Zizek said knock you OUT!
Though the Great I Cite Flame-War of '07 has burned itself down to glowing embers, I'm going to colonise the conversation by continuing here an exchange started with the mysterious-yet-engaging Six Foot Subwoofer (a.k.a. Hectoring Bore, a.k.a. Sincere Heckler - you know his steez!).
When we last spoke, SFSW was inquiring as to why I "take such stock in nonviolent disobedience and have such little faith in doing 'good works.'" Indeed, on the surface it would seem strange to praise & strive for one and not the other, but there are two distinct reasons why I value the former but not necessarily the latter.
The first is with regard to motive. My antitheism leads me to immediately distrust anyone claiming to do "good" in the name of "faith." Too often when a helping hand is extended, the other is clutching some evangelical tract, some recruitment scheme - a classic Bait-'n'-Switch. But even when the sales pitch isn't made, it's not an act of altruism but a matter of scoring points on some celestial tally. As Dominic put it so well recently, "this is simply a form of deferred gratification, a storing up of riches elsewhere that one will later enjoy at one’s (infinite) leisure... all one is really doing is making a metaphysically shrewd investment."
Also, in this global media-saturated environment, the corrupt motive of "good P.R." is a constant factor to consider. After all, one man's media blitz is another's opportunism.
The second, and more crucial reason I put civil disobedience above "good works" is the purity of negative definition. Now, as a Canadian, defining something by a negative is something I'm inherently adept at & comfortable with:
Q: What is a Canadian?
A: Well, it bloody well isn't an American!
But consider this: good works can be tainted by ulterior motives, unintended consequences, compromise, "the lesser of two evils," or the elevation of intention above result. (Remember with what the road to hell is paved.) Civil disobedience, on the other hand, is muddled by none of the factors because it is defined by what it does not do. Rather than leave a wake swirling with "Why?"s, civil disobedience succinctly answers the question "Why not?" by opening a vacuum in which we can clearly see one action that is missing. There is no room for rationalisation, appeasement, evasion, obfuscation, or half-assing in a void. As a wrinkled green Muppet once said, as simply as possible: "Do or do not. There is no 'try.'"
Also at the last juncture in our conversation, there was a question as to whether romanticism has a place in the revolution. I personally feel that it doesn't, even though I understand why SFSW would think romanticism is unfairly maligned by smug postmodernists. However, by definition, romanticism has little to do with the truth - and, in fact, even runs counter to it. This is not to cast myself as a staunch materialist, 'cuz I ain't. But romanticism is the same false path to the Real that religion is to a sense of purpose or morality.
Let's not limit ourselves to florid, purple fantasy as the only frame for our dreams. Even as rabid a materialist as Bakunin said, "By reaching for the impossible, man discovers the possible."
Next: Make an art noise here!