Build On This Or Something/Somewhere Else?

Is change possible? Reform? Or is revolution necessary?

Does the United States need tweaking, or need to disappear?

Is this civilization or technologically advanced barbarism?

What is racism/white supremacy? What are its origins, its manifestations, its antecedents, the contours of its shape shifting today?

Activists, thinkers, human beings who care need to first ask and then, examine – DEEPLY – these and other kinds of important questions. No sane human being can fail to do otherwise.

People sometimes ask folks like me who ask questions, grapple with problems: what are YOU doing?

What are you doing besides typing on your computer, blogging, criticizing those of us who are active doing real work?

I was an activist of sorts; I did the labor thing, organizing, doing research. I did the WTO thing, the protest thing for a minute. In those moments of activity, my brain computer alarm sounded off. Something was being communicated to me beneath all of the surface hubbub of demos, digging up dirt on the corporation, rallying the troops, convincing people to sign up with the union. There was a dissonance, an incongruity that started building inside of me, a feeling that gave me pause.

Was this action really changing the worker’s lives for the better? What was the union getting out of the deal? Observing how condescending union staff was to workers, how paternalistic; viewing the attitude of: “we’re the EXPERTS and we’ll teach you how to beat the boss for a small fee that you won’t even miss with all the dough we’ll wrench from your Satanic overseers.”

It appeared that rather than empowering workers, we (HERE/SEIU) were disempowering them with empowerment rhetoric. Behind the scenes, the union was a business with an infrastructure, with administrative staff, with a fat hierarchy that depended on those union dues. The union needed the workers more than the workers needed them. (If a helper doesn’t set you free once they give you assistance – that ain’t a helper. That’s a leech.)

I didn’t want to disempower, I wanted to empower. But that wasn’t what they hired me for – in spite of them telling me that that was what I was hired for. It was a sophisticated, social justice themed ruse. And I’ve never forgotten.

So, where am I? I don’t vote. I don’t pay war taxes. What I try to do is see. See through the veils, see through the “Dance of the Seven Veils” as my friend LA puts it.

Some knock me and others like me for not doing what they are doing or being in the street with a cute sign or a can of gasoline and a match. I’m not that stupid and I’m not gonna give my life up out of vanity. Whatever I do, its gonna be strategic.

And thus, what could be more important than UNDERSTANDING what we are up against, going under the propaganda, the false assumptions and the blind alleys that are presented to us – by the enemy – as the legitimate avenues for our activity. If institutions of this culture support and attempt to extend one’s so-called activist work – you might be going in the wrong direction.

Finding the right direction, figuring it out, feeling our way to the opening in the prison wall is a tedious process. Compulsive, reflexive action just because, only serves the status quo.

So, let’s build something. Something new. But let’s do it like that old disco song: “Baby we can do it/take our time/do it right/we can do it, ba-bee/do it all night.”

It may be here. It may not be here. It might be a matter of the US breaking up into smaller pieces that can’t harm the universe as this behemoth can; or giving this “illegal country” back to the Indian, letting their culture and society set the pace. (I cringe every time I hear one of these fools talking about “illegal immigration.” Another example of racial insanity and hypocrisy)

The minds that we need to think outside of belong to the Man. Its like that show “The Outer Limits” where the narrator tells you that he is in control of your television set, ‘we control the verticle, the horizontal.” They do – you just don’t know it. We need to reclaim our hearts and minds from the slave master, challenge everything, especially OUR personal assumptions and belief systems. We need to cultivate the feeling tone within us.

Where are we sellling ourselves short? How, by only wishing to get a cut of this pie are we accessories after the fact in genocide, accessories to OUR own oppression???

Baby, we CAN do it. I can’t, but WE can. Let us start at home in our cranium and then find that ally, that community that where you can be your most real-est. And grow it out from there.

18 Responses to “Build On This Or Something/Somewhere Else?”

  1. doing real work?

    …..

    Finding the right direction, figuring it out, feeling our way to the opening in the prison wall is a tedious process. Compulsive, reflexive action just because, only serves the status quo.

    Yeah, I’ve seen this also, the definition of “real work” itself is inside the system’s own terms, including for “activists.” Which isn’t surprising, right? but still interesting and seriously notable to me how much power it has as a way to derail real seeing.

