Fragmentation

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Fragmentation

"The Right are winning – not because of their great policies and institutions – but because the Left is losing..."

"The Left is losing because the Left is fragmented. From this simple insight we might ask: how can we overcome this problem of fragmentation and in-so-doing start to generate real social power for the Left?"

"One answer to this question is to unify around what we are against."

By Mark Evans
https://zcomm.org/zblogs/taking-activism-to-the-next-level/

Can we see the irony in this post from Mark Evans? "Left, Right, winning, overcoming, unifying around what we are against", all the while attempting to explore the problem of fragmentation.

http://www.liquidsolidarity.org/content/next-system-whole-systems-change.

Is it possible for us to see the already intertwined world? To watch of our (brain's) tendency to dualize, to divide into subject and object, then stand back as if we haven't participated in this process? Can we see this, moment-to-moment, especially when we are triggered, defensive, offensive, etc?

What kind of clearing (intelligence) might emerge out of this seeing?

(tried to file this under general discussion, but wasn't allowed, added to online meeting a bit on a whim)

Questioning and fragmentation

What is questioning, how can we question in a way that moves us forward?

As DM Levin writes "It is our commitment to a ceaseless self-questioning, and to the building of a society in which such questioning is encouraged, which will make our living genuinely ontological [real], and not the answers and orthodoxies where we stop to rest along the way."

Is this possible? Can it help us to avoid the thinking pitfalls (subject/object) which tend dominate our cultural thinking?

As Levin continues (quoting Heidegger), our work "measured by what we take ourselves to be, what we trust we are capable of, and what we dare as perhaps the extreme challenge, one we may just barely withstand." This is how...we can 'prepare' for the coming-to-pass of a new epoch in the history of Being.

Inclusiveness

When I wrote the Our Movement call, I wanted to say something about avoiding fragmentation, but couldn't think of things to say beyond platitudes. Having thought about it more, I now think the key to avoiding fragmentation may be to take the notion of inclusiveness very serious. Specifically, I think that in many cases fragmentation starts with someone feeling their voice is not being heard. Not in a physical sense, but like, “Yes, we are aware that you are producing sounds, but we choose to politely ignore them”, or – if ignoring is no longer an option – to be dismissive without due and open-minded consideration of the merits of what is being said. It is much easier to accept that your insightful proposal is not going to be implemented if you know it has been paid appropriate attention to.

Just like in the society we aim for, where everyone's voice is important, we must make sure that everyone's voice in our movement also counts. If we see someone being unduly dismissive, we should gently intervene, and not let anyone's voice be drowned out.

Questioning

I suspect that being questioning is the natural disposition of human beings, but that this disposition is conditioned out from a young age on, in particular by the prevalent system of schooling, to be replaced by a more accepting docility. Society as it is cannot deal with structures of dominance being seriously questioned. It is tolerated as long as there is no challenge, but the continuation of the existing subservience to power depends on people believing in its reality. If my suspicion is right, we don't need to learn to be questioning. We just need to unlearn being docile.

Having a questioning disposition need not mean that one is self-questioning, but I think that would naturally follow. People cling unquestioningly to certain certainties, about the world and also about themselves, because they fear that if they let these go everything they believe in will come crushing down. What they don't know is how liberating it is to let go. Yeah, no more certainties! You see how everything you believed in was covered by a veil of deception, and how there is a whole real world under that veil. And then it is no longer a threat to question yourself either.

Inclusiveness/Questioning

Thanks, Lambert. Yes, thank you.

From these kind of shared unfoldings is it possible to set up dynamic structures that act as resistors to the tendency to hold on to answers and orthodoxies?

How can the words, structures, and systems we use help keep us "thinking at the edge" and how can that stay dynamic as well?

“There is no separation," Eugene Gendlin says, "between us and what we find. Our situations don’t exist without us...”

********

On a related but separate note, Daniel Dennett offers the following for criticising with kindness:

1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.

2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

4.Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Rick

Criticising with kindness

Dennett's program, if I may call it that, made me smile. I'd like to see him try that on Heidegger's Being and Time. OK, Heidegger is dead, but I just can't imagine that he would have been thankful for even the most earnest attempt Dennett could have made at representing his philosophy clearly, vividly, and fairly. But maybe I'm unfair to Heidegger here. I also think that neither Searle nor Nagel have been grateful to Dennett for his presentation of their positions in Consciousness Explained.

That said, his program would offer obvious advantages beyond the extension of kindness to the object of criticism; it would also be helpful to a third party trying to learn from the exchange of ideas.

