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Fearlessnessizing

Fearlessness is complex enough. Add "fearlessnessnizing" and you get an even more intricate complication. I believe this is absolutely necessary to work our way in and through the nightmarish days we live, and the worse to come as a global reality of crises and tragedies of immense proportions will rain down. We are already there... what we do about it all is another thing and fearlessness and fearlessnessizing everything is really important, so I say and... so says the fearlessness theorizing that has come to me in the decades and most recently in the last two years or less. I introduce you to the currrent writing I have done on fearlessnessizing as a resource.

"Fearlessnessizing" - was budding, preconsciously and intuitively as I wrote the book on Four Arrows' life and work [1], and especially by the end of that book I began writing on it indirectly as Four Arrows and I were invited into another project of co-writing a chapter [2] for the SAGE International Handbook of Critical Pedagogy. I had been spending a lot of time thinking and reading about "Indigenizing" (especially via Four Arrows' perspective on this revitalizing healing transformative concept) but did not include "Fearlessnessizing" in the book on him but did bring it in somewhat alongside Indigenizing to align both with Four Arrows' thought and the burgeoning field (perspective) of Indigenous revitalization across the globe.

What would it mean to (re-)Indigenize modern societies? And, for me, that came to be: What would it mean to (re-)Fearlessnessize modern societies? It was an analogy I found very useful but have not at all developed in detail yet. 

"Fearlessnessizing" however, has continued to stay a live with me since 2017 early intuitions and then with the writing of articles with Four Arrows in 2018 forward. In the recent issue (Vol. 1(2)) of the International Journal of Fear Studies, I gave it a simple definition and officially recorded it as part of a "New Fear Vocabulary" [Fisher et al., 2019, p. 13] : 

fearlessnessizing[coined by RMF] the process of deconstructing fear-based realities and structures and replacing them with fearlessness-based ones; analogous to indigenizing [3]

See also some writing on this concept in a recent technical paper on "fearlessness psychology" I am developing (Fisher, 2019) [4]

So, that definition, preliminary as it is, has a long history that goes back to the prophetic visionary experience I had with Catherine in the birthing of the In Search of Fearlessness (ISOF) Project (1989), a project (spiritual, philosophical and political) that was meant to counter the dominating hegemony of the Fear Project [5]. In a sense, that very counter-hegemonic 'turn' I was introducing formally to the planetary conciousness was itself a fearlessnessizing of everything. It's hard to even imagine that. The fear-based paradigm was to become eventually a fearlessness paradigm [6] and so on. I was on this grand project to re-make and re-label the world--so to speak. I know that sounds all rather grandiose. And, so is Indigenizing the world. 

Besides the ISOF Project and the Indigenizing project, there was a prior influence in my educational (re-)evolution tracing back to the Critical Tradition coming out of (mainly) Europe with the Critical Theory [Frankfurt] School and with many parallels the Liberation Theology (South American) resistance movements, of which the latter produce a very powerful line of Critical Pedagogy of which Paulo Freire made popular around the world and still ongoing. The key term I related to in Freire's writings was conscientization as a form of describing liberation process/work and its deconstruction and reconstruction of oppression. So, in that sense, I was attracted to how liberation (conscientization) was a type of fearlessnessizing as well, even though I did not call it that in the late 1970s when I studied that tradition in my education degree. Conscientizing, indigenizing, Fearlessnessizing all made a lot of sense to me. In 2017 I wrote a short piece on the FM ning [7] mentioning my interest to re-vise Freirean conscientization to Jacobsian conscientization (a la Four Arrows)--of which this was elaborated in the Fisher & Four Arrows, in press) article about to appear in the SAGE critical pedagogy handbook mentioned above. 

 

Notes 

1. Fisher, R. M. (2018). Fearless engagement of Four Arrows: The true story of an Indigenous-based social transformer. NY: Peter Lang.

