петък, 29 януари 2016 г.

Една българка в Джунглата


"Джунглата" в Кале, Франция. 2016г.

Написах около три увода и ги изтрих. Историята за историите, които събрах е трудна за описване. Та, ето я, без увод. Уводът го знаете, той започна под формата на военен сблъсък преди повече от 15 години.


В следствие на поредица от особени обстоятелства, се намерих в Бат, Великобритания по времето на раздор в Близкия Изток, с междусеместриална почивка и стотина паунда спестени пари, 2016 година. Ровех се за евтини билети до Барселона. Паралелно с това, проблемът с бежанския лагер в Кале, Франция (още известен като “Джунглата”) ставаше все по-изострен. Билетите и хостелът като че ли сами се купиха.


След месец бях на ферибота, пътувайки към Кале. Вълнение и притеснение.


Дотук – лесно. Имах огромна подкрепа от работодателите си, колегите си и приятелите си. Имах някакъв опит с подобни обстоятелства и абсолютно нулева идея какво да очаквам. На границата, френската полиция не изглеждаше очарована от отговора ми на въпроса “Какво ще правите в Кале?”. Нищо учудващо, все пак Кале не иска да има Джунгла, нито пък иска бежанци. Великобритания (правителството, не хората) ги иска още по-малко, Дейвид Камерън определено би предпочел почивка в Барселона пред визита в бежански лагер.

Родителите ми се опасяваха  за сигурността ми, напълно без логика и основание. Интересен е резонът на страха от бежанците. Хората, бягащи от война, са по-плашещи от тези, които я водят? Може би майка ми трябваше да е по-уплашена, когато отидох в командировка в Европейския Парламент в Страсбург.


Пристигаме. По радиото обявават, че на следващия ден се организира международен протест в подкрепа на бежанците в центъра на Кале. През последните два месеца няколко нео-нацистки организации също протестират с противоположни цели.

Aя, на 10 месеца. Бежански лагер Дюнкерк, Франция. 2016г.

Целта на заминаването ни беше да помогнем в Склада – две складови помещения в Кале (адрес – таен), където един наистина невероятен англичанин съставя перфектно изпипана система за приемане, подреждане и разпределение на дарения от цяла Европа. Складът е основната артерия за цивилни доброволци, които не са медици или инженери и предоставя голям процент от даренията, които достигат жителите на няколкото лагера в областта на Кале. Всички работещи в Склада са на доброволни начала, дори и въпросният “невероятен англичанин”, който е там от 8 месеца, без заплащане. Доброволците на CalAid, Support Refugees и “Доктори без граници” са единственото нещо, което може да те накара да си възвърнеш вярата в бъдещето на човечеството след няколко дни в ужаса на лагерите.

Лагерите създават особени емоции:


1.     Ужас. Особено при вида на десет-месечни бебета, живеещи в палатки без санитарен възел. Бежанския лягер в Дюнкерк е неописуемо място. Да знаеш, че си в напълно развита държава, на две крачки от Биг Бен и Айфеловата кула, докато джапаш в 40см кал, върху която спят 1000 души в палатки, повдигнати (някои) с палети и постлани с леки одеала, е една напълно и абсолютно отчайваща гледка. В лагера живеят между 1000 и 1500 души, между които няколкостотин деца, от които пък 100-ина са под едногодишна възраст. Докато работехме, видях жена в напреднала бременност, която вероятно ще роди в лагера сред лекари от “Доктори без граници”. Самото присъствие на “Доктори без граници” в рамките на Франция, е нелепо. Те са организация, която подпомага хуманитарни кризи на доброволни начала в развиващи се държави. Това е един от редките случаи, в които те се мобилизират в развита страна.


2.     Гняв. Гуд морнинг, мр. Камерън! Да оставиш близо 8000 души, бягащи от терора у дома, в тези обстоятелства, е чиста проба инат и злоба. Миналата година Великобритания прие 90 души с бежански статус - точно толкова, че да напълни един от символичните си червени двуетажни автобуси. За сравнение - Йордания към момента е приемник на 635,524 души. А човешката страхливост и глупост, под формата на обществената омраза към бежанците, ще я обсъдя по-подробно след малко. Гняв към световните лидери и държавите, съучастни в принуждаването на тези хора да напуснат домовете си. Гняв към безучастниците, които позволяват това скотско пребиваване на територията на развити държави от първия свят.  Гняв, че живеем в свят на себеугодничество, на егоизъм и тирания. Гняв, че лагерът в Дюнкерк, например, се намира срещуположно на жилищен квартал, в които къщите са красиви и устроени. Гняв, срещу медиите, които всяват омраза, страх и разделение между хората. Гневът е опасно нещо, си казвам – именно гневът и страхът карат жителите на Европа да толерират подобно отношение към обикновени хора.


3.     Благодарност. Тези лагери са създадени от доброволци и неправителствени организации и оперират почти изцяло на базата на дарения и доброволен труд. Запознах се с поне 5 души, кото работят без заплащане на собствени разноски вече повече от 4 месеца в лагерите. Хората, които виждат нелепостта на цялата гореспомената ситуация, сме изключително целеустремени. Без “Доктори без граници”, които оперират в Кале и Дюнкерк, много повече мигранти щяха да бъдат в сериозна опасност. Без даренията на безброй французи и англичани, семействата нямаше да имат нито палатки, нито спални чували, нито одеала, нито обувки, нито топли дрехи, нито храна. Благодарността е по-важно нещо от гнева. Благодарността е важно умение за самоанализ -  днес, с благодарност осъзнавам, че имам покрив над главата си. За утре – не съм сигурна.

Жителите на лагерите са абсолютно прекрасни; топли, макар да им е много студено, хора.


