Tuesday, May 09, 2017

On Reading THE REACTIONARY MIND

1. On reading "The Reactionary Mind" by Corby Robin.
One interesting thought has to do with the "private life of power". The fear of extending rights to the masses is rooted in the realization that this would upset the personal relationships of power which exist in the family and elsewhere. And this is why political arguments can be so hostile - you are touching a personal nerve of power. Or as Corby puts it "Behind the riot in the street...is the maid talking back to her mistress, the worker disobeying her boss. The Right tried to keep democracy out of both both public and private, fearing one would lead to the other. Or as De Bonald (reactionary thinker) said " to keep the state out of the hands of the people... keep the family out of the hands of the women and children." (This also helps explain the misogyny and emphasis on authoritarian child rearing on the Right)

2. Reactionary Snowflakes – the Inventors of Victimhood (from The Reactionary Mind Corby Robin)

"Far from being an invention of the politically correct, victimhood has been a talking point of the right since Burke decried the mobs treatment of Marie Antionette" The right speaks of loss, ie the loss of skin privilege and male authority etc. p. 58
"All conservatism begins with loss, as Andrew Sullivan rightly notes, which makes conservatism... the party of losers" P. 59 "What is truly bizarre about conservatism; a ruling class resting its claim to power upon its sense of victimhood." P98 "Conservatives thrive on a world filled with mysterious evil and unfathomable hatred where good is always on the defensive." P. 173 MY COMMENT – this helps explain the obsession with communists under the bed, conspiracy theories and relates to its victimhood complex. It also shows the correctness of Lakoff's view that the difference between left and right is value based.

"Making privilege palatable to the masses is a permanent project... but each generation must tailor that project to fit the contour of the times... p100 Social hierarchies persist because everyone but the lowest "enjoys the opportunity to rule and be ruled in turn... each person dominates someone below him in exchange for submitting to someone above..." p225. COMMENT – this helps explain the persistence among the lower classes of racism and misogyny, not to mention the contempt by so many lower class people of welfare victim and the homeless – but there is an essential sado-masochism to this relationship. (Bullied from above, bully those below)


The Right, Ape of the Left (from The Reactionary Mind by Corby Robin)

(paraphrase) Reaction is forced in two directions 1. critique of the old regime 2. absorption of ideas from the left. The Old Regime is criticized for being soft, not its essential hierarchical and authoritarian ideas. P 43
The reactionary starts from this principle. "that some are fit to rule others and then recalibrates that principle in light of democratic change...p 18 "No conservative opposes change as such, or defends order as such. [They] ...defend particular orders, hierarchical... on the assumption... that hierarchy is order." p. 24 Recently David Horowitz (far-right demagogue) urged rightists "to use the language of the left... on behalf of their own agendas. Reactionary populism is "to harness the energy of the mass in order to restore the power of the elites." p.55 There is also a "dialectical synergy of left and right, the progress of the former spurs on the innovation of the latter."

MY COMMENT – Thus, by using and absorbing ideas of the left, a kind of right-wing populism and use of left ideas has been part of reaction from the beginning. We see this with the "King and Country" mobs in the 1790s in opposition to English Radicalism, and the slave owners paeans to "liberty". The right, in time, accepted parliamentary democracy, but began to use it to its own ends. Italy at the time of WW1 had a powerful syndicalist movement – Fascism declared itself "national syndicalist" and adopted the color black of the anarchists. Social democracy was popular in Germany so the fascists there called themselves "National Socialists" and adopted the color red. In the 1960s there was White Power, fascist ape of Black Power. While basic democratic rights such as freedom of speech, press and assembly were always regarded by the far right as examples of modernist decadence, today's fascists pretend to be the guardians of such freedoms and smother their verbiage with the language of rights and identity politics. But the end is always the same – maintaining authoritarian hierarchy, domination and exploitation.

3. Maintaining the Authoritarian Hierarchy (from The Reactionary Mind by Corby Robin)

With the Reactionary, who is a product of Modernity – power is not so much inherited as with feudalism – at least in theory - but is the product of struggle and conflict. The "natural proving ground of superiority" "Liberty as conquest" according to W. G. Sumner (reactionary liberal writer) Burke saw the need for "painful stimulation" for growth to exist. Violence and struggle were needed or as Robin states, "War is life, peace is death." for the reactionary. There is a definite fear of "softness". The true life consisted of competition and conflict or as Burke stated "Curiosity leads to weariness, pleasure to indifference, enjoyment to torpor."

The Right actually believes that the best rule (in the "natural" authoritarian hierarchy) and that real democracy means the destruction of civilization. This allows for the unlikely alliance of the "libertarian" who wishes untrammeled control of their work force with the traditionalist who sees the patriarchs heavy hand in the family. In more recent times, we have an article in the National Review August 24 1957, entitled "The South Must Prevail" which says, "The central question... is whether the White community of the South is entitled to take such measures as necessary to prevail... The sobering answer is Yes. - The White community is so entitled because... it is the advanced race."

COMMENT – What we see is the Right's fundamentally negative view of humanity. But paradoxically they think that the best way to deal with humanity's flawed nature is to put a minority of other flawed creatures in change of them. We also see with the emphasis on struggle and competition in Burke, the precursor of the later Right's doctrine of Social Darwinism. We see how the notion of "the best succeeding" leads implicitly to racism. But that is not all;

Examine the Right's fundamental attributes – authoritarian hierarchy, victimhood, Social Darwinism, racism, sexism, fear of "softness", the absorption of left languagewhat you find is that these are the same essential ingredients that make up fascism. We on the left are sneered at for seeing fascists in every conservative, but at least as far as the reactionary right goes, I don't think we are always that wrong given what we see in THE REACTIONARY MIND.

