Hippies, counter-culture, etc all bad?

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wojtek
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Sep 18 2011 17:40
Hippies, counter-culture, etc all bad?

I've been reading lots of Aldous Huxley (mainly Island, Brave New World and some of his essays) and and am finding it all pretty cool to be honest, however I get the impression that exploring alternative consciousnesses, buddhism, etc. isn't very popular here because it's reactionary and distracts from the class struggle. Granted it's the domain of 'radical' liberals, but can't it compliment the class struggle, e.g. stuff like this? And what are we gonna flex our metaphysical muscles to after the revolution?!

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Malva
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Sep 18 2011 18:39

Personally I see the general thrust of the entire Marxist project to be all about suppressing metaphysical thinking. Metaphysics and religion (its popular form) are ways of thinking that dehumanise people because they do not conceive of human beings as the creative power that forms everything and creates history through praxis. Instead we are told that there is some fixed unchanging reality or inherent reality (that we can never truly know (unless through the revelation of a priest or party bureaucrat or intellectual)) that is other than our own experience. This seems inherently reactionary to me because it relies on reification and fetishisation of the world. The great contribution of Hegel and Marx, it seems to me, is to bring things back to processes and conscious (or semi conscious) human transformation of the self and the world (going back to Heraclitus - the idea that you can never put your hand in the same river twice).

One of the reasons I love the Situationists is that they say you can have as much intense qualitative experience as you like once you destroy a society organised around metaphysics/fetishism/reification because you are then free to construct the world, society, life as you and those around you want. Lots of philosophers have pointed out that man is in actual fact 'God' or 'capital', its just man has alienated its creative powers into some metaphysical abstraction, so that our own actions appear as a real agent in the world. Abolish metaphysics and man becomes 'God' in effect. (A version of this idea is a strand running through all the way from certain medieval Christian heretics to Nietzsche, Marx, the artistic avant-garde and the SI).

On the specific issue of Buddhism. David Graeber argues that it was in fact the original form of capitalism. In Ancient China Buddhist monasteries would give out loans and through these loans subjugate entire regions, making huge palace complexes and creating debt slaves. Also, a friend of mine is part of a feminist organisation in Sri Lanka and Buddhism to women there means exactly what the most misogynist forms of Western religion mean to women everywhere. You can say this isn't 'real' buddhism but I am a materialist and I look at what the reality of buddhism has been and is for most people.

Often this dialectical kind of materialism comes off as very mystical to people but I think it is abstract metaphysical thinking which is stuck in a fantasy world of its own creation that bears no resemblance to how the world is actually experienced by human beings.

action_now
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Sep 18 2011 18:22

no they're not reactionary. now denying the individual agency over itself by having a binary view of humanity, that's reactionary. different things work for different people and why shouldn't 'discovering yourself' and experimentation with different lifestyles not be encouraged if that's what you want to do?

i've met a fair amount of free partiers and wreckheads who are pretty anarchic in their outlook.

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brown spaghetti
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Sep 18 2011 18:42

INDEED, the hippie only tends towards counter-revolution when he picks up his acid sacraments and does not use them as sacraments! Acid is actually, potentially, a revolutionary device- however, proletariat-consciousness-Mind, that amorphous grey abyss which consumes the world, is an unquenchable abyss- what I mean is, the consuming of drugs is so often, revolutionarily speaking, fruitless, counterproductive, counterrevolutionary, nothing more than poop in one's pants. Hippies are counter-revolutionary, in so far as they remain proletarian in their mindset. But the point of daily revolution is to transcend, annihilate, and transform static relationships of alienation and degradation within the semi-limited sphere of your own self, and this is precisely what the best of the hippie movement attempts to achieve.......

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brown spaghetti
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Sep 18 2011 18:43

STUPID double post!!! Confound it!!

batswill
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Sep 18 2011 18:56

One does not put flowers down the barrel of a rifle held by a puppet of any authoritarian state, unless one has consumed acid, or been converted to a myth-worshipping cult.

batswill
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Sep 18 2011 19:26
wojtek wrote:
I've been reading lots of Aldous Huxley (mainly Island, Brave New World and some of his essays) and and am finding it all pretty cool to be honest, however I get the impression that exploring alternative consciousnesses, buddhism, etc. isn't very popular here because it's reactionary and distracts from the class struggle. Granted it's the domain of 'radical' liberals, but can't it compliment the class struggle, e.g. stuff like this? And what are we gonna flex our metaphysical muscles to after the revolution?!

