You know, we have little bits of understanding, glimpses, a little bit of light here and there, but there's a tremendous amount of darkness, which is a challenge. I think life would be pretty boring if we understood everything. It's better if we don't understand anything and know that we don't, that's the important part.
Even in a largely depoliticized society such as the United States, with no political parties or opposition press beyond the narrow spectrum of the business-dominated consensus, it is possible for populate action to have a significant impact on policy, though indirectly. That was an important lesson for the Indochina Wars.
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The Occupy movement did create spontaneously communities that taught people something: you can be in a supportive community of mutual aid and cooperation and develop your own health system and library and have open space for democratic discussion and participation. Communities like that are really important.
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Precisely constructed models for linguistic structure can play an important role, both negative and positive, in the process of discovery itself. By pushing a precise but inadequate formulation to an unacceptable conclusion, we can often expose the exact source of this inadequacy and, consequently, gain a deep understanding of the linguistic data. More positively, a formalized theory may automatically provide solutions for many problems other than those for which it was explicitly designed.
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Anarchism means all sort of things to different people but the traditional anarchists' movements assumed that there'd be a highly organized society, just one organized from below with direct participation and so on. Actually, one piece of the media confusion has a basis because there really are two different strands in the occupy movement, both important, but different.
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To pay attention to the actual core of the movement - that would be pretty hard. Can you concentrate for example on either the policy issues or the creation of functioning democratic communities of mutual support and say, well, that's what's lacking in our country that's why we don't have a functioning democracy - a community of real participation. That's really important. And that always gets smashed.
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But on the other hand, in discussion and debate concerning social issues or American foreign policy, Vietnam or the Middle East, for example, the issue is constantly raised, often with considerable venom. I've repeatedly been challenged on grounds of credentials, or asked, what special training do you have that entitles you to speak of these matters. The assumption is that people like me, who are outsiders from a professional viewpoint, are not entitled to speak on such things.
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Compare mathematics and the political sciences - it's quite striking. In mathematics, in physics, people are concerned with what you say, not with your certification. But in order to speak about social reality, you must have the proper credentials, particularly if you depart from the accepted framework of thinking. Generally speaking, it seems fair to say that the richer the intellectual substance of a field, the less there is a concern for credentials, and the greater is the concern for content.
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Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are, in principle, under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist, that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level... Just as I'm opposed to political fascism, I am opposed to economic fascism. I think that until the major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it's pointless to talk about democracy.
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Kaplan can't understand trivialities. The triviality here is that nobody except the ultra right-wing jingoists like Kaplan are comparing atrocities by various countries. What honest people are saying seems to be incomprehensible: that we should keep to the elementary moral level of the gospels. We should pay attention to our own crimes and stop committing them. This would be true even if we were killing one person, OK? And it's even more true when we're killing millions of people.
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I think it's just been a core part of the Cuban revolution to have a very high level of internationalism. I mean, these cases you've mentioned are cases in point, but the most extreme case was the liberation of Africa. Take the case of Angola for example, and there are real connections between Cuba and Angola-much of the Cuban population comes from Angola.
Neoliberal democracy. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless. In sum, neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future.
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Anarcho-syndic alism took for granted that working people ought to control their own work, its conditions, the enterprises in which they work, along with communities, so they should be associated with one another in free associations, and democracy of that kind should be the foundational elements of a more general free society.
Democracy, in the United States rhetoric refers to a system of governance in which elite elements based in the business community control the state by virtue of their dominance of the private society, while the population observes quietly. So understood, democracy is a system of elite decision and public ratification, as in the United States itself. Correspondingly, popular involvement in the formation of public policy is considered a serious threat. It is not a step towards democracy; rather it constitutes a 'crisis of democracy' that must be overcome.
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In any institution-factory, university, health center, or whatever-there are a variety of interests that ought to be represented in decision-making: the work force itself, the community in which it is located, users of its products or services, institutions that compete for the same resources. These interests should be directly represented in democratic structures that displace and eliminate private ownership of the means of production or resources, an anachronism with no legitimacy.
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Everyone engaged in research must have had the experience of working with feverish and prolonged intensity to write a paper which no one else will read or to solve a problem which no one else thinks important and which will bring no conceivable reward - which may only confirm a general opinion that the researcher is wasting his time on irrelevancies.
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When I was in high school I asked myself at one point: "Why do I care if my high school's team wins the football game? I don't know anybody on the team, they have nothing to do with me... why am I here and applaud? It does not make any sense." But the point is, it does make sense: It's a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority and group cohesion behind leadership elements. In fact it's training in irrational jingoism. That's also a feature of competitive sports.
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The person who wins the Nobel Prize is not the person who read the most journal articles and took the most notes on them. It's the person who knew what to look for. And cultivating that capacity to seek what's significant, always willing to question whether you're on the right track - that's what education is going to be about, whether it's using computers and the Internet, or pencil and paper, or books.
The main purpose of advertising is to undermine markets. If you go to graduate school and you take a course in economics, you learn that markets are systems in which informed consumers make rational choices. That's what's so wonderful about it. But that's the last thing that the state corporate system wants. It is spending huge sums to prevent that.
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Plainly, such an approach does not exclude other ways of trying to comprehend the world. Someone committed to it (as I am) can consistently believe (as I do) that we learn much more of human interest about how people think and feel and act by reading novels or studying history than from all of naturalistic psychology, and perhaps always will; similarly, the arts may offer appreciation of the heavens to which astrophysics cannot aspire.
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