Quip for Kip
The following is a quick recording I made to respond to a comment posted on a recent discussion we have been having…I will post the comment below, authored by a new commenter by the name of Kip…welcome to the discussion!
A short audio response to the comment below…
Yes, Akbar, war in itself is a wrong. I completely agree. But I believe that history shows us that the means by which we recognize this are mostly proximate. Most of us are consumed by our daily tasks such that ideas of war and peace become abstractions. As you and others suggest, war is a perennial reality that gives meaning to the various world views that people adopt. Yet the conscious consideration of meaning vis a vis war seems to be the terrain of people like you who seek peace as an ideal state; I do not disparage that quest one bit. In fact, I join you. But I believe we get nowhere without demonstrating against the nefarious processes that legitimize war in its most current state. Such processes are not historically unique, to be sure. But they are the most immediate conditions under which we live, and they are the most accessible in terms of documents and memory, and can thus be extracted and analyzed in the headlines of the daily news as well as through those who experienced its most recent catalysts first-hand.
I sense that although you may agree with my premise, you imply it is nonetheless indefensible. And though I would agree it is a hard sell, given the myriad distractions and hardships that people are expected to endure in recent years, it is no less practical than your position of standing firm on principles of peace. In fact, I think the two could work in tandem. But I’ll be frank and say that I am here to push the image of deception and manipulation, to keep it alive and current, and to make a case that our best recourse to peace is to expose and oppose those who take for granted our complicity in their policies.
By Kip on the ongoing discussion in the post A Soldier’s Oath
GregJune 2, 2010
Alright I am going to start this one out. I would ponder a question then at you Akbar. Under your ideal situation of complete peace does this preclude that man is able to exist without the predisposition to human nature, (i.e. greed, selfishness, ambition). Even in the earilest forms of man these traits have always found there way into the human consciecness, (I know my spelling sucks but I am at work and can’t spend too much time) and I guess I wonder how your ideal of absolute peace accounts for these human tendacies and failings.
That is I believe the reason I have a difficult time accepting what you see as something of the future. Man is too predictable and instinctual in nature to ever abandon these traits completely.
Please understand this is not a combative or confrontational reply, I would just like to hear how you would view this or if you even agree?
I will agree on one thing, I would desire to strive to be at peace, war by it’s very nature is supposed to be unpleasant and thus avoided.
It harkens me back to an episode of Star Trek TOS where Kirk and the crew end up on a planet that is at a state of war. But war is no longer fought with conventional weapon but with computers and the casualities are automatically expected to just go to suicide booths as their duty. That is what bothers me is the thought war could become so sterile and displaced we forget why it is bad.
You might have thought I liked war, I don’t, God knows I have enough blood on my hands. But I also know I will not back away from the fight that needs fought. By that I am not talking a stupid argument over someone spilling their beer. I am speaking of the defense of either self or other innocences in harm’s way. Call it a savior complex ( that is what my wife calls it) but that is MY destiny. Sounds stupid I nknow, but where you were put here to be a man of peace, I was put here to try and do that. Anyway that is my take and I am back to work,
HAPPY WED everyone.
