Tag Archives: violence

Power moves

Most of the problematic tendencies in our disaster-prone society seem to be aspects of one simple principle: being willing to use your power to gain more power is the way to success and general approbation.

I suppose this is an unsupported generalization, and that I’m painting things with a broad brush. I’d certainly be hard-pressed to come up with a large array of supporting instances of this principle, but it is an idea that’s been growing in my mind for some time now.

The most recent events on the national stage that have brought this up for me are the Republican tax bill, which they’ve finally managed to pass–an act of pure power in itself–and the flurry of defensive rationalizations around the men who’ve been accused of sexual predation. Though these two things seem to be unrelated, they share an etiology: abuse of power.

The tax bill is essentially a bold, crass move by the people who hold the reigns of power in the U.S. (the wealthy owner class, not the pathetic politicians who do their bidding for the crumbs from the table) to consolidate their gains as they become more and more in control of everything. They don’t really need more money, but they have an insatiable need for power, and that’s what control of so much of our national wealth gives them: nearly unlimited power. Including the power to keep us convinced that it’s in our interest.

Why they want this power is a question for deeper psycho-social analysis than I’m equipped to make, but it seems to be a product of some pretty deep-seated emotional hurt and fear that just grows as it is fed. I’ve long been convinced that most anger and hatred and evil-doing is based in fear, which usually has come from some kind of hurt. Like most of our negative psychological states, when we feed it the emotional poison of exerting our will over that of another, the negative state grows and requires bigger and bigger doses of power to assuage the pain.

In the same way, the sexual predators are not really interested in sex, they’re much more into the wielding of power over others, because that’s what seems to satisfy the need for self-reification and aggrandizement that drives them. Since sex is, in some ways, the ultimate thing one can give another person, it’s also the ultimate thing one can forcibly take from another person when one has some kind of power over them.

I can’t imagine how such so-called sex could actually bring the kind of gratification that sex does, because in these kinds of forced sex, one would be aware that the only reason it was happening was because of the power relationship. The truly bonding and gratifying aspects of sex, the source of the happiness it brings, are that it is freely engaged in between people who love and appreciate each other and who give of themselves to each other. Willingly. Elements which are totally lacking in forced sex.

Whether the power is physical, as in the normal idea of rape, or some kind of control over the conditions of the others’ life, as with bosses or directors or such relationships, it’s still power, and it’s the abuse of that power that is wrong.

Putting the other person in the position of having to make a difficult decision… assent or lose a vital job, role, or other aspect of ones life, that is the crux of what makes this behavior wrong. Saying, as some defenders have, that the victim should have ‘just said no’ or some other facile notion of resistance and refusal, ignores the true nature of the power relationship between the perpetrator and the victim in these cases.

Digging into this national pathology is painful, but it seems necessary if we are to grow and develop in constructive ways as a society.

Police violence is even worse…

 

I know we have mostly good police officers in our area, but people everywhere are not so lucky.

Depressing but something we need to acknowledge is the fact that police shoot a huge number of people and most of the time it’s not justifiable, yet they almost never are held accountable.

In a report from the online magazine The Establishment, “Police shoot a lot more people than previously known” by Kali Holloway, the details of this, and the sources, are laid out.

This report shows the true extent of racism and violence at the heart of this country. Even more disturbing is the fact that the current national administration is backing down on efforts to improve things, and continuing to allow the lack of a comprehensive reporting system.

It’s a pretty long and not-so-fun read, but it’s something Americans must come to terms with if we are to be a rational, moral society.

 

Son of Baldwin…

[Re-blogging from Medium.com – Son of Baldwin on James Baldwin…]

On James Baldwin and How Oppressors
Try to Misuse Him to Shame Me

by Son of Baldwin, Medium.com

This is a great article on Baldwin with some fiery quotes I’d not heard. Much like Malcom, he was non-violent, but only to a point. As Malcolm said, we have the right of self-defense. Understanding that of course, is always tricky. This article is in response to people who criticized the author for suggesting that oppressed people should not feel constrained to follow traditional moral standards in protecting, saving, or helping the lives of their oppressors. I responded to the original article, “Let them fucking die”, by suggesting that though I understand the impulse, as Gandhi said, “An eye for eye will leave the whole world blind.” His response to me was:

“But it seems, John F. Eden, that white Americans are only concerned about a “true objective moral standard for our common humanity” when they fear that it may be them who are in danger, that it may be that their own lives are on the line.

Black people are expected to Mammy and Uncle Remus everyone else, to always, perpetually worry about the lives of others and to treat those lives as though they matter more than our own, but when we’re victims, everyone else uses sophistry and inhumanity to somehow blame us for our own predicaments.

We say Black Lives Matter, and white people lose their fucking minds at the thought, and simultaneously want to shoot us and want us to take bullets for them.

No. No longer.

I’m not advocating violence, but I am, indeed, advocating that white people, and any other anti-Black/anti-Queer people be left to their own devices.

The wages of bigotry is death and I say let bigots get what they paid for.”

 Which is pretty good. I still advocate we need to search for some ‘objective’ standard to which to hold the haters and the fascists and the alt-right etc. accountable. He is  absolutely right in that ‘they’ (the white patriarchy) created the moral system they expect us to go by but they don’t follow, at least not when it comes to anyone they consider ‘other’. But I would hope we can begin to find and live by something that affirms our common humanity.
It may be a few generations in the making, if we survive, but we need to consider it.
Baldwin and Malcolm sound the same notes often, as in this quote from Baldwin:
“People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.”
Sounds a lot like what Malcolm said about the chickens coming home to roost.
It’s an interesting article, and I have found all his writing that I’ve read well-done and thought-provoking in the extreme.