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Saturday, 6 December 2008

Internal Polity ~ αγαπην δε μη εχωουδε ημη

My little ship - Young Tiger - makes landfall off Spain's Cape Ortegal Lord, my ship is so small and your sea is so big "We are as near to heaven by sea as by land!" (On the 9 September 1583 Sir Humphrey Gilbert called out these words from the stern of the frigate Squirrel. He was heard by listeners on Golden Hind, as both ships struggled with dangerous waves 'short and high, pyramid-wise' off the Azores. Hind's people, amid their own worries, watched for Squirrel as the weather separated them, but her lights disappeared and it was believed that she foundered in the night with all hands.)
At the start of the last century, Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness - a story of Africa about darkest Europe before the world wars, the camps, the gulags, Little Boy and Fat Man. Most men, wrote Conrad, are 'heartless phantoms'. They live not in themselves. They assume their individuality and autonomy, without grasping that what they believe to be their unfettered liberty is really conditional on 'the strength and allegiances of their police.' I wrote Internal Polity over ten years ago. It was an attempt, in times when individualism cannot be relied upon to nurture individuality nor identity, to explore the use of political language to describe the internal life - starting with the only one I can try to know. The personality can be understood as plural rather than unitary, viewed as a mosaic of many parts, a 'commonwealth of souls', 'a gang in the head' or 'a society of different minds'. Such miscellany may presage resourcefulness, superficiality or fragmentation. R.L.Stevenson in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
"...that truth by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck - that man is not truly one, but truly two. I say two because the state of my own knowledge does not pass beyond that point. Others will follow. Others will outstrip me on the same lines and I hazard a guess that man will be ultimately known for a mere polity of multifarious, incongruous and independent denizens.'
Repression has been the favoured guarantor of civility and self-definition in the internal polity, as dictatorship was in the Balkans. Some external polities are experimenting with alternative ideals of nationhood, seeking legislative frameworks which celebrate diversity and forms of citizenship not based on assimilation. What political skills and qualities, what values and principles, might be needed to govern an internal polity experiencing this freedom from older guarantees of public identity? My contention then and now is that without a well governed internal polity you cannot hope to make an external one. And only by entering the limitless space within can one grasp the labour of becoming a citizen of the species - homo sapiens. What of the infinite space inside? What's our constitution? A dictatorship? A democracy? .
If with the tongues of men I speak, and of angels, Love I do not have, I have become a gong resounding or cymbal clanging. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know mysteries all, faith mountains move, Love I do not have, nothing I am. Love is generous, virtuous, Love does not envy, boast, not proud is. All she protects, all she trusts, all she hopes, all she perseveres. Love never she fails. Be it prophecies, they will cease, Be it tongues, they will be stilled, be it knowledge it will cease. So remain, Faith, Hope and Love, these three. But the greatest of these is love One Corinthians 13 Zbigniew Antoni Kowalski (also called Preisner) εαν ταις γλωσσαις των ανθρωπων λαλω και των αγγελωναγαπη δε μη εχω, γεγονα χαλκος ηχων κυμβαλον αλαλαζον. και εαν εχω προφητειαν και ιδω τα μυστηρια πανταωστε ορει μεθυστανην. αγαπην δε μη εχωουδε ημη. η αγαπη μακροθυμηη αγαπη ου ζηλει, η αγαπη ου περπερευεται, ου φυση ουτε. η αγαπη παντα στεγει, παντα πιστευει, παντα ελπιζει, παντα υπομενειη αγαπη ουδεποτε εκπιπτει ειτε δε προφητειαι καταργηθησονταιειτε γλωσσαι παυσονταιειτε γνωσεις καταργηθησετε Νυνη δε μενει, πιστις, ελπις, αγαπη, τα τρια ταυτα, μειζον δε τουτων η αγαπη. (Stavros or Lliana or Adamos - if you read this can you correct the Greek for me?) * * * *
How can I expect to see the person in the state if I cannot define the state in the person? How do external politics get inside us and vice versa? When I try to make sense of attempts to synthesise psychology and politics, in particular the works of Freud and Marx or those influenced by them, I am reminded of a point at the end of Portland Bill in Dorset where spectators gather to witness a spring tide on the ebb meeting a gale from the West. Separated, it is possible to cruise these mighty systems of thought in the family yacht. Combined, they produce an unnavigable maelstrom of overfalling concepts ... Yet to understand the interaction of internal and external politics these waters must be entered.
The economic structure of society - through many intermediary links such as the class association of the parents, the economic conditions of the family, its ideology, the parent's relationship to one another, etc., - enters into a reciprocal relation with the instincts, or ego, of the new born.
Jacoby attempts to explain this confusing meeting of internal-external exploration as a dialectic. Psychology, or what he decries as psychologism, considers the 'genesis and structure of the individual psyche' but not 'the power of society in and over the individual.' And sociology, which he calls sociologism, fails to recognise that subjectivity matters and that we both invent and are invented by the processes we observe. The journalist Neal Ascherson, writing about war in former Yugoslavia, said 'the New World Disorder is also, and above all, in our heads' (Independent on Sunday 31/01/93) . The devils cast out of Legion took up residence in a herd of swine that stampeded and drowned. This story quoted by Dostoyevsky at the start of The Possessed shows individuals fermenting anarchy (29/12/08 'anarchy' is used v.loosely ref) to create in the world, a mirror of the chaos inside.
Simon Baddeley (1966) 'A Voyage to America', 1966 Roving Commissions 7:9-30 Simon Baddeley (1995) ‘Internal Polity’ in Human Relations 1995 48:1073-1103 Brian Keenan (1992) An Evil Cradling Russell Jacoby (1975) Social Amnesia Julian Jaynes (1976) The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind Simon Baddeley (1997) “Governmentality” in Brian Loader (ed.) (1997) The Governance of Cyberspace (London:Routledge) (5) 64-96
My seacraft mentor Denys Rayner who fought in the Battle of the Atlantic, and designed boats for peace time sailors, would challenge attempts to personify the sea. ‘…neither cruel nor kind’ he wrote in his war autobiography Escort ‘Any apparent virtues it may have, and all its vices, are seen only in relation to the spirit of man who pits himself, in ships of his own building, against its insensate power.’

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