against leaders? against all authority?

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Tacks's picture
Tacks
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Apr 25 2006 15:43
against leaders? against all authority?

Not really no. Against formal leaders who have the power to compel simply because they are leaders yes - but quite happy to have people leading or responsible for others if they are a) accountable to them, b) chosen by them, and c) not in this position permanently and recallable at any time.

Authority

Authority happens at all levels, and i would apply the same argument towards it as leaders. Authority and power just happen a lot of the time at its lowest levels; one person knows something, one person needs to know it - bang, they are in a position of power. Whilst we hope to spread as much knowledge around as possible, and destroy any illogical and exploitative power relationships, attacking the authority of a neurosurgeon say, is nuts.

Anyway, i've put this in introductory cos i think its an introductory discussion that shouldn't need to much reference to long texts. I also think its one of the biggest misconceptions about anarchism, and also perpetuated by (possibly a majority) of anarchist groups. 'Against leaders' or 'leadership' is something that crops up again and again, and as far as i'm aware, thats not a strictly true.

please don't savage me, the main reason this is in introductory is its something i'm not massively sure about anyway.

ATB

tacks

MikeSchafer
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Apr 26 2006 21:16

Bakunin said authority and leadership should be based on knowledge, not on hierarchal power structures. To use his example, you would take a shoe to a shoemaker to fix because he knows how to fix shoes, not because he's your master or anything like that.

I personally believe that leaders should be spokesman and organizers for a movement or a group, not traditional leaders who decided what the direction of a movement is. Leaders must also be accepting of new ideas, democratic, accountable, etc.

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Apr 26 2006 21:25

Well yeah attacking the authority of a neurosurgeon is nuts. But you have to ask youself how long the neurosurgeon would operate his position of power in the absence of say, food, heating and light.

Fundamentally, the function of an anarchist society is a self regulating one. Because you cannot do everything yourself, you, like every other person on the planet, are simultaneously in a position of power and a position of weakness.

So in an egalitarian society, where folks are, in the main, prepared to use their collective power to fight back if said neurosurgeon gets a bit arsey, that position of control melts away, and is shown to be an authority only in terms of how their job is done, not whether they should get special treatment for it.

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Apr 26 2006 22:33

it's not altogether nuts questioning the authority of a neurosurgeon. after all their science is a social act, a product of various social relations and influences with it's own agenda. fuck I'm not gonna pretend I know owt about neurosurgery and I'll pretty much take their word for it when they talk about that stuff but look at other "experts".

Fuckin some bellends like the Discovery Institute in the states. Full of philosophers of science, law professors, biochemistry professors who think intelligent design is a valid scientific theory. Now I don't give a fuck what university they teach at but as far as I'm concerned they're not authorities on jack shit!

Scientists have agendas too of course

unless yer talking about an libertarian communist society where there conditions that give rise to shitty agendas didn't exist - in that case yeah I'd be with you, I'll let the neurosurgeons get on with their business

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Apr 26 2006 23:38

Trust me - I'm a doctor...

