Friday, May 27, 2005

Race

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. There were exactly three black kids in my high school. Two were brothers. I thus did not have much exposure to people of other races. I did know one lady from church, and her grandkids, as well.

However, due to my lack of interaction, I had assumed that I was not racist. Of course not. My father, yes... he's racist, but anytime he or one of my sisters made a comment, I would proceed to show my disapproval. Then, 1997 came along, and I moved to the "big city," that is to say, Madison, Wisconsin.

Having lived in the city a couple years I noticed that I was a bit racist. More than I would like to admit. But I should clarify that I perceive two types of racism. Both, I think, are rooted in ignorance. Both are very sociologically induced perceptions.

The fact is, however, that the biggest problem with such feelings are that they are just that: feelings.

These are not rational thoughts. Ultimately, these are fears, perpetuated by a society that, whether consciously or not, continues to portray certain images of black people. I use black people here, because this is dealing more specifically with them, however, it could be said that any stereotypes may be held of any race. I am talking here, instead, of my own innate prejudices.

I don't like to admit that I am racist. It's certainly not a nice thing to think of yourself. But honesty is the best policy, no? So here is what I've learned through my experiences in the world...

1) I am a racist.
2) This racism is not a racism of hatred.
3) Instead, there are two types of racism that are held inside of me:
a) Fear: This is the standard sort of racism that most people have. However, I place my logical mind over these fears. For the most part. My understanding of this fear, however, is that it is not merely race based, but also class based as well. In other words, if a black man came up to me with a suit on, and spoke very proper english, and looked intellectual, I would most likely not be intimidated. However, take a stereotypical "gangsta" kid, with the big puffy jackets and hanging pants, especially if he's hangin' with his crew, with all the slang... well, I admit, that I am intimidated. I fear them. This is due to culturally ingrained images of the big scary black criminal. There is also the feeling of being "gamed" when talking to such individuals. The reason this is race based as well as class, is because if I'm talking to a lower class white person, though I am skeptical, I still don't have certain innate biases towards being "conned" by them. Now, due to this fear and reaction that I try to suppress, I come to the second type of racism that I hold.

b) Guilt: The song that Ian McKaye sang with Minor Threat, "Guilty of Being White," expresses this sort of feeling. However, he seems to be angry at those who would manipulate that guilt. I don't do that. I do have a guilt. When I pass black people on the street, I am very very very conscious of my perceptions. And I am also worried about how they perceive me as a white person and how I perceive them. I don't want to notice race, but I do, and I feel horrible that I do notice that. The thing is, I'm a bigot in much more harmful ways towards those that are not black, but rather, Republican/Right-Wing, and yet I don't feel guilty for that. I'm not sure, but perhaps that is because it's okay to hate ideologies, but not innate characteristics?

My understanding of class and race is such that I know better to feel the fear that I do. I do not try to emphasize fear in order to displace blame by saying it's a "natural reaction." It's always important to overcome such prejudices. And I know this is something that I should do with my other prejudices. Now, what I meant to say before, was that my understanding of class & race lead me to see the condition of the majority of black people in this country as related to our social class division, and that it has been rigged from the very beginning. When one is in an environment, it is hard to escape and jump out of it. Unfortunately, too often, when a black person succeeds, they move on into the (white) business world, and rarely move back to the neighborhoods from which they came. How often do they invest in their communities? Rarely. Again, this is just my own interpretation, and facts may prove me wrong. But I believe that statistics do point this out. If I am wrong, please correct me.

Race, however, is merely one part of the "scientific" mind (ie: the mind that divides), and that even though it's irrational, it is "rational" in the sense that it is part of the same process of thought whereby one says "this is this, and that is that. This is not that, and that is not this." This is part of my larger philosophy and understanding of the world, which I shall touch on in future entries. I see this, then, as not an isolated issue of race or class or homophobia, etc... Instead I see a larger process at work which could perhaps be called the process of individuation and tribal solidarity. Again, that's for another time.

I've made my point, and I've got to return to work, so until another day...

Peace...

Sunday, May 08, 2005

"Culture of Life", my ass!

Happy Mother's Day!

The day to celebrate the woman who gave birth to us (unless you, dear reader, were a test-tube baby, but I digress) is a perfect day to post about this topic.

However, despit expectations, this post has nothing to do with Terry Schiavo, per se. Or abortion. But it does have to do with fundamentalism.

Originally this idea had occurred to me during a show I went to in the past year... It was Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, Sixtoo, Blockhead and Bonobo. I was really impressed with Kid Koala, and as Amon Tobin kicked it into high gear, I started to really dance. During that time I began thinking about our culture. By "our culture," I am referring to the electronic music culture.

The ideas of parties and raves and a celebration of life. I was contrasting this with Osama bin-Laden, and thinking of the Taleban's banning of kites. And how their religion is about subservience... that's what Islam means: submission. How they want to make order in strict accordance with their God's laws.