Бежанците са хора от злободневието. Единият от мъжете в палатка от четирима, които ни поканиха на чай и топъл хляб през първия ни ден в Дюнкерк, е механик. Къщата му била залепена до гаража, в който си изкарва прехраната. Преди няколко месеца бива взривена от атентат на ИДИЛ. След като губи прехраната си, домът си, цялото си имане, след като ИДИЛ рушат града му, той тръгва от Ирак да търси покой и развитие. Да търси нормален живот за себе си и децата си. Ние влизаме в картинката при пороен дъжд в лагера, събирайки боклуци, които застрашават лагера с плъхове и зарази. Когато ни видя в пороя да работим, той ни покани мигновено в палатката си, една от малкото с печка тип “жабка”, върху която се вари чай и се препича хляб. Палатката е дом на четирима мъже, които заедно финансират престоя на жените и децата си в хотел, за да могат децата поне да имат топла вода и баня. Той ни кани все пак да споделим малкото му храна, мляко и чай. Не защото очаква ние да му дадем нещо, а защото така е любезно в неговата държава и защото навън вали като из ведро и иска да ни стопли. Да ни благодари, че сме там. Единият от нас, доброволците, знаеше малко арабски, единият от господата знаеше малко английски и с две-три скалъпени фрази се разбрахме кой откъде е, какво прави тук и колко захар иска в чая си.


Една от другите доброволки, която беше готвач в единствената кухня в Джунглата, ми разказа история, която определено “посети душата ми”, както би казал Куркински. Ще я разажа и на вас. На втория й ден в лагера се появил млад мъж от Сирия, да помогне в кухнята, тъй като бил готвач. Приветствали го, човекът – макар и мълчалив, бил добродушен и работил през целия ден. На следващия ден закъснял, но дошъл отново, този път видимо в различно настроение. Попитали го как е и той отвърнал, че току що разбрал за смъртта на четирима свои роднини. Удавили се при злочестото преминаване на две лодки в Средиземноморието на 22 януари 2016. Всичко притихва. Няма отговор на подобно изказване, няма какво да се каже. Мъжът тихомълком си съблича якето и започва да работи.


Обратно в палатката на четиримата мъже, механикът ме пита дали имам цигари. Имам! Имам, и то български (с благодарност към една определена българка в Бат)! Подарявам цялата кутия и обяснявам, че са родни. Новият ми приятел ми благодари и превежда на “съквартирантите си”. Следва горчиво поклащане на глави, а моят приятел ми казва само “Българската полиция – лошо.” Това изречение го чух доста пъти, докато бях в Кале. Неслучайно. Та нали нашите бежанци са изнасилвачи, крадци, безработници (това, че им е забранено да работят, не е основателна причина). Бежанците у нас идват като орди вагабонти да разтурват, да потурчват, да внасят мюсюлманска пропаганда и да си търсят хубави български жени! На арабите не им е чиста работата. Пък, че бежанците не са араби, а кюрди или пък, че те са бежанци, а не имигранти и тази разлика е огромна, това са подробности, които не са важни. Те бягат и идват у нас! А от какво бягат? Това нас не ни засяга.


А те всъщност, са злободневни хорица, чиито живот е бил изкоренен. Но е по-лесно да се оставим на страха и на омразата. “Другите” – това е по-бързо да се каже от “другите хора”. Лесно е, да – безумно лесно е да си кажем “Ние не ги искаме, не сме ги канили. Те идват и грабят. Да си ходят!”. Да погледнем на бежанците като хора в нужда, хора като нас, деца, които цапат в калта и намират как да се забавляват дори в тези условия; жени, които ти подават хляб и мъже, които те подслоняват, за да не си под дъжда – това значи да признаем, че те са хора. Това значи да признаем, че нямаме друг избор, освен да им помогнем. Само това е човечният, разумният отговор на притока от хора в тежка нужда. От тук следва, че ако признаем, че те са хора, то ние трябва да подадем ръка, да извадим от джоба си, да дадем от времето си. Това е трудно. Лесно е да гледаме на тях като орда от омразни същества, които идват, за да грабят.


Никоя държава не прави кой знае какво, за да помогне на тези хора, освен може би Германия. Въпреки, че огромна част от западните държави имат доказан интерес в поддържането на войната и доказана намеса в обезлюдяването на голямата област Кюрдистан. Тук не става въпрос за това кой какво може, а кой какво иска.


Да, България не може да си позволи финансово да подкрепя кой знае какъв брой бежанци. Това не значи, че не можем като хора, като нация поне, да се опитаме да толерираме минималното неудобство, което ни носи притока. Не става въпрос за нации, не става въпрос за религии. Всичко е много по-просто. Всичко прозлиза от една проста, но велика истина – ние всички сме хора. Едно голямо племе, което си е самопоставило разни измислени граници. Всички имаме нужда от храна в стомасите си и топлина през зимата. Това се избистря, когато видиш бебета, които джапат в калта без сигурен подслон или вечеря. Всички граници се измиват от картата, а имагинерните ни приятели в небесата нямат значение.


Не вярвайте просто така. Има бежански център в София. Запознайте се с него, запознайте се с обитателите му. Запознайте се с хората, които ни показват какво може да се случи с нас утре. Хора. Съвсем, съвсем обикновени хора. Деца, които искат скицници.


Бежанци.


сряда, 14 октомври 2015 г.

Can we change the world without taking power, by constructing an anti-power?



To address issues regarding disintegrating power, we need to assert a definition of “power”. Traditionally, it is viewed as a category, either meaning one’s capability to perform an action or one’s capacity for dominating others (Taylor 2010). As part of social and political terminology, it is normally referred to as the power of the individual to influence their political body or as the power of one organisation, group or political party to dominate another. In the managerial perspective, typically the dominant organisation is the state and revolts are seen as different social groups’ method of contesting that dominance, as exerted by a capitalist elite onto the proletariat worker, the latter inevitably fighting his own submission.

What would certainly not evade a perceptive reader is that an ever-present struggle for accumulating power seems to be key to all these perspectives. The pluralist citizen fights to have his voice heard by the powerful System, the managerial bodies are in constant rivalry to achieve greater power and the Marxist worker must become a revolutionary in order to overthrow the powerful state.

