Saturday, October 24, 2009

More echoes of pacifism as pathology… Dalai Lama on the CIA payroll…

(…with concluding remarks by Derek Jensen)

According to THIS ESSAY by leading US left intellectual and historian Michael Parenti, the West has made the Dalai Lama as both the figurehead of the “romanticized Shangri La” myth of pre-communist-invasion Tibet and a popular legitimizing agent of First World colonialism.

According to Parenti’s analysis old Tibet “was a retrograde repressive theocracy of extreme privilege and poverty” with a feudal economy based on legalized slavery and enforced serfdom.

Parenti also describes documents showing the CIA’s direct support for the Dalai Lama and points out the Dalai Lama’s stated pro-colonization positions on such topics as the wealth-poverty divide, the illegal Iraq war, the US intervention in Yugoslavia, and the invasion of Afghanistan.

It turns out that on questions of specific US military interventions the Dalai Lama is no pacifist. This in no way diminishes his leadership status among his “principled pacifist” followers in the West. The CIA expects good behaviour from the Dalai Lama and First World “pacifists” need their guilt-alleviation fix. The two go hand in hand.

It is clear that the Dalai Lama’s pacifism, the pacifism of his Western followers, is a different species of pacifism than the pacifism of Mahatma Ghandi – see THIS ESSAY.

We end with these spirited words by author and activist Derek Jensen about the absurdity of the pacifist ideology of First World devotees:

Criticism of the Dalai Lama: So positive it hurts
How CIA helped Dalai Lama to end up in exile
"Democratic Imperialism": Tibet, China, and the National Endowment for Democracy
Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can learn from Gandhi
A critical look at Mahatma Ghandi (audio)
On the need to embrace hatred

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Criticism of the Dalai Lama – so positive and forgiving that it hurts!

This blog features several essays that attempt to explain the destructive nature of the “positive” and “progressive” and “educational” movements which are populated by the majority of First World “activists” and “aware” citizens:

Organizing, Coalition Building, Education… as Self-Cooptation?
The Activist Wars
Need To Embrace Hatred
Against Chomsky
More Against Chomsky
Global Warming: Truth or Dare?

These essays attempt to discover the mechanisms by which First World “responsible” lifestyle choices, consumer choices, educational efforts, dialogue initiatives, etc., are counter to authentic anti-oppression efforts.

But a poem can be worth a thousand essays…:

The Ocean of Wisdom *

Ignore the checkpoints and the chains
Sail the rivers of tears
Praise a dream that has given birth
to a million nightmares

We resist from our slums
You resist from the podium
Beloved of Hollywood,
Ocean of Wisdom:
Can liberated celebrities
bring freedom to a people?

David you embrace or Mao
The aboriginals were subjugated
In Hebrew or in Mandarin
The land was appropriated

They’ll hide the sun under your crimson robe
Drown the truth in your words of hope

Leave my aching land alone!
To Lhasa,
I support your right of return

Ehab Lotayef
Montreal, January 23, 2006

* Welcoming the Dalai Lama to the Holy Land. The Dalai Lama is planned to visit Israel in the middle of February to participate in the launch of ceremonies marking 100 years since David Ben Gurion immigrated to Israel.
** We thank poet and activist Ehab Lotayef for allowing the use of his poem.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Organizing, Coalition Building, Education … as Self-Cooptation?

In the work of improving the world what could be wrong with organizing, coalition building, education, community building, and other networking and social strengthening activities?

I argue that as they are practiced in middleclass First World progressive activist and political circles these activities do more harm than good in terms of creating justice, no matter the extent to which the groups are gender and race unbiased and no matter the extent to which the decision-making is horizontal and consensus-based.

I’ve noted this in worker organizations and unionist groups, self-proclaimed anarchist groups, socialist groups, and left-progressive concerned citizen groups.

Hear me out.

If the activism – the action to improve society by reducing injustice – is the actual organizing, coalition building, education, community building, etc., itself, then it cannot be effective and it cannot be sustainable. If we add components of resistance such as letters to politicians, petitions, demonstrations, civil disobedience, and direct actions aimed at harming oppressive power structures in fighting for justice for any chosen cause, then it remains ineffective and unsustainable.

All of these forms of activism are deficient in the main ingredient: The ingredient with which we have lost touch; the ingredient that has been made invisible by the energetically managed and fabricated mental and physical environment of the modern First World middleclass.

The same artificial environment that separates us from ourselves in order that we function as expected in the mainstream, or that causes us to hide in secluded outposts or oases, also separates us from the main ingredient that would make our activism potent.

The missing element is the individual fighting her own oppression. The missing ingredient is the fighting spirit of the individual in authentic rebellion against her own oppression, in its deepest and most insidious forms.

All activism must be rooted in individuals who fight their own oppressions – who fight by kicking and pushing, knowing there will be a backlash. Every spontaneous act of self-defence is the start of a cycle of action, reaction, reflection, learning, outreach, more-action – a cycle of praxis – and each such cycle and the cycles within cycles are the steps to liberation.

