Violence vs. Imagination

A largely excellent essay by David Graeber appeared on the other day. It's called "REVOLUTION IN REVERSE (OR, ON THE CONFLICT BETWEEN POLITICAL ONTOLOGIES OF VIOLENCE AND POLITICAL ONTOLOGIES OF THE IMAGINATION)" It's really worth reading, if you can pick through the typos and missing words and other copy-editing gaffs (or maybe it was never copy-edited past the rough draft? It's really quite astounding how such an academic piece of writing could have so many such errors. hmm).

The piece is mostly about the difference between those who use force and those who use imagination, to get what they want from other people. Imagination, in this case, includes communicating with other people and trying to understand them, which violence never requires, except to some extent, as Graeber points out, when the sides are relatively evenly matched.

He uses this comparison to look at how recent developments in progressive activism have proceeded. One point he makes during this is what an influence feminist thought has had on the 'movement'. Feminism is more than just demanding that women are "equal" in some abstract way, but is also about learning things from how women and other opressed groups look at things.

For much of human history, what has been taken as politics has consisted essentially of a series of dramatic performances carried out upon theatrical stages. One of the great gifts of feminism to political thought has been to continually remind us of the people is in fact making and preparing and cleaning those stages, and even more, maintaining the invisible structures that make them possible