Monday, March 16, 2009
Foreword XIX "This book ... wants to show that love is not a sentiment which can easily be indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. It wants to convince the reader that all his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he tries most actively to develop his total personality ... that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one's neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith and discipline. In a culture where these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to love must remain a rare achievement."
P. 1 "Not that people think that love is not important. They are starved for it; they watch endless numbers of films about happy and unhappy love stories, they listen to hundreds of trashy songs about love - yet hardly anyone thinks there is anything that needs to be learned about love. This peculiar attitude is based on several premises ... Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, or one's capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable. In pursuit of this aim they follow several paths. One, which is especially used by men, is to be successful, to be as powerful and rich as the social margin of one's position permits. Another, used by women, is to make oneself attractive, by cultivating one's body, dress, etc ... what most people in our culture mean by being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular and having sex appeal."
P. 3 "Our whole culture is based on the appetite for buying, or the idea of a mutually favorable exchange. Modern man's happiness consists in the thrill of looking at the shop windows, and in buying all he can afford to buy ... He (or she) looks at people in a similar way. For the man an attractive girl - and for the woman an attractive man - are the prizes they are after. "Attractive" usually means a nice package of qualities which are popular and sought after on the personality market. What specifically makes a person attractive depends on the fashion of the time, physically as well as mentally ... the sense of falling in love develops usually only with regard to such human commodities as are within reach of one's own possibilities for exchange. I am out for a bargain; the object should be desirable from the standpoint of its social value, and at the same time should want me, considering my overt and hidden assets and potentialities. Two persons thus fall in love when they feel they have found the best object available on the market, considering the limitations of their own exchange values."
P. 4 "In a culture in which the marketing orientation prevails, and in which material success is the outstanding value, there is litle reason to be surprised that human love relations follow the same pattern of exchange which govern the commodity and labor market."
P. 4 "If two people who have been strangers, as all of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life. It is all the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have been shut off, isolated, without love. This miracle of sudden intimacy is often facilitiated if it is combined with, or initiated by, sexual attraction and consummation. However, this type of love is by its very nature not lasting. The two persons become well acquainted, their intimacy loses more and more its miraculous character, until their antagonism, their disappointments, their mutual boredom kill whatever is left of the initial excitement. Yet, in the beginning, they do not know all this; in fact, they take the intensity of the infatuation ... for proof of the intensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness."
P. 10-11 "As long as these orgiastic states are a matter of common practice in a tribe, they do not produce anxiety or guilt. To act in this way is right, and even virtuous, because it is a way shared by all, approved and demanded by the medicine men or priests, hence there is no reason to feel guilty or ashamed. It is quite different when the same solution is chosen by an individual in a culture which has left behind these common practices. Alcoholism and drug addiction are the forms which the individual chooses in a non-orgiastic culture. In contrast to those participating in the socially patterned solution, such individuals suffer from guilt feelings and remorse. While they try to escape from the separateness by taking refuge in alcohol or drugs, they feel all the more separate after the origastic experience is over, and thus are driven to take recourse to it with increasing frequency and intensity. Slightly different from this is recourse to a sexual orgiastic solution. To some extent, it is a natural and normal form of overcoming separateness, and a partial answer to the problem of isolation. But in many individuals in whom the separateness is not relieved in other ways, the search for sexual orgasm assumes a function which makes it not very different from alcohol and drug addiction. It becomes a desparate attempt to escape the anxiety engendered by separateness, and it results in an ever-increasing separateness, since the sexual act without love never bridges the gap between two human being except momentarily."
P. 13 "If I am like everybody else, if I have no feelings or thoughts which make me different, if I conform in custom, dress, ideas to the pattern of the group, I am saved; saved from the frightening experience of aloneness. The dictatorial systems use threats and terror to induce this conformity; the democratic countries, suggestion and propaganda ... if there is no other or better way, then the union of herd conformity becomes the predominant one ... people want to conform to a much higher degree than they are forced to conform, at least in the Western democracies."
