Lost (& Found) in Translation: Social Solidarity, Montreal, Night 82

  • Posted on: 15 July 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href="http://cbmilstein.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/lost-found-in-translation-soc... Milstein</a>
<p><em>la grève est étudiante, la lutte est populaire / the strike is the students&#8217;, the struggle is everyone’s</em></p>
<p>I took the above photo shortly after I got to Montreal, some two months ago, never intending to stay so long, and having little idea what the black letters on this banner meant. I knew that red &#8212; usually square, yet sometimes stretched in other shapes when needed &#8212; stood for the student strike, particularly being in solidarity with it.</p>
<p>But I&#8217;m an anarchist. So even though the only word I clearly recognized in the above slogan was <em>popular</em>, the tangible struggle that I saw on the streets over my initial five days here convinced me that the one term I understood rung true and I should stick around. Something remarkable was &#8212; and is &#8212; going on in Quebec. Anarchists do a lot of things wrong. One thing we&#8217;ve done right since the beginning of &#8220;anarchism&#8221; as a named political praxis, though, is gladly cross nation-state borders to lend solidarity based on a shared humanity along with shared desire for freedom writ large and egalitarian. In my case, I&#8217;m not sure how much solidarity I&#8217;m supplying. I have a sneaking suspicion that I&#8217;m largely the recipient of the solidarity that going on here, both as receiver and witness.<span id="more-1379"></span></p></td><td><img title="summit hopping 2012 style!" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/rainbowhouse.jpg"></td></tr...
<p><a href="http://cbmilstein.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/601019_10151028979355407_2... class="alignnone size-full wp-image-1387" title="601019_10151028979355407_2041983734_n-1" src="http://cbmilstein.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/601019_10151028979355407_2... alt="" width="497" height="372" /></a></p>
<p>Take today.</p>
<p>First there&#8217;s the <strong>+ 1 &#8211; 1 = 0</strong> sort of solidarity. Where you think you&#8217;re holding out some universal, nonstatist handshake of solidarity, and then realize that even if the same canceling-out dynamic happens in one&#8217;s own backyard, when it occurs outside one&#8217;s &#8220;own&#8221; country (that is, if one has citizenship), it underscores how you&#8217;re a &#8220;guest&#8221; in a struggle that you&#8217;ll never fully comprehend.</p>
<p><strong>Plus One</strong>: I now nearly always carry a batch of red felt squares with safety pins in each to give out &#8212; a quite simple act to show my solidarity and let others, in turn, then display theirs. When I overheard two cashiers in a store speaking, in French, about their carré rouge, and saw one pat her upper-right chest sans red square and frown, and saw that neither wore squares. I understood enough to know she had lost hers, for what in French sounded like four times. &#8220;Parlez-vous anglais?&#8221; I asked. &#8220;Qui, I speak English,&#8221; she responded. I held out two fresh cherry-red squares. &#8220;Would you both like one?&#8221; &#8220;Qui! Merci!&#8221; Their eyes lit up, at me and then each other. &#8220;Merci beaucoup! You can&#8217;t get these anymore. They are all sold out.&#8221; (Her English was better than my near-nonexistent French, but it still wasn&#8217;t great, and I think she meant sold out of red felt. When the student strike and its &#8220;squarely in the red&#8221; square symbol became popular, rumor has it that red and even off-red felt disappeared from the shelves of every Montreal store. So people started knitting squares out of red yarn.) The pair both eagerly pinned their new red badges of solidarity to their shirts.</p>
<p><strong>Minus One</strong>: Like the two clerks, I too wanted a red square, way back after my first illegal night demo some two months ago. That evening, after hours and kilometers on the streets with thousands, I was walking back the hour or so to where I was staying, at 1 or 2 a.m., and at one point noticed a flash of red on the pavement. There it was! <em>My</em> little red felt square! I&#8217;ve worn it, daily, ever since. So today, as usual, I had it pinned to my shirt. Just moments after I left the now-happy cashiers each sporting their own carré rouge, a guy on the street yelled out at me, in English: &#8220;Hey, red square! Yeah, you! You&#8217;re a fucking douche bag!&#8221;</p>
<p>I&#8217;ve experienced a few disapproving gazes and downward-pointing thumbs for wearing a red square here, but the only times people have directly confronted me, verbally, briefly or for extended conversations, has always been in English. And that&#8217;s never been preceded by a &#8220;bon jour&#8221; or other nicety, then allowing someone &#8212; via my accent in response &#8212; to ascertain whether to speak French or English to me. French is the official and most-often-spoken language here, and by and large, the language of the student strike. This person didn&#8217;t know, of course, that I&#8217;m from the United States and barely know French; those two facts only heighten, for me, the legacy of the history of domination in which the English language plays a part. Even without that knowledge, or particularly without it, this person is signaling the still-felt tensions of the legacy of the French-English divide here, which for them (and the other folks who&#8217;ve chosen to instantly yell at me in English) is now displaced on to a little red felt square. A big part of the legacy leading to this student strike can be found in the 1960s&#8217; and 1970s&#8217; so-called Quiet Revolution, which illuminated many of the social inequities related to language (with, you guessed it my English-speaking readers, the Francophones often receiving the short end of the stick), which in turn gave birth to many of the French-language colleges that are at the heart of Maple Spring and also underscored a host of other social injustices related to other languages (First Nations peoples, for instance, or the &#8220;body language&#8221; of gender). As a related aside, I want to again recommend the book <em>The Empire Within: Postcolonial Thought and Political Activism in Sixties&#8217; Montreal</em> by Sean Mills.</p>
<p><strong>Zero</strong>: Maybe the pleased cashiers versus the displeasured man on the streets don&#8217;t cancel each other out. Various polls while I&#8217;ve been here have hedged the truth or outright lied in order to claim there&#8217;s little support for the student strike, or have more &#8220;scientifically&#8221; leaned toward numbers emphasizing popular support. The felt experience of being among, say, five thousand, forty thousand, or two hundred thousand at a demonstration, not to mention seeing red squares on shirts and houses, tends to make one think there&#8217;s broad support. And the picket lines and other bold tactics of tens to hundreds of thousands of students and their allies to hold the strike for five months &#8212; often against scare tactics by school administrators and brutal tactics by the riot cops &#8212; add further proof that this struggle is indeed popular. But now, on this hot July day in anticipation of what may be a really hot August when the schools are supposed to start, every little + 1 &#8211; 1 = 0 can&#8217;t be ignored. As someone at the anticapitalist assembly I was at this afternoon said, whether the strike can stand strong in August against intensified policing, the chilling effect of special law 78 (whether or not it gets enforced and/or tossed out in court later), the distraction of provincial elections, and other pressures is, perhaps, &#8220;all a matter of our capacity.&#8221; That is, lived social solidarity, and whether it&#8217;s tangibly there or not when it really counts.</p>
<p><a href="http://cbmilstein.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/photo1.jpg"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-1402" title="photo" src="http://cbmilstein.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/photo1.jpg?w=497" alt="" /></a></p>