How can we even begin to imagine a world where power no longer exists? The physical world of scientific law is, too, made up of power relations. The power of one force over another, the power of the gravitational pull of energy, which formulates every object in the Universe are the focal points of our existence. It is as difficult for a human to imagine a world without political and financial power, as it is to imagine a world with no gravity or no force of attraction. And if we are to stretch the metaphor even further, our Earth may need gravity, but as Carl Sagan famously said ”Space is the final frontier.” Could we dissolve power and find ourselves in a society, where “power-over” as Holloway puts it, does not exist and all we have is “power-to” work together, with respect and integrity, in a social context where diversity, unity and equality prevail over power-hunger?

It would appear to the ordinary person that we have gone into the realm of far-east teachings, leftist, even Utopian ideals and madness. Anyone would argue that super-human beings, with endless care and love and no ambition or greed are the only people, who could achieve this. In the past few decades numerous academics, particularly in the field of political sociology, have tarried with the issue of power and social change, bringing the ideas of the protester and the activist into the classroom and examining them in the way they deserve (see Chomsky 1999, Holloway 2002,  Luxemburg 1973,). And from a vast pool of work, one could conclude need merely change our self-conscious in two ways, in order to achieve this: 1. our confidence of our personal ability to control our own lives (Chomsky 2002 p.62,) and 2. our respect for others’ knowledge, ability, ideals and decisions (Holloway, 2002 p.20). Some social movements around the world have begun to prove to us that it is possible to avert ourselves from the current pseudo-democratic Capitalist model.  The faceless, anonymous revolution of the 21st century is not only empowering the citizen, it is doing so without aiming power in the hands of any particular group and any particular individual. A variety of examples will be examined further in the body of this piece.




Power has always been a matter of great interest for politics, and in recent years, with the development of political sociology, the social sciences have turned their focus towards this elusive, yet immensely important for understanding society, topic. Ideas of power as the ability to act, work, perform and create can be traced to early Libertarian theorists, particularly Hobbes (1991), whilst Weber established power as domination of one over another. Hobbes particularly noted that power can only be relative, meaning that one only has as much power as this power is more than another’s power. Power thus is a form of relationship between individuals, organisations and states, and is central to understanding social stability. We can see both these theories entwined in modern political models and social structures. Neo-Liberal thought uses Locke (Gutman 1980) and his definition of power as the basis for their “equality of opportunity” policies. In this sense, we can see “power-to”, as Holloway (2002) named this power form, abused in a negative Capitalism-affirming way, where competition, individualism and the lack of caring for others can be found. Chomsky (2014) quotes American anarchism as an extreme form of this, which according to him is not viable in modern society. A more positive way to manifest this power-to is to look at it as a capability to create, move forward, improve, own one’s life and take responsibility for the future. This is the positive power that Holloway praises and the power that modern social movements are trying to cultivate. OCCUPY uses the manifestation of direct democracy via the power to protest to challenge the legitimacy of corporate and state “metapower” (Taylor, 2010). These metapowers that Taylor speaks of are transnational intercontinental mega-institutions, such as WTO, IMF, UN.

A question arises. Why does one need to exert his power to overthrow large institutions? The aforementioned organisations are conglomerate versions of states and national organisations. Surely, in a democratic world, through the pluralist’s power-to, we have voted into power institutions, which represent our interests. Power, as Locke said is only as great as it is greater than the power of another. Weber takes it further, as he focuses he definition of power on power of one over another, that is, the ability to dominate. Or as Wrong (REFERENCE) puts it is the ability of one person to instigate events and effects onto others as he pleases. From this perspective, we can look at revolutions and social movements as power-to reacting to the suffocating actions of power-over.  Holloway’s comment on past movements and past revolutions is one of silent disappointment at the power-hunger with which they seem filled – there is always a new leader who is placed in the place of the previous one. If we need to look at Holloway’s argument and contrast it to Hobbes and Weber, it would have a new place entirely – to him, what is of significance is not who takes power but rather, the very essence of opposition and the absolute necessity for power-over to be dissolved and the institutions, which implement it abandoned. In his words: “The real, material existence of that which exists in the form of its own negation, is the basis of hope” (Holloway, 2002b).

As Castells (2009, p.10) notes, power is a form of domination of institutions over their “subjects”. In retort to this and more of contemporary literature on the topic of power, Holloway screams:
“The only way in which radical change can be conceived today is not as the taking of power but as the dissolution of power” (2002a). In a way, modern revolution finds it roots in leftist, Marxist views. Zizek (Boyle 2008) is commonly talked about as a Marxist philosopher; Chomsky speaks extensively of his anarcho-syndicalist beliefs (Chomsky and Nevins 2014). They preach of radical change which is not to have “only dirted the balls off those in power with dust, the point is to cut them off” (Zizek 2009) but one thing which strikes the reader is the sameness of their answers to “what next?” which inevitably ends up being something along the lines of constructing trade-union like structures, where alienation is defeated by the re-accumulation of capital by the common man. But if we look at what it takes to break down political systems, Encyclopaedia Britannica (2005 p. 1023) states: “The fundamental causes of such failures appear to be the lack of a widespread sense of the legitimacy of state authority and the absence of some general agreement on appropriate forms of political action”.  There is no mentioned effective need for a different form of legitimate power to be alleviated.

