Akbar Rage #1

Just got off the phone with my mom…

she’s upset because the days she’s earned, she has to beg to take off, and her boss, the evil b#@ch purposely refuses to allow her to take a full week around christmas just to f#$kin upset her, because she is evil and has just a little bit of power.  a woman who has worked as many years as my mom, who has worked as hard and with as much skill as her should be able to take her earned days whenever the f#$k she wants!

my wife’s boss is the same way, takes as much as he can get away with, knowing exactly our limit, so we have to stay, won’t let her leave a half hour early for her 1 hour commute so she can be home for dinner, because he wants her there, working for his million dollar business.

progressives don’t like to talk about evil and ignorance, because it is all over the f#@kin place.  philosophy and analysis that is not willing to address the aggression and emotional ignorance all around us is a mentally starved intellectual endeavor.

i told my mom not to forget that she is one of the good guys, and i mean it mutha [email protected]#kers, at some point the good people, the generous, hard working, caring, loving people need to stop the bullying and the pushing around that the greedy, selfish, aggressive people do every day, pushing our world deeper down into darkness so they can be king of the hill, making us clean up after their mess.

I’m not talking about violence, i’m talking about first coming to some consensus about the existence of a moral realm, a playing field that must be governed by those who understand basic just principles, and are willing to instruct through passive resistance those who do not.  until that day, until that moment when we’ve all had enough we will continue to get [email protected]#ked, and i’m getting old enough to be able to say with confidence that I’m not a know-it-all teenager any more, i’m talking about my wife, my mom, my best friend…we gotta trust ourselves enough to be angry, to be outspoken, to be morally sickened by such people.  it’s not just the rich, my mom’s boss is not rich…the problem is everywhere, the problem of a lack of concern, apathy, human selfishness and ignorance, that turns into cruelty, it always does.  if history has taught us anything it is this, if we continue to ignore this it’s going to get darker and darker…

i was not born to be a bummer, but i cannot fake a rosy disposition when it is so obvious that things are [email protected]#ked.  responsibility and duty is a part of having a moral center, and nobody would be happier than me to be able to relax and sit back and play some video games, but i’m tired of watching my mom and wife get bullied by a bunch of ass#$les.  Pharoah, let my people go!

Akbar Lightning

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20 Comments

  1. globatron
    November 24, 2009

    I’m sorry to hear that your people are getting fracked over right now. It’s definitely good to let it out. I’m glad you shared your rage my friend.

    Do you have any suggestions how this type of movement could start:

    “i’m talking about first coming to some consensus about the existence of a moral realm, a playing field that must be governed by those who understand basic just principles, and are willing to instruct through passive resistance those who do not.”

    Reply
  2. Akbar Lightning
    November 24, 2009

    well, here are some thoughts.

    one – the management of ideas is the oppression of the 21st century, having started in the last century, and right now by focusing on idiotic right-wingers as the expression of anger, they actually make the expression of anger itself look idiotic. i think this is a tactical move to undermine political anger.

    two – constructing a language for progressive anger when it finally does reach the breaking point is the best thing, in my mind, we can do. what is needed is something similar to the communist manifesto. if you’ve ever read that it’s not so much a political book as it is a call to anarchy, and that turned into a movement that shook the whole world. i’m not pro-communism, i am merely talking about that methodology, the idea of giving progressives something solid that they can unite around, that seems to me a starting point.

    three – the problem is that class issues have been subdivided into all kinds of groups and that actually works against us. the problem of morality is one that is very difficult to turn into unifying language. but it is possible we might be at that time where we are truly, sincerely in need of something miraculous to happen, and i feel silly typing that out, but it does challenge us to think about how we feel about history and god, and truth and all that jazz.

    so, those are my thoughts, i know it is not a great answer, but the starting point, which to me would be wonderful is if enough people were at least willing to say they are ready for something more dramatic.

    akbar

    Reply
  3. globatron
    November 24, 2009

    I support a manifesto writing project. Great starting point.

    Point is very interesting as I do believe true political anger can not be detected now. The progressive party has separated themselves and has become silenced by an angry ignorant mob. Maybe capitalizing on this pacifism that liberals are well known for would be a great starting point.

