My eye is infected. I don't know why it's just my right eye that's affected. When this happened weeks ago, I was told it was a development of allergies, that I should take allergy medicine daily. I'm prescribed a bottle of drops. They don't work. I'm prescribed an ointment. I'm to apply it on the inside of my eyelid. Six times a day. I do it because I'm tired of this shit. I do it because my own body's regulatory regime doesn't seem to care about conjunctivitis. I envy my son, stupidly, for his body's response to an ear infection.
I'd kill for a fever right now to cook this shit off. But it's not coming, so I buy the ointment, which costs a dollar and a half. I'm thankful for that, but resent the whole process. Resent my dependence on this, resent the itching, resent the fucking hazy vision. But I do it because I don't know what else to do. In the distance, I idly imagine my eye rotting out of my head.
I think about what Karl said. I think about modern America's fears: of death, of aging, of illness, of incapacitation, of maiming, of crippled hands and feet, of missing eyes and teeth. I know the disease that in turn springs from such hopeless fear, the real impotence that results from a life lived in denial of the inevitability of its end.
I think about human experimentation and drug trials. I think about Jack Crow and biological warfare tested in our own backyards. I think about millions of aching backs, millions lost to office obesity, millions of drug addicts legal and otherwise. I know about what society promises in terms of health and pleasure. I know how it delivers--no, fosters--plague, dysfunction, and pain.
And I think about the technocratic paradise that IOZ well eviscerates. I remember arguments with liberal friends who insist that all technology trickles down. I know that many of us have become accustomed to pleasures whose payment we are becoming less and less able to afford. I know that things are going to change, and that will bring disappointment as surely as opportunity. Many of us still live in a world that is fast being revealed to be false--and what is not false is flimsy.
And I remember Orwell's statement, in discussing Mein Kampf, that Hitler succeeds on the failure of Western capitalism--and most forms of socialism--to acknowledge that man does not merely desire idleness and pleasure--or, at least, not all the time. There is part of us that desires and should at least accept some hardship, some travail, some labor as essential to life, as inescapable and yet not necessarily evil or wrong. Some hardship is ennobling, and a life out of the cage would bring some amount of just that kind of hardship.
I feel we must acknowledge what states and authority and society do provide, not because we seek to defend all of the above but because we should think about what, in their hypothetical absence, many will still seek. Humanity has paid a high cost for civilization, usually unwillingly. And yet many would return to its greatest crimes, if only to obtain some of its benefits.
Can we fault the individual who would choose health in slavery over disease in freedom? It is a false choice, surely, for civilization impoverishes billions so that millions may enjoy marginal corrections, and yet this is the choice that people will face unless we can address their fears. People in anarchy will still desire antibiotics. People in anarchy will desire lenses ground so they can see, corrective surgery so they shall not limp, cancer treatments, braces.... And if the list of demands becomes ridiculous when we extend it to iPhones and Precious Moments figurines, the fact is that people have a right to demand them. Maybe liberty will make us less desirous of folly. Anarchists should choose well how they respond to the folly remains, and to the more deserving desires as well.
Archaeology even shows us that the first generations of city-dwellers dwindled in size. Hunter-gatherers were fitter and taller, if shorter-lived. We may wonder who was happier; there is no way to know. In any case, it is only with the rise of industry that humans began to get larger (in both positive and negative meanings of the word). One can marvel at the height of Japanese men and women today, compared only to their grandparents.
If there is much that is sick and perverse about civilization, and there is much about which to be discontent, we must still think about what anarchism will provide, and what will be sacrificed. Any model that relies on a precipitous drop in population is going to be a failure with those of us who do not want to be one of the billions judged to be excessive. Any model that tells us to shrug and accept death that has recently become avoidable will be dismissed for similar reasons. I'm not saying we don't have to prepare for changes, even painful changes--especially if we live above certain income brackets where our comfort is necessarily predicated on the suffering of others. At the same time, we should acknowledge why so many of us stay in our cages if we ever want to lure ourselves into an outside about which we are ignorant and fearful.
If there is much that is sick and perverse about civilization, and there is much about which to be discontent, we must still think about what anarchism will provide, and what will be sacrificed. Any model that relies on a precipitous drop in population is going to be a failure with those of us who do not want to be one of the billions judged to be excessive. Any model that tells us to shrug and accept death that has recently become avoidable will be dismissed for similar reasons. I'm not saying we don't have to prepare for changes, even painful changes--especially if we live above certain income brackets where our comfort is necessarily predicated on the suffering of others. At the same time, we should acknowledge why so many of us stay in our cages if we ever want to lure ourselves into an outside about which we are ignorant and fearful.ReplyDelete
Keep going, Cuneyt.
