Kind of disappointed by this one--I found some of Lauder's analysis compelling and even affirming (esp. his claims on love), but I was rather suspicioKind of disappointed by this one--I found some of Lauder's analysis compelling and even affirming (esp. his claims on love), but I was rather suspicious of much of his exegesis, as he identified himself as a Christian theist (this rather in opposition to what Bergman often communicates in his films, in my view). I think the resulting (outrageous) claim that the film A Virgin Spring (one in which a young, innocent girl of, maybe, ten is brutally raped and murdered) affirms the idea of a loving God, then, is unsurprising. His analysis is often immature, in my view; unfortunately for me, he focused a lot on Bergman films I haven't seen (The Magician, Face to Face, The Seventh Seal) and not enough on my favorites. Ultimately, though, I think he does come up with some good interpretations of Bergman's films that are worth considering (most prominently, that interpersonal love is the only salvation for our existence), if not totally valorizing....more
"Athens has a disease that comes from its port, from the predominance of maritime enterprise governed entirely by profit and survival.... The task of"Athens has a disease that comes from its port, from the predominance of maritime enterprise governed entirely by profit and survival.... The task of philosophy is to found a different politics, a politics of conversion which turns its back on the sea."
"Utopia is not the elsewhere, nor the future realization of an unfulfilled dream. It is an intellectual construction which brings a place in thought into conjunction with a perceived or perceptible intuitive space."
"By positing a single essence of domination as the unified principle of our time, it prohibits the giving of meaning to the Two of politics in whatever form (Nazism and social democracy, bourgeoisie and proletariat, democracy and totalitarianism)."
"Democracy does not exist simply because the law declares individuals equal and the collectivity master of itself. It still requires the force of the demos which is neither a sum of social partners nor a gathering together of differences, but quite the opposite--the power to undo all partnerships, gatherings and ordinations."
"Real democracy would presuppose that the demos be constituted as as subject present to itself across the whole surface of the social body."
"Precisely where the great models of political hope are in ruins, at a time when one no longer dares propose any rival to democracy as the good form of collective life, dogmatism has effectively outlived itself in the guise of scepticism."
"What society asks of us is simply to acquiesce: what it demands is our consent."
"The trouble is that experts in law exist whereas experts in equality do not--or, more exactly, that equality begins only when the power of the experts ceases to hold sway. Wherever the vaunted triumph of law and of the legal state takes the form of recourse to experts, democracy has been reduced to a caricature of itself--to nothing more than government by wise men."
"To reach the just from the starting-point of the expedient it is necessary to go by way of opposites...."...more
A fantastic response to the enormity of anxiety, loneliness, alienation, finitude, and meaninglessness that society imposes upon us.
"human rights areA fantastic response to the enormity of anxiety, loneliness, alienation, finitude, and meaninglessness that society imposes upon us.
"human rights are a de facto sanctioning of the oppressive nature of a community whose interests injure or oppose those of its members. It is time to promote a society which will have no need of tutelary guarantees, because it will have obliterated the very conditions which give rise to violence, rape and oppression, and which alienate protest against them."
"The only way of fighting against the worst is to be tenacious about wishing for the best."
"Men and women have no value by virtue of their birth, nor by their power, nor by their possessions. Their only value lies in their humanity."
"For the development of a society preoccupied with happiness, nothing is more fundamental than the will to emancipation, stimulated by the natural birth of love relationships, by education through affection for constant progress in knowledge, by play and the appeal of pleasure in creating one's personal destiny."
"A fatalism anchored in attitudes of mind and perpetuated by those who put their trust in God, in some prince or master or employer, in some mysterious and impenetrable Fate, persists in prohibiting human beings from finding in their pleasures the raw material which fashions their lives in order to build their happiness."
"Anyone with less than ninety per cent of their time at their disposal is a slave."
"With the concern to cease tolerating a power against which we must protect ourselves, we wish to oppose the principle of defence by encouraging the impulse for everyone to feel at home wherever they are."
"Claiming one's own singularity means wishing to be a fully human subject. This resolution is the only one capable of breaking the process of reification inherent in the economy."
"Only individuals who aspire to create their own destiny are equipped to found a society that stands together in solidarity, to make real the old dream of fraternity, and to consign once and for all to the past the dichotomies that split exploiters and exploited, egoism and altruism, rebellion and the herd mentality."
"Inhumanity is not a matter for discussion, but for rejection."
"What has become plain in relation to the rejection of despotic regimes today begins to be true for the construction of situations favourable to the refinement and the flowering of living beings."
