"'When you look at the African languages, you learn that they help communicate different perspectives on life, relationships, spirituality, the earth, health, humanity,' says Mr Brezinger.
"African stereotypes continue to dog the continent perhaps because they still reward the European and American journalists who trot them out. Just recently, the New York Times’ East Africa bureau chief Jeffrey Gettleman wrote a memoir that showed how “ooga booga” journalism made its way into his own Pulitzer-winning reporting.
"It cannot be said often enough: the ancient Greeks and Romans did not perceive race the way we do today. Most significantly, they did not in any way identify as, or invest any racial meaning in being, 'white.' We need to stop corroborating assumptions that they did with our silence.
"The biomedical model concerns itself with providing an explanation for both the nature and causes of mental illness. Just as cancer is understood to be a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues, mental illness is a term for diseases in which certain dysfunctions of brain processes lead to the destruction or dysregulation of brain systems.
"Psychiatry’s biomedical model, in virtue of privileging the alleged biological underpinnings of mental disorders, gives us only a crude model of the vastly more complex web of the internal as well as external forces whose constant interactions create the inner mental life of the patient."
"Also, as a government, the U.S. is not well informed or well equipped for strategic works of catalytic construction. Here we are in this information age, with our more than $70 billion intelligence enterprise, and as a government and as a country, I feel we are less able to reconstruct the policymaking world in the really crucial, swing countries than we were in Marshall’s time 70 years ago. And U.S. capacities for working with foreigners to solve their problems were also smarter and more functional 70 years ago than they are now.
"That does not mean Washington is not busy. A poorly functioning government is not inert. Instead, it lives the life of a pinball. The life of a pinball can feel quite busy. So many bright lights, so noisy, so bounced about.
"Maybe any more constructive moves will just have to wait a few years. Yet it does seem to me that the world is drifting toward a truly massive general crisis."
"Detractors on the left argue that meeting violence with violence and breaking laws hands moral capital to those who don’t throw punches, even when their politics are reprehensible. The corollary argument appears to be that reprehensible politics may seem less reprehensible because its holders are nonviolent followers of law. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement’s nonviolent strategy are invoked, as antifascists are called, not only impractical and irrelevant—because nonviolence works—but committers of sacrilege against the legacy of proper anti-racist activism."
Postmodernism's Alternative to the Western Enlightenment Project? Still Waiting For It To Emerge From the Rubble of Deconstruction. Timeline, Means and Prognosis Unknown
- Egocide and Ecocide as prerequisites for a better future?
- Cosmopolitanism, Pluralism
- What exactly is PM's argument that the EP is doomed to fail? Is it a good argument?
- Why do its initiators and subsequent supporters think PM will produce something better than the EP? Is their 'optimistic' view based on a reasoned argument or merely a hope in the face of impending doom?
- Populism and PM's Alternative Truths/Facts
Here is part 1 of the article:
Thanks, Mark, for taking the time to reply. Your views are very helpful. I will be re-reading and digesting your comment and those of Nathan, Brett and others.
My effort in this is to ground myself and in doing so make sense of what the Trump phenomenon (his presidency and that which preceded it ideologically, culturally and socially) means for the best the Enlightenment has to offer and for Humankind and Earth's future.
I have cathartically arrived at a level of acceptance of Trump that has helped me address my anger. But I'm yet to accept what his surprising and disturbing arrival says about Humankind and may mean for our species' future. His ascendancy has knocked me akilter on my anthropological foundation of what I understand about Humankind. I'm still in a cauldron of disbelief, denial, negotiation and, yes, anger about what Trump's rise and triumph say about the Enlightenment and what they portend for Humankind's future.
Right now I am neither assured that such an improved understanding is possible nor optimistic that Humankind's post modern future will be one of wellbeing, much less one of flourishing. I am hopeful that I might improve my foundation for understanding what has happened. And I'm reasonably certain that anthropology, in terms of its theories, and as a method and body of knowledge, remains useful. I'll say more later. Thank you for helping.
The primary accomplishment of modernism, I suspect, was not the revival of reason which we attribute, somewhat carelessly to the enlightenment when, in fact, reason had never left us. I don't think that reason was ever hidden beneath religious belief to any greater extent than it is today (or isn't today depending on your perspective).
No, modernity, which I see beginning in the Renaissance, had one major revelation. It placed humanity into an historical context that was constantly changing. As such post modernism is its continuation, not its condemnation.
That's all I had to say. Not very interesting or notable, is it?
I don't think there's a coherent PM approach to this moment in time, except to say that it is true. It is a very true thing about the U.S., about our level of trust in structures, about our understanding of process, and about our willingness to elevate our tribe and denigrate the other. It also says a lot about our degree of emotion regulation skills and basic emotional intelligence. People on the right and the left are falling for the most absurd emotional manipulations! Yet they have been doing so for quite some time.