P. 14 "Most people are not even aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideals and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinions as the result of their own thinking - and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as those of the majority. The consensus of all serves as proof for the "correctness" of their ideas. Since there is still a need to feel some individuality, such need is satisfied with regard to minor differences; the initials on the handbag or the sweater, the name plate of the bank teller, the belonging to the Democratic as against the Republican party, to the Elks instead of the Shriners become the expression of individual differences. The advertising slogan of "it is different" shows up this pathetic need for difference, when in reality there is hardly any left."
P. 15 "Following the ideals of the Enlightenment, Socialist thinkers of various schools defined equality as abolition of exploitation, of the use of man by man ... In contemporary capitalistic society the meaning of equality has been transformed. By equality one refers to the equality of automatons; of men who have lost their individuality. Equality today means "sameness" rather than "oneness". It is the sameness of abstractions, of the men who work in the same jobs, who have the same amusements, who read the same newspapers, who have the same feelings and the same ideas ... Contemporary society preaches this ideal of unindividualized equality because it needs human atoms, each one the same, to make them function in a mass aggregation, smoothly, without friction; all obeying the same commands, yet everybody being convinced that he is following his own desires. Just as modern mass production requires the standardization of commodities, so the social process requires standardization of man, and this standardization is called "equality".
P. 17 "A third way of attaining union lies in creative activity, be it that of the artist, or the artisan. In any kind of creative work, the creating person unites himself with his material, which represents the world outside of himself ... This, however, holds true only for productive work, for work in which I plan, produce, see the result of my work. In the modern work process of a clerk, the worker on the endless belt, little is left of this uniting quality of work. The worker becomes an appendix to the machine or the bureaucratic organization. He has ceased to be he - hence no union takes place beyond that of conformity."
P. 18 "This desire for interpersonal fusion is the most powerful striving in man. It is the most fundamental passion, it is the force which keeps the human race together, the clan, the family, society. The failure to achieve it means insanity or destruction - self-destruction or destruction of others. Without love, humanity could not exist for a day."
P. 20 "In contrast to symbiotic union, mature love is union under the condition of preserving one's integrity, one's individuality. Love is an active power in man; a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet it permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity. In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two."
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Re-Enchanting Humanity / Murray Bookchin
"I make no claim that a competitive "free enterprise" economy, rendered even harsher by a highly sophisticated technology, is a desideratum - either for the aboriginal peoples or for Euro-Americans. Quite to the contrary, I argue for a way of life that is not focused on capital accumulation and profit. Nor do I favor a 'technocratic-industrial' society that centers its concerns on the privileged few. Quite to the contrary: human life is meaningless if it is not enriched by art, ideals and a spirituality that is ecological and humane.
But a way of life burdened by material insecurity and toil cannot nourish the kind of individual and social freedom that makes human life meaningful and creative - indeed, that is likely to foster a rich ecological sensibility. Materially deprived and socially underprivileged people whose bellies are empty are not likely to be much concerned with the integrity of wildlife and forests. What they need is food and a decent life before they can think of the welfare of other life-forms.
Nor can an ecological sensibility be found by trying to return to an idealized 'primitive' world. In the band and tribal societies of prehistory, humanity was almost completely at the mercy of uncontrollable natural forces and patently false and mystified visions of reality.
Like ecomystics, primitivists are shifting public attention away from the tasks of seriously remaking society along rational lines, toward dubious - and often contrived - arcadian cultural attitudes that are imputed to the long-lost past. For a humanistic vision of a future that has yet to be won, both for Native and Euro-American peoples alike, they are trying to substitute mythic notions of a pristine and primitive past that probably never existed."
"I am not trying to guilt Mander or trade experiences with him. His technophobia is premised on a fairly well-to-do way of life, as is the technophobia of so many baby boomers of late. His deprecation of antibiotics rings hollow at a time when children underwent dangerous mastoid bone surgery for deadly ear infections and elderly people became seriously ill from even minor wounds ... There is a sickening arrogance in technophobes who, having enjoyed the fruits of the middle-class, even wealthy life-styles, condemn appliances that freed women from considerable domestic drudgery, machines that freed workers from mentally debilitiating tasks on assembly lines, and opened alternatives to starvation in lands that were once completely at the mercy of 'Mother Nature' and 'Her' many climatic vagaries.
