by Gerard Donnelly Smith
(Swans - June 18, 2007) I've been thinking about fragmentation too much of late, about words fragmenting into multiple, disparate meanings, about movements fragmenting along demarcations defined by false dichotomies, about communities fragmented by political pressures designed for anti-democratic ends.
To fragment, break apart into separate pieces (i.e., fragmentation bomb). The pieces of the body are now isolated from one another. The body politic separates into factions, following ideologies that use fractions of the law.
Meaning becomes a fragment in a catch phrase, in a sound bit, separated from its context. The symbol becomes an icon, a rallying cry, separated from its history. The news becomes a platform, an agenda, separated from the truth.
To fragment a unified front, turn one subgroup upon another. Infiltration: an enemy within spreads the fear that sets one comrade against the other. Define a difference, then makes that difference dangerous.
Cut deals, offer bribes, and buy votes, so that democracy becomes a function of power. Ten thousand voices clamor before the temple gates, begging indulgence for their people, for their stake holders, for their corporations. The voice for all disappears beneath the deafening cacophony. The fragmentation threatens to overwhelm us.
When sects and parties form, the use of heretic, pagan, gentile, liberal, neo-con to denounce former brethren increases. Minorities played one against the other keep people, or parties, or organizations, or religious groups from gaining too much power. Diversity becomes crowd control.
I am left thinking about false dilemmas: either one language or Babel, one religion or damnation, one political will or strife, one corporation or else. The common cause cannot survive if the people do not own the commons. The body politic cannot survive if common cause does regulate the body. Common cause is not to be defined by national boundaries, corporate boards, political or religious leaders.
The fragment nor the whole may exist without the other.
All decisions must abide by this unifying truth: benefits all, hurts none.
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