    And this whole post — deep reflection and seeing as necessary part of the work — well, you know, FS, according to this system’s terms, people who are into that should become academics. That way they can do all the analysis they want, but it’s usually totally safe, no threat whatsoever.

  2. Standing and Applauding!

  3. Asa, your support is always so NECESSARY!! I need you in the lower 48, bruh!

    AWQ: Its as if the slide of this culture, deeper and deeper into a spiritual cesspool, and the concomitant enertia, paralysis and self-delusion — the complete lack of any affect by all the fake social agitators — would seem to require a profound reassessment.

    But these progs REFUSE. So be it

  4. FS, yes, that refusal is almost incomprehensble to me, but there it is, very obviously there.

    As you say — so be it.

  5. “Compulsive, reflexive action just because, only serves the status quo.”

    I agree with this. BTW someone came to my blog today with the ‘just get it done’ cant. I was mean, I have really had it with the ‘don’t think, just be sensible and do’ idea, and have been very tired of it for some time.

    And this compartmentalization plus neutralization of reflection in academia is a serious problem.

    Anyway, on just one point: I’m intrigued by the U.S. break up into smaller nations idea, and have been thinking about it for a while. I do not know if it can happen now (unless someone else partitions us), because I am sure they would send the Army in to invade anyone who seceded.

    But I wonder sometimes, what would have happened if the north had lost the civil war, or not fought? Would there have been two or more countries made out of what was there? And would the U.S. ever have stretched from sea to shining sea? And if not – if we had been a series of smaller countries, in the Latin American manner,
    what would have happened then? How different the world would have been!

    (I feel like a traitor even saying that, since I am trained to think the civil war rescued the slaves, but who knows, maybe they’d have had a revolution and teamed up with the Haitians! ;-))

  6. And this compartmentalization plus neutralization of reflection in academia is a serious problem.

    As the person who made the first comment in this thread about academia and real reflection, I just have to say: I AM HOLDING MY TONGUE, FS! Because calling out another person on your blog, in this particular context, seems over the edge to me. But damn. That was painful to read. Ow.

  7. AWQ: I really WANT and NEED you to speak your truth. The only rule I have is tell the truth. The underneath. Calling out people is really about calling out the tendencies in people. It ain’t personal, its strictly business.

    What I wrote about damali for example is and is NOT about her; its mainly about incorrect patterns of thought and behavior – in my opinion. If I don’t speak it, I won’t be corrected. It might take years to make certain discoveries that openness might clarify right now – because somebody might call me on my shit and educate me.

    But do what you need to do.

  8. [i]Anyway, on just one point: I’m intrigued by the U.S. break up into smaller nations idea, and have been thinking about it for a while. I do not know if it can happen now (unless someone else partitions us), because I am sure they would send the Army in to invade anyone who seceded.

    But I wonder sometimes, what would have happened if the north had lost the civil war, or not fought? Would there have been two or more countries made out of what was there? And would the U.S. ever have stretched from sea to shining sea? And if not – if we had been a series of smaller countries, in the Latin American manner,
    what would have happened then? How different the world would have been![/i]

    I loved the initial blog entry. I want to say a lot more about it, but it’ll take a while to put it all together.

    I also think a lot about the US breaking up as well. Perhaps then we’d finally have something of our own.

    However, I think that if the north had lost the civil war, things, if anything, probably would’ve been worse. The south was an utterly expansionistic bastion of white supremacy (even worse than the north was), and they wouldn’t have been satisfied unless outright slavery for all of us existed throughout the entire nation. In fact, even after that, they’d probably consider invading other nations in order to expand it, since aside from Brazil, the US was the last nation to ‘ban’ it and any example of non-slavery is a threat to them.

  9. FS, I don’t know why I feel (have internalized) that it is somehow overpersonalizing things for me to respond as I felt things. The excuse I gave myself is that it is your blog — interesting and obviously not accurate.

    Maybe it’s just about me being weary of the relentless bullshit at this point. Maybe it’s also because what’s going on for me in my political work is also making my spirit tired. But whether or not that other stuff has anything to do with it … that word, “relentless,” that feels accurate to me.

    I look at that comment I quoted above from profacero and I feel sick to my stomach and just overwhelmed by the intensity of the dishonesty, the use of words as their opposite, the deceptive use of words, the deadness and domination behind such a statement and I just — over and over and over, relentless — this shit goes on and on and on and it is a very self-satisfied thing, a very deceptive thing, and it happens a million times and ties into all sorts of other patterns and the sum of it all is just relentless.