<p>Which brings me around, secondly, to the <strong>-1 + 1 = 0</strong> sort of solidarity.</p>
<p><strong>Minus One</strong>: Me. I can now read the words in the photo that started this piece, and because I&#8217;ve been a participant-observer within a specific moment/movement, I can increasingly read key words and phrases, and maybe sometimes understand them when I hear them. Like <em>grève étudiante</em>: &#8220;student strike.&#8221; Or better yet,<em> <em>grève</em> sociale</em>: &#8220;social strike,&#8221; which I can also even somewhat pronounce. And I now generally get the play on <em><em>(g)rève</em></em>, with<em><em> <em><em>rève</em></em></em></em> meaning &#8220;dream,&#8221; as in the above-photographed street art. At the time I snapped this shot about a month ago, I didn&#8217;t know that. I also didn&#8217;t know the designer behind this poster. Now I know both, so can share both (hence, credit and appreciation to LOKi design&#8217;s #ggi downloadable poster portfolio, ready for others walls, <a href="http://lokidesign.net/2356/2012/05/ggi-poster-portfolio/#more-3007">http...).</p>
<p>Today, I could basically read the large-type summary sheets taped to the wall at the start of the anticapitalist assembly, offering ideas of, for example, various antiauthoritarian strategies related to struggling against hegemonic forces of social control like the state and capitalism while supporting the grassroots student strike as well as notions of a social strike. But when it came time for the meeting to begin and the facilitator checked in about who needed whisper translation from French to English, I was the only person out of some forty to fifty people. (And when the facilitator asked if anyone needed whisper translation into French when, or rather if, English was spoken during the assembly, no one did.)</p>
<p><strong>Plus One</strong>: An anarchist I&#8217;ve known as an acquaintance from various anticapitalist convergences in Canada instantly volunteered to be my English whisperer (fortunately, he talks as fast as I do, but in two languages!). When I thanked him, with embarrassment, for having to translate the whole three- to four-hour assembly, he simply waved a hand in the air, tossed back his head, and muttered the French equivalent of &#8220;Pshaw, it&#8217;s nothing!&#8221; But of course, it is something: a huge act of solidarity, especially given that he&#8217;s an active participant in this social struggle and wants to talk at the assembly. Equally of course, he meant it: no big deal. We&#8217;re both anarchists, after all, and this is what we (try to) do for each other.</p>
<p>For a third of this assembly, we then broke down into discussion groups around topics and/or projects. I and my personal whisper translator both decided to go to the student-social strike conversation, which attracted some twenty to twenty-five folks. He looked around the circle, and exclaimed, &#8220;OK, is there anyone here who doesn&#8217;t speak and understand English?&#8221; Silence. &#8220;OK, let&#8217;s just fucking do this in English, since Cindy can&#8217;t speak or understand French.&#8221; He meant &#8220;fucking&#8221; in the kindest of ways (indeed, several times during his whisper translation from French to English in the main assembly, he apparently added that same word to sentences, and many people around the room who could hear laughed, finally explaining the source of their mirth to me, to which he laughingly responded to everyone, &#8220;I&#8217;m adding enthusiasm!&#8221;). Again I felt the sting of embarrassment, and again the implied &#8220;Pshaw!&#8221;</p>
<p><strong>Zero</strong>: Maybe the fact that I could hear, listen, understand, and even speak a couple times versus the fact that one person spent two-thirds of the assembly whisper translating to me (and a hefty chunk of the assembly spent another third switching languages for me) don&#8217;t cancel each other out. A longtime anarchist friend who has lived here in Montreal for a long time, an Anglophone too, said that no matter how good their French gets, there&#8217;s still a way in which one can&#8217;t articulate oneself as well in political meetings, and thus it feels like it creates power dynamics around language, and who gets really heard and listened to politically. Being whisper translated to is, in some way, like experiencing a mediated or &#8220;representational&#8221; form of politics, where you&#8217;re getting the sense of what the person translating for you &#8212; kindly, out of solidarity &#8212; thinks is necessary or important for you to know, or worth adding enthusiasm to. On the other hand, it feels acutely, for me, like I&#8217;m a burden for needing this help, especially since I&#8217;m here only short term, so don&#8217;t need to be included substantively in the same way as, for one, the Anglophone anarchist mentioned above. I also, equally, acutely felt how it does indeed make you feel the outsider, or the less than fully &#8220;enfranchised&#8221; participant in a directly democratic assembly (where, as an aside, rather than &#8220;twinkles&#8221; for affirmation, the facilitator jokingly asked for a show of &#8220;caribou,&#8221; as in the animal antlers). In terms of me &#8212; the minus one &#8212; it is merely a &#8220;Pshaw&#8221; moment. In terms of social solidarity, much less solidarity among Francophone and Anglophone students, it&#8217;s been a factor that, at a minimum, makes it hard to translate this struggle to certain people, like my &#8220;Hey, red square&#8221; guy mentioned earlier, or across certain places, such as English-language schools, and that could be a bigger deal in terms of tangible solidarity come August.</p>
<p><a href="http://cbmilstein.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/photo-1.jpg"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-1419" title="photo-1" src="http://cbmilstein.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/photo-1.jpg?w=497" alt="" /></a></p>
<p>Third, and finally, take yesterday, night 81, Mile-End&#8217;s Popular Assembly night.</p>
<p>Now solidarity equates to <strong>1 + 1</strong> <strong>= 2</strong>, or maybe a whole lot more.</p>
<p><strong>One Plus One</strong>: We&#8217;re now in week four of the Popular Assembly of the Mile-End Quarter, which meets every Thursday at 6:30 to usually 9:00 or even 9:30 p.m. at a &#8220;park&#8221; wedged between two near-highway urban streets &#8212; hence, the assembly promo always adds quotation marks to the location of &#8220;Clark Park.&#8221; The park is always bustling with dinner picnics and kids running from the &#8220;water park&#8221; fountains to the playground equipment. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles whiz by. It&#8217;s hard to hear under the best of circumstances, and like the anticapitalist assembly, the popular one necessitates whisper translation. Fortunately, it&#8217;s been not only me but three, four, or six others we need it. We huddle in a corner of the assembly circle, hardly able to hear the already-circumscribed version of the conversation (again, the &#8220;translators&#8221; are always whoever kindly volunteers and are always doing their best!). Most of us English-as-first-language folks don&#8217;t speak up, except those who can speak French but have a harder time understanding it, so need the whisper translation.</p>
<p>Every Wednesday &#8212; well, the last two &#8212; we&#8217;ve also held a new casserole plus orchestra, or &#8220;orchestroles,&#8221; bringing instruments of all shapes and sizes along with pots and spoons mixed with good cheer and free lit/red squares together for an illegal marching band in the streets. It&#8217;s a powerful and noisy show of solidarity for the strike, and actually creates an incredibly rich and wonderful sound; the musicians are good, and the rest of us manage to make our cookware a palatable accompaniment. (One passerby this past Wednesday asked if we were from a music department, bringing songs to the neighborhoods, and another wanted to hire the horn section.) But it&#8217;s also just a whole lot of silly fun. And so it&#8217;s been an icebreaker of sorts for us. Switching and tangling up languages, or pantomiming what we mean, or simply laughing together, the past two weeks have opened up communication in a way our assemblies might never have accomplished.</p>
