Monday, May 09, 2005

When the American Taliban Came to Louisville

When the American Taliban Came to Louisville
by Sunsara Taylor
Revolution #002, May 15, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Snapshot:

Louisville, Kentucky . Dressed all in black they rise in the balcony, their gray and blond hair catching the ceiling lights. Something unusual, and heartening, is happening in this church. One by one, the defiant and spectacular voices of an all-gay choir, Voices of Kentuckia, hover in the air, overlap, play with each other, and gather in a crescendo. The crowd, first sitting in silent awe, erupts in warm and welcoming applause.

Just hours later, across town, a bigger crowd in a much bigger church cheers as Bill Donahue bellows that the idea that a man should be able to marry a man "belongs in an asylum." And, "The people on the secular left say, 'We think you're a threat.' You know what? They're right!"

*****

A cold front of moral absolutism and self-righteousness is crusading across the land, colliding with a hot front of critical thought, diversity, and dreams of a global community. Welcome to storms of America in 2005. Welcome to the clash of civilizations.

And here in the "heartland," an important new conversation is beginning to pick up speed. "Theocracy" is a word now playing on the lips of pundits and clergy, scientists and scholars, in a way that months ago would simply have been scoffed at.

click here for the rest of the article

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 8:07 AM

18 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

Religion is opium for the masses. - Karl Marx

5/9/05, 12:01 PM

 
Blogger Bong said...

cant wait to take this out to the masses who will be checkin out the REVOLUTION newspaper. keep up the good work Sunsara.

5/9/05, 12:26 PM

 
Blogger TripleNeckSteel said...

Quoting Marx is fun.

Ramming his vicious anti-Semitism and racial bigotry down the throats of his simple-minded acolytes is absolutely sublime...

Shall we?

I now see clearly that he is descended, as the shape of his head and his hair clearly indicate, from the Negroes who were joined to the Jews at the time of the exodus from Egypt ( unless it was his mother or paternal grandmother who mated with a Negro). But this mixture of Judaism and Germanism with a negro substance as a base was bound to yield a most curious product. The importunity of the man also is negroid...One of the great discoveries of this Negro, which he confided to me, is that the Pelasgians are descended from the Semites. His main proof is that, according to the Book of Maccabees, the Jews sent messenger to Greece to ask for help and appealed to their tribal relationship..."

-Karl Marx
MECW Volume 41, p. 388;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913, and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.

Context here.

How about this one-- For certain questions, such as nationality, etc., only here has a basis in nature been found. E.g., he [Tremaux] corrects the Pole Duchinski, whose version of the geological differences between Russia and the Western Slav lands he does incidentally confirm, by saying not that the Russians are Tartars rather than Slavs, etc., as the latter believes, but that on the surface-formation predominant in Russia the Slav has been tartarised and mongolised; likewise (he spent a long time in Africa) he shows that the common negro type is only a degeneration of a far higher one".

MECW, Volume 42, p. 161;
First published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx Bd. 3, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA Abt. III, Bd. 3, Berlin, 1930.

Context here


How 'bout some Engels, you say?

Here's a juicy little tidbit for the Masses™-

Letter from Engels to Marx, October 2, 1866: "I have arrived at the conviction that there is nothing to his [Tremaux's] theory if for no other reason than because he neither understands geology nor is capable of the most ordinary literary historical criticism. One could laugh oneself sick about his stories of the nigger Santa Maria and of the transmutations of the whites into Negroes. Especially, that the traditions of the Senegal niggers deserve absolute credulity, just because the rascals cannot write! . . . Perhaps this man will prove in the second volume, how he explains the fact, that we Rhinelanders have not long ago turned into idiots and niggers on our own Devonian Transition rocks . . . Or perhaps he will maintain that we are real niggers."

Quoted by Diane Paul, "'In the Interests of Civilization': Marxist Views of Race and Culture in the Nineteenth Century", Journal of the History of Ideas, Jan-March 1981, p 123. [Werke, Vol. 31, p 256.])

Notice that Marx uses both the relatively-neutral at the time "negroes" and the plainly derogatory "niggers"-- he was plainly well aware of the difference between the two terms.

So-- you have Marx and Engels as racist Lamarckians, and Mao, Stalin et al as vicious paranoid murderers.