    And I am not stating it clearly here, FS, because what is most true for me about this right now is how TIRED I am of this kind of bullshit worming its way into otherwise interesting discussions, how freaking TIRED I am of seeing this kind of move from various sources when I am trying to fucking learn something, how TIRED I am of feeling it and facing the decision to call it out or stay silent or something else.

    I mean — this post of yours has been really incredibly useful for my learning. These are not new perceptions for me at all, but it takes me to a deeper level of understanding to read your words on it. Some of where I’m at with my political work is being informed by what it means to me to take in what you have said here. I’m carrying this pretty deep right now, all of it, you know?

    And from that deeper level of understanding, I can also see more clearly how academia operates together with it all, that diversion into false deceptive reflection. And this is bringing together various strands of understanding for me, stuff I have been dealing with one way or another for a long time. I wrote that initial comment about academia and it felt like being at the eye doctor’s where I think I am seeing clearly and the doctor snaps another lens into place and suddently I can see even more clearly — snap, I see this landscape with a sharper eye now. It was like: In that act of writing that comment, I had an increase in fluency — fluency of understanding of how it operates.

    And then somewhat later, this person who I know makes a living from that very industry comes here and does that typical relentless breathtakingly deceptive academic trick of co-opting the truth and rendering it harmless and irrelevant by appearing to “state” it. Does that trick right here in a comment in this very same discussion.

    And you know what? I was busy learning and reflecting on all this stuff. Maybe it’s selfish of me to not want an object lesson of the violence to come along and present itself and give me this choice of calling out or not calling out or whatever. But all I feel is tired of it. HOW MANY FUCKING TIMES does this shit happen, this relentless casual constantly invasive “invisible” violence that is supposed to go unnoticed and that mutes the spirit with such precision?

    I know it’s not personal, as you reminded me — but also, I’m just feeling spiritually (for lack of a better word) tired.

  10. –And this compartmentalization plus neutralization of reflection in academia is a serious problem.–

    AWQ, I was referring to you, agreeing with what you said, highlighting its importance, *not* trying to steal your words, if that is what you are getting at. Your point was really germane to the post, and iimportant, and worth emphasizing. I had originally cited you specifically in my comment but erased that because, due to prior experience, I was not sure whether *that* would offend. So I decided to just underline the issue. Bad call. I’m sorry.
    **************************************************
    General note on the suppression of reflection: even within academia, where one is supposed to have the luxury of thinking, they’re much happier if you just produce without thinking *too much* or *too far*. And yet, fortunately, there *are* a lot of other people reflecting for reasons which do not have to do with business. This is one reason why the internets are refreshing.
    *************************************************
    Anyway – it seems to me that those who say “don’t think, do” are (a) confusing thinking with chit-chatting, and (b) trying to shut down the formulation of challenging ideas that might make them question the usefulness their activity. I am of course all for activity – just not in the absence of reflection. And I think stopping and just reflecting sometimes is really necessary.
    *************************************************
    Visible: oh good. So that war was worth winning, at least. In my more fanciful moments, I imagine a Haitian style rebellion down here, with happier results than Haiti had. This is just a fantasy, though. I’ve also heard that the old Confederacy couldn’t have made it economically on its own. But they would have had European trade partners, I figure. And they were serious about allying with Brazil, and there were serious intentions to get Cuba as a slave state, too. And the U.S. (in the form of one of its private agents, William Walker) did try take over Nicaragua and remake it into a slave *country*.

    I am still way intrigued by the breakup idea.

  11. profacero, you are just plain not taking responsibility for how you — whether or not you intend to — carry the tone and tactics of the thing that pays you and in which you are deeply embedded.

    You may feel like you are critical of this thing, you may feel like you are out of place in it, and I have no doubt those feelings are valid in their way.

    What you don’t see — what you have refused to see, here and also in my blog, is how strongly YOU can and do carry the energy and tone of academia into interactions like this.

    I can feel it. You respond as if it doesn’t even exist in what you do. It is apparently so permeating you that you don’t even smell/feel/see it.

    You did something. I felt it. You’re denying you did it. Which is not surprising. And so, yet again, I am in a conversation with someone whose energy on this stuff kills spirit and depth and access to feeling, and who chooses to remain willfully oblivious to what you carry.

