( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Embedding–great for videoclips, not so much for journalists or critical thinkers.
Don’t completely identify with the representations that you most prefer.
Keep one foot out.
One of the difficulties with this critical distancing, or ironic stance, necessary, imho, for critical thinking, is that it is in tension with the activist need to present unalloyed support for whatever candidate or cause.
While I do believe that any Democratic president would be exponentially better than John McCain, and I am a Barack Obama supporter, I harbor only slim hope that a Dem president and a Dem congress will really accomplish our progressive goals. What will you do in 2012 if/when the Dems have once again disappointed us?
It is still important, imho, to try and progressivize electoral politics, but it is also necessary to keep a critical distance from the entire enterprise itself, indeed from the dominant values of “our” culture itself.
Yes, electoral politics are of extreme importance, but they are also a distraction. As time ticks away, people are being tortured by the US govt, the climate crisis worsens, and millions of people are struggling and suffering more and more. Crashing the gate is a good goal, but without always applying pressure to the dominant system itself instead of only trying to improve it from within, we will never see the massive change we
want need if we as a species are to survive and with justice and dignity.
What am I suggesting? Let us keep up with our political activism and our determination to improve politics from within the system, but let’s also always be aware of how we each individually reinforce the very system that we are trying to change. So even if we maintain the distancing necessary to critique our pols, we need to self-distance so we can critique and change our own practices and even some of our deeply held beliefs. I think cultural critique is just as important as electoral reform.
Do you really believe in the climate crisis? Or do you think that lots of it is rhetorical hyperbole to galvanize activism? Do you believe that mindless consumerism fuels all the worst trends of this declining world? Everyday we have the choice to unembed ourselves. To not hop in the car for a solo trip to buy something we don’t really need, for example. Everyday is a new day for our struggle against dehumanizing corporatism to which we all contribute, even if it is only by eating junk food or smoking cigarettes.
This is not a plea for purism. To the contrary, for political purism is a myth that helps continue systems of exploitation. This little ditty is merely a kind of action alert that we are embedded in the very system that we are trying to change, and we need to continually work to unembed ourselves as we also take seriously the fact that we all contribute to our own exploitation. That entanglement may not just be a contingent error that can be eradicated, for this is a very complex problem that involves all kinds of economies–not just financial ones–but also economies of desire and recognition.
We can also think about cultural critique at a larger level. One thing that people are hesitant to confront head-on is overpopulation and how that is the major contributor to this world’s problems. Do you really want to have children? Children of your “own”? Why?
Of course it is not possible or maybe even desirable to unembed yourself completely from the dominant representations, but the work of reform and change is not entirely the province of electoral politics. It is also the work of incessant cultural critique and criticism.
So keep your ironic distance–the space to question authority–even while working in the name of your candidate or your cause.
Keep one foot out.