Privilege, Capitalism, Wanderlust, Gods-talk

December 15, 2013 — 3 Comments

My latest Sense of Place post is up, regarding Capitalism and Disenchantment.  We don’t talk about Capitalism enough. One day I’ll write a book about Marx’s use of alchemical language to describe Capital.  I’ve got this certainty that capitalist exchange is itself a kind of magic; in fact, the only magic we’re allowed to believe in any more, material enchanted by our labour, crystallized into money, transmuted by others, improved and transformed, bearing with it the weight and meaning of each who’s touched it but ultimately extracted by a class of people who control the exchange.

Also, John Halstead wrote a piece about privilege.  It’s a start; however, I’m embarrassed by my own comment on his piece.  Re-reading the other comments, I’m realising many of us find ourselves enacting a pattern of stroking privilege in order to undo it.  I think, also, it isn’t so much always about privilege and sometimes actually merely about power.  Writing at all is a political act, and the voice which is heard gathers power.  Bards could curse with short satire, ruin a person forever with a turn of phrase.  It’s not just the use of the words, but the presumed authority of the speaker. The presumed authority is privilege, but the use of the words is power.

That is to say, sometimes acknowledging another’s privilege may sustain their presumed authority, even when the attempt is to combat it.

Also, “privilege” was a rather minor part of my critique of the humanist/naturalist position.  It’s frustrating (but unsurprising) that this would be what appears to have been taken as my point.

I’ve been getting wanderlust for the last month.  I like where I’m staying, but the lack of community (or, well, friends at all) is wilting my soul.  I may relocate soon, likely to Oregon or Maine.  Something’s supposed to happen after Imbolc (long story), so that may be it.

Also, this is why it’s difficult to talk about how some of us have met our gods.   No amount of bright-shiny we’re-all-one talk, nor Jungian psycho-analyzing, nor scientismic (new word) logicks (also new word) begins to describe our experiences.  We mostly don’t try.  I’m glad he did, and I think I’m gonna try harder myself.

3 responses to Privilege, Capitalism, Wanderlust, Gods-talk

  1. 

    Such a huge topic (i.e. privilege)…and while I think JH did some useful things with that post, he’s not quite there entirely. (And, I personally found the re-do of the Gospel of Mark to be offensive–not because the trans* devotional polytheist is sitting in for “the hypocrites,” in essence, but because he retained “sinners” and “righteous” in the final phrase…and CHK’s response to him on that was also important.)

    Also, JH’s comment about white, straight, cisgendered, etc. males being treated as stereotypes in paganism: well, hmm. It’s a stereotype of Irish people that they’re all drunken fools most of the time. No, it isn’t true, there are plenty who aren’t. But, if someone comes in who is drunk, and who is diagnosed as an alcoholic, and whose alcoholism is negatively impacting their life and everyone in it, and who also happens to be Irish, do we suddenly go “Oh, no, he’s not an alcoholic, because that’s a stereotype, and it’s offensive to all Irish people to suggest that the Irish are alcoholics”? It would be wrong to treat white, straight, cisgendered males in paganism in a certain way due to stereotypes of them; but what if they actually start acting in those stereotypical ways, are called on it, and they respond with “Well, you’re treating me like a stereotype”? All I can say is “hmm” on that at present.

  2. 

    Have you read Pratchett’s Making Money? Something interesting happened when he started taking seriously his premise of a fantasy world where Social Constructivism is a physical law, and I think Making Money possibly qualifies as a rare work of predictive fantasy since it was published shortly before the banking crisis. The thesis that banking and postal systems work because we collectively have faith in the meaning of a stamp or a banknote (physical or abstract) works really well in those novels.

    Talking about experiences (of any sort, but my experiences have been along religious and sexual dimensions) is an open invitation for other people to gaslight, label, define, appropriate, reframe, deny, or generally smother them and you to fit in with their own paradigm. I suspect this has gotten worse in recent years, or maybe I’m just hypersensitive to it.

    I’m a high-functioning crazy person. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, doubt about my perceptions is a survival strategy. On the other hand, I experience delusion and Mystery differently. Curiously enough, that’s not a radical statement to make within psychology, merely unfashionable.

    • 

      You’ve mentioned you borrow some ideas from Marx. I want to hear more about this. And yes, the collective faith (which I’ve also heard described as Thaumaturgy) is huge for socially constructed artifacts. Another wording of Marx’s theories could easily be stated as “Capital is a magical construct which exists within the social realm and transforms all human relations with each other through its really-existing transmutation.” We can pull the magical words out of that, but I think the preponderance of alchemical language in Das Kapital makes me think we should draw it out even more.

      I’m a high-functioning crazy person. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, doubt about my perceptions is a survival strategy. On the other hand, I experience delusion and Mystery differently.

      We all are, trust me. : ) In fact, I think the vast majority of Polytheists and Animists would concur with your statement of this feeling, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some non-theists would agree as well (not that you’re crazy, but that we all are, in a brilliantly beautiful and oddly functioning way!).

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