"Behind contempt for animals lies contempt for human beings,"
"Ever since childhood, the existential adventure has owed the sureness and firmness of its first steps to an impulse of life which can be protected against old reflex of inversion only by love and human awareness."
"Taking the time to live is the first victory over death."
"everything is beautiful in whoever loves or is loved."
"under the reign of barbarism, the freedoms authorised by life were most usually no more than a license to oppress."
"that insensitivity to life, which has always encouraged the logic of profit and exploitability...."
"The best critique of a deplorable state of affairs consists in creating the situation which remedies it.... The way to have done with a world which enacts its own destruction is not to anathematise it but to clear away its debris and build a brand new civilization."
"We have been subjugated to a process of evolution whereby inhumanity varied in its form, but not in its content. Real change begins where self-exile comes to an end. It marks the passage from survival to life."
"every instant should be a stage lived so intensely that is has no necessary preoccupation with a future and is felicitously rooted in the present."
"Desiring, for and against everything, the most joyous things that love of life has to give, offers without doubt the best prevention against the ever-threatening storms of unforeseen misfortune."...more
In lieu of presenting my views on this text, I'll simply quote some of the more spectacular passages written by the Situationists Raoul Vaneigem and GIn lieu of presenting my views on this text, I'll simply quote some of the more spectacular passages written by the Situationists Raoul Vaneigem and Guy Debord:
"Almost everyone has always been excluded from life and forced to devote the whole of their energy to survival."
"To talk of life today is like talking of rope in the house of a hanged man."
"those who don't sell themselves lose their right to survive and those who do sell themselves lose their right to live."
"What do we demand in backing the power of everyday life against hierarchical power? We demand everything."
"all situationist ideas are nothing other than faithful developments of acts attempted constantly by thousands of people to try and prevent another day from being no more than twenty-four hours of wasted time."
"The spectacle is the sphere where forced labour is transformed into voluntary sacrifice. Nothing is more suspect than the formula 'To each according to his work' in a world where work is the blackmail of survival; to say nothing of the formula 'To each according to his needs' in a world where needs are determined by power."
"There is a place where you create yourself and a time in which you play yourself. The space of everyday life, that of one's true realisation, is encircled by every form of conditioning. The narrow space of our true realisation defines us, yet we define ourselves in the time of the spectacle."
"Separation has become concrete. Anyone at all can put their finger on it, and the only answer cybernetic society has to offer us is to become spectators of the gangrene and decay, spectators of survival."
"Impossibility (that is, limits imposed on real experience by privative appropriation) determines the field of abstract possibilities."
"It is in this sense that hierarchical power, imprisoning everyone in the objective mechanism of privative appropriation...is also a dictatorship over subjectivity. It is as a dictator over subjectivity that it strives...to force each individual subjectivity to become objectivised, that is, to become an object it can manipulate."
"comfort will never be comfortable enough for those who seek what is not on the market--or rather, that which the market eliminates."
"For those who reduce men to objects, objects seem to acquire human qualities, and manifestations of real human activity appear as unconscious animal behaviour."
"Overall, the American negroes can rest assured that, if they keep quiet, their survival is guaranteed; and capitalism has become sufficiently centralised and entrenched in the State to distribute 'welfare' to the poorest. But simply because they are behind in the process of intensification of socially organised survival, the blacks present problems of life and what they demand is not to survive but to live."
"It is therefore this American society which must disappear, not only in America but everywhere in the world."
