Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Kinds of power"

I was moved to hunt up this passage from a book by Rollo May, "Power and Innocence," from a discussion still going over at bfp's (see here for context, if you like). It seems worth a separate discussion in a post of its own, so here 'tis.

3. Kinds of Power.

A. Exploitative. This is the simplest and, humanly speaking, most destructive kind of power. It is subjecting persons to whatever use they may have to the one who holds the power. Slavery, of course, is the obvious example…Exploitative power identifies power with force. In pioneer America the use of bullets to transform others into lifeless hulks…fall into this category….

In everyday life this kind of power is exercised by those who have been radically rejected, whose lives are so barren that they know no other way of relating to other people except exploitation. It is even sometimes rationalized as the “masculine” way of dealing with women sexually…

Exploitative power always presupposed violence or the threat of violence. In this kind of power there is, strictly speaking, no choice or spontaneity at all on the part of the victims.

[Ed., my own note: the picture of the young woman standing down the tanks in Oaxaca i think contradicts this a bit, as do the choices of nonviolent protestors who risk their lives for principles everywhere; so then even there, choice IS possible; it’s just a very drastic choice and one that it is unlikely that most people are going to make. But I think what he’s saying is that there is, unlike the next example, no “contract” at all with the oppresser, even in a very stacked and unfair and dishonest way].

B. Manipulative. This is power over another person. Manipulative power may have been originally invited by the other person’s desperation or anxiety…

…Skinner [famous pioneer of “operant conditioning,” worked with rats and pigeons, a very mechanistic approach to psychology] is himself a living illustration of the individual who does not consciously confront his own power needs. He calls them the “passion to control.” For instance, in his book “Walden Two,”…the hero, speaks to his pigeons, “Behave, damn you! Behave as you ought!”

…It is often pointed out that the Germans, in the years before 1933, were in such a state of economic hopelessness and anxiety about their future that they succumbed to the manipulative power of Hitler in the hopes of assuaging their anxiety…

C. Competitive. The third kind of power is power -against- another. In its negative form, it consists of one person going -up- not because of anything he does or any merit he has, but because his opponent goes -down.-

…The chief criticism of this kind of power is its parochialism: it continually shrinks–although not as drastically as manipulation–the area of human community in which one lives.

But at this point we note a very interesting shift from desctructive to constructive power. For competition can give zest and vitality to human relations. I refer to the kind of rivalry that is stimulating and constructive. A football game…

It is worthwhile to remind ourselves that the great [Greek dramas] were produced in competition. The implication is that it is not competition itself that is destructive but only the -kind- of competitive power.

The competition between nations…in the race to the moon or [the Olympics; here he uses the example of capitalistic competition of cheaper and better technology, which, i think one could really spin off into a whole ‘nother argument] drains a great deal of tension that would otherwise go into warfare…

To have someone -against- you is notnecessarily a bad thing; at least he is not over you or under you, and accepting his rivalry may bring out dormant capacities in you.

D. Nutrient. This is power -for- the other. It is perhaps best illustrated by the parent’s care for his…[aha, here and only here, i note, does May use “his or her;” anyway, moving right along…] children. …Obviously a good deal of this kind of power is necessary in relations with friends and loved ones. It is the power that is given by one’s care for the other…At its best, teaching is a good example.

Statesmanship [i’d say “leadership,” here] again at its best, also shows an element of nutrient power….Nutrient power comes out of a concern for the welfare of the group for which the [leader] carries responsibility. It is the constructive aspect of political and diplomatic power.

E. Integrative. The fifth kind of power is -with- the other person. My power then -abets- my neighbor’s power.

…I was tempted to call this kind of power “cooperative,” but I realized it too often begins with the “victim” having to be co-opted into the co-operation. Our narcissism is forever crying out against the wounds of those who would criticize us or point out our weak spots. We forget that the critic may be doing us a considerable favor. Certainly criticisms are often painful, and one has to brace one’s self in the face of them. We can slide back into manipulative power (by forcefully silencing the critic) or competitive power (by making the critic look silly). Or we can even protect our thin skins by use of nutrient power (patronizing the critic by implying he is confused and needs our care). But if we do regress in these ways, we are losing an oppprtunity for new truth that the questioner, hostile or friendly as the case may be, may well be giving us…

Integrative power, as I have said, can lead to growth by Hegel’s dialectic process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. All growth, even that of molecular structures, proceeds in this way: there is one body, then there is its anti-body, and growth proceeds by the attraction or repulsion of these into a new body.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., illustrates integrative power in his description of the effect of nonviolence on his opponents. He states that his method “has a way of disarming the opponent. It exposes his moral defenses. It weakens his morale and at the same time works on his conscience. He just doesn’t know how to handle it.”