We, on the other hand, celebrate chaos and diversity. We do not need rules. We celebrate life as the force that moves through us all. That we are servents of life, of motion, of dance. They are servents of death, of stasis.

The music that they ban, we rejoice in. It is the celebration of sexuality, of Eros. When I say they worship death, I mean it, not just in the suicide bomber sense, but in their restriction of the erotic.

And their way of life is only a matter of degrees separate from the Christian fundamentalists. And to mention degrees reminds one of the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon..."

Footloose, the Christian tighty-pants in that movie and their staid policies removing sensuality and fun and life and rock and roll from the lives of these children. It is not much different than the Taleban, except that the Taleban was much more strict. Maybe Afghanistan needed a Kevin Bacon. Footloose 2, perhaps?

We love life, we desire to create to make music, to rejoice and dance.
They love death, they desire to restrain, to abolish the making of anything (in heaven or on earth or in the sea... that is idolotry)...

They say that want life. They oppose "murder". But it's we children of Gaia who oppose the wars that they make, oppose the executions they carry out (even though they have no right to "cast the first stone," as they themselves are sinners), oppose their boring ways.

They want life, except when it's born. Then they couldn't give two shits... Once that baby is born, they don't give a fuck. They're all for life, but not liberation.

Is that really life? Is that living?

No.

Then it can be said that they aren't for a culture of life. They don't love sexuality. They are restrained. They hate sex. They hate the body. They hate the organic. They hate the evolving, growing life that is the earth. They plunder, rape, steal and destroy, in warfare against other people, and against the earth.

They are agents of death. Worshippers of a demon called Thanatos.

Monday, May 02, 2005

On Federalism

I consider myself a Federalist, however, not in the sense of the traditional American view of Federalism as National government, but rather, in the federalism that arises from Anarchist theories of social organization. However, I do not believe in anarchism. I would consider myself progressive and populist. And a de-centralist. In this sense.

One of the things that I work towards a deeper understanding of in my life, is the relationship of the one to the many, the individual to the group, the inner to the outer, the private to the public. All these spheres of organization have a two way power relationship.

Currently our theory of Government (though hardly, in practice, actually implemented in a pure sense), sets up a bi-cameral legislature, which represents in the first part, the people as a whole, and this is the House of Representatives. The second chamber of congress is the Senate. There are two different systems for each of these. The theory behind the House is that the will of the people is fickle, and apt to change. It thus sets a short terms of two years. The Senate, on the other hand, is supposed to represent the States. It gives equal voice to each state, so that the groups that live in lesser represented areas get equal measure to the more populated areas. This assures a theoretical balance between rural and urban. Senators have six year terms. These members are supposed to be wisened elders, and thus stay in longer to keep their wisdom.

In one sense, this is very similar to the British model, where the Senate would be similar to the House of Lords, and the House similar to the House of Commons. Sure, it is more democratic. The Senate is not made up of Landed Gentry, but rather elected by the people (or should more properly be elected by the States, since it is the state they are representing, not the individual).

The version of federalism I have is one that rises to from the bottom to the top. This is dependent in my theory on two houses of representation. In my system, the two houses are the Inner Chamber and the Outer Chamber. The Inner Chamber deals with the internal issues within a particular level. The Outer Chamber acts as a diplomatic arm to the level that's higher up in the hierarchy. The Inner Chamber is chosen directly by the populace. They then elect a smaller number of representatives to the higher level up.

It may be best if I give a better defined example than these abstract "levels". So, let it be... At the very root level, there is the individual. This individual lives in a community: a town, village or city. In a city, of course, things can be broken down into neighborhoods. But let us take the municipal level. Above this, we have counties. And from counties into states. And states into the nation. However, I would add a regional section of a state, between the county and state level. This would essentially be a federation of counties with similar regional interests.

I would also add another level between the state and nation, which would be a federation of states into regions. So, of course, one would have "The Pacific Northwest", or "The Midwest", or "The Great Lakes", etc... Finally you have the highest level in a country, the nation itself. However, even in the nation, there is an outer chamber, which acts as a congress to deal with foreign nations.

I should also mention that these "regions" that I mention are bioregions. Systems of natural habitat and environs that are contiguous in a manner such that they have related interests.

One of the fundamental principles of Federalism is autonomy of the lower level. "States Rights" if you will. The only reason the federal government should enter into lawmaking at a lower level is when it deals with the interaction between two states. This is similar to how the United States deals with many issues. The Federal Trade Commission, which regulates interstate trade of goods, is founded upon this principle, that interstate issues may be regulated by the higher body. However, I would make it so that the lower chamber of the higher body (National Government for example), would need to write such laws, and they would not automatically become law. Instead, this body would then send these laws to their respective representatives home states. This would then travel down the chain to the lowest level that the law would affect, whereupon that lowest level would ratify the legislation or not, depending upon it's beliefs in it's vested interests. More on this topic shall be forthcoming.