Anchor for this item posted by Bernard (ben) Tremblay at Thursday, April 04, 2002; Thursday, April 04, 2002

"When what is said is not what is meant, what is done is not what needs to be done, and what needs to be done is left undone."
*Having read Bhutan's consitution as well as a whole stack of internal government documents, including the exhaustive two part report "Bhutan 2020: Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and Happiness" from Planning Commission, Royal Goverment of Bhutan, I couldn't help feeling torn, since I knew that upwards of 100,000 residents of Bhutan had been made refugees because their roots were Nepali (and yes, I do know that they were responsible for some aweful deforestation ... such is the consequence of abject poverty ... but still.) So I was glad to find the topic treated by Tom Atlee's co-intelligence group: "The "Underdeveloped" Happiness Kingdom"
*Imagining myself talking to the folks with whom I've spent the past two years working against the neo-liberal agenda, I can see myself saying a number of things starting with this:
If I didn't care about you as a group and as individuals, I'd just go ahead and say my piece. Caring about you, and having a sense of knowing and trusting you, I could say my piece with some good sense of how my words would be received, how they would be heard, what they would mean for you. And the fact is I do care about you, as a group and as individuals. But I don't have a sense of knowing you, and I no longer trust you. Based on my experience, recent and over the past two years, I realize that my sense of knowing you was wrong. And on that experience, I see that whatever sense I had of how my words would be received and what they would mean to you is likewise false. In the end, whatever trust I had was unfounded. I may not have been betrayed, but I was definitely mistaken.
I can imagine saying that and then falling silent. Or even of simply standing up and leaving. Because, simply put, not only would I not be inclined to talk, but I would be disinclined to listen, anticipating that whatever I heard would be said with out of a sense of utility, of instrumentality, with no actual regard to veracity, facticity, or truth. I am quite convinced that whatever I would hear would be, brute, manipulative, intended to either evade or mislead. And the situation is not so right as to allow me the space for a response to such mendacity and guile.
If I imagine myself talking, I can't imagine myself talking to what comes from caring about others, about valuing others' perspective, of entering into collaborative participation, for one simple reason: that ship has sailed. People have shown themselves, and I do mean by their actions, to be deaf to the meaning of such talk, though they seem adept enough with the vernacular and terminology, with the conceptual. So all of that leaves one thing clearly in mind to be said, and I can imagine talking something like this:
I would guess that most people here would respond to talk about coming up with a complete analysis of the situation as being too theoretical, removed from practice. The simple truth of it is that this is the view of mechanical materialists, the sort of attitude that results in economism. Because, so far as I can tell, a proper assessment that is accurate, and precise, and comprehensive is necessarily dialectical. That is, if an individual can arrive at such an analysis, free from personality politics and partiality and compulsive expedience, then appropriate tactics will necessarily arise. I can't see how a really thorough statement of a problematic situation can come into being without there being a set of potential solutions implicit. It's in that context that the consequences of activity can be used to correct the theoretical basis that lead to the activity in the first place, and only in that context. When the real theoretical basis for activity are mis-stated, or not stated at all, obscured by some eloquent group-think babble, then that basis can not be mapped against the end results of the process ... when the process is mystified so, necessarily, is the product. My argument for class-consciousness is that the whole is necessarily meaningful to each individual, according to their experience rather than with reference to some received wisdom or set of "group norms".
I discharge my responsibility as a citizen by reacting with disgust at the sight of oppression. I contribute to the historical project by responding intelligently in that situation.

Anchor for this item posted by Bernard (ben) Tremblay at Monday, April 01, 2002; Monday, April 01, 2002

After checking with the folks in Italy (the translation of stories from Palestine has been put to sleep for the night) I read a few more stories. Imagine a situation where a medical facility is evacuated at gunpoint after being fired upon (EU reps were inside at the time), the facility is dynamited, and to top it off one of the doctors is used as a human shield (again at gunpoint) for enterring private houses after their doors have been blown in. Such is the state of things raging in the occupied territories this day.
The Society of the Spectacle (4) (Debord) includes this anticipation of Fukiyama's "end of history":
Philosophy, in the process of being superseded by historical thought, has thus arrived at the point where it can glorify its world only by denying it, since in order to speak it must presuppose that the total history to which it has relegated everything has already come to an end, and that the only tribunal where truth could be judged is closed."
The text continues with something I'm going to have to toss around for a while: "When the proletariat demonstrates through its own actions that this historical thought has not been forgotten, its refutation of that thought’s conclusion is at the same time a confirmation of its method.
Historical thought can be saved only by becoming practical thought; and the practice of the proletariat as a revolutionary class can be nothing less than historical consciousness operating on the totality of its world."
When I read "Hegel performed the task of the philosopher — “the glorification of what exists”" it occurred to me that the main strength of the pseudo-activist who manufactures consensus shares more than I thought with the neo-liberal spin-doctor: the point is to implement the clique's plan, and then it's merely a matter of interpreting the past as the situation demands ... it's a lose-lose situation where the specifics can always be re-jigged to put one's activity in the best light. After the ecology has been devastated or the stock-holders mugged and the profits banked, picking over the bones of the argument is a mugs game! A real activist engaged in the project of emancipation wants each and every to be a conscious agent of change ... that's the democrat's strength and confidence: the fearless wish to empower the mass.

When I pondered the sadly misplaced confidence of someone who relies on bottom-dealing tactics to manufacture consensus, what came to mind was the near-servile fear of those throwing bottles from behind me when I confronted the riot police on the stairs of Rue des Chapels. Why were they hanging so far back while I was there, six or seven steps up, cussing out the cops looking down from the top? How were they at once both so engaged and yet so cowed?
Granted, I had not run with them, so perhaps it was the rude shock of being forced into the indignity of retreat operating. But my eyes were burning with the same indignity and the same tear gas, and I too had witnessed the crowd streaming down the stairs under a mortar barrage of gas cannisters and concussion grenades. Yet my reaction was to struggle up as many steps as my feet would allow and dare the cops to confront the actuality of their brute actions, while my comrades' was to hang back just that extra bit, enough to open the street below, as though to create a buffer, a DMZ by giving ground that had not been lost. My best guess is that their courage had been tested, but not yet proven ... that they had been suddenly disabused of their mistaken sense of invincibility, but had not yet developed the worker's confidence that dares toe the line that seperates committed bravery from foolish impunity.
Our fellows have travelled to Palestine to experience the occupation. I pray that they survive their early errors, so that they can develop both knowledge and wisdom in the frey. See Palestine Independent Media Center Our comrades are gone to Palestine ... to speak truth to power, to speak encouragement to their comrades, to call things by their right name.

Anchor for this item posted by Bernard (ben) Tremblay at Sunday, March 31, 2002; Sunday, March 31, 2002

It may be true that it's the workers who have the most to gain from fulfilling the boureoisie's democratic revolution and pushing it through as a project of emancipation, but it's also true that everyone gains. Not only the downtrodden and oppressed; even the wealthy gain since. in recovering their connection with the rest of humanity. they would re-establish the ground of dignity. But even more elemental to this is the method by which power will be redirected towards the fulfillment of human need: not by the sophistry of the educated, or by the trickery of the legalistic, or by the threatening lies of raw power, or by the elegant reconceptualization of the intelligensia, but by the cohesive honesty of those who experience their own lives. The primordial reaction to how capitalism drips blood from every pore ... that's the fundamental basis of unity.
Show me a man who suggests that uninformed collaboration in a lie will benefit you, and I'll show you a man who'll sell you out in a moment. In this culture of rabid individualism, who can find it difficult to understand the opportunist's addiction?