No one can deny that King is describing a kind of power. It depends for its success not only on the courage of the nonviolent ones, but also on the moral development and awareness of the persons who are the recipients of the nonviolent power…

Nonviolent power depends on memory, which in turn depends on the moral development of the persons against whom this kind of power is directed. The opponent has to live with himself, and Gandhi and King put him in the position of having to remember that he has injured them. …Man is the curious being who is afflicted by memory. If he cannot integrate his memories into his self-image, he must pay for his behavior by neurosis or psychosis; and he tries, generally in vain, to shake himself free of the tormenting memories.

[My note: and i see that working on the collective as well as the individual level. I suspect May does as well].

…first…nonviolence does not involve any blocking off of awareness. Second, it does not involve the renouncing of responsibility. Third, its purpose is not to gain something for the individual himself but for his community…

When it is authentic, nonviolence has a religious dimension, since by its very nature it transcends the human forms of power. It seems to be the fact, however, that for every authentic form of nonviolent power there are dozens of unauthentic attempts to claim the role.”

[…and now, the punchline:]

“These five different kinds of power are obviously all present in the same person at different times….The goal of human development is to learn to use these different kinds of power in ways adequate to the given situation.”


nezua said...

404 returned on the "context" link. :(

belledame222 said...

eh, sorry, nezua, it was that same bfp thread, this one. i'm not totally sure--well, it's worth reading in its own right, that thread, anyway.

FoolishOwl said...

I was thinking the other day that I actually do enjoy a feeling of power within sexuality, but I wasn't sure at how to describe what I meant by, aside from making it clear it wasn't about coercing or otherwise hurting another person. The latter two forms of power described would do the job nicely, I think.

On "exploitative" power: I hesitated at the word "exploitation," which I think is often used without reference to its origins. But I think the author was close to what I would mean if I were to talk to about exploitation.

I understand exploitation as claiming the virtues of an object for your own use. For instance, a farmer exploits soil to grow crops. That's fairly neutral, and not at all violent. However, living things can be exploited, and human beings can be exploited. Human beings in particular resist being exploited -- which is why there's violence involved. The violence in exploitative power comes from the effort to force human beings to accept being exploited as if they were inert objects.

belledame222 said...

Right. Whereas "manipulative" in his definition at least, seems to mean "partial objectification," as opposed to "total objectification," or near-total, as with "exploitation."

i'm glad i started rereading that from the beginning now--the opening is all about how he used to fear the word "power," and does link it to his politicization, the "protest" mentality. i'll need to pull more quotes at some point i expect.

The Unapologetic Mexican said...

ah, okay, thanks. i did read a bit of that. and these "types of power" are interesting, graz.

Bitch | Lab said...

OH. gawd. that bit reminds me of every focus group, workshop, political group, organizing meeting, etc. I ever went to in the 80s. it was like THE defining face of that kind of thing for awhile. like a staple you find in human resources lit for employees where there's always maslow's hiearchy of needs. part of pop culture kind of thing.

i didn't get CM's "power over" crap personally. as KH said, she's embraced the radical feminist approach to power and then tries to elide it by claiming that she NEVER makes absolutes godamnit.

heh. heh. heh. heh. LOLOLOLOLOLOL

but seriously, all it is is a convergentist theory where you either have power or you don't and she wants to claim a temporary all powerful whiteness as THE issue of the day, though of course it might be something else in, say, a decade.

i'm gonna bustagut laffing.

and, no, heart gets no quarter from me. she's a disrespectful little asshole who is there under the pretense of making connections with women of color. but she wants to manipulatively dominate and control the conversation in all the ways piny laid out. and it's sick because she is trying to pull a fast one. or so fucking blind from trying to see outside her intestines that she just doesn't realize how fucking MORE rude she is than TRex.