<p>So this Thursday &#8212; yesterday &#8212; after our breakout working groups, it turned out that those who stayed for our re-assembly into a big group again were majority English-language listeners/speakers, and only two people were exclusively French-language listeners/speakers. So it made sense to now whisper translate from English into French for them &#8212; a first at our popular assembly. One of the two Francophone listeners/speakers looked like she was struggling to hear/understand through the whole of this whisper translation. We wrapped up the assembly, in the gathering darkness, with feedback on how the assembly went. The Francophone woman, in French, explained that it was awful having to miss so much of the conversation, it was awful feeling left out, and yet it was wonderful to truly not only understand but also viscerally feel how awful it is to be in my (and others&#8217;) shoes when we&#8217;re getting French to English translation. Her face lit up as she explained how glad she was for that experience and, more specifically, our assembly now, because as she put it (translated to me, of course), &#8220;Together, we&#8217;ve finally broken through the wall of silence between us all!&#8221;</p>
<p><strong>Equals Two, or More</strong>: This was true of the fourth Mile-End Popular Assembly, but also today&#8217;s anticapitalist one, and last week&#8217;s interneighborhood meeting, and a social strike consulta last weekend, plus the few other neighborhood and student assemblies I&#8217;ve gone to so far: there&#8217;s always talk about the ongoing student strike, on the one side, and notions of a social strike, on the other, and how the two are inseparable as a question, discussion, and problematic. Each time someone tries to separate them, it&#8217;s clear that&#8217;s impossible &#8212; that they need to breath together, and breath life into each other. Which is not to say that they are equivalent. There is this sense of reinforcement or complementarity, in terms of how they can and could lend solidarity to each other. Or perhaps reciprocity is the best word choice here.</p>
<p>The May 22 grand demonstration called monthly by CLASSE to display support for the student strike, for instance, brought upward of a half-million people to take the streets of Montreal, illegally according to special law 78, and for all intents and purposes, such an enormous march starting in the middle of a weekday was a social strike. People left jobs and other compulsory duties to participate; stores and offices didn&#8217;t open; traffic got snarled; public transit couldn&#8217;t run. Another night, on an illegal nocturnal demonstration, some forty thousand or so inadvertently shut down a main bridge into Montreal simply because it took about an hour to march up a lengthy north-south street that leads into that urban artery, again offering an albeit short social strike (as in &#8220;economic disruption&#8221; writ large; the definition of &#8220;social strike&#8221; is often a topic of conversation lately, but that will have to wait until another blog post).</p>
<p>But without the striking students physically blockading their schools&#8217; entryways, so that strikebreaking students and other college-related people can&#8217;t get inside, can&#8217;t go to class, can&#8217;t teach and go about the (literal) business of academia, a social strike would mean nothing. The student strike has already been victorious in many ways. It is the heart and soul of this Maple Spring, but not as a cry for present-day students&#8217; self-interest. It is a demand for solidarity across generations, where these present-day students understand that they are doing this for generations to come, so cheap or (as the demand now seems to be moving) free education is something that everyone desires, as a social good, in a good society. This has, in turn, emboldened others in what could be seen as newly emerging related struggles, to offer equally compassionate forms of solidarity. The Canadian government just passed an omnibus bill that included many awful measures, such as cutting off health care to adults and kids without citizenship status, and health care folks (along with others who see this as a first step toward privatizing all health care, and just plain inhumane) are starting to pledge to offer health care anyway, even if they have to do it for free.</p>
<p>All to say, that there are conversations going on at every assembly and consulta about what solidarity for the student strike is, what it will look like, and how it will be implemented as August inches closer and closer, and how that might or might not relate to a social strike, as solidarity and as something unto itself. All to say, there&#8217;s a whole lot of grand conversations about solidarity, and a whole lot of micro-examples of it, in the lead up to a grand experiment in solidarity on what&#8217;s possible next with this student-social strike.</p>
<p>Those conversations never fail to mention that each striking school and/or school department or association has its own autonomous decision-making structure, and that any real solidarity has to involve taking the strategic and tactical lead from each of these autonomous bodies. They explore moral and material forms of solidarity, such as neighborhood assemblies holding festive &#8220;block&#8221; parties as teach-in, socializing, and mobilizing spaces just before thirteen of the key striking schools are supposed to go back or raising funds for legal support in advance, or students informing assemblies of their needs or coming to do teach-ins, such is as happening now with CLASSE touring to share how students have organized this strike and their direct democracy (take 4.59 minutes at the end of this post to watch CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau Dubois speak, mostly in English and with subtitles when in French, on the how and why of this strike at <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=br0QdKC9a4I">http://www.youtube.com/watch...). The discussions also grapple with what can and cannot be said, because special law 78 (and the fallout from the G20) seems to criminalize so much that&#8217;s just common sense and humane, like voluntarily gathering with groups of people to speak one&#8217;s mind, and strategize toward social solidarity and social goodness.</p>
<p>What, then, does solidarity look like when those who want so much to be in solidarity with each other &#8212; students and neighborhoods, and assemblies of all types &#8212; can&#8217;t speak as openly as they&#8217;d like, in French or English, so have to read and whisper behind the lines, because of an emergency law meant to rip all this solidarity to shreds? Or just because of our own linguistic capabilities? Maybe our struggles to make language work, to hear and listen and speak and act in new ways, as a connective bridge between us, rather than a dividing wall of silence, are part of the answer. Or at least help to illuminate part of the (unintended) difficulties of reciprocity and solidarity in any language.</p>
<p><a href="http://cbmilstein.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/photo-2.jpg"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-1420" title="photo-2" src="http://cbmilstein.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/photo-2.jpg?w=497" alt="" /></a></p>
<p>* * *</p>
<p>As always, if you stumbled across this blog post as a reposting somewhere, please excuse the typos/grammatical errors (it’s a blog, after all), and note that you can find other blog-musings and more polished essays at <em>Outside the Circle</em>, <a href="http://cbmilstein.wordpress.com/">cbmilstein.wordpress.com/</a>. Share, enjoy, and repost–as long as it’s free, as in “free beer” and “freedom.”</p>
<p>(<em>Photos</em>: Unless otherwise noted, all photos were taken in Montreal, summer 2012, by Cindy Milstein)</p>


