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What is the significance of “unity of thought and practice”?

0 votes
…To anarchists specifically, or in general otherwise.
asked May 4, 2011 by madlib (2,730 points)
"unity of thought and practice"

that is kind of a scary concept to me. i would think that anyone interested in a world made up of free and unique individuals relating to others as they choose in any given moment (ie, my own over-simplified definition of anarchy) would find that phrase abhorrent.  it reeks of collectivism, dogmatism, moralism, ideology, etc etc etc. nazism, fascism, capitalism, *anarchism* and every other -ism i can think of rely very strongly on this very concept. not a good thing in my world.

so, i guess any significance that phrase might have, other than the clear warning signs it would give me, would be in how one might interpret and/or apply that concept in any given situation.

there may be times - far FAR too infrequent in my own experience - when there is a "natural" unity of thought and action between and amongst myself and some other individual(s); in that case no further explanation should be necessary. but are there scenarios where it makes sense to imply (or straight up lie about) such a unity for strategic or tactical purposes?  when would it be (individually) acceptable to unify over some commonality (actual or contrived) for some specific thought/practice?

yeah, i guess i don't really have an answer.

you might want to make this a comment?
indeed, and done.

1 Answer

+1 vote
well, first of all the phrase was used by john dewey in "the construction of the good", when he's discussing the role that religion played (before science became a more powerful authority).

ken knabb, on discussing the sits, says this:
Much of what makes people dissatisfied with their lives is their own moral poverty. They are encouraged on every side to be mean, petty, vindictive, spiteful, cowardly, covetous, jealous, dishonest, stingy, etc. That this pressure from the system removes much of the blame for these vices does not make it any less unpleasant to be possessed by them. An important reason for the spread of religious movements has been that they speak to this moral inquietude, inspiring people to a certain ethical practice that provides them with the peace of a good conscience, the satisfaction of saying what they believe and acting on it (that unity of thought and practice for which they are termed "fanatics").
The revolutionary movement, too, should be able to speak to this moral inquietude, not in offering a comfortingly fixed set of rules for behavior, but in showing that the revolutionary project is the present focus of meaning, the terrain of the most coherent expression of compassion; a terrain where individuals must have the courage to make the best choices they can and follow them through, without repressing their bad consequences but avoiding useless guilt.

anarchists in particular have long held that the means and the ends are the same, that we can't get to where we want if we're doing things that are counter to where we want to be. a simplistic example would be that we can't shoot our way to a peaceful society (if we even wanted that ;) ).
answered May 10, 2011 by dot (50,990 points)