baroness ilse von freytag-loringhovn (rozele) wrote,
baroness ilse von freytag-loringhovn

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so, a week after reading samuel delany's fascinating critique of The Dispossessed (which you should read, or re-read if you already have, and then track down a copy of delany's The Jewel-Hinged Jaw, i just read a short story that falls somewhere in the same category as le guin's classic.

The Dispossessed, like few other novels, is a great examination of the problem with revolutions (in the classical, abrupt, understanding of them, at least): they ossify pretty damn quick. jefferson's classic line about the need for a revolution every 20 years is one acknowledgment of this, but i like the version william morris (a wonderful and these days unrecognizedly radical thinker) wrote:

I pondered all these things, and how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. from A Dream of John Ball

this short story, "The Guy Who Worked For Money", by benjamin rosenbaum, is another version. i take it as a nearly perfect account of what happens when you create a non-monetary economic/social structure that is still market-based - which is to say, still capitalist. it's also a great corrective to all the blather from those who would have us adapt 'social networking'/'web 2.0' structures "to our own purposes" [sic].

when it comes to the technologies that structure society, audre lorde is still right: the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. there's a complicated line between that basic truth of struggle and its complement - any tool is a weapon if you hold it right. perhaps the choice of metaphor is the most telling hint for where to find that line: when we're talking about weapons - about the creative force involved in defending ourselves against the old order, in destroying its teeth and claws - any tool can be used, but when we're talking about dismantling - the slower process of taking apart structures in order to reconstruct a world we might want to live in - the mechanisms must be chosen with special care. but whenever there's doubt, pick lorde over difranco.
Tags: (a), capitalism, dystopia, revolution, utopia
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