A letter to my dismal allies on the U.S. left

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6079_Smith_W
A letter to my dismal allies on the U.S. left

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/15/letter-dismal-allie...

Quote:

Dismissiveness is a way of disengaging from both the facts on the ground and the obligations those facts bring to bear on your life. As Michael Eric Dyson recently put it, "What is not good are ideals and rhetorics that don't have the possibility of changing the condition that you analyse. Otherwise, you're engaging in a form of rhetorical narcissism and ideological self-preoccupation that has no consequence on the material conditions of actually existing poor people."

There are really only two questions for activists: what do you want to achieve? And who do you want to be? And those two questions are deeply entwined. Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself, and you might as well do it with generosity and kindness and style.

And yeah, I know her calling them dismal is itself dismisslve. Good food for thought, in any case.

6079_Smith_W

One from the other side: the prodigal Michael Coren speaks at Metropolitan Community Church

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/06/29/michael-coren-my-un...

Quote:

I came to realize that anywhere there is love there is God, that judgmentalism is vehemently anti-Christian and that I had, well, got it wrong. In one of those glorious paradoxes my feelings were confirmed by the sweeping, organized and vicious campaign against me by social and Christian conservatives. By their lack of love you will know them.

Unionist

Thanks for this, Smith - I'm a Solnit fan. Food for thought, for sure.

6079_Smith_W

Yes, she does cut through it rather nicely.

(edit)

As it happens, I am reading "Murder in Amsterdam" right now, about the assassinations of Pim Fortuyn and Theo Van Gogh, and the cultural issues around that.

It paints a picture of the antithesis of Solnit's article: how people on all sides, some who actually come from good political positions, completely fuck it up.

Interesting too, how the sort of progressive, but austere protestant culture in Netherlands echoes some of the dynamics here in Canada. And how much of the problem came from the inability to talk about conflict openly, because of the fear of lack of understanding and good faith.

 

Slumberjack

Quote:
Dismissiveness is a way of disengaging from both the facts on the ground and the obligations those facts bring to bear on your life. As Michael Eric Dyson recently put it, "What is not good are ideals and rhetorics that don't have the possibility of changing the condition that you analyse. Otherwise, you're engaging in a form of rhetorical narcissism and ideological self-preoccupation that has no consequence on the material conditions of actually existing poor people."

Politically speaking, facts on the ground can cause the perpetrators to be dismissed out of hand as being representative of one's intentions.  What isn’t so good is maintaining a belief that the ones who have had a hand in causing certain detestable facts on the ground, either through direct support or through supportive silence, are the very ones who are somehow capable of improving the situation.  In the circumstances we find ourselves in, it's actually the narcissistic position to conclude that one's personal engagement in the politics we're given will result in better outcomes for 'poor' people.  It's the sensitive politico who still needs their poor, as if there were a Jesus complex at work.  Some voters fancy themselves, in conjunction with likeminded individuals, as catalysts for positive change.  It's as if a collective narcissism takes root, particularly around election time, like a type of summons to join up with the crusades in order to march on the holy land in Ottawa.  If it isn't to save others, then personal salvation will suffice.  You've done your part for the greater good that one personifies by making a selection, by engaging.  In contrast, political disengagement is more aptly defined by people who vote, but who then go back to sleep for a few more years of blissful or wilful ignorance.  Either way it doesn't seem to matter.  Disengagement from the non-political, meaning something that is not 'of' the people, is in fact the essence of political expression.  Those who do simply have fewer avenues of expression in the non-political world in which we live.

Quote:
There are really only two questions for activists: what do you want to achieve? And who do you want to be? And those two questions are deeply entwined. Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself, and you might as well do it with generosity and kindness and style.

And a dose of megalomania for good measure.  Tony Robbins has often said as much in his videos.

6079_Smith_W

Right.

Because the only important question is the obvious third one Solnit was referring to: Whom can you denounce?

Obviously the only way to get things done is to weed out the enemies.