His "The Devils of Loudon" is a little known historical account of witch hunts and the Catholic hegemony that existed in those times, and the social deceptions that, originating from the very nature of supernatural superstitious consciousnesses, were riefied into an institutionalised process of irradicating any atheist or agnostic tendencies.
I found "Island" disappointing and that Huxley had reverted back to his privileged and liberal roots. It seemed contradictory that he would turn to Eastern mysticism after demolishing the foundations of all spiritual perceptions in earlier works.
I think 'metaphysical muscles' should be allowed after the revolution to relax a little bit, I mean, there wont be anything to worry about will there? I'm in the process of relaxing my metaphysical muscles at this very moment. Good-bye.

tastybrain
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Sep 18 2011 19:45

I can't address the more philosophical points raised by Malva. However, I would say there's nothing wrong with exploring bhuddism, meditation, alternative consciousness, etc. You can do what you want in your spare time. I like good food, good music, and weed and none of those things necessarily have anything to do with class struggle. I mean what are we, robots? We can't enjoy something non-class-struggle-related? Its a different matter if you try to make these things an integral part of your politics but I didn't read you as saying that.

I think lot's of the hostility on libcom toward anything "subcultural" is due to the recent tendency for anarchism to be reduced to an "alternative" lifestyle like punk or hippie culture. It is important that "normal"/"mainstream" people be easily able to access our politics, but since we strive not to discriminate based on "culture" this should include subcultures like hippies, unless they are conflating anarchism and hippie culture.

I personally was pushed towards anarchist politics by punk, among other things. There is a tendency to dismiss punk outright but I think people forget that most punks are workers too. The first punk show I went to the singer of one of the bands announced that he had just been fired from his crappy job at the bowling alley and he needed to blow off steam, etc. As long as a subculture doesn't come to substitute for political thought as a whole there's nothing wrong with it.

tastybrain
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Sep 18 2011 19:49
batswill wrote:
I'm in the process of relaxing my metaphysical muscles at this very moment. Good-bye.

Yeah I'm not all that into mysticism (although yoga can be nice) and I wouldn't brings it up at a political event, but if that's your bag then, in the words of Big L, "go 'head and do your thing"

batswill
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Sep 18 2011 20:11
tastybrain wrote:
batswill wrote:
I'm in the process of relaxing my metaphysical muscles at this very moment. Good-bye.

Yeah I'm not all that into mysticism (although yoga can be nice) and I wouldn't brings it up at a political event, but if that's your bag then, in the words of Big L, "go 'head and do your thing"

Of course, the process requires empathy if the binaries are to be annulled.

tastybrain
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Sep 18 2011 20:18

Come again? What process and what binaries are you referring to?

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Sep 18 2011 20:46
tastybrain wrote:
I mean what are we, robots? We can't enjoy something non-class-struggle-related?

I concur. And I think drugs have on occasion been beneficial to my politics by reminding me that I am not simply an individual.

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Croy
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Sep 18 2011 20:51
tastybrain wrote:
I would say there's nothing wrong with exploring buhddism, meditation, alternative consciousness, etc. You can do what you want in your spare time. I like good food, good music, and weed and none of those things necessarily have anything to do with class struggle. I mean what are we, robots? We can't enjoy something non-class-struggle-related?

AMEN

dronboddly
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Sep 19 2011 01:02

Hello,

I'm the author of wojtek's link.

In my experience any reformers, anarchists, socialists or people who talk about revolution and class struggle who don't explore their mechanical reactions to pre-programmed emotional stimuli, who are not fighting to overcome their fear of surrender, who cannot identify their subtle-upon-subtle psychological constraints and cravings, who are not striving for stupendous creativity and magic despite external circumstances or who do not un-work to overcome the ideology of thought itself are doing nothing more than fighting for a different kind of prison.