A particular form of debate between two opponents of which I've seen several instances at ZNet goes as follows:

Discussant A                   Discussant B
Presentation by A            Presentation by B
Criticism of B's position  Criticism of A's position
Rebuttal by A                    Rebuttal by B
...                                         ...

This seemingly parallel debate consists of two strands that connect the items zigzag-wise, like the threading of shoelaces. These two strands never meet, which may help to explain while such debates devolve into the opponents re-iterating their points. After reading through all this, I'm rarely edified.

Assuming the discussants are following Dennett's program, I think an interesting modification would be if each, instead of producing a rebuttal to the other's criticism, was to adjust the presentation and content of their position to take account of the criticism, whereupon each should adjust their criticism sections accordingly, repeating this loop until convergence. That should remove all the noise caused by misunderstandings or less felicitous formulations.

Remaining openminded

I'm not familiar with the work of Eugene Gendlin, but the quote sounds a bit like social constructionism.

I'm more of a social constructivist: inasmuch as reality is socially constructed, we can use that to make our dreams become reality. See my blog at IOPS, Dreaming Revolution.

When the Berlin Wall was opened, many people in East Berlin initially stayed home because they could not believe they could cross without repercussions. Only when they learned that their neighbours had visited West Berlin without problems did they dare to venture out.

I think the tendency to hold on to answers and orthodoxies is likewise based in fear. And that fear is grounded in conditioning. But if you see that your neighbours, your colleagues, your friends, can question and even make fun of cherished tenets and certainties without their being struck by lightning, or the earth opening up and swallowing them, you'll be able to overcome your fears. So I think the transformation of society to a free one will also remove the chains of fear that keep our perceptions fettered.

We'll need to set up structures that are resistant to the lust for power, and we'll need to reform education so that it does not stifle but instead cherishes and encourages the natural curiosity and creativity of children. But in my current thinking we wouldn't need to institute separate dynamic structures that act as resistors to the tendency to hold on to orthodoxies – I'd even fear that they might degenerate into static institutions for maintaining a new orthodoxy, maybe not as bad as the “reeducation camps” of China and Vietnam, but still in the end not helpful.

comments

Hi Lambert,

I added some comments, maybe you received them, but I'm confused why they don't show up here?

Thanks,

Rick

Re: comments

Yes, I received them as messages “Between you and ricknew” in my account here. Most likely a bug in the system.

Missing comment re Remaining openminded

At 4:22 am, ricknew wrote:

Thanks, Lambert.

>I think the tendency to hold on to answers and orthodoxies is likewise based in fear.
That seems like a key point, fear is the energy/emotion we can be caught in at any moment.

Yes, and to try and add/contrast to what you are saying...

>> socially constructed, we can use that to make our dreams become reality.
Yes, I'd like to pick up on that further, perhaps later on.

>> But in my current thinking we wouldn't need to institute separate dynamic structures

An example might be the way John Cage & Merce Cunningham set up a working structure, or the way Cage used silence in 4' 33'', etc. In the first instance, the structure avoided creating correspondence between the sounds and dance and allowed for more dynamic interplay, in 4'33'' an environment for noticing the silence that might have otherwise been missed.

These structures might be repeated, but they could be made up in an infinite ways helping to avoid orthodoxy. Consciously creating structures could help us to see how we are already creating structures anyway.

Something came about Gendlin...

One of Gendlin's contributions was IOFI (instance of itself) which points out that while this conversation might be like another conversation, it is always unique, always having an effect in itself. We shift more consciously into the present moment and the effect of our words and actions. Those instances move from moment to moment, unfolding in a multiplicity of ways and directions. By moving along in the present, we carry the past, but are not bound by it as it is always in transformation. We begin to notice where we are stuck.

In the case of the dreams becoming reality, the initial thought, dream idea, becomes the doorway and it undergoes continuous transformation as it works it way through the group or the individual. The movement the doorway it generates may not have much to do with its original form.

Perhaps, anything can become a static institution for maintaining a new orthodoxy, a dream, a structure, etc? To live, perhaps these bodies of dreams/structures can be seen in their dynamic nature (change?)

Thanks so much,

Rick

Missing comment re: Criticising with kindness

At 4:00 pm, ricknew wrote:

Assuming the discussants are following Dennett's program, I think an interesting modification would be if each, instead of producing a rebuttal to the other's criticism, was to adjust the presentation and content of their position to take account of the criticism, whereupon each should adjust their criticism sections accordingly, repeating this loop until convergence.

That is a very interesting modification.

Perhaps could add to that "until convergence" and/or agreed upon landscape or points on a map that don't necessarily contradict one another (though it may have seemed that way in the beginning)

Messages

Thanks for moving over the messages, Lambert.