Welcome, Crow’s Eye Readers

We’ve been getting a significant traffic bump from the recent comments thread and/or the blogroll (thanks, Jack) over at political blog The Crow’s Eye, and since it may not be readily apparent what the relationship between these two sites might be, I want to bring into focus some of what Jack’s readers might find relevant here. The immediate connection is that I noticed a post of his this week that had nothing to do with autism as such, but which advises a characteristically hard look at the uses and misuses of social graces. Social graces being a well-worn friction point between autistics and society, it’s a topic we’ve touched on more than once. Struck by the parallels between the Crow’s Eye post and two entries in particular at Shift, I asked if I might republish Advice for Children, Unsolicited.

Jack not only assented, but proved to be that rare newcomer who gets what Shift Journal is about with no explanation needed, commenting “It’s interesting to read you on the conflict between the medical establishment (Big Autism, the attempt to cure the condition) and those struggling as persons who happen to be autistic.” I don’t know how notorious we can claim to be at Shift yet, but if the contrarian group blog Corrente is accurately and ironically described as “the notorious C-list blog that everyone hates and no one reads,” that may not be a bad way for folks from Left Blogistan to understand Shift’s position in the larger world of autism — but the relevance, I think, only begins there.

For one thing, as Jack set the table for me to expand on in the comments thread back at The Crow’s Eye, there are parallels between the way the conservative movement can be seen to draw energy from repressed and projected homosexuality, and the energy that’s available from similarly repressed and projected autism. Just as As Joanna Russ pointed out one intersection of politics and sexuality by noting that ”Homophobia isn’t there to keep homosexuals in line. Homophobia is there to keep everyone else in line,” the intersection of politics and autism-phobia is in the same neighborhood, just one block over.

Consider that very few gay people these days grow to adulthood without knowing what homosexuality is, even if they can’t talk about being gay. Imagine how terrifyingly confusing it must have been though to grow up gay when large swaths of the population didn’t even have a vocabulary for that experience. That’s the sort of energy generated today by people who are autistic and don’t know how to talk about it — energy that feeds into our political and personal lives in ways at least as significant as repressed homosexuality.

Many of course don’t wind up repressing and projecting; one turned up in the comments thread at Jack’s. Justin offered that he has effectively self-diagnosed as an adult, and related that “the realization after reading a bit more that I probably am [autistic] was an interesting set of moments for me.” He went on: “In the context of this post, I wonder how much of the combination of the two [autistic characteristics he’d identified] affect my own politics.”

Shift Journal is predicated in part on the notions that there are a lot of Justins out there (most without any clue that there’s a closet to be in or out of), that the autistic spectrum extends well into what we think of as the general population, and that we’ve yet to take measure of the implications, political and otherwise.

More that may be of particular interest to visitors from the political blogosphere: Shift Journal was created by a political activist, Andrew Lehman, founder and co-director of The Peace, Justice and Environment Project, and now sidelined by a stroke. The impetus for Shift seems to have been at least two-fold: one was a generous effort to provide me with a platform for the ideas I had been sharing with him via email; two was as a vehicle to promote the book he was writing on autism, evolution, and social change which was finished in time for release on the day his medical situation took him out of commission. Third I think was to provide a commons for discussions such as the one we’ve sparked here.

Andrew’s book is grounded in evolutionary theory and years of dedicated auto-didactism; anyone wishing to dive headfirst into the possible relationships between autism, evolution, and social change can download it from his website. While my perspective owes more to field observation, rumination, and a smattering of cultural anthropology, I can say Andrew and I agree on shift as an operative word. As he and I were the only two contributors at launch, and as Shift’s focus has naturally meandered as other contributors have come on board, those looking for political fodder may find the best hunting in the early months of the archive, though there are examples throughout and not only from Andrew and myself — when you find them though, I’ll warn you, Shift is a big-picture endeavor, lacking the feel of hand-to-hand combat and reactive grappling you can find at Jack’s place. If The Crow’s Eye is the hashassin, the foot soldier, and the misericorde Shift Journal — at least when its attention is turned beyond the contentious arena of autism politics —  is the unarmed aerial surveillance vehicle offering, hopefully, the lay of the land and an idea of what’s over the horizons.

For starters then, and to close what’s necessarily a quick and dirty hello to you all, here’s Andrew from this site’s de facto keynote entry, Emergence:

Autism and Asperger’s rights represent the third wave of genetic justice. Civil rights, the first wave, established the language, strategy and tactics for creating social change. Women’s rights and gay rights manifested integral aspects of the social structure conflict between matrifocal and patrifocal frames of reference, championing the rights of all peoples. The neurodiversity movement heralds the hidden, central theme of changes underway. The physical, neurological and behavioral features of autistic and Asperger’s children and adults are confounding to a society unaware that these individuals are the third wave of a massive social movement.

related: Advice For Children, Unsolicited

related: comments thread at The Crow’s Eye

on 09/29/11 in featured, Politics | No Comments | Read More

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