"...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

Oct 3, 2011

Serendipity, Or retracing a path in order to leave it...

In light of the decentralized process used by the OWS people, and in anticipation of visiting the folks organizing for the cloned* undertakings in Concord, NH and Boston, MA, I decided to re-read a small book published during and after the French troubles of several years ago, one quoted here in months and years past. From that small book, a passage seemed to reach other from the page and grab me by the eyeballs:

"From Secretaries of State to the backrooms of alternative cafes, concerns are always expressed in the same words, the same as they've always been. We have to get mobilized. This time it's not to rebuild the country like in the post-war era, not for the Ethiopians like in the '80s, not for employment like in the '90s. No, this time it's for the environment. It thanks you for your participation... Voluntary austerity write large on their banner, the work benevolently to get us ready for the 'coming ecological state of emergency.' The globular sticky mass of their guilt lands on our tired shoulders, pressuring us to cultivate our garden, sort out our trash, and eco-compost the leftovers of this macabre feast.

Managing the phasing out of nuclear power, excess CO2 in the atmosphere, melting glaciers, hurricanes, epidemics, global overpopulation, erosion of the soil, mass extinction of living species...this will be our burden. We have to consume a little less to be able to keep consuming. We have to produce organically to keep consuming. We have to control ourselves to go on controlling. This is the logic of a world straining to maintain itself while giving itself an air of historical rupture. This is how they would like to convince us to participate in the great industrial challenges of this century. And in our bewilderment we're ready to leap into the arms of the very same ones who presided over the devastation, in the hope that they will get us out of it.

Ecology isn't simply the logic of a total economy; it's the new morality of capital. The system's internal state of crisis and the rigorous screening that's underway demand a new criterion in the name of which this selection and screening will be carried out. From one era to the next, the idea of virtue has never been anything but an invention of vice. Without ecology, how could we justify the existence of two different diets, one 'healthy and organic' for the rich and their children, and the other notoriously toxic for the plebes, whose offspring are damned to obesity. The planetary hyper-bourgeoisie wouldn't be able to make its normal lifestyle seem respectable if its latest whims weren't so scrupulously 'respectful of the environment.' Without ecology, nothing would have enough authority to gag every objection to the exorbitant progress of control. 

Tracking, transparency, certification, eco-taxes, environmental excellence, and the policing of water, all give us an idea of the coming state of ecological emergency. Everything is permitted to a power structure that bases its authority in Nature, in health and in well-being."

The Coming Insurrection, The Invisible Committee, semiotext(e), 2009

It is Emergency which defines our coming age. It is to Emergency - and the preface to our age of Emergency was written in the extended verse of the "War on Terror" - that every justification for continued maintenance of the forms of power will refer. It is Emergency which mobilizes the masses. It is in the name of a succession of Emergencies that the ruling class and its states will attempt to strangle the arising and invigorated struggles against them.

So it means something, I think, that the folks involved in the OWS experiment have begun by rejecting the acculturated norm of Emergency and its consequent hierarchies, urgency, command orientation and urge to assign marching orders and battle order.

I know for Trots and Leninists like Richard Seymour, and the various dialectically constrained parties of Europe and sheltered academia, the OWS reclaimers and the inherent argument of their method (which echoes the quote above) are at best problematic, because it recommends abandoning the hierarchical and partisan organizational mode which dominated resistance to capital, imperial nationalism and colonial powers over the last one hundred fifty years. It further anticipates a fight which exceeds the limits of the party structure, and its intellectualist vanguard, who are obedient to norms which are no longer really prevalent. Those engaged with today's conditions are proving forward enough to identify the functional unity of state and corporation, as well as recognizing that the apparatuses used to obtain, process, share and utilize information, security and the capture of privatized knowledge are nested within each others' overlapping spheres of influence and authority.

The self-organized are not fighting old battles against dead enemies. Unlike the official socialist, social democratic, liberal and sectarian factions which seek to channel and corral dissatisfaction with living conditions into a capture of state offices and meliorative state policy, the latest wave of rebels - from Tunisia to Egypt to England, France and now the US - have begun from a starting premise, perhaps unvoiced, which recognizes the material conditions of our common now.

