A Jeanne Site
Lewis R. Gordon's Existentia Africana
California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: June 27, 2000
Curran or Takata.
This is a process text. Pat is going to start it because this was her chosen area for reading this summer. Jeanne and Susan will catch up. Pat, we need a list of references on the liberation theologists.
On Tuesday morning, June 27, 2000, Pat wrote:Good morning! In my readings of the liberation theologists, all of them, and even though they call structural violence by other names, i.e. systemic, institutional etc, collectively they do mean structural violence.
Continuing with Berryman last evening and this morning, he speaks about "dependence theory" as a new paradigm. If I understand him correctly, he is explaining how we can become truly responsible each for the other. How all peoples who are oppressed can band together as oppressed people by concentrating on the way labor and the means of production are organized. He addresses the issue that the liberation theologists are very careful not to define what the people want politically, socially and culturally, but reccognize the need to allow the people to decide what type of government they think would best serve the needs of the majority.
Berryman further states that that by socialism he does not mean a long-term social, project that is endowed with a particular ideology or philosophy, he staes that he simply means a political system in which the ownership of the means of production is taken away from individuals and handed over to "higher institutions whose main concern is the common good". He is asked why he does not define what he means as socialism or as a "renovated" capitalism. His response to this is that he does not think that anyone should be capable of controlling the future. He feels that it is not the proper function of the theologians to provide a blueprint.
Berryman understands socialism as having three basic components:
- peoples' basic needs must be met;
- the subjects must be active agents in controlling their destiny (not the objects (sound familiar?)
- what develops will not be a carbon copy of already existing socialisms, but one that is truly a real Latin American "creation".
He states that no one individual will control all of the wealth by monopolizing the means of production.
Last night on one of the commercial stations on TV a program called, I think, Looking for Jesus, and narrated by Peter Jennings. I do not trust commercial TV; however, some of the theologians were quite good. One of them commented that in today's world if Jesus were alive he would not be crucified he would be assasinated. I think he would be crucified first, then assasinated.
More later. Have to go to school . . . .
On Tuesday morning, June 27, 2000, jeanne responded:OK. I'll bite. You said: "One of them commented that in today's world if Jesus were alive he would not be crucified he would be assasinated. I think he would be crucified first, then assasinated." The iconology of crucifixion includes suffering, usually suffering for redemption, thus linked to morality. Assasination, I think, is more about power - whose got the biggest and most effective killing power. So, are you suggesting that we need to link the killing to moral causes? I think we do. So, we would crucify in the name of "rigteousness and justice"? That would be an odd result, wouldn't it? A lot like our death penalty arguments today. And are you suggesting that crucifixion would not adequately demonstrate our mass killing power? So that we need also assasinate to demonstrate that power?
You also said that the liberation theologists speak as we do of structural violence, even though they call it by other names. Could you give us reference pages, so that students wishing to discuss this topic could turn immediately to the sources? That's something we all have to do, remember to give precise page citations when we can, so that others can find the same passages.
Also, could you give some citations on precisely how the liberation theologists do describe structural violence? We need to know how others describe the construct of structural violence, so that we can recognize the wording in scanning the literature.
Please give us a specific reference on the "dependence theory" paradigm. Could you excerpt a brief passage, for those of us who don't have a copy of Berryman's book handy? Which dependency does he have in mind? Intersubjective dependency? How do we get from interdependent control of the means of production to interdependent responsibility? Where, for example, would Habermas' concern for legitimacy through a good faith hearing of all validity claims fit in? Where does good faith fit in? It seems you indicate one link in Berryman's recognition of Freire's admonition that the revolutionary must never do things for the oppressed, but with the oppressed. Berryman seems to suggest that the clergy must also respect that admonition. I agree. So must teachers. And, if you can, Pat, give us specific page references on these sections.
I like the reference to the creative aspect of the paradigm: " what develops will not be a carbon copy of already existing socialisms, but one that is truly a real Latin American 'creation'." I would like us to consider that that means we will not be able to map out a linear plan of action in such liberatory work, for to do so would provide "closure" instead of the opennessss of possibilities. This comes very close to what Lewis R. Gordon calls "essentialism." If we know what we are going to do in advance, all neatly planned out, then we constrain our actions to those which we knew existed all along. That closes out possibilities that should be left open. This is also very close to Jonathan Lear's objection to "knowingness:" our insistence in reducing everything to rational knowledge. Lear considers the importance of non-rational thought and gives examples of "archaic thought" and "acting out transference" as instances in which thought is not rational.