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Archive for November 18, 2012

Mutual Acquiescence or Mutual Aid?

Ron Sakolsky

 

Most of us have made a compact, saying “Let us make a convention. Let us agree to call what we are feeling not ‘pain’ but ‘neutral,’ not ‘dull unease’ but ‘well enough,’ not ‘restless dissatisfaction intermitted by blowing up,’ but average ‘hanging around.’ Our consensus is that how we live is tolerable. If I ask, ‘How are you?’ you must say, ‘Pretty good.’ And if I do not remind you, you must not remind me. To all this we swear.”1

-Paul Goodman

The hugger-mugger totality wants nothing and does nothing. They are entangled with one another, do not move, prisoners; they abandon themselves to opaque pressures but they themselves are the power that lies upon them and binds them, mind and limb.2

-Robert Walser

What I will refer to here as “mutual acquiescence” is the social adhesive that cements the bricks of alienation and oppression which structure our daily lives into a wall of domination. It is a major obstacle to the practice of what anarchists refer to as “mutual aid” in that the latter is concerned with providing the cooperative means for vaulting that wall. While cooperation can take many forms, for Peter Kropotkin, who developed the evolutionary theory of mutual aid3 in relation to human behavior, its quintessence in the political realm is anarchy. With that in mind, I will take the liberty here of referring to the concept of mutual aid only in the anarchist sense, and will consider those cooperative human relationships associated with welfare state capitalism and state socialism as being built upon forms of mutual acquiescence because of their implicit or explicit statist assumptions which run counter to anarchy.

Even in its least cooperative and most authoritarian forms, mutual acquiescence cannot simply be equated with unmediated mass conformity to societal norms. The hierarchical power of rulers and ruling ideas are reinforced by the interpersonal collaboration of the ruled in their own servility. Such collaboration is composed of the paralyzing intermediary social relationships that are the scaffolding of conformist assimilation to the ideological authority of society and state. What makes mutual acquiescence so insidious is that it is a form of social control that is rooted in the everyday psychological and social relationships of consent that compose the lived experience of domination. Accordingly, an analysis of how mutual acquiescence prevents and immobilizes individual and collective forms of direct action allows for a more nuanced model of domination and resistance than can be afforded by merely referencing the devastating effects of conformity imposed from above. » Read more..

Death of Science: The Moon Question

Nineteenth century anarchist thinkers were all about elevating science to a place where it would strip the masses of superstition, the sacred, the seeming inevitability of the system of State and Capital. Suffice it to say, science has drawn up short on all these promises. In fact as the lapdog of technology, science has done more in the past hundred years to further enslave the species than virtually any other social component. I loathe the arrogance of science and scientists, and so like Charles Fort I love it when observed phenomena occur far outside the safe, rational, reproducible boundaries of any scientific field. To begin this series on the Death of Science let’s start with the moon, one of the great enigmas, that has astronomers still spinning and looking for explanations.

The biggest mystery of the moon is the most obvious, as any child knows one side of the moon faces the earth all the time, and the other side, the dark side, does not. Clear enough, but that also makes the moon the only known heavenly body that does not spin on it axis. The moon, based on mineral tests is about the same age as the solar system, 4.5 million years. Meaning it was formed separately from the solar system and in some fashion got trapped in the earth’s gravitational field (“capture”), or did somebody put it there? The “capture theory” fell apart quickly as the earth doesn’t have enough mass to redirect the moon into orbit from any trajectory. After the Apollo program a number of startling discoveries about the moon were made and one speculation, voiced by MIT scientist Sean C. Solomon, “The Lunar Orbiter experiments vastly improved our knowledge of the Moon’s gravitational field … indicating the frightening possibility that the Moon might be hollow.” Frightening? You bet, because as astronomers know, and as voiced by Carl “Billions and Billions” Sagan in 1966,” “A natural satellite cannot be a hollow object.” Hmmmm. Finally the moon does an interesting thing when you hit it—it resonates, like a bell or a gong. NASA has, on occasion, hurtled space junk at the moon to see what kind of seismic activity occurs. Apollo 12 radio controlled the Lunar Module stage to crash onto the moon, and the surface reverberated for about an hour.  The ill-fated Apollo 13 went one better and crashed the entire third stage thruster into the moon and set reverberations off that lasted over three hours. Totally unconvinced of anything, the NASA guys really wanted to see what would happen when a large, natural object struck the moon, and they got their chance on May 13, 1972 when a large meteor struck the surface with the force of 200 tons of TNT. Ideally, the shock waves should have traveled to the moons center and the bounced back to the surface. What happened was that the shock waves never came back, indicating some type of damping material near the core, or possibly, once again, a hollow space that swallowed the shock waves whole. So there it is, what is up with the moon? And to our intrepid, arrogant priests of astrophysics and planetology–how about an explanation?