Facilitate the power of love - confront the love of power

Sat, 28 Aug 2004

Voices from the margins

An important part of this inquiry into domination is spreading the net wide enough, looking at a wide enough range of perspectives. Many of the most interesting voices come from the margins.

Once the cultural distortions attached to it have been lifted—the notion of anarchism has always been a challenge to cultures of domination. I was surprised to find Naom Chomsky in this interview speaking of it approvingly.

Another voice from the margin, John Zerzan describes the damaging imperialism of Western musical tonality (the division of the smooth spectrum of sound into scales of discrete notes and the structures of harmony built on them). Hmm, even the 'the freedom to fly' in the jazz improvisation that I play, is imprisoned in an ideology of tonal and harmonic domination.

The Big Picture - geo-politics - macroeconomics, is an important thread in this inquiry into domination. 'Crazy' behaviour in a person can make sense if you can get close enough to their world to empathically divine what is going on. If we can get past the headlock that says this behaviour is 'irrational' i.e. beyond the reach of any kind of sense-making, even the 'crazy' behaviour of national administrations may make sense, (while remaining insane) I found this overview of the rationale behind US global domination— a talk by David Harvey on 'The New Imperialism'—very helpful.

Thu, 26 Aug 2004

Living from love

The Enlightenment project - Descartes, Locke, Kant - that began to free us from the headlock of the heritage religions also set in motion the engines of industrialization and modernity. But modernity for all its virtues has a serious limitation. It carries forward the deep seated belief that dominance is intrinsic. That 'freedom' i.e. freedom to use and abuse others, is for those who deserve it, which in practice means those who are already free.

Modernity is still with us and post-modern approaches to daily life seem fragile shoots, constantly in danger of falling victim to the anxieties of people who feel threatened by them.

And yet, once we wake up to the intolerable burden of domination, we are faced with the task of moving out of the alienation,fragmentation and damage of modernity and into a life lived from love i.e. free of coercion and domination.

I learned a lot about how to do this from John Heron and the shifting population of the Institute for the Development of Human Potential [IDHP], the Human Potential Research Group at the University of Surrey [HPRG] and the UK co-counselling community, including notably, Anne Dixon, who also introduced assertiveness training to the UK.

Stirred into this engaging and profoundly transforming mix was Cooperative Inquiry, a way of doing research with people rather than on people. More recently, establishing the Independent Practitioners Network [IPN] has shown how an ethically sound post-modern form of accountability for psychopractitioners can be organised.

If you would like to follow up some of this satyagraha - positive programme - here are some more links:

John Heron maintains the South Pacific Centre for Human Inquiry

John Heron: Transpersonal Cooperative Inquiry
This paper gives a short account of some issues involved in using co-operative inquiry as a method of transpersonal research, outlines a relevant cartography, and presents a prospectus for future inquiries.

John Heron: A Little Book of Co-creating '...A rewrite of the theory and method of co-counselling from a transpersonal perspective..... it derives from an inquiry with twenty Co-counselling International teachers this summer...'

John Heron: The Life Divine and a Self-generating Culture:
'I give here a short account of the kind of religious innovation with which we want to engage. The 'we' here refers to all those whose vision is in tune with the content of this document...'

John Heron: Space and consciousness
'...Each person can be construed as a multispatial imaginal, that is, a conscious being that is involved in creating a set of different, yet interrelated, imaged spatial worlds. The word 'involved' is important here since a person participates in the creativity, refracts it, manifests it, relays it, gives idiosyncratic form to it. It is a life-given power of the mind, like breathing is life-given power of the body; and as with breathing, we can influence and modify it, but we do not produce it...'

My recent CDROM
Letting the Heart Sing - The Mind Gymnasium
provides an extensive and detailed account of what is involved in trying to live from love

Wed, 25 Aug 2004

Cultures of domination

Just as we might suspect a goldfish knows nothing about the water it swims in, so in pursuing an inquiry so close to the roots of our  notions of human nature as studying domination, the object of the enquiry can be seem very elusive.

Recognising what I call 'cultures of domination' can be a useful stepping stone to realizing the extent to which domination appears to be in the grain of history, apparently a given. Until we see it we are not likely to be able to confront it.

This article 'Shock and awe?—too much God—not enough love' that I wrote in response to the US/UK attack on Iraq outlines what I mean by cultures of dominance.

And if the notion of domination still seems out of reach, while I was writing this today an item about bullying appeared on the BBC web-site that brings it into more local focus.

Tue, 24 Aug 2004

President Bush—four more years...?

Dominant elites such as the present US administration create, replay, repeat, re-iterate and re-inforce stories that explain, garner support for, and justify their actions in the world. These stories are often only adjacent to, or independent of the facts on the ground and it is a part of being a citizen to suss what is over-simplification, or special pleading, and what is lying. And when the time comes vote accordingly.

Over the last several years, I have casually collected what has come to seem a very large number of examples of derision, rage and contradiction directed at the Bush administration and the stories it tells. More, even much more, it seems to me, than there was coming towards past presidents, (though Reagan and Father Bush generated notable resistance) and amplified hugely by Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 film - the first documentary to gross over $100m at the box office, and a 'political event' as John Berger calls it.