We live in a political and economic environment which strains at the edge of a closed system that has failed to expand fast enough to contain its discontents. It was once properly understood as an expanding closed system, but it has probably already passed its terminal point, and begun a period of both contraction and reaction. The second law of thermodynamics will not yield or compensate for the feedback loops the system produces within its own overlaid areas of control.

It is a system governed by men who have no choice to but recolonize their own homelands, to treat their captive populations as both markets and surplus stomachs and desires. But these feedback loops of discontent, the repricing of labor's value, the rise of debt and household overhead, the disruption of climate norms, the cascading failures of the food distribution system which follows and the accumulation of governing costs** that outpace the benefits given to those who rule: these have their own set of consequences, the most immediate of which is fracturing of the ruling class consensus of the last seventy years. It was once possible to satisfy the cultivated public demand for security and prosperity while retaining the control of the economy which allows for a ruling class, through a disciplining of workers and managers which bound them to a national project which purported to involve them in the pursuit of the chimera of economic growth. That this national project was largely defined by who it excluded did not matter much over the major period of its application, because it invested the type simultaneously most dangerous and most necessary to the system in the preservation of it; namely the aspiring middle class white male and his familial group.

It was the trade and union laborer which threatened the ruling class through the period encompassing the last decade of the nineteenth century and first three of the twentieth. And that worker was almost universally of European descent, and male.

Certainly, women and minorities played significant parts in the early labor struggles, as evidenced in Lawrence, New York, St. Louis and the Pacific Northwest - but they had no effective voice in how labor approached its struggle with capital. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Red Emma Goldman, Mother Jones and Voltairine de Cleyre might be famous, not the least of which for their notoriety - but they were the exceptions which proved the rule; formidable women who rose to prominence precisely in contrast to the white male norm, gaining influence and lasting import by their ability to break with it.

The New Deal, coupled with the so-called shared prosperity of the boom years of post-war America and successful anti-Communist propaganda (paid for by tax receipts and Chamber of Commerce ad buys) solidified the disciplining of labor by subsuming it within the national project. It vested the white male who controlled and comprised the bulk of organized labor in the creation and maintenance of the expanding closed system of American military power and economic might. He became its primary defender, and the preservative agent most resistant to revolution, and its paler cousin, reform.

Perhaps for this reason, those excluded from the dominion of prosperity - women, minorities, migrant workers and cast-offs from the Christianized nationalism into which labor had allowed itself to be co-opted - sought new ways of reaching the social escape velocity which would allow them to flee the gravity sink of the American culture and power; a culture which obligated them to do obeisance to the various hierarchies dominated by white men, this including labor, in order to share from the leavings and scraps of the expanding system's growth.

It is also worth noting that every time an economically viable group of them managed that escape, it became the priority of labor's official organs, as well as its allegedly representative national party (the Democrats, after 1964) to recapture them and mobilize their efforts, organizations and modes of existence back towards the controlled markets, household norms, political offices and especially the doctrine of growth and personal success which maintained the ruling class system as both distracting spectacle and iron gloved hand of control. It might be useful to see official labor and the Democratic Party as an early social version of the Star Wars program, organized to perform a defense more against internal discontent than any supposed outside threat.

Of course, some who broke away - the early lesbian separatists, the Black Panthers, the Weathermen (despite, or perhaps because of their flaws), Marxist and black feminists, the AIM and their like - could not be re-absorbed precisely because they rejected the chief signifiers of labor's compromise with capital: whiteness, male power and hierarchical control. These were handled in the usual fashion - criminalization, ostracism and slander. They were Othered, often violently, because the community in force was already defining them as those who marked the limit of that community by their exclusion from it; their exclusion reinforced the inside-ness of the white and male dominated norm. They were attempting necessary escapes, but those attempts themselves reinforced power by providing it with a domestic enemy:  as spectacles, as the internal outsiders who could not be trusted to sit beneath the table of growth and accept their allotted place and pittance. Theirs was a series of prison breaks. But, in attempting them, they reinforced the hand which held them and others to the disciplined norm. A double bind, and a terrible fate: to assert one's necessary freedom and to know that it strengthened the hold of the oppressor not only over those who were othered, but also over the disciplined white worker whose appropriated labor was the primary engine of ruling class power.