2. Fisher, R. M., and Four Arrows (Jacobs, D. T.) (in press). Indigenizing conscientization and critical pedagogy: Nature, Spirit and Fearlessness as foundational concepts. In S. Steinberg & B. Down (Eds.), Sage Handbook of Critical Pedagogies (Vol.1) (pp.   ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

3. Fisher, R. M. et al. (2019). New Fear vocabulary. International Journal of Fear Studies, 1(2), 10-14.

4. Fisher, R. M. (2019). Fearlessness psychology: An introduction. Technical Paper No. 79. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

5. See for e.g., Fisher, R. M. (2018). The Fearlessness Movement: Meta-context exposed! Technical Paper No. 72. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

6. See for e.g., Fisher, R. M. (2013). Fearlessness paradigm meets Bracha Ettinger's matrixial theory. Technical Paper No. 46. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute; Fisher, R.M. (2006). Integral fearlessness paradigm. Technical Paper No. 20. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute; Fisher, R.M. (1995). An introduction to an epistemology of 'fear'; A fearlessness paradigm. Technical Paper No. 2. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. 

7. See my (2017) photo https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/photos/jacobsian-conscientization; and, also see my (2015) 'mapping' (photo) of critical pedagogies and locating Jacobsian critical pedagogy and conscientization as an Indigenous addition to the traditions of critical pedagogies https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/photos/crit-pedag-fear-fig-1001

 

 

 

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"I'm very grim, and down and out," says Emeritus professor Cornel West in a recent interview. He was responding to Anderson Cooper's (CNN host) about the current Trump rally in the US and people chanting to "send her home" referring to a Congress Woman (of color). Indeed, West has long been a Left intellectual and anti-racist advocate and scholar and he is no doubt reflecting a mood many are feeling in the USA and a lot of the world that has strong racist-right-wing elements rising to power these days. 

Why doesn't Cornel West, this great liberation (populist, intellectual) leader of our times talk about "fearlessness"? [1]

Of course, relevant to the Fearlessness Movement, I ask myself if Cornel West is a proponent of "fearlessness" in his philosophy, his Christianity, his radical left Black activism? And, upon my preliminary searching I found, just like in his recent talk with Cooper, he barely mentions fear itself and when he does he usually is talking about angst and nihilism (as loss of hope and growth of meaninglessness) as a collective dis-ease in American society. Fear as a term is never usually mentioned more than 5 times in any of West's many books, and best sellers. I wonder why? And, in his recent talk with Cooper he will admit he is "down and out" in psychic temperament in relation to the rise of White Supremacism ideology in his country (again). He's old and tired, but he's not without a bit of spirit to fight. So, next after his grim response he says to Cooper and the audience that (paraphrasing) 'we must in this time especially have moral fortitude and courage' and that's what he and all the down-trodden people have always had when they are oppressed and the fight will continue until they find their victory and justice, no matter what happens in the meantime. 

"Moral courage" is the fav phrase in West's discourses, which has a long tradition (e.g., black liberation theology) in the justice movements of history. I see this as a particular fear management system (FMS-5 with some FMS-6)--and, it is basically modernist. It is about the individual (and society) under oppression fighting back and not letting fear of oppressors, nor internalized fear destroy you and your integrity and your will to keep fighting back, even if the odds are tremendously against you gaining much in the bigger political world. "Hope" is also his fav concept to accompany "moral courage." This is the basis of ethical philosophy behind West's popularity and stardom. He attracts great followings of people from the Left especially, and I'm noticing a lot of young men are really admiring West's character and intellectual prowess--and, see him as a hero in the nightmares of the times of post-truth bullshit that is invading most all of America day to day. The young men are scared as I see it, and rightfully so, and they are looking for leaders who speak to them and impress them as having the 'best' analysis. And, true, West is "brilliant" and "warm" and "sharp" at the mouth. He's very hip too! 