If we are to speak of power as a form of control, then we are speaking of domination - we need to consider Foulcault and Lukes’s arguments. Lukes looks at power from a three-dimensional view – the first dimension being an observable control-submission situation. What is of greater importance to the current thesis, however, are the second and third dimension – the dimension where one is prevented or made to do something without realising that they are being dominated. The third dimension is one, which we need to look specifically hard on. It not only talks about someone who is being controlled via social rules and assumed punishment, as was recently painfully reminded to society through the Charlie Hebdo tragedy (BBC 2015). It refers to a domination of an entirely different type, which does not even allow for perception. Foucault words this in his idea of power “as the strategies in which they [force relations] take effect, whose general design or institutional crystallization is embodied in the state apparatus, in the formulation of the law, in the various social hegemonies.” (1998, pp.92-93).  Note that we see here Gramsci’s (Katz, 2006) notion of hegemony, which is central to understanding state struggles; it is what Holloway stands against.  Hegemony is also a constant object of Chomsky’s work (2004), where it refers to military and propaganda methods of asserting global control. Holloway works quite intensely with Foucault’s ideas of post-modernist all-consuming power and domination over the public, via the use of media, surveillance and propaganda. In a way, the power Holloway aims to overthrow is one resembling Lippman’s manufacture of consent (1922). This power is a form of coercion achieved via mass media, indoctrination in the educational system, involvement in the capitalist market, Foucault’s notion of pastoral power, etc. In all these instances, a small elite is educating, ruling, guiding the masses into what they are incompetent of doing themselves. Notions of wage-slavery, frequently seen in Zizek’s work denote the submissive face of modern work – we learn from someone better equipped to know than us, we work for someone better equipped to work than us, we are preached by someone who understands faith better than us – or so the assumption goes. The idea of breaking apart power and not-substituting it for anything can only transcend into reality if, as was needed centuries ago in the cultural revolution of the Enlightenment, the human once again is empowered to a position of authority over their own life. If during the Renaissance Western Europe was religious in a sense of Christianity, today it has alleviated Capitalism to the point of ascension. Bourdieau (2000) speaks of this notion as the naturalization od power – a feeling that all domination, force and alienation imposed onto a person is the natural way of things, and it is his own decision to participate.

We can see an antidote to this all-encompassing power through history. Leftist Hegelian revolutionary ideology, is perhaps the first one to refer to by challenging monarchy and feudalism. Monarchy is by definition a form of rule, where power is given to one person who, in a Christian context, is assumed to be appointed by God, making the monarch’s dominance absolute and indisputable. Going back to notions of legitimacy, monarchical theocracy is key – this is the foundation on which states’ legitimacy is based. Thus, the only key, which was able to destabilize this legitimacy, was the destabilization of religion and the rise of Humanism. The age of Enlightenment was the cradle of ideology, as it radicalized the self-value the ordinary person placed on himself. As Bell (2002, p. 394) states: “The history of all thought was a history of progressive disenchantment, […] the function of criticism-using the radical tool of alienation, or self estrangement-was to replace theology by anthropology.” A legacy, continued by Marxism and the battle against the fetishization of human labour. This is one of the main points of Holloway – the real power is in the worker, the doer, to produce the “done” (Holloway 2002). This was the argument, which began the revolution in wage-regulation, working condition improvements and the birth of the middle-class.

Today, these decisions have been passed on to private corporate metapower, work, be it manual or intellectual crafts, has been completely fetishized. In fact, “work”, and “labour”, words connected to “doing” have now been abandoned for the descriptive “job” and “product”, entirely separated from the “doer”. This is a main point of Holloway and it touches briefly on an argument, extensively covered further by Foucault and Zizek (1989) – the labour but also the intellectual and political alienation of the individual.  We are under constant Panopticon (Foucault, 1975) control, via presenting our own information, opening the windows of our own Panopticon through social media, mass media, blogging, etc. Our consent is never our own.

In a world of such suffocating dominance, little wonder arises at Holloway’s “scream”. We do need to scream to demolish such immense and overwhelming power. Zizek’s modern Marxism and Chomsky anarcho-syndicalism are a natural progression to the struggle of 21st century’s powerless society. While mainstream political figures sneer at the radical views modern philosophy brings, what Holloway adds to their argument is not contradictory; it’s claiming they’re not being radical enough.  We don’t need a different form of control, we need to equip ourselves with the ability to exert individual control over our life and property.

When, in 1968 French students rioted against their government, they needed Liberté, not a new rule. When Seattle experienced the first big OCCUPY protests in 1999, power realised it was beginning to lose ground. When in 1994, the Zapatistas refused to have their decisions made for them, the first incident of self-rule at the very basic human level occurred. The new protester is the “person of the year” (TIME, 2011), they are the brave individual, who is not looking for power or money, but justice. They are the students who Occupied universities around Europe (Mason 2013,  Silova and Brezheniuk 2014, England 2014) and they are the Anonymous hackers and the Wikileaks writers, who fight the manufacture of consent and the monopoly of mass media by distributing new information, they are the underdog star-come-activist (Brand 2014), who uses his/her power to prevent violence and diminish inequality, they are the intellectual, who uses  articulates the concerns of modern times.  The key factors of these new activists is the lack of face and the lack of power-hunger – it was the Zapatistas, which Holloway was inspired by, and whose argument he brings forward. It’s an argument of social co-operation, a refusal to submit and a fundamental change in the role of the individual in society – the person becomes not a pawn to be controlled, indoctrinated and extracted products from, but an actor and a builder of his own world and commodity. In this sense, countries from the so-called second world have the upper hand – as Kamov (2013) argues for Bulgaria, as an ex-communist country with a failed and corrupted state, it is ideal for a co-operative society, where social experimentation and innovation can flourish. The Zapatistas found access to their lands relatively easily, as the Mexican state in 1994 was not strong enough to hold them down. The Ukrainan revolution in 2013 found itself creating a Maidan, as a platform for debate, as the state was a malfunctioning ruin for the democracy they needed. Perhaps revolution now needs to engage with state power through the Scream, in order to silence its hegemony.