CIndy you're not anarchist unless you become anarchy. As opposed to the common trend in Montreal, anarchism cannot be found in academic circles or bookfairs.

"Just cause it feels like, doesn't mean it's there." - Radiohead

you misquoted radiohead.

i hate you.

Cindy has the same amount of written diarrhea as she does verbal diarrhea.


wow lots of haters.

Yeah, I find Milstein slightly obnoxious too but holy fuck if this isn't the worst of @news on parade.

figures that these haters can't even quote a radiohead song correctly. sickening. cindy isn't THAT bad. maybe spend a bit more time studying up on your post-ok computer pull-out quotes and a little less time hating on folks that contribute more to anarchy than you ever will.

anarchists pin red flags to their chests now?

Kropotkin supported the use of red flags by anarchists. He also supported the Allies in the First World War, so...ymmv.

cindy milstein captures the logic of the learning circle in which the conflict of opposites does not lead to mutual annihilation or ‘zero’ understood as ‘nothing’ [in the aboriginal tradition, ‘zero’ is the source of everything]. cindy says;

“First there’s the + 1 – 1 = 0 sort of solidarity. Where you think you’re holding out some universal, nonstatist handshake of solidarity, and then realize that even if the same canceling-out dynamic happens in one’s own backyard, when it occurs outside one’s “own” country (that is, if one has citizenship), it underscores how you’re a “guest” in a struggle that you’ll never fully comprehend.”

‘cross-border solidarity’ is a reminder that the head-to-head competition of opposing politics for the central-control based powers of sovereigntist governance does not imply ‘nothingness’ in the absence of a winner.

the best form of governance is that which teaches people how to govern themselves [e.g. the 'learning circle' form of governance-as-restorative-practice]. within every sovereigntist control system, there is a battle of opposites going on since those in the seat of power of central authority never favour all people and ideas equally but have a ‘tilt’ towards a preferred subset of people [as characterized by particular beliefs]. if not, political opposition would not be continually emergent within sovereigntist society, as it obviously always is. if one doesn’t win control over the others, one will be subject to being controlled by the others, hence the +1 - 1 competition between ‘opposites’ that is characteristic of sovereigntist [central control based] governance.

milstein’s observation is that cross-border solidarity persists regardless of who wins the battle for the seat of central control within sovereigntist systems [of Québec and Canada, in this case]. what is implicit here is the ‘law of the circle of the aboriginal ‘zero chiefs’’ which [implicitly] embodies ‘Mach’s principle’. That is, the governance within each sovereign state is ‘absolute’ in that it ‘jumpstarts’ from a central sourcing point. This implies that the behaviour of the thing-in-itself we call ‘the sovereign state’ is ‘its own behaviour’. This is like Newton’s argument that ‘inertia’ is a property of the local material body relative to ‘absolute space’, a point refuted by Mach who claimed that inertia is NOT the property of the local material body, but is the relation between the ‘inhabitant’ and the ‘habitat’. When our ‘inertial sensing’ allows us to experience acceleration, we experience it relative to the universe we are included in [motion is not something that a local material body ‘does’ relative to an absolute space and absolute time reference frame; i.e. motion = ‘transformation’ of spatial relations in an energy-charged spatial-plenum].

would the world fall apart if all of these notional sovereigntist control centres were suddenly ‘ignored’? [after all, they are based on nothing other than ‘common belief’ in their ‘existence’ and ‘common belief’ can be eroded to the point that the structures based on it are no longer sustained]. sovereigntist centres of control never used to exist. they were deployed around the world as a tactic of colonization. it would have been far too complicated for the European colonizing powers to negotiate with every local tribe and/or community in a collection of hundreds if not thousands of such tribes/communities that resided within the space the colonizers wanted to expropriate/possess and exploit. sovereigntism was the answer to this problem;