But my critique is that "moral courage" is not sufficient to deal with Fear's Empire, the 'Fear' Matrix of which America and the rest of the world is being swallowed up and coded into moment by moment. Moral courage, hope, and love, as the prophetic voice has always offered since ancient times, right up to the present modernist values and virtues of a Christian like West, are helpful, but not enough; from a fearlessness meta-psychological perspective, that is [2]. Listen to West (from his best selling book Race Matters (1993/2017):

"Being a hope is being in motion, on the move with body on the line, mind set on freedom, soul full of courage, and heart shot through with love. Being hope is foraging moral and spiritual fortitude.... being willing to live and die for the empowerment of the wretched [oppressed] of the earth." (p. xxiv) [3].

For three decades, I have advocated and argued, that if one trully penetrates into the nature and role of fear, across the spheres of Natural, Cultural and Spiritual realities, from a critical holistic-integral perspective--then, fearlessness will be understood like never before too. This new understanding of fear and fearlessness repositions many things from a moral and ethical and philosophical perspective--and, one major outcome is that when operating from Fearlessness there is no need to constantly boost "hope" and "love" and "empowerment" as does the modernist approach to activism and liberation. I am not dissing these modernist and even premodernist traditions of liberation, I am merely claiming they are largely out-dated and need a serious upgrade. And, that critique, no matter how much I publish and speak about it is still largely ignored by West, and so many of his contemporaries. 

As much as I so respect Cornel West as a leader today, it is disturbing he has not picked up on the great liberation traditions (at a minimum) and thus talked a lot more about fear and fearlessness. As I said, less than 5 pages in any of his books is on "fear" and when he talks about it usually it is rather thin and about "fears" --not seeing that the entire study of fearism-t (at the base of all oppression - ism diseases) requires so much more than moral courage, hope and love. It requires an incredibly systematic study of fear itself (and 'fear', as I argue)--it requires Fearlessness which is a meta-psychology (and philosophy) and methodological re-orientation that directs our gaze and analysis to something much deeper at-cause of our worst human behaviors, individually and collectively. Fear is not a factor, as West makes it out to and as that modernist discourse does as well. Talk about a "culture of fear," a "fear lens" a 'Fear' Matrix, etc., and then we'll realize we are up against an enormous power and complex of external and internal structures in everyday life that keep us "afraid" and, to then, even at times encourage us to thus be "courageous"--but, the latter encouragement actually supports us being more afraid so that we'll develop more courage--it's an ironical productive cycle of 'Fear' as oppression itself. That's not the kind of critical self-reflection you will find amongst the Left (or West) of their very notion of "moral courage" (and hope and love) and how they too are tainted already from the start when one lives in Fear's Empire. Everything is tainted with fear ('fear')--and that's what makes an oppressive society work so well (said, in sarcasm). So, no, I am not big advocate for "courage" alone as a fear management system (discourse) that will get us very far with liberation on the scale and with the depth I am talking and theorizing about. 

Unfortunately, I have learned that people don't want to do the work of discovering Fearlessness in this meta-context I propose and teach about. I am no celebrity, like a West, and likely never will be, but I will live and die attempting to show people we can do better than "moral courage" discourses and actions--even if, I admit, those may be better than nothing--but I will argue, they are going to be 'too little too late' unfortunately. That's a larger conversation, I'm always glad to engage with you all. 

Notes:

1. I have tried email contacting him and sharing with him my work but to no avail, he typically doesn't respond or engage the work. Only once did I find in several of his books one reference where he used "fearlessness" (per se), and that was in his talking about his appreciation of the "New Black Panther Party.... they have a certain fearlessness like Malcom [X]" (West & Buschendorf, 2014, n.p.). But West doesn't define the term. See West, C., & Buschendorf, C. (2014). Black prophetic fire. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. See also my criticism of American pragmatist philosophy (Fisher, 2015) in general and its domination of American ideas, culture and society, of which I find Cornel West is susceptible to in his discourse (and ideology): Fisher, R. M. (2015). What is the West’s problem with fearlessness? Technical Paper No. 53. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

2. I am currently writing a new book "A Fearlessness Meta-psychology" for the 21st century. See also my Fisher, R. M. (2019). Fearlessness psychology: An introduction. Technical Paper No. 79. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.  

