Posts by John Madziarczyk
Ferguson, a step back for justice in the United States 10:10 am / 26 November 2014 by John Madziarczyk, at Lost Highway Times...Paths in Oblivion
"Black Coffee Co-op" is no more, and I’m rejoicing 9:50 pm / 09 November 2014 by John Madziarczyk, at Lost Highway Times...Paths in Oblivion
I say that they were a blight on the neighborhood because it's true: along with all the traveling kids came people addicted to various drugs, or who had untreated mental health issues, that the cafe brought into the area. Again, meth heads aren't going to be the vanguard of the revolution.
Political thoughts…the liberal view vs. socialist. 12:31 pm / 02 September 2014 by John Madziarczyk, at Lost Highway Times...Paths in Oblivion
Well, on a personal level, through lots of volunteering, I can say that the worst off in our society are those that conform to the liberal view of things as opposed to the socialist. I expected to find many economic victims of capitalist exploitation, but I found comparatively few, and instead people who had other problems that caused them to be in these positions. The origins of those problems may have had in some cases economic causes, but there was also the factor of personal responsibility in some cases.
I still am a socialist, and believe that economic inequality and the barriers that it puts up to people are a serious problem, but I've also gained a new appreciation for the fact that our economic system works to a degree that I hadn't suspected before. There is mobility, people do lift themselves out of poverty through hard work, not everyone is a victim of economics.
This view has also been strengthened by years spent in community colleges post-bachelors, first to study social work and then to transition into other sorts of worker retraining. I won't say that students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds were absent at Evergreen, but there certainly were more of them at the community colleges I went to, and unlike Evergreen they weren't politically self selected. Instead, it was a broad spectrum of people....and despite the constraints on my fellow students, many were extremely determined to change and improve their lives through school and classes, and to implement upward mobility through it. They didn't see the economic system as fucked up enough so that there was no hope in challenging it, hope that would have to come through some sort of political movement challenging the government, or through creating an alternative society outside of capitalism. Both views are more common than you'd think in the alternative political universe of good old Olympia, Washington.
And politically, they were all over the board. The virtuous proletarians weren't all predisposed for the socialist cause but instead were just as often predisposed to libertarianism as progressive thought.
Call it reality. The socialist critique still applies, but the dire doom and gloom assessment of our society is, in my view, not in connection with the actual facts of the society we live in.
Some of the reasons I like Laibach, plus Slavoj Zizek 1:22 pm / 30 August 2014 by John Madziarczyk, at Lost Highway Times...Paths in Oblivion
Well, first off I basically had the same philosophical background as them. I’m not sure how many of their fans really take it seriously, but the philosophical parts of what they do aren’t trivial. Before getting into them I had been familiar with Marxi…
Reflections on Evergreen, Port Protests 11:22 am / 26 August 2014 by John Madziarczyk, at Lost Highway Times...Paths in Oblivion
At the beginning of the organizing of the port protests, I was taking a break from politics, which I'd been studying at Evergreen non-stop since the summer of 2004, and instead taking a program in philosophy combined with a craft program about creating art using neon. This was my last quarter in school, and I decided something fun was in order. Once the protests started in earnest, it was far enough along in the quarter that I was afraid that if I got arrested and spent time in jail it would seriously impact my ability to graduate. I had gone back to school after a long absence, and was now in my mid-20s, and very much wanted to get college behind me. So, I went down there exactly twice, and that was it.
Then, after graduating, I took a triumphant road trip down the coast, first to Arcata and Eureka in California, then Berkeley and San Francisco, and finally to L.A., where I spent a week.
When I got back, I found it extremely hard to get into the organizing of further action that was happening, and spent about half a year as a para-student, somewhat participating in student activities, and in off campus activities with students, until giving up entirely.
There was progress, then a lot of reversal, and I found that the people who were being lionized in the alternative media were more interested in cracking fart jokes in their spare time and generally acting like a fraternity then actually talking about politics.....and because I hadn't been there at the start it wasn't possible to really participate further.
I had moved from Florida, where I was living at the time, to the northwest, to Evergreen, to participate in something exactly like this, and now was unable to.
But a conversation I had with one of the participants several years later was illuminating on why that may have been.