and the whining and whining about how radfems are harmed. if she'd ever ONCE acknowledge the way radfems, in thier official literature, HARM others.

oh just spare me.

can you find a feminist anthology written from any other perspective, Heart, that derogates transfols in no less than two articles and hints at it in a third? hmmm? Third wavers? Socialists? Chicana? Sex positive? Hmm? Any of those feinist write official publications represeting their publicatons to the world that contain articles on the evils of transfolk and "trans politics" hmmmm?

I'd love to know about 'em so I can put 'em at the top of my reading list and eviscerate those books. Eviscerate them. Right alongside the Big Red Book that chaps my ass, Radically Speaking, where you can read radical feminists engaging in transhate, approvingly quoting transexual empire, etc.

So, show me any other feminist anthology where a group of feminists tries to define what feminism is by including in their articles bullshit about the evils of transfolks as some kind of attack on radfem, right alongside the po-mos. cause po-mo and transgender and genderfucks go hand in hand doncha know.


belledame222 said...

i do not even understand half of what CM is saying, so, ____, at this point.

and yeah, the book was written in the 70's. what can i tell you. i found it useful at the moment.

and i love Maslow, and well, yeah, "it's all been done before," but, well? if it's still news to people, then, you know...

Bitch | Lab said...

well, yeah, but i'll be saying same about pomo discourse in 2020 if i'm still around. "Oh gawd, I rememember that crap from the 90s"

didn't mean it in a deragatory way. just that it brought back this flood of memories of how people framed the issue of power with these defs.

little light said...

You know, Raymond's "Transsexual Empire" is probably the only academic book I've never managed to get through. I wanted to understand its arguments better, and I wanted to read what amounted to an important moment in transgender studies, and I wanted to know what people were talking about.
I got through the first chapter before I gave it to a friend to turn in for me, because I was liable to destroy a library book, and that would be wrong. I studied the arguments through secondary sources after that.
I don't think I've ever been angrier from reading.

belledame222 said...

(did you mean this comment for this thread? no big, just wondering).

she's just horrible. i had this collection of essays--BL, you'd have loved it, it's a handy dandy little companion piece to Big Red, called, ah, "The Sexual Liberals and the War on Feminism."

(there's always a War of some sort, isn't there?)

Raymond had a couple of pieces in there (and she co-edited it with Dorchen Leidholdt). Jeffreys, too. I like to puke.

you can also see her writings & current influence all over the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, p.s.: she co-runs it with Leidholdt.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please enlighten me as to wtf is going on with CM? Feel free to e-mail me at ravenmn (little a squiggle thing) Cause I am appalled at how nice people were toward her at bfp and how rudely she stepped on that.

belledame222 said...

All I will say is that i was not surprised, because this is not the first time i have witnessed her behaving like that.

Bitch | Lab said...

little light was referring to my comment about transexual empire which is approvingly quoted in Radically Speaking -- which contains several articles that demean transfolk. As I've said before, I'm going to judge academic feminism by its academic output. In that case, I can compare the way their discourses are institutionalized. By which I mean, publishing is an institution and it has certain imperatives, etc. When feminists write books to represent their Brand Feminism, then it tells me something if they include in said book certain points of view.

also, what I don't get is this: how was CM's "power over" academic in any way shape or form?

it was a term she did not explain but that's it. to me, it's like explaining "sizzlean" to someone. fake bacon. but i use it to refer to the cops b/c it amuses me to do so. So, CM has her own usage.


Ravenmn. I liked CM when I first learned of her. Don't have a problem with her now, per se. Just don't care for defense of Blartow's nonsense. I don't care for what sometimes appears to be a reversal of Radfem where there is one system of power and everythign else is an instance of that power. Or, the appearance of a view of the world that privileges one system of oppression over another for any reason other than expedience for a given project at hand. e.g., i go to an antiwar demo to oppose imperialism, not to oppose a bazillion and one other things.

JackGoff said...

I'd like to hit up a bit of Rum Power, myself. 8^D

WV: jdzpvti

Hopefully that will be a word I understand by the end of the day.

