For our first piece. This, in a nutshell, is why I distrust manifestos. Great satirical work from Kim Mok.
Knee-deep in journalism work (yes, readers, this comes as a total surprise, I know), so this edition of The Rundown will focus on some apt quotes and thoughts.
The following timely "there is no they" gem is from Eli Sagan's The Honey and the Hemlock, on the thorny relationship between democracy and paranoia:
The one psychological mode of action that almost everyone recognizes as intrinsic to the paranoid position (and, in its most exaggerated form, intrinsic to paranoia) is projection: "...the attribution to external figures of motivations, drives, or other tensions that are repudiated and intolerable in oneself." If we want to conquer the world, we announce that "they" are the ones who are so intent. If we cannot abide the tolerance that democratic society demands, we discover conspiracies whereby "they" are intent on overthrowing the democracy. Hofstadter points out how the Ku Klux Klan, violently anti-Catholic, imitated the Catholic Church by wearing priestly robes, erecting elaborate ritual structures, and creating a complex hierarchy. What the paranoid personality cannot do is to create a significant psychological distance between him- or herself and others. To a degree, there are no others, only friends (a part of me) and enemies (the projections of the bad, repudiated parts of me). Lacking an integrated, internal sense of self, the paranoid cannot conceive of an independent, possibly different, even indifferent, other. Democratic society, on the other hand, rests on the fundamental assumption of the independence and integrity of other people, that they be allowed wishes and desires and lives independent of what others may require of them. The paranoid cannot abide tolerance. People who do not believe in God must allow prayer in the schools; people who do not believe their identity is dependent on a piece of cloth; must recite the Pledge of Allegiance; women who get pregnant by mistake must have the child. Every democratic society has its frontier on which paranoid forces struggle with those of tolerance.
Sex positive feminist badass Susie Bright on some lessons from her years in the trenches. There are some major points here that many activists still need to learn:
I've been thinking a lot about the abortion fight that's going on right now. What if the women's movement had kept its eye on the ball? What if we had realized what was at stake? We saw it, the Moral Majority was being formed at this time in the '80s, and we should have been saying, "We need to pull together everyone we've got and strategize on these issues because we're in for the fight of our lives and our daughters' lives." But, no, we had a sectarian battle over pornography. The FBI didn't bother to infiltrate the women's movement, but if they had, they couldn't have come up with a better plan to sow the seed of destruction. I'll still go to places where a feminist activist gingerly approaches me, not quite sure we still have anything to talk about and worried about whether I'm on the right side. It's a little hard to keep that crap up at this point.
Since the world's had more than its usual share of terrifying uncertainty lately, I find the late Octavia Butler's A Few Rules for Predicting the Future more relevant than ever:
"So do you really believe that in the future we're going to have the kind of trouble you write about in your books?" a student asked me as I was signing books after a talk. The young man was referring to the troubles I'd described in Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, novels that take place in a near future of increasing drug addiction and illiteracy, marked by the popularity of prisons and the unpopularity of public schools, the vast and growing gap between the rich and everyone else, and the whole nasty family of problems brought on by global warming.
"I didn't make up the problems," I pointed out. "All I did was look around at the problems we're neglecting now and give them about 30 years to grow into full-fledged disasters."
"Okay," the young man challenged. "So what's the answer?"
“There isn’t one,” I told him.
“No answer? You mean we’re just doomed?” He smiled as though he thought this might be a joke.
“No,” I said. “I mean there’s no single answer that will solve all of our future problems. There’s no magic bullet. Instead there are thousands of answers—at least. You can be one of them if you choose to be.”
Amen to that. Good night, everyone. Dream well.