The sheer quantity and quality of this opposition raises a question for this enquiry into domination: does it make any difference? Will the scale of opposition being directed towards the Bush administration be sufficient to influence the November electoral outcome? Can, as so often throughout history, incumbents still ignore to death (the Germans call it totschweigen) a take on history, culture and daily life that contradicts the dominant stories?

Since, unless you have been quite diligent, you may not be familiar with the huge scale of the derision, contradiction and anger that has been directed at the Bush Administration, I've assembled some examples that I had to hand (thanks Vincent) and listed links to others.

I've created a page devoted to writing that doesn't buy the Bush administration 'story of our time'. It is overshadowed by the excellent site maintained by Michael Olteanu which has accumulated a literally overwhelming series of such links. This site is doubly remarkable, one for its size and secondly because it is hosted on the christusrex domain.

Alongside this I have put together a page of links to a mix of tragic and hilarious animation and multimedia and yet another page that has a selection of the many derisory satirical pictures all of which feature President Bush and members of his administration.

Wed, 11 Aug 2004

Spellbinding stories

As this inquiry moves on I continue to be interested in two lines of explanation for the persistence of domination and subjugation in the world:

1. trance/hypnosis and the many varieties of /pr/news management that induce and maintain them.

and interwoven with these...

2. story telling, especially the telling and re-telling by dominant elites of stories that justify their dominance and invalidate conflicting or challenging views, especially those originating with subordinate groups.

Note, this is not to deny the value of either trance (we can be benignly entranced by music that touches us) or to believe that a life can be lived that is free of stories. We tell stories to ourselves (this is one of them) and we warm to, or feel touched by, or cool off, in response to hearing other people's stories.

The g.o.r.i.l.l.a. agenda focuses on pointing to those stories and trance inductions that maintain the domineering, bullying, discriminatory, racist behaviours that pollute our daily life and that attempt to invalidate resistance and demands for deference.

At certain moments in history an elite story is decisively contradicted and the trance it propogates fails dramatically.

If you want to discover more about how dominant elite stories, or 'transcripts', as he calls them, are devised and maintained, I recommend James C. Scott's book Domination and the Arts of Resistance Yale University Press 1990

Tue, 10 Aug 2004

Finding a voice

I'm getting to like satygraha even though it still seems strange and unprounceable. It's good because it reminds us of the importance of moving from 'bystanding' to action. And in a pointer I want to make today, it reminds us of the vital importance of being able to find a  'voice' that matches the life tasks we meet.

Such a voice, one that is up to the task of confronting the love of power and speaking to the value of love can be hard to find both in the world and in ourselves, so examples matter. Here is one of them.
Following the 9/11 events in New York, my friend Vincent, who I have already mentioned in connection with his tapeworm story, sent me, along with other friends, this message.

It speaks from love and it confronts the love of power. Take a look at it.

Mon, 09 Aug 2004

You wanna bet?

Intuition is a great human capacity. It can be right on and it be way off. Anyway a day or two back I was musing over my muesli and risking indigestion mentally role-playing George Bush.

I am George Bush with half the world's armaments at my command and as usual I am drunk with the power of righeousness... I'm thinking... how could I be sure to get back into office in November? What would be an unanswerable event that would swing the 'don't knows' towards me? That would consign the Michael Moore tendency to the dust bin of history?

Intuition stirred and became a recognisable thought.  Find, kill or capture Osama bin Laden. But not yet. Not tomorrow or in the early fall, do it real close to election day.

So I'm guessing that the 'killer event' that will give Bush and his neo-con connections another four years may be exactly that. Look out for the surprising last minute capture of OBL.

On the other hand... if we run a bit of benign conspiranoia... Will it be a last minute lucky break? Considering the military and cultural resource that Pakistan has in the Afghanistan area do they really not know where OBL is? I find that difficult to believe.

Think Presidential again and maybe... OBL's whereabouts are well known... but leaving aside the Presidential Election agenda... he hasn't been picked up because dead or alive he presents more of a problem than leaving him alone. Dead he becomes martyr number 00001. Alive he's another kind of problem. What the hell do we do with him? Put him in Gitmo and let the dogs loose on him? Half the world will freak out if we treat him badly... and so on and so on.

First week in November? You wanna bet?

Sun, 08 Aug 2004

Femininism—getting there!

Cardinal Ratzinger, Papal Prefect recently put out a LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE COLLABORATION OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE WORLD Even a cursory look at this ecclesiastical rebuttal of feminism showed that it was a great example of two of the themes that are emerging in this enquiry: 1. how dominant elites use trance induction, i.e. hypnosis, to maintain and reinforce their dominion. 2. how domininant elites tell and re-tell stories that justify and sustain their domination and the subjugation of others, and invalidate subordinate stories. Feminism is the coming into the public domain of previously hidden subordinate stories about how it is for some people to be human. However unfashionable its refusal to accept that male domination is natural and inevitable may seem at the moment, it is a testimony to the value of feminism that in mid 2004 The Catholic Church felt the need to trash it. As my review of the Letter shows, Cardinal Ratzinger is a skilled exponent of both trance induction and elite story-telling. You might not agree, if so, let me know.