    For instance anyone who writes about the VP pic from last years GOP should never mention her name online so it does not help her search engine results. Silence is golden. We can say a lot by saying nothing. We can discuss a fringe group without ever mentioning their name. The more we talk about them the more we empower them and give them the power.

    I am ready for something more dramatic.

    Reply
  4. Logocentric
    November 25, 2009

    i (respectfully) disagree with the argument for silence, or for not naming names. not because i want to cast insults at particular people, but because i think that at the heart of the “aggression and emotional ignorance” that akbar rightly identifies lies a deep tendency to treat people as something other than people. when one refers to another as “right wing” or “communist” or “asshole,” one takes part in the same act of abstraction that makes bullying–and all other forms of violence–possible. so in my opinion, that has to stop, to begin with. how to do this is not an easy question to ask, but it should be asked and be given a great deal of careful thought, consistently, and over a long period of time. a dialogue about what it means to conceptualize the human as well as to de-humanize should accompany this thought. the ability to genuinely empathize may follow such dialogue; lack of such empathy, again, is the root of objectivation and violence. having said that, i feel justified in my anger about the conditions in which such objectivation occurs. while i am not wholly responsible for those conditions, i do participate in them–in part by not making clear my objections to the ways in which people become targets, objects, tools of humiliation, entertainment, exploitation, and violence. so i think you’re right, akbar, in the need for clear expression of the experience of this phenomenon. you have put your finger on something vital.

    Reply
  5. globatron
    November 25, 2009

    Logocentric, I agree partly. I’m not saying plop people in categories. I’m just saying possibly not name the name of the person you are speaking of because we all know who we are speaking of by describing their actions. It was just a thought. The reason I feel there might be power in that is because it would remove the power of a person becoming political and media fodder.

    I can talk all day about who I am having a conversation about online and not mention their name once. If I write that name a 100 times I’m just adding to their search engine optimization and their online presence. I would rather not be apart of adding any more power to my opponents by mentioning their names, not in order to dehumanize but for the reason mentioned.

    I’m not talking about categorical names. I’m talking about a person’s name. It was just a thought on how to have discussions without adding to the entire media circus that is held partly online. I’d like to be able to discuss my ideas openly without adding to that.

    Reply
  6. Akbar Lightning
    November 25, 2009

    logocentric, i also would like to argue that using people as a subject of philosophical analysis is itself a way of objectifying them. it is part of my running theme right now that objectification might be a healthy way to open practical dialogue about what to do as political creatures.

    this is the nature of my discussion about intelligence, reading comprehension. what do we do in a world where so much depends upon text, with millions of people who have very low reading comprehensions skills, how can we avoid looking at that as a fact, as an object.

    if we are to do what most people say we should do, which is to remember the lessons of nazi germany, if we are to be really true to that, to remember how much of it had to do with a population who veered further and further from grounded ethical principles, for the sake of efficiency, then we must call a duck a duck when we see something with feathers quacking..

    although i agree that a deeper analytic must be practiced by all those who profess themselves to be philosophically minded, and while i welcome that as a practice here, i remain for the sake of dialogue committed to something a bit more straightforward if only to argue for the value of human emotional intuition as a tradition that has its own value.

    keep it coming logo, we need you bro!

    akbar

    Reply
  7. Logocentric
    November 25, 2009

    globatron, i see your point, and i appreciate where you’re coming from. but what i was arguing for was a position that is aware of the danger of perpetuating, for example, the category “opponents,” which you use quite readily. i’m just questioning that kind of category. i am suggesting that in itself such a category–among many, many others, which we all use in the course of discussing people and ideas–depersonalizes human beings. i don’t pretend to have an answer and i don’t claim that i live outside that tendency to make abstractions out of people, but i am concerned that we members of this species have grown quite unconscious of the ways in which we conceive ourselves and one another–of humans in the sense that we are a ‘species’ and in terms of the personal beings who supposedly make up that group. i am suggesting that there may be power in having a conversation about that mode of thinking about people–that perhaps the revolution is primarily one of reordering our minds, of becoming more aware and more careful, around the idea of ‘human.’ because it seems that we are losing the importance of that concept.