Quote:
"...The ice pick lobotomy grew in popularity, particularly among psychiatrists without any previous experience of surgery. That year Walter Freeman performed his most famous transorbital lobotomy when he hammered his ice pick into the head of the movie star and radical political activist Frances Farmer. She had rebelled all her life against every form of authority, and despite her success in Hollywood and Broadway, found herself incarcerated in the Western State Hospital in Fort Stellacoombe, Washington, aged only 34. The hospital, notorious for its dreadful conditions, had in desperation performed an increasing number of lobotomies on its inmates. Frances Farmer was a particularly sore point, because no treatment yet devised seemed to work on her; she would not be tamed. But her communist sympathies and her aggression towards officialdom had offended too many people for them to give up without "curing" her. Hither rode Walter Freeman, knight to the rescue, ice pick in one hand, hammer in the other. On an October morning, in front of an eager audience of staff, curious visiting psychiatrists, and photographers, female patients in wheelchairs were ranged before the great showman of psychosurgery. After giving a brief lecture to the assembled crowd on the wonders of the ice pick lobotomy; no more complex than a shot of penicillin, no scar, amazing potential for controlling society's misfits, viz, schizophrenics, homosexuals, communists, etc ... (Freeman was always quick to seize on new selling points for his art) He went to work. Patient number one was wheeled before him. He put the electrodes on her temples and shocked her into a faint, lifted her left eyelid, and plunged the ice pick into her head. He pulled it out. Another woman was brought before him. Again he shocked, and stabbed. And another, and then again another, and so on, and on, remorselessly, in a production line of controlled, casual violence until even the director of the hospital, near to passing out with nausea, left the room. Afterwards, in a dark and silent ward, the patients lay supine on beds, or cried quietly; their faces were disfigured with a questioning blankness. The personality that was Frances Farmer had been effectively terminated earlier in the day, in a remote room to avoid publicity. She was reduced to a state of turgid, generalized mediocrity by the surgery. Society had won its battle with her; she would never again be a threat. She was released and, grown fat and slow, she drifted off into oblivion. She ended her life as a clerk in a hotel, dying of cancer in 1970. Freeman had a photograph of himself performing the lobotomy on her, and, before lobotomy fell into disgrace, he used to show it proudly to friends. In the end, he didn't mention the operation in his memoirs."

Excerpted from; "Adventures with an Icepick - a short history of lobotomy"

www.lobotomy.info/adventures.html

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Apr 26 2006 23:43

Ret - Depressing, scary and horrifyingly believeable post. V. Owellian - 1984. "He loved Big Brother." The use of "medicine" to torture and kill alleged "enemies of the state" - this, Mengele etc. Fucked-up society can sink no lower.

Will reply to rest of thread on this vital subject when less ranty/ twisted

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Apr 27 2006 00:43

In an anarchist society the doctor would of course be deferred to in matters where this expertise was needed, the doctor would also recognise that this knowledge was a result of society investing in training him or her as a doctor.

I seem to remember that the psychiatric hospital where Francis Farmer was incarcerated was next to an Air Force base and the staff would rent out the patients to be gang raped. There have ben some atrocities in medicine, especially psychiatric, but this is largely due to egotism and a lack of a real desire to heal. FF was put there, at least in part, as a punishment because these institutions were so hellish.

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Apr 27 2006 00:56

Still not feeling calm on this subject, funnily enough! Jef - you are right in what you say except the bit about medical torture/atrocity coming from egotism/failure of a desire to heal. An understatement, surely? This behaviour is pathological. No less so for being State sanctioned. Feel that makes it far, far worse in fact because if the State is torturing via medicine, there is/feels no hope. Renting out patients to be gang-raped? twisted twisted I believe you - just wish I didn't. This kind of behaviour....nothing to do with healing as priests abusing children is not to do with spirituality. Wicked people will always find a hierarchy in which to operate and by definition as wickedness in this instance is indicative of cowardice/inadequacy weak, powerless victims will be sought out. This is my main reason for wishing to abolish hierarchy. The sooner the better.

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Apr 27 2006 01:02

I didn't express myself well, it is easy for a (arsehole) psychiatrist to feel like a god and to reduce their patients to subhumans.

Psychiatry is a very risky area, it is easy to go nuts.

This is a subject that I feel very strongly about, I'll post when I'm sober and calm.

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Apr 27 2006 01:05

Jef - Fair enough - I am sober but not calm! Feel v. strongly on this subject aussi - have anecdotes to share when we are both in that same head space of calm rationality combined with fervent passion.

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Apr 27 2006 01:12

A society with values as sick as this one is inevitably going to use definitions of madness and sanity as a weapon to enforce those values. If you follow the link to the article; one of the big attractions in practical terms was that whereas it cost $35,000 a year in the 1930s to keep a psychiatric patient in hospital, this operation only cost $250 and afterwards the patients were 'safe' to be let back into society.

Sorry Lone Wolf, didn't mean to give you bad dreams.

