The Case Against Language
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- Model prompt >>> Rhizomes » Issue 20 (Summer 2010) » Erin Greene The Case Against Language: An Anarcho-Primitivist Perspective
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- Erin Greene
-  I began this project with the goal of forming a position I believed could help me become a stronger ally to myself and others who are grappling with language's toxicity. In order to achieve this, I have found myself settling for a position which leaves me with the impression that language has no voice and that language cannot be loved, appreciated, or taught. This position, or what I feel is the position of the anarchist subject, is one that believes there is no such thing as human freedom in a free society and that language is the only form of freedom (unlike anarchism), which is to say that language is the only form of power (i.e. tyranny) in a society where language is the basis for authoritarian power structures. In this position, anarchists seek to understand and use language for power, rather than the other way around. This position can be further elaborated upon in terms of a specific language, one that anarchists regard as the enemy. However, I believe this position, at least, can be explained as a position to which a certain amount of violence is justified in order to protect and defend the power structure of language. As such, I believe that language has the potential to destroy or have the potential to destroy us all. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why I have begun this essay; in order to understand what I am saying.
-  My project, which I am calling, The Case Against Language (CRAL), begins with the assumption that language cannot be loved or appreciated. For most of my adult life, I have been a believer in love and appreciation, and it is this belief that has guided me in my career, my personal life, and my relationships with others. However, what is often forgotten when we begin a discussion about language is that it has a long history of being used for tyranny. In fact, freedom and love are often seen as tyranny. To appreciate language is to love and appreciate it, and to love and appreciate power is to use language to oppress and rule. I hope to examine the relationship between language and tyranny in order to provide an understanding of language's relationship with tyranny and freedom.
-  If I may be so bold to the extent of suggesting that we have been seduced by the music and lyrics of black and brown music; if I may be so bold to suggest that music is the enemy; if I may be so bold as to suggest that music and revolution are one and the same; then let me make the
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- Erin Greene
-  In a new essay published in The Case Against Language, Erin Greene argues that anarchism has an advantage in that its abolition does not involve the violence of force. She claims that the former, while well intentioned, fails to do justice to the deeper politics of anarchism. She asks, 'what is this politics of abolishing language?'
-  This essay is organized around four main points: (1) a critique of most forms of language; (2) an examination of the differences between the theory of theology and the practice of writing; (3) an attempt to reveal the problems with the practice of language as a means of power-sharing; and (4) an examination of the effect of language on the individual and collective selfhood.
-  Greene offers two perspectives on the theoretical problem of language and its practice. First, she takes up the relationship between the study of languages and the study of power. She writes that the context of the two is essential in both cases, and argues that if language is examined as a system of power, the radical approach to the abolition of language will fail. If language is examined as a system of power, the only way of fighting power is through violence. The fact that this has not been the case in the past suggests the inherent evil of language, which is a system of domination. Greene asserts, therefore, that the need for radical language-abolition is tied to the existence of language as a system of power. However, if language is understood as a system of power, the only way to defeat power is to transform language. This must be done through the practice of writing, but this is not done through violence. Greene goes on to write that to use violence to abolish language is a "possibility that we would have to think through." She argues that violence against language is necessary to carry out the abolition of power. In her view, violence is necessary because such violence necessarily interrupts and becomes its obstacle.
-  Greene's second position, on writing and power, is further elaborated in her discussion of language as a system of power. She agrees with the anarchist Max Stirner that language is in fact a tool of domination. She says, however, that if the basis for the practice of writing is abolished, it will lead to the destruction of the anarchist idea of autonomy. Greene is thus critical of Stirner's reading of anarchism, although she does not fully dismiss Stirner's view on writing and power.
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- Erin Greene
- A new front of defense in a global race to the bottom in communications
- "Transit isn't free." —Michael A. Klare, Mythologies
-  In late 2007, I traveled to Australia to interview representatives of the Transition to Digital (T3) Network. I had learned of the network, I was skeptical about its success, and I was deeply interested in learning more about the ideas and practices of the people who are running it. I was impressed by the extent of global cooperation among the participants of the network. But there was something that caught my attention that my Australian colleagues did not see: the evidence of the Internet's enduring relationship with programming languages. I started asking around for examples of working with other languages, and of the work done in the programming of these languages. The only result that I found was a 2005 article in the excellent book Yesteryear by the eminent linguist Joseph A. Stromboli, which claims that English is the most widely used language on the Internet. [i]
-  I quickly discovered that this was not true. My Australian colleagues did not know this. Nor did I. I was not doing research. In fact, there was nothing to research. I was living out a childhood fantasy about being a linguist: I was hoping to find evidence that the Internet had a much deeper relationship with programming languages than I could have imagined.
-  I found a 1998 paper that used computer scientists to create an analysis of the program C programming language. Using the language as a stepping stone, the researchers found a relationship between the size of a program's source code and the size of the program's executable (though not necessarily the size of the program itself). It turns out that while it is true that most programs are very small, there are a couple of programs that are larger than their source code suggests. I was inspired to write this paper in part by the discovery of the relationship between programming languages and the Internet; I thought it would be interesting to use the Internet as a stepping stone to a deeper understanding of the relationship between programming languages and the Internet.
-  In this paper, I will discuss the background to my interest in programming languages and the relationship between programming languages and the Internet, while considering the work of linguist Joseph Stromboli. My interest in this work is informed by the sociological research on language use and communication on the Internet, which has had significant consequences for the way we understand language.