In extolling the relative simplicity of his Bronx childhood, Mander, in fact, is extolling a culture - the Jewish immigrant middle-class way of life - that was preindustrial in many respects, that had not yet been completely penetrated by the marketplace. Its language, values, family structure, and ideals were ultimately eroded not by technology - which, in fact, its members generally prized as much as Mr. Mander did his Buick - but by the socially invasive power of capitalism and its commodity orientation.
My own mother, an Eastern European immigrant, welcomed with almost sublime ecstasy her first 'Frigidaire' and her access to washing and drying machines ... Summer vacations were hardly common among poor people who had to haggle for lower food prices."
"It is necessary to tear off Heidigger's linguistic mask - one that hides the 'authentic' face of postmodernism generally - if we are to get to the essentials of the Heidigger-Derrida connection. The ease with which Heidigger's language permits him to engage in circular reasoning; his typically mystical recourse to 'silence' as the mode of discourse for 'conscience'; his contradictory emphasis on personalism on the one hand and the subordination of individual interests to the collective 'destiny' of the 'Volk', on the other - all can be examined only in a book-length account of Heidiggerian thought."
Saturday, March 7, 2009
"Ecology, in my view, refers to a broad, philosophical, almost spiritual outlook toward humanity's relationship to the natural world, not merely to a scientific discipline or pragmatic technique. Environmentalism, by contrast, is a form of natural engineering that seeks to manipulate nature as mere "natural resources" with minimal pollution and public outcry. Environmentalists, such as Mr. Nixon, are not ecologists, nor do I regard serious ecologists as environmentalists." - Intro Colophon Edition, XV
"It is a bit too superficial to blame this tendency on the misbehavior, greed and moral delinquency of a few large corporations, culpable as they may be. On this score, the so-called "radical" wing of the environmentalist "movement" displays more rhetoric than insight. To the degree that Barry Commoner in The Closing Circle makes corporate misbehavior a moral problem rather than a tendency inherent in the social system itself, he may have advanced beyond his earlier rather limited technological critique of society, but he still remains far removed from the core problems of the environmental crisis. This crisis is not "somber evidence of an insidious fraud hidden in the vaunted productivity and wealth of modern, technology-based society," as Commoner would have us believe; rather, the crisis is evidence of a marketplace nexus that equates economic survival with growth - a nexus that is perhaps best summarized by the maxim "grow or die". The environmental crisis is inherent in bourgeois society, not in a "modern, technology-based society." It is somber evidence not of an "insidious fraud" but of the very law of life of capitalism. It stems not merely from greed but from a market-oriented system in which everything is reduced to a commodity, in which everyone is reduced to a mere buyer or seller, and in which every economic dynamic centers on capital accumulation. Hence the prevailing society is inherently antiecological, not only morally delinquent. References to "frauds", "vaunted productivity", and a "modern, technology-based society", however well-intentioned the author's purpose may be, essentially serve to deflect public attention from the deeply social nature of the environmental crisis. A Nadar-ism that does not reach much beyond judicial litigation and the demand for institutional reforms replaces the historic need for basic social changes." - Intro Colophon Edition, XXXIII
"The alternatives confronting us today are not between energy shortages and scarcity, but between an irrational system of production and a society based on ecological principles, one that can amply meet rational human needs with a minimum of onerous toil. We can have all the energy we need if we use the sun and wind rather than fossil and nuclear fuels. We can have all the material amenities of life if we produce goods of lasting quality and if we rescale our needs along humanistic lines. To make these sweeping changes implies an entirely new social order in which the planet is shared communally by free people with a non-hierarchical, cooperative mentality, rather than parceled out privately as so much real estate to satisfy competitive, profit-oriented egoists." - Intro Colophon Edition, LX
"The real rot lies in the prevailing social order - an order that, by the internal logic of its commodity system and market economy, would devour the entire planet. By this logic, the society would continue to increase its output of garbage even if its population were halved. Its advertising system would be mobilized to sell us three, four or five color televisions instead of one or two. Production rates would continue to soar and the switch turned from "scarcity" to "affluence", or vice versa, depending entirely on the profitability of the commodities that were produced. Pollution would increase and so would waste ... Certainly, there is a lot that you can do if you happen to live in a reasonably enlightened rural area, if you happen to have access to land that you can garden according to your own principles, and if yo are favored with an adequate income to choose the best that you cannot produce for yourself from a rather bad lot. This will not solve all or even most of your environmental problems, and it may consume much of the free time you might otherwise devote to cultivating many of your intellectual interests," - Intro Colophon Edition, LXXI
