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Date:  12:41:13 A.M., October 16, 2003
Name:  Big Spherey J
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Comments:  Like Wes said:

"Right on, brother!"

Date:  1:04:50 P.M., October 16, 2003
Name:  Phil
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Comments:  Vielen Dank, mein Tischenfressende Liebesrübe!

Say, a question for you. They say aloe is supposed to heal cuts, scrapes, burns, help to keep them from scarring -- that sort of thing, right? So why is it that, both times I've applied aloe to a cut I've suffered, the cut has taken 5-10 times longer than usual to disappear? It seems like every time I put aloe on, the wound may heal OK, but I get a scar that lasts for weeks.

Date:  6:48:40 P.M., October 17, 2003
Name:  scuzbucket
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Comments:  I've never heard that aloe's supposed to heal anything. Aloe just makes those cuts, scrapes, and burns feel better temporarily. Aloe soothes that shit. Antibiotic ointment, on the other hand, does help to heal.

Date:  07:29:16 A.M., October 20, 2003
Name:  Johan Lif
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Comments:  It is certainly comforting to portray those with different opinions as "unaware" of their deeper psychological motives, but how about some scrutiny towards the source here: through her writings, Virginia Woolf was an "activist" herself. The Bloomsbury Group dreamed of a society where an enlightened liberal elite would be free to cultivate their refined tastes in art and literature in order to civilise the barbaric masses. It is important to understand the fundamentally reactionary nature of this coterie, just as is important to be suspicious of every statement that pretends to transcend ideology. That is the standard trick of conservatism: _other people_ are political, ideological, activists, etc, while the conservative imagines himself above such concepts, regarding them with a mild disdain that cloaks complete acceptance of the status quo. I have no idea how Viriginia Woolf's politics "served her psychological needs" but I do know they served the ruling class.

Date:  11:12:02 A.M., October 20, 2003
Name:  Phil
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Comments:  Damn you, Johan, forcing me to be specific and historical when I'd like to be the opposite! :-)

Seriously, I completely agree with most of what you said, including the point that Woolf herself was not exempt from her own dictum. And I agree that those who seek to preserve the status quo -- conservatives, indeed -- are every bit as much "activists" as those who seek reform. (My knowledge of the Bloomsbury Group is scant at best, and I certainly didn't intend to endorse Woolf's politics, with which I have little familiarity.) And I suppose you could even argue that inaction is inherently political, that it too represents the enactment of a stance.

I still think, however, that the observation made in the paragraph I quoted has something to it -- something which isn't diminished by the fact that it's a lens as easily turned upon Woolf. The mapping of the self onto the world may or may not be significant in political terms, but, in my experience, in personal relationships it tends to be rather revealing. The archetypes close at hand -- to pick a couple cheap ones: a fundamentalist Christian whose anti-gay agenda reflects his/her own conflicts; an animal rights activist whose advocacy for something (s)he can infantilize reflects his/her own contempt for and inability to empathize with human beings as equals -- may be deceptive, but they're not, I think, without their grain of truth. And I suspect that those individuals who have yet to deeply articulate to themselves those psychological needs have a tendency to become fairly toxic operators in both the political and the personal arena.

But that's the key, and I hope I made it clear -- it's not activism that's the problem, it's the use of power and advocacy to serve ideologies that reflect (and begin to metamorphose in order to better conform to) the damaged psychological landscape of whomever's doing the advocacy. Given the number of occasions in the 20th century on which massive amounts of death and destruction were enacted by people whose psychological needs were enacted through their political agendas (or is it naive to think that healthy people don't engage in mass murder? I hope not), I tend to think questions such as these -- "Whom does this serve?" -- are highly significant, if easily misused. I suppose I can understand the argument that politically speaking, what a person believes is far more relevant than why they believe it...but political struggle and change are carried out by real people who, if their efforts are successful, get into actual positions of power, and insight into their psychological state of affairs can suddenly become incredibly relevant when they become powerful political figures (I trust I don't need to name the obvious contemporary examples).

Date:  11:31:11 A.M., October 20, 2003
Name:  Phil
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Comments:  I should clarify this:

is it naive to think that healthy people don't engage in mass murder

By "engage in", I mean of course as architects; the equation is vastly different for those who are ordered to do the killing...

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