“Power to the millions, not to the millionaires” (#Leftmaidan)
Three forms of democracy vie with each other in Ukraine today.
The first of these is what we might call authoritarian democracy. This is a hybrid of democracy and authoritarian rule, in which partially developed democratic institutions can be relatively easily played off against each other by the powers-that-be to maintain their rule.
Regular readers will know of my interest in Ukraine, where I lived for a year as a Canada-USSR Scholar in 1989-90, and where I’ve visited at least ten times since, for varying lengths of time.
I’ve been following events unfolding there from afar, and have begun a blog called UKR-TAZ: A Ukrainian Autonomous Zone, which collects statements by Ukrainian writers, scholars, and cultural leaders on the revolution (which is what it should be called, at this point).
The following is a pretty good summary of important facts about the revolution. It’s a complex situation, so there’s always a risk of oversimplification. But this is a very good start.
Every violent suppression of dissent is violence against the humanity that is being born. The world to come is at stake in these encounters.
That’s what I tweeted last night while watching what looked like the squashing of a revolution, when riot police appeared by the thousands and began moving in on the territory held by Ukrainian protesters in downtown Kyiv (Kiev, pronounced “kay-eev” in Ukrainian). Watching these events on the multiple live video feeds available to a global audience was transfixing. Together with the constant stream of commentary in social media — I followed Facebook, Twitter, and the feeds on the streaming TV sites, but there were other options available — made it seem like a genuinely global insurrectionary event.
The following are some reflections on this experience, contextualized within global geopolitics, Ukrainian politics, the ecology of media, and the recent history of analogous events elsewhere (such as those I have blogged about earlier in Iran and Egypt).
Conversation overheard between an ambitious grad student and a simpleminded process-relational philosopher . . .
Jake Wanano-Everton: Sir, where do you draw the line between what’s real and what’s not real?
Prof. Noah Fewthings: The only things that are real are the moments of experienced reality — drops of experience, let’s call them — pulsing through the vector stream of the universe right now. There are lots and lots of them, too many to count: what you and I are experiencing right now are only two, or more accurately some, of billions and billions unfolding at this moment. And this one. And this one. They are all that’s real; and they are irreducibly real.
The metaphor of “occupation” strikes me as a provocative one not only for what the activists in Manhattan and elsewhere are doing, but for what they are struggling against.
Some, and perhaps many, of these are people without traditional “occupations,” so they are occupying themselves by re-occupying the public spaces that have been occupied for too long by the values, habits, and appeals of the Occupation Force — the whole industry of slogans, gestures, come-hither looks, sales pitches, jingles, hooks, nods and winks (backed up by policies, and ultimately by laws and policing) that keep us steered into the spectacle of Politics-as-Usual-and-Consumption-Above-All.
While I’ve been too busy to follow the Wall Street occupation very closely, let alone participate in any but the most vicarious ways, I’m encouraged by the persistence of its participants. Isn’t it time Americans started saying basta! to government of the lobbyists, by the politicians, and for the corporations?
Okay, it’s just an ad… and for a book that focuses on a single node within a complex, multi-scaled set of relations. But that node ought to be obvious, and the fact that it isn’t tells us as much about the last 40 years as we need to know to start fixing things.
Whatever one may think of Brian Leiter as a philosopher (and I have no strong opinions, not having read any of his books), he has to be commended for having what may be the best philosopher’s blog for conversations on yesterday’s Canadian election.
Ecology, ontology, politics: These three terms are among the most common themes of this blog, but their intersections deserve a more sustained exploration. This is the first of a series of posts that will do that through critical discussion of various readings and concepts.
This first post reviews and reflects on some of the questions raised by Andrew Pickering’s latest book The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2010). The next two posts will examine the integral theory of Sean Esbjörn-Hargens as applied to climate change, and integral theory pioneer Ken Wilber’s critique of process philosopher Alfred North Whitehead.