    and maybe it doesn’t matter. maybe there is no way out of this way of perceiving others as little more than “fodder,” whether of media or cannon. but i’m just not happy with the notion of letting history take its course without some sort of serious discussion about it. we’re taught that change takes place and that we’re only able to understand it, to derive meaning from that change, in hindsight. that we’re always too close to the present for meaningful analysis, etc. and for a while, maybe that logic worked. what i am saying is that we are now in some sort of transition as a species–that the concept ‘human being’ is undergoing what i think are the end stages of a radical change that has been occurring at least since the industrial revolution. and if we don’t get serious about what this means, the conversation is going to disappear altogether–perhaps with our generation.

    so when we encounter exploitative behavior, the persistence of such behavior–but also the complicity in, or perhaps apathy about, its persistence–is symptomatic of the fact that very many of us have learned virtually nothing from the history of the twentieth century. in other words, we’ve learned to be careful about racial categories and about being openly sexist–in my opinion, mostly to avoid various forms of persecution, if you’re white or male, and mostly out of a fairly understandable level of self interest if you’re not. but what we haven’t done is discuss the larger question of why we had social movements around such ideas in the first place. without being tuned in to the larger notion of humanity, we’re simply perpetuating exploitative behavior, we’re practicing alternative ways of depersonalizing people.

    there is of course a strangeness about using a website, any website, for such communication–an irony that maybe we haven’t yet quite grasped. but this sense provides more evidence–difficult to describe and appreciate though it is–that this transformation is occurring now, right under our noses. but what’s to smell on a website? what malodor are we to detect in a sleek verizon ad in which a robot is looking up the definition of ‘human’ on the web? what i am asking is how complicit are we in defining ourselves for this new life we’re consuming our way toward? how aware are we–the first video game generation and really the first tv generation–that we’re even taking part? and when i talk about ‘generation,’ i include myself, and i mean you, globatron, and you, akbar. but consider this: we’re not the first internet generation. therefore, we have some flickering sense of what it was like before, or at least of what ideas about personal communities were like before. and to me that means that in the not-too-distant future, we’re going to bear a very special kind of responsibility for the ways in which we engage the notion ‘human.’ i think we already carry that responsibility–those of us who can take part in a conversation like this, who try our best to not deaden our senses and to avoid the din of idiocy that many allow to masquerade as political discourse. for me, this is the only political discussion to have: how to treat one another in this age we now find ourselves in.

    Reply
  8. globatron
    November 25, 2009

    I understand and agree fully. When I wrote the word opponent I thought there might be further discussion on the use of that word. What I really mean is of those we disagree with. It would seem disagreement is part of communication.

    I definitely wish we could have further dialogue about the larger issue you bring to light though. I agree that this is the underlying issue with all political conversations and you are right it is rarely or usually not at all addressed.

    When we say Chinese what does that mean? When we say American what does that mean? Conservative? Liberal?

    What is human? This is a great point and I believe should be of the utmost importance and maybe we can use this as a starting point for the manifesto Akbar suggested we right. Very well put Logocentric.

    You have inspired me to write on this subject further.

    Reply
  9. Logocentric
    November 25, 2009

    gentlemen,

    you’ll excuse me while i collect my thoughts and try and come up with an appropriate response. i’ll note that akbar’s most recent comment came while i was writing my most recent one, and it seems to directly take on a major thread that i was (only half-consciously) developing. so i’ll get back when i can and try to provide an appropriate response.

    lc

    Reply
  10. Akbar Lightning
    November 25, 2009

    i need to make a few distinctions for the sake of this discussion.

    one, there is a qualitative difference between stupidity and arrogance, and the kind of stupidity i am talking about in our world right now is the self-assured kind, the type that utilizes easily falsifiable logical structures to espouse very dangerous political paradigms. such a condition must, at some point, in my humble opinion, be able to be classified as a danger to human beings, as we exist in an interdependent state that demands a certain level of participation in the political issues that drive the application of relatedness.