I was having a phone conversation with one of the main people whole I'll call "Reff", and in the middle of it "Reff" made the statement that before the port protests he really hadn't been involved in politics at all, and that in fact what he was doing later was spending time with a kid as part of a "Big Brothers, Big Sisters" program. The meaning of that was that, unlike me, "Reff" was a pure soul who naturally came to politics out of conviction rather than ideology, and instead of focussing on theory he volunteered in the community helping out. Little did "Reff" know that at the time of the phone call I was volunteering at a food bank once a week as well as volunteering at a soup kitchen once a week as well. To presume that I didn't do anything concrete to help the community was the height of arrogance.
In any case, it seemed that, in "Reff"'s eyes, the very fact that I'd cared about politics previous to the port protests, had been involved with activism elsewhere, and had moved to the northwest to become further involved was enough to disqualify me from being a valid politico....which was very convenient for him considering that this was the first major activist action he'd been part of and it yielded him a good amount of fame and repute both in Olympia and to a smaller extent nationally. And maybe some women as well, who knows.
Fame corrupts, and the small does of fame that the initial port protesters received was enough to stimulate their fantasies about their self worth and close off participation to people not as famous--unless they wanted to basically be lackeys for them, or to regard them in awe as stars.
Anyways, I hope that now that eight years have gone by that "Reff" has been confronted by similar assholes who are now complaining about him being an old man in the activism scene, and about not deserving a place because of his prior involvement. It would be a sweet justice.
Left Gramscianism vs. the reality principle 5:20 pm / 25 August 2014 by John Madziarczyk, at Lost Highway Times...Paths in Oblivion
However, at some point, what's developed in these areas of freedom has to be taken out of isolation and put forward to the greater world as a whole for commentary, and in this the principle of developing ones ideas gets superseded by the reality principle. The reality principle, originally coined by Freud for psychology, basically means that your ideas have to pass the test of basic logic and reference to reality with good arguments backing them up, and do so in a world where they can be contested.
Now that Obama has won, and has been in office for approaching six years, it's right and proper for people to get out of their hidey holes, their trenches, and their siege mentality, and rejoin the greater community. However, it appears that a number of people have serious problems with this.
What they want is for the stacked deck of the closed area of freedom to carry over into normal political discourse, which is a place that by nature is opposed in its very essence to the idea. What they want is for everyone to look at the assumptions that they have, without examining them, and simply submit to them without questioning---instead of relying on solid arguments to carry the day.
And to help out with that, when the premises are questioned, it's becoming common to accuse the other side of some sort of horrible ideological offense, with the intent of shouting them down and supposedly rendering themselves 'right' by shaming them....without proving their points.
This is not real political discourse, or discourse at all. Arguing with a stacked deck is what Fox News does, and it's properly ridiculed by people in progressive circles. People in the same circles really need to not condone the same sort of behavior by their fellow politicos and instead work to win against their opponents in free discussions that don't depend on ideological slander to win points.
Otherwise, there's little difference, and the new boss will be the same as the old---only he or she will have Elvis Costello glasses.
The rising political correctness from the Left—have they forgotten Bush? 8:08 am / 25 August 2014 by John Madziarczyk, at Lost Highway Times...Paths in Oblivion
The thing is, and I hate to say 'I remember' as if it was that long ago, but I do remember the environment after 9/11 where any criticism of the Bush administration, or of the U.S., or of the actions being taken by the U.S. government were met with accusations of treason. I remember people losing their jobs for either saying a stupid thing taken out of context or sometimes in very conservative areas for being seen at a protest. I also remember Ann Coulter making statements intended to intimidate people with liberal ideas into not talking. Much, much, more could be cited.
All of it was a form of 'political correctness' from the Right, and was gladly condemned by people, which is why now that the tide has turned I condemn the same impulses being put forward by people on the Left---that which is characterized by not to have a discussion of issues but to shut speech down by saying that it's offensive or so inappropriate that it shouldn't even be considered, when in actuality what's being discussed is not that extreme but instead is characterized by an ideological disagreement with the author.
*Also, I hate using the words 'political correctness', because it isn't like the rabid sector of the Right, which very liberally uses the term, isn't out there. But, there's not much of an alternative at this moment.
More Ferguson 11:13 pm / 24 August 2014 by John Madziarczyk, at Lost Highway Times...Paths in Oblivion
Personally, although there's not enough evidence to really say if this was the case, my hunch is that the business about him trying to steal the cop's gun is something cooked up to try to justify the shooting. Rationally, if a person is trying to get away from a police officer, trying to take their gun makes little sense.
People aren't perfect, and the story of Michael Brown as a kid who committed a minor theft, and roughed up a convenience store clerk, and then was shot when running away by a cop, is still a story of injustice---he doesn't have to have been completely innocent for an injustice to have occurred.