Friday, October 3, 2014

“And in the red trunks ….”

(This is a deep subject, and I don’t have time.   I had hoped to retire by now (65), but certain events on the planet dictate that I not abandon the post.  So, this-all is just from what hours are left to me (and what time is left to me), what-between a full-time job, and now-necessary Eldergent naps.)

Anyhow:   A persistent undercurrent of the Ferguson events, events which by no means (contrary to some hopes and expectations) have yet burned themselves out (for they are fed by deeper fires than mere politics -- deeper even  than race) is a battle between:
In the blue trunks (at least, as perceived by the red trunks): a collective Superego;
and  in the red trunks :  a collective Id.
(And yes, yes, truly to make the case, would require more research and analysis than I can offer; sed -- eppur’ si muove, so throwing this out there, food for thought.)
What is largely missing at street-level  is the referee, a responsible adult Ego. 

Thus, consider merely the aspect of Anonymity.

Fact:  An officer, name not yet revealed, in the context of a physical confrontation, shoots a teen, evoking outrage from the teen’s cohort.
Fact:  As a result of this, death-threats are directed to-whom-it-may-concern.   Whoever he may be, he and his family are now in danger of their lives.
Fact:  Accordingly (here simply being responsible, the Ego in control) the authorities decline to reveal his identity as yet.
Fact:  This refusal causes further outrage among the subalterns.
Fact:  Despite all the certainties on each side, the facts of the confrontation remain obscure.   The officer might have committed an indictable crime; he might not;  he might even have been doing a dangerous job  courageously.  We still don’t know.

At this point, a certain band of self-righteous activists endeavor to smash this outrageous anonymity  and ferret out the identity of the officer.   Self-sure that they have found it (“Mr. A”), they broadcast this around;  Mr. A is now in danger for his life.
Only, it turns out that, so far from being the officer in question, Mr. A is not even a police officer to begin with.  The vigilantes just screwed the pooch.

Irony of ironies:  The group that perpetrated this call themselves …. Anonymous.

Sequelae:  They do not apologize, nor reveal their identities.  Nobody learns anything from this.  Indeed, the Id never listens;  the Id never learns.

For a further example of our split selves  collectively battling their own id, try this:


[Update 5 October 2014] An incident yesterday evening in Saint Louis sharpened the sense of underclass resentment at symbols of high culture  rather than pragmatic pushback against institutions of coercion:  Ferguson protestors interrupted a concert at Symphony Hall.

This reminded me of a tactic espoused by community organizer Saul Alinsky:

“I suggested that we might buy one hundred seats for one of Rochester's symphony concerts. We would select a concert in which the music would be relatively quiet. The hundred blacks who would be given tickets would first be treated to a three-hour pre-concert dinner in the community, in which they would be fed nothing but baked beans, and lots of them; them the people would go to the symphony hall--with obvious consequences.”
― Saul D. Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals (1946)

At the time I read this (ca. 1971), I was living in Berkeley, and hanging out with radicals myself.   But I remember feeling queasy at the self-congratulatory tone of this passage, in the context of the book.   That is not organizing the working-class for its world-historical mission;  rather it is simply stirring up the Id-pot, bringing toxins to the bubbling surface.

Saul Alinsky, summoning up
what ‘twere best left at the bottom of the pot

For another cautionary tale about summoning the forces of darkness, consider this:


Another caveat.
At the symphony intervention, the protestors trotted out the golden oldie “Which Side Are You On”.   Fair enough, only:  Before you go down that road, best to check the balance of forces.   If, by means of repeated provocations, you force people to choose sides, you might find that you are badly outnumbered.

It is just that with-us-or-against-us strategy that is so worrisome about ISIL.   Like Dubya after 9/11, they are pugnaciously forcing people to sign up with one side or the other:  and by the very psychodynamics of that motion, will cause the sides  further to diverge.
In the case of the takfiris, if they “love death more than you do life” (as they boast), and figure that a billion Muslims onboard is pretty good odds, plus they’re looking forward to the End Times in any event,  that strategy could even make sense.  Armageddon mon amour!   More constructive projects  require more nuanced tactics.


No comments:

Post a Comment