[OPE-L:8422] Socialism for Idiots

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sun Feb 02 2003 - 14:34:59 EST

Re Michael E's [8421]:

> Individualism should not be confused with egoism or capriciousness,
> which often  happens. In the West, the notion of the individual has 
> deep historical  roots which  go back further than the modern age 
> of human subjectivity to -- you  guessed it --   to the Greeks. The 
> distinction between the _idiotaes_ (private  individual,  'idiot', some 
> who 'owns himself') and the _politaes_ (member of the  polis) is
> fundamental for Greek thinking on social life. _idios_ means 'one's own,
> pertaining to oneself, peculiar to oneself, private'. An _idiotaes_ is
> someone who  is 'his own person', independent, who belongs to 
> him/herself and not to  another or  others.

As you know, the modern meaning of the term 'idiot' is quite 
different from the ancient Greek meaning of idiot.  Indeed, there
even seems to be an inversion in the meaning of the term to the
extent that one who is independent, critical, and thinks for him or 
herself  is only identified by the dominant culture as being 'idiotic' 
in the modern sense if she or he puts forward a perspective or 
embraces a way of living that stands apart or is in  radical opposition 
to mainstream culture.   Thus, mainstream thought often fails to
recognize the logic of opposing perspectives and instead dismisses
those perspectives as idiotic.  This raises the question (why I do not
know the answer to): when, where and how did this change in meaning 
of 'idiot'  take place?  

LaFargue defended the right to be lazy; should we defend the right
to be idiotic?  

Solidarity, Jerry

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