast visual (verbal) processing whole day - every day.
This kind of thinking (processing) has come into existence only during the last 200 years and has destroyed our emotional ability (circuits)
SELF-ASSESSMENT OF (SUBJECTIVE) INTENSITY OF EMOTION IS ALMOST ALWAYS WRONG.
Suppose the highest (maximum) intensity of a particular emotion that can be experienced by any human being is 100 units.
Let us suppose the maximum intensity of that particular emotion ever experienced by two people A & B in their entire life is :
A - 100units
B - 20 units
Now suppose A & B are made subjects on a particular day and are asked to feel that particular emotion under experimental conditions ( or outside the laboratory ) and the intensity they actually experience is :
A - 90 units
B - 18 units
If A &B are then asked to indicate the intensity of emotion on a scale of 0 -10 their response is likely to be ;
A - 9
B - 9
Who is right and who is wrong ?
A is right.
B is wrong - B is wrong by a wide margin - B has experienced an intensity of 18 units out of a maximum of 100 units and his correct / actual score should be 1.8
Self- assessment (self rating) can be accurate only if people have the capacity to experience the highest intensity (units) of the particular emotion under study.
In small (slow) agriculture based societies of the past because of physical work and slow visual/verbal processing the mind used to experience a state of emotion all the time.
Emotion can intensify / sustain only when visual / verbal processing slows down (stops / freezes). In an Industrial (thinking) society because of fast (visual / verbal / scientific / industrial / business) thinking people experience very little emotion.
Suppose the maximum intensity of a particular emotion (for most people) in a fast society has reduced to 5 units (from 100 units that people used to experience in earlier /slower societies).
If such people experience 4 units of emotion they will give themselves a rating /score of 8 on a scale of 0-10 whereas their actual score should be 0.4
IN A FAST SOCIETY SLOW EMOTIONS BECOME EXTINCT.
A thinking species destroys the planet.
Animals lived on earth for billions of years (in very large numbers) without destroying nature.
They did not destroy nature because their thinking / activity was
limited to searching for food for one time only.
Man has existed on earth in large numbers for only a few thousand
years / a few hundred years.
Within this short period Man has destroyed the environment.
This destruction took place because of Man's thinking.
When man thinks he makes things.
When he makes things he kills animals / trees / air / water / land.
(Nothing can be made without killing these five elements of nature).
A thinking species destroys the planet.
There was a time when Man knew nothing about the number of species and millions of species existed.
Today Man knows the names of millions of species and nothing is left of the species.
Man can do the same physical work every day.
Man cannot do the same mental work every day.b
When man used to do physical work (farming and related activities) he could do the same repetitive work day after day- generation after generation.
After the Industrial Revolution when man switched-over to mental work he began a never ending process of making new machines / things / products- a process which can only end with the complete destruction of environment (planet).
AS LONG AS CITIES EXIST ENVIRONMENT CANNOT BE SAVED.
To save the (remaining) environment from destruction man will have to
return back to physical work (smaller communities).
To save the mind from mental diseases man will have to return back to physical work (smaller communities).
Environment can be saved only if we stop production of most (more than 99%) of the consumer goods we are making today.
ENVIRONMENT CANNOT BE SAVED BY RECYCLING
TRYING TO SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT BY RECYCLING IS LIKE SHOOTING SOMEONE 10,000 TIMES AND THEN TRYING TO SAVE HIM BY TAKING OUT ONE BULLET