    there is a difference between intellectual investigation and that kind of philosophical politeness that is historically rooted in such a way that those to whom we are applying it are not able to receive it. in other words, if we cannot classify perspectives in any way, then there is no ‘political’ realm.

    to say it another way, the world cannot afford the intelligent people, those who have risen up from poverty, who know both sides of the spectrum to remain silent out of philosophical adherence to a dogma of uncertainty, that does not exactly apply to an ethical dimension that is uncontroversial, unless that realm has been made controversial, by those who benefit from making it so.

    fairness, equality, generosity and compassion are not controversial values in my mind. they have been replaced by strength, manipulation, style and emotional excitement. to make an object out of this, to define it, to give it a name, is to do service to our fellow human beings who are lost in the fog of perpetual war. in fact, our future might depend upon a few people able to make objects in a world that has turned into a set of virtual probabilities.

    i will rely on Alan Watts who has a wonderful way of saying ‘we aren’t really materialists at all. materialists have a respect, a reverence for the material, the matter, the thing in itself.’ many of these people i’m talking about revere nothing but the moment. to go back to palin and her ilk, we are dealing with a woman who has, in a short time, has been caught in outright outrageous lies and slander, morally reprehensible acts all by themselves, and those who know this, respect her all the more for it. these are dangerous people, and any progressivism must be able to point to this as an object, and ask, what are we going to do in a world that is being overrun by this aggression.

    as an aside, it is easy to have compassion, to understand that the aggression comes from a world that has lost realms of meaning, a world confronting existence with constant change. i am not unsympathetic. i am however, convinced that people are able to be possessed by very destructive tendencies, and i see this happening.

    akbar

    Reply
  11. Logocentric
    November 25, 2009

    okay, i suppose i have been unclear about where i am coming from. i am looking for the roots of some of these tendencies in people who flip out when they talk about obama or who actually claim to think that sarah palin is qualified to be president. i find it baffling and weird, i admit. and yes, it is dangerous. but i try to keep a couple of things in mind. first, ‘they’ are responding to ‘us.’ before i say that, i should acknowledge something ‘we’ all know: that ‘they’ are very much influenced by information given to them by rush limbaugh, bill o’reilly, the guy who cries and asks some unspecified entity to give him his country back (i forgot his name for the moment), and others; and a number of people i personally know somehow count the repetition of such information to their friends, coworkers, and family as independent thinking–as unbiased, balanced, and fact-supported commentary. i understand that there is a circus going on, and i get that it is dangerous.

    but the other side of the coin is that ‘we’ don’t have much of a ‘we’ outside our own adherence to what we read in the Times, cull from npr or our own television sources, or carefully share in academic circles. and ‘they’ call us on that all the time. their arguments are often weak because they’re mostly just repeating bullshit they hear on limbaugh, but the fact of the matter is that ‘we’ who are honest with ourselves see that in large part, we are doing the same thing they are doing. in some important respects, they are right in their assessments of liberalism. the point is that none of us has a strong place to stand. in important ways, we are all slaves to the information made available to us by whoever makes it available. and most of us who produce new work replicate positions that appear to us as acceptable, palatable, that which won’t get us fired or subject us to danger of being called stupid.

    the point is that almost no one takes the position that the most logical map of opposition is not one of left and right but of top and bottom. the left and right thing is in our imagination, sustained by media wars and our complicity in the ‘culture war’ bullshit.

    “strength, manipulation, style and emotional excitement”: this is the essence of modern politics. whether one dances left or right, these elements provide the tune. the extraordinarily odd thing is the number of people who dance quite well but deny that they are dancing. people have strong emotions, respond to style, charisma, and all the rest of it, but some conceal the fact that they succumb much more than do others–for the very fact that to not conceal is to appear as the other.

    most recently, what strikes me as odd, but potentially hopeful, is that the history of this immense clusterf*@# of a cultural divide goes to a discussion of human values–of freedom in a mass society, and of the dangers of consensus thinking. it isn’t by any means a simple issue, and it certainly wouldn’t be easy to explain in a comment box, so i’ll leave that for another day. it is enough for now to say that, to my mind, we are voicing the same concerns but from different, alienated perspectives. how we are alienated–the various ways in which we experience the phenomenon of anomy–is a very intriguing question that i doubt anyone has had the courage to answer for our time. i’d certainly like to give it a try. and in fact, this is what i am beginning to try and do. not that i’m so courageous–it may be more foolhardy than courageous.

