Domination and the Arts of Resistance

Domination and the Arts of Resistance

James C Scott in his penetrating examination of domination and it historic precedents in Domination and the Arts of Resistance published in 1990 has captured my attention for these past days. He carefully examines the ways that the abuse of power has been more or less successfully dealt with down through the ages. Even though his work seems to reflect a past era, it appears to me timeless. It also highlights how the overthrow of oppression often ushers in the new oppressor, who under the guise of liberator captures the good will of the newly freed only to erect the new form of oppression. It reminds me of a well-meaning friend who heroically attempts to solve a friend’s problem, only to discover that solving the problem was not really the issue. Staying the center of attention was really the issue of the “friend”. While diligently applying talent, time and treasure to solve the current problem, the person needing the attention was just as diligently creating new problems to be solved, sometime even at the expense of pain for themselves, because the real issue was their need for attention at any cost. Once that was seen, the well-meaning person/citizen withdraws from the futile attempts thereby freeing energy and resources to develop real problem solving responses. I feel that a close reading of this book might be a liberating experience today. In these times of cell phones, internet, texting and who knows what else will be available in the future, we, once freed from our illusions of domination might actually meet the real needs of our time. “Mother nature” will have the ultimate say. “She” isn’t influenced by the old “they who have the gold make the rules’ standard. No amount of gold will provide the necessary conditions for my great grandchildren to live humane lives if clean air and water are unavailable. So I now wear diaper pins to remind myself that every choice I make they will have to live (or not be able to live) with. I plan to have extras in my pocket to give to those who ask why the pin. At 82, it is my form of resistance so aptly outlined in this penetrating work of James C. Scott. Get your library to find it for you. It might provoke a lot of interesting reflections for you too.

A Higher Loyalty

A Higher Loyalty by James Comey was an interesting read. What did I learn? Not much about the details of the struggle as they have been extensively chronicled by the many news outlets. But I did learn how much those like Comey give to all of us just being in the various law enforcement agencies sworn to protect our freedom. I also experienced to a degree that surprised me the awareness of how much we put on the shoulders of others what we should be carrying  ourselves.  As long as they are doing “their jobs” I can go about my life not concerned about the Constitution or the freedoms it provides. But Comey shares with all of us that this comes at great cost to many. They cannot do it alone.  We, and I, need to do our part as well. Time will tell if we are up to our jobs, and if we are worthy of the commitments so many make on our behalf. The book ends on the hope that like a forest fire that clears the way for new growth previously hampered by the overgrowth of the old trees. I look to the youth of today to grow into that role. Now it is our turn to sort out what is true and give our energies to that same truth so that the young will trust that it is worth their lives.

The Undiscovered Self

This classic by C.G. Jung is so timely for today. As I reflected on its message I was reminded of Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of union differentiates. This idea teaches that the more we come together, the more we discover our self. In biblical times the individual counted only as a member of a group. Outside the group survival was all but impossible unless you could find another group that would include you. Then centuries later, we rebelled and swung to the opposite pole of individualism.  For a time we reveled in this new found sense of the importance of each life. It seems now that we are faced with another important paradigm shift that it isn’t an either/or dilemma, but a both/and reality. Jung invites us to reflect on the good/evil that is inherent in each of us. When we accept and respond in ways that our faith traditions offer, maybe we can evolve from just being attracted to the eternal truths offered by the worlds faith traditions and actually try to live them. It seems like our present worldwide anxiety offers us this invitation. You can go online and download a pdf version of this valuable little book.

 

Dark Money

Mayer, Jane. Dark Money.  Doubleday, NY. 2016.  The hidden history of the billionaires  behind the rise of the radical right. In an attempt to understand why people who have more money than they could ever use need even more, I borrowed this book from the library. It was a page turner read. Mayer pulls back the curtain to let us see what is going on behind that enterprise and hopefully, we  like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, will be aided with seeing who is really pulling the levers in our society. The best conclusion I can come up with is the insatiable need to be in control. It is the age old temptation to “be like God”. Mayer gives us the background of the childhood of the Koch brothers and I came away with a deep sense of pity for them. They truly didn’t have a chance and their response to this abuse is to be abusers as well. Alone they wouldn’t be too worrisome but they have aggregated many of the same persuasion so as to become a very threatening to our constitutional form of self governance. Now the current ruse is to want our “well being” and to lure the unsuspecting to use their sense of fairness as a tool of aggression. Books like Dark Money can help us resist this con game if we can see what is happening. Read this book,  if fairness describes you .