Mark Stahlman (via RadioMail) on Wed, 14 May 1997 17:31:07 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> The Art of Avoiding Rationalization


Thanks for your contribution to the discusssion regarding Soros.  You
correctly point out that he has grabbed many people forcefully by the
"short hairs" and that this "reality" is painful -- physically and morally.
 Please do not mistunderstand me that I'm suggesting that anyone move into
a cardboard box in order just to not be soiled by associating with an
international criminal.  Keep your dignity, please!

But, if the "critique" of Soros begins with his own "critique" of himself
then dignity is not surviving so well.  Soros' *defense* of himself is, as
far as I can tell, three fold:  where are the other philanthropists?, I'm
for "human rights" and aren't we all?, my opponents are right-wing
nationalists unable to cope with globalization.  As always, a clever man
such as this sets up the argument such that he has already won -- if you
accept his premises.  So, as I have suggested, regarding my own "method",
let's examine those premises first.

-- Where are the other philanthropists?  

Here the premise is that art and art-activism should be supported by
philanthropists (or governments) in the first place.  I recognize that
circumstances differ country by country and individual by individual, but
how valid is this premise under current conditions?  If we were living in a
society with great surplus and not being endlessly looted, then conditions
would be quite different.  Nonetheless, I take it that some people have
opted out of this system.  Some people have taken jobs as teachers,
programmers, editors or whatever.  And, some have apparently suffered
materially by their lack of a relationship with Soros.  We all have to make
our own bed.

While I'm not suggesting that anyone suffer, I am suggesting that no one
rationalize their situation -- in any event and under any circumstances. 
It is not the indignity which we suffer which really hurts us, ultimately;
it is the rationalization of that indignity which destroys us. When we make
a philosophy out of a rotten situation, we have given up the right to think
at all.  The examples of this are legion and responsible for the present
remarkably arid philosophical climate.  Don't sell your soul.  What you do
with your body is your own business as long as you don't make a philosophy
out of it.

-- I'm for "human rights" and aren't we all?

But, what is this "human rights" effort anyway?  Where did it come from? 
What is it's real goal and what are it's real methods?  There is no reason
to accept Soros at face value on this point (or any others).  Was it news
to you that H.G. Wells designed "human rights" in order to re-write
history, destroy collective memory and control populations through
brainwashing "reforms" to educational curriculums?  Did I make this up? 
Was I quoting Wells out of context?  Did Orwell really write "1984"
(originally titled "1948", BTW) directly in opposition to Wells' plans?  Do
I over-estimate the importance of Wells?  How would we know?

Here we have the subtle (or not so subtle) tendency to not ask hard
questions and to fall in line because something represents itself as "left"
and we're all "left" aren't we?  This, despite the obvious fact that "left"
is long dead and that Soros is a global currency speculator who hardly fits
anybody's idea of a "leftist."  Again the premise is wrong.  Give up being
"left", as so many people have already done.  To support dignity, health
and development for all humans is no longer a "left" thing to do.  Hold on
to your principles but don't rationalize them into categories which violate

-- my opponents are right-wing nationalists unable to cope with globalization

This is the clincher and was the main thrust that I took from your note --
repeating Soros' "self-critique", of course.  It's an old trick and not one
that any of us needs to fall for.  First of all, globalization is not
inevitable and, if it does occur in the fashion Soros advocates, all of our
lives will be materially (as well as morally) harmed in major ways.  This
is serious danger, not a welcomed event.  This is his primary premise and
it needs to be relentlessly resisted.  Some will, no doubt, decide to have
nothing to do with Soros on this account alone, regardless of the outcome
to them personally.

But, it is moreover a complete lie to characterize his opponents as simply
"right-wing nationalists."  I have no doubt that some are this and worse
but so what?  Here again, this is playing on the emotional and not at all
thoughtful "left" vs. "right" battles and the insistence that you pick a
side.  Are the Italians who are investigating Soros for looting of this
type?  Are those who oppose Soros' cynical use of "medical marijuana"
referenda to drive a wedge between the states and the Federal government
while undermining representative democracy of that type?  Where the Czechs
who wouldn't allow CEU to be headquartered in Prague of that type?  Are the
Chinese who tossed Soros out of that type?  How black and white are these

Are the only people who oppose global looting and speculation "right-wing
nationalists"?  If so then I suggest that we all become one right away. 
But, of course, this isn't true and is only a trick employed to fool those
who are looking for grounds with which to rationalize their behaviors.

Work for whomever you need to work for.  But, if your mind is a part of the
bargain, then don't fool yourself about what will follow.  The technologies
of genetic and psychological manipulation which are the hallmark of our age
are designed to destroy the sense of self that is only reflected in an
active and independant mind.  The art of being independant *requires*
having an independant mind.  Rationalization destroys that independance. 
And, along with the mind, it also destroys art.  Once and for all.

Mark Stahlman
New Media Associates
New York City
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