Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Hegel or Wittgenstein: The Patria Chica & its enemies

NORTHERN VOICES 11, out next week, features a clash involving Eccles Cakes, Curd Tarts & Yorkshire Rascals over a philosophical point made by Ludwig Wittgenstein who said to his friend Maurice Drury (see Ray Monk's autobiography: 'Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius') that 'Hegel seems to me to be always wanting to say that things which look different are really the same ... Whereas my interest is in showing that things which look the same are really different.' Wittgenstien was, like Tolstoy a critic of Shakespeare, yet he was considering embellishing one of his philosophical books with the motto taken from a phrase the Earl of Kent uses in 'King Lear' (Act 1, scene iv): 'I will teach you differences'. Ray Monk writes of Wittgenstein: 'His concern was to stress life's irreducible variety'. The opening editorial in Northern Voices 1 backed Wittgenstein's view over that of Hegel.

In a letter to NV10 our Midland correspondent, Rachel Whittaker wrote: 'Do we not seek to exploit the common thread of humanity or is our idea of equality based on the idea that some geographical locations make you more friendly, more reserved, or even more anarchist, than others?' Well, if Rachel is right to argue against geographical locations and the variety of human peculiarities that go with them, then how do we explain the flowering of something so anthropologically strange as anarchism occurring in Andalucia or anarcho-syndicalism in Barcelona and Catalonia in the 20th Century? How do we explain Makhno and Zapata in the Ukraine and Mexico? All of these movements had strong elements of the patria chica, and the cultural and regional diversity that goes with it.

One solution may be thought to be Colin Ward's analysis of universal anarchism suggesting that anarchism, far from being anthropologically strange, is really commonplace and can be found all over the show in many social settings, as the seed beneath the snow. And yet, even this doesn't necessarily support the homogenious 'common thread' position as proposed by Rachel Whittaker, because examples of Colin Ward's micro-anarchism, just as much as the macro-anarchism of Spain, Mexico and the Ukraine, all have their own diversity and 'irreducible variety'.

With these things in mind NV11 goes in search of the NORTHERN STOMACH as represented in Chris Draper's 'Six O' Best Northern Tea Time Treats', asking how for instance, does it differ from a Spanish Stomach or a Southern Stomach, and are we betraying our northern souls as well as our stomachs by enjoying ethnic cuisine and foreign food?

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