Akbar LightningJune 2, 2010
well greg, i am happy at least that you have come to some humility in this process, by that i mean you present your nature as i do, with an understanding of the fates that bring us to them…such humility is what will allow us to learn from one another, and your tone is much more amenable to that, so thank you…
as far as peace goes, as far as your question…
let me say the following:
1. i do not believe in absolutes…this will seem paradoxical to you but i think our character flaws is what allows us to discover our strengths…(to defend this now would be a great distraction, but i have seen it so often that i take it as a truth)….my point is that absolute peace is not a realistic goal, but ideal states work to pull us closer to a warmer orbit, if you will accept the galactic analogy…
2. peace is not simply the absence of war…we need to establish this…peace is a transcendent spiritual concept that can only occur when warfare has ceased long enough for serenity to grow into a flowering plant…warfare is a distraction from a long process whose benefits have never been thoroughly explored, that is the realm of my most desired adventure…
3. peace is that force that explains the legend of the samurai who was so concentrated that his foe was unable to strike him in the meditation position…this is peace, and as a warrior, i think that a deep and growing curiosity on your part concerning this principle could open you up to new vistas concerning your savior complex…
4. you are talking with somebody who has his own ‘savior’ complex, so this is something, not only that i understand, but i have studied extensively by studying the words and works of those prophets and saviors in history…as you study such people you learn that there are certain universal principles that allow such a person to one, accept their fate, but two become a more nuanced manifestation of this fate…
i am preaching to you, i know…but let’s just consider this the style of the argument i’m presenting, not a judgment…no, i hope you see that i am merely trying to respect a new twist in our relationship…
5. and finally, there is a prejudice that is almost universal among human beings when considering the existence of god, and the prejudice is this…that if there is a god, then he/she/it is all powerful…i do not have this prejudice, and i do not require my god to be all knowing, all powerful, or even the architect of reality….no, for me god is an aspect of the cosmos, that is simply more complex and powerful than i am, and has ‘the good’ as his/her/its primary operating principle, and as an artist makes creative effort to nurture that principle…because of this, human use of cooperative effort is required…and human thought can even be of benefit…
what does this have to do with our conversation? the point i am making is that we live in a time of absolutes and much can be understood and awakened by letting go of these absolutes…in fact, commitment is more meaningful without them…this is paradox, i know…but so be it…by committing myself absolutely to peace, i put myself in ‘the fight’ for good, and that gives my life meaning…
KipJune 3, 2010
I’ve been away from the internet for most of today. I hope you won’t take my delayed response as a lack of interest. Far from it. I think it’s pretty cool that you made an audio response to my comments. That has never happened before, to me at least—not on a website where I’ve posted comments. So I want to say that I appreciate your welcoming gesture and the effort you’re making to keep the conversation going. And I’m happy to go deeper into the dialogue. Hearing your voice, I understand that you are wrestling with these ideas and that you are putting yourself in a vulnerable place in order to explore them. And I’d like you to know that I appreciate it and that it gives me hope.
I am sure you will have already heard much of what I am going to write, not least because my personality and perspective on this topic are not terribly unique. But I think it’s clear to both of us that the topic is worth discussing, especially today. And it continues to surprise me that I am surprised when I hit on this topic with a like-minded person, for the very fact that it is a perennial theme in history. But I guess I shouldn’t discount the modern obsession with the “new” and the ways that people readily discard and forget and distract themselves from what I think stares us in the face every day. But that’s for another conversation.
When I said that I think your perspective and mine could work “in tandem,” I was probably not clear on the way I was using that term. I did not mean, necessarily, that one should follow the other in a sequence, though that is one way of using the term. I was referring rather to more of a partnership—or a strategy aimed at two goals simultaneously. I will say that there must be a synergistic quality (pardon that over-used reference), which combines proximate political goals with a community identity of peace, if there will be any conditions for unity that match what I sense you ideally seek to accomplish. So I am going to continue arguing this, bearing in mind qualifications that your comments have raised.
I took notes on your audio clip, but I didn’t use quotation marks, so forgive me—and correct me—if I paraphrase too much or not enough, or if I misquote you.
You say that it is within us—people I will describe as dedicated to an ideal of peace and who are sensitive to the currents of thought and action that make up our culture—that the problem exists. The problem does not exist, you say, in the various forms of injustice that are as old as history. We lack cultural cohesion, you argue, and this is the primary, and proper, focus of our situation. Again, I find myself agreeing with you about the very wide terrain of ideals that have always faced humans who seek harmony with their fellows. I say, however, that to speak about peace in our time (a reference to your use of the term “progress”) requires a discussion of the many individuals alive today who would take part in enjoying it. To talk about “cohesion”—as an experience of harmony or community—seems to point to a condition that, if met, must have dealt squarely with the very specific facts that deny cohesion at a particular historical moment. In other words, the contemplation of peace is a solitary act, which I find to be good in itself; but its activation, its application in the lives of those who would consciously participate in it together, requires a level of submission (ironic though it seems to be) to those conditions that thwart such community in the social relations that govern one’s life in the present. Not submission in the sense of giving up or giving in, mind you. But in the sense of recognizing the contingency of our present experience—and any experience of “progress,” as you put it—on the realities of the day.
