the Disillusioned kid: Be Realistic: Demand The Impossible
| Email | Home | Linkage | Profile |

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Be Realistic: Demand The Impossible

Alex had a post a few days ago about the role of intuition in moral debate. He argued (essentially) that intuition is usually a bad guide to morality. In the comments I suggested that it was a mistake to draw to strong a distinction between intuition and rationality. Generally, I suspect, people intuit that something is wrong and then construct a rational explanation for why they feel that way. Ideally they will subsequently come to believe this rationalisation. I think an analysis of the roles of rationality and irrationality (I am not here regarding these as value judgements) in other contexts can potentially be instructive.

There is an implication in much leftist writing that rationality is the driving force behind social change; it is merely neccesary to show people in a rational and logical manner what is wrong with the status quo for them to be convinced of the need to radically alter the way the world is run. Noam Chomsky is arguably an exemplar of this way of thinking, although I doubt he's ever stated it explicitly. The problem with this approach is that despite an enormous volume of books, speeches, papers, dissertations, articles, pamphlets, websites and blogs providing evidence of the multitude of flaws of the current system, the number of people actively engaged in the struggle for a better world is limited to say the least. Clearly rational argument alone isn't sufficient.

My instinct is that the decision to move from a rational critique of the status quo to an active challenge to it is one which is neccesarily predicated on the irrational. It neccesarily entails a belief that change is possible, a faith that we can acheive something better. Neither of those things can be justified on the basis of evidence and rational evaluation alone. They can only be felt, hoped or wished for.

Quite what this insight entails from a strategic point of view I'm not sure although I'm certainly not suggesting we abandon rational thinking and debate which I believe should still underpin our worldview. While I'm aware that there is political theory looking at this area, I've read little of it. My instinct, however, is that if we accept the role of the irrational in politics that we clearly shouldn't be limiting ourselves just to listening to speeches, marching from A to B or reading pretentious blog posts. Activism should be engaging, fun, attractive; in short, it's time to make politics sexy again.

Side Projects

Carnival of Anarchy
The Peace Pipe
UK Watch Blog


Against the Current
Culture hits and gendered bits
Daniel Randall
In The Water
Mike Wood
On The Barricades
Pizarro's Sword
Space Cat Rocket Ship
Surveillant Assemblage
TashCamUK FotoPage
The Naked Lunch
The Peace Pipe
The World of the Dynamite Lady


Anarchoblogs Blog
Arte & Lingua
Barker in Valencia
Blood & Treasure
Bombs and Shields
Born at the Crest of the Empire
Chase me ladies...
Chicken Yoghurt
Craig Murray
Dead Men Left
Disreputable Lazy Aliens
Empire Notes
Friends of Al Jazeera
Global Guerillas
Guerillas in the Midst
I Blame the Patriachy
Informed Comment
Janine Booth
Lenin's Tomb
Life of Riley Blog
Media Watch Watch
Neil Shakespeare
NO2ID NewsBlog
One Hump or Two?
Otto's Random Thoughts
Pitch In For Uzbekistan
Run over by the truth
Solidarity With Iraqi Workers
Shut Up You Fat Whiner!
Sudan: Passion of the Present
Talk Politics
The Anthropik Network
The Daily (Maybe)
The Devil's Kitchen
The Disillusioned
The f-word
The Head Heeb
The Killing Train
The Revenge of Winston Smith
The Socialist Unity Blog
The Wicked Truth
Theory of Power
Things I Don't Have Time For
This (Fresh) Gringo
This Is My Truth
Thumping the Tub
Time The Dreaded Enemy
UK Watch Blog
UK Poli Blogs
Under The Same Sun
What Fresh Hell Is This?
Where is Raed? (RIP)
Who Are You to Accuse Me?
Words and Rocks
Z-Net Blog


Asbo Community Space
Eastside Climate Action
Faslane 365
No Borders
Nottingham Student Peace Movement
Refugee Forum
Stop the War
Sumac Centre
The Demo Project

Ivory Towers

Anarchist Studies Network
Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice
Postanarchism Clearinghouse


Anarchist FAQ
Chagos Discussion List
Chagos Support Forums
Electronic Intifada
Future of Iraq Portal
Index of Political Blogs
Indymedia UK
Iraq Occupation Focus
Refuser Solidarity Network
Socialist Unity Network
The New Standard
UK Chagos Support Association
UK Watch
Weekly Worker

The Progressive Blog Alliance

Register here to join the PBA.