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Forum Post: Liberals and Radicals (VERY IMPORTANT to understand Occupy tensions)

Posted 2 years ago on Jan. 31, 2012, 3:47 p.m. EST by sycamore (13)
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https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL03B7223CAED365DD

This explains better than anything I've seen the distinction between the Liberal and the Radical mindset and analysis.

14 Comments

14 Comments


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[-] 2 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

Her definitions are both deeply flawed and self contradicting. They set up false dichotomies. They provide zero evidence backing up declarations masquerading as truth. And, given her insulting asides, she is clearly disingenuous in her declaration that she doesn't care which side of the (false) divide one chooses to be on. Seems to me like a lot of self-aggrandizing is going on beneath a thin veneer of objective sounding analysis.

It seems that everyone, including activists, need to feel better than someone else.

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Sadly, I agree with you. I think this whole "analysis" does nothing to advance this movement - quite the opposite.

[-] 1 points by sycamore (13) 2 years ago

while she doesn't offer it in this talk, I've seen others in which she explicitly says that this is not an absolute dichotomy, and that the categories are essentialized in order to clarify ends of a spectrum.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

But she doesn't provide justification for the spectrum, she simply declares it. And the definitions are demonstrably false. It is not, in my view, a valid exercise, and it serves to divide unnecessarily.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

The problem here is materialism. A lot of us came to the conclusion a long time ago, that the whole debate surrounding materialism is just a misleading sum-zero game. Once materialism becomes the accepted paramaters of the debate, we have already lost.

It is not that these issues aren't real, it's just that they don't have the power to evolve our consciousness and thus change the world. If the debate is conducted under the confies of materialism than we all just become materialists and end up back where we started.

[-] 2 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

Here I would disagree with you, GK. We live in a material world, and there are material systems in it that act to oppress. Those systems must change. While it is true that slaves have often been deeply spiritual people, we still need to end material slavery nonetheless. We are material and Spirit. We are consciousness and body. The world is lifted via evolving understanding of fairness and changing structures (institutions) that inhibit fairness.

We need to do BOTH: change ourselves AND change the world, and nothing need prohibit both from happening simultaneously. In fact, both actions reinforce each other.

Indeed, that is what I find objectionable about this speaker: she sets up the same false choice as you are doing now, only from the other side of it.

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

I don't think we really have any disagreement here.

Clearly we are material beings who must live in a material world and find material solutions. What I am trying to say is that, if that is all we are; or if we become subsumed in the complexities of the material struggle alone than we have lost the battle, because the greater battle is spiritual.

This may seem hard to accept, but I one worked in a place where I knew a miserable American corporate executive, earning over a million a year, and a Mexican laborer who made twelve dollars an hour cleaning rusted metal bolts. The Mexican laborer was a happy family man, more friendly, open and welcoming that his far more wealthy brother, who was miserable with his work and getting a divorce.

The Mexican laborer. although much older, lived longer too.

In the past, material reform movements have become stuck in materialism, and have failed for that very reason. If all you see is the distribution of wealth, them you will inevitably be doomed to the repetition of the cycle, until you wind up one again with poverty. It is the spiritual side of mankind that matters, the rest is simply squabbling over so much dust.

I say that as a man who has always been poor as a church mouse.

I truly believe, that only in stretching ourselves to the futhermost limits can we grow. Only in doing this can we transcend and heal. We must have a deep spirituality to do this, because only through a deep spirituality can we transcend the fear of poverty through the acceptance of death, and thus really see the common lot of humanity and come to love our brothers and sisters on earth.

[-] 1 points by sycamore (13) 2 years ago

Material struggle doesn't mean it's the only arena of struggle. Of course material and spiritual are reciprocal processes. I am no progressive socialist and hold no faith in fixing the world by providing a consumer-class standard of living to everybody on Earth; there would be no planet left in a decade. Nonetheless, overcoming the spiritually impoverished nature of hollow and meaningless consumer existence involves creating a new way to live, and while we can't create that without a change in mentality, a change in mentality without actively materializing it will do nothing. Actively materializing a better world will be met with force by the people and institutions whose power is based on the current system, and therefore we must take them on.

[-] 1 points by sycamore (13) 2 years ago

Material struggle doesn't mean it's the only arena of struggle. Of course material and spiritual are reciprocal processes. I am no progressive socialist and hold no faith in fixing the world by providing a consumer-class standard of living to everybody on Earth; there would be no planet left in a decade. Nonetheless, overcoming the spiritually impoverished nature of hollow and meaningless consumer existence involves creating a new way to live, and while we can't create that without a change in mentality, a change in mentality without actively materializing it will do nothing. Actively materializing a better world will be met with force by the people and institutions whose power is based on the current system, and therefore we must take them on.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

Yes, we must take them on. But we also need to define clearly how we will take them on.

Please don't think I am putting you in the hot spot here! These are just questions we must go through, to the greatest degree of our ability, if we are to improve the world. I really think antagonism on all levels shoud be avoided as much as possible, for the betterment of humanity and of the world.

And so I ask again - you and me and everyone here - how do we take them on in a way that is productive, and beneficial for all of us in our quest for life, liberty and the persuit of happiness?

[-] 1 points by sycamore (13) 2 years ago

The core of it is simply this: we will never win if our only tactic is trying to convince abstract and morally vacant institutions like corporations and governments to change. They will never change under their own accord. While changing the minds of the people is absolutely critical, it is only necessary insofar as it moves them to material action—because hunger, lack-of-shelter, and war are material (unless you think they're delusions we can rid ourselves of through meditation, in which case we have nothing more to say to one another), and so lack thereof is also material. We've been though hope and change. The powerful will not concede their power because they think people want them to. They will do it when we make their power obsolete, or take power away from them.

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

I agree with you completely. Let me say that I am not some idealistic dreamer; far from it. What we are looking for here is concrete means and it seems that you, not I, are unwilling to address this issue; as all you are offering here are abstractions,

You say, "The powerful will not concede their power because they think people want them to." But you put forward no actual plan to go about doing this.

[-] 1 points by RedJazz43 (2757) 2 years ago

What this discounts is the notion of a continuum. I do not discount the notion of epiphany, where someone has a revelation that changes their life and their way of relating to the world, but I think that gradual change (and often cognitive dissonance) is more common. That is, people can behave quite radically, yet retain an essentially liberal world view. The converse is also not uncommon, where a radical world view can often lead to quiescence. One manifestation of this is when radicals with both years of experience and historical understanding under their belts come to the conclusion that some strategy or tactic won't work because it's been tried before in the past and didn't work. Less sophisticated liberals, with less experience and less historical knowledge try an old forgotten strategy, basically because they are too stupid to know it won't work, only to find that it works brilliantly when tried again.

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (9727) 2 years ago

This is just reinforing a failed and outmoded dichotomy, based purely upon materialism (yes, Marx was a materialist); materialism being the first mental construct we must throw out in order to move forward to a broader and more inclusive spirituality that embraces the whole of humanity.

We simply must move beyond the innate human tendency to define the world through distinction rather than inclusion. This implies a shift in consciousness that many have a very hard time grasping. It has to do with separating the soul from the intellectual ego.

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