Archive for the ‘Nottingham’ Category

Everyone Needs To Think, So Why Snip Off

27 May


Body of Workers


On 27 May 2010, at 09:33, Billy Asperger wrote:

I follow you regarding the craps hinted in the previous message. It's true that "you can lead todays lefties around by their dreadlock hair-extensions with the smallest tug". But at the same time we easily can admit that most of the people (doesn't matter whether they are lefties or whatever) really don't give a damn about the revolution a bunch of US had been theorizing (here or there).

I think what disconcerts me about the statement above is that it seems to take for granted a division between those who can "theorize" and the working class. If you are feeling a gap it isn't an intelligence gap it's a class gap; it's not about support for radical change it's over trust and sincerity in those who claim to know better what is good and bad and their good intentions to realize it. It's not because ordinary people do not or can not understand the workings and evils of the system it's because they know them much better: "intellectuals" more than often lack real knowledge of just what it is like to be born into trapped, exploited, cheated and abused neighbourhoods.

I'm working class and all the people I work with are working class (in fact at the moment every last one of them is black working class) and I can tell you a clear and certain fact—that I have heard more genuine insight, shrewdness and sincerity from the mouths of common people than from the pens of middle class and academic "vanguards of the working class", or from the white-people-with-dreadlocks brigade who are rooted nowhere and ultimately committed to nothing as a result.

But there is nothing wrong or pointless about "theorizing", though it's a word I do not find helpful. Discussion ought to take place to try and deepen understanding of how everything works. Those who can do it should do it—and take a clearer perception of conditions back to the communities in which they live and work. Everyone needs to think, so why snip off the activity of thinking, call it theorizing and divorce it ideologically and socially from its application in daily life?

I need to add though that not a lot of what takes place on lists like this, or seminars in colleges or in all the other supposedly intellectual theatres where this "theorization" is supposedly taking anything of the kind. On the contrary it seems to be a battleground where people hone and refine the very things they claim to be against; find new excuses to obscure the truth and divert others from coalescing around it. It is class war over the spectacle. It would be nice to have genuine discussion once in a while but in the absence of true common roots or listserv mediation it isn't very common.

Asperger: "People are enchanted and mesmerized by "the apparent" of the spectacle and that fucking pseudo(?) "objectivity" is good and is enough from their point of view. They feel comfortable being trapped inside the great show of appealing-consuming-producing-exploiting and so on. The spectacular society is reassuring for their simple and mechanical minds."

I can't begin to tell you just how condescending and spectacular a cliché that is. Instead I'll say something potentially more interesting. Human existence is existential: there must be something to fill the void and to structure everyday life, and there must be an ideological framework, a worldview, only within which all words, phenomena, values and beliefs acquire a place and a meaning and a value. Worldview, and all the habits that stream forth from it, is as fundamental and material a necessity as food water and air. It's the way we are made.
Therefore ultimately there is no complete distinction possible between what is spectacle and what is situation; or what is recuperation and what is detournement and so on. There are only inherited models from which to construct models. Very little truth, if any, is ahistorical; all ideas, appearances, meanings and values must exist in a perpetual war over ideas, appearances, meanings and values.

What is eternal is the wisdom of good conduct—of seeing and revealing the truth in all its partiality, of understanding the common interest of fairness and distributing needs and opportunities with equity. What is eternal also seems to be that which I call "original sin" -- the tendency to imitate and repeat evils and errors, to reiterate imperfect worlds from imperfect worlds; bad habits of mind and behaviour that not having been perceived for what they are cannot be rooted out: "karma". Thus life is not really composed of true and false images nor even right and wrong values so much as right and wrong choices. From the existential point of view, to be free means to be condemned to choose between the good and the evil within alternative possible actions—endlessly. No wonder they fall back into the provided routines, spectacles and social clichés: it is so much easier to have something that tells you what to do than to have to face each and every moment in a cosmic abyss of uncertainty.

And these "theorizations" you're referring to are simultaneously an attempt to defend an Ideology of distorted self-serving de/perceptions at war with the attempt to add and revise it with new understandings of the truth. The fact is, the "Left" (whose name itself is as spectacular a piece of nonsense as you could ever hope for) has been struggling with the contradiction between its moral outrage for the world's underdogs and the fact that the underdogs will not meekly back them up in return ever since it robbed the working class of its politics, at about the same time it started robbing rastafarians of their hair-dos, the genuinely homeless of their squatters movements and so on. All the class rhetoric and fashionware and shrunken heads by which today's radicals identify themselves have been stolen from somebody else—as if by possessing their tattoos and music, hairstyles and footwear you could somehow take power over their souls and legitimize yourselves.

But white men can't sing the blues.



"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""