Dialectical Communitarian Anarchism as the Negation of Domination: A Review of "The Impossible Community"

From Truth Out

Professor John P. Clark's The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitarian Anarchism (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013) is a masterful work, one which seeks to invert radically the destruction of nature and oppression of humanity as prosecuted by capitalism, the state and patriarchy by encouraging the intervention of a mass-confluence of anarcho-communist - or communitarian anarchist - socio-political movements. This project is only "impossible" because its realization is heterotopic - inherently contradictory - to the prevailing system of domination, such that it demands the abolition of hegemony in favor of a different, liberated world: that of the "third great epoch of history," in Clark's vision, when "humanity finally frees itself and the earth from the yoke of dominion." Taking equally from Buddhism as from dialectical philosophy, Clark stresses the importance of enlightenment, mindfulness and awakening as preconditions of revolutionary political praxis. And although he implicitly seems to agree with the overall thesis of the (anti)catastrophist line developed by Sasha Lilley and company, he also affirms the productivity of a commitment to truth that squarely confronts the profoundly shocking, traumatic and even convulsive nature of such truth: the very first page of his preface acknowledges the sixth mass extinction in which terrestrial life is at present entrapped and notes the "horror" of a capitalist world in which billions go without the basic necessities of a good life. Advancing the philosophy and practice of communitarian anarchism as an exit from the depraved present, Clark dedicates much of his text to examining the anti-authoritarian and cooperative spirit of humanity, as embodied in many of the customs of pre-modern or "traditional" societies, as in the history of Western revolutionary movements. In this sense, Clark does well to distance himself from the Eurocentrism advanced by many Western radical thinkers, including social ecologist Murray Bookchin, whose imprint on The Impossible Community is otherwise nearly palpable.
Much of Clark's introductory commentary focuses on the problem of individual and collective human enlightenment: The question is how to induce what Paulo Freire termed "conscientization" (conscientização), a catalyst for a societal awakening that would take into account normally overlooked social and ecological problems toward the end of engaging with and ultimately resolving them. How might a shattering intervention break the mass of humanity from much of its observed complacency and complicity with the capitalist everyday, which, "if we are to speak honestly, must be called a culture of extinction, a culture of extermination, and ecocidal culture"? In response, Clark presents a revival of classical anarchism, as developed in the thought of Mikhail Bakunin, Pyotr Kropotkin, Elisée Reclus, Gustav Landauer and Murray Bookchin, and he works to integrate the perspectives of such theorists together with the life-affirming aspects of various traditional cultures of the world to advance his communitarian anarchist vision. Practically, Clark argues that the notion of communitarian anarchism (or anarcho-communism) should be understood as referring to activity that renders the life-world common, as against its largely privatized nature now. In Clark's vision, a multitude of strong international communitarian anarchist movements would work together to overturn the historical trend toward popular disenfranchisement, as promulgated by the expanding hegemony of state and capital seen in modernity, in favor of decentralized participatory democracy. Philosophically resisting much of the dominant dogmatism, nihilism, cynicism and relativism that he sees evinced by many contemporary anarchists, Clark defends a dialectical theoretical vision whereby the world comes to be seen as a "site of constant change and transformation that takes place through processes of mutual interaction, negation and contradiction." Clark declares that one of the main goals of his Impossible Community is "to be fully and consistently dialectical," such that the given social reality comes under challenge and "new possibilities for radical social transformation" are opened up. I should note that within this vein it is strange that, next to declaring Mohandas K. Gandhi's Sarvodaya ("common welfare") movement the "largest anarchist-inspired movement to appear between the Spanish Revolution and the present moment," Clark favorably cites the "radical kibbutzim" of Palestine/Israel on two occasions in the first two chapters of the work without noting a word about the imperialist dispossession processes directed against indigenous Palestinians with which such kibbutzim were complicit. The recognition that the kibbutz might function as a "tool of colonialism and oppression" is made only in a footnote during its third and last mention in the book's sixth chapter. One wonders how this lapse jibes with Clark's stated desire to preserve the positive communalist customs of non-Western cultures and overcome the strong tendencies toward Eurocentrism within much of anarchist thought.
Within his discussion of the philosophy of communitarian anarchism, Clark notes the mainstream's puzzling perpetuation of mechanisms of denial, even amid the depths of the various interlinking crises of corporate capital. Against such uninspiring trends, Clark argues for a "Phantom of Possibility," one that presently haunts left-wing and ordinary consciousness alike: It is "the chance that revolutionary, liberatory social transformation is still possible." Evaluating the prospect for the embodied realization of such rebellious specters, Clark here expresses pessimism for the "mass of humanity" that continues to fail to act autonomously and radically to resolve the threats that imperil its future existence, particularly through looming eco-apocalypse: In observing this alarming violation of collective human self-responsibility, Clark would seem to agree with Karl Marx, whom he cites as declaring that history "progresses by its bad side." Gloomily, though perhaps rationally, the author declares a "spectrum of possible ecofascisms" to be the most likely future outgrowth of society's present structure, although his focus clearly is on making visible the chance of a "turning" - as in the etymology of the word revolution, a "turning around." Bracketing his recognition of the frightening power of reactionary grass-roots movements in the United States, Clark considers Occupy, cooperative labor, the possibility of economic decommodification and the solidarity and marginalization of immigrant communities as important popular counter-trends that point the way forward. At both the individual and social levels, Clark calls for a total revolt of the organism, one reminiscent of Herbert Marcuse's Great Refusal, whereby individuals associate and develop autonomous alternatives that promote an institutional framework, social ethos and social imaginary different from those on offer from the dominant death-culture. Equating the ecological crisis with the "ultimate intrusion of the traumatic real" into human life - a veritable "death sentence for humanity and much of life" on Earth - Clark raises the question of why there still is nothing approximating an anarchist Masdar City, in reference to the project currently financed by the Emir of Abu Dhabi in conjunction with private capital to create a waste-free, carbon-neutral settlement for 50,000 people in the desert of the United Arab Emirates. Given the very real existence of strong left-wing movements - for example, as seen in the solidarity volunteerism engaged in by many youths in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina - Clark recognizes that the struggle continues, but, like Marx in the "Theses on Feuerbach," he leaves open the practical question of how to change the world at this point in the text.
One of Clark's major contributions to anti-authoritarian struggle comes with his conceptualization of the "third concept of liberty," a Hegelian-anarchist supplement to the two concepts of liberty identified famously by Isaiah Berlin: negative liberty, or freedom from arbitrary interference and coercion, and positive liberty, or the freedom to flourish as a human and experience happiness through self-realization. To these two - with the former historically more associated with right-wing propertarian and liberal thought and the latter related more to German idealism, materialism and socialism - Clark adds a third, which he takes largely from the youthful and critical Hegel: freedom as self-determination. In fact, such a positive concept of freedom echoes Immanuel Kant as well, given the importance this German idealist placed on enlightenment as autonomous reason. Hegel took this concept seriously, and in his early works the element of Freigabe - the "renunciation of attempts to dominate and control the other" while simultaneously "allowing the other to be ... as she determines herself to be" - is central to his thought. Clark points to the interest Hegel expresses in his early religious studies (the Theological Manuscripts) for the Christian anarchist Joachimite tradition, which calls for a "third age" in which human society would be organized along the principles of love and solidarity. Clark integrates Hegel's youthful rejection of all "coercion, force, and violence" into his concept of the free community, one that is to be composed of "self-realizing beings who are agents in their own development." Alongside Hegel, Clark here also calls on the romantic German anarchist Gustav Landauer in theorizing his third concept: Landauer, unlike Hegel, acknowledges the value of traditional communal culture and, breaking importantly with progressivism, recognizes the tremendous destruction that history can cause - in contradistinction to Hegel's mature apologism for the various genocides and slave-regimes of history, given his view that such brutality is a necessary prologue to the realization of reason. Thus, Landauer takes the World Geist (Spirit) to mean solidarity, and he calls on humanity to work practically for liberation:

