Friday, February 3, 2012

No Way Out

According to David Brooks there is no way out of the current mess. He argues that
[e]ffective rebellion isn’t just expressing your personal feelings. It means replacing one set of authorities and institutions with a better set of authorities and institutions. Authorities and institutions don’t repress the passions of the heart, the way some young people now suppose. They give them focus and a means to turn passion into change.
So I ask when MLK and others worked on creating a new society in which the older institutions of white supremacy were overthrown in favor of a truly egalitarian and just society, where did they look for "authorities and institutions"? Christ's message was clearly King's finger post but the world he and his fellows sought to create wasn't reliant and indeed could not be reliant on any older set of institutions because all the older sets of institutions relied on some kind of hierarchy in which some subset of this or that civilization ruled while others were ruled and in which inequality was assumed to be natural.

In short, what Brooks here advocates for, as I read him he sees Marx and socialism as ruled out of court always already becuase -- you know -- Stalin, grasping some early erroneous system of hierarchy and privilege.

One of the reasons that I thought Graeber's book on debt was so intellectually stimulating was his refusal to make predictions or to impose on a chaotic moment some self-limiting solutions. What happens next is unknowable but our best hope is to try something new.

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