Ravenmn said...

Well, the discussion is happening over at BFP and it's good to know I'm not the only one who was confused.

BL wrote: "As I've said before, I'm going to judge academic feminism by its academic output. In that case, I can compare the way their discourses are institutionalized."

The problem with that is, sometimes the academic output is significantly unaware of what activists are doing or what they are thinking.

My 25-year-old daughter has taken classes at the community college that have studied activist movements from the ancient times of the 1980s. The difference between what she reads about the movement(s) and what actually happened (I know because I was there helping to make it happen) can be truly astounding.

Rootietoot said...

ok...I read this carefully and it is actually making sense to me (must be a chemical thing, little makes sense to me these days). Tell me if I am misunderstanding. We all use each method to some degree. Children exploit their parents, and parents their children: I am perfectly capable of picking up zillions of pinecones on my own, but require my children to do it because they are closer to the ground. I withold privileges until they do.
I can manipulate my husband, by whining or using sex or whatever, or by the threat that I won't love him anymore, and he'll do what I want. I'm not saying I behave this way, only that I could, if I chose to.
My father and I compete to see who hits the bullseye the most, and winner buys beer. We both benefit but someone gets bragging rights.
My husband and I nurture each other, physically, psychologically, and spiritually, because of the I-Thou relationship (Martin Buber) where we see each other as equal to or more important than the self. I suppose integrative falls in there as well- self-sacrifice based in the desire for what's best for the other person.

I think people in general use all forms of relationships, depending on what the desired result is, and depending on the person they are relating to. I also think that relationships may not be what the outside observer perceives. Many people could easily think I am in a slave-master relationship, since there is a clear head of the household, and it's not me, but they would be wrong, because both of us benefit from our dynamic. I could even argue that I have the softer cushion.

Sylvia said...

This excerpt reminds me of the article that talks about the five faces of oppression...found it. By Iris Marion Young, where she assembles common frameworks surrounding oppression: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. Some of them group into particular types of power identified here.

prosphoros said...

cause po-mo and transgender and genderfucks go hand in hand doncha know.

Well, in my case, at least, that's true.

Bitch | Lab said...

"The problem with that is, sometimes the academic output is significantly unaware of what activists are doing or what they are thinking."

By academic, the contrast I meant is not opposed to activist. I can't judge activists because they don't speak with a voice. They often don't have names for themselves, let alone coherent principles or publications. Not that none of them do, just that it tends to be, IME, what Liza Featherstone, Henwood, and Chris Parenti called activistism.

You mentioned Sara Evans on my blog not too long ago, but that was at a point where things were utter chaos here (my partner's life's amess).

I knew her and her SO Harry Boyte -- put on a big conference just in honor of Harry in fact. They have a similar critique. But they are also good examples of academics who do get it right, two people who have been getting research monies for years to do great work. So, I'm not so sure about academics being totally useless.

I think it all has to work together.

As for what folks are doing on the ground, I'd liken it to the splits in early feminism: marxist fem yield radical fem. Radival fem and marxist fem >> socialist. Women of color and radical fem >> third wavers

They all came up with new names for themselves. I suspect the splits in radfem will yield the same. Unless people are attached to the word radical, and they may well be. Pity.

Bitch | Lab said...

prosphoros -- i'm pretty sure you're not the po-mo ridiculed in Radically Speaking. :) (when i use po-mo (not pomo) i'm generally gesturing at those who set up a strawpomo and mock it. sorry for being obtuse)

But I sure did catch HEart's snarling gestures at Queer theory or whatever her term. I thought it pretty funny since it's the line in Radically Speaking too.

belledame222 said...

Here is my new rule, by me:

anyone who's a "political lesbian" does not get to say shit about what is or isn't the proper way to be same-gender-attracted/loving/having sex with, or "alternative sexuality," or anything else. or i shall come over there and smack you in your heteronormative face with a haddock.

belledame222 said...

I meant to say, "anything else of that nature," but really, at this point pretty much anything Heart says makes me want to wallop her with a haddock, it's quite true.

