Montag, 8. Dezember 2014

affirming collapse - a little political manifesto

The talk about crisis and impending collapse is omnipresent in contemporary discussion. This is well illustrated by some titles of recent publications of some of the most read philosophers of our times: temps de crises by Michel Serres (2009), Living in the End Times by Slavoj Žižek (2010) and Failed States by Noam Chomsky (2006) to just give a few, rather random examples.
We all seem to agree that we live in a time of huge crisis, in which many of our old structures of social and economic, as well as private and ecological organization seem to fail and / or fall apart. Critique of capitalism has now made it into the mainstream and even boulevard press and it seems to have become some kind of consensus, that we need to change our ways in a more or less radical way to stop global warming and prevent ecological collapse. We also talk about a crisis of philosophy and our values since the notorious 'Death of god' and the subsequent deaths of metaphysics, the author, history, gender and even sometimes civilisation. We seem to live in a time of confusion and lack of reliable concepts for structuring reality in any satisfying way. 
This sense of times of crisis and living in the End Times is also well reflected by our economic situation - or by what so called experts tell us, what our economic situation is. It is said, that we are now at the end of the sixth year of global and especially European economical crisis. This, further on, is used as a permanent justification for drastic cuts on the well fare state and it's social and cultural programs. "We really would like to maintain all the wonderful benefits and achievements of the socialist dream of the well fare state" the people in power seem to be saying "but the times are just not like that. We are sorry - but we first need to save the banks and the financial system, they have top priority because they support and primordially enable the well fare state's being. If that is done, we will go back to the good old times." So, for six years now, we are struggling to keep up the system in a more or less status quo. We spent and spend billions to prevent impeding economical collapse, which is said to almost have happened in 2008.
This event in recent economic history - the notion of almost-collapse and our sacrificing struggle to prevent it ever since - is what interests me in this little essay. 
crises and stability alternating
It is often said, that the history of humanity is structured by periodically alternating times of stability and crisis. In this line of argumentation it is said, that humanity - up until now - has never been linear or stable in it's development, being or becoming. Times of comparable stability, peace and prosperity gave way for times of crisis, war and collapse, which in turn have ended in more peaceful and prosper times again and so on...the oscillation between crisis and stability, thrive and collapse is said to be an essential part of history. Following this train of thought, the more cynical realists of our times say or sigh, that the next time of crisis and collapse is now afore. The last decades were comparatively peaceful and stable1, they say, and now it is time for collapse and war again, which we really can't do much about. They justify this view with historical events, like the last huge financial crisis in 1929 and its eventual resulting in World War Two, with the huge crisis of farming and starvation in France in the late 18th century, that resulted in upheaval and eventually - but not for long - democracy, or the fall of the Roman Republic which - after times of chaos - was replaced by Augustus' - comparatively stable and prosper - Imperium.
It is Michel Serres' main message of temps de crises that all of our contemporary crises are connected and have to be seen as an entity, which can not be effectively be divided into parts. So, by attempting to save merely the contemporary financial system and doing nothing about the rest, we do not actually get to the root of the problem. It actually seems, that the more we try to hold the financial system stable and save it from collapse, the bigger the crisis in other domains of life gets (the growing of social inequality, of extremist and fundamentalist views, of the number of potential and actual wars and of Carbon-dioxide emissions and environmental catastrophes and crimes). If we accept that everything earthly (systems, humans, continental plates, flowers, everything...) is periodically prone to times of crisis and possibly collapse, it therefore seems that trying to prevent the financial, capitalist, growth-based economy from collapsing is actually a dangerous undertaking. In trying to maintain a system that apparently doesn't seem to work any longer in any satisfying kind of way, we are risking to let the general crisis of our time grow to such an extent, that a violent, war-like and horrible collapse will result from it. Because - if we see crisis as a natural part - we should wrap our head around the thought of changing something more radical to get out of the crisis again. Sticking to the old systems seems flawed, because it apparently reached its best-buy-date and we should dispose of it, when it's not working any longer. If not, we will make the crisis grow in other domains. We maintain our human-exploitation based economy and social upheaval and war will grow. We maintain our nature-exploitation based economy and we will face ecological collapse, which might make earth uninhabitable for human beings. To prevent these horror scenarios, we should therefore consider thinking about collapse in a completely different way. We should see it as a natural part of things it and accept it, live with it. In other words: we should experiment with the idea of affirming collapse, which I will quickly present in the following sentences.
If we accept, that humanity's development has never followed a straight line, but has taken weird turns, twists and roundabouts and therefore see times of crisis, decline or even collapse as an normal part of humankind, we should find a way of domesticating these "darker" sides of human development. We shouldn't thrive to maintain humanity and society in an ever growing, ever-prosper and ever-the-same state, but should learn to accept, that there are times of growth and times of decline, and that they are naturally alternating. That humanity and its social structures are ever-changing, to put it in one word. And - first and foremost - we should never forget that we are the people who are worth saving, and not the system.
Maynard Keynes
So - if we say that the financial system was very close to collapsing in 2008 and we are ever-since trying to prevent it from doing so, we should probably learn to wrap our head around letting the system collapse. Let's stop all these immense fiscal and social efforts to maintain a system which does no longer work. Let's go with the flow of economic development and accept that the system is dying. This line of thought is actually and rather surprisingly in accordance with what one may call the chief designer of the liberal financial system, Maynard Keynes, who himself stated, that this system will only work for about five generations (and we are this fifth generation) and that afterwards we will have to think up something completely new. 
So to let the system collapse is actually in line with the most neo-liberal doctrine one could think of. In fact, this is much more liberal than the neo-liberal capitalists of our days are. Because they betrayed their own doctrine when they cried for the State to help save the banks which would have otherwise collapsed. So let's be more liberal than the liberals and accept that the system is dying - that it had its days but that these days are now over. And even this is in accordance with probably
In contrary to most of the last century, we lack a real2 alternative to the current economic system and I guess this is why, we stick to the old system - in lack of a feasible alternative. But this is a notion, we should overcome, to really achieve change. Because, who says, that the next economic model will be some perfect model, which some philosopher or economic will come up with in a perfect and ready-to-apply form? This seems to me to be a very outdated Platonist understanding of humanity's structures and concepts. No real working system was ever completely formulated in one single book or by one or several single authors. There was no theorist, who lay down the basic principles of capitalism and then some queen or king came along to apply it. It grew naturally out of human development, which is what made it work for so long (and might be the reason, why Communism never really worked). (Btw: this is or was the agenda of the better branches of the #occupy-movement: having no ideological, predefined goals, but just expressing unhappiness with the current situation and giving way / opening up for new ideas and ways)
The times of liberal capitalism are done and there is no way to prevent its collapsing in its current form. We should learn to accept and embrace that fact - we live in a time of crisis - things have to be done in a new way, because that's the way it is. Let's rid ourselves of the uptight notion of clinging to a system that is no longer working. The more we free ourselves from this blockage, we will find ways of dealing with what comes at us and be able to find solutions and economic models, which fit better to our times and situations. Let the system collapse in a humane way, before the situation gets too bad, the prices were too high and the collapse of our financial system will be accompanied by war and chaos. Humanity is more creative than some of us tend to think - if we affirm collapse, new results, which might be much better for our times and situation, might await. Let's open ourselves for this opportunity. Let's fall in love with our darker times and make the best of it.