Why don't you guys just make Charles Manson one of your icons?

At least Sunsara's learned the "[a href=] tag...

TripleNeckSteel
Associate Editor for Content
www.sunsara.blogspot.com

5/9/05, 1:02 PM

 
Blogger TripleNeckSteel said...

Sorry, slavering dolts--

That shoud read "Notice that Engels uses both the relatively-neitral..."

But it doesn't really make much of a difference to you, does it?

You still love him.

5/9/05, 1:34 PM

 
Blogger Chairman eDog said...

Oh, but TNS, everyone knows that the bourgeosie are controlled by the JOOOOS! If you're gonna slaughter all of one, you're gonna have ta slaughter all the other. And we'll just throw in all the n****rs for the hell of it (they're gettin' a little too bling bling for the proletariate).

5/9/05, 5:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the point of ridiculing ideas that this blogger doesn't actually promote would be...hmm...just to be an asshole?

Bingo!!

5/9/05, 5:53 PM

 
Blogger Chairman eDog said...

Yeah, you do have a point there, anonymous. While Marx and Engels are important, let's all remember it's Avakian's ass that we wipe with our tongues. Far from hating black people, Chairman Avakian made a name for himself supporting the Black Panthers, who of course want to kill whitey and not the other way around. Strike a blow for equality, Master...er..Mr. Avakian.

5/9/05, 6:34 PM

 
Anonymous Linda Flores said...

On a different note, but a thought that occurred to me:

eDog has made comments in various blogs on architecture, a special focus of his. (I'm not going to go look this up now, but I would imagine that you in particular are an architect?)

I find this interesting, because I find architecture very interesting and beautiful, from a decidedly non-expert perspective. And I actually agree that a lot of Soviet architecture was not inspiring at all - I've seen those pictures of those gray cinder-block buildings. It's definitely not what I picture us having under socialism.

I think - and how bout, just for laughs, people refrain from getting all worked up over grammar or other secondary aspects - that it would be interesting to get into this more. Yes, it's complex -

a) there's the question of whether what they were trying to do with those buildings was simply to get them built fast - winters in that part of the world are quite nasty. Nastier than anything we have experienced in the U.S., for sure. Did they have access to architects to draw up better plans? (And if not, I think there's the factor of an anti-intellectual bent that grew and eventually was quite detrimental to Communism - but again I don't have the basis to make a pronouncement on this, so I won't. Stories on this would be interesting.)
I think, though, that it doesn't look like the case that all of those "blah" buildings were built in a rush - probably this method continued to be carried out, and buildings like this were consciously planned this way, even when it wasn't demanded by expediency.

b) You could say, and I think I might be inclined to agree, that if there was a conscious decision to build "blah" buildings, it's a reflection of this concept that readers of this blog may be new to: revisionism. Revisionists take the science out of Marxism and reduce it to a lifeless, cynical dogma full of formulas and religious exercises. It's long been the analysis of the RCP, and the subject of numerous articles by Avakian, that revisionism grew inside the Communist Party in Russia, and eventually led to Krushchev leading the whole country back to capitalism in 1956. This post will not get into all of that, but I think there is a lot of basis to say that stuff like lifeless, boring architecture is a reflection of, and goes right along with, a revisionist outlook. Not recognizing beauty, the need to be amazed. eDog has said that architecture took a nose-dive (my phrase) after the Bolsheviks came to power, and ceased to develop.
If you got the links, it'd be an interesting thing to learn more of.
Some of the articles in Revolution point to an overall trend in art, after the early '20s - visual art, writing, movies - really did suffer under this very wrong-headed and mechanical view of art and its role. Soviet Socialist Realism became the standard, and anything that wasn't this was mistrusted or worse. I think this did a great deal of damage.

One of the hallmarks of revisionism is seeing liberation as an economic matter, pure and simple - that the workers are free if they have a job and the subway is a nickel. There isn't a sense of trying to inspire or meet what one might call spiritual needs of people. Revolution, to a revisionist, is goulash and bread. It's, again, a much longer topic, but I think it opens the door for a larger, **FRIENDLY** discussion about how important art and beauty are to a society anyone would want to live in. (Notice i said FRIENDLY? An environment full of snarking little snide comments isn't one conducive to a real debate - it gets degenerated to an insult contest. I got places I can go for that. I don't need it here.)