You say (and here is a quotation I think I’ll get right) “All great nonviolent movements in history have used some ingenious technique for leveraging out. . . progress from preexisting structures. . . or social structures.” I agree for the most part. I see that you often refer to Martin Luther King, Jr., and to Mohandas Gandhi. They are the best modern examples, in my opinion, of thinkers who organized according to principles of nonviolence and whose work helped to effect radical, progressive change during their lives. Yet this also goes to the argument that such change has come from within the social relations that were current and palpable in the lives of their students and followers.
There is a lot more that I want to add to this argument, but I think I have written enough for now. Hopefully, I have written enough to test whether or not I have correctly read your argument. So let’s move forward from here.
KipJune 3, 2010
I see that, in being hasty to post my comment, I misquoted you. “All great nonviolent movements in history have used some ingenious technique for leveraging out. . . progress from preexisting [legal] structures. . . or [cultural] structures.” Apologies.
Akbar LightningJune 3, 2010
I will be responding to the following segment:
“In other words, the contemplation of peace is a solitary act, which I find to be good in itself; but its activation, its application in the lives of those who would consciously participate in it together, requires a level of submission (ironic though it seems to be) to those conditions that thwart such community in the social relations that govern one’s life in the present.”
first of all, i have what i will call an answer to this problem…it is of course theoretical…but i want to say, although my answer is a direct challenge to your thoughts, it is done with the understanding that i would not be able to formulate my theory without the dialectical environment created by your insightful inhabiting of the ground zero of this discussion…so thank you for your interest and your obvious passion.
before i go onto that, i want to clarify my understanding of the ‘tandem’ or ‘collaborative’ nature of these two approaches…one i will call the ‘mystical’ and the other i will call the ‘political.’
when i first responded i truly meant these two approaches to be side by side operating in simultaneity, but that was mere diplomacy on my part. to be more straightforward, i do absolutely feel that one follows from the other, that the political is a by-product of the mystical…now let me describe what i mean.
to engage in political critique of those agencies that work to nurture the very social dysfunction that peace is supposed to be antithetical to, one must create a particular kind of division, a political one, and assume somehow that such political divisions are beneficial to a minority interest. however, it is very possible that this is an illusion, a symptom, rather than the disease…so if we chase this symptom, we are likely to get lost in a struggle that has a proven track record of mutation.
now let me start again, but with a different angle…the notion of peace is an act of faith…in other words, if we believe that good, when present, DOES defeat the non-good, then all we must do is align ourselves with a force that is already present. point being, the techniques of evil are only a threat and necessary to study, only if we have not fully grasped the deepest notions of justice, and that mystical depth of justice involves a kind of absolute faith which can only be found in a ‘surrender’ to notions that are higher than the political.
one more take, and this is my best take on this idea…the problem i speak of is a psychological problem…it has to do with fear, with the presence of fear in an individual who feels he is trapped by existential/political/emotional traps. when one is able to liberate oneself, and then liberate others, then that has an attractive power, and attraction and growth in this way requires no conflict, it makes conflict unnecessary, and defeats the ‘enemy’ through attrition.
so, when i state the focus of ‘the problem’, i see the problem as how does a small group of individuals who feel some personal liberty go about building a supportive community…because i believe once such a thing occurs that the political work occurs naturally, because politics on a larger scale are, frankly, impossible to control…so it must be built upon the strongest initial interpersonal principles…
as an aside, to understand how we are turned into fractured people in fractured communities is varied and not likely to lead to anything but a deeper and deeper fascination with the dark side of human nature…only when we realize that the machine depends upon this, depends upon its own beauty, and therefore that it has a high tolerance for subversive groups simply because these groups almost always focus on the outside ‘problem’ rather than the inside one.
