Center for Cultural Critique and Intervention
Northern Rockies Psychoanalytic Institute and Society (NRPI)
Mieux vaut un désastre qu’un désêtre. — Alain Badiou
Cultural critique, most generally stated, is the practice of finding “the rest of the story” in any worldview or ideology. All official “stories,” or narratives, of groups of any size and purpose, necessarily have blind spots. And those blind spots can be terribly destructive. Yet humans relinquish such narratives – or relate to them as the necessarily partial representations they are – only with great difficulty. We tend, instead to feel defined by them. The inertial tendency in societies and civilizations is to reproduce ourselves, to maintain our beliefs unquestioningly, thereby silencing the rest of the story, the leftover, and leaving no place for interests beyond those of our own status quo, while dehumanizing persons not part of our own group. It does not matter whether this dehumanization is overt or subtle and unrecognized; it is equally destructive in both cases.
Cultural intervention, in general, aims to open up a space for the unsaid, the unconsidered. More specifically, at least at CCCI, it brings together competing interest groups who want to try to go beyond persuasion of each other and allow the possibility of co-discovering something new together, individuals who are willing to put in the time and effort needed to actually get to know the person(s) on “the other side of the table.” A psychoanalyst-cultural intervenant helps groups to notice and sustain both the humanity in one’s disputants, and also the leftover, the rest of the stories, that might emerge in earnest, rigorous dialogue. We try to put the social before the political, operating with the supposition that any politics worthy of the name requires first the thoroughgoing humanization of the political other.
CCCI is committed to making a space for interlocutors beyond the status quo maintenance of their respective groups and their necessary identifications with their groups. It is through the privileging, by all parties involved, of each person’s humanity, above and beyond – even before – their political beliefs and positions, that we aim for interlocutors’ capacities to hear something new, to critique themselves and each other, and to create previously unconsidered solutions to their antagonisms.
CCCI intervenants bring together, for the possibility of moving each from its respective ideological positions, opposing groups of any stripe. Interested parties must be willing to subject their thinking to all logical and ethical scrutiny, and be prepared for the possibility that not only might they sway another party’s position, but that the other party may sway one’s own as well, perhaps in directions which neither could have anticipated. Groups in Montana with whom we have at least begun such undertakings include: environmentalists and motorized recreationists, environmentalists of competing philosophies, white supremacists and counterhate workers. Foremost, who might be interested in what CCCI offers is anyone who wishes to address or engage one’s opponent in a non-oppositional manner, regardless of that about which one is in opposition.
Groups may dispute each others’ positions, challenge each other, while realizing that all parties will be asked challenging questions which arise from the opposing party’s and the intervenants’ identifying of the unsaid or the misspoken, the misused in each party’s narrative, i.e., the way each is “framing the issue.”
But always above all, the shared humanity of all participants will be held as the default position to occupy and to re-occupy when faced with seemingly intractable differences of opinion, opinions which may seem inviolable.
Groups interested in seeking transformative resolutions to disputes with their opponents, including their most disturbing opponents, may contact us at 406-580-2235 for discussion and consultation.