For those of us progressively inclined

One of the hardest things for those a progressive disposition to understand is that morality is not a feature of their reason. They also do not understand at all that cultural dislocation — the sense of being incredibly at odds with the entire culture you are in once you’ve moved out of your old one — is primarily a cultural issue, and not a moral one.

To accept such seems to be the hardest thing for many progressives, on so many levels. Because what it means is that just by having moral insight into a matter, one does not have the power — even potentially, or if the whole world adopts a progressive’s disposition — to alleviate the distress of millions.

One desperately wants to believe that by working hard to correct one’s personal flaws, and by drawing up a blueprint for a genuine incorporation of peoples of all races into society’s fray on an equal footing, one can thereby ameliorate the inequalities that the new refugees or migrants to which they had previously been accustomed.

Really hot to trot progressives will go so far as to determine depths and degrees of suffering by doing some research into the historical circumstances of any country, in order to develop a clear idea of who has suffered how much, and therefore how much amelioration they require in terms of acceptance and respect for having suffered.

Viewing things in these terms is entirely appropriate.

Yet the Western progressive ought to understand a little better than he or she perhaps does that her standards for the measurement of suffering are, in fact, Western standards, and not the standards of the cultures from which the bedraggled refugees in fact originate. Also, that the colour of the skin, or indeed, the fact of being implicated on one side or another of a war that happened overseas, does not and cannot in any way determine the depth and degree of anybody’s subjective suffering. In particular one should realise that you cannot how much somebody has suffered. Historical and social skills give you, at best, the basis for making a strong hypothesis — no more.

For instance, upon my reading of Marechera I discovered that one does not suffer “because one is black”. One suffers because one is culturally dislocated and probably has attendant localised racism to deal with, to make that worse. Rare is the person who only has sexism or racism to deal with, to make their lives a misery. It is usually (speaking from personal experience) the cultural aspects of identity that cut one deepest — making one feel worse.

Consider, now, that even whites can suffer. Victor de Waal states in THE POLITICS OF RECONCILIATION:

The losers’ graves remain places of private grief. No further
memorials have been erected in the cathedral. Is it surprising that some should be clinging still to the beliefs that urged them to their deaths? (p 86)

Do you want to know why whites do not forget “The old Rhodesia”? Can you guess the answer? It is because they LOST the war and thereby lost the meanings of their lives, their hopes, their destination, their dreams and the familiarity of a world that could make sense for them all at once! They cannot adapt to the present because their present worlds do not make for them a lot of sense.

AND THERE IS LITTLE THAT IS MORAL ABOUT THIS FACT.

–It is not the result of some kind of system of natural justice at work in the nature of things. It is not an outcome of some divine providence. If they had had more military power, or more combined resources, they could have won their war of oppression. Their winning or losing of the war was in itself a practical issue — not, specifically, a moral one.

Morality does not — let us be sure about this fact — assure that the good always come out on top and the bad sink to the bottom of society. If that were truly the case, there would be no need for progressive justice. Think about it.

And if, for some reason, the ‘bad guys’ that you want to lose do in fact lose — and the ‘good guys’ that you want to win actually come out on top for a change — then that has everything to do with how resources of power have been deployed in order to force an issue. Every time.

IT IS STILL NOT A MORAL OUTCOME BUT A PRACTICAL ONE!

So, where does morality even fit in? — It fits in with the intellectual and ideological rigour that you can develop to enhance your personal understanding.

Do you see a black person and think, “goodness, let me see how I can help them!”

Do you see a white person and think, “well, history dealt you out a nice comeuppance, and righteously
so!”

If so, you have not even learned a beginner’s moral lessons about how to treat people:

Morality isn’t the attitude you adopt in order to shine socially or academically — social climbing on the basis of your professed powers of discernment.

Morality, for all that it is not, is actually the insight that you start to have when you discover that injustice is inherent to life, and start to know that nobody deserves to be treated on the basis of their origins and/or skin colour. I would like to hold you responsible for not getting to know others through their culture, however. I’m unpleasant in that way.