Of course the prison we have is grotesque, of course it corrupts and degrades everything it touches - and it touches everything - and of course if by "alternative consciousness" or "spirituality" you mean the same thing as hippies, druggies, cult-followers, psyche-addicts, coffee-break yoga lifestylers, bored bourgeois buddhists, sentimentalists, psychologists and religionists, then you'll soon end up in another silly - and dissatisfying - club.

How though, I wonder, can you ever have peace (or freedom or beauty) in the world unless you have it in your own direct conscious experience - in your heart? Its so easy to point the finger, and reject words just because idiots use them. But with people as they are we could have an anarchist world tomorrow and nothing would change.

Kindness,

Da

People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.

Raoul Vaneigem

Samotnaf
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Sep 19 2011 02:55

Found this from the early 70s - "The Poverty of Hip life" - interesting.

Knabb later comments on this text, which he co-wrote:

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Many attitudes, illusions, and behavior which we analyzed as hippie in fact pertain to a wider and yet nonetheless delimited social stratum. So that where we sometimes accepted the spectacular notion of the hippies as a cultural vanguard (while drawing different conclusions as to the merit of their “innovations”) which was later followed and imitated in a diluted form by the society as a whole, it was more the case that a certain stratum produced certain ideas and manners, and that a part of that stratum — the hippie — merely expressed those ideas and manners of uncertainty in the most extreme and visible way. To “accept” oneself, to passively “dig reality,” to “flow with things” is nothing other than the consumer ideology of this stratum of society. So that if a minor functionary or mercenary of the spectacle takes up hippie manners and ideas, those manners and ideas are not being watered down; they are returning to their origin. This rather amorphous stratum includes notably the direct producers and agents of social falsification — ad designers, teachers, counselors, artists, psychologists — and so it is quite natural that it is so sensitive to the “failure of communication.” (Whereas, in contrast, the direct producer of commodities has to be forced into the encounter groups which quite unsuccessfully try to instill a “sense of community” into his less compromising labor. He prefers watching sports and adventures to humbly imbibing cultural rehashes. He takes his alienation straight.) It is this stratum that worries about consuming only “quality” products. In this sense the hippie is a vanguard scout in that he helps to discover and unearth the products that embody such quality, from organic foods to organic illusions. When he attempts himself to produce and market these commodities in a way which avoids the hassles of “straight” society, he only rediscovers the logic of the craft guild, with the difference that the superabundance of his variety of pseudocreativity rapidly forces its price to a pitiful level, leaving him more insecure than his medieval forbears. All that remains are the illusions, 700 years late. “Thus there is found with medieval craftsmen an interest in their special work and in proficiency in it, which was capable of rising to a narrow artistic sense. For this very reason, however, every medieval craftsman was completely absorbed in his work, to which he had a contented slavish relationship, and to which he was subjected to a far greater extent than the modern worker, whose work is a matter of indifference to him.” (The German Ideology.)

(from here).

tastybrain said:

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I would say there's nothing wrong with exploring bhuddism

I would say there's always something wrong with exploring isms - all isms are wasms - unless you explore to critique, to recognise what might be useful but attack what is worse than useless.

As for that old old over-quoted Vaneigem quote -

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People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.

True - but equally - people who talk about everyday life, love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints without referring explicitly to revolution and class struggle, such people also have a corpse in their mouth.

dronboddly
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Sep 19 2011 03:12
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True - but equally - people who talk about everyday life, love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints without referring explicitly to revolution and class struggle, such people also have a corpse in their mouth.

As I said, more or less. But consciousness precedes social revolution and while consciousness is conditioned, pre-programmed and filtered through desire and thought, all external revolution is futile tinkering and just another club.

Samotnaf
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Sep 19 2011 03:27

Who's talking about external revolution? Or rather, what do you mean by "external" here - directed by some external authority or a revolution that changes the world/life/social relations (which are inseparable)?

dronboddly
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Sep 19 2011 04:29

By "external" I mean power, society, economics - and I also mean thought and emotion - near enough the whole human world in time and space.

By "consciousness" I mean that which experiences all these things, I mean the experience of the thinking-emoting self, and the experience of the world "out there." I mean who I am independent of the "whole human world" - who I am in love, in intense creativity, in mystery, in absolute wilderness and absolute aloneness.