Rootietoot said...

pardon my right-winged Southern white self..."anyone who's a "political lesbian"
Would that be a person who is a lesbian for political reasons, as opposed to being a woman who is sexually attracted to women? I am confused....Would it be a woman who hates men, rather than a woman who prefers women?
/scratches head
you'd think I'd understand this stuff by now...

little light said...

There is such a thing, rootietoot. They politically disapprove of giving over your energies or intimacy to the enemy--that is, men, who are all agents of patriarchy--and therefore mandate relationships with women. The catch is, this often has very little to do with desire for those women, and a lot more to do with avoiding relations with men, which people like BD and myself--who, you know, are attracted to women and fall for them and sleep with them and so on--find...peculiar.

belledame222 said...

Would that be a person who is a lesbian for political reasons, as opposed to being a woman who is sexually attracted to women

You got it. or, well, she may or may not be sexually attracted to women; the important thing is that she eschew men. at least by Sheila Jeffreys' lights.

i am afraid i may be a disappointment, with the drunkenness. i am not a big drinker, actually, and i find myself not much in the Mood, tonight, after all. i am however kind of sleep-deprived, so it's quite possible i may end up posting under the influence more or less regardless.

...maybe i'll open up the wine. i just don't feel like wine. more whine than wine. sigh. i should've laid in provisions i suppose. kahlua or something. maybe the store's still open...

belledame222 said...

little light: they don't actually mandate intimate relationships with women; thingie actually says it is not necessary. so, you know, sort of like the Vatican's position on homosexuality (find a way to manage a proper het marriage, or eschew sex altogether), only in reverse.

Rootietoot said...

ok. How sad for them, to completely write off half the population for something that half had no control over to begin with (being male). I mean, I can, intellectually, comprehend being attracted physically to women, we are, after all, soft and curvy and such, but I don't get hating a particular demographic just because they are that demographic. (That's true, for me, in the case of race, gender, socio-economic status, whatever) Hating someone because of what someone else has done is kind of...myopic.

Don't sweat the blunk-drogging (as someone called it) to thine ownself be true.

Bitch | Lab said...

BD -- you know, it's funny, I had that ESP vibe that this is how you'd feel tonight. No drunkeness for me because it makes my heart croak. Baaaad.

Bitch | Lab said...

eschew men...


that was funny actually.

belledame222 said...

eschew and eswallow! *urp*

Rootietoot said...

"eschew and eswallow! *urp"

ew...swallowing's gross

R. Mildred said...

"eschew and eswallow! *urp"

ew...swallowing's gross

No, the laden north american eswallow carries the coconuts of information through the tubes of the internets in its mighty beak! Do not begrudge the Eswallow it's right of passage with your bourgeois patriarchal standards of ickiness!

R. Mildred said...

we are, after all, soft and curvy

Yes but so are men ffs.

That's what's so irritating, about 99% of all radfem theories seem to boil down to spewing patriarchal crap that was rejected by playboy for being too patriarchal.

It's a good thing most of them can't actually say what the fuck they actually mean otherwise they'd never say anything interesting ever.

The best idea I've seen posited by a radfem so far is the idea that all heterosexual is rape - which is a beautiful phrase which leads to all sorts of other ideas and concepts that are infinitely useful and interesting, as long as you don't take the initial phrase too literally, it's like absinthe, you gotta water it down with some intelligent analysis or else you'll go blind and end up curled up on the floor dribbling on about the wrongness of the stars.

but Oh No, radfems have just drink straight from the bottle.

Which just leaves me smiting my forehead and going "NOOooooo! You don't stop having sex because hte patriarchy wants you to and call that 'radical' you fartbrained fuckwits!"

All I ask is that some higher being gives me five minutes alone with them in a locked room with a huge twatting clue-by-four...

WV: errhmhm

KH said...

At first I sorta thought CM was doing some kind of Foucauldian power analysis, Grandma Moses style, but no. And having gotten off on the fatally wrong foot with her, better to keep moving.

KH said...

At first I sorta thought CM was doing some kind of Foucauldian power analysis, Grandma Moses style, but no. And having gotten off on the fatally wrong foot with her, better to keep moving.

belledame222 said...

have you seen this thread? or her response to it in her blog? or other entries in her blog?...

i think you know with some people there -is- no right foot. or eventually, there'll be a wrong foot, no matter what, or who.

yes, i know, it's all coming horribly true: now i -am- saying Bad Things about her; i am Judging.

