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February 06, 2011

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The amateur protesters are supported by the Egyptian military and by USG, at an opportune time before Gamal and his cronies take over, and for the New Spread of Democracy to the Middle East. The amateur uprising would be destroyed without that professional assistance.

Modern protests are only effective, and left activists use demonstrations and awareness, because at worst they are allowed under the Anglo-American liberties, and at best they are actively created and assisted by sovereign authority.

Thomas Kiefer

Your work on Lenin's "What is to Be Done?" is wonderful material. Thank you.

This is only indirectly related to this post, but I just finished reading a section of your "Blog Theory" on the New Communalists, and I don't know where else to post it (if my comment's worth anything). First, Stuart Brand --and perhaps "organizers" of today-- missed something crucial when he adopted the de-centralized, random, non-hierarchical, collaborative model of organization being encouraged by the Rand Corp. and the military-industrial complex: it was that there was always some one in charge, some one giving direction. For example, in military R&D, someone in the Pentagon decides they need bullets that can pierce tank armor. To make a long story short, some officer ends up with a group of scientists and says "give us bullets that can pierce tank armor". At *that* point the de-centralized non-hierarchical etc. etc. kicks in, and in fact can be very effective and efficient in coming up with solutions, with lots of play and freedom. However, there is still a goal being determined by someone above. Brand ignored this direction from "someone above". Problems like this are being seen now at Google's think tank. Investors are now starting to worry about Google in that its future has no direction; the researchers at the think tank are simply given the direction to "amaze us". Well, they're floundering. Contrast that with Steve Jobs and Apple --Jobs says "give me a tablet computer", and *then* the non-hierarchical freedom individual play blather kicks in. I think Lenin's point about professional revolutionaries is related to this--on some level, there at least needs to be direction for any organization or revolt to succeed.

The second is that this non-hierarchical conception of organization has its origins in the early Cold War against the Logical Positivists. The Positivists had a lot in common with the radical left after WWI (in fact, one, Otto Neurath, was part of the Bavarian Socialist Republic, and had connections with Austrian socialists). One of their main goals was a unification, or an "orchestration", of the sciences, all working with one common language, logic and theoretical framework. When they fled the Nazis and war, coming to the US, they brought their project, and radical left politics, with them. Anyway, to make a long story short, after WWII the Positivist project of unification was deemed "totalitarian", and anyone who believed in the "American Idea" had to allow for every opinion being valid, every *use of language* to be valid, everyone allowed to pursue what they will in freedom. However, the clincher was that you HAD to believe in the American Idea, otherwise you were a totalitarian. (This argument and "American Idea" comes from Howard Kallen.) Well, the Positivists lost thanks to the McCarthy-ite purges, and those that survived dropped their political affiliations in order to survive. Interestingly, some who took the side of Kallen's found employment in the Rand Corporation, and in fact Rand uses at least one Positivist (Hans Reichenbach) in a magazine ad. (See Reisch's "How the Cold War Transformed the Philosophy of Science" for this.)

Sorry, one last thing. Hayek was a personal enemy of Neurath. The thing Hayek had against plans wasn't that they were always bound to fail, it was that he thought there will always be a minority who will disagree with the plan. In order for the plan to be carried out, the minority will have to be repressed (and histrionically, ultimately imprisoned and killed). This repression is what will lead to totalitarianism. Neurath wrote a nice critique of Hayek's "Road", one point being that Hayek assumes that people are unable to come together, and agree to co-operate with one another according to a plan.

Thanks again Prof. Dean for your work.

Jodi Dean

Thomas--thanks for your comment. I really appreciate your insights re Rand, Positivists, Hayek. Thanks for including references so I can follow up. Much appreciated.

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