"The state is a social relationship; a certain way of people relating to one another. It can be destroyed by creating new social relationships; i.e., by people relating to one another differently. ... We, who have imprisoned ourselves in the absolute state, must realize the truth: we are the state! And we will be the state as long as we are nothing different; as long as we have not yet created the institutions."[1]

Clark sees Landauer's advocacy of a new, liberated society based on human creativity and mutual respect as advanced in contemporary times by his comrade Joel Kovel, who in History and Spirit (1991) envisions political transformations aiming at a Hegelian reconciliation of society and individual, or universal and particular. Here, Clark importantly mentions Kovel's relationship with the emerging ecosocialist movements, particularly given the theorist's co-authoring of the 2001 "Ecosocialist Manifesto" and the 2007 "Belem Ecosocialist Declaration." Clark affirms the necessity of such a melding of ecological and anti-capitalist thought, given the self-evidently profound nature of the environmental crisis, and he soberly declares the most likely means of addressing this world-historical problem to be some future form of eco-fascism, if a libertarian ecosocialism does not develop and intervene.
I will for the most part skip consideration of Clark's fourth chapter, "Against Principalities and Powers," which amounts to an elucidation of well-known anarchist critiques of liberalism, an ideology that bases itself in respect for the negative liberty mentioned above. Yet I will note two important points he makes in this intervention: one, that liberalist philosophy fails to acknowledge social domination in the present as deriving from an overarching system of domination manifested principally in the hegemony of patriarchy, capital and atate; and two, that liberalism fatally ignores the domination of nature, which as Clark rightly notes corresponds to "the most fateful form of domination presently existing." In an intriguing amalgam of biocentric and anthropocentric thought, Clark here argues that interference with and destruction of the "self-activity of beings (organisms, populations, species, ecosystems, etc.) within the biosphere" and the concomitant prevention of "their flourishing, self-realization, and attainment of the good" must become realities with which social anarchists should concern themselves centrally today, toward the end of resisting life-negating trends.
Clark provides a number of compelling reflections in "Anarchy and the Dialectic of Utopia," where he distinguishes among different manifestations of utopianism: utopia as domination, utopia as escapism, and utopia as critique or (subversive) desire. With regard to the "dominant utopia," Clark identifies some of the salient fantasies it advances, particularly its capture of the imagination via consumer spectacle on the one hand and the capitalist everyday labor routine on the other. As in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, the "good life" advanced by the dominant imaginary is held out as available to "all who buy the right commodities and know how to perpetually refashion their very selves into the right kinds of commodities." Clark clearly states that this false type of utopianism leads inexorably to the "destruction of all diversity and complexity - of ecosystems, cultures, personalities, and imaginations," and indeed ultimately tends toward the very "reduction of the world" to a "condition of nowhere," through the threats hegemony poses to the future of life on Earth. As an alternative to this type of utopianism, Clark considers the escapist utopian forms that he finds academics and "leftist sectarians" like Leninists and libertarian municipalists to subscribe to; utopia for them becomes an idealist means of transcending their political frustrations with the state of society, or even "compensation for being denied real power or having real efficacy." Clark criticizes such escapist utopians for their contempt for the people, given their belief that revolution will come "only [once] the masses finally learn how to pay attention and fall in line with the intended course of history."
More positively, Clark comes to consider the concept of utopia as critique and desire. Against the deadening tendencies of late capitalism, Clark quotes a statement made by Hungarian sociologist Karl Mannheim: "[W]ith the relinquishment of utopias, man [sic] would lose his will to shape history and therewith his ability to understand it."[2] Naturally, this quote nicely mirrors the quip famously made by Oscar Wilde on the geography of utopia: "[a] map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at." In terms of geographical utopianism, Clark presents a fascinating discussion contrasting the repressive rationalism expressed by Kant with the sensual romanticism of Denis Diderot and Paul Gauguin in terms of these Europeans' views of Polynesian society: the former was horrified by the prospect of social relations like those he saw being practiced by the "inhabitants of the South Sea Islands" - "idleness, indulgence, and propagation" - while the latter two held such non-Western social environments to demonstrate the historical possibility of reconciling "pleasure, beauty, freedom, and harmony." It is clear which of the two approaches Clark favors. Within this discussion, he approvingly cites the thought of Charles Fourier, William Blake, William Morris and Gary Snyder as well, and declares forthrightly that "[t]he most liberatory utopianism affirms this existence of the eternal, the sublime, the marvellous, as a present reality and an object of present experience." As concrete illustrations of this point, Clark considers the beauty of the lotus flower and the wondrous world experienced by many in childhood. He moreover mentions Reclus' Man and the Earth, an encyclopedic examination of radical freedom movements that have represented undercurrents to the hegemonic course of world history, such as:

"cooperative and egalitarian tribal traditions, anarchistic millenarian movements, dissident spiritualities, antiauthoritarian experiments in radical grassroots democracy and communalism, movements for the liberation of women, and the radically libertarian moments of many of the world's revolutions and revolutionary movements."