Now, this doesn't lead to the conclusion that capitalism is great because all those beautiful buildings were built under capitalism. (Though there are lots of good examples of gorgeous buildings that were, indeed, capitalist projects.) I think there's a conversation to be had about the role of architecture, its history under socialism, etc.

What about beauty? Yes, perceptions of beauty will and can change, but why is it important to have things like flowers, colors, paintings, art, music, and, yes, nice-looking buildings as part of an environment where the imagination and spirit soar?
(As an aside, I think that it would be truly cool if under socialism you saw all kinds of funky and weird-looking spaces crop up, especially as people experimented with using non-traditional materials or trying to bring into being whole new kinds of spaces that fulfill previously unheard-of functions. This is not per se a design aspect, but one of my favorite buildings was your basic six-or-seven story office building where there was furniture fairly crawling all over the outside walls. I don't know if it was nailed, glued, tied with ropes, etc - you couldn't tell from the sidewalk. I loved its weirdness and uniqueness.)

How do you fairly decide where your resources will go if, say, making your buildings unique and pretty will result in them taking longer and, possibly, people not having shelter for longer?

And, overall, how can this field grow? I knew an architect whose subfield - the name escapes me - focused on understanding how people use the spaces they occupy. What kinds of building designs are deadening and stifling for those occupying them? What kinds are enlivening and intriguing? How, for example, to build living spaces that allow for much more social interaction while still making sure people have space to themselves?

And then there is the very urgent question of how to build in such a way as to be much more energy-efficient and much friendlier to the environment - the use of different kinds of materials, designing spaces to be less wasteful, etc. Not just buildings, but how do you design whole cities this way?

Anyway, I've always been intrigued by this. Thoughts?

5/9/05, 6:45 PM

 
Blogger Chairman eDog said...

Oh, I can talk all day about the failings of communist architecture. It goes far beyond revisionism, though if you mean in terms of the break from revolutionary communism and Stalinism, then it is significant. But in the interest of brevity, let me just say that the stultifying aspects of communist architecture are the natural effect of communisms own failings, as Architecture and society are little more than two mirrors facing one another (dialectic-shmialectic, kids!). So, the problems with communism--denial of the individual and his self-interest, rejection of fetishes and idols, and the rejection of profit--will always lead to deadening architecture as well as deadening societies. Simply put, buildings need egos, they need opulance, and they need baggage(symbolic and spiritual motifs derived in some way from human tradition). Communism allows none of that, and if it does then it's not communism. There's a reason some of the most beautiful works of architecture in the world are temples, or mosques, or churches, or cloisters, or office towers, or palaces, and as once you realize why you've taken the first step towards rejecting communism.

5/10/05, 11:06 AM

 
Blogger TripleNeckSteel said...

O brave anonymoid,

The point of presenting those quotes was-- and take notes here' because you're obviously mentally-challenged-- is to point out the poisoned well from which you draw your ideological water.

Suck it up, dummies. You're entertaining thousands of us!

5/10/05, 1:52 PM

 
Anonymous redstar2000 said...

Linda said: And I actually agree that a lot of Soviet architecture was not inspiring at all - I've seen those pictures of those gray cinder-block buildings. It's definitely not what I picture us having under socialism.

Color photos?

I suppose the Russians could have painted them with pretty colors; but buildings that are painted have to be periodically re-painted...especially considering how harsh that climate really is.

I imagine that the Russians wanted a "quick and dirty" solution to their housing shortages...and built accordingly.

The American version was the "ticky-tacky" suburban development after World War II...and the "modern" apartment complex with 1/4" walls.

edogdirt said: So, the problems with communism--denial of the individual and his self-interest, rejection of fetishes and idols, and the rejection of profit--will always lead to deadening architecture as well as deadening societies. Simply put, buildings need egos, they need opulence, and they need baggage (symbolic and spiritual motifs derived in some way from human tradition). Communism allows none of that, and if it does then it's not communism. There's a reason some of the most beautiful works of architecture in the world are temples, or mosques, or churches, or cloisters, or office towers, or palaces, and as once you realize why you've taken the first step towards rejecting communism.