Samotnaf
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Sep 19 2011 04:46
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"absolute aloneness"

is a product of this world of separation: "who I am" is a product and producer of this world/life - and what you say implies an avoidance of the struggle to transform the world, an avoidance of class struggle/revolution, an avoidance of the struggle against separation, against aloneness. Merely considering who you are "independent of the "whole human world" " is a decision submissive to this world, because you are not " independent of the whole human world" except by becoming inhuman, evading the necessity to struggle against your alienation and the world in which alienation has made its home. Your "consciousness" is merely the safe risk-free consciousness of evading the problem of struggling against separation. If I understand you correctly, you obtain what you call "peace" by remaining static in your miserable "absolute aloneness"; the restlessness of becoming seems to scare you. Your ism is your consolation for, and acceptance of, complacency.

tastybrain
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Sep 19 2011 04:57

I think grandiose statements to the effect of "unless you meditate and get in touch with your feelings and shit you'll just end up in another prison, man" are silly. I was stating that there is nothing wrong with exploring "alternative consciousness". I don't think it's a requirement either, though.

dronboddly
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Sep 19 2011 05:25
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Merely considering who you are "independent of the "whole human world"

You misunderstand me if, by "consideration," you mean mentation.

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is a decision submissive to this world, because you are not " independent of the whole human world..."

Yes, I did not make that clear - by "independent of the whole human world", I do not mean that I am separate from it, I mean that I precede it.

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the necessity to struggle against your alienation and the world in which alienation has made its home.

If by "struggle" you are excluding play, love, creativity, empty awareness and such, then I'll have none of it.

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Your "consciousness" is merely the safe risk-free consciousness of evading the problem of struggling against separation.

Sure about that are you? Its just that you mention "struggle" again - in my experience separation is not overcome by struggle alone - or, in some cases, by struggle at all.

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If I understand you correctly, you obtain what you call "peace" by remaining static in your miserable "absolute aloneness"; the restlessness of becoming seems to scare you. Your ism is your consolation for, and acceptance of, complacency.

I fear you do not understand me, or that I have not made myself clear enough. There is nothing static here, nor a rejection of becoming, nor any fear. Just that there is an experience which proceeds all that.

dronboddly
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Sep 19 2011 05:35
Quote:
I think grandiose statements to the effect of "unless you meditate and get in touch with your feelings and shit you'll just end up in another prison, man" are silly.

It all depends what you mean by 'meditate', 'feelings' and 'you'. If you mean what most people who use those words mean, then I quite agree.

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I was stating that there is nothing wrong with exploring "alternative consciousness". I don't think it's a requirement either, though.

It all depends what you mean by 'alternative consciousness'. If you mean what I mean by it, here, then its absolutely a requirement, and you'll get nowhere with your activism, study, meetings, demonstrations, revolutions or anything of the sort. As I say, you can create a libertarian-anarcho-syndacalist utopia of the most top rank, and if nothing has changed in your experience of your self and your capacity to transcend your own basic fears and cravings you'll end up dissatisfied, restless, agitated, struggling with others, posturing, predictable, slave to your anger, tragically unempathic in the normal way, unable to be brilliantly creative and prone to emotional mediocrity.

tastybrain
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Sep 19 2011 05:42
dronboddly wrote:
It all depends what you mean by 'alternative consciousness'. If you mean what I mean by it, here, then its absolutely a requirement, and you'll get nowhere with your activism, study, meetings, demonstrations, revolutions or anything of the sort. As I say, you can create a libertarian-anarcho-syndacalist utopia of the most top rank, and if nothing has changed in your experience of your self and your capacity to transcend your own basic fears and cravings you'll end up dissatisfied, restless, agitated, struggling with others, slave to your anger, unable to be brilliantly creative and prone to emotional mediocrity.

I like to think I am brilliantly creative sometimes even under this shit system laugh out loud

Maybe I'm just some macho, emotionally-cripple anarcho man-child but I'm not sure how much I can really change of my "experience of myself" or how much I want to try. I also think a different (better) society would change some of these "internal" characteristics although not all. I am open to suggestion though; how does one embark on this wonderful journey of self discovery you seem to be describing?

