Friday, April 11, 2014

On Radicalism

The following are some thoughts I jotted down that seem worth preserving (as stimulants to further cogitation).

An authentic radical looks to his radices, seeking to know them, to acknowledge them, to incorporate them as intimate and familiar parts of himselfMost people don't go the very roots of their existence. They are happy to identify with externals that they can purchase without really owning. Shall I buy this jacket or that one? (It never occurs to me that I might make my own jacket, with materials I create from an environment I live in.) Shall I vote for this Tweedledum or that Tweedledee? (It never occurs to me that strengthening my family, strengthening community values, etc., might require more than voting--especially when the same T and T are always running for office.)

The true radical is someone who sees his roots, the roots that nourish his life, as most of modern society in the West simply does not. Not only do we fail to see our roots, we make a virtue of this failure. To be ignorant of our roots (in the countryside we visit only on vacation, in the foreign factories where our goods are produced cheaply, on the battlefields where our security--ignorance?--is defended by people we never meet) is a sign of culture, civilization, sophistication, even education (what is the university? many things to many people, but for too many it is a set of blinders shutting out reality, e.g. the reality that its life is built out of death: too many folks eat at the table without noticing where the food comes from, or where the shit goes after we are finished digesting it). People want to appear engaged, busy, productive, useful, etc., and that is understandable (even something good, at least as an aspiration). Unfortunately, the appearance of value (degrees, cvs, certificates, quarterly profits, money) is much easier to create than the real thing (value that endures, that respects the death that its existence causes--and makes that death apparent rather than hiding it where people can ignore or avoid it).

"Radicals" in society are mostly just adolescent poseurs (who resent their parents for being stodgy and dull and mean, etc., but still expect regular checks in the mail to pay for weekend benders with their fellow "radicals"). The real radicals are too busy living to waste time posing.

"Radicals" camp out on Wall Street and complain that it should be a garden. Radicals move to the country, get a job (ideally from themselves), and make a garden, forgetting that Wall Street exists (because they couldn't care less: they don't need it, for anything).

"Radicals" complain that healthcare is too expensive. Radicals round up doctors to found healthcare co-ops (and/or charity clinics that they themselves will patronize, waiting their turn in line with the homeless).

"Radicals" complain that education is too expensive. Radicals don't go to school (unless you count the school of hard knocks).

"Radicals" think that the solution to every problem involves lots of talk (angry talk, happy talk, sad talk, solemn talk, papers, conferences, symposia, social media, journalism, political meetings, religious gatherings, etc.). Radicals think that talk is cheap, even when they speak.  

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