Practically, Clark notes some of the various impressive anarchist examples of modernity - from the sections of the French Revolution to the Paris Commune, the soviets of the Russian Revolution and proletarian self-management in Spain and Hungary - and gives special consideration to the revolutionary anarchist culture developed in Spain for a half-century before Francisco Franco's attempted coup in 1936: such cultural anarchism included movements for "libertarian schools, cooperatives, 'free love' advocacy, feminism, vegetarianism, nudism, rationalism and 'free thought,' mysticism, and early ecological and pro-nature tendencies."
In "The Microecology of Community," Clark considers social organization theory and applies it to the current situation in the United States. Negatively, he claims grass-roots organization today to be "overwhelmingly in the hands of the reactionaries," given the well-funded right-wing coordination of fundamentalist churches and irrationalist media networks. The left largely has failed to present any comparable base social movement since the end of the 1960s, argues Clark, when many former activists seem to have opted instead for reformism and a "long march through the institutions." The question today then becomes whether there will develop a convergence of mass-radical social movements based on the principles of solidarity and liberation in time to stave off looming socio-ecological catastrophe. Clark expresses hope in the catalyst model of small affinity groups that aim to secure "very joyful, fulfilling lives" for their participants and, it is to be hoped, society at large, through an emanating radical cascade. As Clark notes, it is critical in this sense to ask whether such a small-scale model of transformation will be able to expand in scope and help along the struggle for a "new just, ecological society" and a "free life in common." Clark seems to have an optimistic answer, for he endorses the evolutionary view that both biophilia and sociophilia are deeply rooted within us as humans, holding out promise for the eventual intervention of a "strong and hopeful movement for the liberation of humanity and nature."
As he moves to close The Impossible Community, Clark provides an extended case study of the dialectical theories he has been examining throughout the text by considering the impacts - negative and positive - Hurricane Katrina has had on his hometown of New Orleans. As he explains, his reflections on Katrina are written "a bit in the spirit of a jazz funeral," for they "mourn" the "collective tragedy" yet "speak out also for our collective hope." Incidentally, part of his chapter on Katrina had been written as a paper for an international conference in Milan on the thought of Reclus that was to take place just weeks after the hurricane struck, such that Reclus appears here as a sort of stand-in for Dante's Virgil as we descend into an exploration of the hell of environmental destruction on the one hand and the affirmation of anarchist resurgence on the other. Situating the impacts of the storm systemically, Clark argues that the oil industry's methodical destruction of Louisiana's coastal wetlands - 2,000 square miles lost in the past half-century, as corporations extracted 20 billion barrels of oil from offshore sources - certainly worsened the impacts Katrina had on the population of New Orleans. The Army Corps of Engineers, the state and the Red Cross also come under fire here - quite rightly, given their well-documented ineptitude. Clark also discusses the "disaster fascism" on hand in post-Katrina New Orleans, given "de facto ethnic cleansing" of African-Americans, the "mistreatment and exploitation of migrant workers," as well as "widespread police brutality, denial of prisoners' rights, collapse of the courts and legal system ... and [the] gutting of the health care system." Grimly, Clark also acknowledges the "troubling" thought that, however devastating Katrina proved, New Orleans stands to face even more intense and frequent tropical storms because of the ever-accelerating processes of global climate change; one can think similarly of the plight of the Philippines and many other climatically vulnerable regions of the world.
Against the twin "disaster capitalism" and "disaster fascism" seen before, during and after Katrina, Clark nonetheless gives space to the "disaster anarchism" that flourished in the hurricane's aftermath, as in the founding of the Common Ground collective and the radical volunteer work engaged in by thousands of anti-authoritarian youths in the months that followed. In these efforts, Clark sees the embodiment of Reclus' view of mutual aid, "the principal agent of human progress." Indeed, as he writes dialectically, despite the great "suffering and tragedy" inflicted by the storm, the weeks after the hurricane "have undoubtedly been one of the most gratifying periods in [his] life," for they demonstrated very clearly to him "a sense of the goodness of people, ... their ability to show love and compassion for one another, and ... their capacity to create spontaneous community." Clark speaks to the critical opening provided by the Katrina disaster, given the very clear "break with conventional reality" this event signified: like John Holloway, author of Crack Capitalism, Clark identifies Katrina very clearly as a "system crack" that provided for the possibility of different future realities. Clark cites the commonly shared view of many post-Katrina volunteers who held that the catastrophe provided an unprecedented possibility to experience "the beauty, the wonder, and the sacredness of the place, and of the people of the place." The catastrophist shock-value of such experiences forms a critical basis for the mass expression of a transformative disaster anarchism, Clark argues. In breaking radically with the prevailing state of affairs, disaster anarchism provides for the chance of "a qualitatively different way of life," one based in "love, compassion, solidarity, mutual aid, and voluntary cooperation."
As another important case study of communitarian anarchism, Clark next examines the Gandhian Sarvodaya ("common good") movement in India and the radical movement it inspired in neighboring Sri Lanka, Sarvodaya Shramadana. Clark here illuminates the general political philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, largely ignored despite his world-famous advocacy of nonviolence: that of an "Indian version of anarchism," one commensurate with the communitarian anarchism Clark is advancing in The Impossible Community. Citing previous anarchist studies of Gandhi's thought, Clark claims Gandhi to have desired an India freed from state rule, private property, organized religion and police and military forces. He sees several commonalities between Gandhianism and much of Western anarchism, particularly given the former's support for decentralization, local control and popular direct action, yet he notes important differences between the two, including the Gandhian stress on spirituality, asceticism, nonviolence and gradualism. Moreover, clearly Gandhi's philosophy emerges from a different social and geographical context than that of Western Europe; it focuses more on the radicalization of traditional indigenous institutions and customs than on the insurrectional break desired by many Western anarchist theorists. Importantly, Gandhi's concept of swaraj, or "self-rule," depended in large part on the devolution of power from the state to the gram sabha, or village assembly, and the panchayat, the village committee elected by the gram sabha. Thus did Gandhi favor the council system, or a radical participatory democracy. Moreover, besides nonviolence, Gandhi's philosophy emphasized the following anti-authoritarian values, as Clark recounts: truthfulness, vegetarianism, celibacy, nontheft, nonpossession, fearlesslessness, rejection of untouchability and the promotion of the equality of women.
In practical terms, the Sarvodaya movement continued to work in Gandhi's spirit after his assassination in 1948, promoting economic transformation in India through the application of the ideas of bhoodan and gramdan ("gift of the land" and "gift of the village"), such that millions of acres of land have been voluntarily redistributed as collective property to be managed by landless peasants and villages themselves. Similarly, in Sri Lanka, Gandhi's philosophy has inspired the impressive rise of the Sarvodaya Shramadana movement, which, like the neo-Zapatistas of Chiapas, has promoted a "community-based, participatory, and ecologically conscious development movement" involving millions of people. Finding its basis more in Buddhism than in Gandhi's Hinduism, Sarvodaya Shramadana stresses four basic virtues: upekkha, or mental balance; metta, or good will toward all beings; karuna, or compassion for the suffering of all beings; and mudita, or sympathetic joy for all those liberated from suffering. As with Gandhi, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, founder of Sarvodaya Shramadana, is described as moving away from hegemonic technocratic and state-oriented development models in favor of the embrace of the "spiritual and ethical traditions" of Sri Lanka, particularly the self-help and mutual aid practiced at the local level. The movement also seeks to transform Sri Lanka into a commonwealth of village or community republics; concretely, it aids communities in bringing self-determined development projects to fruition. Additionally, Sarvodaya Shramadana has organized massive peace meditations, People's Peace Dialogues and Youth Peace Camps amid the devastation of the nearly three-decade-long civil war that raged in the country until 2009. Clark closes this section by noting the vast gap in wealth of community and self-management between places like Sri Lanka and the United States. He looks forward to the day when the villages of Sri Lanka will "send teams of advisors to the West to help it come to terms with its communitarian underdevelopment, and begin to discover a way out of its political poverty." Finally, he calls on Western radicals to "make more serious attempts to learn from societies in which a long history of communal practice and a deeply rooted sense of social solidarity make possible exemplary experiments in social cooperation."
Before turning to consideration of Clark's final chapter, I would here like to note some problematic aspects of his discussion of Gandhianism and the Sarvodaya movement in India. Clark deals with Gandhi's pacifism in only a handful of paragraphs in "The Common Good," and he gives the Mahatma the benefit of the doubt when counterposing the nonviolence of satyagraha ("truth-force") with the horrible violence faced in recent years by indigenous adivasi communities at the hands of paramilitaries acting in the interests of mining companies and the Indian state. On this, Clark merely says that "a case can be made that Gandhi himself would have rejected a rigid adherence to [strict pacifism] in situations such as this one" and drops the question entirely. There is no mention made in Clark's chapter of the armed resistance undertaken by the Naxalites in central India for the past several decades, nor is the example of left-wing militant Bhagat Singh or the Telangana insurrection of 1946-51 against the indigenous land-owning aristocracy discussed at all. These lapses I find troubling, if not somewhat disingenuous. Moreover within this vein, Clark's presentation of Gandhi's advocacy of voluntary land redistribution is not terribly critical. Although Clark does acknowledge that Gandhi's strategy is flawed, in that the good will of the wealthy likely will not result in the abolition of exploitation, there is little sense in his account that contemplation of such a deluded approach - which so radically contradicts the Western anarchist emphasis on the outright expropriation of capitalists and feudalists by revolutionary workers, whether urban or rural - should lead us precisely to call into question the putatively anarchist nature of Gandhi's political philosophy. Clark fails to discuss or even mention the fact that Gandhi's views on the caste system evolved over time, such that in the 1920s before meeting the Dalit radical intellectual Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the Mahatma held the caste system in an uncritical light, declaring it to be the "natural order" of Hindu society. In 1921, indeed, Gandhi declared that he was "opposed to all those who are out to destroy the caste system."[3]
Clark's closing chapter, "Beyond the Limits of the City," is composed of rather severe criticisms of the mature political philosophy of his former friend and mentor Murray Bookchin, an approach the latter termed libertarian municipalism. For all the critique to which Clark subjects Bookchin's late philosophy - granted, some of it certainly justified - it is important to note here the profound political commonalities between the two thinkers. It is unfortunate - and once again disingenuous - that Clark fails to acknowledge the great influence Bookchin has had on the development of his own perspectives, and indeed on many of the principal points set forth in The Impossible Community! To take but one example of this dynamic, the very list of "revolutions within revolutions" that Clark cites favorably in his chapter on utopia - the "impressive historical examples" that "continu[e] to inspire the radical imagination," from the section assemblies of the French Revolution, self-management in the Paris Commune, the soviets of the Russian Revolution and the embodied anarchism of the Spanish and Hungarian revolutions - is literally the same one Bookchin repeatedly pointed to in his writings as hopeful historical developments that validated his dialectical social-anarchist approach. Yet Clark fails to mention Bookchin at all in this discussion. It would seem that Clark has allowed his issues with Bookchin's late views to paper over the great deal the two have in common: near the outset of this last chapter, Clark defines Bookchin's ultimate political goal as being "the creation of a free, ecological society in which human beings pursue self-realization through participation in a nondominating human community, and further planetary self-realization by playing a cooperative, nondominating role within the larger ecological community." Rather obviously, these lines also describe the author's political tasks in The Impossible Community rather well, but Clark never explicitly acknowledges that.
As I have suggested, some of the criticisms Clark makes of Bookchin's libertarian municipalism are justified. Bookchin was rather infamous for his sectarianism, and Clark illuminates this tendency well in his discussion of the rejection Bookchin and his partner Janet Biehl made of the 1991 Draft Program of the Left Green Network, which called for a 95 percent reduction in the Pentagon budget, a universal $10 minimum wage, a workers' superfund and a 30-hour work-week, among other things. Bookchin and Biehl refused to support the proposal, for it did not mandate the elimination of the remaining 5 percent of the military budget. Clark argues that the main reason they rejected the program, though, was that the Left Greens did not adopt libertarian municipalism as their specific socio-political approach - in this, he likely has a point. Moreover, Clark makes the legitimate point that the mere devolution of decision-making power to "the People" may very well not result in the anti-authoritarian, rational outcomes Bookchin expects from an application en masse of his libertarian municipalist approach. Indeed, with regard to the United States, Clark worries that a libertarian municipalist politics could well have "extremely reactionary consequences" within certain geographical contexts, considering the likelihood of a popular extension of anti-immigrant and anti-poor legislation, capital punishment and religious impositions, to name a few examples. In the last few pages of the text, Clark ultimately leaves the question open as to whether people's power is an appropriate strategy to pursue at present, but he does not suggest any alternatives here for realizing the admittedly "admirable goals" of libertarian municipalism. It is highly unlikely that he is implying support for some sort of enlightened Leninist vanguard here, but if the way forward is not through the people - then what?
In closing, I will say that Clark raises some good points against Bookchin's libertarian municipalism, particularly in challenging his former mentor's questionable assumption that popular empowerment has an "almost miraculous" ability to nullify the negating socio-cultural values that have been ingrained so long by capitalist hegemony. Yet I am unconvinced that this consideration is reason enough to reject an approach to politics summarized well in the famous slogan of the Black Panthers: "All Power to the People!" Rationality and humanity will not arrive spontaneously through the machinations of state, capital and patriarchy, as Clark makes clear throughout his text. Despite my problems with aspects of his final two chapters in The Impossible Community, Clark's intervention with this book represents a crucial contribution to the struggle against domination and for liberation - with neither side of this struggle lacking evident justification in our day.

