Fw: Institutionalization of Homelessness

H. C. Covington -- I CAN America (icanamerica@email.msn.com)
Sun, 24 Oct 1999 20:23:24 -0400


----- Original Message -----
From: Charles Gavette <timbukt2@excite.com>
To: HOMELESS DISCUSSION LIST <homeless@csf.colorado.edu>
Sent: Friday, October 15, 1999 4:41 PM
Subject: Institutionalization of Homelessness


A delirious glorification of dependency that (by serendipity?)perpetuates
the cash-flow of those who are employed in the homelessness market. For the
machine works, be sure of it. No one asks the question as to whether or not
capitalism is itself dependent on this the alpha and omega point, the
shelter.

"As Wilson has convincingly argued, the "truly disadvantaged" have remained
so, in increasingly deteriorating conditions, despite cicil rights victories
and the creation of the "Great Society." The vision of the good life, the
"universals" that have been celebrated as the main ingredients of the
American dream and have been offered as principles of self-definition(Ewen
1976), are definitely beyond reach -- through legitimate means at least --
for the populations that comprise the "new poor" of contemporary
America...Still, the shelter is a place where dominant ideas about time and
work, self and society, and the conditions for socail integration(re)assert
themselves for a "normal" life on the outside. Furthermore, the shelter is
an institution where the potential for "revolt" is effectively neutralized
through the institutional appropriation of the inmate's time and of its
representations...Is the song a reflection of the decomposition of the work
ethic that, unlike the traditions of resistance of the imposeed rationality
of time-thrift, amounts instead to a glorification of dependency? Thompson's
question remains valid only if an important term in his equation is
radically reversed: namely, the fact that the pressures of poverty have
increased rather than relaxed. It is precisely the increase in poverty that
contributes to more serious "revolts" in the heart of what were previously
the centers of industrial capitalism. 'Social pathologies' such as crime,
the drug epidemic, and the persistence of homelessness are definite
indications that the material basis of legitimacy of bourgeois institutions
and the dominant ideology, including its valuation of time, is rapidly
eroding."
 (The Politics of Time, Henry J. Rutz, ed., American Ethnological Society
Monographs Series, #4, American Anthropological Association, Washington,
D.C., 1992: "Temporality and the Domestication of Homelessness)

The institution is finished. It is only a matter of time, of administering
its last rites, that is eminent. The "revenge of the mirror people" we
should all be leary of, is just this turning back onto itself, the reverse
of the schizophrenic process, the signifiers' response. We inhabit a
delirious economic system that constantly sets, then repels its own limits,
while at the same time offering no real soultions for the material,
environmental, and psychological devastation that it leaves in its wake.
Like theology, everything about it is rational, if you accept sin,
immaculate conception, incarnation. It is a true rationality of *this
pathology,* of *this* madness.




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