I too have been thinking a lot about the rise of this seemingly sudden authoritarianism, hatred of government and institutions, and loss of unified civic life, but I see it following a through-line that was obvious long before the election. I'm reading "Strangers in Their Own Land" by sociologist Arlie Hochschild right now, and she was concerned enough about it in 2011 to devote years to a study of the extreme polarization of the right and the left in the U.S. I think that for people who study structure, this moment in time is a shame but not a surprise.
I've been thinking back to an early assignment I had in one of my first sociology courses, where the instructor asked us to choose one of the main sociological theories and explain the rise of Nazi Germany. As a reminder, the main theories are: Conflict Theory; Structural Functionalism; Symbolic Interactionism; Utilitarianism; and sometimes Postmodernism.
I grabbed SF and ran with it, and fully expected to return to class to destroy the other theories. But to my astonishment, each theory held a crucial piece of the story, and each theory could stand on its own. Which is why I became a sociologist!
"I too have been thinking a lot about the rise of this seemingly sudden authoritarianism, hatred of government and institutions, and loss of unified civic life, but I see it following a through-line that was obvious long before the election. ... I think that for people who study structure, this moment in time is a shame but not a surprise."
I think it's that "through-line" I'm after. A shame indeed. More later, after I read and catch up. Thanks again. Jim
I'm reminded of a saying that I can't track down, darnit: "There was only one Hitler, but there were hundreds of Albert Speers."
Many people are focusing on the structure, and supporting existing organizations that may be able to help, but an astonishing number of people are focusing on specific personalities while missing the entire multi-pronged and decades old movement.
I can accept that the American Left allowed itself to be estranged from the labor unions and workers in general during the 1960s. That members of the whiteworking class abandoned the Left because they thought the Left's protests of the Vietnam war were unpatriotic. That the locus of the driving force of the Democratic Party shifted from a coalition between between the educated liberal elite and the labor unions toward a center of gravity on the campuses and among the faculties of the down-talking, pretentious and patronizing universities. And that working folks of the 1960s and thereafter found abhorrent the Left's disdain of capitalism and the pursuit of material prosperity, the very "system" blue collar workers supported and the material objects they desired and pursued through their labor and consumer purchasing. That, coupled and perfectly timed with the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, the Republicans seized on a significant portion of this sentiment through their Southern Strategy and rode it to power in the 1980s and thereafter. A moral sentiment that Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and fundamentalist Christians also seized upon.
Now, I can also accept the position of many on the Left (Rorty and others) that the Left, in large part, brought this situation, now manifest in Trump's presidency, onto itself. What I cannot accept, however, is the sneering and vileness that accompanies this Left on Left condemnation; and that the same level of outraged condemnation is not equally directed by these members of the Left at the Right's immoral positions and tactics from the 1960s to the present.
Yes, the Left must accept the charge of arrogance and elitism. But, though deserving of blame for what began as an estrangement from the working class and contributed to and culminated in Trump, blame for the highest betrayal of the highest beliefs, values and goals of the Enlightenment, and subsequently the founding moral and governing principles of the American experiment in democracy and pluralism, must be laid squarely at the feet of the Right.
The Left occupies the moral high ground in this regard and has consistently done so since the Enlightenment. Their arrogance and lack of foresight (wisdom?), however, should be called out and soundly criticized, even blamed for what they have contributed to. There is plenty of blame for everyone. How about a good dose of blame for a public education system that, up until the last few decades, has whitened the history that is taught and refuses to make courses in critical thinking and comparative cultures and comparative religion compulsory beginning in middle school?
We should, however, give what is by far the biggest, most bitter portion of our outrage to those that most deserve it, the Right. Direct our greatest outrage at the nefarious, despicable pseudo-moral socioeconomic policies and actions of the Right. The greatest acts of arrogance and elitism on the part of the Left pall in comparison to the moral depravity of the policies and actions of the Right. If the outrage that I so often hear directed at the Left is intended to make me and others abandon our support of and membership among them, it's not working. I will stay with and remain a member of those who favor and work for greater pluralism, humanism, freedom, and justice for all, the Left.
Those on the Right who insist on maintaining an ill-fitting sociocultural status quo on a dynamic, fast- and ever-evolving society, and place the accumulation of individual wealth and power above the pursuit of the greatest wellbeing for the greatest number in society, deserve our angry condemnation far more than the transgressions of arrogance and shortsightedness by the Left.
And, yes, fascism from either the Left or the Right is unacceptable. The likelihood of fascism from the Left is, at present, far less than it is from the Right. Arrogance from the Left deserves criticism. Inhumanity from the Right deserves strong resistance. I'd rather try and reform the pride of the Left than try and humanize the hearts and minds of the Right. The former effort is more likely to succeed and lead to human wellbeing and flourishing.
