Personal Inner Strength and Collective Action

(noon – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

I wrote a little diary on Friday urging people on the left towards what is often called self-realization or living in the now. I do that because, ironically, it is the basis of the warrior spirit. To be focused and centered and at one with the yourself with no-thought is an important component of the samurai code. To be effective politically this spirit needs to inhabit the culture of the left.

Without a solid basis for action both in the personal sense and in the philosophical sense nothing can get done and progressives are doomed to gnash their teeth at having no say in the politics of this country. So far, in this decade, the left has, other than a source of funds for Center-right politicians, disappeared from power. There’s a game being played but the left isn’t in that game. Why? Because few understand what power and politics really is. I’m not sure how it happened maybe its that so many on the left buy into the American Exceptionalism cult maybe it’s just the decline of courage that is a general trend in this society.  

As I’ve said many times power comes from the ability to help your friends and punish your enemies. It can also come, in rare instances, from a superior moral purpose and a transcendent courage (ML King, Gandhi and so on) and that requires a spiritual center which is my personal advice for all of us or at least going on that path.

The best way to help your friends is to make friends. Make common cause with people, make connections and make those connections not just social but practical. Share resources, act collectively where possible even in trivial matters just to practice. Why aren’t we doing more of that here? Id you want my suggestions I have some. Power has to be based in community unless you have a shitload of money.

Punishing enemies is a little hard, as a concept, for most of us. The way I look at it is that Jesus said to love your enemies but he didn’t say that we shouldn’t have enemies. Enemies or opposition is important. We love our enemies because we build our strength and character on their existence. We should always respect and bow to our enemies and see them more as opponents and not non-human as those on the right do. In that way it is easier to understand what motivates them and how we can fight them. We are required in this world of duality to fight our enemies when we can and when we are in a position to do so. We aren’t even in that position. For example, instead of hating the big corporations, organize a boycott of their products–don’t personally refuse to shop somewhere, that does nothing. And, by the way, admire the fuckers for the great job they do playing the power game. Learn about how they got to the position they got to and what kind of efforts were required to almost destroy the labor movement, to roll back progressive legislation, to convince the people that up is down and down is up. They fucking did that! I think that’s amazing!

Whatever we do we must think in collective terms, in my view. Being isolated individuals is ok for the rare geniuses that need their isolation but for the rest of us we need connections. We need connections not only to be a force (even if only a small force) politically but also because our future is an emergent neo-feudalism (sorry I see no way out of that). Whatever we do (whether its boycotts or actions) it must be as a collective even if its only ten people. Then you have some bargaining power where before you had none. Not much power but some and you (we) have to start with little steps because we are nowhere near competing with the real players but we can get there and we must get there.

Other than providing random and unconnected bits of information and sharing our pain, what are we doing here? Yes, it’s important to keep it going but as a collective what are we doing? What do we want to do? Do we actually want to create anything? A lot of us are willing to do a lot but so far I see nothing coming of it other than providing some moral support for those of us who go on DKOS to wake a few people up over there–which is valuable, in my view.  

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    • Xanthe on September 7, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    of belonging to a community of sorts where you can share ideas, philosophy and where you are welcome.  This is no small matter.

    I was working with the Democratic Comm. here until I realized they were mired in old time politics (much of which means keeping your mouth shut).

    But we do need to find some larger entity where we can put our energies.  

    Move On is active in this area but I feel they were co-opted by Obama.  

    You have said this before – you were right and are right, but too much introspection can be bad for the soul.

  1. … by your essay on Friday, it’s exactly the kind of writing I like to see here at Docudharma (as well as this essay).

    I have yet to see on the internet a blog or any kind of online community that has managed to merge the political with the philosophical/spiritual in a way which leads to action (which doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist).

    I do, however, see folks all across the intertubes struggling for that to happen.  My direction seems to be discovering online communities that are not overtly political – there’s a freshness there I don’t find at the usual political blogs.

    Words are a clumsy medium sometimes.

  2. that individuals need to embody in order for there to be an effective Left:

    class consciousness, social solidarity, and enduring community.

  3. to read this diary.

    Yes.  The right realized this as well, though, with their soiled family values gambit.

    What I would say, though, is that power politics the way it is practiced in the U.S. is both incompatible with leftism and also incompatible with buttressed leftism adopting an honor code (or a “samurai” code, in your words).

    However, it may be sufficient to start practicing an entirely new and utterly alien “power politics” to those outside who behold it.

    Suffusing a bushido honor code into the structure of the left is akin to adding rebar to a stone structure.  It binds and strengthens, but something is still missing.

    What you need is also the warp and woof.  Not just adding rebar to a structure, but weaving a structure like a fabric.  The left has many diverse populations, many of these feel alienated and left out.  Traditional liberalism tries to suppress these variant voices and create conformity out of chaos — the thought being to somehow unify out of suppression.  It is madness.

    I suggest we do the opposite, but integrate these disparate ideals and voices into a single unifying fabric of diversity.

    We have models, hints at how to approach this, in fiction and in life.  There is in Star Trek the Vulcan IDIC.

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