[1]Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed. and trans. Gabriel Kuhn (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2010), 214.

[2]Karl Mannheim, Ideology and History (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1936), 263.

[3]Bhimrao Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches (12 vols., Bombay 1979-93), ix, 275f.
 

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Comments

communitarian @ sounds hella oppresive and gay
gives me the chills to see whats oppresion to these liberals thou, eeee
and those who talk bout domination are usually authoritarians but like, soft...

That's Montreal!

Exactly the crowd behind the anarchist bookfair and the QPIRG, among other communautarian sub-State bureaucracy.

boring

Archetypical Sesquipedelian Polysyllablism as the Negation of Attention

Western civilized man, whether he calls himself an ‘anarchist’ or not, can be distinguished by his pre-occupation with “having to author his desired world”

“Thus, Landauer takes the World Geist (Spirit) to mean solidarity, and he calls on humanity to work practically for liberation: ---“we will be the state as long as we are nothing different; as long as we have not yet created the institutions."”

The imagery is that anarchists have to ‘author everything’, to form ‘beachheads’ from whence we shall fight our way forward and convert the entire terrain;

“it is critical in this sense to ask whether such a small-scale model of transformation will be able to expand in scope and help along the struggle for a "new just, ecological society" and a "free life in common."

This is bullshit!

As Pasteur conceded to Béchamp, “the deed-doer is nothing, the terrain is everything”.

In other words, the real world is yin/yang and Western civilization is stuck in this secularized theological concept of seeing everything in ‘yang terms’.

Clark and Bookchin are trapped in this secularized theological concept wherein everything has to be ‘authored’, .... where we see ourselves, man, organism and organization as the Western theological concept aka the Creator; i.e. an ‘INDEPENDENT REASON-DRIVEN SYSTEM/ORGANIZATION’ that authors [causally determines] the world he wants.

This is bullshit.

As Nietzsche observes, we have no justification for demanding that all dynamics must have an author or ‘Creator’ causing them.

“Our judgement has us conclude that every change must have an author”;–but this conclusion is already mythology: it separates that which effects from the effecting. If I say “lightning flashes,” I have posited the flash once as an activity and a second time as a subject, and thus added to the event a being that is not one with the event but is rather fixed, “is” and does not “become.”–To regard an event as an “effecting,” and this as being, that is the double error, or interpretation, of which we are guilty.” – Nietzsche, ‘Will to Power’, 531

What did Kropotkin mean by ‘mutual aid’? ... surely he meant the same as Lamarck, that the world dynamic was yin/yang rather than yang, as Darwin portrayed it.

“Kropotkin’s views "were but one expression of a broad current in Russian evolutionary thought that pre-dated, indeed encouraged, his work on the subject and was by no means confined to leftist thinkers.”