Can we change the world without taking power? Possibly. For the purpose, however, we need to change the way we commonly look at power. Finding the breaking point of domination in the legacy of leftist ideas could be one way. But what’s more important than the political ideals of such a revolution is the humane ideals of it. We need to experience a renaissance of the mind-set – humanity needs to de-fetishize labour, to remove itself from wage-slavery, to evade individualisation and reach ascension of the self-value of the individual within society. Holloway’s idea fills a great gap in modern power-relations theory and provides ground for thought to all of us, who look for change and revolution. And the lack of answer to this question, as frustrating as may be, needs to be seen as the fluid way that future social movements will need to take their form in order to instigate change in a diverse and global world.




Bibliography

Andresen, K., 2011. Person of the Year 2011: The Protester. TIME. Available from: http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102132,00.html [Accessed on 09.01.2015]

BBC NEWS, 2015. Charlie Hebdo: Gun Attack on French Magazine Kills 12. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30710883 [Accessed on: 09.01.2015]

Bell, D., 1962. The End of Ideology in West: An Epilogue. In: The end of ideology: on the exhaustion of political ideas in the fifties: with "The resumption of history in the new century (rev. ed.). London: Harvard University Press.  pp. 393-407

Boyle, K., 2008. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Slavoj Žižek’s Psychoanalytic Marxism. International Journal of Zizek Studies, 2(1).  Available from: http://www.zizekstudies.org/index.php/ijzs/article/viewFile/70/163 [Accessed On: 08.01.2015].

Bourdieau, P., 1977. Structure, Habitus, Power: Basis For A Theory of Symbolic Power. In: Equisse D'une Théorie de la Pratique. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 164

Bourdieau, P. et al, 2000. Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society. Redwood: Stanford University Press

Brand, R. 2014. Revolution. New York: Ballantine Books

BRITANNICA, 2005. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. Macropedia: Knowledge In Depth. Vol 25. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. pp. 1023.

Castells, M., 2009. What is Power? In: Communication Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press. P. 10

Chomsky, N., 1991. Interview by OLSON, G. A, and FAIGLEY, L. Language, Politics and Composition. Journal of Advanced Composition. 11(1). n.p. Available from: http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/1991----.htm [Accessed on: 07.01.2015]

Chomsky, N., 2002. Chapter 2: Democracy Under Capitalism. In: Understanding Power: The Indispensible Chomsky. New York: The New Press. p. 62

Chomsky, N., 1999. Goals and Visions. In: Powers and Prospects Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order. London: Pluto Press. pp. 107 – 139.

Chomsky, N., 2004. Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Domination. London: Penguin.

Chomsky, N., NEVINS, S., 2014. On Anarchy and Anarcho-Syndicalism. ZNET: A Community of People Devoted to Social Change. Available From: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/on-anarchy-anarcho-syndicalism/ [Accessed on: 08.01.2015].

England, C. 2014. Students in Warwick Occupied their University Last Night. VICE. Available from: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/warwick-university-protest-901. [Accessed on: 09.01.2015]

Foucault, M., 1975. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of The Prison. Paris: Editions Gallimard.

Foucault, M., 1998. The Deployment of Sexuality. In: The History of Sexuality (revised edition). London: Penguin Books. pp 92 – 93.

Gutmann, A., 1980. Liberal Equality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hobbes, T., 1991. The Leviathan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Holloway, J., 2002a. Change the World Without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution Today.  London: Pluto Press

Holloway J., 2002b. Twelve Theses on Changing The World Without Taking Power. The Commoner, 4. p. 5. Available from: http://www.commoner.org.uk/04holloway2.pdf [Last Accessed: 08.01.2015].

Kamov, G., 2013. Destination Number One. Available from: http://nextdoor.bg/destinationbg-en.pdf. [Accessed On: 09.01.2015].

Katz, H., 2006. Gramsci, Hegemony and Global Civil Society Networks. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 17(4). pp 332-347.

Lippmann, W., 1922. Public Opinion. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.

Lukes, S., 1974. Power: A Radical Vies. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Luxemburg, R., 1973. Reform or Revolution. New York: Pathfinder.

Mason, C., 2013. Bulgarian Universities in Chaos as Students Occupy 15 Campuses in Anti-Government Protests. London: The Indepent. Available From: http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/bulgarian-universities-in-chaos-as-students-occupy-15-campuses-in-antigovernment-protest-8927171.html [Accessed on 09.01.2015]

Silova, I. and Brezheniuk, V., 2014. After EuroMaidan: Ukrainian Students Occupy Ministry of Education and Demand Change. Education in Crisis. Available from: http://www.educationincrisis.net/blog/item/1117-after-euromaidan-ukrainian-students-occupy-the-ministry-of-education-and-demand-change [Accessed on: 09.01.2015]

Taylor, G., 2010. The New Political Sociology: Power Ideology and Identity in an Age of Complexity. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 34.

Weber, M., 1948. From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. London: Routledge.          

Wrong, D., 1979. Power: Its Forms, Bases, and Uses. New York: Harper and Row.

Zizek, S., 1989. How Did Marx Invent The Symptom? In: The Sublime Object of Ideology. London: Verso. Pp. 11 – 55.



понеделник, 24 август 2015 г.

We have lost some quality of experience that would allow us to see the
world as [our ancestors] did – or rather to see through it as they did. I take
the animist worldview to be just that: things were once transparent to the
human eye; greater realities moved behind and within them . . . This is
where the concept of “spirit” comes from, this once-homely, utterly normal
sense that something other than matter moves behind matter, animates it,
sustains it. (Roszak 2001, p. 93)
The splendours of freedom are at their brightest when freedom is sacrificed
at the altar of security. When it is the turn of security to be sacrificed in
the temple of individual freedom, it steals much of the shine of its former
victim. If dull and humdrum days haunted the seekers of security, sleepless
nights are the curse of the free. (Bauman 1997, p.3)

Virgin

Ancient moon priestesses were called virgins. ‘Virgin’ meant not married, not belonging to a man - a woman who was ‘one-in-herself’. The very word derives from a Latin root meaning strength, force, skill; and was later applied to men: virle. Ishtar, Diana, Astarte, Isis were all all called virgin, which did not refer to sexual chastity, but sexual independence. And all great culture heroes of the past, mythic or historic, were said to be born of virgin mothers: Marduk, Gilgamesh, Buddha, Osiris, Dionysus, Genghis Khan, Jesus - they were all affirmed as sons of the Great Mother, of the Original One, their worldly power deriving from her. When the Hebrews used the word, and in the original Aramaic, it meant ‘maiden’ or ‘young woman’, with no connotations to sexual chastity. But later Christian translators could not conceive of the ‘Virgin Mary’ as a woman of independent sexuality, needless to say; they distorted the meaning into sexually pure, chaste, never touched. 

