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Optimism and LiberationCategory: (general)
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
07:47:34 PM (GMT)
One thing I dislike is optimism.

When I talk to people about how I feel about the way society works, how people are
oppressed, controlled, and bled dry of energy and creativity, I've often been told
that's a very cynical way of looking at things.

Wrong.

Cynicism would be to have all those beliefs and believe nothing can be done about it,
just throw up my hands and say "Oh well. that's the way things are". I do not believe
that. I do not follow that system of beliefs either. I can't say I'm a fully
liberated individual, but the road I've chosen to follow should lead me down that
route, despite it contravening everything society has told me I should be aiming
for.

What they are suggesting I should have is optimism. The system of beliefs that one
should take what they're given and be thankful, that one should accept their shackles
and thank their Massa' Jones that they're not going to be whipped today.

When people are like that, it frustrates me, because I know that if they weren't so
complacent they could easily greatly reduce their exploitation. Things like asserting
your right to do what you want to, rather than letting people in positions of
authority (parents, teachers, etc) dictate your activities and even desires.

It's not that I'm self-righteous about my beliefs, or at least I don't mean to be, I
just hate to see people get exploited. It's something that strikes me very
profoundly, and for people to accept and even encourage it (perhaps through optimism)
also strikes me, because it means people are being oppressed even in their own minds,
in the part that I adore about them, and that makes me very angry at the forces that
cause this.

Anyway, enough for now.

P.S: I don't have any qualms about saying people are having the desires and their
thoughts controlled, it's pretty obvious when you consider it. Not that I'm above it
myself.

Comments 
neoeno says:   2 April 2008   635859  
Oh, I forgot to mention what I centred this entry around:

Only through understanding the mechanisms of our oppression can we
ever hope to liberate ourselves from them.
 
sovern says:   6 April 2008   888518  
Fantastic. =)

You write things I don't often think about and it's nice to just read
your diary and think. 

On this topic, I have to say that I agree. I think the optimism you
bring up is referred to as 'blind optimism.' I've always pictured
optimism as believing things are alright, but they could get better. I
guess I'm just so steeped in the negative that even optimism just
seems like neutrality, eh. xP;

I think the main thing that's letting oppression go on is the fact
that we're LETTING it. I haven't seen anyone fight for a cause since I
watched some documentaries about the 60's. No one's fighting anymore.
Whether that's the result of blind optimism or blind cynicism, I don't
know. 

(I would consider you a cynic but not a blind cynic, as a blind cynic
[to me] sees issues but thinks they can't change, as you described
formerly.)

I think people need to be educated about our system. Then they need to
take a stance and step up to the plate. Defend it, give facts, let the
audience take a stance. Everyone needs to make decisions and stand by
them.

I'm in highschool and it sickens me to see people who think life is
nothing but the weekends, life is nowhere but in this small town, the
future doesn't matter. Ask them about current events or the government
and you'll get a hardy laugh followed by, "Why the hell should I
care?"

Blind optimism or apathy? I don't know. But I think, perhaps, if they
were less ignorant, they'd see what was going on and maybe THEN they'd
feel strong enough to take a stand.

Where are the marches on the White House? Where are protests and
petitions?

In the past. 
And I hope it's not just blind optimism for me to hope that there are
some in the future.
(Uh oh, wrote too much. D: )
neoeno says:   6 April 2008   114411  
I'm glad that my writings don't go entirely unread! :P

To me, cynicism involves a distrust of your fellow human beings, and
I'm not on board with that at all. It's the structure I hate, not the
people that compose it, as there's hardly anyone perpetuating the
structure that hasn't been severely manipulated by it in the first
place.

On apathy:
It is in the interest of society for people to be apathetic. I find a
lot of truth in the theories of social darwinism, so I see a lot of
society in terms of evolution towards a given goal. For capitalism it
is capital, and for a democratic party it is staying in power. It's
foolish to assume modern capitalism can be ethical, because you can
obtain more capital through being unethical, so the corporate
gene-pool will tend towards immorality. For representative democracy,
if you can stay in power longer through lies and propaganda then
that's going to happen.