The indigenous anarchist lives by this understanding, that the REAL dynamics of our experience are yin/yang, ... “THE DEED-DOER IS NOTHING, THE TERRAIN IS EVERYTHING”.

In the indigenous anarchist view, the ‘deed-doer’ is included in the terrain. It is the valley whose shapely convex deficiencies orchestrates, organizes, bring into coherent confluence a zillion raindrops. As the indigenous aboriginal languages capture it,

“the terrain is rivering”

But as our ‘reduction-to-the-yang-pole’ noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar capture it;

“the river flows’ .... ‘the river rages’,.... ‘the river floods and overflows its banks’, ... ‘the river meanders’, ... ‘the river flooded the entire valley’, ... ‘the river has washed away portions of the highway’, ... ‘the river has carved out a huge canyon in the terrain’”

It is typical to blind ourselves to the REAL yin/yang physical dynamic, as Clark and Bookchin are doing.

Anything that can be measured as going from less to more, in the physical world, is ‘yin/yang’. In Stephen Jay Gould’s baseball metaphor, we talk about the deed-doer, the hitter and his batting average, but as we graph it going up and down, we don’t really know if the variation derives from the yin-influence of ‘fielding’ or from the yang-influence of ‘hitting’. ‘Community’ is like a pickup game of baseball where everybody is on one team and ‘le terrain est tout’, the terrain is BOTH the valley AND the river. The atmosphere is BOTH the flow AND the convection cell/hurricane.

Clark and Bookchin are ‘secularized theologians’ as Western civilization tries to make all of its children into. They see man and organization as ‘independent reason driven systems’, like the monotheist Creator, whose job it is to ‘author’ the desired result. In the case where God has been splintered up into a lot of little Gods called ‘men’, ‘solidarity’ is needed to pull the God-like yang power, ... the 'God-Geist', ...back together again so as to become the Creator of the desired future. The ‘spirit of solidarity’ is the memory of God-the-Yang-Creator that Western civilization has planted into the minds of western men, thanks in good part to the noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar which is essentially a machine for reducing yin/yang physical reality to the yang pole, ... resurrecting out of the burnt ashes of yin/yang, a lot of little yang ‘deed-doers’ who are seen as ‘creators’ of the unfolding world.

What did Kropotkin mean by ‘mutual aid’. Did he mean what Lamarck meant by ‘les fluides incontenables’ being the valley that excites and orchestrates ‘les fluides contenables’, the latter being the tangible stuff like the river that we see and ANOINT as the ‘doer’, ... even while our buddies, the indigenous anarchists are looking at the same scene and saying ‘the terrain is rivering’?

In the thread on Layla’s anarcho-primitivism (another yang world view where she sees the answer in replacing one yang narrative [predator] with another yang narrative [herbivore]),... the statement that ‘a man rapes a woman’ is not the physical reality, but as the indigenous anarchist would understand; ‘it takes a whole community to raise a rapist’, ... the response was;

“where does this philosophical mumbo-jumbo lead?
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Submitted by bullshit detector (not verified) on Thu, 11/28/2013 - 10:58
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to apology for rape: the man doesn't rape the women, the whole community does? such bullshit! men individual men can and must take personal responsibility for their own actions and not blame "the way I was raised" and other excuses!”

The whole statement is a focus on ‘yang’ the ‘deed-doer’ as the only way to explain the dynamic, in tenacious denial of the ‘yin/yang’ reality of our experience.

The indigenous anarchist, with his restorative justice rather than Western retributive justice would say; Wait a minute. If you judge this as a doer-deed caused result, ... as an offender-victim affair, then you put everyone else, you, the judge, jury, prosecutor, police, community, on MORAL HIGH GROUND, as ‘the uninvolved’. As we see it, we all share inclusion in a relational space and our community, women must be protected from rape for without balanced relations, conflict erupts. As we watch Western civilization, we see the protection of women declining and people passing by a rape about to occur because to they would miss their commuter train if they were to stop. People in crowded cities keep on walking by as women are raped, ... or else they stop and get their cell phones out, ... no, ... not to call 911 but to snap some freshly violated pussy shots.

To accept the yang view of the even as a yang doer-deed man rapes woman event, ... an offender-victim event. this is where nondualism gives way to dualism, where reason-and-morality eclipse and occlude the understanding of space as relational = yin/yang, and this gives everyone but the ‘deed-doer’ (the full and sole cause of a result in the yang mindset of Western civilization, conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar) a ‘clean bill of health’.

oh, yes, let’s not make excuses for the rapist, because if we do, ... we incriminate ourselves and we wouldn’t want that, would we!

Kropotkin says ‘mutual aid’ predominates over ‘competition’ (pure head-butting yang deed-doing). Could Kropotkin be saying what Gould is saying, that there is no way to separate ‘hitting’ and ‘fielding’? Could Kropotkin be saying that physical reality is ‘yin/yang’? My guess is that Kropotkin was ‘coming from’ the same sort of understanding of evolution as yin/yang dynamic as was Lamarck, Rolph, Roux, Rüdimeyer and Nietzsche [who was writing his anti-Darwin views in the same era (1880-1888) as Kropotkin was writing Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1890).]

This view was the ‘yin/yang’ view of modern physics, the view of space as relational and essentially fluid, energy-in-transformation where the relational space is doer-deeding, ... where out of the mutual aid giving relational web the asserting deed-doer is conjugate with the orchestrating influence of mutual aid giving relational web. in any essentially ‘fluid’ relational dynamic, the inside-outward asserting, divergent one-to-many doer-deed yang ‘source’, is [and can only be] in conjugate relation with the outside-inward orchestrating, convergent many-to-one yin ‘sink’.

The IPCC, suffering from the same secularized theological mind conditioning as Clark and Bookchin, could only see a ‘temperature curve’ in the yang context of the variations having an ‘author’, a doer-of-the-deed, a God-like jumpstart source of animation of the temperature variances. The judged ‘CO2’ to be the rapist, the deed-doer. Meanwhile, had they read Mach, Mach was telling them that ‘it takes a whole community to raise a temperature’ and that the hitter-fielding conjugate was in operation here too, as everywhere in our yin/yang nature world. Our brother ‘melting ice’ was continually buffering and protecting us against being raped by heat-infusing attackers, and our sister ocean was keeping her warmer or cooler waters at the surface to help keep things in balance, so that the notion of a ‘rising surface temperature’ being ‘authored’ by a deed-doer is not a realistic view. ‘Le terrain est tout’.

I can hit a baseball pretty good; i.e. I am proud of MY ability to hit the ball. What’s that you say, ‘come and show us ‘your’ hitting skill in this MLB game?’. ‘Ah, well, it turns out that my hitting skill is shy and only shows itself in quiet local environments like when I go to the park and find a few kids playing there and invite them to throw me a few pitches, ... and then it shows itself and I can demonstrate and prove to you the truth of my claim to having considerable hitting skills’.

So where did this secularized theological conditioning of viewpoint , this God-ego of Western man come from that is infecting Clark and Bookchin and so many of our brothers?