To be honest I don't really understand what you're getting at. I'm not a very introspective guy. Perhaps I will take a look at your website at some point but I will be busy this week doing "external" stuff so a thumbnail version would be appreciated.

Samotnaf
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Sep 19 2011 05:50

I am certainly not

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excluding play, love, creativity

but am certainly excluding

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empty awareness

...you talk of

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an experience which proceeds all that

Before you emerged from the womb or what? This sounds like the need to reduce understanding things to a fixed point in time and space, which might be sometimes conveniently useful, but more often than not becomes a notion of a fixed positive truth that defines you and helps make you feel secure. In the abstract labyrinth of meanderings that your posts seem to express, because you refer to nothing specific, it's virtually impossible to know quite what you mean.

As for your comments on struggle - even sex (certainly initiating it with someone new) involves some kind of struggle and love too if it's not to break up on the reefs of everyday life. And class struggle involves play and creativity - sometimes love, though always friendship.

It would help to understand you if you talked more about concrete things - "play, love, creativity" in some kind of context. These are situ buzzwords, but like "struggle", they only make sense applied to particular situations. And I still don't get your valorisation of "absolute aloneness", particularly as here you have some idea of communicating and so trying to overcome "absolute aloneness".

dronboddly
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Sep 19 2011 06:07
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I like to think I am brilliantly creative sometimes even under this shit system.

Banzai!

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Maybe I'm just some macho, emotionally-cripple anarcho man-child but I'm not sure how much I can really change of my "experience of myself" or how much I want to try.

If you're not sure how much you want to try, then there's not a whole lot that can be said. I mean if you're basically satisfied with your love life, your creative life, your psychological life (fears and cravings) and do not yearn for a more thrilling, more alive, more psychologically free or qualitatively different experience of reality, then suggestions on how to change or perceive differently are only ever going to be entertaining (as e.g. most people find who enjoy great art but do not feel inspired to create great art themselves). Nothing wrong with exposure though, as life has a funny way of reminding you of unusual perspectives and offers of deeper experience when the current mode becomes unendurable.

Although great discernment is necessary or you'll fall into the trap I mentioned in my first post above.

Quote:
I also think a different (better) society would change some of these "internal" characteristics although not all. I am open to suggestion though; how does one embark on this wonderful journey of self discovery you seem to be describing?

The same way one embarks on any other wonderful journey.

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To be honest I don't really understand what you're getting at. I'm not a very introspective guy.

I hope you don't think I'm suggesting you think about yourself?

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Perhaps I will take a look at your website at some point but I will be busy this week doing "external" stuff so a thumbnail version would be appreciated.

Sorry, no can do. Just remember to come back and read a lot of it. The message is between the lines, so it might take a while to get it.

dronboddly
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Sep 19 2011 06:20
Quote:
Before you emerged from the womb or what?

No, before you think or emote ('emote' not feel - a distinction I make here).

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This sounds like the need to reduce understanding things to a fixed point in time and space, which might be sometimes conveniently useful, but more often than not becomes a notion of a fixed positive truth that defines you and helps make you feel secure.

Nothing of the sort. No reduction here and certainly no time and space.

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As for your comments on struggle - even sex (certainly initiating it with someone new) involves some kind of struggle and love too if it's not to break up on the reefs of everyday life.

I didn't reject struggle in toto.

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It would help to understand you if you talked more about concrete things - "play, love, creativity" in some kind of context.

Okay, give me a context.

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These are situ buzzwords,

Yes, love has been a "situ buzzword" for a very long time, alas.

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but like "struggle", they only make sense applied to particular situations.

Agreed. Without context they are meaningless.

But here's the thing - every word is meaningless without context. Every philosophy, every ism, every thought and belief. The context is the source of meaning - and it goes everywhere with you; thus widening experience of the context must precede "class struggle," or the struggle will be a struggle to complete a computer game.

Quote:
And I still don't get your valorisation of "absolute aloneness", particularly as here you have some idea of communicating and so trying to overcome "absolute aloneness".

By "valorising" absolute aloneness I am not rejecting communication. You cannot know who you are solely through relationship with others, which will by itself reduce you to a commodity.