Solidarity has no meaning outside of fighting a common oppressor at comparable levels of risk. Ineffectively agreeing to be of the opinion that such or such a cause is worthy of “support” is not solidarity. The only place of risk is in fighting one’s oppressor. Risk, like change, lives at home – not in the self but at home.

My oppressor is my boss at work, my teacher at school, the system that keeps me obedient and politically powerless. Since I cannot exert the free influence on my environment, on my community, that my nature craves, I am oppressed.

If you, like most slaves, do not see your oppression or refuse to legitimize it enough to fight it, then you are of use only to the slave master, the same master that runs the financial and corporate global exploitation and enforcement machine.

Citizens that liberate themselves are not easily manipulated and naturally practice their influence rather than allow themselves to be managed. These are the people that help make the world sane.

So many fallacies have been pushed into our heads in order to displace this basic truth; that against a hierarchical structure of dominance there is no gain without a fight – the fight against the structure at one’s point of attachment to it.

For example, we have the fallacy of the “critical mass”, as a model mechanism for social change. Let us examine this. The critical mass is a concept from nuclear physics. It is the limit mass of a radioactive isotope beyond which there will be a spontaneous nuclear chain reaction, a nuclear explosion. The well-meaning progressive activist postulates that with a sufficient mass of opinion on a given issue there will be a spontaneous change in government policy or law regarding the issue. One problem is that opinion is not action. One needs the right isotope before one can speak of a critical mass. The right isotope is one that is radioactive, that is throwing punches and thereby stirring others to throw punches. Without the right element, it’s just a mass. Another problem is that power does not care about public opinion, except when that opinion reflects a potential for rebellion.

This leads to a second example: The fallacy that big demonstrations cause change. In periods of change (workers rights, civil rights) there were both demonstrations and change but this does not imply that demonstrations cause change. These periods of change were characterized by oppressed people demonstrating that they were prepared to fight their oppression. The demonstrations were demonstrations of resolve and determination and daring and were accompanied by radical wings that were not insignificant. Modern organizers that just want the numbers out to show that they have voter leverage and that measure success in numbers of weekend protesters out in “solidarity” with some “cause” totally miss the point.

The First World middleclass individual is on Ritalin or some equivalent and is an accepting slave or an alternative lifestyle seeker. That is no basis for people power.

The job of the activist, at this low point in the struggle for the First World, is to be an authentic rebel, to fight the bastards from where you are at, at the point of your strongest connection to the economy, at the place where you have the most power – at work, at school.

Feel the backlash; then you will have something to organize about! Others will join you. Many will attempt to silence and normalize you. You can’t know who your friends are until you show yourself. You can’t know what power is like until it has acted against you. You can’t know freedom without liberation. You can’t be in solidarity without crossing that line.

Next, let us re-examine the organizing, coalition building, education … of the title. If we accept my proposal of a missing essential ingredient, then these activities are not even components of an effective activism because there is no activism without the missing essential ingredient. These activities are not in themselves activism (i.e., a fight for justice).

Worse, when actuated in the absence of the missing essential ingredient these activities mask that there is a missing ingredient and habituate the actor to acting outside of activism. These activities practiced without the essence provided by the missing ingredient re-enforce the false notion that they are activism in themselves; that they serve to help create more justice. They re-enforce zero-risk and low-risk self-worth-seeking and survivor-guilt-alleviation movements that serve only to accommodate one to one’s slavery, in the company of other well-adjusted slaves. Accommodating to a power structure of exploitation is not a sustainable activity, let alone sustainable activism. We need to be against the structure; we wish to flatten it, not climb it.

In addition, the practitioners of the organize-educate masquerade falsely identify individual or group expressions of authentic rebellion as “counter-productive”, “negative”, “miss-guided”, etc., and often go so far as to accuse the rebellious elements of sabotage with accusations such as “you will get them very angry and they will shut us down”, “you will give us bad media coverage”, “you will turn away potential supporters”, “you unnecessarily put us all at risk”, etc.

The practitioners of the masquerade correctly view the rebellious elements as threats against the masquerade. It is a fatal threat to one’s self-image to have to consider that one’s adopted mission is a lie, a waste, and part of the system’s resistance to change towards justice; that one’s community for good is based on self-preservation within the power structure not a fight against the power structure.

If you are not fighting the power structure and its keepers then you are not in solidarity with all those who are oppressed, displaced, starved, and murdered by the power structure. Expressing an opinion via petition or demonstration does not cut it on its own in circumstances where this expression is not an element of a real fight with significant likely consequences for both change and backlash.

Specialized First World organizers, coalition builders, and educators, like all such specialized components of First World civil society, can only be of use in the efforts towards justice to the extent that they (1) engage in fighting their own oppression in their own places of work and life; (2) recognize, support, and join the essential element, the rebel fighter fighting her own oppression in her family and community, at work, at school, and in societal organizations; and (3) are vehement in not tolerating the oppression of and attacks against authentic rebels fighting their own oppression.