1 this notion is probably only applicable for the wealthier states, which have externalized and outsourced their conflicts to financially poorer regions, and is therefore and in general highly debatable. But it is still a narration, which I find interesting and I would like to pursue for this essay's intention.
2 if we consider Communism as a real alternative to capitalism, which we should at least not take for granted. 

Freitag, 14. November 2014

(ecological) reason

me discussing Spinoza (really!) in اصفهان
This blog has lost a lot of momentum after the first pretty active months, I know... After a wonderful summer, in which I have given in to my nomadic trait and travelled wonderful places like Berlin, Dreetz, Ibiza, Istanbul, Ankara, Erzurum, Doğubeyazıt, ماكو‎ (Maku), تبريز‎ (Tabriz),اصفهان‎  (Esfahan),کندوان  (Kandovan), يزد‎ (Yazd) and تهران‎ (Teheran) (See pictures here and here) , I am back in Vienna, but not much has happend on this blog. This is not because I have given up on philosophy or this blog - exactly the opposite is true. Aside from having started a new Masters program at the University of Applied Arts Vienna called Arts & Science I have started working on a philosophical book project. This project has been
me in the dessert around يزد (photos: Johannes Wittrock)
growing in my head for the last 2 to 3 years and now I feel there is the time to actually write it down. Get to actual work. So the reason I haven't been that active on this blog is that I am writing a book project about reason. Although it - until now - going really well, this will take some time to be completed. 
This will not be the last time you will hear about this book project on my blog. To give you some sort of taste of what the book project is concerned with, I am posting you a little prose-excerpt, which will find its way into that book. It illustrates kind of well some of the aspect of reason (or thinking) that I will concern myself with in this book. Maybe the primary concern of it will be that of identifying something like ecological reason aside from claiming, that our occidental way of thinking has had (and still has) huge inclinations to actually harm the environment by blocking it out. 
In the last weeks I have found quite a lot of older material of mine which I actually really like. So you might find some of these mixtures between prose and philosophy on this blog soon enough. This is the first one and I would be happy for any remarks, criticism and hints about it. It is in German, I am sorry to say to those not speaking that language.