    as for making people the subjects of philosophical projects and thereby objectivating them, yes, i agree that there is a contradiction inherent in such theory. i suppose that there is always the danger of contradiction. but when we give the subject an immediacy, in terms of responding to particular claims, beliefs, or attacks, and then proceed to make him/her/them an object of simply irrational category, we totally deny the chance to engage anyone or anything but our own self-assured ideas about right ‘political’ thought or action. as for “the intelligent people, those who have risen up from poverty,” etc.–perhaps those like ourselves–i think we understand somehow that we don’t belong to an exclusive class of intellect, certainly not one of wealth, but that we do have a unique perspective on this cultural malady we experience regularly. we can thus tell ourselves that if there is a job of educating, then it is our job above anyone else. but of what should an education consist? that’s a good question.

    Reply
  12. Akbar Lightning
    November 26, 2009

    wow, firstly, let me be the first that i don’t think it is foolhardy, to attempt to engage in what i think we can say is the science of the 21st century, which is to craft new ways of thinking in a time with a constantly moving foundation. such a person needs support, and i support it.

    i believe in much of how you frame such engagement there is a pedagogical parameter to it. in other words, once we have some ‘object’ of value, then that object is distributed. my contention is that a true object of value is attractive, it has gravity, it needs no pedagogy. and therefore, it has its own way of eliminating power, it is itself an equalizing agent. therefore, if we find something in our investigations that are actually useful, we won’t have to worry about it being corrupting, and furthermore, it won’t be ours, it will immediately spread.

    here’s the rub, i posit that commitment to the science, to this process is the essential thing (in itself), because it indicates a kind of paradoxical madness that is in itself irrational given the circumstances, given the enormity of the task. on one note, for men to be committed to one another is an example, and for it to be founded upon peace and equality is also exhilarating, and therefore offers no threat of physical violence. but deeper than this, there is the notion of the impossible. when i look at the level of ignorance and civilizations decay, on an individual level, how people have become, millions of them, animalistic, i am convinced that no thesis can transform this world. most would say that this necessitates a kind of pedagogy, that can lead to physical coercion, i sometimes think you imply that of my thoughts, but no, pacifism is for me the fundamental principle, above all others, therefore, given the animal-like state of humanity, that results from a lack of civilizing education (emotions as well as knowledge), what we are left with is a need for the miraculous. that is getting a bit ahead of myself, but that is for me the ‘deep analytic.’

    that’s probably a bit gobbledy gook, but the kind i can only produce as a result of logocentristic exchange

    akbar

    Reply
  13. Akbar Lightning
    November 26, 2009

    i did not stress enough in the prior comment that i think it is the example that is important, the example of men, or women, committed to one another on this project that is almost more important than the results, it is the results if you catch my drift.

    in a time of anomie, what is more powerful then a group who refuses to accept the absence of law?

    akbar

    Reply
  14. Logocentric
    November 26, 2009

    i can’t tell you what an honor it is to be associated with “gobbledy gook.”

    if i’m reading you right, what you mean is that some example or practice of community is needed; such community is primary; and i agree. what i am advocating in addition to that is the notion that we be able to trace our values, our idea of community, to prior examples–to provide an honest, fearless history of said idea. i believe that such history is important to the notion of solidarity–not in the sense that we share political positions or toe a party line, but rather in the sense that each has a way of relating to another one’s interpretation of his or her arrival at said community. i guess that adds to the gobbledy gook, but i’m not terribly bothered by it. we’re getting there.

