Friday, November 10, 2006

I've added another link to this blog under the 'Other Interesting Links' section. This is the UrbanRail.Net site mentioned in the previous post. The obligatory explanation follows.
There is little doubt that "technology" has its own dynamic, forcing society to follow certain paths even as the form of society determines what technologies will be developed and which neglected. A pretentious Marxist would style this sort of interplay of causation as "dialectical" so as to a)appear very smart and b)to obscure some other rather less savoury point that the Marxist wants to make. Both this sort of mutual determination, usually referred to in non-ideological circles as complexity and more formal "circular causation" are part of normal intellectual discourse and hardly need a buzzword such as dialectical to obscure their meaning.
The sociology ! of both Marxism in power and as an academic assembly line, as well as how "dialectic" became the butt of popular jokes in Eastern Europe under Stalinism gives more than a slight hint of how this obfuscation is much more a matter of a weapon of class rule or the aspirations of a would-be ruling class than clear thinking. It's always far better to say what you mean than to hide behind a pseudo intellectual phrase.
Be that as it may there are people in this world who are even fuzzier in their thinking than Marxists. I'll leave aside the neo-cons whose rule of the American Empire seems to be coming to an end and how they were captives of their own abstractions. That is an entirely different post (or 50). I speak, unfortunately, of some of my own "comrades" . There's a trend in modern North American anarchism popularly called "primitivism" that imagines that it has uncovered a much more basic form of "oppression/misery/hierarchy/etc..etc.,etc" than any classical anarchists have.
Some of these people(but unfortunately too few) have read their antecedents such as Shumacher, Illich and Ellul, but they haven't taken the lesson of the first two. They tend to follow in a debased form the manner of the latter. The first two always criticized "particular technologies" and often advocated alternatives. The latter usually based his writings on such a high plane of abstraction that he basically "meant nothing" in most of what he said. The saddest part of this trend is that some of them claim the "individualist anarchist" mantle via a presumed interpretation of Stirner. Now, I've read 'The Ego and His Own' more than once, and I can say two things. One is that Stirner should have been given an award for being an even poorer writer than Marx. It takes some doing. The second is that his book could have easily been boiled down to a few pages that basically stated that people are captives of their abstractions. Stirner called them "spooks".
A lot of modern day primitivism has a genealogy that traces back to an ill digested version of situationism, and, like the sits, they move in a world of thought where the real world rarely intrudes. At its best situationism is good poetry. At its worst it is word spinning in a self referential world that means nothing except the attempt of a self defined "elite" to "prove" how superior it is.
How this relates to "technology" is pretty obvious to be. There is no such thing as the "technology" in the abstract that primmies like to demonize while advocating other technologies and techniques. This is a "spook" in the full Stirnerite meaning of the word. The anti-technology rhetoric becomes a badge of distinction-and that is ALL that it is. When they lower their exalted selves to actually propose something they end up tailing ! so many of the people that they like to feel superior to. Growing a garden is great. This is despite the fact that the average primmie has far less experience and knowledge about same than a vast number of the normal people that they despise. Practically everything they propose is little more than a signpost for someone outside of their cult to notice their inferiority in practical knowledge.
That's all "individualist" stuff, and it certainly makes me hold my nose when reading their nonsense. What may be more important is that they have little-and usually nothing- to propose about how their dreams may become a social reality. Beyond joining their cult, of course. The whole matter reeks of religious proselytism rather than politics.
Which finally brings me to my point. The crowd cheers-the speech will finally be over. I have listed many scientific references in this blog for the simple reason that science is nothing more than amplified common sense. There's little doubt that there is a "sociology of science" that describes how theories come and go, but science has a little ace up its sleeve. It is one of the few-perhaps the only- human enterprise that has worked out a method of collegial self-correction. This method certainly contrasts with the methods of political theory, radical or otherwise where mistakes are usually not corrected but only explained away- at best.
Science's daughter "technology" certainly is so important that it has to be both noticed and commented upon -notice I don't use the buzzword "critiqued"; I have nothing to prove. But to be useful, or even interesting at all to people outside of a cult, the matter has to be specific. "Which" technology in which social setting ? I find the idea of urban rapid transit fascinating because I assume that people will continue to exist in their present numbers in the foreseeable future and I have no genocidal fantasies of reducing their numbers. I also assume that, while I might favour a population balance more screwed towards a rural dispersion that people have good reasons for choosing an urban living space- as almost ALL primmies do even while they spout their rhetoric. To me that's a given. retirement is when I move back to the country. Hence my liking for more rational-in many ways- methods of moving about a city. Urban rapid transit!
To my mind such a technology is libertarian in a much more fundamental way than jeremiads about the evils of our modern society. It CAN be accomplished. In the future I hope to find more such examples and highlight them here. "Technology" is neither good nor bad. it simply doesn't exist outside of the minds of ideologues. Certain techniques CAN be either good or bad. That is what anarchists should turn their attention to.
The crowd cheers and puts down its rotten fruit. The speech is over, and it lasted less than 1 50th of a Castro speech. Everybody files out, hopefully having learnt something. The speaker packs up and returns to the night, pleased with a attempt at style variation.


sushil yadav said...

