the whatexactly did you say to the same degree all make w

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Sat, 2 Sep 1995 00:35:59 CDT

...whateveritmeans and thereafter somehow all collectively *own* it?

I am out of shape, so this is going to be crude and naive. Please allow
me to roll over certain types of sentences heretofore in use in this forum
anent some Thingie you are calling "History." This History is made by the
People. This History belongs, whatever *that* is supposed to mean, aside
from sounding nice, to the People who made the History. I don't believe this
sort of ideation is at all good to eat; it's in violation of my personal
dietary laws, rendering me ill in the temper; and is moreover not good to
think about for very long as the it thought about stays not put even so
long as one wishes thereof to think.

Let's destroy the "make" part first, as I onceupon a longago tried to
do in the "People" part; and it's more resurrection-prone than the Schmoo.
"Making" alludes to agency. The agency of some organisms (*not* persons,
please, as only the smallish minority of the organisms, restricting ourselves
to the species commanding our loyalty here, are accorded full personhood in
any society. Simple commonsense, from my own perspective, and those who don't
know what that is are invited to write to others who recall ANTRHO-L two,
three years ago for fairytales, imprecations, and obfuscations,...Simple
commonsense, I say, tells me that, if Them found that everyone in the society
presumed to have been properly dominated and domesticated had somehow contrived
to get empersoned, *Them would trade it in*. "Person," in contemporary usage,
alludes to the leeway or personal space for self-cultivation, which is in so
many "complex societies" - as you call them - of bygone days restricted to the
hereditary Nobles, the owners of serfs/slaves, and possibly the Empress.) Rule
of thumb, the same thumb on the Scales of Justice, has it that fully-realized
Persons possess agency; or that possession of agency is the defining character-
istic of fully-realized persons.

"Agency," which I may not get around to defining, actually, is what gets
celebrated. This is the proximate cause of the profitability of the news media.
It is also compulsory in this culture, which confuses us. Denying that you
possess agency, as ideological orthodoxy commands, is a serious, grievous
offense, redolent of pathology in this civilization; offenders are severely
punished with tonguelashings, sermons, diagnoses, medications, and Deviance
Points on External Blame or Locus of Control Scales; they are chewed out by
Shrinkos (adherents of the Shrinko vulgar-psychologizing ideology whereby
social reality is misrepresented) as self-styled "victims." The partisan of
Shrinko orthodoxy says, "so, you're claiming you're just a hapless, passive
*victim*, are you?"

Well, of course the vast majority of the population, even that of the
more Muscular capitalist core societies, are victims. It is simple commonsense
that, if the vast bulk of the society, ninety percent, possibly, were somehow
or other not hapless victims, *Them would trade it in*. Recall those fatuous
days when I was daily awaiting some social upheaval on the Left? I was in
Denial, allright. Each year, each week, has addeded to the accumulated clot
of evidence to the effect that society has become more hierarchized, in terms
of distribution of resources, in terms of unanimity of social policy among
major agents/"players" (ie, quibbles of ever-diminishing seriousness taking
on ever more covert, oblique, subterranean existence within narrowingly
homogenizing discourses), in terms of orthodoxies of economic policy, in
terms of paralysis of the Opposition (the nominal Administration) between
its vestigial obligation to Oppose and its delusory expedience in accommoda-
tion. The ruling consensus (in formerly fashionable jargon, "hegemonic bloc")
typically unites most ferociously around the iron determination to use Muscle
and strategic starvation to coerce involuntary conversions to the Faith in
Agency to those accorded the least of it.
Upon this passive hapless hulk of a panic-and-fear-crazed, craven, hier-
archy-worshipping society, with all means, forms, and bodies once proferring
a feeble modicum of solidarity against the wielders of power, that is, the
posessors of Agency (the Thingie itself) crumbling, the temptation to surrender
to psychologizing (whose defining symptomatology features invocation of that
Thingie called "The Individual") lacks focus for resistance.

The Shrink says, "Culture is not all-powerful."
So I tell him, "If that proposition is false, you'd be *the last to know*."

I am suggesting that we have projected our own orthodoxy, which is lies,
onto others. We have been *coerced* into attributing Agency, vulgarly, fleawill
or Fleadom, to ourselves, to the serfs, near-slaves, sometimes the outright
slaves turned up by the remaining Feds committed to their duty to enforce the
XIII Amendment (the latest I've seen of this were women sold into slavery from
Thailand, on the frontpage of the NY Times). Above all, to those habituated to
"Welfare dependency" and "innercity social pathology."
All we need do is put a *positive spin* on this propagandistic lie, which
we ourselves, in our Multiculturalist phase, may have actually invented, not
knowing the monster we made, by exalting the Mystical Body of *The People*,
the acephalous *narod*, *volk*, *pueblo* of the spiritual Left tradition, as
"making" a Thingie we call "their own History." I hear the sound of marching
upraised fists. "The people! Untested! Can never be computed!" Ah, the days
we went down on the bus, you know, and yelled those thirdworldy chants at the
windows of power.