"The 'excesses' of Los Angeles are no more a political error in the Black Revolt than the armed resistance of the P.O.U.M. in Barcelona, May 1937, was a betrayal of the anti-Franquist war. A rebellion against the spectacle is situation on the level of the totality, because--even were it only to appear in a single district, Watts--it is a protest by men against the inhuman life, because it begins at the level of the real single individual, and because community, from which the individual in revolt is separated, is the true social nature of man, human nature: the positive transcendence of the spectacle."...more
A great read--Shenk posits that Lincoln was clinically depressed for most of his adult life, and he finds that this depression helped Lincoln achieveA great read--Shenk posits that Lincoln was clinically depressed for most of his adult life, and he finds that this depression helped Lincoln achieve things he might not have been able to otherwise....more
This is my first reading of Bookchin; I definitely appreciate his analysis and prescriptions here. As something of a green anarchist (though not of thThis is my first reading of Bookchin; I definitely appreciate his analysis and prescriptions here. As something of a green anarchist (though not of the 'primitivist' persuasion), Bookchin, in Post-Scarcity Anarchism calls for anarchist resistance and, ultimately, revolution against the socio-politico-economic hierarchies of capitalism, which, in having introduced and maintained such inter-human hierarchies, are reproduced in humanity's relationship to nature/the environment, resulting in the ecological disaster we now see (and seemingly will continue to face). He ultimately concludes that only the realization of such an anarchist revolution will save the earth from the totally destructive exigencies of capitalism. In this sense, he seeks to liberate 'man' and nature together at once. He, like Herbert Marcuse, posits that post-revolutionary (that is, anarchist) 'man' will relate to the environment in a radically new way--one different (and, clearly, more desirable) than that which is pushed for by capitalism. He, similar to Marx, claims that the high development of technology within industrially advanced countries will allow such an anarchist 'society' to succeed where so many other similar attempts have failed (due to material scarcity--Bookchin argues that our current levels of technology render such concerns rather null and void); he finds that such technologies have rendered hierarchical socio-politico-economic relations redundant. He speaks a lot about using highly advanced alternative energy sources (eg wind and solar) that have seemingly been sidelined in our world--unsurprisingly, Bookchin would probably argue, given the reactionary interests of domination.
Bookchin also lays into Marxist (Leninist) revolutionaries and Marxism more generally, taking issue with Marxists' historical (and, it seems, ideological and structural) proclivity to engage in hierarchy (ie, the 'vanguard,' 'democratic centralism) as a means toward socialism/liberation. He claims (rightly, I think) that humans cannot be 'led' to emancipation--freedom cannot be dictated or legislated, Bookchin argues, as Marxist-Leninists seem to think. He uses as his main example here the Russian 'revolution' of 1917 and afterward, focusing on the Bolsheviks' increasingly authoritarian means--Lenin's suppression of 'factionalism'; the violent repression of the 1921 Kronstadt rebellion, when soldiers called on the 'revolution' to realize the progressive promises it had made; and the eventual descent into murderous Stalinism. He finds these tragic consequences unsurprising, as he posits that the means and ends of revolution must be harmonized--the use of hierarchy and centralism to effect revolution (which, in my view, the Bolsheviks never achieved), claims Bookchin, unsurprisingly results in hierarchy and centralism in 'post-revolutionary' society. His argument here, in a sense, reminds me Albert Camus' objections to Marxism in The Rebel.
What worries me most, though, about this type of analysis (one relevant as well to Karl Marx and Herbert Marcuse) is how it seems to legitimize the course of human history--that is, the claim that hierarchical, oppressive social relations in feudalism, capitalism, etc., have brought us to this point wherein revolution and human emancipation is made possible... Bookchin certainly makes it clear that he considers historical forms of hierarchy irrelevant. But what, then, can we say about the billions of humans who live outside of technologically advanced countries? Must they, too, suffer the brutalities of 'primitive capitalist/socialist accumulation' to achieve freedom?...more
An okay introduction to Marxist thought... But I feel that d'Amato presented a lot of simplistic ideas (whether or not connected structurally to MarxiAn okay introduction to Marxist thought... But I feel that d'Amato presented a lot of simplistic ideas (whether or not connected structurally to Marxist theory), left out a lot of important things (alienation under wage-slavery and commodity fetishism), and consciously betrayed a lot of Marxist claims by trying to make them more palatable to his American audience (ie, that the American Civil War was fought to end slavery). His discussion on the 'socialist' answer to degradation of the environment was highly uninspiring, to say the least, and I feel that he was entirely disingenuous when he argued that Marxists would respect other nations' 'right to self-determination'--and just who is the nation? The state? Patriarchal social relationships? etc. Disappointingly, and seemingly like many leftists writers, d'Amato here seems to romanticize pre- or non-capitalist social relationships (most significantly, in the claim that pre-capital sexual relations were not commodified and thus, perhaps, more desirable). I think most of his ideas here are vulnerable to Marxist theory more generally, which, in my view, unjustifiably blames all social ills on 'capitalism.' And, d'Amato spends a good amount of time defending socialism as a theory that seeks not to lead the working class through hierarchy and narrow-minded puritanism toward revolution but tries to have the working class liberate itself... This is just untrue, in my view; he seems to be claiming the ideas of anarchism by espousing socialism. It isn't entirely a surprise, then--though certainly an unfair one--that he ends his book with a quote by a Spanish anarchist resisting Franco's counter-revolution together with opposition from liberals and Marxists....more
I must say, I found this series of essays rather disappointing. This is my first encounter with Noam Chomsky, and I found what he said to be rather bI must say, I found this series of essays rather disappointing. This is my first encounter with Noam Chomsky, and I found what he said to be rather basic (which, of course, is not to say that it shouldn't be said or heard). I found him to be far less radical than I was expecting/hoping; I suppose I find Murray Bookchin's anarchism much more appealing.