"but I'm good company."

what can i tell you. you know, i tried to be civil and reasonable and gentle and all the rest of it in that thread; everyone else has nearly slipped a disc trying to get her to just take a damn chill pill and connect...

me, i'm more jaded, i guess. if someone is that bound and determined to push people away, i'm not gonna fight it. not with someone i barely know over the internets, anyway.

R. Mildred said...

To be fair my white ass would have actually explained why her generalisating asian americans like that was wrong - she was having a "but this non-white person was actually racist! Maybe non-white people aren't perfect..." moment but she doesn't have the theoretical or practical experience to get through it without falling back on more negative stereotyping (as white people are trained to do).

She really needed certain ideas (what a ladder puller is, the idea that POC aren't angels or devils, they're humans, sweet sweet routinely flawed humans or the distinction between culturally non-white and ethnically non-white for instance) to be explained to her without the patronising name-snark to make her get defensive and alienate her.

Yeah she just disappeared all asian american activists which is really fucking bad, but she could have been educated and made to understood what went wrong there, and had her horizon broadened.

Now what is the beef between her and B|L exactly, is the prostitution thing?

R. Mildred said...

Is IT the prostitution thing dammit.

belledame222 said...

oh, there is no explainable beef, she goes into a pugnacious tizzy with -someone- on a regular basis, if you look at her blog. i'm sorry, but i haven't the time or energy to try to fathom what her saga is. other people are being more than patient, and it doesn't seem to be making a lick of difference.

Nanette said...

Yeah she just disappeared all asian american activists which is really fucking bad, but she could have been educated and made to understood what went wrong there, and had her horizon broadened.

No, I don't think so. Well, I mean sure, broadening of horizons and educating people is always good... but not then (too immediate) and probably not there, unless she was willing to engage on a different level entirely, and certainly no one, especially Kai, was under any obligation at all to react to a racist verbal assault with anything but the strongest push back they felt necessary at the moment.

And, actually, the offer was made to talk with her through her issues, and help with her education, so to speak, but when one is on a POC site, that is basically an anti-racist site, with people who have been the subject of racism all their lives then it's only to be expected that, in that space, patient "yes, but you know... we, in our millions, are really not all alike" type education is not only a highly unlikely reaction, but should be considered a gift should the participants choose to engage someone who has not yet reached the basic level of seeing the people they are speaking to as individual humans, which is at least the minimum level of understanding one needs to conduct that sort of conversation I think.

That's what bothered me about Heart in the conversation at bfp's, actually... at no point (that I saw) did she answer the question of the rights, existence (as reality as opposed to ideology) and the basic humanity of transfolk... and without that, all the rest about fighting for women, against white supremacy, imperialism, so on just amounted to a bunch of blah blah. In my opinion.

Anonymous said...

B|L wrote: "So, I'm not so sure about academics being totally useless."

I didn't mean to imply that. I also read all kinds of academic work and thoroughly enjoy it. Just saying that it doesn't help me much in analyzing things like individual people on the internet who call themselves one sort of feminist or another.

RM wrote: That's what's so irritating, about 99% of all radfem theories seem to boil down to spewing patriarchal crap that was rejected by playboy for being too patriarchal

I disagree. There is crap in radfem as in all theory. What's great is the analysis and process radfems have developed in regards to women-only space that is healthy and wise. I've seen it work wonders.

R. Mildred said...

oh, there is no explainable beef, she goes into a pugnacious tizzy with -someone- on a regular basis, if you look at her blog.

Yeah, she's probably manic depressive or bipolar, I would be like that quite a lot if I didn't have enough variety in my neurosis that I could play them all off against each other until they negated themselves.

Well, I mean sure, broadening of horizons and educating people is always good... but not then (too immediate) and probably not there, unless she was willing to engage on a different level entirely, and certainly no one, especially Kai, was under any obligation at all to react to a racist verbal assault with anything but the strongest push back they felt necessary at the moment

Meh, maybe you're right, I am in an insanely reconcillatory mood right now for some reason, I want ot just water eveyr white woman until she flowers into a beautiful feminist. It's probably the lack of sleep.

belledame222 said...

oh, that's lovely, when that happens. go with it. personally my ebb is flowing in the direction of disappointed disgust with some people (not this, obviously, that Other Thing), but this too shall pass, i am sure.