Monica Sjoo

понеделник, 27 юли 2015 г.

"But our main interest
is to stimulate the birth of disturbing masterpieces of twenty-first century philosophy."

from Harman and Latour "New Metaphysics"

Sofia, 2015

вторник, 21 юли 2015 г.

The Body, The Gender: A Discourse




The body has had a tendency of evading the speculative gaze of Sociology - presumably, the discipline assumed that societies are somewhat disenchanted from the bodies that make them up. The field has traditionally focused on descriptive analysis of social workings and the general method of the social machine. However, to understand the evolution of gender and sexuality within sociology, we cannot simply explore the machine in itself, we need to investigate as closely as possibly the makings of the machine’s clogs, in this case the bodies, which participate in a performative world of sexuality and gender. Whilst the performance of sex and gender has been traditionally explored as something personal and therefore either psychological or medical, this essay will argue that the concepts are hugely influenced by social phenomena and environmental factors and involved in the role of the individual as a social actor (Goffman, 1959).
Gender is performative; as Simone de Beauvoir (1949) famously said “one is not born but rather becomes a woman” (or, to be precise, becomes a person and builds their framework of gender identity). Yet, the performance is still predominantly decided for the individual by their biological and anatomical belonging to a certain sex, and thus is commonly described as binary. This relationship between performative individuality and physical determination of the individual makes notions of liminality and particularly explorations of the multifaceted nature of gender, extremely difficult. Biological ideas of sex have been separated from notions of gender since the 1950’s. However, a common belief that gender is a fixed, non-changeable part of the body, expressed through the self, remains in society. What is vital for the continuation of this essay is to express that there is an inescapable difference between the concepts of gender and sexuality. An attempt to juggle both in depth for the length of this essay, would end in disaster and frail analysis. To explain why, one could ask themselves to what extent sexuality is a biological or a social construct. This question in itself is incredibly complicated, much more so than that of gender, as gender is a notion which has been discussed openly amongst academics, as well as in the public sphere since the dawn of civilisation, unlike sexuality, which except for academics, remained a taboo everyday conversation for the most part of our civilised history. Thus, meaning to do justice to the depth, with which the fascinating subject of sexuality could be discussed, and taking discourse as an analytical tool, the sexual realm will be examined as sexualised gender performance. That is, gendered and hyper-gendered expressions of sexuality, stemming from discourse-generated stereotypes, connected to sexuality (Butler, 1993). This will allow us to only focus on the entirely socially constructed notion of sexuality identity, which is divided from the biological copulative urge of sexuality and is far more intertwined with gender. Therefore, the essay will focus on gender and discuss sexuality through gender performance.
Forms of non-heterosexual ways of being will be engaged as a tool to explore the failure of femininity and masculinity (Fausto-Sterling, 2000; Hubbard and Heggarty, 2014). The ultimate gender achievement for the two normative genders is the performance of fertile sexual acts. The ideal man role, in history and in literature, involves the raising of a son, an heir; thus, failure to perform is considered to be the stemming point of homophobia (McCreary, 1994). The ideal woman role is that of the mother and carer, birthing the needed heir and performing the sexuality needed for the satisfaction of her husband, who must dominate her, thus fulfilling his role as the ruler of her body, as well as her life. We see this in a variety of classic literature, in historical events: it is the idealised form of heterosexual relationship, re-asserted even today, in the literature of sex and relationship education (Taylor, 1971), as well as in fictional literature and popular media (James, 2011). In this sense, feminist sexual liberation (the performance of sex, orgasming and sexual freedom) and the LGBTQ+ liberation (sexuality as being divergent from normative heterosexuality) are intrinsically linked (Kimmel, 2005) and have brought about a sexual revolution in the past 50 years which was and still is a struggle of marginalised social groups (King et al, 1977; Marwick, 1999; Ruspini, 2013).
Sawicki argues that pre-Foucauldian feminism looks at gender discourse as a Hegelian (dominant versus submissive) battle, society normalizing the social language of the male and dominant gender and women appropriating the linguistic ability as a method of attaining power. A possible example of this is the second feminist wave, which saw women appropriating masculine identities, particularly in business, as the persona of the “businessman” was very clearly one, inviting only to men and where those, who identified as feminine could only serve the patriarchal industry in traditionally female roles. The argument was flawed as it only subjected genders, different from male, even further to an oppressive patriarchal attack. Discourses such as the one seen in second wave feminism are dualistic, there are two genders and two voices – one, which is dominant and strong and one, which is silenced and “modest” (Lloyed, 2005). This is further taken by the famous notion of hegemonic masculinity - the concept is a binary exploration of a culture, which nurtures “the dominant position of men and the subordination of women” (Connell, 1995, p.77). This lack of dimension on the conversation is elaborately presented by Spender (1980) and summed up: “The concept of multi-dimensional reality is necessary for it allows sufficient flexibility to accommodate the concept of equality.” Sawicki argues that using Foucault in feminist analysis makes the discourse a pluralistic one – where multiple gender and sexual identities exist. Identity performance is a changing discourse, which can no longer be contained within conventional framework, in an age of liminality and a society, seeking to distort the boundaries of prescribed identity.
In order to viably continue with this argument we need to briefly explore the possibility of an essentialist, biological view of gender. Firstly, ethnographers (Halford and Leonard, 2000) have identified a zero connection between biological sex, genes and gender rituals or vocabulary. Gender is not biologically defined and we are not born with genes that make us display more feminine or more masculine behaviours. Gender erupted as a central axis for social division and form of personality classification, as a result of the central place that reproduction and power distribution have in a society based on physical ability and physically demanding work (for example, a primitive society). We no longer have a need for classification of subspecies – an argument, which is now heavily endorsed by biologists, as well as sociologists, for all species.. In a world based on social and intellectual skill, academic proficiency and scientific adequacy, we are no longer bound to our physical abilities to make our survival possible. Which, in turn, makes stereotypical connotations of femininity as weak, submissive, passive and in some cultures even inhuman, utterly arbitrary and illogical. Feminist philosopher, Judith Butler argues we need not to compare sex and gender as a method for studying the world because “gender is not to culture as sex is to nature; gender is also the discursive/cultural means by which "sexed nature" or "a natural sex" is produced and established as "prediscursive" prior to culture, a politically neutral surface on which culture acts.” (1990: 7), ergo it does not lend itself to the same method of scientific study. Instead, this leads to a more discourse-based perspective, which asks more than descriptive questions and moves to post-structuralist discussions of the place of gender in social life and the importance of gender for modern identity, or rather, how that importance and how that difference is produced.