3. West, C. (2017). Race matters, 25th anniversary. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. 

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Jennifer Gidley is a futurist-educator of the highest calibre as a thinker and with great experience in educational alternatives and critique of education systems that are largely a couple of hundred years out-of-date with the challenges young people face in the early 21st century. I agree and applaud so much of what she has offered over the years, including her latest book Postformal Education: A Philosophy for Complex Futures (2017).

That said, my brief book review here is going to focus on what I think are major flaws in her philosophy of education, her use of Integral Theory, and developmental psychology discourse in general. The quickest way to say my critique in a nutshell is: Gidley is a political liberalist and it influences most every interpretation of education, of Integral Theory (e.g., of Ken Wilber's work) and of developmental psychology and evolution I read in her work. In other words, she is so enthralled with cognitive development of the higher orders (e.g., vision-logic, postformalism, fifth-order thinking) to analyze and solve the world's problems, she ends up not very radical at all. I find her quite a liberal thinker. I also find this true of Integral Circles and Schools of thought today, most everywhere. They are "gutted" for consumer culture (i.e., marketability) not so much for radical pursuit of the "truth" and liberation. Sure, she is critical of neoliberalism and its take-over of much of education today. Good. But it is not a very sophisticated critique or a good ideological and political critique (using critical theory) as background context for how she pursues educational philosophy and postformalism in general. I like Kincheloe & Steinberg's views of postformalism somewhat better in terms of critical and radical perspectives [1].

So, I am disappointed again in an integral book on education, that is supposed to be for the betterment of future generations. I am not pleased how she defaults on "love" as so core to her integral future curriculum design and how she says nothing of any depth about "fear"--many of you reading this will know that I am a big critical of all kinds of folks using the love-default and general pc positivism [2] in their philosophies to save the world. But let me return to the "politics" that she so ignores (or skirts around). 

To keep this critique short (someday I may write a longer critique of this book): Gidley's book does not have in the Index terms like "oppression" or "emancipation" or better yet, "liberation." I find this tells of just how "gutted" and "watered down" his her philosophy, theorizing of "integral" and her thinking in general. Her curriculum is anything but radical from this perspective, because she has no philosophy (or psychology) of oppression and liberation at the core of her curriculum conceptualization. I am convinced her training as a professional psychologist all these decades has muted and liberalized her radical-edge which is truly sitting there in her work and writing but not quite blossoming; she seems afraid to let it out. And, of course, one would be much less financially successful if they took the liberation path fully and spoke truths that are prophetic and very uncomfortable to the masses and even the liberal leftists, etc. 

For my part, I put the 'Fear' Project as the major oppressive force on the planet. It is worse in negative impact today than ever before because of complex structuration and new media means of public pedagogy that puts people in so much fear that it hampers how they perceive, think, learn, and believe and act on fear-based messages from elites and others. Unfortunately, most do not see the fear ('fear') construction everyday. It is called the context of the postmodern era--that is, the context of the "culture of fear." (Again, I have written lots about that). Gidley doesn't mention this context at all. She operates without a radical identification of oppression and liberation. I end my critique there. It is not a book worthy of a future that she wants and most of us want where people are "free" and a healthy sane and sustainable society is potentially unfolding. She thinks cognitive development (leading) and some emotional and social development etc. will take us out of this nightmare of the culture of fear--or, at least, it appears to me she thinks so. The politics of such cognitive development (and healing of cognitive pathologies of the old paradigms) is not an easy task and will not be accomplished without a powerful "shadow" work. I do not see Gidley entertain depths like this in her book and any of her writing. 

Yes, much of her book can be useful in the future of curriculum design, teaching and learning theories, etc. Fine. But neoliberalism, which she admits is gutting Education everywhere in very negative ways, has to be 'hooked' to its root in a society extremely anxious, if not terrified of the future--especially, of economic security. That is, a culture of fear and neoliberalism cannot be unhooked as she does--or ignores the fact of it. Many critics (like Henry Giroux) have said as much as I am. However, none of the educational critics has given a critical integral attention to analyzing how fear ('fear') moves in and shapes all things today on massive scales to micro scales of operations. Education is a reproducer of that fear-based structuration--that is, what I have called the 'Fear' project. So, we need a counterhegemonic Fearlessness Project--and Movement. 