(Chomsky proposed that propaganda is to democracy as violence is to
dictatorship, both inevitable and essential for its perpetuity)

There are plenty of protests still going on, it's just most of them
don't make a difference. The ones that do make a difference are
generally the more militant ones, from what I've seen. Take the WTO
protests of I-don't-remember-when, they got the capitalist conference
shut down. Unfortunately, as always, the obstacle holding them back
from doing more was disbelief that what they were doing was even
possible.

On "why should I care?":
To a certain extent I agree. They shouldn't have to care about
Washington. It's many miles away (I think?) and by rights should not
be affecting their lives. Unfortunately it does, so focusing purely on
your own community is often not a viable option. To quote from a game
I'm currently playing "Ironically, to fight the global conspiracy, we
ourselves had to become a global organisation".

On ignorance:
I don't really blame people for being ignorant, or much else, I'm that
kind of filthy liberal :P But seriously, to independently discover how
we are oppressed and accept that... with all the conditioning that
goes on practically every day of our lives, that's quite a feat. 

Anyway, this is all a lot of stuff to be covering in a comment XD I
could discuss it for hours. Thanks for commentin' tho!
 
sovern says:   6 April 2008   473295  
Now that you mention it, I see that democracy does heavily rely on
those things. 
I guess I'm sort of a romantic thinker in that I want things to be
more like the Renaissance. Admittedly, I'm not well-learned in
history, but I think I would enjoy that time period. But then came the
settling down again, right back into the Revival (or.. whatever that
was called) again. I see a cycle of revolution and quiet, revolution
and quiet, again and again. I'm just one of those people who can't
stand the silence.

It's likely that I'm expecting too much out of people, yes. It's not
realistic to think everyone could be educated on how the government
works and how it uses propaganda. And, even then, it would shatter the
hold of Democracy and I very much prefer it to anarchy. But I'd be
thankful for just a little more world-awareness in people, I guess. I
don't blame people for being ignorant, but I can wish that someone
would educate them.

But I do suppose I'm just a romantic, wishing every others news
journalist were a Thomas Paine and people were more prone to breaking
the silence. I never even thought about how being disillusioned would
collapse the structure of government, and now it seems like a sad
truth. Thanks for the input. : )
Haha, I'll stop spamming your journal now. xD; *runs* ((Sorry if this
double-posts, got d/c'd while posting))
neoeno says:   6 April 2008   259343  
Keep spammin' up my journal!

Ah, well, I'm not sure there ever was a good-old-days. I don't know
much about that era, but history from that period was often written by
the upper classes.

I don't think it's unrealistic to believe people can be propaganda'd
into clarity of their oppression, it's happened a great many times
throughout history (think of almost every revolution). It would
shatter democracy's hold, because representative democracy is
oppressive in nature. I, however, don't prefer democracy to anarchy.
And, ask yourself, whose interest is it in for you to prefer
democracy?

Now you're being a cynic :P Which is what I meant! Understanding one's
oppression doesn't have to lead to hopelessness. There is a better
[un]system than to live by our current one . Do you like George
Orwell?
 
sovern says:   6 April 2008   375573  
I've read some of his books, can't say I liked his style but he had
some ideas. =)

I've always liked the -idea- of anarchy but yet it still has a really
strong negative connotation to me. It's a good idea but would it
-work-? Would we still be civil? Or would people run willy nilly,
killing each other? I don't think that's the exact anarchy you meant,
but that's what it means to me. At least in a democracy that are
(occasionally) punished. So I prefer Democracy to THAT kind of
anarchy, but I'm sure there's something better. Something
unthought-of.

It is, of course, the government's best interest for us/me to prefer
democracy. Maybe it's better for us or maybe I've just been
conditioned into thinking it's better, I don't know. Maybe propaganda
instilled the idea of anarchy being terrifying into me. Either way, it
-is- terrifying to me and I think that people, upon hearing the WORD
'anarchy,' would act upon what they think anarchy is. So people really
would start fires and kill each other, because that's what they
believe anarchy is and strong beliefs tend to materialize. It's just
an assumption, really.

But I don't think anarchy is the best word (or would be the best word)
to use. I like the term unsystem. But I've always thought people
functioned in systems, and if system is synonymous with government,
then it's still government. A better government, yes, but not
anarchy.

In short, I think we need government, but not any of the current
ideologies. If there was a government that didn't tame people into a
certain mindset, that'd be great. If a government didn't function
solely on propaganda, that'd be great.
But not even my romanticized mind can fathom an uncorrupted
government, one that doesn't lie of cover up schemes.

