Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Freedom And Skhole

A few years back, FLG argued and he still believes:
The ultimate goal of Marxism, in its purest, Platonic form, is Leisure. Leisure in this case means the ability to pursue one's goals free from constraints. Those constraints could be cultural, economic, or political.

And a couple of weeks later:
As the previous discussion revealed, Marx took this goal from Aristotle, who I would argue rightly understood Leisure. I vacillate between whether Marx bastardized Aristotle's version of Leisure so much that he wrongly understood it or whether Marx kept Aristotle's Leisure largely intact and the modern Left bastardized Marx's generally correct understanding. Somehow Leisure, which used to be understood as a virtuous use of free time and resources for the betterment of oneself and one's society, became a hedonistic consumption of experiences. I might even say Leisure went from Apollonian to Dionysian, but that would probably require more thought than I'm willing to put in this morning.

Digression: Many people read this and then start bickering with FLG about how Marx was really talking about the alienation of labor and all that. Yes, yes he was. But FLG thinks that misses the larger point. If one reads it with the idea of skhole front and center in their mind, then FLG thinks it becomes clear that at root the problem is that Labor is alienated because it's not Leisure.

Thus, he read the definitions of freedom given by Occupy Wall Streeters with some fascination:
  • ”Revolution means freedom from necessity.”
  • ”Being able to have enough activities, friends and the social basis of self-respect so that you can make meaning out of your life.”
  • ”Freedom means freedom from necessity, freedom to do what you want without having to sell yourself in order to survive. Freedom to express who you are through whatever you want to do without any forces stopping you.”
  • ”Realization of human potentiality.”
  • ”Freedom means the unlimited transformability of all things humans into things beyond human. The unimaginable frontiers of human destiny that we have given up largely to our own discredit.”
  • ”Freedom means the ability to speak your mind, to live your life free of worrying about how you’ll pay your next bill or whether you’ll have a roof over your head.”
  • ”Live your life as you see fit, making your own decisions to the best of your knowledge and ability.”


The Ancient said...

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose...

People were stupid-crazy back in the Sixties, too. Most of them got over it.

Anonymous said...

I’m confused. I thought the Wall Street protestors were were pissed at Wall Street bankers; not that they thought they had a right to be Wall Street bankers.

George Pal

Anonymous said...

I'd vote for Marx being a bastard.

Mrs. P

Anonymous said...

A fun read:

Dear protesters in New York City,

You are not 99 percent of America. I don't mean that in the obvious numerical sense. If 99 percent of Americans had actually joined your march, Manhattan would have flipped over by now.

What I mean is that if 99 percent of Americans actually sympathized with your cause, the entire nation's economy would have collapsed long ago -- apparently to the delight of the organizers of this current protest.

What I mean to say is, you have a marketing problem.

When you decided to sit in traffic and block the Brooklyn Bridge a few days ago, with that blazing pink "SMASH PATRIARCHY-SMASH CAPITALISM" sign in hand, you probably didn't see the regular people you stranded in traffic.

You know, the ones with real-world concerns, business to attend to, families to go home to, et cetera. You may have read about such people during college in a book called "The Petit Bourgeoisie," or something like that. Many of us grew up calling them "the middle class."

Whatever you call them, they are hurting badly in this economy, probably more than you are. (I'm just judging by that sweet digital video camera I see you holding out in front of the cops, in hopes of provoking them into a viral-video police brutality incident.)

Those people you left stuck in traffic have a hard time paying their bills and rents and health insurance and mortgages. They worry about things like finding decent schools for their children to attend and making sure they don't get fired at work, and fixing leaking roofs and chimneys.

You know what they don't worry about, ever? Smashing patriarchy and capitalism.

So when your organizers go on television and say things like, "It's revolution, not reform!" and they're not joking, those words might give some of these narrow-minded people an unpleasant, October 1917 kind of feeling.

I know you'll find this hard to believe, but these regular people probably weren't very happy to see you on that bridge, carrying your preprinted black and yellow protest sign that hundreds of you got straight from the communist Workers' World Party (or one of its less frighteningly named affiliates). So incensed was one Ground Zero construction worker that he called you "g-ddamned hippies" in the New York Post.

And that underscores the problem with the 100 million-plus people who work for a living in this country. They lack an enlightened perspective that would show them how your camping trip in lower Manhattan has already helped their lives.

See, regular people don't like banks any more than you do. But when they go to buy houses for their families to live in, they often find that they don't have half a million dollars stuffed in their mattresses. So they shortsightedly embrace financial imperialism, otherwise known as a mortgage.

They also worry about corporations, because they're big and powerful. But then, they'd love to own one of those sweet video cameras like yours, and they perceive that they can only buy one if an evil corporation can turn an obscene profit making and selling it.

So the point is, real-life things blind people to the great class struggle you're waging in lower Manhattan. You, and the rest of America's three-tenths of one percent.

You can take some consolation from that next year when you sacrifice your principles, abandon the Global People's Liberation Party (or whatever), and vote to re-elect President Obama.

David Freddoso

Mrs. P

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.