From the author’s introduction…

I have no self-illusion that this book will enlighten or cause any change. I don’t believe that a book can do that. I believe that the proverbial phrase that “the pen is mightier than the sword” is the opposite of what should be obvious to anyone: That physical force and the threat of physical force are unquestionably the drivers in the relations of domination that characterize human societies. It is remarkable that any student of history could repeat such nonsense as that vacuous and shallow phrase.

The indoctrination towards ascribing relevance to the written word as a vector of “powerful ideas” is so strong among service intellectuals in our managed societies, however, that I have no doubt that many readers will mine these pages for the “useful ideas” that they may contain, or for any contribution to the “discourse of ideas” – which is wrongly considered to be the lifeblood of a healthy modern society.

Wrong, of course, because this allowed discourse of intellectuals must be a discourse outside of praxis[1] or risk. It must be cerebral because the more cerebral it is the deeper it is and therefore the greater its impact on the real world, somehow. This is the Mobius strip of the service intellectual. And the service intellectual must construct and maintain such self-image buffers on the scale of the entire functioning society, lest we become conscious of the extreme violence to which we are subjected and to which we collectively subject others.

For the most part, I write as part of my praxis of liberation, fighting my own oppression, in the sense explained by Paulo Freire in his seminal work.[2] Therefore, I pessimistically expect that only those involved in their own Freirian praxes, fighting their own oppressions rather than some displaced injustice, might derive useful benefit from these notes. I combine this pessimism of the mind with optimism of the will[3], which motivates me to write.

This book is also outreach for fighters in the trenches, out there. And it is a way for me to test my ideas. And it is a contradiction. I was groomed as a service intellectual. My hierarchical purpose was that of service intellectual. I too long for the pure rationality of expressed ideas to somehow be of use, against all odds. In this sense, therefore, this book is more than reflections and analysis accompanying a praxis, it is also a desperate and irrational act – such an act that is typical of the true intellectual, in the sense explained by Edward Said.[4]

Otherwise, how does one rebel against the machine while maintaining enough ties to not be crushed by the gears. How does one send out smoke signals without being annihilated by the cavalry? How does one use camouflage without integration into the environment?

An honest book from praxis is a dangerous thing. Did Che Guevara imagine that his Guerrilla Warfare[5] would become a training manual for the CIA in exterminating armed resistance by genocidal cleansing? Likewise, on a more superficial plane, will my ideas be turned against free speech advocates by guiding a perfected sophistry of the benefits of state control and surveillance? This is an unavoidable risk in attempting to project one’s influence with written words. It is one of the intrinsic risks of communication.

[1] I use the term “praxis” to mean an inseparable and synergetic fusion of action and reflection as part of one’s struggle for liberation, as defined by Paulo Freire.

[2] Freire, Paulo, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, 1970; Continuum, NY, 2000.

[3] “I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” Antonio Gramsci, Letter from Prison (19 December 1929). Source: Wikiquote.

[4] Said, Edward, “Representations of the Intellectual”, 1994; Vintage Books, NY, 1996.

[5] Guevara, Che, “Guerrilla Warfare”, 1961.


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