Existence and Co-Existence

my mind’s gone off on a bit of a tangent since the Prologue; and while the aim remains to work towards the question of integration–using the French riots as a model to develop this thesis, I will attempt to make it more universally applicable.

On the matter of Existence, we come to the question of discourse. Everyone comes to the table with some baggage of the past, whatever age you might be–be it personal experience or shared history among the collective consciousness of a given local or global context, and the person’s exposure to (and openness to (which is in itself determined by the context) to a variety of ideas given the history of permissible heterodoxy of a society)

What I’m talking about then, is the idea of manufacturing or controlling information, thoughts, and ideas. It may seem ridiculous to suggest that any of those can be controlled by anyone or any group; but I believe that such control is manifest in society and am of the stance, that it can be done. It is not simply a matter of controlling the flow of information or corrupting it; but whether it reaches a critical mass, the position of that critical mass in society’s power structure, and their ability to influence external (and by extension) internal perceptions about the population.

It is the medium that quite often becomes the message–content is secondary and irrelevant. The French riots were not a protest against the deaths of those two kids who got electrocuted, and they were hardly a representation of the struggle between Marx’s proletariat and the bourgeoise. It was underlying anger, an underlying need to do something–the perception of those participating being that they wanted to hit back–hit back at anything.

It isn’t a shocker that it happened. I was in Paris the day the riots started, and had only the previous day discussed the politics of France with a taxi driver there about the underlying issues in Paris (I love the city… well, the main city.. no comments on the banlieues where most of the riots took place) and at that point he prophetically mentioned that integrating the French Arabs and North Africans were perhaps a bit neglected and that there was an underlying resentment building, that Paris would have to deal with sooner rather than later.

But it’s not that simple. Take a look at modern popular culture. Apart from the protest of rock; and the happy love-all bubblegum Pop of the 1990s, we’ve come across the popularization of R&B, Hip Hop and culture traditionally associated with the underclasses (demographically)

Is it possible that some view this as a threat to culture–“their” culture?

WB Yeats once wrote (in The Second Coming)

“Things fall apart, the center cannot hold,
Mere anarcy is loosed upon the world”

Is this a fight between two falling parts of society?–the old and the new?

I come in neither of those categories–I am vary of both, and personally think either a detriment to society in the greater scheme of things–I choose to participate in society on my own terms, and certainly not one that indulges in either–and that is why I believe I understand this conflict–it is one that I face everyday, as do many I assume.

The conflict then, is over values–what we value in our own lives is what we attempt to make the world around us reflect. When we see either of those parts of society, we tend to judge them from our context.

What are values?–to me, they are all that are embodied by the phrase “the best that has been thought and said”–but who decides what? Every individual? Society will not accept that. Conformity is needed by people who refuse to take the responsibility for their own actions and therefore believe that others are incapable of them.

Every individual or group has a role to play in society–be it for good or bad, and depending on what you think of as good or bad.

Whether we afford each other the right to exist and to CHOOSE is where this conflict enters.


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