Ruptured Rhapsody

A different kind of "blog," consisting of selections from my scribblings over many years. The date of each post is the date I originally wrote that piece. So, the top post is usually not the latest post, because I continually add writings from different years to the blog. If you have visited here before, you are likely to find new posts anywhere on the page. I'll continue to add "new" posts as my time allows.

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Location: Toronto, Canada

7 May 1992

Thoughts on the destructive power of ideology

-Wasting our energies through a cycle of anger, hope, and dejection.

-Both the "elect" (leftist activists/intellectuals) and the "politically naïve" could use a boost in morale.  (Why do we think of them as naïve?)  It is not true that increasing oppression will eventually lead to revolution. There is nothing dialectical about this position.

-Revolutions are not made of bitterness and guilt; they are made of hope and confidence in a better future.

-Weber is not necessarily an enemy.  Perhaps we need to look at him a little differently and try to appropriate and use his thinking, rather than going into an automatic attack mode every time someone sounds like him.

-Interpersonal conflict and other things that people make themselves (unnecessarily?) unhappy about, tend to keep them from seeing the social solutions to the underlying causes of their difficulties.  Hence, anything that helps reduce personal unhappiness may have long-term social advantages.

-The us-vs.-them mentality is perhaps suitable only for collective bargaining situations.  Not because there is no class conflict; there definitely is.  But because a "progressive" is not something that a person is, but rather something that a person aspires to be.  A progressive is a person who, through his or her life activity, tries to bring his or her community closer to the ideal of a happier better world.  A leftist is not something that you become by some ceremony of conversion or initiation; there are no "card carrying leftists."  Being a progressive does not mean confessing to a certain creed or statement of belief.  The issue is not separating people into believers and nonbelievers, and trying to convert the latter; the material issue is to try to increase the amount and the potential for positive action in the world.

-Elitist theoris and university degrees are worth very little in the day-to-day struggle of the poor, the oppressed, and working people.  A little happiness and hope, however, can go a long way.

-Leftist objections to Weber (and now to the self-esteem movement) have been based on the notion that these ideologies try to tell people they can think or feel their problems away.  But perhaps this is a misunderstanding.  Perhaps these ideologies say the exact opposite, namely that problems must be correctly understood in their exact material nature, rather than getting bogged down by ideologies.

6 May 1992

Love of the root of all evil

I don't even watch the popular TV program called Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, so how is it that I have almost become obsessed with the difference between the way they live, and the way the rest of us live? Like Alex, the character in the sitcom called Family Ties, I imagin them laughing in their palatial "homes." One can almost say they truly live, while the rest of us die a hundred deaths every day.

The trouble is I always considered Alex's ideology (of getting rich at any cost) completely abhorrent and alien. A life spent in pursuit of wealth and possessions seemed like no life at all. Pursuit of the True, the Beautiful, and the Good seemed essential to a full life.

I found myself becoming discouraged in my pursuit of truth and knowledge. Accepted "knowledge" I found a pack of lies. I found that whenever someone, despite discouragement and frustrations, had discovered a portion of the truth, the entire weight of society had come down upon him (perhaps in the form of economic deprivation or social isolation) to prevent him from sharing his discovery with others. As for beauty and love, a deprived life is hardly the right soil for such delicate flowers. Most of us have enough to do just managing to survive from one day to the next. And as for goodness and justice, it seems all power in the world is aimed at increasing evil and injustice.

Imagined Utopias have been one answer to the horribleness of the real. After all, if what exists is far from right, then why not try to imagine what would be right, and perhaps also what would take us from here to there.

But even Utopias don't seem satisfying anymore! What is so true, beautiful, or good about a world where everyone lives at close to a bare subsistence level? Such would be a realistic Utopia.

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