I’m reposting two unrelated pieces that I think each have their own contributions to thinking about this stuff. With the rise of riots, the arab spring, and the indignants of spain, greece, israel, the US, etc., the significance and direction of resistance movements is pressing. I think the relevance of the defensive nature of these struggles is under analyzed. I lack the time to write more about this, but think it’s notable.
The first piece is from Wu Ming.For those who don’t know, wu ming is a group of libertarian communist novelists in Italy who also write analysis sometimes. This piece is on the meaning of revolution, our present conjuncture, the arab/european/US revolts, etc. They critique the postmodernists like Hardt and Negri, as well as Zizek and Badiou. Much of it is about how to know whether we’re in a revolutionary moment, whether we can or not, and what distinguishes such.
The second piece is from Blaumachen, a greek libertarian communist group who posit these struggles as falling into ransitional and unstable disruptions in the working out of this crisis (however it will go). There’s things I disagree with, but the framing of the question seems important to me.
These are scattered notes to help me think through one aspect of the project I’m working on.
Connection between levels of organization, predictability of complex adaptive systems & understanding the impact of our actions. We can expect direct causation like do x action get reliable result y. At the same time our actions can have disproportionate and unpredictable effects. Additionally apparently marginal spontaneous acts can multiply. A good understanding of these relationships demonstrate the problem with the organization vs. spontaneity dichotomy.
These issues are connected to the notions leaps, ruptures, or leaps; meaning some kind of activity or movement that breaks with the normal means of settling disputes. Such events typically show complex interactions between organized actions of often disparate social actors, and seemingly spontaneous ruptures. Utilizing complex adaptive systems meta-framework for understanding the social logic of these situations gives us the ability to explain how it is that such things can arise, be so difficult to predict, and go well beyond the reach of the limited actions of organized bodies while interacting with them.
As a healthworker I’ve been reflecting on the role of power in institutionalized sites of power such as hospitals, schools, prisons, psychiatric facilities, etc. On the left there is a popular discourse about medicine that sets up a binary. Medicine is alienating, hierarchical, and evil. Herbs, holism, popular healing, etc., is liberating. If you look at the role of capitalism in mediating even alternatives within, this binary crumbles immediately. Still there’s a particular problem for us who want to seem liberatory participatory social practices in society.
Some things require specialized knowledge that bring with it inherent hierarchies of knowledge that give it’s bearer power over others (potentially). Obviously this is mediated and rendered pathological by institutionalization of power through the state and capital (e.g. look at the role of law in both empowering and controlling physicians, and the exclusive power they are given over the populace which corresponds to a form of “state power” in the domain of health). As libertarians, how do we conceive of such professions that are embedded with power? We should push the boundaries of non-professional journalists, teachers, healthcare providers and make as much popular practice as possible. But some degree of specialization is required. Specialization is not inherently evil or pathological, but it’s worth thinking about how we hold such professionals accountable to society as a whole, when society may not have the resources necessary to judge the specifics.
“A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.” -Melville
Over the past years I’ve had a running series of discussions with friends about two theoretical projects I’ve been chewing on. After being pressed to work out and spread that work, I’ve decided to embark on the likely long process of developing and publishing frameworks for how we understand political consciousness and a methodology for understanding and acting politically within society. I’d like to use this space to workout ideas through brainstorming, sharing the process with my friends who help me with this stuff, and track my own progress.
In my mind these two things were always connected (a meta-analytical framework or descriptive and prescriptive methodology for society & theories of the relationship between the attainment of conscious political conceptions and actions), but they were separate projects. This morning I realized that there is a logical ordering of the connection between the two. In my thinking about consciousness, it was built upon my awakening to the concept of emergence and adaptive systems. In broad outline, the text I want to write can start with laying out a metatheoretical framework of emergence as a tool for political thinking about society, our own actions, system structures, and understanding the trajectories of history/revolution/struggle. Building off this understanding, the question of political consciousness utilizes emergence to show the relationship between those ideas, actions, structure, system, and history (within a materialist framework bridging the physical and biological/social). That is, how conscious political conceptions emerge, relate to actions, and what efficacy they have in transformations of power.
This helps me work out in my mind how the arguments will flow, and what the text will aim at.
This is a place holder for me. In looking at Gramsci and his scant references to intermediate strata, I found this:
“…it is important to study how ppermanent collective wills are in fact formed and how these wills set themselves concrete goals that are both immediate and intermediate-in other words, how they set themselves a collective course of action. This has to do with processes of development that are more or less long; sudden, ‘synthetic’ explosions are rare. ‘Synthetic’ explosions do occur, but looking at them closely one sees that they are more destructive than constructive; they remove external and mechanical obstacles to autochthonous and spontaneous development-the Sicilian Vespers can be taken as an example ”. Prison Notebooks vol. 3 pg 346, trans. Buttigieg, JA. 2007. Columbia University Press.