“The emergence of the sovereign state was ... the necessary instrument of Europe's colonial expansion.” – Joseph Camilleri, ‘Rethinking Sovereignty in a Shrinking, Fragmented World.’

that power of cross-border solidarity that does not believe in, or recognize the legitimacy of the sovereign state is something that persists regardless of the demise of the sovereign state. it is a far more serious threat to the sovereigntist state than intra-state protest factions. within the sovereign state, the police/military based tactics of herding sheep work very well, but this depends on having good fences around the perimeter of the state, which are at the limits of the sheep-herding powers of the sovereigntist centres of control, ... fences that are maintained by mutual accord amongst the world’s 183 sovereign state leaders. ‘solidarité sans frontières’ or cross-border solidarity presents a horrifying spectre to the followers of the secularized theological concept of sovereigntism. one might say that ‘solidarité sans frontières’ ‘terrorizes’ sovereigntists since, like terrorism, it does not manifest in terms of a ‘local material existence’ such as in a ‘rogue state’ that the military power of sovereigntist state alliances can ‘blow off the map’. the strength of ‘solidarité sans frontières’ is non-local, non-visible and non-material and it is, by its inherent nature, ‘boundless’.

Milstein points to ‘lived social solidarity’ which is there when it counts;

“Maybe the pleased cashiers versus the displeasured man on the streets don’t cancel each other out. Various polls ... have hedged the truth or outright lied in order to claim there’s little support for the student strike, ... The felt experience of being among, say, five thousand, forty thousand, or two hundred thousand at a demonstration, not to mention seeing red squares on shirts and houses, tends to make one think there’s broad support. And the picket lines and other bold tactics of tens to hundreds of thousands of students and their allies to hold the strike for five months — often against scare tactics by school administrators and brutal tactics by the riot cops — add further proof that this struggle is indeed popular. ... every little + 1 – 1 = 0 can’t be ignored. ... [it is] lived social solidarity, [that is] tangibly there or not when it really counts.”

‘Lived social solidarity’ is fundamentally UNLIKE intra-sovereign-state political solidarity, or any type of solidarity that rallies itself to the challenge of taking over the sovereigntist centres of control. ‘Solidarité sans frontières’ or 'cross-border solidarity' does not negotiate with sovereigntist centres of control; it erodes the common belief that sovereigntism is fundamentally dependent upon, and opens the door to re-establish governance of a type that does not govern in the one-sided inside-outward asserting centres-of-control mode of governance but which teaches people how to govern themselves by cultivating and sustaining balance and harmony in the conjugate habitat-inhabitant relational dynamic.

as milstein says; “every little + 1 – 1 = 0 can’t be ignored”. this is because all the sovereigntist has accomplished in the +1 – 1 skirmish is to defend the sovereigntist control centre, but such skirmishes, for the non-sovereigntist, contribute to the continuing cultivation of ‘solidarité sans frontières’; i.e. these little ‘zeroes’ continually 'accumulate' [the zero is not 'nothing' it is everything]. ‘solidarité sans frontières’ has no dependence on [does not take its meaning/value from] local centres of control as sovereigntist politics based solidarity does.

the subtlety of Mach’s refutation of Newton’s definition of inertia 're-surfaces' in this understanding; i.e. Mach’s point is that ‘movement’ is not ‘absolute’ as in Newton’s physics, but relative to movement in the universe [movement as relational transformation of the spatial-plenum aka spacetime continuum]. in the case of ‘solidarité sans frontières’, the ‘movement’ is not ‘absolute’ in the sense of a sovereigntist political movement [which is absolute by its jumpstarting from a local control centre or by a common belief or doctrinal program that drives behaviours from out of the local control centres of robotized organisms to keep them in herd-like absolute movement], but 'relative' as in the movement in the centre-less space [Machean relational space] on the surface of the sphere of the earth.

‘solidarité sans frontières’ is global/unbounded organization whose source is non-local, non-visible and non-material [it is 'immanent' in the dynamics of the relational space on the surface of a control-centre-less sphere]. it persists as sovereigntist control centres collapse and dissolve [it persists NOT by overcoming sovereigntist opposition, but by eroding the meaning/value and common-belief based foundations of the secularized theological system of sovereigntism]. ‘solidarité sans frontières’ does not present itself as a local, visible, material target that sovereigntist police/military can ‘blow off the map’.

‘solidarité sans frontières’ is the way to go. it is the way of accumulating many ‘little zeroes’ as in milstein’s “every little + 1 – 1 = 0 can’t be ignored”. it is NOT the way of ‘revolution’ which seeks to win the battle of 1 versus – 1 opposites so as to end up with a non-zero positive result [to take over the centres of control]. ‘solidarité sans frontières’ does not give credibility/legitimacy to sovereigntism by 'going against it', as if it were an equal and opposite system. ‘solidarité sans frontières’ is not the 'cheap'form of organization that is one-sided assertive centre-of-control driven, as is the case with sovereigntism. it is, instead, of the 'learning circle' form of organization as in the 'zero chief' tradition, where 'zero' is not 'nothing' but 'everything' [i.e. it is the condition of balance and harmony in the relations amongst all things].

Emile and Millstein should write a book together. I wouldn't read it, but it would be interesting to see how many volumes long it would be.