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Identity politics: a sign of our pathological times

What is nice is not to be attacked by ideologists.

For many years I have been the victim of one variety of ideologist after another.

I expect that the reason there are so many ideologues is part and parcel of the psychologically decadent aspect of Modernity. One does not approach a person as a human being any more, to find out what does or doesn’t make them tick. Processes of Modernity (especially industrialism and its machinelike processes) have habituated us towards abstracting our sense of an “identity” as well as a moral lable to apply to others without so much as engaging with them beyond a cursory nod.

Those afflicted with this kind of Modernist thinking — and they are the majority — will tend to attack first, without really communicating, and without even realising that communication is necessary for human beings. (If you call them on the fact that they are not actually communicating at all, but are merely playing the role of ideologists in a mechanical fashion, they will not understand what you are getting at.)

So I was attacked by those who thought they were the reeducating me to my benefit. And I was continuously attacked by those who thought they were conservatives. Then I was attacked from behind by those who thought that they were social egalitarians and unionists, but who were heavily into identity politics and didn’t like people from Africa. Then I was attacked again — much more ferociously this time — by those who throught they were being evangelical. These attacks seem to have been never ending.

I will probably be attacked by those who view themselves as postmodern and liberals until the day I die.

And so it is and so it goes.  The capacity for any sort of communication falls by the wayside. But nobody realises this BECAUSE they all have morality on their side!

anticolonialism

Fucking coughing into death the blood the pain the guts of life. I fucking coughed it out, and it landed, lo and behold not a little distance away from me, suspended in thin air, holding forth out there, with little respect, with little redeeming qualities, fucked out, choked out.

I wish to say this to all you who dither, to all you who float out yonder: Behold my spew and note that it is younger than you.

I met death once, and he had a face of an angel. This is the end of your life, fine soul, he said, and held out a cupcake.

I shivered.

The end of the road, the end of the road, so soon. I spat it out. It landed in the air and there it sits. In airlessness.

I spat out hopes, dreams and desires. You have taken these all away from me. I said. I do not want them any more. They are yours. Please have them.

I spat out my personality. “This personality is shit!” I proclaimed. It Sux. It’s toxic and I cannot toleratte it any more. Please take it from me.

I spat out the ideas i had previously cherished.

I settled down in your crud world. The world of no personalities. The world without dreams. Without hopes, aspirations. I’d spat them all out.

I said, “behold here i am in the west, and it is a desert of nothingness, far more arid than any Arabian desert. I am in it.”

I spat out your own toxicity, which you had fed me as a joke. There is spins, solitary in nothingness.

I spat out the sunsets and the rainy mornings. You wanted them all from me. Empty pockets. Colonialist mentality — you called it.

SPAT IT OUT.

Here I now sit. Waiting for the descent of a different dream. I am still waiting.

I spat out my BLOOD for heaven’s sake!

Give me a little token

of your abstraction.

Hugh MacKay’s moral amazement!

Hugh Mackay writes in Saturday’s West Australian concerning the moral maze of contemporary society. According to Mackay, this maze is complexified by the contemporary crunchdown which is the lack of job security for today’s embattled workers. Mackay holds that, in view of the lack of reliable income, it is beholden to workers to consider their positions in a light of greater moral complexity than they would if only workplaces offered stable and secure prospects. The complexity which invokes the “hazy moral territory” for Mackay is this: If one stands up for another worker who is being abused – with such abuse having become a more common aspect of working life, according to Mackay — then one might risk oneself for no good outcome, especially if “the employee concerned is not distressed enough to speak up”.

Despite the complexity which pertains to such a workplace situation, one should not feel that one is heading into “hazy moral territory” by speaking up for a fellow worker. Moral precepts are not altered, just because workers face more difficulties in the workplace than they did previously. The pragmatics of the situation have altered. It remains morally correct to oppose abuse in all its forms, and to stand up for those who are victimised, no matter how this is the most difficult option, for this is the actual meaning of morality, as opposed to surviving pragmatically.