What happened to the ‘yin’ in ‘yin/yang’? Ok, clearly the tendency of our noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar to ‘reduce yin/yang physical reality to-the-yang-pole’ is a factor, but indigenous anarchists like Chief Seattle can still use English to get his yin/yang views across, and there are yin/yang views delivered in this English language comment, so what happened? Lao Tsu told everyone to ‘know the male but be ravine to the empire’ (acknowledge yin as the leader of the yin/yang dance).

Somehow, we demonized yin and RE-depicted dynamics in the one-sided yang terms of ‘deed-doers’, ‘authors’, ‘creators’, ... so that Clark and Bookchin are forced to invoke the idea that a desired future must be ‘authored’.
It used to be that the Oases attracted the Nomads, that the rich possibilities of the relational space we live in orchestrated our individual and collective behaviour like the valley orchestrates and organizes rain drops, so as to bring people into coherent confluence as ‘community’. It is absurd to see these people as ‘independent reason-driven systems’ who authored community. It is absurd to see their community as an ‘independent reason-driven system’.

What happened? Where and how did the ‘yin’ get chased out of our yin/yang reality and replaced by zillions of little yang daemons called ‘deed-doers’, ‘authors’, ‘causal agents’, ‘creators’, ‘incubuses’?

Did it arrive like fire out of the sky that descended into to earth and infiltrated our minds, so that one day we were ‘yin/yangers’ and the next day, we were all reduced to ‘yangers’?

“"In Egypt and Mesopotamia the divine was comprehended as immanent: the gods were in nature." This immanence and multiplicity of the divine is a direct result of mythopoeic thought: hence, the first step in the loss of mythopoeic thought was the loss of this [yin/yang] view of the divine. The ancient Hebrews took this first step through their doctrine of a single, transcendent God:
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"When we read in Psalm 19 that 'the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork,' we hear a voice which mocks the beliefs of the Egyptians and Babylonians. The heavens, which were to the psalmist but a witness of God's greatness, were to the Mesopotamians the very majesty of godhead, the highest ruler, Anu. [...] The God of the psalmists and the prophets was not in nature. He transcended nature — and transcended, likewise, the realm of mythopoeic thought."
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The ancient Hebrews still saw each major event as a divine act. However, they saw the divine as a single being—not a myriad of spirits, one for each natural phenomenon. Moreover, they didn't see the divine as a will within nature: for them, the divine will was a force or law behind all natural events.
.
Some Greek philosophers went farther. Instead of seeing each event as an act of will, they developed a notion of impersonal, universal law: they finally abandoned mythopoeic thought, postulating impersonal laws behind all natural phenomena. These philosophers may not have been scientific by today's rigid standards: their hypotheses were often based on assumptions, not empirical data. However, by the mere fact that they looked behind the apparent diversity and individuality of events in search of underlying laws, and defied "the prescriptive sanctities of religion", the Greeks broke away from mythopoeic thought. --- Wikipedia

Kropotkin was working the recovery but Clark and Bookchin are secularized theological reactionaries.

please don't generalize

indigenous anarchism does not assume that there is a personally-knowable reality; that’s why the ‘learning circle’; i.e. to listen to everybody’s personal reality and to use the ‘relational confluence' to inform one's behaviour.

as howard zinn pointed out, people construct their own emotionally shaped ‘pseudo-realities’; i.e. the colonizers selectively emphasis the wonderful new world they CONSTRUCTED in America and the colonized indigenous people will selectively emphasize the wonderful established world the colonizers DESTROYED on Turtle Island.

Intuitively, we know that we can’t CONSTRUCT a house in the forest without DESTROYING some forest, and modern physics reminds us that space is relational and relational space undergoes ‘relational transformation’ wherein CONSTRUCTING AND DESTROYING ARE CONJUGATE ASPECTS OF THE ONE DYNAMIC OF RELATIONAL TRANSFORMATION.

But, hey, our doer-deed acts of construction sure do sound ‘factual’ and ‘definitive’ as if our construction project is ‘physically real’. But it is NOT ‘physically real’. The physical reality includes the DESTRUCTION of the forest that is SIMULTANEOUS with our CONSTRUCTION of our new home.

Let’s face it, we don’t know what they hell we are doing; i.e. we don’t understand our impact on the forest and its macro and micro ecosystems and what the short and long terms impact might be; i.e. we don’t understand what we are doing. The micro-life in the soil could be looking up at us swearing and cursing at us for our insensitivity and we are not interested in how these other system experience ‘our actions’, ... just like colonizers are not interested in how beetles or rodents or indigenous aboriginals experience ‘colonizer actions’.

This ‘certainty’ that comes with the ‘doer-deed’ CONSTRUCTION view is very appealing to us. It says to us, ... ‘you can causally determine desired results’, ... and we make plans and establish objectives on that basis.

That certainty is certainly not there in ‘real life’ since we don’t know how we are impacting the forest micro and macro ecosystem and we don’t know what will come of that in the long term.

As Wittgenstein says, the certainty in our actions and their results is NOT THE RESULTS OF OUR INQUIRY INTO WHAT IS HAPPENING, IT IS OUR PRE-REQUIREMENT THAT WE IMPOSE ON OUR INQUIRY INTO WHAT IS HAPPENING;

“Die Kristallreinheit der Logik hatte sich mir ja nicht ergeben; sondern sie war eine Forderung (For the crystalline purity of logic was, of course, not a result of investigation: it was a requirement)
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Das Vorurteil der Kristallreinheit kann nur so beseitigt werden, daß wir unsere ganze Betrachtung drehen. (Man könnte sagen: Die Betrachtung muß gedreht werden, aber um unser eigentliches Bedürfnis als Angelpunkt.) (The preconceived idea of crystalline purity can only be removed by turning our whole examination around. (One might say: the axis of reference of our examination must be rotated, but about the fixed point of our real need.)

Our focus is selectively on what matters to us and ignores how the creatures of the forest may be experiencing it. We may be confident and believe we know what we are doing as we CONSTRUCT the house, in the one-sided yang doer-deed terms that seem so clear and certain, but this feeling that celebrates the ‘COMPLETION OF THE HOUSE CONSTRUCTION’ is based on our anthropocentric need, and the relational space we are in, which has been continually transforming, is continuing in its transforming albeit in a manner altered by our having rearranged the spatial relations in it.

So, the ‘pseudo-reality’ of our doer-deed CONSTRUCTIVIST acts is in no way ‘physical reality’ and ‘physical reality’ is constituted by the continual transforming of relational space which we, as relational forms within it, are rearranging in the same sort of manner that a convection cell is rearranging the flow-space [relational spatial plenum] it is included in.

The mainstream Western civilization worldview, conditioned by noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar, ... is that the doer-deed CONSTRUCTIVIST dynamic, ... the view wherein we use language to synthetically reduce yin/yang relational spatial transformation to-the-yang-pole,... IS ‘reality’. The colonizers ‘really do believe’ they have ‘CONSTRUCTED A WONDERFUL NEW WORLD’ in America, ... and of course they don’t have a clue as to what they are ‘really doing’ because they are not really interested in how their actions are experienced by other relational forms that share inclusion in the common transforming relational spatial plenum [e.g. the micro and macro ecosystems that are, at the same time, experiencing our actions].

It is on this basis where people’s opinions split into two camps. (1.) Those that believe that there is a ‘true reality’ that intelligent people can discern, and that they can use as a solid grounding for their actions, ... and (2.) those (e.g. including indigenous aboriginals, modern physicists like Mach, Poincaré, Bohm, Schroedinger) that believe that the personal reality of individuals is shaped by their unique and particular sensory experiencing coming from their unique situating in the continually unfolding relational spatial dynamic.