I don't even think governments can function smoothly without a little
corruption.  A government that liberates its people? It's possible,
I'm sure, but someone great would have to think it up. And, past that,
they'd have to get it out there. People would have to listen to them
and THEN and only then could there be a revolution.

But even I admit that I see 'anarchy' in a negative light and if
someone simply suggested "Let's overthrow the government," I wouldn't
quite like that. They'd have to present a very convincing case of why
their system is better. I wouldn't just rally for anyone who suggests
an overthrow! They'd need facts and a lot of explanations to get
through to people becaus
sovern says:   6 April 2008   235934  
e I'm not going to jsut rall for anymore and wow, I have no idea what
else I wrote, but I know I apologized for not writing fluently.
xD;
Oops.
neoeno says:   6 April 2008   975517  
"A government that liberates its people?"
You're thinking of capitalism :P

I disagree that words have that much power however. For one, an
anarchy has already existed, during the Spanish revolution (which is
why I mentioned Orwell, he fought in it and wrote a book about it).
Secondly, during the times where monarchy was the norm, republic meant
largely the same thing as anarchy does today, and there are a great
many republics now :P

As for whether it would work (ignoring the fact that it has worked)...
I suppose you're worried about crime? As in... whether it would be
better for the people than whatever we currently have is (one doesn't
have to prove that a system is perfect, there's no such thing, just
that it is better).

Consider that a large amount of crime is motivated by the need for
material goods or finance. Without money, there would be no financial
crime. As for goods... there's a lot of rather involved political
theory about that. To put it simply, a lot of what we have today we
don't need and wouldn't want if it didn't exist. When you cross out
all that, that's a fair chunk of crime crossed out too. People might
steal what they need, sure, but that's a justifiable crime in my eyes,
and there's likely more than enough to go round.

Crimes of passion: these will most certainly still happen. But then,
they happen now too, people are just locked up for it (if they're ever
discovered). Does locking people up make it better? I don't believe
so. Again, many societies have survived without jail. Does a prison
term really deter someone who's so worked up in passion that they'll
kill someone?

There's a great deal of theory about social justice too, the fact that
people are excluded then they are a detriment to the community, and
outside a community people are very disadvantaged.

Furthermore, what advantages does anarchy have in this regard. How
about... the fact that in capitalism workers are exploited, paid only
a third of their value to a company, and spend most of their time
having energy and creativity stolen from them because they can't
survive otherwise, usually doing menial and/or pointless tasks. How
about the fields and fields of cocoa beans and corn-for-fuel that
third world farmers grow instead of growing food? How about the
communities ruined by Big Business? The legal crimes of capitalism do
_far_ more than even the most vindictive individual could ever hope to
do.

To put it simply: a person with bad in
 
neoeno says:   6 April 2008   681958  
To put it simply: a person with bad intentions on their own can do
bad, but a person with bad intentions at the top of a corporation can
do bad beyond even their own comprehension.

Anarchy isn't perfect, of course, there's no utopia, there will still
be hurt, but it'll be better than this.

"So people really would start fires and kill each other, because
that's what they
believe anarchy is and strong beliefs tend to materialize"
Start fires? Oh no! :P Still, this is a fundamental belief to anarchy:
that people are good. If, as I said about cynicism, you believe that
people are evil and out to get you, then anarchy will not make sense
for you. Sure, currently, you might be right in saying most people are
out for themselves, but I don't believe people are that intrinsically.
And, in an anarchy, of course, one can't just be out for herself,
because you can't exist in isolation.

On revolutionaries:
Yeah, when an unhelpful ideology takes hold, it can mess things up
quite a bit, look at communism for example. There was anarchism there
too, but it did not triumph. I don't doubt that eventually there will
be a revolution in western nations, maybe even within my lifetime,
because society can oppress people only so much before they rise up. 

Fluency is overrated! :P
 
sovern says:   6 April 2008   551942  
I don't believe people are evil by nature, but I do believe we act on
what's been trained into us. Like, I'm scared of the word anarchy.
What makes me scared of a single word? The bad things I associate with
it, such as fire and crime and violence. I personally would hide and I
have some stupid friends that WOULD start setting fields on fire
because they're rebels without a cause that don't take anything
seriously. "Anarchy? OH COOL, that means we can set stuff on fire,
teehee! ^_^" 
And then they would because they're dumb. 

