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+4 votes
For those who have read The Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin presents an interesting critique of pride, explaining in the story that a sense of pride for someone or something is inherently propertarian, and therefore authoritarian. If I had the book on me, I'd quote it, but I think the reasoning goes something like 'nothing belongs to anyone, ergo it's not anyone's place to take pride in anything' (PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong).
So I'm interested in what other anarchists think of pride, whether it be pride in personal accomplishment, pride in offspring/others, pride in identity (are you proud to be anarchist? Should you be?), etc. Is Le Guin not wrong in her analysis? Or is it ok to at least feel some pride in some situations sometimes? Or whatever?
When asked why people on Anarres bother to do the dirty, dangerous, or hard jobs, the anarchist Shevek replies that they do them "... because they take pride in doing them, they can — egoize ... show off ... to the weaker ones. ... A person likes to do what he is good at doing ... There is no other reward, on Anarres, no other law. One’s own pleasure, and the respect of one’s fellows. That is all. When that is so, then you see the opinion of the neighbors becomes a very mighty force.”

1 Answer

+1 vote
Well, I don't think that Le Guin in The Dispossessed is actually presenting her own analysis or utopia. That would not be consistent with the novel or with her work as a whole, which provides a whole constellation of different possible societies in a kind of grand experiment meant, I think, to illuminate the questions we are grappling with in this world, not to say what is best or truest. Consider that in The Dispossessed the anarchist society has adapted itself to survival in very harsh conditions--I think Le Guin sees the social structure they form as not only anarchist but also adapted to the conditions. In their world, they *have* to have a strongly-developed hive mind to survive. I think Le Guin is approaching this world as a thought experiment that combines anarchist principles with a barren wasteland, and that the thought experiment would unfold differently on a warm wet planet or moon.

Pride is funny. Somebody gets a ton of slaves to make an enormous structure so he will be "immortal." Sure, you can see it from handfuls of miles away, sure, it will last thousands of years, but to think this gets you closer to immortality or eternity is pretty silly, like thinking if you fly far enough into space you will get closer to the edge of the universe. And this kind of pride has a lot to with religion, the state--you know, things that aren't anarchy. Which is pretty shitty.

With that said, there's probably another kind of pride, or a few kinds. For example, one kind of pride is a lack of shame. Which is pretty awesome. Another is going somewhere or doing something and then looking and thinking/saying "Woah, look at that." Which is pretty whatever.
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