Monday, June 01, 2015

Putting the blog on indefinite hold

Which shouldn't be too much of a surprise, since the last post was over a year ago. In any case, there are many reasons for it. First off, I think we face a much different political climate than we did when I started writing this. I started writing the blog just a little over six months after 9/11. With Obama winning, rolling back much of Bush's politics, and, amazingly enough, not becoming another self interested politician, the climate of fear and paranoia that categorized those days has pretty much dissipated. So in part, we've won. In part, also, I feel we're suffering from what could be called 'winners syndrome'.

Progressives have won, but in becoming winners, there's been a tendency for writers to not engage in the type of self criticism that's necessary, and that they, we, often held the right accountable for.

The type of politics that I believe in are ones that, while rooted in progressive values, recognize that conservatives and sometimes libertarians have good points at times as well. I have no interest in becoming part of a new orthodoxy.

Perhaps in the future there will be tendencies that reflect the kind of politics that I'd like to see, but in the short term, there appears to be nothing on the horizon that captures the kind of nuance that I personally believe in.

*on edit...there was a post about six months ago, but the fact that .I forgot about it shows that it's time to put an official break on things.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Fallacy of Post-Modernism

The Fallacy of Post-Modernism. To me, it’s based on familiar ideas expressed in an exotic vocabulary. 
If you look at Lyotard’s original “The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on the Status of Knowledge”, what he says is that in the Modern or Modernistic world you had several “Meta-Narratives” that organized everything, and in the Post-Modern world you no longer have any “Meta-Narratives” at all. 
Well…what exactly is this “Meta-Narrative” spoken of? 

In truth, what Lyotard was expressing is almost identical to historical ideas from Hegel and others that said that every historical era and every culture within that historical era had its own unique fixations and values….and that with the change of history, over time, one set of values declines and another rises in its place. None of this is particularly new at all, and it manifests not just in history and Hegel but also in Marx with the processions of different modes of production. 

In Lyotard’s “Post-Modern Condition”, the question to be asked is why exactly the end of Modernism, as an era, would be replaced by nothing unique at all? One could argue very easily that the “Post-Modern” confusion he saw is a temporary condition based on the ending of one historical era and the beginning of a new one, a sort of lull in the historical stream between two eras, rather than anything permanent. 

If, however, we really don’t have any overarching ideas or values that would rule our historical era, but everything really is now up for permanent grabs with mixing and matching, that would be significant, very significant…..but the post-modernists don’t provide any proof for this, and give evidence of not even understanding the concepts that they advocate for. 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

"Black Coffee Co-op" is no more, and I'm rejoicing

Because it was a blight on the neighborhood and illustrated one of the key problems of anarchists in getting anyone to take them seriously: their link with street culture and punk culture. If you want social change, it's got to be social change that actually involves society itself as a whole, not just one tiny demographic. If large scale change is going to happen, you have to appeal to regular people, folks with relatively normal lives, and not simply declare that people who are part of a youth sub-culture are the vanguard of change.

I say that they were a blight on the neighborhood because it's true: along with all the traveling kids came people addicted to various drugs, or who had untreated mental health issues, that the cafe brought into the area. Again, meth heads aren't going to be the vanguard of the revolution.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Political thoughts...the liberal view vs. socialist.

One of the strange things with actually working with people who are disadvantaged, which I did in one form or another for about four years collectively, is that you kind of cut through the bullshit....which in my case proved to me that the liberal, as opposed to socialist, worldview was more correct than I gave it credit for. The socialist worldview, or at least one interpretation of it because there are quite a few versions, would say that those who are disadvantaged or having the hardest times socially are there because of economic reasons in one form or another, and that their presence is a symptom of a greater problem in society. The liberal version, on the other hand, says that social mobility and such works, and that the people who experience the heaviest hardships are those who the liberal set up of society fails because of some incidental cause like addiction or mental illness. It also privileges causes like racial discrimination as being worse problems than economic suffering.

Well, on a personal level, through lots of volunteering, I can say that the worst off in our society are those that conform to the liberal view of things as opposed to the socialist. I expected to find many economic victims of capitalist exploitation, but I found comparatively few, and instead people who had other problems that caused them to be in these positions. The origins of those problems may have had in some cases economic causes, but there was also the factor of personal responsibility in some cases.

I still am a socialist, and believe that economic inequality and the barriers that it puts up to people are a serious problem, but I've also gained a new appreciation for the fact that our economic system works to a degree that I hadn't suspected before. There is mobility, people do lift themselves out of poverty through hard work, not everyone is a victim of economics.

This view has also been strengthened by years spent in community colleges post-bachelors, first to study social work and then to transition into other sorts of worker retraining. I won't say that students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds were absent at Evergreen, but there certainly were more of them at the community colleges I went to, and unlike Evergreen they weren't politically self selected. Instead, it was a broad spectrum of people....and despite the constraints on my fellow students, many were extremely determined to change and improve their lives through school and classes, and to implement upward mobility through it. They didn't see the economic system as fucked up enough so that there was no hope in challenging it, hope that would have to come through some sort of political movement challenging the government, or through creating an alternative society outside of capitalism. Both views are more common than you'd think in the alternative political universe of good old Olympia, Washington.

And politically, they were all over the board. The virtuous proletarians weren't all predisposed for the socialist cause but instead were just as often predisposed to libertarianism as progressive thought.

Call it reality. The socialist critique still applies, but the dire doom and gloom assessment of our society is, in my view, not in connection with the actual facts of the society we live in.