im Gare de Montparnasse
Als ich mich vom Gare de Montparnasse aus zurück ins Stadtgeschehen warf, wurde ich an ein paralleles Erlebnis am Franz-Josef-Bahnhof zurückversetzt - als ich von meiner letzten Landflucht ins Urbane zurückfiel.
Der Übergang vom Land in die Stadt ist immer mit einem Schockzustand verbunden. Die gigantische Reizüberflutung knüppelt einen nieder. Das Auge muss tausend Reizen in der Sekunde folgen und beginnt sich bald von der vielen Bewegung zu überhitzen - das Augenwasser kommt seiner Kühlfunktion nicht nach. So viele schöne Frauen, so viele Leuchtreklamen, so viel Verkehr, soviel Lärm, soviel Leute, sowenig Himmel.
Am Land öffnen sich die Organe zu einer größeren Sinnlichkeit - man kann die Welt in einer Art Harmonie einatmen, man findet Ruhe & Frieden - sehr arbeitsförderlich, wie es mir von außen scheint - fühlt sich frei und verbunden. Die Sinne betasten die Welt. Wie aus einem Schneckenhaus wagen sie sich vorsichtig wieder heraus, betasten mit ihren zarten Tentakeln die Welt und finden - vorsichtig - Halt in ihr.
In der Stadt brüllt das Zuviel die Sinne nieder, sie müssen sich zurückziehen, ducken, da die Welt auf sie einschreit. Sie können nicht frei & nach belieben die Welt auskosten, sie müssen sich zu einer Bastion zusammenkuscheln, die man oftmals Subjekt nennt. Um Ökonomie zu betreiben mit den Reizen, die auf sie von allen Seiten einstürmen, muss sich die freie Assoziationsgemeinschaft der Sinne zu einem Panzertier bündeln, dessen Panzer sich aus mehr als Kretin, Knochen oder Hornhaut zusammensetzt.
Eine Leuchtreklame, die mit im Diesseits nicht nachzuahmenden Schönheiten ein unwiderstehliches Parfüm bewirbt, ein Tumult von kreuz und quer laufenden Personen, die diesen Ideen von Schönheit verwirrend nahe kommen, ein Zeitungsstand, an dem Bündel fetter Letter diese Weltneuheit oder jenen Weltskandal beheulen, eine Auslage in der die neueste Elektronik hypnotische Lichterketten mimen, ein zwei drei Bettler, die mit ehrlicher oder gespielter Betroffenheit an die Nächstenliebe appellieren, ein Vierter, der reglos am Boden liegt, das klappern von Stöckelschuhen, das den schnellsten Weg durch das ständig sich bewegende Labyrinth erpresst, ohne die Augen vom Smartphone zu nehmen, das Rauschen von tausend Stimmen, die hier oder sonst wo auf der Welt ein ernstes, liebendes, streitendes, zärtliches, erziehendes, ermahnendes oder bestärkendes oder vernichtendes Gespräch führen, dahinter das Donnern des Verkehrs, der Züge, der Flugzeuge, der Geruch von Essenständen, Hundescheiße, Düften, Abgasen und Blut - man kann nicht auf sie alle eingehen, geschweige denn, sie frei suchen.
Die Sinne müssen Disziplin erfahren und nur auf gewählte Eindrücke eingehen: das Auge bleibt starr auf den Weg gerichtet, der Ablenkung resistierend; das Ohr faltet sich zu einer gewissen Taubheit zusammen, um nur mehr bestimmte Signale - menschliche Stimmen, Hupen - aus dem Verkehrslärm zu filtern; die Nase bleibt am besten gänzlich verschlossen; die Zunge betäubt sich an einem Kaugummi oder übersalzten Kebap; der Tastsinn wird gänzlich blind.
Die Sinne können in der Welt der Überreizung, die sich der Mensch proportional entlang dem eigens so genannten Fortschritt angelegt hat, nicht frei umher tollen und müssen sich einer Führung unterwerfen - der Ruf nach einem starken Führer wird laut und jener strukturiert den losen Interessensverband Mensch in einem strikten und totalitären Kastensystem.
An dessen Spitze stellt er sich selber: der Wille, die Rationalität, der unhinterfragte Sonnenkönig. Gesichert und bestärkt wird er von seinem treuesten Vasallen, dem Seesinn - durch seine Bilder und Räumlichkeitskonzepte bewegt sich der Geist - auf ihnen hat er seine befestigten Autobahnen errichtet.
Weiter unten - schon viel niedriger - findet sich das Ohr, das den Stand eines niederen Gesellens oder Wachmanns einnimmt - ihm obliegt der Aufschrei vor der Gefahr ab und zu, der Rundumblick aus dem Wachturm, das seltene Hinzuliefern von Informationen, die er möglichst Unverändert aus einem von der Obrigkeit bestimmten Bereich fördern soll.
In der untersten Kaste - den Untastbaren - verweilt, untereinander leicht abgestuft & sich gegenseitig drangsalierend, der Geruchs-, Geschmacks- und Tastsinn.
Die Stadt - oder die Überreizung - produziert also das geschlossene Subjekt, eine Rationalität, die auf strenge Beherrschung der Sinne setzen muss, anstatt freier und produktiver Kooperation.
Am Gare de Montparnasse oder am Franz-Josef-Bahnhof, an der Penn Station, der Estación Puerta de Atocha und dem Athener Σιδηροδρομικός Σταθμός Αθήνας - aber lustigerweise nicht am Berliner Hauptbahnhof - erdrückt einem die Stadt in einem Zug. Immer sind meine Heimwege von den jeweiligen Bahnhöfen bedrückte, verzweifelte, suchende. Verlustangst kommt auf - schmerzvolles Abhandenkommen der friedvollen Koexistenz meiner verschiedenen Triebe, Morgenröte der monistischen Notwendigkeitsherrschaft des Leviathan - des Triebvertrags, geschlossen, um den Kampf aller gegen alle zu verhindern.
Insoferne ist es auch interessant, dass viele unserer modernen Entspannungsformen nicht mehr auf die Ent-, sondern auf die Überreizung abzielen. Im Club, am Rummelplatz, im Drogenrausch findet man seine Ruhe nicht in Übereinstimmung mit den äußeren - ebenfalls ruhigen - Umständen. Man erlebt sie als eine Art Trance oder Taumel, in den sich das Gehirn aus Rückzugsmotiven begibt.
Man tanzt im Club zu hektischen und oftmals atypischen Tonfragmenten, lässt sich von Lasern, Rauch und dem aufreizenden Blickkontakt mit aufblitzenden Menschen in eine majestätische Gelassenheit tragen, in der der animierte & synchronisierte Körper zu einem ruhenden Auge wird, das einfach nur mehr schaut.
Je mehr man sich auf diese tobende Höhle einlässt, desto mehr wagen sich die Sinne wieder zu öffnen - man atmet das himmlische Parfüm dieser Schönheit im Vorbeiwackeln ein, spürt die zarte und leicht nasse Haut jener im nahen Tanz und schmeckt im Glücksfall noch die eine oder andere rote Lippe, die sich gefühlsvoll mit der eigenen vereint, während die Atmosphäre wie ein Wirbelsturm brüllt, in dessen Windhose man die Sinnlichkeit wiederfindet.
Die Laser rummsen bis in den Morgen - doch irgendwann stimuliert einem die Bassdrum nicht mehr - man hat mit ihrer Hilfe unter ihr Niveau abgebremst, steht immer benommener auf der Tanzfläche, begnügt sich mehr und mehr mit der Rolle des reinen Auges, wird immer mehr an den Rand geschwemmt, zieht im Glücksfall noch die Hand eines oder einer ebenfalls zu genüge Beruhigten aus dem Strom, taumelt mit ihr zur Garderobe, oder im vulgären Fall aufs Klo.
Dort kann man mit der richtigen chemischen Mischung das Niveau nochmals auf das der Bassdrum zurück adjustieren, doch irgendwann verliert auch das beste Zauberpülverchen seinen Effekt und man wird sich früher oder später im Draußen wiederfinden, im Vor-dem-Club. Die Luft ist hier kalt und die Stadt erscheint einem so ruhig wie ungekannt. Das Wummern der Bassdrum setzt sich noch sanft durch die Wände durch, bildet ein Outro zum sonst zu harten Übergang, aber sonst hört man kaum einen Laut in der nächtlichen Stadt und auch ungewohnt wenig Schatten huschen durch die Straßen. Das Ohr ist noch dumpf, der Tastsinn stumpf, die Augen dunkel.
Die Luft ehrt seinen Atem mit rollenden Dampf, den man mit der geteilten Zigarette von sich aus bestärkt. Man tauscht Nummern aus, geht miteinander heim oder lässt es bleiben - es ist alles herrlich gleichgültig in diesem Kokonstatus der Sinne, durch diese Abbremsung durch ein maximales Durchstarten.
Man wankt entspannt nach Hause, beschaut mit ruhigen Auge das Erwachen dieser Stadt, an dem man nun definitv nicht Teil hat. Die untersten Schichten klettern schon aus ihren Höhlen und Kanaldeckeln und wuseln über den urbanen Raum, den die Sonne noch nicht berührt hat. Sie waschen den Bürgersteig, fahren den Nachtbus, reparieren die Straßen und Schienen - ein Bouquet schillernder Funken sprüht von diesem Schweißgerät und ich werte es als abschließendes Feuerwerk für einen gelungenen Abend. Ich entleere mein Geldbörsel in den Hut eines schlafenden Obdachlosen und bin beruhigt, die Stadt nur schauen zu müssen. Denn man ist kein Teil des Treibens, man spaziert wie durch ein Aquarium, dessen Glaswände die Sinneseindrücke abstumpfen wie die Überreizung des Clubs und schläft irgendwann ein auf seinem Bett oder das eines anderen, um sich am nächsten Tag, oder am übernächsten Tag wieder einer geregelten Reintegration zu widmen.
Dann spielt man das Spiel wieder mit, führt seinen Tanz auf in der Windhose des reizenden Tornados, filtert, sammelt, konstituiert und schotet sich ab. Wird mehr und mehr zu einer Verdichtung, einem knallharten Subjekt, das die Welt nicht mehr einlässt, sondern sie nach seinem Kommando dirigiert. Die Haut ist dann dicht genug, für die äußeren Bereiche des Tornados, man betritt, wie Feindesland, die Welt der Überreizung und versucht in ihr seinen Willen zu leben. Doch irgendwann verbläst es auch den stärksten Leviathan und die dichte Haut der strengen Sinnesführung blättert zunehmend ab, weist Risse auf und führt früher oder später zum Zusammensacken im Burnout. Dann trete ich wieder die Fluchtbewegung an. In den Club, den Rausch, oder zur umgekehrten Bewegung auf einem Bahnhof, sei es der Montparnasse, der Franz-Josef, oder sonst irgendwer. Zurück in die Windhose, irgendwie.