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
"Until very recently, human society developed around the brute issues posed by unavoidable material scarcity and their subjective counterpart in denial, renunciation and guilt. The great historic splits that destroyed early organic societies, dividing man from nature or man from man, had their origins in the problems of survival, in problems that involved the mere maintenance of human existence. Material scarcity provided the historic rationale for the development of the patriarchal family, private property, class domination and the state; it nourished the great divisions in hierarchical society that pitted town against country, mind against sensuousness, work against play, individual against society, and, finally, the individual against himself." - P. 9
"Neither the material "privileges" that modern capitalism seems to afford the middle classes nor its lavish wasting of resources reflects the rational, humanistic, indeed unalienated, content of a post-scarcity society. To view the word "post-scarcity" simply as meaning a large quantity of socially available goods would be as absurd as to regard a living organism simply as a large quantity of chemicals. For one thing, scarcity is more than a condition of scarce resources; the word, if it is to mean anything in human terms, must encompass the social relations and cultural apparatus that foster insecurity in the psyche. In organic societies this insecurity may be a function of the oppressive limits established by a precarious natural world; in a hierarchical society it is a function of the repressive limits established by an exploitative class structure." - P. 10-11
"Capitalism, far from affording "privileges" to the middle class, tends to degrade them more abjectly than any other stratum in society. The system deploys its capacity for abundance to bring the petty bourgeois into complicity with his own opression - first by turning him into a commodity, into an object for sale in the marketplace; next by assimilating his very wants to the commodity nexus. Tyrannized as he is by every viccisitude of the bourgeoise society, the whole personality of the petty bourgeois vibrates with insecurity. His soporifics - commodities and more commodities - are his very poison." - P. 11-12
"The very concept of "rights" is becoming suspect as the expression of a patronizing elite which bestows and denies "rights" and "privileges" to inferiors. A struggle against elitism and hierarchy as such is replacing the struggle for "rights" as the main goal. It is not *justice* any longer that is being demanded, but rather *freedom*. Moral sensibilities to abuses - even the most minor abuses by earlier standards - are reaching an acuity that would have seemed inconcievable only a few years ago." - P. 15
"In attempting to uphold scarcity, toil, poverty and subjugation against the growing potential for post-scarcity, leisure, abundance and freedom, capitalism increasingly emerges as the most irrational, indeed the most artificial, society in history. The society takes on the appearance of a totally alien (as well as alienating) force. It emerges as the "other", so to speak, of humanity's deepest desires and impulses. On an ever-greater scale, potentiality begins to determine and shape one's everyday view of actuality, until a point is reached where everything about the society - including its most "attractive" amenities - seems totally insane, the result of a massive social lunacy." - P. 15
"Dropping out" becomes a mode of dropping in - into the tenative, experimental, and as yet highly ambiguous, social relations of utopia. Taken as an end in itself, this lifestyle is not utopia; indeed, it may be woefully incomplete. Taken as a means, however, this lifestyle and the processes leading to it are indispensable in remaking the revolutionary, in awakening his sensibilities to how much must be changed if the revolution is to be complete. The lifestyle is indispensable in preserving the integrity of the revolutionary, in providing him with the psychic resources to resist the subversion of the revolutionary project by bourgeois values." - P. 16
"The traditional workers' movement will never reappear. Despite rank and file revolts, "bread and butter" issues are often too well contained by bourgeois unionism to form the basis for the old socialist type of labor union. But workers may yet form radical organizations to fight for changes in the *quality* of their lives and work - ultimately for workers' management of production. Workers will not form radical organizations until they sense the same tension between what-is and what-could-be that many young people feel today." - P. 28