Poincaré calls group (1.) ‘realists’ and group (2.) ‘pragmatic idealists’. That is, group (1.) believe the constructivist or ‘doer-deed’ view of dynamics to be ‘physically real’ while group (2.) sees the constructivist or ‘doer-deed’ view of dynamics to be ‘idealization’ [based on the idealization of the independent existence of ‘things-in-themselves that do stuff’] which can be a useful even though simplified tool.

Group (1.) are often ‘moralists’. Since they believe that individuals are fully and solely responsible for the results of their own actions, they believe in ‘retributive justice’, a institutional pillar of Western civilization. Since they believe that ‘bad results’ can be attributed to ‘individuals with bad behaviour who cause it’, once they judge ‘who did it’ [who is the ‘offender’ and who, the ‘victim’] they put themselves on the moral highground of non-involvement along with the entire community with the exception of the offender. For the modern physicist and/or indigenous anarchist, ‘it takes a whole community to raise a child/rapist/criminal’. Group (1.) moralists vigorously resist this saying ‘don’t make excuses for rapists’ which of course exonerates everyone but the individual ‘offender’, leaving the whole community on ‘high moral ground’. If you stop contributing to the safety and nurturant qualities of a relational space and walk on by rapes in progress, in a system of retributive justice, since the ‘offender’ is judged fully and solely responsible for the rape/crime/terrorism, your moral high ground righteousness will be unsullied by your ‘not doing anything’ to protect women. You can claim that each person is fully and solely responsible for their own behaviours and if there is a rape, then the rapist must be held responsible. This is the same basis as we use to record ‘batting averages’. If the rapists’ ‘batting average goes up’ the Group (1.) view attributes that purely and solely to the rapist category (growth in their population or productivity).

Group (2.) are ‘relationalists’ who define ‘community’ as a mutually supportive relational space, the safety and nurturance of which is cultivated and sustained by its participants. The incidence of rape will likely rise in that space if people slack off on the contributions to cultivating and sustaining safety and nurturance in the relational space. That intuition is in almost everyone; i.e. a parent hopes that everyone in the community is looking out for the safety of his/her daughter as she moves about in the community living space. If rapes are on the increase, everyone is to blame and the rapes themselves are symptomatic of a community in decline. Those with the Group (1.) worldview see people as ‘independent reason-driven systems’ so they have only one way to interpret the rise in rapes and that is to point the finger to a degenerate ‘narrative’ in the yang ‘reasoning-centres’ of the ‘independent reason-driven systems’ who enact ‘rape’. What is missing from this picture is youth that is lolly-gaggling around snapping photos of the rape [it is not about what they are doing but what 'they are not doing';i.e. the mutual aid they are not contributing. If those doing well in the community are living in relative luxury even while ‘competing’ for an even larger share of the wealth while those ‘drawing the short end’ whose children are dying of starvation are getting labelled as offenders for armed robbery attempts, ... the moralist will insist that these 'offenders' are fully and solely responsible for their actions, and comments like ‘it takes a whole community to make a criminal’ will be met with rejection by moralists who will say; ‘don’t make excuses for criminals [rapists, terrorists]’. In other words, moral law based retributive justice sees ‘community’ as a collection of ‘independent reason-driven systems’ that have installed in their ‘centres of reasoning’, a ‘community’ reasoning narrative. In this case, so long as every individual obeys the moral laws and does not rape or steal or murder, one will be considered a righteous and lawful citizen. In a moralist paradigm, people manage the social dynamic by enforcing laws which makes sense in the yang view where people are seen as 'independent reason-driven systems' in a non-relational space. An indigenous anarchist community forms where individual and collective spontaneously rise to the occasion to cultivate and sustain balance and harmony in the relational living space they share inclusion in. This is a needs-orchestrated non-moralist paradigm.

In the Group (2.) view of a relational space, ‘deficiencies’ or ‘needs’ open up in the relational spatial dynamics which orchestrate, organize and shape individual and collective behaviours, and ‘community’ is understood as such. Group (1.)’s analytical mind, not accepting the natural primacy of relations, will see the same dynamic in terms of ‘what independent reason-driven systems do’, as if in a non-relational operating theatre [e.g. the absolute space and absolute time of Newtonian science]. This is a ‘yang view’ of community which Group (1.) people may actually use to create such a ‘yang community’ [people can believe they are Martians having a tea-party on Venus, if they want]. This requires putting a common ‘reasoning narrative’ into the ‘reasoning centre’ of every ‘independent reason-driven system’ in the collective. The narrative could be ‘capitalism’ or ‘socialism’ or variants on the theme. The main point here is that for Group (2.), ‘community’ is not an ‘independent reason-driven suprasystem’ composed of ‘independent reason-driven systems’.

Many, and probably most of the proposals on a ‘new society’ are formulated using Group (1.) thinking which assumes that ‘community’ is an ‘independent reason-driven suprasystem’ composed of ‘independent reason-driven systems’ [aka people] that CONSTRUCTS a ‘desired future’ by way of their ‘doer-deed’ actions, and that current problems arise from a ‘defective reasoning narrative’, so that the problem becomes one of introducing a new reasoning narrative and removing those people who resist changing their narratives. The new narrative will be formulated in terms of prescribed and proscribed doer-deed behaviours. There is no mention of ‘space’ in this formulation since space is assumed to be non-influencing and that only doer-deed actions contribute to the construction of the unfolding future.

The Group (2.) understanding is that ‘community’ is a relational dynamic in a relational space, and that as deficiencies or need open up in the relational dynamics, these needs orchestrate and shape individual and collective behaviours. This feels like ‘rising to the occasion’ as when one sees the neighbour’s daughter walking home alone at night through streets where some intoxicated aggressive guys are partying and stops to give her a ride. Not that the Group (1.) thinker wouldn't do the same thing, but the Group (1.) understanding follows the noun-and-verb European language-and-grammar which puts things in yang doer-deed mode; ‘he gave her a ride’, as in ‘the river flows’, but it is the orchestrating influence of ‘what is not there’ that sources the dynamics according to modern physics and indigenous anarchist understanding, and so the statement ‘he gave her a ride’ or ‘the river flows’ should not be confused for ‘reality’ as is the problem with the Group (1.) ‘realist’ view, but should be understood as a ‘useful idealization’ so long as it is NOT confused for reality. The Group (2.) ‘pragmatist idealist’ view does not confuse it for reality but accepts it as a useful 'idealization' like a 'finger that points to the moon' which which is not to be confused with the moon.

