14 July 2010

Now I understand what you tried to say to me

A while back, I said the following:

Robert Fripp has said that "any act based on principle is a good one". Dr Javad Nurbaksh has said that hooking up with even an inferior, selfish, not-properly-enlightened Master is better than letting your ego continue to run rampant. I find it very difficult to accept these propositions, because they're very similar to L. Ron Hubbard's dictum that "you must let others control you before you can learn to control yourself", which is clearly a cynical command to induce people to sign themselves up as slaves.

My main counterexample to Fripp's quote above was: "what if the principle is 'no niggers'?" Well, thinking about it, we can disentangle racist violence from - theoretically - making a principled stand on a racist basis which actually causes you personal disadvantage. (Like: setting up a barber shop in Soweto and only catering to white people? Do that and I'll give you serious points for style.)

It's like, the Catholic Church has a principle: "only celibate men can do the magic trick which turns a wafer and some grape juice into the Living Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ". I think this principle leads the Church to be (at least in part) a force for repression and negativity in the world. But what is the alternative? Ordaining women because... why? Because that's what everyone else does? The whole point of the Church - any Church - is being something other than The Real World Of Horrible Jobs, and if the aims of religion coincide with the policy aims of the State and the price signals of the competitive market, then it is surely a complete waste of time and a con-job.

Only by making a stand on principle - even a reactionary one - can you pry open some space for a different reality. It might be a shittier reality than the mainstream one, but it at least proves that different realities are possible. (I personally think that any Catholics who really object to the Church's teachings on gender and sexuality should just walk and join the Anglicans or many of the independent or schismatic Catholic congregations. Hell, become a Gnostic, they've got all the bells and smells. Attempting to change Church doctrine because it conflicts with common sense or even basic human dignity is missing the whole point of what the Church is there for.)