I haven't done Bunny mailbag for a while. Might as well do it while Pinky tries to fix the floor (we have termintes). First one:
Hello Pinky Show, I have been watching for some time the back and forth fighting about The Pinky Show on Wikipedia. Are you even aware that you have an entry at Wikipedia? If so, do you think that the characterization of your show is accurate? Also, why don't you correct the false statements made about your show? I think the characterization misses the mark. And I think it's very damaging to let inaccurate information stand. Because people consider Wikipedia to be a reliable source of information. Anyway, I thought you should know what is happening there. Jean
My reply to Jean:
Hello Jean. Wikipedia is great if you want to know how many legs an ant has or need Creative Commons photos of donkeys. The everybody-chime-in premise behind Wikipedia works okay for stuff like this, but it's not going to produce a fair or accurate representation of counter-hegemonic concepts, histories, or entities. I mean seriously, have you seen how stupid some of these people are?
I've also noticed that entries generally tend to get stupider when the topic under discussion is more overtly 'popular' (i.e., popular as in accessible or understandable to everyone). For example, I'd expect the Wikipedia entry on dictatorship of the proletariat to be somewhat less stupid than The Pinky Show's entry. Why? Because idiots generally don't read Lenin or Marx (why should they?), but everyone feels like they can understand (and then comment on) talking cats. On YouTube no less.
I've had lots of conversations about democracy and knowledge and power with Pinky; as far as I'm concerned Wikipedia is just another interesting case study. Considering the kind of work we do, it's predictable that we'd have a really stupid Wikipedia entry. And we do. - Bunny
Next e-mail, this one from Matthew.
Hi. I'm curious about the connection to Hawai'i. I've spent a little time there on the Big Island because my aunt and uncle live there. We're haoles and they don't really consider themselves as colonists or participating in that (at least, no more than I do myself living on the mainland) but they aren't blind to the dynamics, either. I drove through the big military base one night on the way home from Mauna Kea and it was freaky. How did your program get involved there? Were there connections that existed before the show? Best, Matthew
My reply to Matthew:
Hi Matthew. Our connection to Hawaii is that Pinky was born there. Also, since we are committed to developing an understanding of imperialism and U.S. hegemony, Hawaii is an important place for us to study (for obvious reasons). Regarding your letter though, I would like to point out that from a political perspective, it is totally irrelevant if you, aunty, uncle, me, Pinky, or anybody else thinks we are not participating in an imperialist project. The fact is that the continued occupation of Hawaii - as well as the ongoing violence perpetrated against Native Hawaiians - absolutely depends on the silence and inaction of everyone who's not getting attacked. As Howard Zinn used to be fond of saying, "You can't be neutral on a moving train." If, like you say, your aunt and uncle really aren't blind to the dynamics, then it's probably fair to ask them something like "What have you done to restore Hawaiian independence lately?" or "What are you doing to help dismantle U.S. imperialism?" If they say 'nothing', well, then U.S. Empire says "Thank you for not participating."
By the way, Mauna Kea is a sacred mountain to Native Hawaiians. The fact that anybody can go driving around on it any time they like, and that the U.S. military gives itself permission to practice war with Strykers and bombs and depleted uranium on its slopes, and that the State of Hawaii allows scientists from around the world to pollute and build giant telescopes on its summit even though it's illegally seized Hawaiian Kingdom crown lands - these are all examples of U.S. dominance over all things Hawaiian. Very similar examples exist throughout the continental U.S. as well, so if any of this seems wrong to you the good news is we have lots of fighting we can do to keep us busy.
By the way again, none of this is meant as a personal attack on you or your aunt or uncle. I'd be saying the same thing even if you were Sandy from SpongeBob SquarePants, who is totally awesome. - Bunny
And finally, an e-mail from Eric & Nibblet:
Hi Pinky! Your recent video from your bed was very thought provoking. One thing that wasn't addressed is negative class treason: i.e. people in exploited classes who act in support of the systems that exploit them, rather than in their own interests. I suppose this is due to the fact that this just represents part of the status-quo. The system relies on the willingness of the designated 'under classes' to pursue paths created for them by the system, rather than working to change the system for the better.
I have tried over the years various times to earn a college degree. For various reasons, I was unable to. Now I find myself in a position where I am virtually unemployable. (Or so it seems, having tried to find employment for periods of up to several years with no luck.) Living in the North East, where many of the institutions of 'higher learning' are based, this area is particularly 'degree happy', as I call it. No degree, no career, for the most part.
I don't know if you can offer any advice as to how someone in my position can seek to improve society, but, after seeing your last video, I just felt the need to let you know that I do feel the need to do something.
Hello Eric, hello Nibblet, Pinky is trying to repair the floor right now so I am answering. But she is right over there and I am talking out loud as I type things so maybe she will jump in if I say something totally outrageous. Alright, Pinky is saying hi right now. Anyway, yes, what you describe as negative class treason I would just call subjugation. Like you say, it is the status quo and we must find ways to upend unfair systems whenever possible.
Which brings us to the second part of your e-mail. I empathize with your situation. I don't have advice, but I have met hundreds and hundreds of people who are being marginalized and disregarded by the dominant work-system. And I've noticed that this work-system is really good at making un-legitimized people (and there are many different kinds of un-legitimized people!) appear INFERIOR and feel ISOLATED.
The first part - the cultivation of the appearance of inferiority - is designed to simultaneously inflate the value of those who have passed through the legitimation system, while attempting to destroy the dignity of those who have not, for whatever reason, completed their rites of initiation and credentialing. The value of this to the status quo is obvious.
The second part - isolation - is maybe more important because it shields the status quo from competition. If small- or medium-sized clumps of people who are being marginalized by the work-system were to start getting together and forming egalitarian institutions of work, play, and other kinds of cultural production... oh-oh, this would be bad for those who own and control the so-called legitimate work-systems and their corresponding processes of legitimation.
So what can be done? Well, to me, I don't think it's ever too late to embrace upside-down-ness as a positive trait, and a good way to live. There'll always be conventional jobs and schooling out there, but there's also millions of upside-down people out there working their way through life according to upside-down rules, and in many cases improving the planet a good deal as they do it. It can be hard to find them but that's just because there's so much effort put into making people believe they don't exist. Just one example - have you looked into intentional communities? A lot of people might think, "Oh no! Hippies! I don't want to be a hippie!" but actually there are all kinds of intentional communities.
Pinky is over here saying "monster institution". Yup, that's another possibility. If you're not into the already-established institutions, why not band together with some other losers and start your own? (That's what Pinky and I did!) Sure it can take a while to get up and running, but lots of things take a long time to get started, and at least with monster institutions when you're doing it it's yours.
We'll continue to write more about monster institutions and upside-down-ness in general. The need to "do something" will always be connected to analyses of hegemony and testing different ways to dismantle unjust social orders. So we'll keep on going, I hope you will too. Please take care. Bunny.
End of Bunny mailbag.