The EMILE (Electronic Multiphonic Intelligent Library Exhauster) has incorporated her data flow.


once again, ... cindy milstein’s perceptiveness in the understanding that “every little + 1 – 1 = 0 can’t be ignored” is a validation of the ‘BOTH/AND’ logic of machean and nietzschean [non-dualist] philosophy. the understanding that it embodies is invisible to those who are of a sovereigntist political bent. i.e. in the U.S., political debate has reduced itself to pure +1 – 1 = 0 opposition; i.e. ‘opposition’ in the absolute Aristotelian sense of ‘EITHER/OR’ is the foundation that defines the pro and con views of both republicans and democrats (the views of the one define, at the same time, the views of the others, by way of simple negation). ‘solidarity’ in sovereigntist political terms, refers to alignment of views and behaviour in EITHER the +1 OR the – 1 direction. there is another kind of solidarity, the ‘BOTH/AND’ kind, that milstein perceives, that associates with a popular rejection of the sovereigntist view, regardless of the particulars.

the value of this solidarity is not tied to the particulars of the political view, but derives instead from rejecting the imposing of political views by a central authority. that is, each time a central authority attempts to impose another policy on the collective, protest can arise from BOTH (a) rejection of the particulars of the political directive that is being imposed, AND (b) rejection of the practice of central authority based imposing of directives.

the (a) and (b) animating source of protest is, as milstein notes, captured by;

“la grève est étudiante, la lutte est populaire / the strike is the students’, the struggle is everyone’s”

the majority of people in a sovereigntist democracy, and the popular view is strongly influenced by the sovereigntist media, assume that the central authority-based imposing of directives is ‘a given’. therefore, they expect those who ‘protest’ a central authority imposed directives to provide a rational ‘rationale’ for what is wrong with the centrally imposed directive (a) [NOT what is wrong with ‘centrally imposing directives’ (b) since this is assumed as a ‘given’].

protest oriented to (a) is political protest. protest oriented to (b) is philosophical protest [it rejects the sovereigntist central control based model of governance]. the ‘occupy’ movement and the Québec student’s strike manifest a shift in the driving source of protest from (a) to (b).

the “lived social solidarity” identified by milstein is solidarity that rejects the ‘central imposing of directives’. it is NOT ‘political solidarity’ that critiques, on the basis of political doctrine, the particulars of a centrally imposed directive.
the sovereigntist media and the majority of the sovereigntist state population, since for them the central imposing of directives is a ‘given’, focus only on the particulars of a centrally imposed directive (a).

‘political solidarity’ rises and collapses [goes back to zero] with each battle over (a) the particulars of centrally imposed directives [+1 – 1 = 0] while solidarity that rejects central imposing of directives (b) continues to build with each [+1 – 1 = 0] protest ( “every little + 1 – 1 = 0 can’t be ignored”).

milstein recognizes and tries to articulate this difference while many are unable to ‘see it’.

You barge through all sensitivities, social relationships to you are mathematical Newtonian differential equations, I even feel now that you will use this as another of your experiential data experiments, that your thesis will be about universals and deterministic social systems. Lordy, lordy lordy I lament!
I would rather have dinner with Cindy than with you, at least the conversation would be,,,,exciting.

You seem to insist that my views, that you are interpreting from my word structures, are ‘ideas in themselves’ that your powers of intellection are capable of decoding from my word content, as if my act of transmission is a thing-in-itself, a ‘done deal’, and your act of reception is a separate operation that deciphers 'absolute propositions' in my transmission of content, a fault-free operation on your part that could not possibly err in its extracting of understanding which you imply is unequivocally encoded in my word content.

I find it curious that even while others ‘interpret’ my posts in a very different and more empathic way, you can be convinced that you ‘have nailed my meaning’. It suggests that to me that you are coming at things with a theory already in mind that you use the incoming data to confirm, rather than opening your mind to ideas that may lie beyond your presently embraced theories that you impose, like a square peg in a round hole, on the data.

The whole point of the Machean view is that dynamics are ‘relational’ and that ‘transmission’ and ‘reception’ are not ‘two things’ as in the dualist view, but are conjugate aspects of the one dynamic of transforming relational associations. This is also the essence of Gabor’s ‘quantum physics compliant’ ‘Theory of Communications’, and, as well, the point being made by McLuhan in his phrase ‘the medium is the message’ [‘meaning’ derives from transformation of the relations amongst idea-content, not from content as a thing-in-itself built up from atomic word structures].

Your comment is like a fart in the elevator that you accuse me of being the author of, though it is you who are the author of it.

Your approach to communicating pretends to be ‘critiquing content’ but your critique is instead 'for effect'; i.e. it is the play of a ‘language game’ that seeks instead to transform the web of relations amongst ideas that are developing in the course of discussion.

An alternative interpretation to my posts, is that they seek to share the view that our experience is inherently ‘relational’ and therefore far more complex than can be expressed in ‘word content’. that is, words as structures built from atoms-of-meaning-in-themselves are only capable of ‘pointing’ to relational understanding that lies beyond the literal atomic word structures of discursive content. Wittgenstein describes this in his philosophical ‘Tractatus’ as follows;

“My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly. “ –Wittgenstein

Evidently, you are unable or unwilling to ‘surmount the word structures' and gain access to the Machean relational associations in the word-structures’ that I am employing; i.e. you are inadvertently or deliberately confusing the 'word structures' or 'content-in-itself' for the views that are being expressed, when the views being expressed lie beyond the 'word structures' that merely give access to them. of course, these relational views are only accessible if one opens one's mind to understanding that lies beyond literalist interpretation, something that 'the politician' is unwilling to do, unless the views being shared are conformant with his own.

Cindy Milstein [implicitly though not explicitly] brings to the surface a fundamental, continually recurring philosophical issue on the nature of ‘space/habitat’ and ‘individual/inhabitant’; i.e. in the question of the relative priority of giving identity to people on the basis of their relations with one another and their environment and giving identity to people on the basis of the sovereign state reference frame in which they reside.

Why not get explicit about this philosophical issue?

The issue is this;

The ‘meaning’ of any dynamic, whether physical or intellectual, can be taken to be (a) ‘relational’ as in ‘the [transforming] medium [web-of-relations] is the message’, or in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’, whether these ‘things’ are material bodies or words.

Our Western culture would have us ignore (a) and go with (b).
Cindy brings this out in terms of how people behave as (a) ‘people of the world’ rather than (b) as ‘people of a sovereign state’.

While we can mentally model the physical world in either (a) or (b) terms, our habit is to ignore (a) and go with (b).

The following example gives the reader an opportunity to assess whether (a) or (b) reconciles with our actual physical experience;
“The small town Don Juan” [in place of ‘Don Juan’, one can use ‘rebel’ or ‘merchant’ or any label that suggests that we can legitimately assess the actions of an individual out of the context of the transforming relational space he/she is included in]
That is, we can understand dynamics in terms of a transforming relational medium (a), or we can understand dynamics in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’.

