I refer in the following two passages to two kinds of politics that have nothing to do with the partisan variety discussed ad nauseam on TV. I submit these two varieties here in my tangential references to them and encourage readers to follow up on issues relating to "wider political fields" than the partisan variety.-Ron Price, Tasmania
There has been a colossal prestige granted by critical humanities and social-science scholars over the past several decades to the clusters of studies of voice and place, of cultures and sub-cultures, small groups and movements of all kinds. "Letting the Silenced Speak," "Telling The Story," or "Speaking for Themselves," on the one hand, and on the other of "Situated Knowledges," "the Politics of Location," or "Standpoint Epistemologies," has become, if not all the rage, certainly a popular academic sport. But my memoir is not of this ilk. There is nothing here that is systematic, comprehensive, worthy of the appelation, ethnographic or autoethnographic tomb. This is not an exercise, an opportunity, for a heretofore silenced group to enunciate, from its own location and according to its own agenda, its vision of itself and the world. This is not an authoritative view of the Baha'i community and its world... This is simply the writing of a man, a Canadian living in Australia, a retired teacher and a Baha'i. The writing is essentially anecdotal, impressionistic, personal, autobiographical.
In the wider society, right back to the start of my pioneering life in 1962, there had been major concerns about the family. David Cooper, for example, had insisted in his book The Death of the Family that human and especially women's oppression was grounded in the family. It is the family which "obscurely filters out most of our experience and then deprives our acts of any genuine and generous spontaneity." (1962, p.8). Cooper's central argument was that the family was crucial to the hegemony of any system. The family acts as an ideological conditioning device and provides "a highly controllable paradigmatic form for every social institution."(1962, pp.5-6). The year I left Canada and moved to Australia Cooper's book was published in the U.K., the same year that Kate Millett published Sexual Politics and identified the family as "a force frustrating revolutionary change."(1971, p.158) In 1963 Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique which discussed the malaise of women in the home a "problem that has no name."(1963, p.27) It should also be mentioned in this connection that Marx in the 19th century and Plato 2500 years ago proposed a society that did away with the family. The institution of the family has proved a conundrum to social philosophers for some time.
Personally, I support the instiution of the family, but partisan politics can be and is highly divisive. When one writes about politics one does not have to engage in the partisan variety which divides the nation and individuals from each other and engages millions in hair-splitting discussions on topics about which they usually know very little, but about which they often have endless opinions which get dropped-about now in both cyberspace and real space.
I have studied politics and taught it from grade 10 when I was 15 to these years of my retirement more than half a century later. I am now 70. My parents had political meetings in our home back in the early to mid-1950s. It was in those embryonic years when I was inoculated against partisan-party politics. That in-house political discussion was characterized by endless hair-splitting and personality clashes, then, in my prepuberal life and the scene has changed little in those several decades.
IT'S THE MUSIC THAT MATTERS
As the decades have rolled by I have come to view the politics of Bob Dylan back in his heyday of the sixties as closer to my politics back in the sixties than at first I had imagined. Recent books on Dylan, like Chimes of Freedom: The Politics of Bob Dylan's Art by Mike Marqusee, 2003; Ron Jacob's essay "The Politics of Bob Dylan," Counterpunch, October 18th 2003, and a 3 ½ hour television documentary "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan," screened on SBS TV, 10:00-11:50 p.m. November 8th and 15th 2005 all support the view that Dylan was always non-partisan.
He was nobody's spokesman. He wrote songs in order to play, in order to work out his feelings and thoughts. He wanted to be recognized and he wanted to influence. He wrote a content and in a style that was unique and he wrote a great deal. This had always been my aim, but music was not my main means of influence. Over the years other forms of influence came my way like gifts from some mysterious dispensation of Providence.
Dylan's approach to politics was similar to the Baha'i non-partisan approach. In the same way that the Baha'i political position has been one in which issues are dealt with at the level of political theory and macro-systems rather than within the field of practical politics and political parties; in the same way that the Baha'i deals with issues by means of basic ideas and concepts not through existing partisan political approaches, Dylan places issues in the context of systems. The approach is, it seems to me, a more intellectual and philosophical one, but one which possesses its own particular punch or bite. Of course, there are differences between Dylan's politics and my Baha'i politics both now and back in the sixties-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, November 9th, 2005.
There was a symbiosis back then
between folk-singers and the Left.
The connection was invented just
as my pioneering life began in '62,
and it was the ruling paradigm for
many a moon. It was taking its 1st
form in '59 at that first Newport
Folk Festival--the year I joined the
Baha'i Faith. I was still into baseball,
hockey and schoolwork in those early
days living in suburbia in my mid-teens
without a girlfriend and a cosmology
just scarcely formed, and embryonic.
It would be thirty years, a hiatus
of more than three decades, before
the process of writing my feelings
and thoughts, wanting to influence,
could really take off. And after more
setbacks than you can imagine, after
realizing that my expectations were
simply unrealistic, after moving from
one end of the earth to another, I kept
singing, as Dylan kept singing. But my
triumphs and those of the Cause I had
been associated with, now, for over 50
years, had not been Dylan's....We each
had our music, our message and it was
this music that mattered: he & we & I
have been saying this again and again
all those years since back in the '50s.1
1 Peter Stone Brown, http://www.peterstonebrown.com
9/11/'05 to 25/5/'14.
Post edited July 20, 2015 at 7:28 AM EST.