    Reply
  15. Akbar Lightning
    November 26, 2009

    yo dog,

    (disclaimer, late at night, blurry eyed from vid-gaming)

    although an appreciation of history is something you must know i share, prior examples do not exist for what is ‘needed’ exactly because our time is so unique, and i mostly claim this in relation to the rate of change. the rate of change in speeds, methodologies, trade, commerce, politics. such a way of life has never been seen before, and although i think our historical study is vital as a practice, it does not have within it the answers, it cannot. only people living within the time have the intuition that comes from full-body immersion.

    in other words, knowing our history is a lot like having skills as a painter, you learn them so that you can explore the limits. same with history, we know about revolutions, peaceful transitions of power, etc. but we have never seen a revolution that involved the planet, and so we will have to explore methods that are new, that are different than anything we’ve ever seen.

    just some thoughts,

    akbar

    Reply
  16. Logocentric
    November 26, 2009

    oh, for sure. i never meant to suggest an idea of history as a container of solutions. and difference between periods is central to the importance of such study–for me, at least. when i say ‘examples,’ i don’t mean situations to emulate as much as ideas during a significantly different period that nonetheless contain kernels of awareness of the problems we identify as our own. clearly, the solutions do not exist in the past; otherwise we wouldn’t need solutions now. but our situation did not form out of thin air–nor did our individual assessments of the need for an alternative to the situation. for me, history is the study of developing identities, relationships, and conflict. we’re not going to get fully-formed answers out of such study; but without it, we lack a vital perspective on the present. people say who they are not because they have always been here, but because of who they have become and because of how they got here. that really is what i am talking about.

    Reply
  17. Akbar Lightning
    November 26, 2009

    i agree with all of this, but i want to put forward the idea that the birth and development of new people, if they are poorly educated has the ability to erase historical contextual forces.

    in other words driving forces of historical ideology are top-down processes, and if left alone, people can slip out of this, making some of that historicism irrelevant, as political life assumes prehistoric dimensions, making the philosophical application quite basic.

    to engage in those historical memes can be submissive to an ideology of intelligence, it can have a class dynamic, in other words.

    i think if we wish to understand the ruling class then your argument is absolutely accurate, but to understand the underclass, which is a distinction that gets easier to recognize every day, then we are dealing with the combination of basic human development, psychology, and we are also dealing with the influence of a not-quite neutral force of technology, but one nonetheless that is not bound by the desires of a ruling class, it has a life force of its own, i would call this our form of nature.

    some thoughts,
    akbar

    Reply
  18. Logocentric
    November 26, 2009

    so, if i am reading you correctly, history is an elitist enterprise? it is an interesting suggestion, considering that the last forty or so years of the academic study of history have been devoted largely to the New Social History, which takes as its topics historically marginal groups–the working class, women, and ethnic/racial minorities, e.g.. but i do think i see why you raise the point of class: i.e., the lenses through which most such histories get written are not necessarily the ones through which these groups view themselves. or maybe that isn’t quite the point you were making.

    i posit a few notions that may seem either utopian or elitist, depending on one’s perspective, but which i think deserve consideration nonetheless. these may seem undeveloped, and i apologize, but i am in a bit of a hurry. i can elaborate later if you’d like.

    first, you seem to refer to ‘psychology’ as something which stands alone, either as a course of study (a set of ideas and approaches) or as a dimension of human experience and intelligence. likewise you say ‘basic human development,’ again as though that as an idea somehow stands alone, outside historical context.

    yet (second), in the same thread of discussion, you make the assertion, quite rightly i think, that we live in a period of rapid change, technologically and otherwise, that is unprecedented in human events, as far as we know. but in what ways do you suppose such change leaves ideas of ‘human development’ and ‘psychology’ untouched? my argument is that for the very reason that we live in a time of rapid change, an historical outlook takes on unprecedented value–particularly the willingness to contextualize experience and thought in the events of recent history, say the past forty or fifty years. that’s the third notion i want to convey: i’m talking mostly about recent history. so i’m not talking about founding documents and ‘american values,’ but rather the relatively immediate origins of an experience that people have struggled with–late-20th century technology and the sense of being stamped out by it, for example–if only in a mostly unconscious way. what i am saying is that in this experience, whatever it is, the lines we are drawing now are necessarily vague because 1) this is a new kind of consciousness in terms of naming it, and 2) even though (or perhaps because) it is becoming more strongly experienced now, there may be interests involved in assuring the experiencers (i.e., those who might protest) that they are either insane or perhaps that resistance is futile. who knows, i’m just speculating here, but i do think that we are constantly being asked to enter new places, and at an increasingly rapid rate–and the reflex to simply act, to respond, is becoming stronger–much more so than i can remember–than the one that tells us to reflect, to examine the options and have a way of stepping back from them long enough to behave rationally or responsibly. history, as a study, is in part an attempt to step back and view the present with deeper clarity. otherwise, we are simply pulling levers and entering doorways by reflex, and we are rapidly losing the sense of choice in the way we once understood it.