Sounds like a terrific argument...in favor of gray cinder-block buildings!

All of those "beautiful buildings" that DogDirt admires...rest on an ocean of bloody exploitation and tyranny.

Lovely, just lovely.

5/10/05, 2:02 PM

 
Anonymous jojo said...

or take a look at "unrealised moscow" and see what could have been. seriously. not douchey at all, unlike these free republic/national review co-bloggers

5/10/05, 2:15 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Revisionism is incredibly significant. It's precisely one of the biggest things that makes a communist NOT a communist. And what's worse is they continue to call themselves communists (not all revisionists are opportunists who consciously continue to call themselves communists, thus spoiling the name). And I think it's true that all problems under socialism can't be attributed to revisionism. There were real mistakes. But the question has to be how do we learn from them?

edog says, "So, the problems with communism--denial of the individual and his self-interest, rejection of fetishes and idols, and the rejection of profit--will always lead to deadening architecture as well as deadening societies."

Rejection of fetishes and idols? What are you talking about? That's in the bible. What fetishes? What idols?

Denial of the individual? Yes - often this was a real problem, in terms of stifling individuality, as opposed to just individualism (better known as "me first"). However, there're also a lot of disotrtions about this. And it is not inherent in communism.

edog said, "buildings need egos, they need opulance, and they need baggage(symbolic and spiritual motifs derived in some way from human tradition). Communism allows none of that, and if it does then it's not communism."

I actually don't think opulance and ego equals beauty or even is necessarily awe-inspiring. And what "human tradition" are you referring to? I think Communism actually does allow room for symbolic and spiritual motifs - a communism as re-envisioned by Avakian anyway. I won't lay out a whole thing on this since I think Linda did this quite well, raising important questions.

I think your vision of communism is very much shaped by what we've been taught about socialist countries of the past - which, although mostly lies, actually pointed out real problems/errors (again, linda spoke to this). What I'm trying to say is that if someone knows nothing about what Avakian is writing about communism, they can't speak with any authority about communist ideology as it exists in the 21st century, since he is radically redefining it. Please read http://www.rwor.org/bob_avakian/new_speech/avakian_democracy_dictatorship_speech.htm - it'd be interesting to see what you think.

5/10/05, 2:38 PM

 
Anonymous Linda Flores said...

"All of those 'beautiful buildings 'that DogDirt admires...rest on an ocean of bloody exploitation and tyranny."

I'll use this comment to make some points and critiques that I think are of some importance.

One is that what RedStar is pointing out is true –
a) there is plenty of dull and deadening architecture, art, music, culture generally, under capitalism! Suburban strip malls, tract homes like the ones brilliantly satirized in Edward Scissorhands, etc. There is a whole subgenre in movies depicting the mindless numbing of suburbia and its stultifying effect on the human imagination.
b) The beautiful buildings, and much of the art and culture that we do enjoy, is on a certain foundation of exploitation. I am in awe of the Mayan pyramids:
http://www.mesoweb.com/palenque

but I know well who built them: the very lowest levels of Mayan society, under backbreaking conditions. (To illustrate: the Mayans had the wheel, but didn’t use it in labor at all, and they had use of no beasts of burden larger than dogs.)
But I didn’t put the world beautiful in quotes, because I do think that the question of beauty, what we consider beautiful, and why, is a very important one and not to be dealt with flippantly. I think that one of the most wonderful features of humans is that we have decorated our surroundings – and our world – constantly, for as long as humans have been around – see the caves at Lascaux for example: http://www.richeast.org/htwm/las/las.html
I love beauty, most especially what the natural world has produced: the aurora borealis, coral reefs, desert sunsets, the infinity of ocean waves, the endless variety of animal and plant life, etc etc … but I could talk endlessly about the music and dance and visual art and, of course, literature humans have produced. I think human beings have always sought out beauty and that this need is one that it would be impossible to suppress even if you wanted to – which I DON’T. I really see this flourishing in all kinds of funny ways under socialism, and for all the jabs about Bob Avakian, it’s one of the hallmarks of the kind of society he’s calling on us to create. (By the way, I also think that not all art, or culture, should be beautiful – I think there should be plenty of bizarre, absurd, abstract, funky, difficult, and even grotesque stuff in art and culture as well. The debate over a purposely very bizarre and freakish-looking building might be an interesting one.)

