We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, January 24, 2011

Anarchism and Psychology [Videos and article]

by Dennis Fox from CapitalismCrisis's Channel on YouTube. This is a two part presentation that the author gave at the recent conference of the North American Anarchist Studies Network.

Fox is an Emeritus Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Psychology at the University of Illinois, Springfield. He has had considerable involvement in left politics and identifies with anarchism.

He attempts to address the core issue of "personal and political" that have posed problems for generations of activists. In other words, how to be true to one's political principles and act on those principles in one's personal and political relationships. We have all been indoctrinated in the beliefs and practices of capitalism with its extreme emphasis on individualism. Hence we haven't learned the tools of behaving in a more cooperative and socially affirming way. He looks at the field of psychology to see what it has to offer regarding this issue.
...despite the significance of psychological assumptions about reciprocal links between the personal and the political, it remains unclear to what extent any of psychology’s various guises – academic discipline, therapeutic profession, psychoanalytical understanding, or force of popular culture – can help advance liberation and community.
Part 1  (9:03m)

Part 2  (4:18m)

The paper on which this presentation is based can be found here.

My own view is that a new subculture must be created to provide the soil to nurture egalitarian and social values. But, of course, that begs the question: how do we do that?