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Apr 27 2006 01:19

Ret - You may well have done but these horrors must be faced and dealt with. You can be all sympathetic and nice when I pluck up courage on the "why did you become anarchist" thread to tell of a couple of my own awful experiences. It's great to have a forum in which to share/express these horrors - even if is painful to face them at times, it is healthier in the long term than to repress them. And as the State is all for/about repression, the more liberation/healing/truth we can comprehend and express the better. Alchemy- turning dark into light etc.

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Apr 27 2006 01:33
Ret Marut wrote:
one of the big attractions in practical terms was that whereas it cost $35,000 a year in the 1930s to keep a psychiatric patient in hospital, this operation only cost $250 and afterwards the patients were 'safe' to be let back into society.

Economic factors are not always reliable, it is cheaper and more effective according to the government to try to rehabilitate most offenders rather than throw them in Jail. Yet we are building prisons to keep up wth demand.

ECT is another example, noticing that patients were more docile after fits they decided that inducing fits in patients would be a good treatment. I reckon an orgasm has similar effects, but they weren't paying for people to go down on them, probably would ahve been cheaper and more effective. Would also have been far less likely to permanently fuck people in the head if it turned out not to work.

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Apr 27 2006 10:58
Jef Costello wrote:
Ret Marut wrote:
one of the big attractions in practical terms was that whereas it cost $35,000 a year in the 1930s to keep a psychiatric patient in hospital, this operation only cost $250 and afterwards the patients were 'safe' to be let back into society.

Economic factors are not always reliable, it is cheaper and more effective according to the government to try to rehabilitate most offenders rather than throw them in Jail. Yet we are building prisons to keep up wth demand.

That could be in big part due to then perhaps it was just the government's expense, but nowadays government spending is great for the economy, so they love paying ridiculously inflated sums to private companies to build shit like private hospitals, prisons, etc.

ftony
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Apr 27 2006 11:02

they also like doing that because it spreads the cost of the construction over the course of several different governments, thus they don't have to worry about the consequences of those massive bills

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Apr 27 2006 12:56

hmm, this discussion has taken some interesting directions.

Just to recap then - do we think its time to distance our politics from the simple slogan/idea of 'no leaders' or 'against authority'?

if i've got the vague jist of bakunin, then maybe yes...*

*please don't kill me

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Apr 27 2006 13:03
Quote:
Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognize no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such an individual, I have no absolute faith in any person. Such a faith would be fatal to my reason, to my liberty, and even to the success of my undertakings; it would immediately transform me into a stupid slave, an instrument of the will and interests of others.

It's from God and the State. 8)

rebel_lion
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Apr 30 2006 14:16

and Anarch got slated on here for saying "doctors are the class enemy"... roll eyes

anarchism really needs to pay more attention to the anti-psychiatrist/mental health system survivors, "women's health" and disability movements imo...

Lone Wolf, have you read "Woman On The Edge Of Time" by Marge Piercy? It strikes me as really up your street...

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Apr 30 2006 15:48

Rebel. No.. I've not read it though I'm aware of the author. Will read it now - thanks for the reference.! Though to be fair on Tacks, this is a general thread on authority, appreciate the back-up on the mental health stuff - there can be no greater abuse of power than using the ability to heal to harm ,esp. when done in a calculated way and not just as a result of incompetence. Though that's bad enough and there is enough of it... angry

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Apr 30 2006 16:03
rebel_lion wrote:
and Anarch got slated on here for saying "doctors are the class enemy"... roll eyes

Why do you say that? confused Is someone saying something similair here?

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May 1 2006 01:46
rebel_lion wrote:
and Anarch got slated on here for saying "doctors are the class enemy"... roll eyes

Why the rolleyes? He was an idiot talking shit.

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May 3 2006 12:22

any phrase like class enemy has fairly good odds for being bollocks, one about doctors i'm not even taking bets on - 100% balderdash, poppycock. Pish and tosh. Drivel.