The indoctrination of actors is so deep. How many times have we heard an authentic rebel being denigrated with “He is just fighting his own personal battle – He is not objectively fighting for the cause we have adopted – He does this for his own personal gain”? On the contrary, the rare fighting individuals being denigrated in this way are onto something: Liberation.

To sever the personal involvement of fighting one’s own oppression from campaigns in support of social justice causes is to sever the essential source of political motivation from the social actor. Individuals engaged in the process of their own liberation do not burn out and do not need workshops about the meaning of solidarity.

First World organizers, coalition builders, and educators, have transformed themselves into victims managing burnout, managers of slaves, and experts in putting the cart before the horse – in the hope that the horse will not be seen or needed. If we don’t have authentic rebels throwing punches then there is no movement. If we don’t understand Paulo Freire’s mantra that “you can only fight your own oppression,” then we are enablers of the power structure.

What is your oppression?

The Activist Wars
Activism and Risk - Life Beyond Altruism
Means and Freire
Need To Embrace Hatred
Against Chomsky
More Against Chomsky
Anarchism as Cooptation

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Talking bleus song about the firing of Activist Teacher

Singer-songwriter John Carroll at the Chateau Lafayette, Ottawa's oldest bar.

Background information about the academic freedom case and other actions and lawsuits and more videos and all the news links: HERE.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Student Mario Savio speaks out against Corporate U

Students are the raw material. The products are obedient employees, indoctrinated managers, and service intellectuals. Mario Savio explains it in this video. The machine has only been perfected since that time and there are fewer Marios.

Student Mario Savio proposes this solution:

And we have no idea what he means, no idea what he is talking about, because we have no reference point, because we have been schooled too perfectly.

On the important question of corporatization
Physics-math student between a Rock and a hard place

Saturday, October 3, 2009

On the sacred space of the university classroom

In this essay, I put forth that the PowerPoint(TM) presentation is a vehicle for fascism and that professors have pissed away their sacred duty to protect the classroom space from corporate rule; that the only way to fight indoctrination is to replace it with vibrant bursts of self-discovery that emanate from the rebellious self in conflict with the forces of oppression that assault the classroom.

In Canada the professor is the legal occupier of the university classroom during scheduled class times. This means that the professor effectively owns the space. University administrators cannot simply barge in, nor can the police come in without a warrant.

The professor can decide to have guests and can deny the entry of any person who is not a registered student.

In addition, professors have professional independence, known as academic freedom. They are bound only by their professional better judgement, all the usual laws forbidding criminal behaviour, accepted societal norms of ethical conduct, and any rules or policies that have been established by the collegial governance process for universities.

Only rules, guidelines or policies which have been adopted by the relevant collegial governance process have standing in the classroom. Rules unilaterally adopted by the administration cannot be used to limit an individual professor’s academic freedom.

National and international policy statements on academic freedom and legal precedent are unambiguous on the above points: Universities have institutional independence only to enable them to protect the individual academic freedoms of their professors and students. The university senate is the supreme authority on all academic matters originating through the collegial process. In law, university executives are managerial servants not CEO bosses.

Such is the legal status of the classroom in the Canadian university, irrespective of the corruption and hijacking that has led to the present de facto corporate-style managerial invasion that puts corporate branding and global player ass-kissing ahead of education and personal development. [See supporting links below.]

Given this legal status situation and given every professor’s first priority to provide all her students with maximized opportunity for learning, one would predict that the classroom would be a vibrant cauldron of debate, expression, creativity, challenges, questioning, influences, doubts, emotion, cooperation, competition, reflection, and synthesis.

Well no.

Like a nightmare into Orwell’s future, the classroom has become a PowerPoint presentation in which the answer to your question is three slides back – see? Monkeys with guns. Robots with clickers. Professors are too preoccupied with writing what is publishable to do anything but deliver canned trivia, too insecure to put themselves at risk, too standardized to think on the spot, too specialized to know anything useful, too afraid to allow student freedom … they spend most of their energy preserving the image they have of themselves.

The professor has the legal apparatus to create a learning zone, protected from the insanity of the curriculum as roadmap and from the deadening call of the corporate mental environment, yet he chooses to participate in the killing of his students instead. She chooses to continue her own death rather than participate in life and in the lives of her students.

After all, the students want what they have been moulded into. They pay tuition and they want what they pay for. Many believe that what happens in front of a PowerPoint presentation IS learning and they would not want that “learning” to be interrupted by a lengthy discussion.

Of course most students at least unconsciously understand that they are buying a certificate and being initiated into the priesthood. And they have been so abused and so denied intellectual engagement that this acceptance into the order is all that is left for them. There is little chance of rebellion at this stage and they, like their professors, will now defend this image of themselves. They will defend their deaths rather than face their loses.

Such is the present state of university education. The outcome is exactly what the system wants: Cardboard managers of the Lie. It pays. It kills.

The answer is in the slaves themselves, in their capacity to rebel and to take their place – one personal rebellion at a time, sometimes coalescing with others, often not, always liberating when vehement enough to not be crushed.

UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel
Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism
Rancourt case Academic Freedom website
U of O Watch blog
Academic Squatting essay