    fourth, the best kind of history in my opinion is both top-down and bottom-up. that may mean different things to different people. but i do think i share your insight that very few of us have a clue as to what the top is like. therefore, when i talk about history, i am talking about that of my people–and i’m talking in terms of class. and i think you know that i come from a working-class culture. still, i am of the opinion that we don’t know who we are unless we ask questions of the other–in this case, upper management. i do this in order to come to some realistic understanding of how we are perceived by those who make and enforce the rules and thereby help perpetuate the options that we constantly face. i strongly suspect there is a relationship between the top and the ‘force’ of technology you identify. i don’t think that technology is neutral, but i don’t think that it is comprehensible as a stand-alone force, outside of the context of its historical relationship with a ruling elite. it may not be bound by the desires of that elite, but it is not completely detached from it either. and to undertake a study of anything, i need to connect it in some way to human beings–particularly since we tend to classify technology as a uniquely human phenomenon.

    fifth, finally, and i think more to your most recent point, the notion that “historical memes” are “submissive to an ideology of intelligence” is itself a bit of an elitist statement, if i am reading you right. because what that says to me is that the masses–or whoever the people are in this discussion (i think of the 99 per cent you posit in another post)–are uneducable. and as someone who can undoubtedly relate to the 99 per cent, i strongly disagree with that suggestion.

    Reply
  19. Akbar Lightning
    November 26, 2009

    great stuff logocentric,

    here are some responses.

    first, i believe the historical research, in the recent history, meaning 30 or 40 years is important for understanding the mindset of the ruling elite, and therefore being conscious of our relational choices in that direction, so i am in agreement with this.

    but like MLK, i think technology is a force too diverse for a ruling elite to control in a way that can be described by a specific ideology, in other words, i think they are as much swept up by its forceful nature as are we, but they have power to manipulate it, but not its general inertia. i am being unclear but the idea is that the same existential tension that we experience is also experienced by the elite, the blow is just softened by material distraction.

    as far as psychology, we have to keep the distinction between basic health and personality diversity. there are primary human psychological needs, that without going into, are universal. socializing, intimacy, friendship, family, etc… such things are universal and in my mind uncontroversial values. there is no threat in addressing these things when it comes to diversity, since diversity of type can take place on top of these needs. and since i argue that psychological dysfunction is rampant and part of the current state of the world, engagement with these basics is for me uncontroversial.

    on history, i think given the tech-backdrop, a few hundred years ago the ideology of a 30-40 year period could be much more connected to the life of a people, because the basics of life remained an unchanged context, but because of the sweep of change, the ideology of our elite has a kind of disconnect from actual change, and in this they are also suffering, the way we are from a lack of efficacy.

    you see what i mean? the historical study is a way of understanding how they are coping in a psychological sense. and as far as the 99 percent, i’m not sure if i believe you relate to that group, as much as feel compassion for. the educableness of a mass of people is pedagogical. what i am aiming for is something organic, that spreads out of our basic desires for meaning, something that is empowering, rather than dictated.

    does any of that make sense?

    akbar

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  20. Logocentric
    November 27, 2009

    akbar,

    “the same existential tension that we experience is also experienced by the elite, the blow is just softened by material distraction.” i agree with this in part. i’ll be interested, in time, in fleshing out this argument more.

    i see what you mean by ‘psychology’ now. i have been thinking, of course, in terms of constructs, but you are making a case for a broader idea. i think i agree with the notion that “the historical study is a way of understanding how they are coping in a psychological sense.”

    having this exchange is opening up new areas for me, and i am grateful for it. i look forward to working on it more.

    Reply

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