Honestly, I would rather Gidley (and her many followers) look carefully at how to build a curriculum and philosophy for a liberational futures and not get so distracted by complex futures. That's my ultimate critique of this book and Gidley's project. I think with good open dialogue, her and I and others may bring our work together and move forward in a truly prophetic and pragmatic futures education for all... one that has a theory of oppression and liberation at the core--not complexity alone. 

Notes

1. Kincheloe, J. L. & Steinberg, S. R. (2011). A tentative description of post-formal thinking. In K. Hayes et al. (Eds.), Key works in critical pedagogy: Joe L. Kincheloe (pp. 53-76). Amsterdam, Holland: Sense Publishers.

2. My complex theorizing on "positivism" is way beyond the rational positivism notion in epistemology but includes cultural hegemonic formations of everything from political correctness (and identity politics), be gentle loving and caring and be positive (e.g., positiive thinking) ideologies that have flooded North American culture (at least) for the past 3 or more decades. It is like one cannot say anything really "critical" because victim culture that accompanies the positivism ideology will attack you for being mean and saying something offensive to some one (while, they themselves attack with viciousness because you are not conforming to their positivism). 

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What does it mean to be a conscientious objector to Western society?

This blogpost is directly related to the current political situation that Barbara and I have experienced living in the USA for 9 years (July 2008- July 2017). Because Barbara was an Illinois State public employee at SIUC also added to us becoming "very political" relative to our other years living in Canada together (since 1991). Although, few know, that in 1994 or so I created a brochure to outline the NO FEAR PARTY that I was going to lead. People didn't pick up on it. In a sense, we've grown into being more civically aware, involved--albeit, she more than I, and I have spent most of my 9 years in conflict with various civic and activist and political groups in Carbondale, IL--not because I wanted to fight with them, I merely tried working with them and found them unworkable--and, perhaps that's what they would say about me. I do feel I confronted head on, not just intellectually, the stubborn American-psyche/personality that Americans generally take on because of the way America is and has been for centuries. The other-side to this was to face a lot of unsuccessful ventures and collaborations that fizzled rapidly here and thus, I turned very inward and contemplative, read, researched and wrote a whole tonne of good work, I think. I'm also exhausted by supporting Barbara's work out there and my own having to deal with vast rejection--to point I have said I live in exile and am undergoing social death.

Yet, Barbara and I continue to be quite political. A distinction is required, and one we both emphasized in earlier blogs this year with the Presidential 2016 election here and the shock n' awe of so many progressives. There is "politics" (and all its history and structures and discourses of power differential and hegemony) and there is the "political" realm which is basic relations in groups and society and the planet. The latter is the sphere of sociality as sociologists call it--and many might just call it the "cultural" sphere--as these overlap for sure. Barbara and I are moving into a time of our life where we just cannot ignore or put aside the politics of the world as much as we have in the past, and we have to be very aware of doing political work. That doesn't mean we'll like this change. We haven't. But to be responsible as a citizen (e.g., global citizens, which we identify with) there is no way to sluff off and remain unpolitical or slightly political. I wish it were different. The world is becoming too 'on edge' in terms of any healthy, sane, sustainable future--and if one is half-awake as a citizen, there is just too much critical work to do now to attempt to stave off the massive destruction going on, in politics, economics, education, and you name it--all are in big trouble. The next decade will be not an easy one. The intense violence and insecurities due to global warming alone, will "test" the sociality of trust and cooperation to the nth degree. We may not make it as a species. No need to try to scare anyone with this. I have thought about this and studied it for nearly 50 years more or less systematically, and my conclusion is not fearmongering or my own fear talking. It is really an intelligent future projection. And, don't forget Barbara and I have a grandson who is 7 years old.