in other words, if we lived in a world that was perfect and harmonious, what would it look like? when we answer this hard question, and then take the answers and try to live by them, then we got a chance at something that looks like true political efficacy.
does that make any sense? that’s my best shot…
although, i suspect, in a more practical sense that there will be room for both aspects of our discussion in any forward momentum, maybe because the dialectical necessity is so powerful…
Akbar LightningJune 3, 2010
just a quick addition, i think this is exactly what MLK and Gandhi did, they did not confront some political injustice..rather they found a way to liberate people who felt powerless….and as a result political consequences followed.
the problem, or opportunity, is that oppression has become unrelated to any outward sign…shit, now as i am writing this i am realizing that you might be right, that to ‘identify’ the ‘us’ we would have to understand the methods used to keep ‘us’ from connecting in the way that i have theorized…perhaps that is valuable….could you please share some speculations concerning this?
GregJune 3, 2010
All I have to say is,
Wonder Twin Powers Activate!
KipJune 4, 2010
I must agree, Akbar, with this statement, and put it at the center of my response: “so it [a ‘supportive community’] must be built upon the strongest initial interpersonal principles.” My argument simply is that the problem of identifying the interpersonal dimension is inherently a political problem.
Your last comment, “that to ‘identify’ the ‘us’ we would have to understand the methods used to keep ‘us’ from connecting in the way that i have theorized,” sums up my position rather well. There is always going to be the question of what you mean by “us,” and of whether or not I hold the very same definition that you do. But I sense that, for now at least, the exercise of that discussion is most fruitfully done in the process of joining together, in mutual projects that aim at similar targets.
Take the example of Martin Luther King, Jr. He certainly targeted injustice during his time, and he had much to say about the principles that would lead justice-minded people toward that target. He was certainly a spiritual man, but he knew that he could not successfully fight injustice without a coherent political identity that focused his arguments and thus could be used to build a viable community. He and his colleagues and followers were remarkably successful in reaching many goals they set for themselves–and this was due in no small measure to the principles to which they adhered. But the cornerstone of effecting change was the work they did on the street: putting their feet on the street, their bodies upon the gears and levers, as it were. (To reiterate, I am not saying that a political program MUST precede the spiritual one, only that the basis for community building is inherently political, and thus predicated on the effort to organize those whose experiences of injustice are similar and can be demonstrated to be similar). The ‘us’ is derived from action and commitment to action. For me, that is the site of the interpersonal.
But now I sense that you are getting at something even more particular than what I’ve been arguing–i.e., the act of committing among LEADERS in the movement. Maybe I have gotten you wrong, so correct me if I have. Still, if this is the case, that you are referring to the community of leadership that is necessary to a movement’s progression, I’d say that that is based on the sense that individuals have reached a level of interpersonal cohesion. Such cohesion, on a very personal basis, can be achieved only through direct and frank discussion about the possible barriers to unity within said community. Yet such discussion, as in the other scenario, is inherently political in nature. Everyone has a position to defend; one tries to protect oneself from deception and mistreatment. Trust in the other is not something that is easily achieved. Yet I believe that the conditions for trust exist. I imagine that the best way to go about testing this would be to lay out for the other one’s values, hesitations, and concerns as plainly and frankly as possible.
Akbar LightningJune 4, 2010
even though i find myself constantly charging against your ideas, i can find no better way to dislodge these insights from my own mind, than by having such an insightful outside perspective charging into my own ideological structures…
i find your skepticism in individual trust is grounded itself in a political way of seeing human beings…agenda-based…if there is a truth, then that truth eliminates agendas, since agendas are by their very nature one-sided.
point is, there is one goal…the political tension comes about as a result of clouded understanding of that goal. this is a proposition, and does not necessarily have to be addressed now, presented only to make my point explicit.