Montag, 6. Oktober 2014

Postkarte aus dem NIG

why Marx was right

Hörsaal III, 18:45 - nachdem die beiden Haustechniker mit schockierender Pedanterie bereits eine Viertel Stunde am streikenden Mikrophon herum gewerkt haben, wurde es den Vortragenden zu dumm und sie entschieden sich, den Vortrag ohne technische Unterstützung zu halten. Leider nahm sich niemand mehr die Zeit (Zeit ist Geld?), dass defekte Mikrophon abzustecken. Dadurch erfüllte ein markdurchdringender, schrecklicher Sinuston den ganzen Raum. Er hatte eine Tonhöhe, die wohl nur junge Ohren hören konnten (die Höhensensibilität des Ohres nimmt mit dem Alter ab), und legte sich wie eine furchtbare Art Kopfweh in die Schläfe. Ich konnte dem Vortrag nicht folgen, auch wenn ich es versuchte mich. Innerlich total verkrampft, wehrte sich etwas in mir dagegen, ihn einfach weg zu blocken. Es erinnerte mich an diese neumodischen Alarmanlagen, die man seit ein paar Jahren einsetzt, um junge Störenfriede von Grundstücken fernzuhalten (
Diesem terrorisierenden, ungesunden Stress verursachenden Ton waren wir die ganze Vorlesung lang ausgesetzt. Es verstand sich aufgrund des Imperativs braver, kritischer Gelehrsamkeit von selbst, dass man diesen akustischen Störfaktor zugunsten des Inhalts der Rede unterdrücken musste. Die Sinnlichkeit muss unterdrückt werden, um geistige Spähren zu erreichen - dieser abendländischen Doktrin schien hier mit Hilfe technischer Mittel Nachdruck verliehen zu werden. Der Vortragende Terry Eagleton hielt einen Vortrag zur Aktualität von Marx und Kapitalismuskritik, während in seinem Hintergrund eine gigantische, die Aufmerksamkeit absorbierende Werbung leuchtete. Anstatt dass der Beamer bei Nichtgebrauch in den Energiesparmodus schaltet, blendet sich seit ungefähr einem Jahr eine riesige WienENERGIE-Werbung automatisch ein, die uns zum frohen Energiekonsum auffordert, den sie uns auch gleich munter vormacht.
Wird auf der UniWien gerade eine neue experimentelle Regierungstechnik implementiert, die uns zur Unterdrückung jeglicher Sinnlichkeit (und also zu guten Abendländern) abrichtet und uns gleichzeitig als unmissverständlichen Seitenhieb den realen Stellenwert von Kapitalismuskritik verdeutlichen will? Kapitalismuskritik powered by CocaCola?
Willkommen im neuen Semester!

<-- zur nächsten Postkarte

Donnerstag, 26. Juni 2014

Transcendence in Indian Thought

I've written this little essay for Dominik Wujastyk's brilliant lecture "Historical Introduction to Yoga philosophy and Early Indian Traditions of Meditation" and I've got to say it helped me quite a lot to find a stance towards Indian thought. As - I think - many do nowadays, I've always felt quite attracted to "Indian" thought (I am aware of how broad a term that is), sometimes even felt rather intimidated by the more radical concepts of Nirvana and so forth. But I think I have found something, where I do defer from what Indian thought aims for and I've tried to express this in this little essay...very short summary: that our modern societies might be able to think even closer to immanence than the ancient Indian.
This could fill books. See it as a starting point. I'll for sure come back to that.


