Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Excerpts From The Diary of An Obsessive Compulsive:
There are exactly two books that I can remember not finishing in my life. This from a guy who has read the Bible cover to cover, the Koran three times in three different translations (it's shorter than the Bible, but my Arabic is still confined basically to the alphabet) and the collected works of Aeschylus,Sophocles,Euripides, Shakespeare,George Orwell, and -yes- Edgar Allan Poe. Many authors are still on the list. Reading the collected works of Marx and Engels up to the end of 1848 may count as a "quit", but, trust me, I'll get back to it. Honest. Reading Capital to the end counts as a "plus" in my scorecard even though I read it with an expectation that was totally fulfilled; that Marx deserved little of his his historical following.
Anyways, the two books were1) 'Against Reductionism' which supposedly gave forth an "alternative view" of biology which was so full of nonsense that I quit about 1/3rd of the way through. It did NOTHING but spin words against the legitimate enterprise of biology, words that were- AT BEST- lies and were usually meaningless. My early introduction to "post-modernism" before it became fashionable. The second was 2)the Rig Veda. This may be under the category of the 'Collected Works of Marx and Engels' in that it is moldering in a corner on the main floor until the time I can get through "one more" hymn to Agni. The Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana were much better reads from Hinduism. I actually loved the Ramayana. Watch out for monkeys.
All that being said my continued project to detail on this blog my reading of 'Breaking the Spell' is taking on the aspect of "slogging through" that I had during my reading of either the Bible or Marx. The book promised a "evolutionary psychology" view of religion, but it is rapidly turning into a simple apology for atheism, with the evolutionary aspect shoved well into the background. I've almost finished the book, but I doubt the wisdom of continuing to chronicle it chapter by chapter, even though I've bookmarked it for same.
But occasionally you may find gems in the worst trashpile. The gem that I recently found is the legal concept of "attractive nuisance". This is the concept in law that compels you to do things like fence your swimming pool and remove the doors from your discarded refrigerator. It's like "due care and attention" in traffic law. The assumption is that you have a "responsibility" to safeguard your property from actions on the part of other parties-such as children- that may lead to their injury IF such actions are "reasonable" despite whatever likelihood of injury may result. It's an interesting argument in law about what is "reasonable" and what lengths you have to go to to prevent injury. Each case may be unique.
It's ALSO interesting if we step outside of law into the realm of simple morality that law is supposed to represent. Anarchists have always criticized "the law" for representing either "class interests" or "the interests of power", but more rational exponents of the anarchist ideal recognize that there is a substratum of "civilized behavior" that is at least partially represented by "the law" that we cannot do without. The argument is over HOW MUCH of this restraint has to be "written down" by communities that replace the state and how much can be left to "human nature". In evolutionary biology the problem is framed in terms of "altruistic punishment", a mechanism that any cooperative society can't exist without. (blog "altruistic punishment" for references).
In terms of this blog, for those who may be naive to it, I will OFTEN criticize some VERY evil trends in modern anarchism. This is in the light of the author of 'Breaking the Spell' who puts the onus on the adherents of a religion to SAFEGUARD naive adherents from harm. The "nuisance" is "attractive", but it is NOT as "attractive" as the lure of say Islamic fundamentalism. The simple counting of half-ass "eco-terrorists" who "go rat" when they are caught in the USA in recent years shows JUST HOW SHALLOW A CERTAIN ANARCHISM IS AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR RELIGION. This is despite their megalomaniac claims to "greater knowledge and insight". The claim is more than falsified by the record of its adherents "discovering reality" under far less pressure than the adherents of other ideological systems.
No amount of pseudo-intellectual word spinning will eliminate this FACT. For myself I promise NO "great revelations". Neither do I promise the romance of "revolution", let alone the disgusting "romance" of taking revenge against an uncaring society that you feel superior to. My own personal anarchism is rooted in a simple belief that decentralism and personal power-such as workers' control- are better ways for a society to govern itself. I have faith in the continued efforts of ordinary people to form cooperatives and to challenge government decisions AND to organize in general. I believe that my faith is backed up by biological facts just like I believe that the tactics of "wandering riots" is NOT backed up by such facts. It may actually nowadays be a matter of manipulation of those who want to create cults for their own benefit. That's MY anarchism.
In any case that's where I stand today,

1 comment:

Werner said...

I'll drink to that!

Anyway, this is all broadly similiar to the phrase "protection racket" as a (very)"quick and dirty" description of the functions of the state. I've used this in comments on another discussion group but I get the feeling that this idea is just "absorbed" by the left in general as yet another excuse to view the world in a conveniently paranoid way. Of course I meant this in much the same way as one of Bertrand Russell's comments about religion. When asked in a radio interview just after WW2 that perhaps didn't he believe that religion does good in the world Russell replied " it goes some good after doing a great deal of harm". Most people feel this way about the state and that includes most leftists and conservatives. There are useful things done by the state. It's just " all the other stuff" attached to these smaller parts which should be opposed intelligently by anarchists. Separating the "service" aspects of the welfare state such as medicare from the " control" aspects like social "work" is an obvious example. Anyway this is a "most excellent" blog. Please carry on.