Authentic Mutual Recognition

Went to an International Women’s Day event last night with my wonderful wife (who blogged it here). At the bookshop I bought the 25th anniversary (Winter 2011) issue of “Tikkun.” (It’s a US magazine that takes it’s name from the Hebrew word Tikkun “to mend, repair and transform the world”.) It was a steep price… but absolutely worth it. I am only a quarter way through, but have already got heaps of ideas for blog posts and youtube videos and portions of the Book.

Here is a bit from “The Social Movement as a Parallel Universe” by Peter Gabel, with emphasis added.

As I wrote here long ago in a piece called “What Moves in a Movement” — and as we’ve in different ways emphasized throughout the twenty-five years of existence that we are commemorating in this issue – a social movement can only emerge and gather steam as a social force if it acquires the density of authentic mutual recognition, if through our participation in it we gain a new sense of our social worth, power, and authority in our very collective being. In a social movement, no one actually physically moves anywhere; the word “movement” actually refers to the acquisition of social gravity that results from the invisible force of a new kind of authentic mutual recognition, a vitalization that occurs collectively through a new inter-experience that provides the ground or support for new idealistic social values. Values without this ground are mere concepts, indeterminate abstractions like freedom, equality, and community that can mean anything and that are given their actual meaning-in-the-world by the life force (or lack of it) present in the social field that gives rise to these values and expresses them in public. What moves in a movement is the life force that animates it and that in turn results from the authenticity of mutual recognition — of spiritual communion and understanding — that provides the movement with its social weight and capacity to influence the social field as a whole.
Gabel, Peter. 2011. The Social Movement as a Parallel Universe. Tikkun 26(1): 25

Thank Yahweh! This – “authentic mutual recognition” – is EXACTLY what we need more of. It is exactly what I am trying – in my bumbling way – to nail when I rant about “from cannon-fodder to ego-fodder” and when I write speeches for gay marriage rallies that I won’t ever give.

Who is this Peter Gabel guy? Wikipedia page

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2 Responses to Authentic Mutual Recognition

  1. I really dislike this guy. Let me illustrate why by analysing this sentence bit by bit:

    > “In a social movement, no one actually physically moves anywhere;” – good start.
    > “the word “movement” actually refers to the acquisition of social gravity” – social gravity? What’s that?
    > “that results from” – oh, OK, you’re going to explain it now. Fair enough.
    > “the invisible force of a new kind of authentic mutual recognition, ” – WHAT?! What does this mean? The next bit claims to explain…
    > “a vitalization that occurs collectively through a new inter-experience” – You are shitting me. You are defining a new term (authentic mutual recognition) that you’ve already said is an invisible force with an equally vague and jargon-tastic phrases?
    > “that provides the ground or support for new idealistic social values.” WHO KNOWS what provides the ground for these new values.

    I mean really! What the hell is he talking about? Mr Gabel, unless you use terms your readers can all agree on the definition of you are wasting my goddamn time.

    Course, I’m probably being grumpy, and am certainly showing my limited mental capacity.

    Plus, if what he’s trying something along the lines of,”successful social movements need
    > their members to have some shared sense of identity or common cause
    > ‘make real’ the values it espouses through stories shared and actions taken
    > members, through participation in the movement, gain agency and self-esteem
    Then I’m agreeing.

    Finally – I’m not shocked to discover this guy is a) an academic and b) coming from a faith perspective. This has the worst hallmarks of academic and theological writing. A perfect storm methinks…

  2. Pingback: Comedy-size “reality cheques” for Dwight Towers «

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