    And FS — what good is there in me or you or anyone having to deal with this bullshit by trying to speak directly to profacero or anyone coming from where she’s coming from? For every “profacero” (aka “Professor Zero”, and don’t both those name choices also show something?) there are tons more, she’s just the visible one right now.

    They are making their choices. They have the option of making different choices, but in the meantime, FS — this person is in my estimation getting in the way on these issues. Remember my post questioning the value of individual-level change for white people? I am telling you, based on what I have seen and experienced, the amount of energy it would take to struggle with profacero or anyone coming from where she’s coming from is just IMMENSE, and the amount of violence in that struggle is also immense. And that would be if she was partly willing to go there, which she clearly CLEARLY is NOT.

    FS, can we salvage useful discussion that is not about trying to directly engage with profacero or anyone else who would come to defend her? Can we speak about these things in a way that deepens understanding ad refuses to allow this spirit-killing, heart-killing energy? I mean, I tried to ignore it, I really did, I tried, but it got to me and now it’s back in this loop of denial.

  12. AWQ: “FS, can we salvage useful discussion that is not about trying to directly engage with profacero or anyone else who would come to defend her? Can we speak about these things in a way that deepens understanding ad refuses to allow this spirit-killing, heart-killing energy?”

    I think we can salvage useful discussion/think we can speak about these things in a way that deepens understanding. Part of the deepening means we have to walk through a field of intellectual landmines in order to get to the raw feeling tone. That’s just how it is.

    It appears that PZ is not there – yet. And I’d like to hear her on this blog engage with your assertions straight up with no chaser. I’ve met PZ and like her personally; perhaps that is why I have not taken this issue to the ‘mine’ so to speak.

    Bottomline there is great wisdom in your words, AWQ, and in fact a lifeline for those interested in living rather than functioning’

  13. FS: well that’s interesting, profacero’s response to your recent post about this.

    Instead of actual engagement, we now have this silly game with the “not on this blog in public” and her not wanting to engage with me and having “reasons” for that that she will only share in private. I call bullshit.

    So now it’s about me. See that? (well of course you will, having experienced something similar recently).

    And also: she refers to me as male — “him.” Huh? No offense to you actual men, not that there’s anything wrong with being one if someone is one, but I am so not a man. WTF is that about? It all feels related. My guess is, it’s possibly her running some sort of heterosexism and/or WWS on top of everything else. Like there wasn’t enough crap to deal with in the first place?

    I feel that my senses were correct about the pointlessness of trying to call this out, FS. I appreciate what you’ve done, I truly do — but still what profacero is doing in response feels to me like being dipped in a bucket of toxic waste.

    I think we can salvage useful discussion/think we can speak about these things in a way that deepens understanding

    Whose understanding?

  14. Whose understanding?”

    Ours.

  15. Whose understanding?”

    Ours.

    For some time I have noticed patterns in my own learning experiences that go like this:

    There is what I call “direct” learning and what I call “indirect learning.

    Direct learning is when all participants are open and willing to learn. This is the kind of learning that IMO can go really deep. This is rare but really great when it can happen. This is the kind of learning I was engaged in before I read profacero’s academia statement.

    Indirect learning is when one of more particiants are resistant/closed; in this case profacero is in that space. Others who would like to be open (e.g., me in this case) can learn things from these interactions, but the learning happens amidst resistance from the closed one(s) and it doesn’t go anywhere near as deep as direct learning can. This can be necessary and even valuable sometimes, but it can also lead to burnout if it is used wrong.

    I don’t know who you mean by “ours”, FS, but I don’t feel right now like I benefit from more indirect learning in interaction with resistant white academics. I am not saying you’re totally responsible for this. I clearly have to check myself on this stuff, too. I get distracted by ugly-ness and I am trying to figure out when it is good and not good to respond and how.

    I see crap going on and want to call it out, but in a situation like this, that led me into something that just doesn’t feel right somehow.

    My “I’m tired” comment was about all this stuff. It wasn’t just a breakdown of what profacero was saying. I was engaged in a deeper form of learning and this shit — what she wrote and now what is coming out of all of this — interrupted it. That was at least as important a part of my comment as the other stuff — I would even say more important, from my perspective — but you didn’t excerpt that part in your post. But to me that was the real, the heart of that comment.

