Saturday, January 12, 2019


A fascinating conversation is going on over the heads of us ordinary folks.  A paper that was written by Chandler and Reid is a window into that discussion IF you can follow it.  As a boundary person, I'll tackle the task of making something hard to think into at least ordinary language.  These men, who are European, academic, white, educated and so on, are separated from the problem by their relative youth and by their ability to speak several languages in several countries.  But they are NOT global in the sense of spreading the old men's hegemony domination around the planet.  (We're talking geezers in suits.)  The European Legacy is a multidisciplinary journal devoted to the study of European intellectual and cultural history and the new paradigms of thought that have evolved as people find the same-old is going nowhere.  In fact, they are just the sort of snotty condescending men I don't much like, but I don't think they mean to be.  They're just trapped in an academic system that IS that way.  And I like their ideas, once I get them where I can understand them.

David Chandler
["Veddy Henglish" and handsome!  He says "EU" rather than Brit.]

Julian Reid
"Political theorist, philosopher, and professor of International Relations, Julian Reid is renown [They left the "-ed" off.] for his advance of the theory of biopolitics, contributions to cultural theory, postcolonial and post-structural thought, critique of liberalism, and seminal deconstruction of resilience.  Educated in London (B.A., First Class Honours, 1996), Amsterdam (M.Phil. 1998) and Lancaster (Ph.D., 2004)"
[Another handsome guy with an English accent and a biking cap.]  His text is not books but films.

This conversation is about the discrediting of the Enlightenment in some ways, particularly going back to the concepts of elitism and property promoted by the Roman Empire and its religious offshoots who persist today.  That is, rationality, power, and academic success are under attack by those who have been subjugated by these people.  They both value Foucault (that shocking man) and claim that his critiques of the Euro status quo is much valued and useful for the indigenous people who are outside the colonial structure around the world.

An abiding problem is that some indigenous people around the world will try to better themselves by trying to join the colonial hegemony (that means the top bosses -- "hanging around the fort"), but their stigma is likely to go with them.  There are other problems: like the tendency for the oppressors to make pets of those they oppress, as Said complained about Orientalism.  (There are some advantages, like being fed, which makes childish admiration attractive for some American tribes, for example.)  Another problem is for the oppressed to adopt the methods of their captors, so that when they understand that hegemony is based on ownership, they also will struggle to own power, money and each other.  (Is this crabs in a barrel?")

Reid specifically contrasts resistance with resilience.  In the northern and western Canadian world right now the tribes find that on Euro terms, the Rule of Law can't operate because of things like sloppy, missing paperwork, probably caused in part by the blinkered view that the locals would die out.  It's also a hot topic here on the Blackfeet rez because of the "Ceded Strip" which ended up neither here or there -- a meaningless phrase in reality because "here" is greed for oil wells and "there" is the eternal status of Sacred Source.  So far these situations fuel resistance -- flat opposition in the government oppressive terms.

Resilience is more like an explanation of judo I once read.  The historic premise was that since the indigenous people of some Asian countries were dominated in a country where they forbidden to own weapons for fear of the overthrow of oppressors, the indigenous people learned how to become weapons themselves, their bodies, using principles of levers and hinges that could be deadly.  Slightly exaggerated by special effects, the popular movies of the techniques have become more like resistance.  We love the intervenors with exaggerated powers but can't seem to find them in real life.

Wiki:  "Paul-Michel Foucault, generally known as Michel Foucault, was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic. Foucault's theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions."  He died of AIDS dementia, which will knock the snot out of the privileged, but had a loving partner, which is a fulfillment.  

I used to believe that knowledge, as proven by degrees, would give me status and prosperity.  I still see the social control imposed by institutions, but I had thought learning would be a kind of judo, empowering justice to defeat immorality.  Instead, at least at the moment, it is the immorality that defeats justice.  This paper I'm discussing wants indigenous alternatives to this governmental overwhelming force that is now disintegrating.  But the writers do not want them to be idols, fetishes for preserving present power.

Neither do these authors want alternatives to become locked into a battle between some notion of what is natural and the prevailing structures that have been accurately labeled UNnatural.  They would like the goal and the energy directed to a future that is constructed anew in a positive way, borrowing however is positive and progressive.  Otherwise, innovating.

I wouldn't get all that excited about this "theory storm" except that there are groups who intensely need these new ideas and terms because modernity and the anthropocene have viciously hurt them.  It's an issue of resilience in the very real world of poverty and starvation.


Valorizing:  holding up and making important.

Indigeneity:  varying from most restrictive (born and living in one place from people who have always been there) to most generous (some connection to indigenous people).  Word invented in 1972 "by the United Nations Working Group for Indigenous People."  (See Quora)

Ontopolitics:  Meant to be the end of modernity, a new way of acting in the world.

Resilience:  The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Adaptation:  A change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.

Dispossession:  The action of depriving someone of land, property, or other possessions, first claiming to "own" it.

Anthropocene:  An era marked by human activity, often with bad consequences.

Neoliberal:  Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism is the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism and free market capitalism.

Modernity:  The term was invented by Baudelaire in 1864. It's meant to "valorize" what is new and "progressive" while putting down old ideas.  It was "meant to capture the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis."  Technology is involved.  (

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