Nanette said...

I want ot just water eveyr white woman until she flowers into a beautiful feminist.

Oh, well me too... my watering can is always ready. Only, sometimes you have to spray them with a soap solution first, to get rid of all the mites ;).

belledame222 said...

snort. and sometimes, one may simply be tired of dealing with all the fetilizer.

Jane said...

I love people who snort when they laugh. Many people laugh disingenuously, but snorting is for real.

belledame222 said...

my granny used to snort. she was a great joke-teller. i miss her.

Unsane said...

Something that someone said on another blog comments section gave me an insight about the abuse of power. I don't believe they quite meant to indict themselves in the way they did. What came across was a certain amount of discomfort with the idea that women might be identified as separate from the contexts in which they find themselves. The ability to conceptually separate oneself from one's context and relationships in order to define one's own will and feelings as one's own is the key to liberation. The person who wrote about the issue of gender based injustice implied that this conceptual separation was wrongheaded. This denial that it is in fact the path to freedom implied to me that this person had a real fear of the way in which injustice could be exposed if more and more people were able to identify their own interests as separate from, let's say, their workplace and its issues, their family, their national identity.

Abusers generally rely upon an almost infallible formula (in terms of everyday thinking) which takes advantage of fuzzy and undeveloped thinking (as well as taking advantage of a desire for community manifest as a sense of responsibility which can be perverted into guilt.)Their advantage in perpetuating abuse is based upon the principle: "You are not intrinsically separable from me."

So, if you find yourself in a situation that is abusive it is "Your fault / You chose it / You and I are in this together."

In other words, abuse is caused by things being just the way they are, at this point in time and history. Nobody in particular can be blamed, and nobody can be called out to answer for their abusive behaviour, since both parties -- abuser and abusee -- participate together as a unit which creates an intrinsic whole.

humbition said...

The abuser is one who thinks that any system, composed of that person and another, is fundamentally for the abuser. That the other person or people, and indeed, that the system composed of the abuser and the other person or people, has to serve the abuser's needs, or values, in priority to those of the other people within the system, or within the context.

Of course this is injustice, because we believe, as inheritors of the idea of democracy, that no person is of more fundamental worth than another. I certainly believe this with all my heart. All persons have needs, desires, and value, and therefore any system which claims that one person's needs are to be met at the expense of another's, or by suppressing another's, should be changed. Because by what right are the needs of one more valuable than those of the other?

The abuser claims in essence that the system, or context, and the abuser's self, are one and the same. This is a lie and a fundamental arrogance which sets a part of the system above the whole (supposedly as "representing" or encompassing, or even "governing," the whole). So that the other members of the system, or participants of the context, are not to be seen as having needs and desires as important, as valid, or as human, as the abuser's. The abuser's equation is, "I plus you equals me."

This understandably leads to the individualist reaction. Any invocation of system or larger whole is seen as an invocation of a power game. In order to be equal we must be separate. Indeed often we must separate, if we can, or develop the power to separate, in order to escape the tyranny of those who invoke the larger whole only to try to convince us that they are it.

In many situations this kind of separation is vitally important. But taken as a general philosophy, separation is not adequate in my opinion. Because we are, as humans, interconnected beings (even if we can sometimes, with luck, persistence, and strategy, manage to sever and/or diminish a few of the interconnections that are unhealthy for us).

As human beings we do interact and we do by that interaction create contexts and systems for each other. The question is, how can we do this in a way that none of us see ourselves as entitled to arrogate to ourselves, and for ourselves, the system and the others who are co-participants within it.

Rather, each of us must learn to be for the other(s), as well as for ourselves, as much as we can. This is Buber's I-Thou relationship. It too creates a system, a whole, and a context -- one we might consider as a healthier one.

This is our problem of ecology, with respect to other living things which are not human, and it is our problem of social justice, with respect to other living things who are human.