To entail in gender discourse studies, one must first define gender. For Lorber and Farrell (1991, p.7), it is “the activity of managing situated conduct in light of normative conceptions of attitudes and activities appropriate for one’s sex category. Gender activities emerge from and bolster claims to membership in a sex category”. Whilst they focus still on the perceived as “normal” activities to be conducted, in order to belong to a gender, it’s very important to note that through identifying with a gender, one can claim belonging to a certain group. This leaves one with the opportunity to not belong to a group and to not identify as one of the two dominant gender groups. This is important, indeed this is fundamentally important for discussing gender today, as more and more people claim a gender identity or simply an identity, outside the comfort of “man” or “woman” (Kuper et al, 2011).  Yet, how are the concepts of “man” and “woman” formed? As was mentioned before, for many people these stem from biologically determined human particulars. However, with notice to trans-men and trans-women, many transgender people, do not undergo SRS or even minor body modifications, yet their identities are clearly transformed into feminine or masculine to themselves and to society. It could be argued that this is so, as gender is performed and read without the need for a biological platform. As Edley (2001, p.191) put it: Discourse in terms of gender refers to “a whole range of different symbolic activities, including style of dress, patterns of consumption, ways of moving, as well as talking”. An excellent example provides Hall’s work (1997) in researching the lives of hijras, who compare the experience of undergoing their induction into the Hijra lifestyle to learning a second language. This metaphor and the factual research behind it has been explored by others (Coates 1996, 2003) and affirms the presentative nature of gender. Sexuality has a firm space here, as women’s sexuality is simultaneously viewed as permeating the very nature of womanhood and being the ultimate social taboo. Women are expected to be simultaneously the temptress and the virgin – they experience bashing for whichever path they choose. Indeed, sexuality is a core part of gender performance – gay men are often dictated into a feminine identity as their failure to engage in sexual domination over women is seen as a failure of masculinity. Women who are overly sexual and “promiscuous” are also read as masculine, often assumed a bisexual identity, whilst lesbian women are assigned to being masculine and indeed can experience discrimination and abuse from within the lesbian community if they do not conform to a largely ascribed stereotype of the “butch”.
Gender is mainly constructed through language and the symbolic meaning of everyday conversation; specific culturally loaded words, ways to refer to people and items, as well as the lack of speaking or, as women may know it – modesty. “Language, Gender and Childhood” (1985, p.1) edited by Steedman et al “examines both speaking and silence, what could be spoken, where and when; and how words, language and texts were formative in producing taken-for-granted conceptions of childhood, femininity and motherhood”. Whilst the book focuses almost exclusively on the experiences of women, due to the discursive themes of the time, it is most applicable to gender as a whole. Indeed, Cameron (1997, p.49) in her work on heterosexual men’s conversational patterns, does precisely that and explores how “people use linguistic resources to produce gender differentiation”. She further continues to explore that this is a dynamic process, which is reaffirmed and in many cases evolved daily in continuous interactions. An entire part of the book is devoted to the language of “gayness” and the way the word gay is used to describe femininity in men. It is crucial to note here that Steedman’s “femininity” is actually any expressions of weakness, being emotional or caring, acting in any way, divergent from the hyper-masculine identity, which is becoming more and more normalised. Through language, we ascribe the sexual identities, which are expected of us by stereotyping gender and sexuality together. An examination of the multitude of ways, in which, women are indoctrinated into specific language, pronunciation, behaviours and conversational topics and thus become women through the practice of these is compiled by Romaine (1999). She also touches on the topic of meanings and symbols, contained in this becoming – ideas about sex, appropriateness, reading situations, etc. An example, used by her and also found in the recent University of Bath research on Lad Culture, is the way, in which women who have been physically sexually harassed, will admit to the physical incident, but will not name it as assault. According to Romaine, this is due to a common notion of masculine entitlement to women’s bodies and the latter’s passive reaction to such incidents, to the extent to which they are no longer considered to be assaultive.
Miller and Swift (1977) write on the linguistic explorations of gender construction, which are even more basic and subconscious than these of ascribed sexual identities. They aim to depict how gender, regardless of its face, dominance or subordination is entirely a concept, a performance, consisting of costumes, scripts and daily rituals is an intrinsic part of our lives and constrains the way we behave through creating, more often today than ever, unrealistic norms and ideal gender identities, we, as members of a society are expected to fulfil. More and more, as was mentioned, gender is no longer confinable within “man” and “woman” and this results in gender dysphoria, depression and anxiety. A great part of the mechanism, through which gender is reconstructed is the linguistic specificity of “bigender” language forms and their effect on social attitudes and perceptions of gender roles and gender stratification. Boyadzhieva (2012) makes an excellent case of how gender is constructed in the entire language. She shows how, in most Slavic languages, gender is a part of practically every word, every noun has its own assigned gender, yet this does not necessarily conform to the natural sex of the object. For example “girl” and “boy” have a neuter sex, yet are applied to objects with a specific gender identity. In contrast, some professions, and objects traditionally attached to a feminine identity (kitchen, dinner, care) or masculine identities (saw, hammer, leader) are given gender identities. Romaine (1999a) describes a variety of words, labelling women as housewives and “loafkneaders” in Japanese and Old English, which had become everyday words in their time.  This could suggest that the cultural meaning and gendering of these objects, activities etc. stems from a constructed symbolism, as opposed to their natural belonging to a certain physical sphere. In the case of stereotypically feminine and masculine objects gendered in Slavic languages, whether the language or the stereotype came first is irrelevant as what’s really of interest is the way in which these language forms make it impossible to even think in plurivocal forms or to stop the individual from perceiving them in a non-gendered manner. Boyadzhieva takes her argument further and claims that this language construction makes Slavic languages particularly sexist and reinforces gender inequality.
Gender and sexuality are two significant for the study of society concepts and it is extremely challenging to explore both of these in a short essay. In order to illustrate how intertwined their roles and their production are, however, this piece of work focused on gender and on sexuality as both a part of gender performance, and a prerequisite for a specific gender identity to be adopted, particularly in homosexual people. This essay did not aim to explore essentialist possibilities and instead discussed how discourse and language, performance, culture and media have an impact on our personal understanding of gender and sexuality, as well as on our performances. With regards to these claims, it is safe to conclude that gender and sexuality are, as a style of performance and a set of rituals, almost entirely socially constructed and dictated, regardless of the influence that biological factors have on them. By this it is meant that whilst we are born with a certain sex and, arguably, born with a certain sexual orientation, we experience these identities and perform these identities in a way, which is typically characteristic of a certain social group – economic, ethnic, and cultural. There is more to be said about the way our belonging to subgroups creates intersections of identities and how this affects our performances but one is certain – the changing and individual take every identity takes is due to the liquidity and change of socially constructed models of behaviour and our experience of the discourse attached to them.
 


