What is Politics Doing to Community?
When God sprinkled the earth with humans or when they climbed out of clam-shells as in Haida Creation Myth, they were quickly attracted to oases, forest groves, green valleys, snug harbours and paradisiacal islands, like iron filings attracted to magnets. ‘Community’ thus evolved, in the ‘habitat-orchestrates-the-inhabitants’ manner as Nietzsche has described it; “evolution is a process of diffusion in which outside-inward flow predominates over inside-outward flow.” That is; the dynamics of habitat orchestrate the dynamics of the inhabitants; when a tree grows tall and sprouts dates, it orchestrates tree-climbing behaviour in humans; ditto for valley corn, prairie grain, forest game and marine fisheries.
Only later was the attraction of natural havens such as Rio de Janeiro [Cidade Maravilhosa] forcefully superseded by central-authority-driven, deliberate logical constructions [Brasilia] looking more like architected-for-efficiency Platonic City-Republics which, unlike Shangri-La, pulled people by their wallet moreso than by their heart and soul.
A continuing dichotomy has arisen in regard to ‘community’ as to whether outside-inward shaping of organization coming from the mystic soul-pull of the ‘sacred land’ predominates over inside-outward shaping of organization driven by the cold, hard logic of central political authority. Wittgenstein suggested that this dichotomy is pervasive in our cultural psyche;
“The preconception of crystalline purity [of logic] can only be removed by turning our whole inquiry around. (One might say: the inquiry must be turned around, but on the pivot of our real need.).” – Ludwig Wittgenstein, ‘Philosophical Investigations’
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as ‘Doctors without borders’, along with ‘sustainable community’ and ‘resilience’ initiatives are engendered, organized and developed to serve REAL NEEDS as they arise [rather than to fulfill political promise to construct a desired future state] and this has everything to do with ‘democracy’ and ‘community’, though it is NOT driven by sovereign state central authority logic. The behaviours of Jesus and Mother Theresa, though they may have been guided by the moral code of a notional ‘central authority’, were organized to let ‘outside-inward’ influence predominate, the real needs of people and habitat.
Today, when we speak of ‘democracy’, the media focus is almost exclusively on those political processes that associate with the ‘Central Authority’ of the ‘Sovereign State’. Let’s not lose sight of what Law Historians have been trying to remind us, that ‘Sovereignty’ is a ‘secularized theological concept’, a device that was invented expressly to serve colonial expansion, and it is certainly not where ‘community’ and ‘democracy’ begin;
“State sovereignty “is a ‘religion’ and a faith.” … “The skilfully drawn borders that cartographers have provided for us are … spiritual and philosophical abstractions representative of a form of quasi-belief. They are … not detached maps of reality as proponents would have us believe. These geographies reflect an ardent desire to make (or impose) sovereignty a physical reality as natural as the mountains, rivers and lakes….” -Lombardi, Mark Owen. “Third-World Problem-Solving and the ‘Religion’ of Sovereignty: Trends and Prospects, 1996” … “… western political thinking itself is grounded in theological concepts of “Christian nationalism.” The notion of “absolute, unlimited power held permanently in a single person or source, inalienable, indivisible, and original” is a definition of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. This “God died around the time of Machiavelli…. Sovereignty was … His earthly replacement.” -Walker, R. B. J. and Mendlovitz, Saul H. “Interrogating State Sovereignty.”
People around the world are finding themselves spontaneously energized to redress the imbalance in this dichotomy, whereby the predominant sourcing ‘direction’ in the organizing of ‘community’ has tilted towards central-authority-driven ‘Patriarchy’ with its carrot/stick nirvana-with-us/nightmare-without us rhetoric. Hosni Mubarak was no longer able to score points with the patriarchal opener to his last speech; “I am addressing you all from the heart, a father’s dialogue with his sons and daughters”
In Egypt and around the world, youth, in particular, are pulling back and away from the we-will-diaper-you-up patriarchal authority-driven approach to ‘community’ and ‘democracy’, that has, by colonial tradition, been pushed on us [with our electoral endorsement] by the high priests of the secularized theological politics of sovereigntism. Sovereigntism can play a useful role as a support tool for ‘community’, but when it gets too big for its britches, as Einstein said; it is “an infantile disease; the measles of the world.”.
In the pre-colonial era, when we spoke of ‘democratic community’, we were speaking of clusters of outside-inward oasis-attractors that pulled nomadic people in and spun them out so that the hurricane-like whorl was ‘the community’ though its constituents were continual replenished. ‘Community’ was understood as a local-within-global process rather than a local independent thing. As Emerson put it; “nature/habitat not only inhabits the organism, it creates it.”. That is, we may ‘personify’ the Canucks [hockey team] as a ‘real local thing’ with ‘its own history’ as if its ongoing development and behaviour is ‘locally originating, internal process-driven’, but the truth is that players are continually pulled in and spun out so that ‘the team’ is really a ‘whorl-in-the-flow’ of the habitat-as-spatial-plenum. Howard Zinn points out in ‘A People’s History of the United States’ that the experiences of the ‘players’ furnish a very different ‘historical record’; e.g. the indigenous peoples weren’t merely reduced to ‘second stringers’ or spun off to the minor leagues’, they were very nearly ‘exterminated’. Neither the ongoing history of the spun-off players nor the continuing history of other teams raided for players is part of the ‘history of the team’. Personifying an ‘organism’ as a ‘local independent being’ IS A TOTAL FIKTION [Nietzsche], a ‘secularized theological concept’. And, imputing cause-effect responsibility for its development to a notional, internal “absolute, unlimited power held permanently in a single person or source” is part of that Fiktion.