It is to be anticipated that, except in the most Tiv-like acephaly, where
emergent leaders are systematically massacred, this among men only, as there
is in the background some sexism which doen't count as inequality; or among
!Kung San accorders of leadership to everyone, Agency entails the subsumption
of someone's Agency in someone else's "project," we've all read Talal Asad's
Genealogies of Religion, 1993, pp 15-16. We follow him in dismissing as
normative fantasy the ideological claims for freedom and autonomy. Any quibbles
about this? I didn't think so. It follows that only *fractions* of Peoples have

What does Agency have to do with History? If History celebrates Agency, this
lacks uniformity, even with due inclusion of boxed text and pictures in text-
books giving due representation to Agency, with the bit of sometimes-dubious-
historicity we need to satisfy or gratify all major present/majorer future
components of armenianism: "When the First Paranoids found the Bering Land
Bridge, they continued to swim or hold their rotting logs and driftwood. 'We
must leave no tracks. This is the Law of our People.' And it came to pass,
the Paranoid Peoples, original North Americans, named this continent 'Them-
Never-Look-Here.' Theirs was a greater triumph still: The future Native
Americans, who followed them, found no trace at all of the Paranoid People."

After all, why not; the facetiousness above is no more fictitious than the
Old Testament versions of "events" prior to the ninth century BC, with those
implausibilities and impossibilites, even internally contradictory with them-
selves. (The Chinese had much higher standards. The Shang Dynasty was fully
historical. Even more amazing, the culture-hero-monarchs, Yao and Shun, became
leaders of the people, founders of the monarchy, by unselfishly assuming
terrific burdens, toiling without compensation beyond recognition of their
fitness to govern; exactly the methods of New Guinea bigmen.)

Thanks to Hobsbawm and Ranger, "the invention of tradition" is an idea of
immense demystifying appeal; and one recognizes that the past endlessly gets
happened and unhappened and rehappened and unrehappened; it's a comfort and
convenience for the present, a demonstration that facticity is teleology, for
if the Present (and the anticipable Future) were going to be any different
from what we know they are and can be prettydamnsure won't be much Else than
what lookslike ahead of us, the Past would certainly have Happened differently
than it did. The Past, if you are pushing the Peoplehood of a People as
determinate, diagnostic from indelible traits, has a certain Grand Sweep Of
Inexorability to it: China never could have beaten Europe to Most Advanced
Civilization, notwithstanding its 200-year lead before something Surpassingly
Underresearched, perhaps best (for whom?) left Unknown, was obliviated, hence
has not been coherently narrated, let alone data-analyzed, from the period
1331-1368. (What I can tell you now is, it was something about the morality
of the merchant's vocation, the extension of credit, the dwelling in cities,
the making of contraptions taking away the livelihood of the poor, sailing
the seas, and what we'd call "hipness," whereupon White Lotus peasant rebels
(with an eat-the-rich social policy) and conservative-Confucian relatives of
landlords who would have every one of those rebels die horribly, agreed upon
as sin against virtue. This was a program which was backed by Muscle after the
Revolution of 1351-1368. Not the last time China screwed up after a social
revolution, but one which decisively messed up its future in relation to
Europe, where uppity peasants were killed like rabbits, as they always were.
Advanced China and Backward Europe, both hit hard by Bubonic Plague, which
was attributable neither to the technical-intellectual dynamism of China nor
to the backward-superstitious bloodthirstily-savage unchanging rigidities of
dogmatic Church and hardened-caste Nobility in laggard, starving Europe, both
underwent appropriately enormous cultural revolutions/reactions (was a
Flagellant on the Left, or a Daoist hedonist on the Right?). It was the
End of the World, nobody knew from Unintended Consequences, the peoples on
earth were rebellious without precedent. In China the Social Revolution won.
For the third time. Europe, till the 18th century, went 0 for 0. Why that was
is the question behind the question. What is clear is that History, from the
standpoint of theoretically explicable social development (ie, looking at the
Old World in 1330, which civilization do you bet on), happened all wrong. We
should be starving serfs in overcrowded Europe, some of us illegally immigrated
into a Chinese-populated Xinbeidong and Xinnandong. Not surprising, with so
much of Life having been punctuatedly evolved, mass-extincted, asteroid-
impacted, iridium-layered. Should not the reptiles of the Cretaceous have known
how to prevent us, had they had a little time? Some of them weren't entirely
*stupid*, you know.