I suppose my biggest problem with Chomsky's thoughts here is his valorizing of progressive, state-implemented reformism--which is not to suggest that impoverished individuals, for example, should be denied state assistance precisely because it provided by the state. It is, however, to be wary of the limits of state-based reforms in the struggle for human dignity and self-realization--something I think Chomsky under-appreciates where other anarchist thinkers do not....more
I thought this nowhere near as good as Orwell's other works (those I've read, in any case). The plot was, I my view, rather boring. I do appreciate, tI thought this nowhere near as good as Orwell's other works (those I've read, in any case). The plot was, I my view, rather boring. I do appreciate, though, that Orwell ultimately rejected the Communists' critique of the POUM/Anarchists' breaking from the 'Party line' as 'Trotskyist,' 'counter-revolutionary,' and even pro-Franco, though I'm unsure why exactly he concluded thusly--I find Guy Debord's defense of it (in Beneath the Paving Stones) much more compelling than Orwell's thought here....more
I know little about the history of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Spain, to say nothing of anarchist movements in the country more speciI know little about the history of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Spain, to say nothing of anarchist movements in the country more specifically. Bookchin's account here certainly provided a good introduction to both of these, though I found his writing style here somewhat less exciting than in either Post-Scarcity Anarchism or The Ecology of Freedom; the radical criticality that I have found in these books--and admired Bookchin for--is certainly missing here. Overall, this is a fascinating period of history reminiscent of the mid- to late- nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries in Russia--and a social milieu featuring much more passion and resistance (in my view) than is the case in much of our current reality.
The last ten pages (the Epilogue)--where Bookchin criticizes the narrow, economistic concerns of Marxism/socialism; claims the 'industrialization of the proletariat' to valorize, not negate, capitalism; and calls on those "discontent with the quality of everyday life," aware of the "meaningless of a life devoted to mindless toil," and conscious of "hierarchy and domination in all its forms" to promote social revolution--were worth five stars themselves....more
Bookchin here promotes his idea of social ecology and his vision of an ecological society (and world). He takes issue with so-called environmentalist movements, which, like the psychotherapist that Herbert Marcuse roundly criticizes, seek merely to have society adapt to the madness of extant structures rather than promote radical change, as social ecology advocates. He also denounces New-Age, biocentric mysticism as feel-goodery that fails to call into question relations of power, hierarchy, and domination and, relatedly, is easily commodified within the capitalist structures that (Bookchin says) it should be subverting and overthrowing.
The core of Bookchin's argument here is the creation of a qualitatively better society, rather than a merely quantitatively better one (something that he criticizes liberals, Marxists, and socialists on). He embarks on a review of anthropological accounts of 'primitive peoples,' who he finds to have lived within a non-hierarchical social nexus that, instead of private property, functioned according to the rights of usufruct (open access to all), an ethics of complementarity (instead of competition), and an irreducible minimum, whereby everyone was afforded the basic necessities of life without reserve. Bookchin denounces Thomas Hobbes' account of human nature here, characterizing it as mere apologism for hierarchy and domination. He also finds much of liberal theory--that which dominates ideology today--to be a natural outgrowth of Hobbesian thought. As with Hobbes, Bookchin finds Sigmund Freud's account of human psychology to be incorrect at best and reactionary at worst, as he attributes human 'evil' to immutable human traits rather than socialization processes shaped by hierarchical, dominant interests.