now to MLK…at some point we have to talk about the racism out of which he was able to craft political change…particularity seems to be a running theme in these movements, as well as the other part of this legacy, when the leader leaves that particularity and is hastily put to death…my point is, that whatever it is that these leaders touch when they leave the particularity, is exactly the ground zero that we are looking for, not because we are suicidal, but because that represents in a yet undefined way, the appropriate place for 21st century work of this kind.
i want to make a minor but possibly important point concerning ‘feet on the ground’ activist thinking. before MLK moved forward with any direct action, he did the ‘more important’ work of educating the activists, teaching them the ways of non-violence and purifying them of their violence. this spiritual cleansing came before the political action…and i propose that such cleansing is itself the political act, that the action is merely a manifestation, an expression of the purity of the prior act. when we find a means of identifying that which we know exists, the realm of 21st century political/spiritual progress, i posit it will be more of this type than the latter…since there is no longer any leadership that can be pointed to as oppressive, except of course the systems that are all running on auto-pilot.
sometimes when i look at our contemporary leadership, i see people who have no idea what they are doing, and sense that they have not the capacity to make positive change, even when they want to…and like most of us, are just trying to get by…of course, there are a-holes in the world doing evil shit, but they are doing so because the chaos allows them to, just as the chaos will allow those who find alternatives to spread their own positive message…
globatronJune 4, 2010
I’m late in this conversation but am wondering where you are both going with this. Is there a shared goal?
To find a way in which global peace can be achieved?
To study the history of peaceful movements inorder to achieve that goal?
To clarify what peace means to the “us”?
What is the “us”?
My computer time is limited these days so I appologize for being a spectator.
GregJune 4, 2010
I will pose this, the concept of world peace is never going to be achieved until two things happen.
1. As shown in the primary lesson of Star Trek, until the motivation of existance is to obtain resources is no longer our reality we will not have peace. Until we are able to truly wipe out the main drive of our existance being working because we are all fighting over resources, I.E. Limited food, limited shelter, limited EVERYTHING then when man is able to redirect his focus to norturing his natural talents and gifts instead of trying earn a living then things will change. I think this is key factor.
2. The enlightment and respect of all world religions being accepted and embraced. This includes a mutual respect for all life. As long as we have various religions pitted against one another by their perceived doctrines then we will not have peace. I know the Muslim faith does not call for the subjugation of all non Muslims. But there is a sect of the religion that has taken this interpretation and it had to effects you have all seen. So I pose until we as MANKIND can come together and have a true resolution to peacefully accept all religions and understand the core tentants of all religions are the exact same, we will not have peace. Seriously, I hate religion, I am actually very spiritual but I do not subscribe to a religion because man has ultimately fucked up the message of the diciples sent down to teach us. Anyway that is my contribution to this and hope it was somewhat interesting.
KipJune 4, 2010
hmm, Greg. Did you go back to school or quit your job or something since the last time we met? Your comments seem much more moderate and thoughtful than I remember. Oh well, maybe it’s me. Yes, I’m sure it’s me.
On to your points:
1. I agree. However, to challenge what I suspect is resignation, do you suppose that it is really true–particularly today–that resources are scarce for everyone? Or is it that some use more than others and withhold them because it is profitable to do so?
2. Do you have any thoughts on how such togetherness might be accomplished?
Akbar LightningJune 4, 2010
yep, i basically agree, those are good points…
all it takes is a growing acceptance that we all need to move past old models of seeing things like economics, spirituality, politics, etc….
and i think that is going to happen, unfortunately, in direct proportion to the growing threats to our sustainable futures…
GregJune 4, 2010
No Kip actually my evil twin brother was using my computer.
Nah just kidding, I get a little intense and defensive at times. While I am a very conservative person in nature I am not completely closed minded.
Anyway. Appreciate the kind words. I figured if I backed down a bit perhaps I would be better received. Actually the talking hand was the turning point for me. I forgot to laugh about the absurdity that is life. I mean we are a bunch of hairless monkeys after all. And if you don’t think man is completely ridiculous? Just watch two people having sex. THAT is enought to make anyone bust a gut laughing.
Anyway happy friday to all. Congrats to my wife who passed her LPN exams and is now certified. Yay!