Absorbing Intent

Communicating the Structure of Desire

One of the basic truths of life seems to be that individuals organize in larger and larger social groups and networks, i.e. families, neighborhoods and friends, cities, states, nations, international organizations, trade alliances, etc, with the future of these social units driving the focus of their members’ intent. So, when Islamic extremists attacked several buildings, the entire country went through the proper channels needed to declare war on a defined enemy, namely “terrorism.” Similarly, when radical environmentalists perpetrated illegal actions against corporate enterprises, hindering profits and damaging property, business interests lobbied lawmakers to prosecute these individuals under “Ecoterrorism” charges, placing militant environmentalists alongside religious fundamentalism in their invocation of ideologically motivated violence.

What is important to note is that while these “radical terrorists” may differ in perceived motivation or endgames, both chose to attack what are perhaps considered the most blatant institutions of the capitalist paradigm—shutting down Seattle in 1999 in protest of the WTO meetings and driving planes into the World Trade Center two years later in protest of international government and economic policies negatively affecting indigenous peoples in a globalized world. In either case, the response taken by the police and military was to simply “put down” the uprisings so authorities could, aided by a non-critical media that failed to connect the illegal actions taken by radicals to a historical basis, eliminate an outside threat to the marketplace’s “business as usual.”

Disregarding any justification for militant opposition, one can clearly see the divisions between in-groups and out-groups that fuel the basis for active dissidence, leading these actors to consider their place in a global uprising against corrupt institutions of control. Yet each individual is assuredly unique, conditioned to understand reality as constructed by specific forces. In this way, subjective interpretations of one’s respective environment is constantly defined and redefined by common symbols and represented archetypes, e.g. freedom, liberty, oppression, and truth. Due to the division between separate communities inherent in competing localities, clear articulations of personal intent are therefore needed to align specific motivations with the external demands of “other” social and environmental relationships. This essentially mandates a perpetual attempt to rectify discrepancies between definitions and terminologies if communities are to know and understand one another in full.

The problem arises however, when one in-group is simply unable to coexist with another. When (subjective) ideology wholly disallows (objective) scientific revelation from factoring into the decision making process, how can other communities find any space left that is undefined by a coercive influence? Unless groups collaborate to encompass and incorporate the maximum available capital, binding themselves together by common cause, those oppressed by intolerant power structures will remain in bondage to a non-representative entity governing their life course. Here, they must visibly separate and contribute nothing to the social hierarchies they are assumed to make up, dismantling external power as thoroughly as possible to defuse its effect through conceived oppositional apparatuses.


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