The normative laborer of the twentieth century was a creature of mobilization. He was disciplined to it. He was Taylorized in school. He was encultured to it at the kitchen table, the Boy Scout camp and at the altar. He was mobilized to war, in Europe, across the Pacific, and later in Korea and Vietnam. He was mobilized to beat the Japanese factory. And the German engineer. To save Africa. To stop the dominoes falling. To stop stagflation. He was mobilized to fight communism, to acquire debt, to own a share of the so-called American dream, to have the best math scores, to test higher than the Koreans, or the Finns. He was mobilized to do sport, and to watch it. He is even now mobilized to own a car and drive it everywhere. He is mobilized to save the economy, the nation and the American brand. He is a herded beast. One who was raised and indoctrinated to see himself, nonetheless, as entirely autonomous.

And he is dangerous when threatened, because he doesn't really know any other way to live. He is the least adaptive creature on the whole of a continent, because that continent was organized for his needs and his small satisfactions, so long as he traded the lion's share of his labor for his place at the table, and accepted the rule and the ranks of those who mobilized him.

It's with this in mind, through this lens, that perhaps we ought to understand the explicit refusal of the folks at OWS to mobilize themselves, to establish a hierarchy and a platform which replicates the forms of ruling class power and its sanctioned organs of captured labor. One which, also not incidentally, breaks with the top-heavy and institutionalized European model as well. It is not insignificant that in Greece, Italy, France and England, it's the self-organized and un-mobilized who have given rebirth to an active and militant Left, and who continue to survive not only the various States' increasingly brazen attempts to contain them, but the official and sanctioned "leftist" parties' efforts to capture and corral their efforts towards the capture of electoral offices.

Perhaps, abandoning the structures designed to capture and discipline, the new rebels - in Tahrir and Tunisia, in London, Paris, New York, Athens and all over the world -  have done so from a burgeoning awareness of the "rigorous screening" and the surveillance state which emerged from it. The decentralization of their social space, as well as their embrace of anonymity seems to suggest that this is so. Even in their eventual failures and setbacks (see, Tunisia and Tahrir; Greece), it is possible that they do and will continue to remain cognizant of the advantages and freedoms won through a refusal to be mobilized and disciplined into manageable and compromised bits and fragments of human terrain.

And if that's the case, even an aging Cynic has cause for a little hope...



* - rhizomatic?

** - which include entertainment and spectacle

26 comments:

rob payne said...

It vested the white male who controlled and comprised the bulk of organized labor in the creation and maintenance of the expanding closed system of American military power and economic might. He became its primary defender, and the preservative agent most resistant to revolution, and its paler cousin, reform.

This is the true purpose of the nation-state. Some say the nation-state’s true purpose is to wage war but I disagree. The true purpose of the nation-state is to allow one group (the ruling elite) to lord it over other groups in the same state to their own advantage. This is plainly seen here in the U.S. where the ruling elite are for the most part white males. To put it bluntly if you are a white male you enter life with a clear advantage over those who are not white males. I’m sure there are exceptions but that is all they are.

Mark S said...

Agreed. And, the waging of war (and the attendant demonization of opponents) happens in an unquestioned narrative context, or against an oh-so-familiar archetypal background, that of Good vs. Evil.

If the true purpose of the nation-state is not to wage war, then those wars and the drama of Good vs. Evil that accompanies and justifies them is just kabuki.

And as it happens, as pointed out in The Ballad of Billy and Oscar (though not in the stanza Jack has quoted),

"... we’ve come to discover that the wrong and the right

They define one another like the day and the night

That there’s none free and equal this side of the grave

And the good and the evil can be equally brave."

If the true purpose of the nation-state is to allow one group to lord it over other groups, and the archetypal background against which this is best understood is not Good vs. Evil, then what is it?

I propose that the actual struggle we are engaged in, and the narrative context which best explains it, is that of The One vs. The Many. I think this has been intuitively picked up on by those propagating the "We are the 99 percent" meme -- and that the 1 percent has always known.

This is the idea I was working toward in the comments on Advice for Children, and I don't know that I've got it quite ready for prime time but it's been eating at me for a couple years now, both in the political context, and in the context of the neurodiversity movement that's the focus of the blog I run.

