Sunday, June 25, 2006

Marxists have no class

Psychologists say accepting a worldview that assigns blame is a characteristic of an abusive temperament and the difference between an abuser and a victim in an adult abusive relationship is often more a matter of opportunity than temperament. In this framework, an algebraicized representation of the Oprah-style epiphanies where abusers accept guilt and the victims stop feeling "responsible" would start off like this:

x - y = 0

and end up like this:

-x + y = 0

No wonder the shows are so boring: nothing has really changed.

To proceed, the psychological continuum is something like this:

blames self -> sees reality -> blames others
(submissive)-> (healthy) -> (dominant)

Since people or groups oscillate between the extremes of dominance and submission, bypassing the healthy middle, it might be better to make the continuum

|blame | -> 0 (reality)

and then to quantify the absolute distorting degree to which people assign blame for their unhappiness (either to themselves or others). This amount of blame would be inversely correlated with actual happiness, and would not have the potential to increase aggregate happiness (since a vengeance-cycle would presumeably decrease another person's happiness, and self-hated, while a complicated and bitter-sweet concoction, will, for the purposes of this post, be considered as a negative).

Though blame is a miserly zero-sum game, generosity is inifitely expansive, and the balance point (origin) of "sees reality" is familiar to people with a truly religious mindset. It might have been labelled "accepts God's will", except that it is a state of consciousness that does not necessarily depend on a theistic outlook.

There is an relevant though apocryphal anecdote about life in the deathcamps, sometimes attributed to Elie Wiesel. The story is that the Hasidim were singing and praising God every day after their work in the quarries. A bitter socialist walked over to their corner of the barracks and asked them, "how can you be singing songs, with those idiot grins on your faces, when all this is going on around you?" One of the Hasidim replied, "What? The Nazis are so powerful that the sunlight is no longer beautiful?"

{ The title is, of course, a playful ytmnd reference, united with the Adornic implication that when unsophisticated Marxism is tied to the set of conditions that relate to one specific class, it is caught in a dialectic of blame and revenge that inhibits positive political action, while a truly "classless" Marxism would be politically unachieveable. Needless to say, I advocate neither exteme pacifism nor absolute equanimity. Some people are easier to work with than others. Different political systems optimize for different degrees of global happiness. Blame, anger and hatred will cloud judgment and prevent people from navigating towards more positive situations and finding constructive solutions. The economy of blame is like "psychological body odor" -- most people have a bit of it, the cleaner you are you, the more you notice it in others, but you shouldn't let it spoil your day.}

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