The global resurgence of ‘community’ in the state/race/culture-blind [diversity-integrating] outside-inward [ecosystemic] sense of a mutually supportive people-collective unified by common aspiration, has arguably been stimulated by internet connectivity and emerging exemplars such as ‘open source’ software development. The ‘flow-induced-whorl’ understanding of community seems also to associate with the ‘green’ movement which is encouraging a shift back to where the outside-inward, habitat-orchestrates-inhabitants organizing mode predominates over the hard logic of inside-outward, inhabitants-control-habitat. As Emerson observed, the ‘tool’ of inside-outward, central-logic-drive, has been running away with the workman. Thus we have been ignoring the fact that the teams we have raided and crippled, and the players we have discharged, continue to be part of the ‘flow-space’ that we all share inclusion in. This [Ayn Randian] elitism-concentrating is the source of ‘recession’. As Frédéric Neyrat observes in ‘Biopolitics of Catastrophe;
“In extending his living space in a manner that destroys the space of others, he destroys his own space. Not initially his inside space, his ‘self’, but his outside space, this real outside-of-self which nourishes his ‘inside-of-self’. The protection of this outside space now becomes the condition without which he is unable to pursue the growth of his own powers of being.”
Attempting to ‘fix this problem’ by ‘improving the quality’ of the ‘central political authority’ that is charged with optimizing our team performance, misses the point. Optimizing our team performance out of context of the condition of the habitat we are raiding and spinning off residues into, IS the problem. ‘Canada’ [and/or any nation] as a nation of people holding hands with others [including the winged, finned, rooted ones etc.] around the globe, along the spirals of a whorl in the flow, is more than ‘Canada’ as in the ‘secularized theological concept’ of ‘locally existing organism/system with its own locally originating, internal central-authority-driven behaviour’. The nation-of-people is like a sailboater who acknowledges that his power and steerage derive from the habitat-dynamic he is included in, while the nation-as-sovereign-system is like a powerboater that believes his own Fiktion, that his power and steerage are inboard and ‘belong to him’. As Emerson noted, the stuff hits the fan when our powerboater psyche hijacks our sailboater psyche.
But is this the understanding of ‘The Green Party’? Does Elizabeth May simply misinterpret the data when she discusses why the largest voting block in Canada (41%) is the block that ‘doesn’t vote’, implying that this derives from shortfalls in the quality of temperament and vision of those seeking the office of ‘high priest’ in our secularized theological temple of central authority in Ottawa; i.e;
“Canadians have disengaged from their own democracy because election after election we have been offered negative politicking in place of a real vision for our country. There is an alternative.” – Elizabeth May, The Green Party of Canada
The apathy is with ‘patriarchy’ and the answer does not lie in yet another centrally manufactured ‘vision for our country’, … we are drowning in centrally-driven programs and starved of ‘natural mutually supportive community’. We don’t need to let the central authority we engendered run away with us and put first-priority on optimizing team performance via ‘the [blindly-profit-seeking] economy’, which would have us deliver up our children to become efficient, productive cogs within central-authority driven corporate machinery, the bulk of whose profits are skimmed off by speculators, all such orientation being at the expense of our ‘habitat-inspired community ‘soul’’. The simple-logic-minded focus on ‘economic productivity/efficiency’on the part of the ‘central authority’ has been driving us away from the naturally emerging ‘Cidade Maravilhosas’ that provide fertile ground for ‘community as mutually supportive people collectives unified by common aspirations’, … and obliging us to submit instead to ‘density transfer’ to more logical and efficient centrally-regulated ‘residential grids’. The soul of a community and of a people [‘nation’ originally meant ‘people’] is nowhere to be found in the book-keeping on ‘the economy’. Should we continue to ‘bypass soul and go directly to ‘efficiency’’, or return to letting ‘natural soulful community’ establish the ‘efficiency priorities’ as when/where the word ‘nation’ intends ‘people’? E.g;
“Everything runs smoothly without soldiers, gendarmes, or police, without nobles, kings, governors, prefects or judges; without prisons, without trials. All quarrels and disputes are settled by the whole body of those concerned. . . . not a bit of our extensive and complicated machinery of administration is required. . . . There are no poor and needy.” – Friedrich Engels, describing the Iroquois Five-Nation Confederacy, in much the same terms as the ‘founding fathers’ of the United States also described it.
Green is the colour of the global public energy pulse, in the sense of restoring the predominance of outside-inward organizing of community, over inside-outward performance-optimization-based direction [healthy local community lowers central responsibility, budgets, taxes]. This shift is signalled by rising NGO, community sustainability and resilience initiatives. Correspondingly, central authority is invited to move back towards a support role and bring a halt to its escalating ‘patriarchality’. And if Elizabeth May would confirm that this is what ‘The Green Party’ is all about, rather than cultivating ‘an improved strain of high priests to serve in the temple of central authority’, then my vote would come to her quicker than a power outage on a winter-gale-swept Pender Island night.
ted lumley, April 26, 2011 [The original can be found at www.goodshare.org/wp/what-is-politics-doing-to-community/
This entry was posted by ted lumley on April 26, 2011 at 12:52 pm, and is filed under APN. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.
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