Why I Haven't Been Successful: Costs of Being Too Political (Critical)

My political life is based on the theory/praxis of conscientization (or critical consciousness development, a la Paulo Freire and others)... this, I find is the only way to be a citizen and educator, a therapist and spiritual teacher, or whatever I do... yes, even being a father and grandfather, a husband, a friend or ally... critical consciousness has to be the ethical foundation for a life on this Earth... especially so, as Life becomes more and more threatened... I am angry that people deny this is going on.

How one is political, and chooses to grow their political sensibilities and skills by taking conscious action is a big issue. How ethical is one if they do not grow in the political sphere of life? But let me reflect on my life. Now, 65 years old, I feel there is so much work to be done in the political, that I am more and more shifting, albeit, slowly, to being less focused on other areas that I have been traveling in. So, to put it bluntly, as I was journaling this morning, a realization: Most people, especially young people, I encounter or who encounter me (mainly my writing) are not impressed by my life. Why? Because I haven't been successful. Not really by any business standard, not by a mainstream economic standard, not by a cultural or political standard as in being known or even a celebrity. So, I am thus, not likely to be effective in influencing anyone or anything out in the wide-world. Sure, I have a small circle of influence, but it is virtually still invisible on the big picture scene--and, hey, I am not even on Fb or Twitter. And, clearly I have no economic power nor am invited to be a public speaker, etc.... or if so, only rarely and I have not got onto Ted Talks or anything of the like. Sure, you can Google Scholar me on the Internet and I am somewhat impressive there, but who looks there?

So, the insight... I am too political, meaning radical and thus too demanding to have been able to take advantage of the various paths and platforms that our Western society has offered in order to 'climb to the top' (or at least near). A whole lot of people who know me or of me, frankly, wouldn't see me as "political" and, I certainly don't usually gt involved in politics. I don't even vote (and, for lots of good reasons). So, let me start with all the areas I have had access to and have even developed somewhat but they have all led to me not being perceived (not really) as successful in them: being a son, a brother, a father, a husband, a biologist, environmentalist, rehabilitation practitioner, artist, musician, psychologist-therapist, educator, writer, teacher, spiritualist, leader, scholar, public intellectual, academic, and you could add others if you want. None of those platforms of my engagement has worked for me really. And, my conclusion today is because I have been more "political" than even I thought into all of these forms. They were supposed to work, and they really didn't and don't to this day. I am too political, means I "resist" all of these platforms for their inherent (seemingly) collusion with the 'Fear' Matrix that dominates the world--and, has for at least 5000, maybe 10,000 years in the evolution of our species and cultures. That's a pretty big claim. That's a political claim--that's a critique. I am a big CRITIC of everything. I even critique the liberation movements, and the Fearlessness Movement as much of it is ... and, as much of it still needs to improve and unite, and grow and evolve and become more effective.

Well, all of the above, doesn't "pay" worth a damn, as I found... that is, being too political in everything, just doesn't pay... rather, it costs... and costs me big time. Yet, I have not near the kinds of oppressions and problems that most of the world has. What to do about this? Food for more thought... I'm sure I'll write more about it... I have thought of going into politics once I get back into Canada (Alberta)... Calgary... watch out!

Bottomline... unsuccess breeds more unsuccess... in a capitalist society that wants success and that success breeds more success... no body wants to be around a 'loser' without success(es)... by the standards of great variety that are constructed and promoted on TV and in the culture at large... if a young person looks at my work and my life, they may say, "interesting dude" but that's about it, because they look at what I don't have, and they are not impressed with the image of a (non-) "hero" of success in anyway that they want to follow, learn from and model... this has been very painful to experience on my end. Geez... I'm not even a good postmodern "anti-hero" like they may admire in popular culture.

Oh, and the most hurtful criticism I get back... in slight variant forms, is that "Michael you are too angry" that's why you aren't successful. "Lighten up." I think that is the easy way to put me and my political work in a 'box' with a pink ribbon that makes people feel comfortable with who they are, and has little to do with understanding who I am and what my life purpose of conscientization is all about.

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