Positively, Bookchin here posits a return to the values of 'primitive' societies. He finds that only through doing away with hierarchical social relations (capitalism, though more than this of course) can humanity realize its potentiality through affirming the subjectivity of every individual--and, claims Bookchin, the subjectivity of nature--in place of treating people/the environment as mere objects, tools of production, and 'resources.' Bookchin, then, seeks not a less offensive capitalism or a Marxian socialism but a libertarian municipalism, in which everyone can cultivate herself within an authentic, caring, loving social nexus plagued not by hierarchy, Karl Marx's 'realm of necessity,' or the spectre of ecological collapse. Bookchin emphasizes that the project of social ecology must be guided not by the dominant mode--power--but rather by ethics, imagination, and utopianism if it is to defend its advocacy of qualitative change. As in Post-Scarcity Anarchism, Bookchin stresses the need for 'liberatory technologies' that will help to do away with hierarchical modes of social organization and transcend the oppressive and ecocidal impulses of much of our current reality....more
I was expecting more from this book.... I mean, I certainly appreciated Kropotkin's claims that seemed to reject a lot of what we hear about evolutionI was expecting more from this book.... I mean, I certainly appreciated Kropotkin's claims that seemed to reject a lot of what we hear about evolution (and its applications to human societies)--ie, that, within the realm of adaptability, etc., mutual aid is as important (if not moreso) than struggle--but I feel like he certainly romanticized quite a few historical social structures that, I think, most anarchists would take issue with (ie, patriarchy, monarchy, etc.). His argument makes clear that humans, along with animals, engage in mutual aid, but (Prince) Kropotkin also continually emphasizes how such mutual aid is usually limited to particularistic conceptions of identity (ie, blue-collar workers will aid other blue-collar workers, serfs will help out other serfs, crabs will try to save their fellow crabs from unnecessary death), and as such seems rather limited (whether true or not). In this sense, I don't see Kropotkin's analysis as providing a basis for a 'natural' argument for anarchist society--though his conclusion certainly is more affirming than many sociological analyses I've come across....more
A different read than most that I've experienced, Letters to a Young Poet is a sensitive, courageous expression of some of Rilke's romantic thoughts oA different read than most that I've experienced, Letters to a Young Poet is a sensitive, courageous expression of some of Rilke's romantic thoughts on life. I definitely appreciated the stress he places on solitude as a means by which to discover oneself and engage in meaningful creation; the beauty and importance of his claim here, sadly enough, remind me of H. Marcuse's observation in One-Dimensional Man, which seems right, that solitude is essentially impossible within life in advanced industrial societies.
Rilke's claim that the importance and meaning of art (at least, as far as the artist is concerned) lies with the artist herself and should not be decided by society at large is also a great one.
Some of his romanticism, though, I find hard to swallow--such as the idea that the world "is not against us" (reminiscent, in fact, of Paulo Cohelo's The Alchemist) and that "sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself of foreign matter."
All in all, though, a wonderful and much-needed read....more
I was rather disappointed by this book, to be honest. I suppose I enjoyed reading the descriptions of Anarres' somewhat-anarchist society, but I foundI was rather disappointed by this book, to be honest. I suppose I enjoyed reading the descriptions of Anarres' somewhat-anarchist society, but I found the writing style rather uninteresting and the plot rather slow. I might entirely have missed what Le Guin was getting at with this book, but I don't really see the point of going on and on about some theory of physics when she could have produced a richer and deeper discussion of the tensions within Anarres and between it and other societies... I think this book could have been much better had its basis been more social commentary than science--not to say that this wasn't a major facet of The Dispossessed, but perhaps it should have been more so (eg, why did the discussion on revolution in Urras end so abruptly after the repressive actions of the police/military? I feel that could [and, truthfully, should] have been expanded upon much more). In any case, though, I'm not really into science fiction, so perhaps that biases my read on the book and its content....more
After reading To Have or to Be?, I guess I expected a lot from Fromm. This book fails to meet such expectations. It really just seems like a severelyAfter reading To Have or to Be?, I guess I expected a lot from Fromm. This book fails to meet such expectations. It really just seems like a severely watered-down version of To Have or to Be?--read that one instead of this one if you're interested in Fromm's (important!) analysis regarding the having and being modes of human existence....more
Definitely better than The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the often-heartbreaking story of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, roughly paDefinitely better than The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the often-heartbreaking story of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, roughly paralleling the tragedies of their lives to the tragedies faced by Afghanistan in the last 30 years.
It represents an impassioned call, in my eyes, for a just 'order' or 'system'--international, domestic, and local--that protects and promotes the well-being of all.
The controversy, I suppose, is how such a model would look--Rawlsian, Marxian, anarchist, etc....more
Certainly not one of Camus' better works, The Fall presents an account of human existence that seems rather opposite that which Camus calls for in ThCertainly not one of Camus' better works, The Fall presents an account of human existence that seems rather opposite that which Camus calls for in The Rebel--essentially (in The Fall), a normative call for radical freedom juxtaposed with Camus' characterization of such resulting (not unjustifiably) in domination and exploitation....more