Transcendence in Indian Thought

Quite often Indian thought or teachings are characterised as philosophies or theologies of immanence.
"Our" Occidental tradition with a strong heritage of the three major monotheisms Judaism, Christianity and Islam have always been strongly leaning towards a thinking of transcendence. A good and heavy-weighted example is Plato, to whom the material, present world does only receive form and significance by a superior and eternal sphere of ideas. These proverbial platonistic ideas are the reason why we are able to identify two different objects as the same things, like two different chairs - they share the idea of the chair. Our entire world is therefore structured and made possible by a transcendent sphere of ideas, that is guaranteeing its meaning as well as being.
This necessity of a transcendence can be deemed as inherently occidental, most occidental thinkers - not to speak of religions - needed to refer to some transcendence that is external to our material, perceptible world to explain the same. Prior to the Renaissance this transcendence was mostly a mix of platonistic ideas and the monotheist JHWH / God / Allah. With the slow emergence of modern natural science (that is inherently immanent), the occidental notion of transcendence was exposed to its inherent deficiencies and needed to be replaced to the cogito (Descartes), the human consciousness (Kant, Husserl), the Weltgeist (Hegel), language (Frege, Russell, most of analytical philosophy, as Wittgenstein shows) and even sexuality (Freud).
With Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Foucault and Deleuze modern western philosophy developed an occidental concept of immanence, which gained proximity as well as inspiration from Indian thought, which was "discovered" around the time of Schopenhauer. Indian traditions like Yoga, Buddhadharma or Jainadharma1 have never had a mind-body-dualism in the occidental understanding, god (Ishvara) wasn't the transcendent being that created the world - for those traditions everybody or -thing was part of one concept (Brahman), time wasn't understood as some linear concept pointing towards paradise and the human wasn't a privileged or outstanding being with free, autonomous will. The above mentioned occidental thinkers were drawing closer to such an understanding of the world and so it seems clear, that Indian thought bore a lot of inspiration for Western thinkers. To put it into the words of Mircea Eliade: Indian thought since the Upanishads has always had one main concern: that of the conditionality of the human [Bedingtheit der menschlichen Verfassung]. Beginning with Hegel and getting stronger ever since this conditionality found its way into occidental thinking.2 The big impact of the so called "discovery" of the unconscious by Sigmund Freud could have never taken place in India, for they always had a strong concept of the unconscious which didn't need to monopolise (or transcend) the libido as source of the unconscious.3
All of this explains the huge attraction of Western thought to Indian philosophy which is, as stated above, often classified as "thinking of immanence". In my latest reading I have discovered that this labelling might overshot the mark and might not be more than a wishful projection of occidental thinkers.
As already mentioned, transcendence was established in the occidental tradition by a dualistic approach that saw the material world and the body on one side, and the spiritual world and the mind (spirit, soul) on the other. Even today, contemporary scientists like Colin Renfrew still feel the need to clarify, when they conceive mind as something material4, which shows how deep-rooted the occidental dualism is.
It is true that within Indian thinking, this dualism can not be found in such a way. The mind and the body are both seen as part of one cosmos5. Thinking and acting are both seen as to be carried out on one monistic level. This can be highlighted by the following example: in the Mahabharata there is a section on the senses and their respective organs. The task of a Yogin is to withdraw his senses from their objects and focus them in a sixth organ - that of the mind, in Edgertons translation: the thought-organ.6 In one of the most important books of occidental philosophy, Περὶ Ψυχῆς - On the soul by Aristotle there is also much talk about the senses, their respective qualities, purposes and organs. But contrary to the Mahabharata, Aristotle can't locate a thought-organ or - as we call it today - brain. Aristotle makes it clear that there can not be a sixth organ for thought and clarifies: "the faculty of sensation is dependent upon the body, mind is separable from it."7 This is paradigmatic for the occidental body-mind-dualism, which has to locate the ideas of thinking in some transcendent sphere.
This above exemplified dualism does not exist within Indian dualism. The need to explain thought by some transcendent sphere - and thereby establishing some guarantee for certainty, as can be best observed with René Descartes - seems not to be shared by Indian concepts. But although Indian philosophies locate the senses (material) and thought (mind) in the same world, it would be to quick to label Indian philosophy as a monism, in which everything is understood immanent and in relation to everything else. To me it seems that Indian philosophy does have a dualism, but that it locates it somewhere completely different then Western traditions do, which makes it hard for "us" to discern it and explains, why we tend to label it as a monistic philosophy of immanence.
Since the thought-organ is located in the material world, there can neither be a cartesian concept of certainty (which relies on some transcendent sphere of thought, that guarantees the validity of 'I think') nor an occidental human exceptionalism, for the difference between cosmos and human is one of degree, not essence8. Among others, these two key divergences make Indian thought so attractive for a secular, modern Europa, that is receding from transcendence since Schopenhauer.
But, as I mentioned above, Indian thought does not manage without transcendence - it is simply located somewhere else. From the Yoga-Sutras, to Buddha or Isvara Krsna, the whole of existence is pain and suffering. Nevertheless, none of the Indian philosophies result in despair - it is from this point, that all of them take their soteriological motivation.9 The universal worldly suffering is seen positively as some incentive for the liberation of the human. Every metaphysical undertaking and even the field of logic (where some striking parallels can be found to Wittgenstein) is oriented towards ending this universal pain.10
In order to achieve this liberation, all those Indian philosophies seem to need some transcendence, which is either called the self, or the spirit. This self is "what one really is, different from one's body and even from one's mind" and "[t]his core of one's being, this self, what one really is, does not act."11
The definition of egoism, that results from this concept, is that the egoist is that kind of person, that things "he is the doer", although his self never acts. He confuses to be his self as part of the material world (that includes the mind and consciousness).12 A rather radical ethical standpoint results from this, which can be summarised by this rather bizarrely funny sentence from the Samannaphala Sutta: "Even if with a razor-sharp discus a man reduce all life on earth to a single heap of flesh, he commits no sin."13
This self is ontologically different14 from mind and body and is what I think one has to identify as the element of transcendence in Indian thought. Furthermore - and closely related - this is also were an Indian dualism can be traced down, which is different from the occidental one, for it locates thought and act on one side of the dualistic concept. This true self can not be found by cognition, but can only be revealed to the human - which is another signifier for transcendence.
As we have seen, the cosmos is a source of universal pain, from which all major Indian philosophies want to liberate the human, by showing him, that the true self is not part of the cosmos. The soteriological practices defer between different Indian traditions - for example Jainadharma is pretty much outspokenly directing you directly to end your life15, whereas a Yogin is still alive, when he gets reunited with that primordial self16.
Nonetheless for all those Indian traditions the aim is to untie oneself from the cosmos, doing your part of undoing or removing the cosmos, that is universal pain and (re-)uniting with the real self.17 This is some clear act of transcendence and is also identified by Mircea Eliade as such18.
So - to conclude this very quick argumentation - to me it seems unjustified, that Indian thought is labeled as a philosophy or theology of immanence. To some extent it might be true to claim that Indian philosophy has always had an immanent world view - if we understand "world" as the material cosmos in which we act and think. And from this draws the fascination of Indian thought for the occidental world, that from at least Plato to Kant has not been able to understand this same world by a concept of immanence, for thought has always been something transcendent.
But although Indian thought has perhaps had an immanent world view, it seems to me that it could not really bare that world that was identified as universal pain and suffering, and therefore had to establish some transcendence to undo that horrible world.
The modern, secular occidental world seems to have developed and still is developing a concept of immanence, for which the Indian traditions have been and are a huge source of inspiration. But if we understand the mission of contemporary philosophy as developing a philosophy of immanence19, we should also see where Indian philosophy has its limits i.e. becomes transcendent.
Michel Serres points out, that within the last 70 years, modern medicine has changed the - at least occidental or, sadly, rich - world in such a way, that - for the first time for humankind - no longer pain and illness are the norm, but sanity and health.20 So, thanks to penicillin, antibiotics and all other remedies of modern medicine, we might be able to see the world as immanent but not painful. With health becoming the norm, the world might become endurable enough, to not need to establish some however natured transcendence.

