Resistance: Intellectual self-defence

7f. Forms of Resistance and Protest

Intellectual self-defense is a useful personal attribute in an Age of Insanity. There are lots of bullying and manipulation techniques that people use, so its good to be able to spot them. The ‘dominant narratives’ in our culture have entrenched ideologies, neatly summarised below by Wendell Berry. The assumptions he lists as the basis of capitalism need to be questioned at every turn.

The Global ‘free market’ economy is inherently an enemy to the natural world, to human health and freedom, to industrial workers, and to farmers and others in land-use economies; and furthermore, that it is inherently an enemy to good work and good economic practice.

I believe that this perception is correct and that it can be shown to be correct merely by listing the assumptions implicit in the idea that corporations should be free to buy low and sell high in the world at large.

These assumptions, so far as I can make them out, are as follows:

  1. That stable and preserving relationships among people, places and things do not matter and are of no worth.
  2. That cultures and religions have no legitimate practical or economic concerns.
  3. That there is no conflict between the ‘free market’ and political freedom, and no connection between political democracy and economic democracy.
  4. That there can be no conflict between economic advantage and economic justice.
  5. That there is no conflict between greed and ecological or bodily health
  6. That there is no conflict between self interest and public service.
  7. That the loss or destruction of the capacity anywhere to produce neccessary goods does not matter and involves no cost.
  8. That it is alright for a nation’s or a region’s subsistence to be foreign based, dependent on long-distance transport, and entirely controlled by corporations.
  9. That, therefore, wars over commodities – our recent Gulf War for example – are legimate and permanent economic functions.
  10. That this sort of sanctioned violence is justified also by the predominance of centralised systems of production supply, communications and transportation which are extremely vulnerable not only to acts of war between nations, but also to sabotage and terrorism.
  11. That it is alright for poor people in poor countries to work for poor wages to produce goods for export to affluent people in rich countries.
  12. That there is no danger and no cost in the proliferation of exotic pests, weeds and diseases that accompany international trade and that increase in the volume of trade.
  13. That the economy is a machine, of which the people are merely the interchangeable parts. One has no choice but to do the work (if any) that the economy prescribes, and to accept the prescribed wage.
  14. That, therefore, vocation is a dead issue. One does not do the work that one chooses to do because one is called to do it by Heaven or by one’s natural or God given abilities, but does instead the work that is determined and imposed by the economy. Any work is all right as long as one gets paid for it.”

Charlemagne was also known as Charles the Great, and was king of the Franks between 768 and 814, and emperor of the West between 800 and 814. He founded the Holy Roman Empire, strengthened European economic and political life, and promoted the cultural revival known as the Carolingian Renaissance. He proclaimed that “To have another language is to possess a second soul.”

This is because so many of our understandings are ingrained into our culture at the level of its written and spoken language that they can dictate our thoughts. for me there is little to be gained from arguing with people using language, when patterns are so deeply ingrained. What we need is a language of the heart.

Identifying some of the false arguments as presented below can help to open up the language, but don’t expect to make many friends if you use them!

Ad Hominem: attacking the person’s character rather than the argument

Straw Man Fallacy: misrepresenting an argument in order to make it easier to attack

Hasty Generalisation: using small numbers or single examples to represent the all

Begging the Question: Prove a proposition based on a false premise

Post Hoc / False Cause: Claiming that because something happened before it must be the cause

False Dichotemy: Reducing the argument down to two possibilities

Ad Ignorantum: Claiming that because you are ignorant it must be true

Burden of Proof Reversal: Laying the burden of proof onto the one questioning the claim. Also called ‘Gish Gallop’, a favourite of Trump’s

Non Sequiter: Assuming ‘this’ follows ‘that’ when there is no logical connection

Bandwagon Fallacy: Just because people think it is so doesn’t mean it is true

Because our language is so tied up with the ways we are persuaded to think, it is very important to question these ‘linguistic pre-emptions’ to get at the truth. There are many ways to counter the imposition of false stories and myths that condition us to behave as slaves. However – meaningful dialectic just isn’t what it used to be when people invest their egos in entrenched positions and refute everything that doesn’t support their belief systems.

It is very easy to find new stories for yourself when even just growing food, foraging, knitting clothes or making your own stuff have all become acts of resistance to corporate control. I love it that growing my own food and knitting hats is an act of resistance. It makes picking hazelnuts and blackberries so much more exciting!


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