Humans don't respect each other very much, but I suppose that could
work (did work?) as long as it was NECESSARY. But I'd still be pretty
scared of the initial upheaval (what if there's a small civil war? a
large one? bloodshed? French Revolution-esque?). 
I actually didn't know that there had been anarchies before, thanks
for the info. =) 

So... people will work just to help people? I've always thought that
in my head: people just working for the good of everyone--no money,
just services. But I've always been lost on how it would progress to
that. I wish it would, because I've loved the idea since I was
little...

I would like that kind of anarchy as long as it didn't come about
violently and I don't see any other way for it to come around. : ( 
People are hard-headed these days.  But if there were a non-violent
way... Where have all the 'Gandhi's gone?

Tell you what, if you ever decided to start a revolution, tell me.
It'd be great to see a childhood ideal come true within out lifetimes.
I'm not sure I really have much more to add, as I don't really have
any other qualms. ^_^b (Hence, this wasn't sent in a letter)
neoeno says:   6 April 2008   574559  
It is possible that there would be a revolution without violence
(there was a big train of thought back in the early union days that
class-war would culminate in a general strike, and people would take
over their workplaces), after all there are two people who partake in
power relations, the one who imposes and the one that accepts. If
everyone just refused to take heed of their masters, everything would
be alllriiight.

Unfortunately.. this is unlikely. The forces of capitalism and the
state have made violent uprising (insurrection) the only means
possible by which a new society can be created. It sucks, a lot, but
that's the only way things can realistically happen as I see it. It's
another reason to hate the ruling class, because they have created
this system so that the only way we can change it is through
insurrection.

There is another side to this.... In disasters, such as Katrina, the
death rate actually declines (post the initial deaths of the disaster,
if applicable). People don't want to die when things are going on, and
there's a sense of community that people are actually having to talk
with their neighbours for once, out of mutual necessity, and of course
there's something to talk about. In the ideal revolution, the direct
oppressors (the police and the military) would be the only ones to end
up oppressed themselves.

I have to say it's worth it though. If the revolution could prevent a
bloody war initiated by those in power, it might even be of a net
benefit to the human populace. 

There's a train of thought that says the government is too armed to be
taken on any-more. This is not the case, because in the event of a
large-scale revolution, even if the military killed all the
revolutionaries, the country would be too unstable to sustain itself
(let alone the economy) and people would be so angry at their comrades
being killed that they would rise up too. It is possible :P

Your friends:
But to be rebels you have to have something to rebel against. They're
not so much rebels without a cause as rebels against authority of
various kinds. There are a lot of things influencing teenage rebellion
(it's not universal, for example), and I think they might be less
frivolous if they perhaps had something to do that might actually make
a difference rather than just working to work to work harder later
on.

The fact that people will do things for the benefit of others, and
give things away for free, is one of the best kept secrets
 
neoeno says:   6 April 2008   413914  
The fact that people will do things for the benefit of others, and
give things away for free, is one of the best kept secrets of modern
capitalism. There's a thing called a gift economy, a variant of which
was used by the native Americans, whereby people simply give things
away to whoever wants them. It's a great idea, not least because it's
so insane to a capitalist :P I have a friend who studies Economics,
and it made his head explode XD.

On Revolution:
That's the funny thing about the anarchist idea of revolution :P
Unlike communist revolution, the anarchist revolution can and is
taking place wherever there is power. Wherever a student disobeys a
teachers orders, whenever a worker phones in sick to spend the day
with his lover, and wherever love and sex between people is broken out
of traditional gender power roles, there is revolution. 

Naturally, no anarchist is fully liberated, and every anarchist will
have moments when they fear putting their plans in place, and bow to
that fear. But they all aspire to the goal of having no line between
their thought and action; an anarchist does what she thinks, and does
not simply theorise. An anarchist does not bow down to the 'realism'
that would have her abandon her dreams, but creates her own reality by
following them with such determination that even if she were to fail
she'd have lived a thousand lives more than if she had never tried.

So go revolt :P
 
‹ruthie .› says :   7 May 2008   767741  
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by
those who have not got it. 
- George Bernard Shaw
 

 
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