The broad contention here is that The One vs. The Many is fully capable of carrying on its back everything that Good vs. Evil has carried over the past, oh, seventeen centuries (I like to count from the time Rome's emperor accepted Jesus and outlawed paganism). This includes, for example, most of literature, including, say, the Harry Potter series -- which, talk about kabuki, could hardly do more to reinforce the Good vs. Evil narrative, all while keeping the faithful up in arms -- and co-opting, whitewashing, and turning the actual cultural history of magic and witchcraft on its head.

Not unlike what MoveOn and SEIU are likely to do, should they have their way, with OccupyWallStreet.

So how does one subvert the age-old narrative in which each side tries to cast the other as evil? With a competing narrative. And really, I don't know that winning is necessary -- just competing. What's necessary is to show that there's another way, that what we thought was literal reality was only a story we are in -- and that it's possible to be in other stories as well.

And like the man says, if that's the case, even an aging Cynic has cause for a little hope...

Mark S said...

To clarify, one example of literature that rides on the back of The One vs. The Many is Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, a coming-of-age fantasy adventure that's far more nuanced than Rowling's, and far truer to the psychological reality of adolescence than C.S. Lewis' efforts, which it was written in answer to. If you've not read the books though, don't base your opinion on the movie. Read the books.

Jack Crow said...

Mark,

Walking my youngest to school, have errands. But, a long reply will follow.

I procured the Pullman books for my oldest, who seemed to enjoy them.

Rob,

The exceptions - think Condoleeza and Hillary - reinforce the rule, because they are totems whose presence illustrates that they have power by virtue of a gift from the white males who maintain a hold on state and the economy.

Justin said...

That's it precisely. People say the OWS message is incoherent or that they do not articulate it well. They miss the point, the absence of an agenda is an agenda, one that begins tearing at very deeply embedded assumptions of social and material hierarchies and all that is spent on institutions and propaganda to maintain them.

rob payne said...

Mark,

Yes, good versus evil is the main theme of just about every novel or movie ever created. I’ve read C.S. Lewis when I was younger (as many people my age did back in the day) and I must say they are horrid books. They are full of violence, in fact seem to glorify violence, at least as approved of by C.S. Lewis’ God. Rowling is just as violent though without the religious context of Lewis. At any rate the good versus evil is certainly a narrow view as you say and they are both human constructs. In fact there is no such thing as good or evil as far as the universe is concerned.

I’m not quite clear on what you mean the one versus the many, but it would certainly seem that we need something better than good versus evil. I mean listening to Obama telling us how evil his victims are as if we were all a bunch of children is revolting enough. They are terrorists, we are nice etc. or Bush with his laughable Axis of evil. It is all extraordinarily simple minded. In the end it would seem that the concept of good is always used as an excuse for the worst kind of violence, state violence.

There is much more to life than a reduction to a simple duality like good and evil. But people tend to think in terms of dualities. Competing narratives would certainly be most refreshing.

Jack,

I agree, the exceptions are there to give the white male dominance legitimacy, “see, we elected a Black man so we are blah, blah, or see, we are so open minded we voted in a woman.” It does seem rather transparent but then people enjoy being fooled, most of the time.

Richard said...

Rebuild the Dream, the labor unions and MoveON are planning for a SEPARATE march on Wednesday in support of OWS.

Because, after all, you wouldn't want to associate yourself too closely with it by actually JOINING THEM and accepting their process of participation. Just think what a threatening example that might be. Because, after all, it is essential to integrate OWS into the existing bipartisan electoral process, as was done with the protests in Wisconsin. Because, after all, the primary objective is to render OWS innocuous.

Slim Charles said...

This says it all:

http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/

Anyone who thinks that these are a bunch of hipsters listening to lady gaga on their I-phones (or whatever is the latest caricature on corporate owned media) should look at the pages upon pages of stories here!

Jack Crow said...

The comment section on this blog is always improved by my inability to participate.

Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

I am quite pissed off that MoveOn is co-opting OWS for their own personal interests and have organized a 'virtual march' on WS for this Wednesday online. Van Jones is sending out emails which of course, have a donate button on them..but you are donating to MoveOn, NOT the OWS groups.

How much money do you think Moveon has or will give to the OWS group? My vote is none. What balls they have.

Jack Crow said...

I think that's the function of MoveOn type groups, Dusty. Once they were co-opted (or created as manageable astroturfing orgs; it's all the same in the end), it became their policy to co-opt.