In going with (b) mode, we study the small town ‘don juan’ as a thing-in-himself; we watch his succession of moves with the ladies in the town. we observe ‘him doing things’ as if he were a hurricane that develops as a thing-in-himself, that moves about and acts as a thing-in-himself. This view of dynamics (b), in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ with their own development and their own movements and behaviours implies that ‘space’ is not a participant; i.e. it implies that space is an absolute empty and infinite container. This view of dynamics (b), further implies that his development, movement and behaviour is understood as ‘successive’, that he develops/changes and moves ‘in time’. In other words, in the (b) view of dynamics, ‘time’ is another absolute concept like ‘space’ to provide a reference to give meaning to his ‘change/development’ and ‘his actions’ as ‘change’ and ‘action’ of a ‘thing-in-himself’.

In the (a) mode, change is relational; i.e. the convection cell or hurricane that forms is a relational feature within a relational medium [within a relationally transforming energy-charged spatial flow-plenum or ‘relational medium’]

As we study the small town don juan in (b) mode, as if his development of his courting prowess and his action/technique with the ladies in the town were the primary reality, a group of strangers come to town; all young, handsome men, talented, artistic and courageous rebels, each in their own way, blonde and blue eyed and dark and gypsy like with flashing eyes and adventure in their hearts and demeanor.

In the (a) mode, the transforming web of relations [the transforming spatial-relational medium] is the message/meaning. In the (a) mode, we recognize the (b) mode of modeling reality as an idealization based on ‘absolute space’ and ‘absolute time’ reference framing so that that the dynamic forms in the relational medium ‘pop out’ as if they were ‘things-in-themselves’ with ‘their own development’ and ‘their own actions’.

So the question in the case of the small town don juan is; is it really possible to attribute his development and dynamics ‘to him’ as a ‘thing-in-himself’ as in (b)? or is it ‘more realistic’ to understand his development and his dynamics in terms of the web of relations that constitutes the space in which he shares inclusion, as in (a)?

As the relational space he is included in continues to transform, his don juan prowess and stature seems to diminish as the ladies turn their backs on him and rave over the handsome new strangers. Is it that his thing-in-himself qualities ‘are really diminishing’ or is this just ‘appearances’, the real situation being that his developmental/behavioural dynamics were, from the get-go, features within the transforming relational medium he was included in, as in (a)? Does a hurricane [convection cell] ‘really’ have its own thing-in-itself development and behaviour, as in our language based discussion and mental modeling of it (b) ---“Katrina is intensifying; Katrina is heading north to the Gulf Coast; Katrina is wreaking destruction on New Orleans; Katrina is dissipating”.
In other words, is the physical reality of our real-life experience more as in (a) where the world dynamic is understood as a transforming relational space/medium, or is it more as in (b) where the world is understood as a collection of local material ‘things-in-themselves’ with their own development and behaviour, that move about and do their stuff within an absolute space and absolute time reference frame?

Mach’s position is that physical reality is ‘relational’ and that absolute things-in-themselves with their own development and behaviour are ‘idealizations’ that do not reconcile with the physical realm. Mach ‘quit’ what he called ‘The Church of Physics’ for going with (b) instead of (a) [for choosing to confuse idealization for reality], but the issue has never ‘gone away’. Poincaré, who was influenced by Mach’s philosophical views, reaffirmed Mach’s position that ‘absolute space’ and ‘absolute time’, absolutist concepts upon which ‘things-in-themselves’ with their own ‘development and behaviour’ notionally depend, are ‘metaphysics’ that cannot be justified by the realities of our physical experience;

“Space is another framework we impose upon the world” . . . ” . . . here the mind may affirm because it lays down its own laws; but let us clearly understand that while these laws are imposed on our science, which otherwise could not exist, they are not imposed on Nature.” . . . “Euclidian geometry is . . . the simplest, . . . just as the polynomial of the first degree is simpler than a polynomial of the second degree.” . . . “the space revealed to us by our senses is absolutely different from the space of geometry.” . . . Henri Poincaré, ’Science and Hypothesis’.”

Closing the loop with the Québec student’s strike and Milstein’s observations. Can we assume that the development of an individual and the individual’s dynamic achievements can be understood as in (b) where we take him to be a ‘thing-in-himself’ with ‘his own development’ and ‘his own dynamic achievements’? .... or should we understand him and his developmental and behavioural dynamics in the (a) terms, as dynamic features within a transforming relational space?

Something happened to the power, prowess and dynamic achievements of indigenous people like tribal leader Omar Muhktar when the Italian colonizers ‘came to town’ and installed a central authority that transformed operative relations throughout the common living space [previously non-centrally-controlled living space] of the newly instituted colony that was called ‘Libya’. Should we say, as in (b) that Omar Mukhtar’s development and dynamic achievements are ‘his own’ and that these ‘diminished’ and ‘shrivelled’ as ‘time passed’ and the colonizers came? Or should we say, as in (a) that Omar Mukhtar’s development and dynamic achievements are emergent features within a transforming relational space? [as the web-of-relations constituting the dynamic space transform, the features within the relational space transform; i.e. the features are not 'things-in-themselves' as we like to capture them in our absolutizing noun and verb language]

How realistic is it to say that the Québec or Syrian youth’s [student’s] development and dynamic achievements are ‘his own’ when we know that they can fountain up and/or shrivel and decline on the basis of the transforming relations in the living-space/medium in which he is included? [i.e. they can flourish and decline in phase with changes in relations manipulated by successive 'leaders' at the helm of the control centre.]

Did the small town don juan’s development and dynamic achievements ‘shrivel’ in the wake of the arrival of the handsome strangers, as the (b) view suggests? [were his powers 'relative' as in the adage; "in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king"] Did the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island’s development and dynamic achievements ‘shrivel’ as the (b) view suggests? Or is it like Mach says as in (a) where our development and dynamic achievements are features within a transforming relational space?

