"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Sep 7, 2010

Victims

In any contest, victory depends upon defeat. That may seem like a simple enough assertion, but the meaning appears lost (as I see it) to those who assume that the use of power can remain compatible with freedom and liberty.

For the victor to actually win - and this follows as much with a rule bound game, such as football, chess or traditional courtship, as with more flexible competitions, such as warfare, marriage and criminal enterprise - the defeated party must know it has lost.

And must admit as much.

In a rule bound game, this outcome follows certain prearranged agreements which not only mark the extent of the contest, but the limits which apply to all contestants. Victory occurs when one party concedes that, according to those agreements, they have in fact lost. The other team or teams have met the conditions which mark the end of the match, fixing the outcome in memory.

In a contest where the rules have less certainty - or where the enforcement of those rules meets with the hard facts of actual existence - a defeated party secures the victor's assertions to victory by giving in - by making some sort of obeisance, usually followed by the yielding of concessions to the victor.

In short, a victor cannot have victory without the surrender of his opponent(s).

A person or party does not have victory without first having a victim. Someone must yield, this to demonstrate (often rather publicly) to all who matter that hostilities have ended and the winner may now take some portion of the prize which he can claim has his due.

Power depends, fundamentally, upon these acts of obeisance. Because power depends upon the repeated demonstration of victory.

Wherever you find power, authority, sanctity, claims to victory or arrangements for memorializing and securing the same, look for the victims.

Without victims, no power. Yes, this even applies to noble and enlightened communists, feminists and oppressed tribal nations.

If you have a revolution, or a sea change, or a transformation of society and want to win out long enough to hold on to your gains - you will need to punish. You will need victims.

9 comments:

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

That's a good one!

If this entry were a person, he would be a guy who just bought a house in a nice part of town. He would have moved in during the wet, chilly Fall and ooked forward all Winter to the day when he could stake out his vegetable garden in the back yard. Come Spring he would get busy on that garden, and to his great shock and increasing terror, would keep finding old corpses when preparing the staked-out area's soil for gardening.

Jack Crow said...

Thank you?

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Yeah! It's a compliment.

I'm not sure everyone who reads that entry is going to be pleased with what the entry's message tells them about their political leanings, their personal philosophy(ies), their core beliefs. A lot of people I know --most, actually-- feel very well about their chosen politics, their world-view. How many of them realize that their view's success requires that some group be the losers? Are they confident that all the losers deserve their loss?

The entry has application outside politics, too. Will people see that? Acknowledge it?

Jack Crow said...

I getcha now. I read that wrong, first go around.

Thanks, Charles. Obliged to you.

Al Schumann said...

Jack, maybe I've got this wrong, but the refusal to be a victim entails acquiring the capacity for effective resistance, and at some point that's going to mean the ability to put a hurt on aggressors. I'd like to think my comrades and I would use that wisely; proportionately and only in self-defense. But the "soft" strength to provide slips into the "hard" strength to violently repel pretty easily.

Jack Crow said...

Al,

Your case holds its own. I don't for a moment believe or mean to suggest that happy-happy making will result in a clean and perfume free world.

I just have a solid objection to the misty wistfulness I've come across, lately.

As if holding the right opinions about women, minorities, homosexuals, day laborers, illegal immigrants, homeless and displaced persons, debt defaulters, the disemployed, et cetera will manage to act as social lubricant, as well as a magic wand which transforms society by transforming "consciousness."

That shit's all veneer, in my opinion. Which doesn't mean I don't generally hold those opinions, only that I don't put much stock in their ability to change the minds of anyone not already inclined to see the world through the same lenses.

Especially the "consciousness" shtick. I've been around long enough to come to an honest doubt of the soul, and its psycho-analytical replacement, "consciousness."

People have opinions, because they have memories. Memory is real. But, having memories and awareness of both the memory and the reality it overlays doesn't add up to a "consciousness."

And most of the leftist and rightist bullshit, of late, smacks of "consciousness" altering (for lefties), or "consciousness" reinforcing (for righties).

In other words, some kind of religio-magical sleight of hand whereby those who want the future to be [insert preferred outcome] pretend that thinking about it and remembering those thoughts has direct and transcendental efficacy on the course of events.

[...if you're still with me, Al, I have a point]

What violence does, Al, is change how people interpret their memories. Or in some cases, it outright edits them. Trauma changes memory. That's the whole point of a victor-victim display, an act of obeisance, or a political rally which identifies an enemy to be victimized. To lay markers down in human memory, both in the head and exosomatically.

If the victor doesn't find a way to get the loser to surrender, memorialize that surrender, and agree to accept that it cannot be erased, that it has some permanence - the victor doesn't have his win.

And that means he cannot claim his spoils, because they are [i]contestable.[/i] To borrow liberally from Carse - victory [b][i]ends[/i][/b] a conflict by securing the memories of the losers and all observers who matter, which allows the winner to claim the object(s) of his desire without immediately reinvigorated contest.

This has nothing to do with the hoodoo of the "soul" or "consciousness."

It has to do with power. As we mused over your way, power unused is power lost. Hence, the repeated contests within groups, and between them, to establish pecking order and place in hierarchy. To flesh our secondary and tertiary prizes, or the like, as well as the benefits and obligations of victory.

Which folds back into your point. To effectively refuse surrender, a person has a range of options, from the acceptance of destruction and death, all the may to duplicity and deception, and onward to murder and domination, as well as the various permutations and combinations unlocked by human ingenuity and indecency.

Actual resistance cannot occur without the refusal to surrender, and that may well mean "putting the hurt" on those who've earned your attention.

But, it doesn't end with that. Resistance does not automatically become revolution.

It can remain what it is, with refusal to submit the method of life itself.

My arrow was aimed not so much at those who think out the methods of resistance, but at their sometimes comrades - the social democrats, the revolutionaries and the abolitionists.

Because they want more than resistance. They want power. And as Charles aptly notes, they rather often refuse to face the implications of that desire.

Respect,

Jack

Al Schumann said...

Jack, thanks for the explication. There's food for further thought in it, and I'm with you all the way on the "consciousness" schitck. It's creepy; as much a form of fundamentalism as the concept it nominally supplants.

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

I like that long explanation, Jack.

Everyone (I use that term colloquially, not literally) subliminally wants to control others.

Or as my friend Andy L says, "everyone wants others to think just like they do." Sorta like Huey Long, "every man a King!"

Jack Crow said...

Charles,

It's a regular dynamic, as a parent. I find myself ceaselessly balancing out the autonomy of my children, with their ignorance and youth. Too much autonomy (especially in our particular American world), and I'll find myself doing repair work because 2/3 of the people they'll meet are predators or idiot.And despite the consistency and logical cohesion of my anarcho-agonist convictions, the world doesn't yield to them - which means I actually have to parent from time to time. You know, get in their way and lay down the "No."

Too little autonomy, and I've failed to give them what it takes to navigate their own lives.

In practical terms, that means exercising control over the lives of people I very much don't think I want to control, what with loving and respecting them.

I obviously choose to use that control, which implies for me at least some measure of desire to do so, on my part. And I do honestly want them to see the world my way, at least partially - since it works for me and I think it'll work for them.

Respect,

Jack