Black Flag
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May 3 2006 16:44

I Know who is a class enemy.More ov a class traitor actually,the nazi cunts who live at the end of my road.they think they are really working class by listening to chaz & dave but i've heard one of em say that we need a fourth reich.CLASS TRAITORS!

lem
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May 3 2006 22:25
John. wrote:
rebel_lion wrote:
and Anarch got slated on here for saying "doctors are the class enemy"... roll eyes

Why the rolleyes? He was an idiot talking shit.

Are you saying that they're allour class allies then?

So too then are all dentists, nurses, occupational therapists, porters or NHS secretaries, janitors, or managers (OK the last one doesn't count, cos the staff and patients can decide policy themselves)... rediculous... well I suppose that not all of them are...

I would think that they're no more our class allies, than any other group who are middle class, earn over 70k, who lock people away for profit wink , and do a useful job that someone else would do otherwise - like binmen really.

It sounds like your glorifying a mundane, elitist, privately educated, corrupt, but useful job.

I'm with Bakunin, but I would say that a group that is that privileged are certainly not a priori our class allies, just because they wear sexy white coats.

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May 4 2006 00:03
lem wrote:
John. wrote:
rebel_lion wrote:
and Anarch got slated on here for saying "doctors are the class enemy"... roll eyes

Why the rolleyes? He was an idiot talking shit.

Are you saying that they're allour class allies then?

So too then are all dentists, nurses, occupational therapists, porters or NHS secretaries, janitors ... rediculous...

confused

They are all workers yes, and so share a common economic interest in the abolition of wage labour + capitalist exploitation yes. Do you disagree? And what on earth are you talking about, £70k??

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May 4 2006 00:43
lem wrote:
John. wrote:
rebel_lion wrote:
and Anarch got slated on here for saying "doctors are the class enemy"... roll eyes

Why the rolleyes? He was an idiot talking shit.

Are you saying that they're allour class allies then?

So too then are all dentists, nurses, occupational therapists, porters or NHS secretaries, janitors, or managers (OK the last one doesn't count, cos the staff and patients can decide policy themselves)... rediculous... well I suppose that not all of them are....

Firstly what the fucks wrong with a hospital porter or a nurse?

explain yourself coz that sounds like proper crazy talk

Seriously, do you want to live in a society without doctors? Again i have to ask are you barmy?

lem
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May 4 2006 01:10
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Firstly what the fucks wrong with a hospital porter or a nurse?

explain yourself coz that sounds like proper crazy talk

Don't be a loon, there are always some reactionary people in every profession.

Probably. I was trying to point out that doctors are not special in any way. Lots of things ned to be done - want to live in a society without bins?

cantdocartwheels wrote:
Seriously, do you want to live in a society without doctors? Again i have to ask are you barmy?

I didn't say that, I just said that IME the profession is reactionary, very privileged, disappointuing egotistical, rich, overly powerful, locks people up for acting in a disturbing manner etc.

I mean, I would have thougt that there are professions which are reactionary, and yet still have a useful role to play. IMHO ther is definetly no logical contradiction.

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May 4 2006 02:11

Other than the preventative type, medicine is also reactionary. OMFG!! Outlaw it!

lem
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May 4 2006 02:18

WTF That make no sense. I have not said that I want medicine outlawed, once. I just siad that doctors might be reactionary. Can you beyond the white coat... to the person.

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May 4 2006 03:20

Of course the profession is reactionary, is my point. It has to be, to cure people. The point is, the doctor's authority is not authority on a hierarchial level, it's authority on a level of expertise. The authority of an expert only exists as long as a person acknowledges it, just as Bakunin said. What's the big deal?

lem
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May 4 2006 04:00

Yeah, but there is more to medicine than curing people is what I mean.

Any authority they have goes far above that of a shoe maker. Do you think there is something about the job which demands that level of authority? I don't. My social psychology lecturer has gone on about the discourse about medical authority (though I can't remember what he wrote), so its not that "far out".

In addition they make loads of money, and are definetly middle class. Most come from public school. Every one I met was a bit of a c***. The ARE complicit in the ills of psychiatry.

I'm not saying that ALL doctors are reactionary, but in my eyes not all jobs are this dodgy. And I know someones got to do it.

I'm probably whining too much.