Mark,

I think this is an "open hand" moment. For a while now, I've preferred the "closed fist" approach, mostly from a frustration which exists but I find hard to name. Related to my kids.

Since there is no real push back from the powers-that-be, except for the cops forced to police the protesters, the best response to attempt to co-opt and control is a studied nebulous. Make them try to herd amoebas. Make them try to treat open palms as if they were threatening fists.

Richard,

The unions had heft, but you're right to note that they also bring an effort to colonize a nascent movement with their own structures of control.

Slim,

There's space for a Long Memory in that project, no?

Justin,

Incoherence and anonymity have revolutionary aspects in our "rigorously screen[ed]" society.

Anonymous said...

As was pointed out in another section of "The Coming Insurrection". perhaps the most significantly political act one can take in these times is to act as a movement or a rising that negates existing politics.

Justin said...

I meant my first comment to read more ironically than it did.

I don't think they are incoherent, but they are unscripted. They are a collection of people who are there fore one unifying reason, the way things are is rigged, its a suckers game, and they are not pretending otherwise. Whatever their personal reasons, they are all there to stop the global capitalist game from continuing its centrifugal pressures of wealth concentration. That is the agenda. It is inconceivable and incoherent to reform minded liberals who just think we need a touch of regulation here and a dab of 'good' politicians there.

I am in NY at the end of today, will be putting together a trip into the city. I'll have my end material and status hiearchy sign right next to the free mumia guy and the guy pointing out his impossible college loan burden.

Jack Crow said...

Justin,

I think I read it the way you intended. I was just thinking back to a conversation from about a year ago, on anonymity and its uses in our current moral, economic and political clime.

Anonymous,

Montag's been working (or playing) through an anti-politics:

Stump Lane

Jaime Omar Yassin said...

Great essay. I'd only critique it in that the complexion of labor has changed quite a bit since the late nineties. In my own experience, this occurred because activist unions could ask for more, for groups that had been previously excluded from unionization in the service industry, because the financial markets inflated capital. The growth of labor in the last twenty or so years has been a product of corporate largesse, another form of charity really. In the past few years, the limits of union power have been revealed, in that union tactics never had a leg to stand on in the first place. When janitors were marching in the streets in the boom years, a sympathetic and flush public was chiding big corporations to throw them a bone, and felt good about themselves for it. Now, that support is gone, along with the goodwill.

What's been revealed in the meantime are toothless unions searching for a way to be relevant again. The power is within the structure in the form of people organized within a frame of consciousness; they're already acculturated to stand up to the status quo and to question capital relationships. But they need to get out from under these umbrellas, get wet so to speak. I think OWS has the capacity to do this, where union members migrate as individuals to the movement, rather than as followers of their managerial decisions. But I also think that to a certain extent, the onus is on the activists to make the movement appealing to a broader group of people. They need to recruit, and they're in the best place for it in terms of localization, transportation and large numbers of disaffected people. They call they should be to union members, not their managers, who are often organized not much differently than corporations themselves, and with the same kinds of bottom lines, except with human lives as capital.

One last word on MoveOn. I did some reporting on the US Uncut movement that started earlier this year, and met some Move ON folks there. They gave me the impression that the organization in its constituency is more fractured. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the activists at OWS are actually former Move On people, sick of Move On's cowardice.

Jack Crow said...

Jaime,

Criticism freely accepted, and on point.

This:

What's been revealed in the meantime are toothless unions searching for a way to be relevant again. The power is within the structure in the form of people organized within a frame of consciousness; they're already acculturated to stand up to the status quo and to question capital relationships. But they need to get out from under these umbrellas, get wet so to speak. I think OWS has the capacity to do this, where union members migrate as individuals to the movement, rather than as followers of their managerial decisions. But I also think that to a certain extent, the onus is on the activists to make the movement appealing to a broader group of people. They need to recruit, and they're in the best place for it in terms of localization, transportation and large numbers of disaffected people. They call they should be to union members, not their managers, who are often organized not much differently than corporations themselves, and with the same kinds of bottom lines, except with human lives as capital.

...has the makings of an argument worth reading expanded and standing alone.