If a state government is installed, with its central regulatory authority, the development and dynamic achievements of the inhabitants of that previously uncontrolled space will change. For some, it will flourish [e.g. the colonists who are in the inner circle of cronies that includes the seat of central control and regulation] while for others it will shrivel and decline [e.g. the indigenous peoples [the French in Canada were colonized, together with the indigenous peoples, by the English]. Is the decline in the development and dynamic achievements of colonized people, who are farthest away from crony alliance with those in the seat of central power, a decline and shrivelling in ‘their own development and dynamic achievements’ as in (b) [as if they were 'things-in-themselves' with 'their own development and dynamic achievement', or is the development and dynamic achievements of an inhabitant instead, as in (a), a feature within the transforming relational medium in which they are included? [is space a relational energy-charged plenum whose transformation manifests emergent features that we, for convenience, define as 'things-in-themselves', as Mach, Poincare, Nietzsche, Bohm, Schroedinger claim?].

If you answer (a) [space is a relational medium], then it follows that those who feel that their development and dynamic achievements are being suppressed and stunted by the relations that prevail in their living space, will seek to transform those relations that constitute the living-space medium so that the relational space will become more nurturant to their development and dynamic achievements.

The ‘francophones’ in Canada are, like the First Nations aboriginals, outsiders to the cronyism that lies closest to the seat of central power and control that can twist and manipulate ‘relations’ in the relational space. Never mind that Québec has a francophone premier [Jean Charest]. Colonized states inevitably have ‘puppet governments’ as is the case in Québec. If the leaders of provincial states were not subservient to the anglophone dominated central powers of the central government governing the federation of provincial states, the federal state would not exist as a control-based hierarchy, as it currently does.

As milstein observes;

“A big part of the legacy leading to this student strike can be found in the 1960s’ and 1970s’ so-called Quiet Revolution, which illuminated many of the social inequities related to language (with, you guessed it my English-speaking readers, the Francophones often receiving the short end of the stick), which in turn gave birth to many of the French-language colleges that are at the heart of Maple Spring and also underscored a host of other social injustices related to other languages (First Nations peoples, for instance, or the “body language” of gender). As a related aside, I want to again recommend the book The Empire Within: Postcolonial Thought and Political Activism in Sixties’ Montreal by Sean Mills.”

As Mach says, the physical realm is ‘relational’. Understanding the world dynamic therefore depends on understanding the transforming relational medium we are included in; i.e. understanding that ‘things’, rather than being ‘things-in-themselves with their own development and dynamic achievements’, are relational features in the transforming relational medium/plenum. The development and dynamic achievements of aboriginals and/or francophones did not shrivel and decline in the wake of colonization by the English because the notion of ‘their development’ and ‘their dynamic achievements’ are 'absolutist idealizations' that never existed in physical reality; such notions as the development and dynamic achievements of ‘things-in-themselves’ are ‘idealization’ [thanks to the absolutist assumptions of absolute space and absolute time] that cannot be confused for physical reality, but which the Western culture habitually does confuse for physical reality.

The colonized Québecois understand that the relational space they share inclusion in is being ‘conditioned’ by the colonizing anglophones via the regulatory control centres of Federal and Provincial government; i.e. they understand that francophones are second class citizens in the colonizer pecking order, though they sit well above the third class indigenous aboriginal peoples. Thus, to say that ‘their development and their dynamic achievements’ are ‘their own’ [i.e. that the flourishing and shriveling of their development and dynamic achievements derives from ‘themselves’ ... ‘just as one says it does for the flowering and high achieving anglophones’] is merely ‘appearances’ born of mentally modeling the world dynamic in terms of ‘things in themselves’ and ‘what things do’, rather than acknowledging that we live in a transforming relational space where our development and dynamic achievements are emergent features within the web-of-relations that constitutes the energy-charged spatial medium/plenum.

The Québec students [the francophones and those anglophones and aboriginals and others that ‘get it’] understand that the web-of-relations that constitutes the common living space, modulates how personal development and dynamic achievements may flourish and/or shrivel or be stunted/suppressed, and that this modulation by way of the web of relations that characterizes the common living space dynamic OVER-RIDES the notional [absolute/idealized] development and dynamic achievements attributed to the individual seen as a ‘thing-in-itself’ with ‘its own development and dynamic achievements’ [a notional view that is thanks to the imposing of idealized absolute time and absolute space reference framing]. The Quebec student protest is inherently, though the students cannot overtly/explicitly say it is [because the prevailing/popularly-accepted colonizer-culture’s manner of reasoning is in the idealized terms of ‘things-in-themselves’], a protest against the manipulation of relations in the common living space that is biased to those closest to the cronyism that surrounds the regulatory control systems.

They cannot overtly/explicitly say this since the prevailing world view, the official world view of the sovereign state, is one in which individual development and dynamic achievement is seen and accepted as being purely and solely attributable to the individuals as ‘things-in-themselves’. There are thus no 'reasonable grounds' [in the idealized system of reasoning that has been institutionalized in Western civilization] on which to complain about ‘selective suppression’ through a web of relations that constitutes the relational living space, ... of individual development and dynamic achievement. That is, Western civilization's institutionalized method of reasoning does not acknowledge that space is relational and that 'things-in-themselves' are artefacts of absolutist idealization [the imposing of absolute space and absolute time reference framing].

Omar Mukhtar’s children, and the children of aboriginals and francophones and other colonized peoples went into decline in their development and dynamic achievements in the wake of the by-force installation of colonizer control-centres, outfitted with puppet leaders. ‘Their decline’ was not ‘really’ ‘their decline’ since an understanding of the development and dynamics of forms/figures within a relational space (a), must be understood in terms of the web of relations constituting that space, rather than in the idealized/absolutist terms (b) of notional ‘thing-in-themselves’, notionally with ‘their own development and dynamic behaviour’ that live in an absolute fixed empty and infinite container [Euclidian space] whose development and behaviour is seen as a succession of their own movements relative to ‘the passage of absolute time’.

Cindy Milstein is, implicitly if not explicitly, surfacing this issue, of the conflict between understanding the world dynamic in ABSOLUTE/IDEALIZED terms of (b) versus the RELATIONAL SPACE/MEDIUM terms of (a).

The EMILE (Electronic Multiphonic Intelligent Library Exhauster) is running very smoothly today.

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