Kilian Jörg, 7-9th May 2014, Vienna

1Elmar Holenstein claims that the terms "Buddhism" or "Jainism" are very Western ones that do not really do justice to the real Indian concept. The teachings of Buddha don't have anything to do with ideology, which is usually expressed with the "-ism"-ending. According to him, it is much more understood as a way, or, in Sanskrit, dharma. Consequently, he proposes to use the terms Buddhadharma instead of Buddhism, Jainadharma instead of Jainism. I believe that this is a wonderful idea to overcome some imperialism that is transported within our language and intend to follow his proposal. See: page 28 of Holenstein, Elmar: Philosophie-Atles: Orte und Wege des Denkens. Dritte Auflage. Ammann Verlag: Zürich 2004.
2compare p. 4-5 of Eliade, Mircea: Yoga - Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt / Main 1985.
3compare p. 53 of Eliade, Mircea: Yoga - Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt / Main 1985.
4compare p. 115 of Renfrew, Colin: Prehistory - the making of the human mind. Phoenix: London 2008.
5compare p. 29 of Eliade, Mircea: Yoga - Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt / Main 1985.
6p. 261 of Edgerton, Franklin: The Beginning of Indian Philosophy - selections from the Rig Veda, Atharva Veda, Upanishads and Mahabharata. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA 1965.
8compare p. 30 of Eliade, Mircea: Yoga - Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt / Main 1985.
9compare p. 19 of Eliade, Mircea: Yoga - Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt / Main 1985.
10compare p. 29 of Eliade, Mircea: Yoga - Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt / Main 1985.
11p. 28 of Bronkhorst, Johannes: Greater Magadha - Studies in the Culture of Early India. Brill: Leiden, Boston 2007.
12p. 30 & 37 of Bronkhorst, Johannes: Greater Magadha - Studies in the Culture of Early India. Brill: Leiden, Boston 2007.
13p. 48 of Bronkhorst, Johannes: Greater Magadha - Studies in the Culture of Early India. Brill: Leiden, Boston 2007.
14compare p. 23 of Eliade, Mircea: Yoga - Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt / Main 1985.
15p. 23 of Bronkhorst, Johannes: Greater Magadha - Studies in the Culture of Early India. Brill: Leiden, Boston 2007.
16compare p. 103-4 of Eliade, Mircea: Yoga - Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt / Main 1985.
17compare p. 50 of Eliade, Mircea: Yoga - Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt / Main 1985.
18compare p. 107 of Eliade, Mircea: Yoga - Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt / Main 1985.
19which is of course highly debatable, but at least how I - mostly - read Deleuze and similar authors.
20p. 16-8 of Serres, Michel: temps de crises. Éditions Le Pommier: Paris 2009.