Mind you there is one omission in the book. and that is the kind of conservatives I grew up with – the "Red Tories" . These were pragmatists who were not against reform, nor the extension of democratic rights. Then the Catholic social doctrine that encouraged the formation of cooperatives and trade unions. Many of these people would become socialists or Liberation Theologists in the 1960s.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thoughts on Triggering

In reading about BPD and childhood trauma, I came across the concept of "triggering". I understood this concept intellectually, but only recently understood how I too am triggered. Whenever I see, or read about, any abuse, bullying or cruelty, I go into a towering homicidal rage. (Internal raging, sparing friends and family, thankfully) Not that I would act upon that rage, for intellectually I know the perps are themselves "only a pawn in their game" , that bullies were themselves bullied, and the sources of our problems are structural, not personal. (Capitalism authoritarianism, patriarchy, institutionalized racism etc)

Cruelty triggers my subconscious – in a sense "reliving" my abuse as a child. I must emphasize the subconscious nature of this. When, for example, I see a cop beating up a demonstrator I do not consciously see myself as a child being assaulted by a bully, but it brings to the fore immense feelings of injustice and of helplessness. (I am sure that much of my dislike for Trump is because he is an archetypal schoolyard bully) And the rage? When you are a child you are forbidden to express your anger at the cruelty done to you. Authorities, whether parents, teachers or cops, will always make it far worse for you if you react with hostility toward their oppression. Thus, you learn to hold in your emotions, especially anger. But the repressed always returns. As an adult you will be prone to outbreaks of violent anger and not know why.

Will knowing this make you rage less? Sure would be nice. But here's something else I have learned – not from books – but experience. You are never cured. You come to terms with your abuse, you can forgive your abusers, knowing that they were victims as well. Therapy lets you HANDLE your problems and allows you to have a "normal" life. But the pain is always there.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Borderline - A Song About Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline - The following words and music by Larry Gambone, arrangement, instrumentation and voice by Maurice Soudre.


Thursday, January 07, 2016

Anna Delso

ANNA DELSO - Poet, anarchist, revolutionary and feminist, member; CNT-FAI, Mujeres Libres, French Resistance and the CSN


I met Anna at Librarie Alternative in Montreal in 1988 and was so impressed with this tiny woman with such immense revolutionary spirit. We would converse in French – not knowing any Spanish at the time and her modesty was such I had little idea of her background except for hearing she was in the Mujeres Libres. When she presented me with her book, Trois Cent Hommes et Moi, I found out that she just wasn't a member of Mujeres Libres, but its secretary, and that at age 16! Fleeing Spain after the defeat by Franco, she ended up in a concentration camp.
 
                                             Anna age 66

 Eventually free of the camp, she like so many Spanish revolutionaries, joined the French Resistance. By this time she was all of nineteen. After Liberation she and her partner organized a movement which united the CNT, the UGT, POUM, the Socialists and the Libertarian Movement in a united front against Franco's fascism. Moving to Quebec she was involved as a militant of the CSN in the textile industry. She was also a cancer survivor.  I lost contact with Anna over the years but am pleased to learn that she is still alive - at age 93! See also https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Delso

Friday, November 27, 2015

Anarchism and counter-culture podcast

This is the podcast of the interview I did for the CFRO program, Red Eye a few weeks ago. Discusses the Vancouver counter culture and anarchism as well as my book "No Regrets". See; 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME AND DISABILITY

UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME AND DISABILITY
by H. W. Honeycutt
Discusses the need for a Universal Basic Income (what is also called the Guaranteed Annual Income) in the United States. Special emphasis on how the Universal Basic Income would positively effect people with disabilities.
UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME AND DISABILITY is available at  amzn.to/1NokwzL  
Quotes from the book:
    While UBI likely would not discourage labor on the whole, turning us into a nation of slugabeds, it would almost certainly allow individuals of all abilities to recognize and embrace different types of non-income generating labor. Labor conditions with UBI would provide a significant change from our current system, which primarily reflects the views of market-ideologues who only see value in labor which generates income.
    We thus need to recognize disability as a much more ingrained feature of human existence, and account for it accordingly, not with a continuance of market discipline for people who, through no fault of their own, cannot generate income. We should instead stabilize the living situations of all Americans via a UBI.
    With UBI, disabled workers would be in a better position to remain selective about when they would chose to work, and the income from any part-time employment would be an addition to, not a reduction of, their UBI benefits. And because UBI puts more power in the hands of workers to negotiate not only wages, but also labor conditions, people with disabilities would experience greater leverage in shaping their work environments; if they experience the unwelcoming





Thursday, October 22, 2015

Big Surprise - Canadian Federal Election 2015

The vast majority of us are breathing a sigh of relief that the Harpercons are no longer in power. The Liberals out-foxed the NDP by moving to the left of that party on economic issues. The NDP talked of balanced budgets while the Libs talked of the need to get things running again. Big mistake for the NDP.  The Greens never made their break through as the voters stampeded to the Libs to get rid of the Conservatives. The Liberals are promising much - getting serious about climate change and the First Nations, building coop and affordable housing, democratizing our political system, restore protection to the waterways, legalizing pot,  building public transit, funding the CBC, maintaining Canada Post home delivery and many other progressive - and needed - things. The question is, will they act on this or just waffle? Only time will tell, but the Libs have an overwhelming majority, plus for any progressive actions ought have the backing of the three relatively  left parties, (by today's standards)  the NDP, Greens and Bloc Quebecois. The Libs plus the other three parties have 239 seats compared with the Cons 99 so they could do whatever they want. The only thing needed is the will to do so.
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