I've brought up the Plague-China-Europe Thingie for a moral-lesson purpose
again: What *objectively happened*, which is curiously, considering some of
the subfields blessed by scholarly energies, lacking even in preliminary truth,
let alone final truth, is not the socially and ideologically potent narratives-
cum-theoretical-lessons that we are Brought Up With, whether we are first-year
Int Hist West Civ students, or graduate students in sociological theory. In
the former there is implicit theory around which the narrative of The Rise Of
The West, represented as having always been something which eternally was,
Just Grew, as was its inner nature. In the latter, all comparative macrotheory
has as its centerpiece, and has done so from the time of Marx and Weber, What
Was Wrong With China and Wasn't Wrong With wheveritis The West is. In our
culture, it is bizarrely posited that losers were immanently, predestinedly,
deservedly flops; and what's more, if they *didn't really want to lose*, they
would have won. The armenian-protestant-(ie, Arminian, not american, in this
case, after Arminius of Rotterdam, whose doctrines of fleawill are held by
the denominations claiming the majority of US Protestants)-derived Shrinkogib-
berish anent Taking Responsibility, rather severely characterizes social-
developmental losers and winners in moral terms. True, God's Will always smiles
on the outcome if you wait long enough. But there was Immanuel Wallerstein,
theorist of The Modern World System, commenting on the decisive fifteenth
century, in the first of his two volumes of 1974, "Perhaps China did not really
want to expand." Did not really want to: In Shrinko ideology, the minimalistic
vermiform-appendix Unconscious, invocation thereof being necessitated for the
imputation of intention, of evil character or of evil consequences you shoulda
really known about or figured out for yourself, which you didn't know, so you
say, you were intending. Morality knows good or evil, not accidents or
There was also the story of the Chinese sociologist who directed me to Max
Weber's antiquated-racist The Religion Of China....

I've gone on too long with this illustration for a number of reasons, whose
common denominator was, there was a *that was the past that was*. Rather than,
*that was the past that was convenient to have was* and this only *pending the
ideological exigencies* of different, newer, and later historico-political
circumstances, *when the past shall have come to have was the way it was to
have was at that time and not the way it has was as we have it was as of now*.

History follows the lawlessness of ideological miasmic fictive misrepresen-
tation in far weirder ways than time follows what's derived from the law of

One last incantatory certainty to blow up before I can call it a night (and
these fingers are tired, even tireder than you are of my tiresomeness in my old
age). The People. History has Peoples; Peoples do not have Histories. Except
*fictively*, which, socially speaking, that is, in terms of the ideolgical
hall of mirrors, where that Good Fairy, Our People, has always Been There For
Us, what's more, Always Been There Period. Our People, like any People, is an
Eternal Hard Discrete Solidary Mass, which in the past, the ANTRHO-L past and
mine, that is (and I'm asking right here and now is there anyone remaining
awake out there who is sure of what The Past was and is not a historian able
to produce paychecks to back up the right to claim to Know that field of
Knowledge Knowingly?) I have called "billiard balls." Societies and Peoples,
where we may facetiously call the Fundamental Units of the latter *Ethnoids*,
pass in and out of existence. People-ettes, or *Ethnoids*, arise by unintended
consequences, which historians call *ethnogenesis*. They, or their mythmaker-
specialists, later make up stories about how the confused mess which the
historian can establish for the course of the ethnogenesis was actually
simpler, more natural, divinely ordained, miraculous. (See eg, Peter
Heather, Goths and Romans, 332-489, for a thoroughgoing analysis of the
development, in confused violence, of "Trevisi" and "Greuthungi" into new
units, Visigoths and Ostrogoths, which were respectively led by lineages
descended from gods, Balthings and Amals, which couldn't have existed when
nobody had any idea of the future existence of entities certain unforeseen
people would become leaders of.)

Once I said, on this list, "Peoples are constituted as Peoples by other
Peoples." One People can have an objectively factual History of real and true
historicity the way there can be such a Thingie as *the sound of one quark
clapping*. If we should prefer to call such a tale it tells itself, "Emotional-
ly privileged Baloney," I'll consider that.

Daniel A. Foss
<Sorry. I had to find out if I could still think, and the answer was, no.>
<As a good turn, I will explain to you the social sources of Robert Johnson,
whom you cannot expel though you would have done so to me for far less from
1992-1994 had I not shown periodic signs of Reform and Repentance. You need
Robert Johnson present as the only abstract issue - he is far too inorganic
and unrecognizably "human" by standards of armenian culture - whereupon you,
plural, may unite, Experience social solidarity, and moral commitment when,
like me, you don't believe in anything (since socialism went away, for me),
yet can't believe in nothing, and here you are, good passionate people. Worse,
he destroys the believability of all you'd believe in if you were to have
anything you believed in at all, emotionally, not cognitively, of course, by
dragging everything Left into muck.
<Now that it's explained, get rid of him.>