    Now, I have my attention on all sorts of stuff that is, at best, indirect learning and I resent the fuck out of it. And now it’s become this drama about why profacero won’t engage with me and private emails and where I am or am not coming from and whatever. And she has incorrectly and possibly homophobically named as male and that naming is coming from some very nasty place that I don’t know but can feel across the damn computer screen.

    And where the hell is the depth anymore? Now it’s some drama and game-playing with someone who has shown over and over that she is JUST NOT INTERESTED in going deeper on this stuff.

    You have said that I have wisdom or whatever. FS, please hear what I am really saying here. I am human too. I am not just here to teach other people. I am here to learn, too. Please, please, hear this part of what I am saying.

  16. AWQ: Message received.

    I’m tired as hell, too, tired of being a diplomat, tired of holding an allegiance to someone who I like cuz she blogged here, bookmarked my site, met in person once, blah, blah, blah.

    That doesn’t mean shit and it ain’t about shit. I’m tired precisely because what you’re saying is true: we had a flow going, some real communication happening and suddenly, the sink backed up and the water started overflowing.

    Why? Cuz the lie and the resistance ground shit to a halt and I struggled to find the obstruction, my hand dipping into the greasy, sleazy water. Thank you for lending me the gloves so that I could return to the water and find the garbage, the block.

    Going into the body, I’ve been HATING this conversation. It is an ugly, vicious lie. It touched on one of my weak spots: ‘excessive compassion.’ Its the same compassion that the indigenous people on too many continents had when they saw the ships on the horizion. Rather than waging war on the spot with these devils, they welcomed the strange pale savages, invited them to break bread.

    This shit is depleting me, so I know how you feel, AWQ.

    Message to anyone who posts here: IF YOU AIN’T BRINGING TRUTH, YOU AIN’T LASTING LONG HERE!!!!!!!

  17. Oh, this seems to me like such a complicated and painful issue, FS. There are aspects of actually being human that don’t work in relation to people/groups acting as agents of this cultural system — don’t work in that they yield violence and ugly etc etc.

    You wrote: Going into the body, I’ve been HATING this conversation. It is an ugly, vicious lie. It touched on one of my weak spots: ‘excessive compassion.’ Its the same compassion that the indigenous people on too many continents had when they saw the ships on the horizion. Rather than waging war on the spot with these devils, they welcomed the strange pale savages, invited them to break bread.

    How it feels in the body is usually truth, and thank you for putting this out here.

    Here’s what I’m thinking: Seems like a “weak spot” in interaction with the Euro-white cultural system can be a strength from other angles of view, and I don’t know what that means for practice/action.

    Specifically, this part of your comment reminded me of an essay I posted a link to this past November:

    “A Native American View– Thanksgiving, Hope, and the Hidden Heart of Evil,” By Jacqueline Keeler .

    Excerpt: As a child of a Native American family, you are part of a very select group of survivors, and I learned that my family possessed some “inside” knowledge of what really happened when those poor, tired masses came to our homes.

    When the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock, they were poor and hungry — half of them died within a few months from disease and hunger. When Squanto, a Wampanoag man, found them, they were in a pitiful state. He spoke English, having traveled to Europe, and took pity on them. Their English crops had failed. The native people fed them through the winter and taught them how to grow their food.

    These were not merely “friendly Indians.” They had already experienced European slave traders raiding their villages for a hundred years or so, and they were wary — but it was their way to give freely to those who had nothing. Among many of our peoples, showing that you can give without holding back is the way to earn respect. Among the Dakota, my father’s people, they say, when asked to give, “Are we not Dakota and alive?” It was believed that by giving there would be enough for all — the exact opposite of the system we live in now, which is based on selling, not giving.

    There seems to be nothing that this abomination can’t take and twist and use for ugly.

  18. Just writing to say this blog thing is great! Duh! I’m a little technologically challenged. I’m an african american male and I find a lot of the comments very refreshing… just feeling the black presence and its power is amazing. I would like to offer a brief and blunt comment to the various arguments about black independance. It is almost impossible for it to occur without mass education and economic independance…neither of which will be allowed to manifest itself here in America. The simple truth is that European society sees this country as its “property” therefore it is in bad judgement to think a black minority will ever gain any substantial power. Maybe we should follow Oprahs lead back home!

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