But I digress. The point is that, as I was raising before, there is a history of mistrusting or downplaying this under socialism, just as there were tremendous advances made in art and music. What role does the physical environment – the shape and size of the buildings, the density of imagery in someone’s field of vision at a given time, the colors of paintings and greenery, the amount of sky, open space, the presence of music, the existence of quiet spaces like cafes and libraries – play in allowing imagination to flourish and creativity to open up? What kind of environments are stultifying? (yep, my word of the week.)

As others have said, I disagree with the idea that you can only have beautiful things (or bizarre ones) if the society that produced them is based on a foundation of inequality and exploitation. That’s my critique of eDog's conclusions.

But I also don’t entirely agree wtih the method, used by RedStar, that the way to answer what eDog is posing, even though his conclusions are not supported by reality, with the somewhat flippant “the buildings you love are based on exploitation”. That’s true, but it’s not all of the answer – not even remotely. When we hear criticisms, are we just trying to mollify the person who raised them? Or are we trying to sort out what is posed by the criticisms, which means unraveling the false asumptions and the wrong ideas from the things that are true and deserve attention? Again, even though eDog is not very honest or respectful, what we need more of is what "anonymous" was beginning to do, which is to ask "what is worth looking at with this 'ego' thing?" What about the role of indivuality? Etc.

We’ll never build a society with room to breathe if we do this clumsily. It’s the “old commie” method, based on a narrow view of what we’re aiming to do here. We’re not just politicians trying to gain power, we’re trying to get at the truth.

That’s all for now.

5/12/05, 6:10 PM

 
Blogger TripleNeckSteel said...

Thank goddess that's all for now, N.S. Linda.

I don't see you as trying to get at anything other than power. Truth? You are the one who so dismissively refutes the opinion of thousands of chroniclers of Soviet communism (not to mention the histories as presented by those who have suffered under Castr, Mao et al) as biased, bourgeois, and liars. You quite plainly have absolutely zero interest in "Truth" as defined by a dictionary-- what you mean is "glorification of my pet ideology".

As one of Sunsara's Editors, I'm going to have to ask you politely to stop trying to shift the debate away from the issue at hand-- how many murders will it take to purify your ideal society, and how many murders are excusable when they're being committed by the enemies of your enemies?

TripleNeckSteel
Associate Editor for Content
Sunsara's World

5/12/05, 9:29 PM

 
Anonymous LInda Flores said...

"You are the one who so dismissively refutes the opinion of thousands of chroniclers of Soviet communism (not to mention the histories as presented by those who have suffered under Castr, Mao et al) as biased, bourgeois, and liars."

Uh, where have I done that, exactly?

quotes and links, etc.

- Linda

p.s don't bother with the "thank goddess" - I'm an atheist.

5/14/05, 1:56 PM

 
Blogger TripleNeckSteel said...

Sorry, NSL...

I meant Thank Gaia.

Is that more soothing to your sensibilities?

TripleNeckSteel
Associate Editor for Content
Sunsara's World

5/16/05, 12:49 AM

 
Anonymous ygnl said...

I have to disagree with the general verdict on communist architecture and sepecifically architecture in the Stalin period.

First off you have the seven sisters in Moscow which are as impressive as anything in the U.S. in terms of aesthetics.

Secondly on the point of the difference between Stalin period architecture and revisionism the point is well documented and well known that quality aesthetically and practically went down in the post-stalin period.

The best indication of this is the Moscow subway. The subway system is a series of interconnected rings emanating from the center of Moscow. As you go further out in distance you get to newer and newer rings of the subway system, you also come into contact with the typical gray concrete aesthetics. This was created during the Krushchev era and the apartments built in the same areas reflect similar aesthetics and durability. The inner rings constructed during the Stalin period are simply beautiful. The difference between any public transit in the U.S. and the subway systems in both St. Petersburg and Moscow definately reflect positively on soviet architecture.

Further, having actually been to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Los Angeles and New York, there is more similarity in the large apartment structures between all these cities than there is difference.

As a parting shot, your philosophy of architecture sounds like it has more in common with Ayn Rand than with the particularities of architecture as a field.

5/17/05, 4:38 AM

 

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