Thursday, April 29, 2004

Purpose of the blog.

While this blog has a political purpose, which is to promote socialism in the United States, preferably an anarchist or at least anarchist inspired socialism, if that idea isn't detestable, it also has a cultural purpose.

Politics isn't everything, neither is economics. The U.S. has a cultural life as well.

You may have been wondering what all those "Neo-Romanticist, American Tropicalia" links at the side of the page refer to. Well, to put it bluntly, the United States is probably at one of its worst moments when it comes to cultural life and the vibrancy and relevance of that cultural life to real life.

I'd like to promote a sort of cultural renewal. This is somewhat disconnected from the political project; culture shouldn't be subordinated to politics.

In a word, or a phrase, American intellectual life is quite boring and I'd like to make it more interesting, if nothing else than for my own sake since I have to live in this country and deal with the bullshit that passes for creative thinking.

Also, to make a very broad generalization about America, we have two prevailing modes of thought, the first one based on a sort of primitive religious consciousness and view of the world largely associated with conservative politics and the more rural areas of this country; the other one is based largely around French materialism and serves as the basis for much liberal thought.

If one aspect could be called a peasant consciousness the other one could be called a bourgeois consciousness.

I have no use for the peasant consciousness, unless my dealings with it are to promote people within that sphere of thought to think critically about the world around them through modes of thought familiar to them, sort of like the liberation theology approach.

Politically, the organized representatives of this consciousness are among the most odious and bigoted people in the public sphere, and I have no intention of doing anything to help them out.

So my focus in promoting cultural creativity and renewal is on those people who have adopted, or inherited from their parents, the French materialist perspective, largely a concomittant or at least a source of liberal consciousness.

This French materialism, which is an archaism in the Western world, is largely a product of the extended bourgeois development of the U.S., with the ever overrated influence of the "Founding Fathers" thrown in for good measure. Honestly, I think that the biggest influence of the FFs, as I shall call them, lies in the fact that people who are upwardly mobile in politics or in social status tend to read things like the "Federalist Papers" as a way of attaining to said status and fitting in with the swells, so to speak. People on the ground know jack shit about the people who supposedly "Founded" our country, which was actually founded by the people who settled it and who live in it, not by some English people with classical education. But be that as it may, French materialism still exerts an ungodly influence over people's minds.

The religious option is really no option at all, since it means saying good bye to the modern world and nice things like Civil Rights, for instance, so a new way has to be opened to break the torpor of civil and intellectual discourse.

That way, to my mind at least, is to go the way of the European Romantics, who changed the question of the nature of the world and of society away from a physical, scientific, point of view towards a more interpretive and emotional/self consciously cultural point of view.

European romanticism pointed out all the things, all the aspects of life, which existed which scientistic thinking could not account for but which nevertheless made up, and make up, quite a bit of what it is to be a human and to lead a decent human life.

Things like emotion and the emotional turbulence that comes from living in society, falling in love, experiencing friendship, experiencing also, unfortunately, the less pleasant but no less real aspects of experience.

Things like, for instance, the way which we see society: is society an agglomeration of atomic individuals, floating around and running into each other now and again, or is 'society' also culture, history, personal relationships, place, views of the world, etc..

A note, for those incredulous about this, as I said before this has little to do with politics, in fact I woud say that it was a subordinate, though very interesting, part of life. I get a lot of enjoyment out of pursuing the romantic project, but it's not something which properly should be out in front of the struggle.

In fact 'culture' should not and cannot be struggled for like social and economic change can. It's weak in that it's the outcome of other social relationships and not an entity unto itself.

To think otherwise is to bring one into the realm of Fascism, a sort of losers game where the crud of Romanticism was scooped up off the floor and promoted as the new essence of life which everyone had to obey or else.

Someone once said that Nationalism was the lowest form of thought a person could have about themselves, and I agree with that. Life is bigger and at the same time as big as culture, if that makes any sense, and creativity in the cultural sphere doesn't exactly entitle one to much in other spheres.

That said, I think that Romanticism, or doing what the romantics did not just in literature but in their approach to intellectual and social life, could really breath some vitality into the decrepit American social scene.

Groups like Crimethinc are doing it already, although I think that the Crimethinc. project has somewhat fallen on bad times and been taken over by bourgeois brats who don't know a thing about the politics or the thought that originally gave birth to the thing.

But that's another story.

Reinventing life is surely a good goal, but when it comes to the more intellectual side of things the old standbyes from some of the Surrealists, like "we have to reenchant life", make little sense. Re-enchantment is a figment of Breton's imagination; what we can do, though, is contribute to the richness of our culture by putting forward works and creations which prompt people to think about their world in a new and unthought of way, in a way which they might not thought could have even existed, a new way of relating each other and to Nature, with a capital 'N'.

In a vague way such a change will promote the shift to a socialist culture; not a Stalinist culture where people sing three chears to the rightness of the state doctrine but one where we can really see the importance of relating to each other in a human way, even if that way sacrifices some of the 'to each goes his own' mentality which we've been brought up to accept.

From French materialism, or rather from an excessive emphasis on it, we've gotten the ideas which lead to a sort of anarcho-capitalism which isn't anarchist, and which only serves to legitamate corporatism.

I have no objection to individualism as a doctrine, in fact I sympathize highly with the non-Stirnerite Individualist Anarchism that such American figures as Josiah Warren and, although I'm not as familiar with him, Joseph Labadie, have come up with and promoted. But they recognized that a just individualist society could not exist within capitalism, so they formed communes where a highly regulated system of labor exchanges and other devices ensured that the Lockean type of liberal society which they envisioned could actually exist.

But I digress.
I'm a communist, or a Communist, if you're looking at it from an Anarchist perspective. I don't believe in the ethic of unfree labor---but I think that any such communist venture will never even get off the ground if it doesn't have a sort of leavening from the experiences of Individualist Anarchists that I've mentioned above.

Communism focussing on property instead of people enjoying the fruits of their labors in a communistic society will surely lead to tyranny. But I'm open to dissenting views on this.

The Italians figured out a balance between the two a hundred and some years ago...

Anyways. I guess I actually support a mixed economy in which some sort of private property still exists but it can't pervert the basic equity of society.

I've gone far afield.

French materialism is a really bad lens through which to view the world because it's one of the least insightful and creative ways to look at life.
It's like: see, all those emotions you have are just due to a hormone in the brain, see, the reason people do x is because it formed as an adaption mechanism to something over the course of human evolution, see, people really are prone to (insert word here, either violence, racism, whatever you want) because our biology has programmed us to be that way in order to survive. La la la.

People who live their lives through sociobiology don't really live their lives, and anyone who has really lived can tell you that explaining behavior and experience by some sort of reductionist mechanism is a cowards way of begging off dealing with experiences that you don't feel comfortable with, which in this case would mean the stuff of life itself, unfortunately.

You get the picture. Get thee to the French and German Romanticist books and learn, my son. And throw a few of those English guys in their for good measure.

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