What you are saying all rests upon several assumptions that can be questioned. All having to do with how we find meaning in our lives. As for me, personal comfort, security, and health are of secondary importance to how my existence and means of subsistence impact others. Meaning that my comforts, if they come at the expense of others, are no longer comforts. They become existential pain. I would rather suffer poverty and personal degradation than material wealth if material wealth is paid for with the blood of another. If I am one of the billions, then so be it, if that is what it comes to. I don't mean that dramatically, it just is. It is more important that we exist in balance with our world than that my personal vanities and affectations are sated.
But, I see no reason why this false choice of existence vs. anarchy is a real choice. If it is a real choice, I'll choose anarchy. If it is not a choice, then I'll feel shame that we've allowed these false assumptions to lead to so much misery for so many for so long.
...people have a right to demand them.ReplyDelete
I wouldn't call it a right.
agree with Justin here:ReplyDelete
As for me, personal comfort, security, and health are of secondary importance to how my existence and means of subsistence impact others. Meaning that my comforts, if they come at the expense of others, are no longer comforts. They become existential pain.
Thank you both for your thoughts.ReplyDelete
I don't believe in a dichotomy between anarchy and existence. Indeed, it is because I support existence that I believe that we must combat what is untenable, unjust, and damaging. Perhaps scars, bumps, and bruises are to be our lot if we don't want to be veal calves, but by refusing to answer the question of polio, the critics of civilization concede to it a major point.
And I don't want others to be sacrificed for me, but I don't think sacrificing myself for others is just, either. Maybe I'm bending over backward to reform the unreformable, but I maintain my right to exist and understand others' desire to do the same. I believe in anarchy for the billions of people on this earth, and maybe we can't be billions for very long. In any case, any utopia can be afforded the survivors when you kill off enough of the disposable; it is the logic of capitalism too, isn't it?
And I don't believe that people have a right to get things, Karl. (Of course, there is no such thing as rights to begin with, but anyway.) I do believe people have a right to assert, however.ReplyDelete
And I do believe people have a right to support tyranny. I may differ, disagree, or even combat that support, but I have an obligation to understand why. And it's tactically helpful, too.
Fuck. Scratch "support" and replace it with "favor."ReplyDelete
Capitalism is the economics of immiserating the many for the comforts of a few.ReplyDelete
I also agree that sacrificing yourself just for the sake of a few others is not desirable, that is really not what I meant to express, at any rate. to intentionally be the exploited so that one is not the exploiter is no real solution to anything. To refuse to be either is the goal, and to fully be able to do that, one has to have a willingness to define their own existential meaning on as varied a set of terms as possible.
Killing off the disposable? I want no part of that, nor does it sound like anarchism. That sounds like industrial capitalism. And to that end, I ask you what commodity speculation is; the burning off of the poor by creating artificial shortages in the availability of food.
Justin, I read too much into your statement that if you were one of the billions, so be it. Of course, you added the caveat "if that is what it comes to."ReplyDelete
I don't believe we have yet to see the carrying capacity of this planet, should people enjoy equal access to the fruits of labor.
I have the right to demand the freedom to kill, without negative consequence to me, those whom I see as obstacles?ReplyDelete
Sure you do. It's when you try to exercise that freedom that we may argue and then I'd have to post a harshly worded entry on my weblog. But you can demand any ol' thing you wish.ReplyDelete
Something's missing here.ReplyDelete
Modern weaponry enables mass murder at the press of a button --without prior assertion of any rights on the extinction of others-- which tends to negate the point(s) of idea-markets and ability to restrain those who would implement their freely-expressed lethal ideas.ReplyDelete
Most lethal actors don't externally debate their "rights" before acting on them.
No, I doubt they do. All I'm saying is that there's a difference between saying you have a right and having that right. People can demand things without having a right to get them. Perhaps a glib difference, but I don't fault people their senses, urges, or wants. Too much work for me.ReplyDelete
...there's a difference between saying you have a right and having that right. People can demand things without having a right to get themReplyDelete
Yep. I thought it relevant to make explicit the tensions inherent in such freedoms, rights, whatever-we-call-thems. Not really disagreeing with you in substance.
A thoughtful post that resonates with my own ponderings about the positive implications of an anarchist position. I feel an overwhelming urge to imagine a utopian future if only to counter-balance the nihilistic despair that accompanies enlightened awareness of the current state of affairs.ReplyDelete
If we are to be anarchists, then it is not enough (for me) to repeat the critique ad infinitum. In the absence of hope, I must create dreams.
Those who tear down, must also be able to build back up.