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CRUD
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Sep 19 2011 06:47

Watch this starting at the 14:00 minute mark:

It basiclly explains the failed attempts at violent overthrow of the state in the early1960's and how that turned into an attempt to overthrow capitalism via counterculture/non conformity. It goes on to show how the bourgeoisie used a new form of 'individualism' (consumerism) to market to the 'hippie culture' via advertising and psychology and thus turning all of the non conformist counterculture hippies into supporters of capitalism who buy all manner of gadgets to express their 'individuality' and non conformity.

A mind phuc kinda like this but a tad more complicated:

And in the end in the year 2011 anarchists give other anarchists shit for criticizing the modern consumer culture which is the capitalists best weapon for keeping people docile. Even some of us who are anti capitalist are submerged in it which no doubt dulls our swords so to speak. Softens our blows....takes the wind out of our sails.

I think what's important is that people understand actual socialism- that people in advanced capitalist or advanced industrialized nations understand that socialism means workers control industry/distribution so when capitalism crisis' become worse and worse people will have a clear understanding of socialism and hence can demand an alternative to the dying capitalist system. In short, hippies aren't necessarily socialists, it's a lifestyle not a knowledge base. We need knowledge to spread not a lifestyle.

The people on the left who are into Buddhism and such remind me of the Frankfurt School in they don't think a violent revolution is possible but an appeal to morality should be the goal. I'm not sure any ruling class in human history has given up it's position over moral issues.

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Sep 19 2011 07:13

Everything CRUD said is right.

Also, the context of that Vaneigem quote is that the Situationists hated hippies for precisely the reasons he raises.

As for taking mind altering drugs they weren't into that consumer culture either. That's not to say they never smoked weed or took anything else, they just didn't think there was anything revolutionary about it at all. I often think all that drug culture is a bit like the Surrealists unfortunate obsession with the subconscious and the idea that it was somehow revolutionary. Except in a way it's worse because it is so obviously a culture defined by the consumption of a commodity.

I understand Dronboddly's concerns about the extent to which libertarian communist society is possible while people have internalised so much of the logic of the present system. But that is overcome through 'struggle', i.e. through praxis: organising, spreading knowledge, workers' direct action, creating theory, direct experience of these things etc. It is about creating, and acting on, a coherent critique of where humanity is right now and creating some idea of what it would take to overcome it.

The reason I got a bit 'philosophical' at the start is precisely because I think that changing our worldview is not about consumption but about really questioning how capitalism makes us think and act in relation to ourselves, others and the world. We have to overcome reification and fetishism. That is the real 'reversal of perspective' or 'mind altering' or 'alternate state of consciousness' humanity is looking for.

dronboddly
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Sep 19 2011 07:43
Quote:
I understand Dronboddly's concerns about the extent to which libertarian communist society is possible while people have internalised so much of the logic of the present system.

I wonder what you mean by 'present'. Seems to me that this has been going on for thousands of years.

I also wonder what you mean by 'logic.' Seems to me that its not internalising the logic thats the primary problem, but by internalising time, space, separation and a defensive-acquisitive mental-emotional sense of self.

I also wonder what you mean by 'system.' Seems to me that its not from the system that most people are primarily conditioned but from the moodies of their parents - although certainly those moodies are heavily affected by their lives of atomised drudgery.

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But that is overcome through 'struggle', i.e. through praxis: organising, spreading knowledge, workers' direct action, creating theory...It is about creating, and acting on, a coherent critique of where humanity is right now and creating some idea of what it would take to overcome it.

You can organise, spread knowledge, coherently critique and create ideas till you're blue in the face, and you'll get absolutely nowhere. Nothing will change, but superficial externals - unless...

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direct experience of these things etc.

Yeah! Unless you put direct experience first.

(by the way Malva, I agree also with yours and Graeber's critique of Buddhism, but Buddhism, like Christianity is a huge body of knowledge you know, that has had many many people contribute to it, many nuts, some sublime. Dismissing the whole lot as psuedo-capitalist and anti-women is a bit crude don't-ya-fink?)

dronboddly
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Sep 19 2011 07:46

Quadruple Post. Computer playing up.

dronboddly
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Sep 19 2011 07:46

Quadruple Post. Computer playing up.