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.





To read the complete article please follow either of these links :




Renegade Eye said...

I found this interesting blog surfing.

What is fuzzier, more abstract than anarchism?

How could a rational transit system be built, without laws, and a state apparatus? Whose property needs to be acquired, to build it?

Still this is one of the best anarchist blogs.


mollymew said...

I'm glad you appreciate this blog. I'd like to point out that it is NOT only about anarchism, even if the links section may give that impression. It's about pretty much anything that catches my fancy, whether it be subways, water towers, astronomy, evolutionary biology, etc.. I have little doubt that my political opinions may "colour" some of the other subjects I write about, but "man does not live by politics alone". Yaba, yaba.
The point of what I was writing about rapid transit was that it is choice that can be made in the here and now, without the "necessary" abolition of "capitalism, private property, the state, the family, religion, political parties and everyone who has generally pissed me off in the past few years". It doesn't depend upon an anarchist society for its fulfillment.
As to what is "fuzzier" than anarchism I merely pointed to a segment of the movement with which I disagreed as an example. For the majority of the movement as embodied in anarcho-syndicalism or anarcho-communism I could easily dredge up examples of things much more "fuzzy" from not just Marxist philosophy but also from mainstream academia and religions other than Marxism. A commitment to "fuzz" may be a PhD requirement in many social science and business departments these days.
As to the building of subways without the state there are numerous answers within the anarchist tradition as to the "funding" of same, whether syndicalist, anarcho-communist or even mutualist. But that is not really your question. Your question revolves aroung the matter of "emminent domain", and in that case the Marxist answer is as clear and plain as the answer of the government of the USA. That is that the ruling class that controls the Marxist state will seize property for its own plans in the same way as the government seizes property NOW in the USA for commercial interests. The answers are actually EXACTLY the same.
Quite frankly I don't have an overwhelming answer to this problem. As a gradualist anarchist I feel no overwhelming urge to concoct one. It is enough for me that the power of emminent domain is blocked as much as possible in the context of the USA today as it SHOULD be blocked in a marxist state. I don't foresee an "anarchist society" in my lifetime, but I hope for a society that is better where the ideas of anarchism have more popularity.
To my mind the managers of so-called capitalist corporations who demand emminent domain from "their" state differ from marxist managers on only two points. One is that the real world has proven that they are more efficient in what they do. The other is that they are less likely to descend into psychotic barbarism.The profit motive puts limits on the dreams of domination. But... A ruling class is a ruling class is a ruling class.
So, I don't know how to solve this problem of a "clash of rights", but I merely know how NOT to solve it.

Werner said...

The scientific method as an approach (and a personal attitude)is the ONE and ONLY example of a "theory of everything" simply because it doesn't try to reduce all events to exegesis,ie. the only "universal" theorem, perhaps not counting particle physics and relativity and some math areas,is that there are truly NO universal theorems.

mollymew said...

Ah yes,
I can remember back in the prehistoric days of my youth as a chemistry student studying 'Quantum Chemistry'. The final exam consisted of one question ! "Solve the hydrogen atom" ! Your grade was determined by how short your mathamatics were. The shorter the better. In those days there were still great fudge factors in all quantum electrodynamic explanations. I may be wrong on this, as I have been away from it for some time, but I believe that at least Helium has been solved exactly to this day. Maybe even Lithium.
Today both quantum mechanics and its sister relativity have been refined and extended to a a degree unimaginable in my youth. The scientific process is one of progessive approximation. But nobody yet imagines that they are "unified" nor that they present "realistic" descriptions of the world. They are merely methods of both research and description. The major contender for unification, 'string theory' has recently been lambasted in a new book entitled 'Not Even True'. I tend to agree with the author's main premise, that string theory more resembles theology than science.
This is NOT to denigrate the progress that has been made on unification such as the fairly well established unification of the electromagnetic force and the weak nuclear force. Neither is it to offer an opinion on the still tentative attempts to unify these forces with the strong nuclear force.
But the eternal problem of "cancelling infinities" leaves me with the usual agnostic attitude to such efforts, let alone the attempts to unify gravity with the other three forces (or the regular "blip" of 'new forces' that don't pan out in the end). The basic fact is that we simply DON'T understand nature to anything but a superficial degree, and all theories are tentative.
This attitude of humility contrasts greatly with the arrogance of political theories or academic fads such as post modernism who think that they have indeed discovered a TOE.
Ah well, fads pass, but at least for now the scientific enterprise goes on. What I see as a major question for anarchists is NOT to play act at "questioning science" by signing mindlessly on to fads from A to Z. What I see as important is to democratize the scientific enterprise. This is already happening in astronomy and ecology, but the fields can be enlarged and extended to other questions.