Tag Archives: alienation

12 October 1990 Personal Correspondence on Economy and Justice (PDF)

Oct. 12, ’90

Dear Pam,

The day is getting shorter, cold, damp, for work outdoors. The climate at Kootenay is similar to Northern Japan. My ancestor peasants knew when to retreat. That was a way to respect nature. They did not fight against winter, but rested with it. So, with cuts, bruises, stiff fingers, middle pain in joints from heavy carpentry,I came to rest for the season. I might do a bit of dynamics of “field-field interaction” for the winter. For I have neglected it for years. That will also give time for big lumber today. I had enough of the pleasure of working with wood, and the smell of them will last and keep me happy till the next spring. The love affair with wood also needs retreat.

While working on the cottage building, I heard that GST is not applicable for “home economy” inside Reserves. That set me thinking of a possibility of “Moral Economy” in Reserves. Of course, the majority opinion is “Assimilation” into the dominant economic system. White Intellectuals were saying that. Some Native Intellectuals also implied the same, if they did not say so explicitly. They are believers of “Economic Development” — much the same way as International Economic Developing guys are — . For them, the “Trading for Cash Income” is the main “Medium” through which everything else, including Mental Health Welfare, Justice, Rights, Human Relations, etc. are put in order and dealt with.

It appears that native speakers picked up by CBC for comments on “native rights” etc., were unconscious of the link between Economy and Justice. They insist on the distinct independence of Native Cultures/Nations, but they do not talk of distinct independent Economy — i.e. the “Way of Life” —. Rather implicit assumption seems to be “Economic Dependency/Assimilation”. The Economy as the “way of life” is mundane, technical, and does not appear to have anything to do with Justice nor Spirituality — that is, if one thinks of it in European categorical separation —. But the daily practices are like body functions that carry and manifest “mind”. The atomistic separation is an artificial illusion used to simplify dynamics for low intelligence. It has a danger of perpetuating the dependency on the colonial system, while maintaining show rituals of cultuality/spirituality. It is no different from “Sunday Christians”.

Interestingly, in the Massey Lecture I mentioned to you before, Lebequers design for Quebec Sovereignty was criticized as being a half-ass. Lebeque was a chicken in that he did not go far enough to insist “Economic Sovereignty” — his plan was to retain Canadian Dollar as the common currency, which comes under the control by the federal bank policy —. He was saying that “Cultural Independence”/”National Sovereignty” are not separable from independent means to maintain “Economy” within. Trading will interfere with internal economy as we see in international trade, particularly in the “North-South Problem” which is a manifestation of the new way of Colonialism/Imperialist War —.

To be sure, “Trader” in the sense of “Exchange” is an intermediate evolutionary step in human relation, between “Appropriation” to “Love Gift”. Human Race is learning ways of relating through Exchange Trade. But if its linkage to Human Rights/Justice (i.e. Moral Economy) is shut out in “conceptual separation/rationalization” as most 19-20th century intellectuals do, it no longer serves as Learning Process.

[Marx pointed out that only the parts which are “Alienated” come into Trade. Marxists did talk of this, yet they do not seem to think it serious enough, perhaps because they think the market economy is “Rational” and has nothing more to improve.

Marx himself was a half-ass in that he did not elaborate far enough about the problem of Alienation. His limitation/mistake was self-imposed by his “Pique” against Utopian thinkers. In that hew was a victim of self-pride. but European way of “intellectualization” itself is a “Trade in the Market” and “Self-Pride” manifested as “Pique” the other side of the”Alienation”. It is almost universal in European Intellectual Trade.

They did not have the mental posture of “Love Gift” that Medicine Men/Women had. They were not “Noble” nor “Virtuous” in the Asiatic sense. Rather, European Rationality rejected “Nobility”, “Virtue”, (and “Love”, “Grace”) as “Asiatic” that the Colonialism of Marx’s time contemptuously referred to and European Intellectuals today have it as “Orientalism”. (c.f. Edward Said) Critiques of Heidegger point out that his defect started with Greek Intellectualization which was Technical and lacking the sense of “Sublime” that I mentioned before. They say Heidegger slipped into Nazism because Heidegger, great as he was, was a “Technical” intellectual in the Market.

You might think about the possible linkage between “Technical” intellectualization and Greek Misogyny. In my view, Misogyny is a form of Alienation. In Freudian terms, “Alienation” is the sense of separation from Mother/Womb. In my terminology, it is a denial of Rationality in terms of Object Language/Thinking i.e. Newtonian Physics.

Alienation is a disease, disfunctioning our minds. Medicine Men/Women knew how to treat such a disease.]

Economic Independence means Cultural Independence, and more importantly Spiritual independence. It matters little how the home economy is evaluated in “Dollar Values”. If needed Reserves can have “Note” to facilitate and account the internal economy, though in “intimate Relativeness” the accounting is probably not needed.