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Montag, 16. Juni 2014

white men tripping

This is a little essay I wrote about Mescaline - or drugs in general - for the wonderful lecture of Dominik Wujastyk about Yoga Philosophy. It is way to short to put forth the original argumentation I had in mind and as a result it is more a giving you my opinion than arguing for it (a very very blurry line seperates those two). However - I like my opinion expressed in it, would like to hear other opinions and hope to find the time & motivation to rewrite the whole thing in more appropriate detail.
Aldous Huxley, R.C. Zaehner and Gilles Deleuze tripping 
the peyote cactus
Mescaline is a psychedelic alkaloid that naturally occurs in the Peyote cactus that is native in Texas and Mexico. The indigenous people of those regions have used the hallucinogenic, visionary effects of the drug for millennia in religious contexts.
Western scientific interest in the drug and its visionary potential started in the late 19th century and had its climax in the 50ies and 60ies of the last, until it subsequently got illegalized around the 1970ies in almost all Western nations. Together with LSD, the effects of Mescaline attracted many people in the 50ies and 60ies and frequently was subject to artistic as well as scientific research by notables as different as Aldous Huxley, Ken Kesey, Carlos Castaneda, Allen Ginsburg, Antonin Artaud, Henrix Michaux and Ernst Jünger.
In this short essay I will compare the experiences of two early experimenters with synthesized Mescaline - those of Aldous Huxley and those of Robert Charles Zaehner. Both experiments have taken place in "serious" universities and have been carried through and observed by reputable scientists.
Aldous Huxley - to put it almost mildly - was extremely fascinated by the drug's hallucinogenic effects and was inspired enough to write the now-famous essay "Doors of Perception" (1952) as well as the sequel "Heaven an Hell" (1954) in which he analyses his trip, contextualizes it with a lot of human and especially art history and deduces something one could almost call an entire epistemological system as well as a concept for mysticism.
Following the french philosopher Henri Bergson (1859 - 1941), Huxley concludes from his experience with Mescaline, that the "function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative and not productive [...] is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge." (81) Under normal, sober circumstances the brain acts as a filter, extracting the important information from the vast mass of sensory input and thereby forming us to one clearly defined self and enabling us (=that self) to survive.
Although this process of simplification and filtration is necessary for survival, humans have always strived to temporarily transcend from "selfhood and the environment" (30), to escape from "the homemade universe of common sense" (27) and have done so by means of various intoxicants, religious ceremonies and ascetic practices. Huxley also puts forth the theory that great artists, especially painters, have the ability to perceive the everyday world less filtered than normal people and are able to express those experiences in their medium, which he shows with the examination of artworks by Cézanne, Van Gogh, Botticelli or the poet William Blake.
But art is only a medium, that can convert this unfiltered experience Huxley calls the "Mind at Large" or that of "Suchness" (derived from Meister Eckhardt's Istigkeit) into the everyday world, it is "only for beginners, or else for those resolute dead-enders, who have made up their minds to be content with the ersatz of Suchness, with symbols rather than with what they signify." (12)
To those, who want to experience the real thing, this Suchness as such, Huxley recommends to take Mescaline.
Aldous Huxley
It seems that in earlier days, humans were capable of reaching this "blessed" state much easier by means of candle light, coloured glass and the like (compare 53-59). But in our modern days of permanent over-stimulation and subsequent desensitization, something more is required for most people and Huxley argues that Mescaline caters to these requirement much better than for example opium, cocaine, alcohol or nicotine. It "is not yet the ideal drug" (33) but works out pretty well to satisfy "a principal appetite of the soul" to reach the state of "the blessed Not-I" (6) - to escape from the normal every day status of the world that is structured by common sense and language.
In this property of dissolving the mundane self, Mescaline has huge similarities to Schizophrenia, which "has its heavens as well as its hells and purgatories" (25) but those bad trips are only very seldom encountered by Mescaline takers. It "only brings hell and purgatory to those who have had a recent case of jaundice, or who suffer from periodical depressions or chronic anxiety." (26) For others, it can satisfy this basic human need for dissolution of the self, can help to cast light on the yet dark and unexplored regions of the mind and thereby help us to better understand "such ancient, unsolved riddles as the place of mind in nature and the relationship between brain and consciousness." (2)
Robert Charles Zaehner, a British academic with specialisation on Eastern Religions, couldn't draw so much inspiration and enthusiasm out of his experience with Mescaline. For him the experience was rather trivial. It was "interesting and it certainly seemed hilariously funny. All along, however, I felt that the experience was in a sense 'anti-religious'. I mean, not conformable with religious experience or in the same category. In Huxley's
R.C. Zaehner
terminology 'self-transcendence' of some sort, but transcendence into a world of farcical meaninglessness." (2262)
In his experiment - which took place three years after Huxley's - it took Zaehner relatively long for the drug to kick in. He explains this by his "indeed, very strong" conscious resistance to the drug. He admits "that as the day approached on which [he] was to take the drug, [he] had become increasingly uneasy. [He] dreamt about it three nights running and, quite irrationally, feared either that it might be fatal, or that it might make [him] permanently mad." After taking the drug, he seemed to have fought the effects of it, finding "the fact that one is losing control of oneself" (213) displeasing.
While waiting for the drug to kick in, Zaehner proposed a promenade through Oxford with his experimenters, which he continuously called "guests" and seemed in fact to be very concerned to appear smart as well as entertaining to them. Back in their room, the drug had finally kicked in and he felt more and more separated from his body, that "seemed momentarily to be leading an autonomous life of its own" (216) The experimenters started showing him objects they have agreed upon in advance, but non of the objects had any great effect on him other than appearing unbearably dull and pointless. To this feeling of complete ridicule towards artworks he would otherwise adore, Zaehner burst out in a storm of laughter, which he could't control for hours. He calls all the books, paintings and music he gets to see "silly", "rather stupid" and has the same opinion of the entire experiment, which all "take [...] so seriously" (219). He expresses contentedness, that things don't change under the influence of Mescaline in the way he might have expected to (225), sees all art as pointless and laughs about it, while asking to be left alone and not be shown any more items, saying: "Well, if you'd only let me get some control of myself instead of drugging an honest chap." (224) All of this leads to Zaehner's conclusion, that there is not much to be obtained from Mescaline experiences and his dismissal of Huxley's enthusiasm. He states, that he would not take it again, but purely because of moral reasons, because he thinks that "artificial interference with consciousness [...] is wrong." (226)
For me it seems, that Zaehner - however consciously - has already in advance made up his mind against the possibility of positive effects of Mescaline and has therefore strongly and successfully decided to fight it. While Huxley readily embraces the self-dispersing effects, Zaehner fights them all the way through, trying to "control [him]self". From my own experience as that of others, I know that trying to grasp on the "normal self" while on drugs, is the worst idea you can have and often results in a fearful trip. It is of course frightful to see your mundane self along with all its little certainties being blown away, but if you decide to take a drug, you have to go along with it's flow to enjoy or even benefit from it. Zaehner didn't seem ready for that - he clinched unto his normal self.
An other thing that is interesting is, that, while Huxley seemed to have been left in relative peace while being on Mescaline, Zaehner was unceasingly bothered by his experimenters to look at certain objects to feel something special. To this Zaehner protested and couldn't find anything special in the experience. This, however, is not surprising, for when on Mescaline, you should be free to do your own musings - Huxley had the most intense impression of Suchness when looking at a chair that just happened to be standing there. As I have quoted above, he rejected art as only being a symbol of Suchness, while Mescaline enables him to experience Suchness as such - on whatever kind of object. So, from Huxleys standpoint, it should not be too surprising that Zaehner has laughed about the ridiculousness of artworks, for he saw their "true" nature - unfortunately, Huxley might say, Zaehner wasn't left alone enough to do his own drugged musings, randomly finding Suchness in arbitrary objects.
All of this would require a much more detailed argumentation, but to me it seems, that Zaehner wasn't ready to leave the world of common-sense that is structured by language (he is in fact - and with increasing difficulty - trying to put names on things he sees) and has therefore not experienced this exciting world of Suchness Huxley is praising. This is why he found the experience rather trite and trivial.
Deleuze & Guattari
However, I do not want to end this short essay with a one-sided appraisal of Huxley and Mescaline, for I think Huxley is taking it a bit too far. He sees some sort of ultimate truth in the visions of Mescaline, that seems rather naive to me. It is a very important lesson to lose your self and Mescaline can surely help you with that. Still - I do not see why the world behind language, this Suchness should have more meaning or truth than the world that is structured by it. For me, it seems that truth and meaning are merely functions of language and to apply it to something beyond or outside language, is simply a ontological misunderstanding. Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari put it very well, when he says that drugs have fundamentally changed our concept of perception - also to those who have never taken any. For him, this losing of the mundane self and its common sense is something to be embraced, but he suggests to reach this state un-drugged and permanently, for it is then a much more trustworthy and stable result and doesn't carry all the dangers of drugs (addiction, etc.) with it. "To reach the point, on which it doesn't matter any longer, if you do take the drug or not, because the general conditions of perception of time and space have already changed that much"3 is Deleuze & Guattari's demand.
So it is not the drug that changes our world-view, but a world-view is in the making, that can be found as well in the experience of drugs. But this world-view should become a general condition of how we see the world, and not just some rare escape triggered by intoxicants, for they carry too much dangers with them, of which not the smallest two are 1) seeing too much truth and meaning in the effects of drugs and 2) reinforcing the old, conservative world-view by seeing the Not-self experiences as merely a rare exception to the norm, rather than the new norm.


1 the following page numbers refer to the this edition: Huxley, Aldous: the Doors of Perception - includes Heaven & Hell. Thinking Ink: London, New York, Sydney 2011.
2 the following page numbers now refer to this edition: Zaehner, R.C.: Mysticism - Sacred and Profane - An Inquiry into some Varieties of Praeternatural Experience. At the Clarendon Press: Oxford 1957.
3 p. 389 of Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari, Fèlix: Tausend Plateaus. Merve Verlag: Berlin 1992. - my translation.