That said, I shall read more and hopefully hear more from you, my friends. Then I will know what, if anything, in my understanding and positions needs adjustment.
Thank you once again.
"Here’s where psychedelics come in. These drugs put a spanner in the works of maladaptive self-models, because they affect the neural mechanisms that self-awareness springs from. At the point of ego dissolution, two things seem to happen. One, the integrity of the self-model degrades. And two, we no longer take it for granted that our experience must be interpreted by that model."
"When the self falls apart and is subsequently rebuilt, the role of the self-model seems to become visible to its possessor. Yes, this offers a psychological reprieve – but more importantly, it draws attention to the difference between a world seen with and without the self. For an anxious or depressed person, psychedelics make it possible to appreciate the intermediate, representational role of the self-model. Ego dissolution offers vivid experiential proof, not only that things can be different, but that the self that conditions experience is just a heuristic, not an unchangeable, persisting thing."
"The monsters who walk among us and want to kill us are made of our fellow human beings, and soon enough we’ll all be monsters, too. Contrary to what Kingsnorth and his Dark Mountain cohorts believe, the stories we prefer to amuse ourselves with are haunted by the sense of an approaching catastrophe, and our imaginations are preoccupied with what might be required of us on the other side of it."
"'I COME FROM A CULTURE OF TAKERS. No white male, certainly not from the American West, can claim otherwise. The takers flowed out of the Bronze Age, from riders of the Carpathian steppes of Eastern Europe, who put together the unbeatable combination of horse and wheel, who buried their warriors with their steeds, their chariots and their javelins. The takers spread as far as India, Europe and Scandinavia, to Vikings and the 'Northmen' of what is now France. In 1066, these Normans invaded England and usurped the Anglo-Saxons, raiders named for their swords, who had ousted the Celts.
"When their descendent, my great-great-grandfather, came to Wyoming as a scout for the Army and the Union Pacific Railroad, he was the sharpened tip of that culture of conquest, the same culture that colonized and subjugated places I found myself in, decades later, as a journalist.
"These takers are Marlow’s 'conquerors' in Heart of Darkness: 'The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.' Indigenous people of South America call them 'termites.' In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates calls them Dreamers: 'Once, the Dreamers’ parameters were caged by technology and by the limits of horsepower and wind. But the Dreamers have improved themselves, and the damming of seas for voltage, the extraction of coal, the transmuting of oil into food, have enabled an expansion, a plunder with no known precedent.'"
"Relying in part on Jeffers’ work, Kingsnorth built an idea he called 'dark ecology.' In the Orion essay (https://orionmagazine.org/…/confessions-of-a-recovering-en…/) where he coined the term, he offered five answers to the ecological crisis, most of them suggestions for reconnecting to the wilder world: preserving nonhuman life; rooting oneself in the work of land or place; insisting that nature has intrinsic value; and 'building refuges' where non-human life can flourish. 'Withdraw,' Kingsnorth advised, 'so that you can allow yourself to sit back quietly and feel, intuit, work out what is right for you and what nature might need from you. Withdraw because refusing to help the machine advance — refusing to tighten the ratchet further — is a deeply moral position.'"
"Perhaps, then, the way through the ecocide is through the pursuit of integrity, a duty toward rebalancing the whole, toward fairness, in both senses of the word. ... The pursuit of beauty can create a form of justice, a healing of injury. When I allow my backyard to grow unchecked, when the un-mown lawn becomes a tangle of blade and seed, the garden a mess of roses, grapes and hollyhocks, I have created a refuge and put something to right, returning wild to the world that has been taken away elsewhere by violence, trespass or dominion. ... Conversely, the creation of beauty can come from advocates of justice. A human rights lawyer, a sanctuary church, protesters for women’s rights or science or both, demonstrations against police violence — these heal injury also, rebalance the whole, adding beauty to the world."
"...a 'vibrant,' well-researched history that illuminates the Southern roots of today’s right..."
"'Libertarians are not going to get what they want through the political system unless they use subterfuge, because most Americans don’t agree with those policies.'"
"Democracy and liberal democratic values and ideals became humanitarian necessity in the theatre of war. Civilizational discourse gave place to humanitarianism, empathy and development.
"The rise of nationalist democratic-authoritarianism within the West re-poses a conundrum to liberal critics and thinkers, enticing them to raise apocalyptic alarms."
[The current] surge of populism has given life to a new set of fears and uncertainty, it has also imparted a sense of empowerment to many who had increasingly been feeling marginalized. This, I suggest, is democracy’s revenge."
"Crowds uncomfortably blur the line between us and the Other, reason and passion, and, most troubling for the liberals, democracy and authoritarianism. They are the mirror, in which we face ourselves and our fears."
"In a world set on objectifying everybody and every living thing in the name of profit, the erasure of the political by capital is the real threat. The transformation of the political into business raises the risk of the elimination of the very possibility of politics."