Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chicken Soup for the Stomach: Inspiration for Materialists*


I enjoy feeling inspired every once in a while. But while there are some inspiring quotes that I feel really apply to the whole world no matter what, there are others that I find to be a bit self-congratulatory. Some of them are what I call “Inspiration for the Privileged.” Take the one I came across today ...

Our anarchist friend names the central conceit of the self-help industry -- that you are the only obstacle to achieving your goals!

Let us remember Marx, at the opening of The Eighteenth Brumaire:

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.

We make our own history, but we do not make it as we please. This is something that, for instance, if you read Wobblies & Zapatistas, explores one of the more interesting tensions between the traditional idealism of anarchism -- like, starting a collective because your goal is less capitalism -- and the heavy analysis traditional to Marxism, which can just as easily view "doing whatever you prefer" as worthwhile or a waste of time depending on the circumstances.

What's interesting is how Marx himself appears to hold the middle ground between festival anarchists and determinist Marxists: We make our own history, but we do not make it as we please.

I'm sorry to say that I once "tweeted" on the very idea myself: "To accept something imposed is a choice to go on living, but to only know ourselves within its bounds is to forget the act of being alive." I make my own 140 character-or-less statements, but I do not make them as I please.

*Post title courtesy of Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine


Ethan said...

OK, between recent events at work, John G. Miller posting again to his mostly-moribund Outstanding! blog, and this excellent post, I think I'm being told I need to start back up on the QBQ soon--since "the problem is you" is the central message of that book.

I write my own blog, but I do not write it as I please.

JRB said...


Don't we all!

Thanks for the warm welcome back, by the way.

Ethan said...

Thanks also for the pointer to sitakali's blog--definitely seems worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the mention! I might have to start blogging more frequently now.