Bibliography:
Boyadzhieva, E., 2012. Expressing Gender in English and Some Slavic Languages. South-West University of Blagoevgrad. Available from: https://www.academia.edu/2540131/Gender_in_English_and_some_Slavic_Languages [Accessed on 13.04.2015.]
Butler, J., 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. Pp 7.
Butler, J., 1993. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”. New York: Routledge.
Cameron, D., 1997. Performing Gender Identity: Woung Men’s Talk and The Construction of Heterosexual Masculinity. In: Johnson, S. and Meinhof, U. H., (eds) 1997. Language and Masculinity. Oxford: Blackwell. Pp. 49.
 Coates, J., 1996. Women Talk: Conversation Between Women Friends. Oxford: Blackwell.
Coates, J., 2003. Men Talk: Stories in The Making of Masculinities. Oxford: Blackwell.
Connell, R.W., 1995. Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press. Pp. 77.
de Beauvoir, S., 1949. The Second Sex (La Deuxième Sex), trans. H. M. Parshley. London: Everyman.
Fausto-Sterling, A., 2000. Sexing The Body: Gender Politics and The Construction of Sexuality. New York: Basic Books.
Goffman, E., 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Mayflower.
Halford. S. and Leonard. P., 2000. Gender, Power and Organisations. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Hall, Kira 1997: "Go suck your husband's sugarcane": Hijras and the use of sexual insult. In: Livia, A. and Hall, K., (eds) 1997. Queerly Phrased: Language, Gender and Sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 430-60.
Hubbard, K and Hegarty, P., 2014. Why is the History of Heterosexuality Essential? Beliefs About the History of Sexuality and Their Relationship to Sexual Prejudice. Journal of Homosexuality, 61. pp.471–490
James, E.L., 2011. Fifty Shades of Grey. New South Wales: The Writers’ Coffee Shop.
Kimmel, M.S., 2005. The Gender of Desire: Essays of Male Sexuality. Albany: SUNYP.
King, K., et al. 1977. The Continuing Premarital Sexual Revolution among College Females. Journal of Marriage and Family, 39 (3). pp. 455-459.
Kuper, L.E., Nussbaum, R., Mustanski, B.,  2012. Exploring the Diversity of Gender and Sexual Orientation Identities in an Online Sample of Transgender Individuals. The Journal of Sex Research, 49(2-3). Pp. 244-254. DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2011.596954
Lloyed, M., 2005. Beyond identity politics: Feminism, power and politics. London: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Lorber, J. and Farrell, S.A., 1991. The Social Construction of Gender. California: SAGE Publications, Inc. p.1.
Marwick, A., 1999. The sixties : cultural revolution in Britain, France, Italy, and the United States, c.1958-c.1974. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McCreary, D.R., 1994. The Male Role and Avoiding Femininity. Sex Roles 31 (9/10). 1994.
Miller, C., and Swift, K., 1977. The Great Male Plot. Words and Women. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd. Pp. 83-103.
Romaine, S., 1999. Communicating Gender. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Romaine, S., 1999a. Doing Gender. In: Romaine, S., 1999. Communicating Gender. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Pp. 12-13.
Ruspini, E., 2013. Diversity in family life: Gender, relationships and social change, e-book. Available from: URL: http://bath.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=1224281 [Accessed on: 27 April 2015]
Spender, D., 1980. The Dominant and the Muted. Man Made Language. London: Routledge. Pp. 103.
Steedman, C., Urwin, C., Walkerdine, V., (eds) 1985. History Workshop Series: Language Gender and Childhood. London: Routledge, pp.1.
Taylor, L., 1971. The Unfinished Sexual Revolution. Journal of Biosocial Science, 3. pp 473-492. doi:10.1017/S0021932000008233.