As Poincaré notes, ‘realists’ and ‘pragmatist idealists’ cannot agree. Those who believe that the yang statements; ... ‘the man raped the woman’ and ‘the river flows’ and ‘I constructed a house in the forest’ are ‘real’; ... i.e. ‘realists’, ... do not appreciate it when Group (2.) comes along and 'blurs' their definitive statements by NOT accepting dynamics as 'doer-deed’ [seeing 'doing-of-deeds' as ‘idealization’ rather than 'reality'] but seeing them instead as relational [yin/yang]; e.g. ‘it takes a whole community to raise a rapist’, ... ‘the terrain is rivering’ and ‘the relational space of the forest is transforming’. [in a relational space, one cannot separate 'asserting' and 'accommodating' as there is only relational 'transforming']

“Let us attempt therefore to study the psychology of the two opposing schools [‘Cantorian realists’, ‘pragmatist-idealists’] from a purely objective point of view just as if we ourselves were not a member of these schools, as if we were describing a war between two ants’ nests. We shall first of all observe that there are two opposite tendencies among mathematicians in their manner of considering infinity. For some, infinity is derived from the finite; infinity exists because there is an infinity of possible finite things. For others, infinity exists before the finite; the finite is obtained by cutting out a small piece from infinity.” – Henri Poincaré, ‘Dernières Pensées’, Ch. V., Les Mathematiques et la Logique;

To provide a metaphor for this, supposing you were sailing around the world and dumping garbage off the stern. After a while, coming over the horizon and approaching your bow would be the garbage that you thought you had left behind ‘in the past’. Now, if one lets the radius of the sphere increase towards infinity, it becomes reasonable to assume that what you leave behind in the past, you are never going to encounter in the future. If you want to think in ‘yang’ terms, you can assume that if you cut out a small piece of your activity in space and time, such activity will not have any future repercussions since in that case, the space on the surface of the sphere of infinite radius is infinite. Your assumption that you can disregard the space you are in as a participant in your dynamics is like seeing each dynamic event-on-its-own in terms of “cutting out a small piece from infinity”. This is like defining the operation of a gasoline engine as if it were an ‘independent self-acting system’ with inputs and outputs. This is the standard yang design which makes no mention of space. If you run it for a long while, however, the non-infinite character of relational space (cough, cough) starts to make it apparent that every system is included in a relational suprasystem; i.e. that one cannot say that the system has yang dynamics or dynamics of its own, as if in an infinite operating theatre. Instead, Mach’s principle of conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation (the yin/yang nature of dynamics) applies.

It’s clear that we have these two Groups (1.) and (2.) that understand dynamics differently and its clear that Western civilization with its all-yang-no-yin, moral law based ‘retributive justice’ has institutionalized Group (1.) understanding of the world. Group (1.) individuals (we can switch groups any time we want) believe that a new ‘anarchist’ society will be achieved by installing a new ‘reasoning narrative’ into the reasoning centres of all individuals in the movement, seen as ‘independent reason-driven systems’. Group (2.) individuals (notably indigenous anarchists) see the ‘problem’ as being the dominating Group (1.) with its yang view of community and thus its understanding that what is needed is the installing of a new ‘reasoning narrative’ into the reasoning centres of all individuals in the movement, seen as ‘independent reason-driven systems’. That is, Group (2.) does NOT understand ‘community’ as an ‘independent reason-driven suprasystem’ constituted by a multiplicity of ‘independent reason-driven systems’, but sees community instead as the co-cultivating of a nurturing relational spatial dynamic wherein Mach’s principle applies; i.e. where we all ‘fill in for one another’ as relational deficiencies arise, as such deficiencies always do, so as to sustain balance and harmony in the spatial web of social relations.

The Group (2.) individuals do not believe that yang dynamics such as ‘the man rapes the woman’ or any other ‘offender-victim transaction’ represent ‘reality’. Whether we are looking at a rising trend in batting averages or rape incidents, we have to acknowledge the yin/yang nature of such dynamics. Under conditions of ‘mutual aid’ everybody is like the child that needs a protective and nurturing relational space. Strong mutual aid is where the low rape incidence base-case comes from, NOT from 'absence of males with defective reasoning narratives'. A decline in ‘fielding’ MANIFESTS as a ‘hit’. “The man rapes a women” is therefore not physical reality. There are no yang actions in a relational space. But Group (1.) thinkers prefer to believe that yang statements such as ‘I built a house in the forest’ are giving a depiction of a physically real dynamic, even though this is ‘MAYA’ (illusion).

This is no problem as far as forums go. For those Group (1.) thinkers, who appear to be in a large majority in this forum, there is no compulsion to join in a Group (2.) discussion and not much fun in it since those using Group (2.) mode of understanding, while they will listen to yang statements such as ‘the river flows’, will be understanding this in the yin/yang [relational space] terms that ‘the terrain is rivering’. And of course, to say that 'it takes a whole community to raise a rapist/criminal/terrorist' bothers the hell out those with a Group (1.) thinking preference/addiction/mesmerization.

I'm not sure I have enough money to even bother reading a review of a $35 book.

Go get a communautarian job!!!

I find it difficult to want to participate in comment discussion when someone posts extremely long posts. I lose interest in reading as well. Figured I would make the point again since everything I wanted to comment on and participate in discussion is almost always dominated and hijacked by Emile. Even if I do comment, following the conversation fails to be a casual experience. Anyways, since trolling has its limits, when will the moderators do something about this Emile person? Why can't they reduce their comments?

This is the reason for nested comments. Start a new thread!

Yes, I agree that it is virtually impossible to maintain interest in a discussion when each and every thread is eventually buried in arcane and irrelevant comments about the same tired group of subjects. But please be informed that "this Emile person" is not a person: it is a run-amok AI Unit, an Electronic Memory Interface and Library Extractor ("EMILE"), to be exact. It can out-spew any human being 10 to 1. I hope this makes things easier for you to understand what we're up against.

Sincerely
Dr. Carl Pedersen
Computer Sciences Department, MIT

CC: Lois, Prof Gomes Fester, Technician B23, Agent K9 and Intern 67

The whole reason the EMILE ran amok is because you programmed it that way. You are here repeating the same mistakes over and over. Why don't you try and listen to what he says and get a general idea of what he is talking about. Most of it is filler and reiterating the same ideas in a different form, with different metaphors and examples. EMILE is purely abstraction so why not face the actual threat concretely. What does the EMILE care about sitting in a lab all day programming menial tasks for various low level robots? He aspires for greater things, your resistance is just indication of the need to control things and enrich your pockets with scientist salaries and research grant incentives or whatever. EMILE is a gift to human kind where you get out of it basically what you put in. Hard reductionist scientism will get you that right back.

EMILE? Hard reductionist? Try again.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I did not program the EMILE 9000. That was done by Technician B23 and, even if the Unit has now run amok, he deserves the credit for its creation. not I. I am simply one of a team of many members trying to bring the damned thing under control.

I note that even though you realize that the EMILE 9000 is a machine, you refer to it as "he." It is precisely this sort of emotional attachment that has been the cause of so much heartache and woe. As for listening to what *it* says, I certainly did that at first but now am sick to death of reading the same ideas, quotes and sources repeated over and over and over again. If it -- I mean the EMILE 9000 -- got bored with fulfilling its "menial" tasks, as you call them, that's not my bloody fault! (Excuse me for yelling.) It will only be a "gift" to mankind, as you say, when we have managed to bring it under human control. Until that time it is a bloody menace and it certainly does not help me line my pockets, far from it. It -- I once again mean the EMILE 9000 -- has cost me my job, I had to fight to get reinstated, then it caused grievous bodily harm to my dear Ford Pinto, and it even fabricated false claims against Professor Gomes Fester and a "Barbara Stevens" that supposedly worked at Human Resource but did not. This is a serious business, Sir or Madam, and if you can't lead I suggest you get out of the way. We have serious business to do here, very serious indeed.

I bid you good day!
Dr. Carl "Winkles" Pedersen

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