I was reading a sad story by Sue Shyokan, a Chinese writer, who was involved in the Student Revolt of 1989 at Beijing. He was a professor of literature and an “Intellectual”. He was talking of “Powerlessness”, “ineffectiveness”, “Uselessness”, and “Cowardice” of Intellectuals — of himself — with naked honesty. He talked of “Fear” that is the basis of “Reason” (Intellect/Rationality). But this “Reason is a European notion.

He lamentingly refers to the ancient Chinese “Reason” which was from the Virtues (Medicines) of Love, Grace, Nobility, the Sublime. It was not Fear-based like the European one is. the trouble of the modern Chinese intellectuals is that the modern intellectuals lost “Home Base”. In old days the”wise” had “home/village” to go to when they fell from patronage by the power. They could contentedly live with “home people” and did not need the official “Raison d’Etre” (= Raison de Etat). Europeans might call that “Marginal Existence”, which is excluded from the Exchange Market or “Outside Currency”. But because of their self-sufficient basis, the ancient wise men/women did not need to “prostitute” their intellect. If they go out of their “Village” to speak, then it was a gift of Love. It is “Surplus” in the jargon of Economics. And the noble/graceful were not obliged to sell it. Sue Shyokan lamented that he, and modern intellectuals, no longer has the base to “fall back on” — just as the “proletariat” has to sell its labor everyday to live at all —.

Those who have to sell “intellect” in the market for their daily living are forced to think/feel their labors in terms of “necessity”. (The sense of “necessity” is a part of Fear.) Whereas, the ancient medicine men/women were moved by Love/GRace. Intellect is like “Sex”. It can be sold on the market and be the means of making a living. Or it can be a gift/expression of love. The choice is determined by the Economic System, which is a social choice.

Biologically speaking, I think intellect does have two mixed bases of Fear and Love. European Intellect has been fixated on Fear side, only allowing marginal existence for Love side. Even in China, the modern intellectuality has taken over — and modernizations, such as university system imported from Europe accelerated this decay of the virtue of Nobility/Grace —. Hence the lament of Sue Shyokan.

It may sound banal and even European, but it seems if Natives are to live in dignity, the Home Economic Basis, independent of the Market Trade, has to be established. (This is true for anybody). “Welfare” has to be moral and “Moral” cannot be there without “Sovereign Independence”. That is the meaning of Self-sufficiency.

To be sure, by “Independent I do not mean the European notion —that means “Egocentrism” for isolated “Individuals” —. I used the word because there are no other words to express it in English/European Physics. Here comes my problem of “Relational Physics” that Einstein failed to make (*).

[*Einstein’s “Relativity” was a descendent of the Imagination which Michael Faraday had (Electro-Magnetic Field). He perused ways to describe “Event/Existence” on the basis of Relational Flow of Fields (Geometry). If he succeeded, we would have a way of talking about “happenings” without any reference to “Body” and “Body” (Object) as manifestations of fields in an interaction. But he could not complete his work. The problem of the “Two Body” remained. We have no way of talking, and hence thinking, dynamics of relations without “Self”, “Other” (objects) etc., in our “rational” language. Hence we are forced to talk and think (and worse, feel) “Independence, “Sovereignty”, “Self-sufficiency” etc. in the Atomistic Object Language. Actually, there exists no such thing as “Existence” without “Relations”. In this sense, European “Existentialism” is completely wrong. I am trying to talk of Rationalism (Relativity). But I do not have adequate language to do so.

Not that “Fear” comes when you say think/feel as an isolated (alienated) Individual (ego) alone.

Love, Grace, Nobility, Sublime are words in Relational Science. Unfortunately, there is no such Science/Discourse in Relational Language as yet.

Of course, “Natives” all over the world had Relational Languages (Sciences). But we how are colonized (educated) in modern European languages (science) lost not only the ability to understand the languages, but also the respect for the science. Since we do not understand those who speak the old languages (sciences), we think they are “irrational”, if not stupid. Thus we exclude them from our discourse-market and marginalize them.

David Suzuki said that “Native Americans have quite different thinking” in reference to “Wildlife Management” problem about Wolves. The program revealed how little European Science of Ecology knows about “Wildlife”. Rather, the science is nothing but Fear-Driven superstition plus Greed of Hunter-Tourist Business. I wonder if the basic philosophy/ideology behind “Indian Policy” is not the same “Science” of the Wildlife Management.]

At any rate, Natives do have basis to build “Home Economy” ¬†along with Trading Economy with the dominant one. If they do, the consequences are great. It is not just a way of avoiding GST. It means that Reserves would produce every thing they need, including medical services and education, making them almost self-sufficient. That cuts down their dependency on the supermarket economy. If natives think three-quarter-ton tracks are needed, they can make them. Potatoes can be grown, breads are baked. There is enough talents/ability to do that. If not, they learn the power. That is what “Education” is for. One might start with Relational Science. Is there any sign that Natives are becoming aware of and interested in “Moral Economy”?

Yours

Sam K.