Re: dreams and nightmares

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@T-ONLINE.DE)
Date: Mon May 19 2003 - 11:54:54 EDT

Cologne 19-May-2003

"michael a. lebowitz" schrieb  Sat, 17 May 2003 18:15:49 -0400:

> Dear Friends and Comrades,
>          I will try to get some comments in about the statement, 'dreams
> and nightmares', and the very important discussion sometime soon. For the
> moment, let me make one brief comment on Michael Eldred's message of 16 May.
> At 18:48 16/05/2003 +0200, michael wrote:
> >Dreams and nightmares indeed!
> >
> >Better to give up all your "dreams for a better world" altogether. There
> >has been enough Platonism shaping Western (now planetary) history --
> >above all through its appropriation by Christianity. The idea of an
> >"ideal" is one of the most damaging in all of world history (next to
> >that of God as posited by the Abrahamic religions). The West has only
> >just been getting over Christian Platonism during the last two
> >centuries.
>          I can't say that I find this response to the idea of 'dreams for a
> better world' surprising--- given Michael's earlier response (in OPE-L
> 8647) to Cyrus's idea of a statement about the war against Iraq:
> >Dear Jerry,
> >
> >
> >Please, not in my name. I cannot pretend I have Marxist or socialist politics.
>          Mike L.
> ---------------------
> Michael A. Lebowitz
> Professor Emeritus
> Economics Department
> Simon Fraser University
> Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
> Currently based in Cuba. Can be reached via:
> Michael Lebowitz
> c/o MEPLA
> Calle 13 No. 504 ent. D y E, Vedado, La Habana, Cuba
> Codigo Postal 10 4000
> (537) 33 30 75 or 832  21 54
> telefax (at night): (537) 33 30 75


I interpret your comment above in the following way:

Putting Platonic idealism, along with all its alloys with Christianity, into
question means also putting Marxist and socialist politics into question.

But isn't Marxism supposed to be materialist? Precisely. Turning something from its
head onto its feet is only possible whilst remaining within the same. All negation,
all anti- remains within the same dimension. If you think these are just abstract
philosophical thoughts and games with no practical-political _value_, then you
underestimate the historical reach of philosophical thinking -- which, whether we
know it or not, holds us historically in its grip. Questioning is the only way of
loosening such a grip, of twisting into a new position, of getting over ways of
thinking to which we have become so fondly attached through tradition, experience
and habit.

Questioning is the way in which we can allow the world to show itself in a new
light. The more questioning the questioning, the more likely it is that the world
presents a different face. Fortunately (as far as I am concerned), one of the
historical sources of the West is ancient Greek philosophy where, surprisingly,
questioning-thinking was discovered and practised for the first time. We in the
West still have the possibility today of questioning. Medieval Christianity almost
smothered that possibility, but has since receded in power and influence.

I also agree with your implied conclusion that questioning-thinking is not a
world-improvement service. Nevertheless, it may, ultimately, further the
possibilities of sharing the world. It's a matter of how set in our ways we are in
our thinking. That's the reason why it is always the next generation of young
thinkers which takes up ideas (from their teachers, from the tradition) and has the
strength and vitality to put them into question. Set ways of thinking have the
possibility of becoming malleable again in new blood. The question of who we are
always remains an historically open question.


PS: Do you know John Cage's late diary with the title "How to improve the world
(you will only make matters worse)"?

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-  artefact text and translation _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- made by art  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ _-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

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