Mark S said...

rob

There's a lot we're already doing that's underpinned by One vs. Many thinking, even right here on this page, right from Jack's first multisyllabic word, "decentralized," on to the themes of mobilized vs. gathered, hierarchy vs. self-organization, "Othering" vs. diversity, your own "war vs. one-group-lording-it-over," Justin on the absence of an agenda vs. hierarchies, and Jaime's observation that hierarchy vs. hierarchy is a fight we never really could win. The organizing or archetypal principle, the dominant narrative behind all this is what I'm calling The One vs. The Many (O-v-M). It has a history that presumably extends into pre-history, and as a dominant narrative has arguably been in eclipse "only" since the ascendance of monotheism that began in 4th century Rome. Granted, talking up an archetypal principle with a seventeen-century losing streak doesn't necessarily come off as a useful contribution. All I'm sayin' is, that principle seems to describe what's animating both this thread and the discussion that's spreading out from OWS.

The exceptions to that centuries-long losing streak, what's more, are near and dear: O-v-M is the divine right of kings vs. self-rule. It's media monopolies and control over the free flow of information vs. peer-to-peer networks and the internet. It's the Latin Mass vs. Gutenberg's printing press. It's the Titans of Industry vs. Teddy the Trustbuster. It's the mono- vs. the poly- : theism, culture, chromatic. The monotone vs. the melody. The One True God, Way, Path vs. the ones most of us likely follow.

The new thing under the sun here, I think, is the internet, a manifest, readily available example of "decentralized" -- remember it was intentionally built "headless" so as to be impervious to decapitation in the event of military attack. There's rich irony here, and it's this first generation to have grown up with the internet that's transfered its metaphor to Wall Street.

Jack

Re: herding amoebas, Mike Masnick at Techdirt has been all over the story of how Big Media time and again demonstrates how they have no idea what they're up against with distributed, decentralized systems such as bittorrent, file lockers, and usenet. If that battle is any indication, I wouldn't look for a pivot from the powers-that-be anytime soon. Plus, presenting the opposition with a distributed system as a target doesn't leave you open to that sick feeling of exposure and vulnerability-to-being-taken-advantage-of that I get imagining an open hand.

Re: the Pullman books

Evil is present in those books, but as a side-effect, and battling against it is not the organizing principle of the story. The battle is against the consolidation of power, and it's not "for" good, but rather for knowledge, for Pullman's metaphorical Eve to once again taste the apple and renew not the one world, but the many worlds described and implied in the plot.

So. When the powers-that-be start literally treating open hands as fists, and protesters are killed rather than pepper-sprayed, I do wonder how well we will all do at avoiding a default back to good us vs. evil them. That's when I worry about losing sight of the fact that good vs. evil isn't any more of a winnable war here than it is anywhere else.

Mark S said...

Re: that last sentence.

The way you know exactly which story/myth/dominant narrative you are in?

It's the one about which you say, "But this isn't just a story/myth/dominant narrative! This is real!

Jack Crow said...

Aye, Mark. The open hand has its dangers, but it is not without its merits. Even if only as a feint.

*

I am wary of "good and evil," taken as a pair. I've only read Pullman's first book (wanted to see what I was getting my little man into), but it didn't strike me as terribly committed to the dichotomy. A net plus.

Mark S said...

Wendell Berry re: the feint, from 1973:

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.

Jack Crow said...

Mark,

This probably isn't the right venue for Laing, but a mention of him seems appropriate here.

Mark S said...

Jack

Heh. That quote is from Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front. I don't think Berry ever made direct reference to the radical psychologists, but he did a whole series of Mad Farmer poems. I liked Szasz's collection of epigrams The Untamed Tongue too, and suspect that part of what both he and Laing were describing was the coping strategies of undiagnosed autistics.

jaime omar yassin said...

Jack,

Unions had their day to today, can't criticize them. But I'm sure I'll have ample reason to in the coming days/weeks.

Richard said...

Did I forget to mention that this is a great, insightful post? So much so, that I concluded my post on OWS with a quote from it>

Jack Crow said...

Obliged, Richard.

Mark S said...

Voltaire on the feint, via Thomas Szasz:

"Perhaps better than anyone, Voltaire understood that only he who is legitimate can successfully wage war against the legitimizers. Asked by his secretary what he would have done had he lived in Spain under the Inquisition, Voltaire replied: 'I would have worn a big rosary, and gone to mass every day and kissed all the monks' sleeves, and tried to set fire to all their monasteries.' Voila l'homme!"