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- Erin Greene
- University of North Carolina, Greensboro
-  This essay is the culmination of many months of conversations with different audiences of my work, which focuses on the role language plays in understanding the nature and structures of the social and the biological. This essay is intended to be a primer for those who would like to study the nature of language, but not necessarily the social and biological processes through which language is constructed and used. I will try to present an argument that language is a construct that is derived from the biological by human beings, and not by natural selection or other biological processes. This argument is based on a reading of the anthropology of language, which has been interpreted as "nature-language," although many anthropologists would question this notion. This primer will attempt to read the social and biological context of language as well as the biological processes that produce it.
-  Language is an extremely complex concept in all its aspects, but it is fundamentally a social construct. Language is socially constructed through the exchange of ideas, the exchange of information and the relationship between culture and nature.
-  The social and biological context of language is not limited to linguistic structures. Language is also used to encode information, but this information is not limited to linguistic structures. In fact, most information encoded in language is derived from the biological and, in fact, linguists are concerned with the social context of the information. The social context of the language is expressed through the social relationships between humans and other humans, and by the ways in which humans understand and communicate with other humans. For instance, scientists use language to communicate with each other, and humans use language to make sense of what they observe. For instance, scientists might explain or describe an experiment in terms of a certain language, or they might use language to simply describe an object, or they might just make a general statement about an experiment. All of these examples show the social nature of language, as well as the biological nature of language.
-  This perspective on language is one of the many ways that the primitivist frame of reference is invoked to oppose the linguistic frame of reference. Language is always a social construct, and if humans are so advanced, then they would not need language at all. This is an absurd claim, of course, as language has been in use for thousands of years, and humans have been using language for thousands of years. However, it is a point of contention within primitivist thought.
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- Erin Greene
-  A "philosophical introduction" to Erin Greene's recent work in "'Collapsing: Spinoza and the History of Modern Philosophy'" (2010), will do just that. "Collapsing" is the sense of the term "spinoza" as that which "is not," "that which does not yet characterize," "or that which is not yet possible" (xiii). For a critique of the notion of a "concept," see Gregory Hurst, Spinoza: The Future of Life (London and New York: Pluto Press, 1998). For a critical analysis of Deleuze's and Guattari's relationship to the concept, see Alethea Hochschild, Philosophy in the Age of Spinoza (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004). For a similar treatment of Deleuze's notion of "complex," see Damian Collins, Spinoza: A Critical Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
-  I take this position from Matthew Yglesias' introduction to the 2010 edition of Spinoza and Society (2009). "Do you wish to propose an historical event that, however, has never occurred?" is what Spinoza asks in A Theory of the World (1831). In his later Ethics (1829), Spinoza makes a different move: "I wish to propose an event, one that has never occurred. To act as if it had never occurred is, in my view, not only absurd, but it is also very dangerous. It suggests that the events themselves have no existence. If the event has a death, what then is the death?" (11). As you can see from his wording, Spinoza doesn't mean to suggest that the various instances of the concept "death" are necessarily fatal, but he does not wish to deny their existence. For a critical analysis of Deleuze's conception of death, see Graham Harman, "Deleuze's Death Wish: Nietzsche's Death Eaters and Spinoza's Ethics" in Graham Harman, Spinoza: A Reader (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001).
-  Greene reads Spinoza's Ethics from the point of view of postmodern and post-structuralist approaches. This is a significant turn because it implies that Spinoza is not a deconstructive thinker. That is to say that the concept of "the concept" is not
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- Erin Greene, "The Case Against Language: An Anarcho-Primitivist Perspective"
-  The term 'languages', coined by Benjamin Labatzkiewicz in his article, "Languages, Civilization, and Difference" in Perspectives on Language (1937) has been a persistent source of intellectual and cultural discussion, which has emerged in the last decades as a result of the rapid proliferation of media and information. In his article, 'Languages, Civilization, and Difference', Benjamin Labatzkiewicz posits a dialectic ontology that confronts the claims of linguistic sciences that conceive language as an innate and passive instrument of social oppression. His dialectical ontology allows for a critical and dialectical relationship between linguistic forms and systems, a relationship that negates the dichotomies of the dominant language system and its uses of the language of the Other (Land, Language, Politics, Social System, etc.).
-  In this paper, I explore Labatzkiewicz's dialectical ontology in a way that uncovers a number of dialectical claims made by his ideas. While Labatzkiewicz's dialectic ontology does not directly challenge or implicate the claims of capitalism, the oppressive logic of language – the language of the West – is inherently linked to the logic of domination of the East. This unifying ontology of dialectic is a way of engaging a number of dialectical claims made by the West, such as linguistics, scientific linguistics, logic, language and science, the world of ideas, language and media, etc. While Labatzkiewicz's dialectic does not actually present a counter-ideology, the dialectic offers a way to take seriously the relationship between dialectic and dialectics, as a paradigm of articulation. While my reading is drawn from the contributions of both A. A. Knizak and Frank Bérubé, the main impetus of this paper is the re-emergence of a Lacanian concept – that of a connection, of a chain, that connects dialectical concepts with a theoretical framework. This idea is explained in an earlier paper by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: "Dialectics are dialects, whether they are invented or derived from the theoretical vocabulary of language." This paper will interrogate this idea, examining the relationship between dialectics and dialectical concepts. It will provide a critical framework for a critical approach to Lacan, Guattari, and A.
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