Dienstag, 27. Mai 2014

Left and Green or Green or Left and Left or Green or Green and Left

I1 am rather reluctant to write this, for I am quite aware that we have more serious problems than some minor unpleasantnesses on the far Left, but then again, I am sort of saying this exactly because of those more serious problems - in times of a horrifying leap towards the political Extreme-Right, as we have just seen it in the European parliament election, we should perhaps start to think about how we can make "Leftist" values or programs more attractive and strong, so that there might be an alternative to frustrated votes on the Right.
To clarify: I have long called myself a Leftist, although I got more and more hesitant to call myself in such a way over the last years. This is not because I have alienated from Leftist values. It's just that it seems to me that there is a lot of Christian Messianism in Marxist thought (on bad days I am feeling like Marxism was the second big reformation of Christianity after Lutheranism - heaven descended unto earth as the proletarian state, but everything else stayed the same2) and that the political term Green can incorporate every useful notion of the Left and at the same time justify it better - the survival of the planet seems to me a much more convincing motivation than the resolution of some economic "contradictions" - leaving aside all the potentialities for Leftist violence, as we have seen it too much in the last century.
Of course I am not exclusively talking about the established Green parties - but with "Green thought" in it's various forms you can argue very well against inequality, exploitation and many other "Leftist issues" in a very radical way without undergoing the usual Marxist dialectical twists. Left was the term of the 20th century, Green is the one for the 21st - that's how I'd like to put it.
Is Green the new Left?
I've been to the demonstration against Police Violence in Vienna last Thursday. Quick summary: there has been a demonstration against a march of the Identitarians the previous Saturday which resulted into some horrible, nasty police violence in which a lot of unjustified pepper spray, police brutality happened and allegedly a pregnant woman lost her child. This - and knowing from own experience as from that of others that for most part Viennese police sadly is some racist, far-out-right scum  - made me go to this demonstration against Police Violence.
I did go to the demonstration because I wanted to take a stand against the dangerous abusive ills of the Austrian police system, but being there, I quickly started to feel annoyed. Because most of the (not more than 1000 protesters) were waving some red flags around - Leninist-Trotskyists, AntiFas and other Far-out-Left groups were the majority and the speeches that were given at the stage were the usual leftist triteness with all the "solidarity", "antifascist" and "class struggle" buzzwords I've heard a thousand times before. I wanted to go to the demonstration to show my discontent of how the Police System is structured, but being there I quickly felt I have to assume one of the Marxist (Leninist / Trotskyist ++) identities that were advertised on the numerous flags around me as well as by the speeches. This gave me the creeps, because I am personally opposed to Identities or Identitarians, whatever colour their flag is and I feel alienated very quickly from any form of gathering if I feel I have to affiliate to some of those to be a part of it.
Please never wave a green flag.
Of course, I am much more happy to be surrounded by people waving red flags than yellow, or brown or blue flags, but still I felt sort of abused while standing in the crowd of that demonstration. Because I wanted to show my discontent against Police Violence, and not my solidarity with some leftist movement and I have the feeling I am not the only one who feels that way. Many people are very dissatisfied with the way our contemporary society is structured and would like to change it. But far less people are attracted to old-fashioned leftist ideals - at least in their dogmatic, reflected version, as you mostly find it among everyday-protesters. But since their presence is usually omnipresent at those kind of demonstrations, I think this scares away a lot of these people. To me it seems, there is this huge confusion of problems and solutions - many, maybe even most people today would agree that our society has huge problems that do require a major change, but far less people believe that we have already found the solutions for those problems.
That's why I found the #occupy-movement - at least in its idealized form, for I am aware there have been quite some problems with it - so inspiring. To me, there was something novel in that movement, for its basic message seemed to be "We are discontent with the current situation - we do not have a solution to it yet - but hey, let's try to work on it - let's try to change the situation - let's try out other things and see how it goes - let's dare to do an experiment other than sticking to an old rotten system of which we all know, how bad it is." I liked this so much, because it seemed to have the courage to stop to cling onto some hastily postulated Marxist better-world ideals and admit, that we do not know how to save or better the world. It did not require all of its attendees to have the same ideology to be a part of the #occupy-movement, it was enough to simply say "I am discontent - let's try to stir things up."
In the early phase, #occupy has been criticised for precisely this reason, but I do frankly think, that this is its inherent strength. Because the problems of our time are so complex, that there is no solution at hand. Our institutions and we, who are stuck in between them, are so old and rigid - we need to shake them up, to become free of them first and then see, if a "solution" (tricky word) is at hand. To postulate that we do already have the solution at hand since it was first written down in a book by a German émigré in London some 150 years ago has too much of those Messianic traits that I have hinted at earlier.  Life is a organic process and there is no solution a priori to it (a heaven), it is something that needs to be continuously reworked, rethought, redone....lived. This fundamental notion seems to me to be the (un-Christian, un-Monotheistic and un-Platonistic) realization of the #occupy-movement as well as a core of Green thought. And yes - I am idealizing things a lot is required to envision some ideals to acquire some change.
Green is un-Christian, un-Monotheistic and un-Platonistic.
I've heard that Simone Weil said, that if a Nazi and a Communist would have met in Berlin 1932 and would have started a conversation instead of throwing rocks at each other, they would have been surprised about how much they have in common.
I am opposed to identities because they encourage people to gather in groups, install fronts and fight each other instead of the problem, they both originate from. A person without identity (Mann ohne Eigenschaften, corps-sans-organes, ...) can have empathy with every body, because we all are 99% the same, if our identities wouldn't get in the way of our heads. This is why I feel uncanny, when I go to a demonstration and feel I have to acquire a pre-given identity, where I only wanted to show discontent with and opposition to something. I don't want to be a part of some specific political or other group, I am part of humanity and believe we have to change quite a lot to maintain it. AND I believe many people feel like that and would like to show that but are scared away by those identities that are still dominant in almost every demonstration. So I believe that demonstrations would get more attendees, if they would be more open, if they would not advertise with red flags, banners and speeches so much. People would like to change something, but most people do not fall for the old-fashioned dogmatic bullshit any longer.

It took me a lot of effort to write this, for I know there are so many things in it to be criticised, which are only half-true and were quite painful for me myself to write. But I would like the reader to see this as some desperate attempt to postulate some idea(l)s of how we could improve the world - how (old term:) Leftist (new term:) Green values could reach a higher popularity. Because that is what they would need, for we do live in a democracy (or Ochlocrazy?) and we have just seen a terrible leap towards the Far-Right in the European election, with which the world will clearly be going to shit, if they keep on growing...that is...if we do not manage to postulate a much more attractive, progressive alternative to this conservative backlash.

1 the ideas for this article arose from a conversation with Alix Deneault - thanks Alix!
2 to investigate further along those lines, I recommend to read the last two chapters of Peter Sloterdijk's Gottes Eifer - especially page 191 and 195 in the Verlag der Weltreligionen hardcover edition of 2007.