"In this respect, the period in which we live closely resembles the revolutionary Enlightenment that swept through France in the eighteenth century - a period that completely reworked French consciousness and prepared the conditions for the great revolution of 1789. Then as now, the old institutions were slowly pulverized by molecular action from below long before they were toppled by mass revolutionary action. This molecular movement creates an atmosphere of general lawlessness; a growing personal day-to-day disobedience, a tendency to not "go along" with the existing system, a seemingly "petty" but nevertheless critical attempt to circumvent restriction in every facet of daily life. The society, in effect, becomes disorderly, undisciplined, Dyonisian ... Be it an angry gesture, a "riot" or a conscious change in lifestyle, an ever-increasing number of people - who have no more of a commitment to an organized revolutionary movement than they have to society itself - begin spontaneously to engage in their own defiant propaganda of the deed." - P. 49
"Thus if revolutionary thought is to be taken at all seriously, it must speak directly to the problems and forms of social management. It must open to public discussion the problems that are involved in a creative development of liberatory social forms. Although there is no theory of liberation that can replace experience, there is sufficient historical experience, and a sufficient theoretical formulation of the issues involved, to indicate what social forms are consistent with the fullest realization of personal and social freedom." - P. 143
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Sedated book on Mexican history/immigration despite the title
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Cotton-Pickers, P. 100 "In some countries pickets are respectable, law-abiding citizens who believe in authority. They don't talk much, and when a policeman says 'Stand back! You're blocking traffic!' they move at once, as if the police paid them and not the other way around."
The Cotton-Pickers, P.
The Carreta, P. 129 - " ... His thoughts had no bias. He could attack anything whithout prejudice and without being hindered by what others before him had said or thought about it. He drew his conclusions from naked circumstance and from his own experience. He saw things and happenings not as someone else had described them, but as they were or seemed to him to be."
The Carreta, P. 130 - " ... He was an example of the wisdom of the Church in gathering its flock together while the child is still a child and takes everything literally, without the faculty of thinking for himself and separating the possible from the probable and the impossible from the symbolical. Whatever is put into a child's mind before he can think and judge remains implanted there and entwines itself as years go on with the romance of adolescence; and since the grown man does not like to vex his mother who taught him all these fairy tales, he gives his assent to them all; and growing up to become a useful member of society he looks on with all the satisfaction of sentimental reminiscence when his wife tells his own children the same stories and teaches the children to believe them. The Church thrives and prospers because, like Communism, it makes sure of the new generation in good time."
The Carreta, P. 198 - "The more poor and hunger-stricken people there are in the world the greater is the profit of all those who know how to exploit their poverty and grow rich on their labors. An empty belly and torn shirt produce the willing worker, who neither winces nor jibs, for his belly cries aloud and his body craves warmth and clothing. It is the Church that prospers, and with it all those whose rule is: Keep the people religious, for religion is our best safeguard."
The Carreta, P. 259 - "Fate is incontestable - and far more so for an Indian than for a European, who lives under the influence of many conflicting philosophies, from among which he selects the one which promises him the best return on the most harmonious existence. The Indian is not so happily situated. For him fate is the decision from which he cannot escape and against which he does not even fight."
The Carreta, P. 224 - "And when he thought all this over, he only took a stronger fancy to her. Never mind a girl's past when time presses and nothing better offers. After a while it is always found that it makes no real difference. Any woman may be the right one and any can be intolerable, whatever her past may have been. A woman is far less influenced by her past than a man by his. A man is too much inclined to be pedantic, moral, and respectable through and through, to be plagued by his conscience, and to sacrifice everything, including his wife, to his narrow-minded and strait-laced respectability. If you leave out the dessicated holy women and withering spinsters, a man is far more of an intolerable and stinking pharisee than a woman."
The Bridge In The Jungle - "Aside from the fact that philosophy actually pays if you know how to handle it right, experience has taught me that traveling educates only those who can be educated just as well by roaming around their own country. By walking thirty miles anywhere in one's own home state, the man who is open-minded will see more and learn more than a thousand others will by running round the world. A trip to a Central American jungle to watch how the Indians behave near a bridge won't make you see either the jungle or the bridge or the Indians if you believe that the civilization that you were born into is the only one that counts. Go and look around with the idea that everything you learned in school and college is wrong."