08 May 2009

Fripp says and I agree...

Discipline is never an end in itself, only a means to an end. Discipline always has an aim. In that way, a discipline is different from a lifestyle.

Many so-called disciplines are in fact lifestyles, in that the "aim" is vague, nonsensical, impossible, or pointless. The accepted wisdom in small Marxist groups, for example, is to "build a routine to cohere the cadre" - in other words, get new members used to doing a particular ritual by rote, to build their allegiance to the group. But that means the purpose of the ritual "political activity" (selling the paper, branch discussions etc) is not actually real politics, in the sense of spreading liberatory memes and getting involved in struggle, it's the continued survival of the group. One can justify selling the paper on the grounds that it gets you used to talking politics with real people, but the problem comes when sales figures become the goal, rather than the conversations.

Look, I'm working with the Sufi tradition at the moment, which includes salaat. That's specifically meant as a habit-breaker and a way to bring you into a regular relationship with God. But this is a mystical, spiritual tradition we're talking about, in which inculcating beliefs and weakening the ego is the purpose of the process. That's not the purpose of politics. And I say here and now, Marxism is fine politics but it's absolute shit as a lifestyle or a religion. The vast majority of "Leninist" groups around today exist as sects based on religious-style practice rather than serious political players. Stay away from any "political" groups that in fact act as religions - or vice versa.