Saturday, February 09, 2008

Abstract(s) of the Week!

Or, why Ward Churchill advocates violence.

Abstract #1
This ethnographic study examines how members of egalitarian intentional communities define and engage in social and political activism. Their reactions to traditional activist methods are examined as well as how they have redefined activist behaviors in their own lives. Many members of these communities chose communal living because of their experiences in the counter-cultural activist movements they participated in, particularly the environmenal, peace, and animal rights movements. These members often found their experiences with those movements frustrating and ineffective; they did not produce the social change results that were expected and desired. These members left those organizations and joined intentional communities, reasoning that change from inside social structures is slow or impossible, whereas creating new social structures is more beneficial on a personal as well as at a societal level. This type of “lifestyle” activism is a different version than has been previously studied on middleclass Americans engaging in voluntary simplicity. Communal “lifestyle” activism permeates all aspects of their lives. . . .
Abstract #2
According to criteria developed by Robert Burrowes (1996), the US anti-war movement’s current strategies are based on pragmatic and reformist nonviolence. Guided by this strategic approach, leaders of the United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) coalition, for example, point to recent shifts in public opinion, social norms, Congress, and political momentum as evidence of effectiveness. I suggest that these measures of success are limited and deceptive. To transform a society and world characterized by “war without end,” we need to develop a political culture of oppositional love that avoids the pitfalls of conventional politics, looks beyond numbers, and seeks more than symbolic victories.

To show that today’s US anti-war movement relies on a pragmatic and reformist view of nonviolence, I first focus on the strategy developed by Tom Hayden, one of UFPJ’s leading voices. Next, I introduce the concept of oppositional love and discuss its relevance for studying contentious politics. Then, I outline my own anti-war strategy, highlighting the significance of a political culture of oppositional love, and illustrate it with examples from the landless workers movement in Brazil (MST). Although MST participants do not deny the importance of elections and government policies, they focus primarily on personal and social transformation, both in material conditions and human relationships. I conclude with thoughts on what US anti-war activists can learn from the MST in efforts to develop and apply their own political culture of oppositional love.
Update: Forgot the link to the site I got these from, and now I can't find it. God, it was a motherlode of fatuity, too. Luckily (for me, at least) there are many, many more such aggregations of idiocy on the interwebs.

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