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."