September 16, 2020:

On the Revelle College quad competing sectarian groups have sited their literature tables.

There's a speaker, it might be anti-apartheid, nine years before a vastly more experienced version of myself helps make that movement flower on this very spot. Today though for the first time I'm taking interest in the sectarians. Something someone has said has caught my attention.

These groups are ever on the sidelines, criticizing. If they participate in the movements it's to recruit from them. They don't build movements, they counterpose their own grouplets to the movements, with their traditions of self-declared vanguardism and their "scientific" programs.

That's what has my attention. Someone asks how a program can be "scientific". The somewhat surprising answer is "By encapsulating the experience of previous generations." Later I learn to think of that as philosophically idealist: what matters are the ideas, not the organizational practice. It makes sense they'd believe that, given how shitty their organizational practice is. Right now though I'm captured by the wider question. Is it possible for a program to be "scientific"? What does "scientific" even mean? What makes some body of thought scientific, as opposed to lore or intuition or some other possible form of knowledge?

And I find myself fretting in some inchoate way. What if one of these groups is right? What if it does have the "scientific" program? I think that's unlikely but what if? It would suck to be on the wrong side of that organizational boundary. I plan to join some kind of group, some kind of structure. I'm keenly cognizant there is no social change without organization. What kind then is correct? What if I join the wrong one? So that my life is wasted on practices and strategies and programs without hope of meaningful success?

I admit I'm in pretty poor shape, coherence-wise. Depression had been slowly improving after bottoming during my gap year. Now I feel my time at this school is a failure, I see no path forward, I feel trapped and pointless. So my thinking may not be the clearest. But these questions circle my brain, percolating. What makes a body of thought "scientific"? And, what bearing does this have on activism?

I'm thinking I should change my major. I can't major in mythology here anyway. It could be anthropology I suppose but there'd have to be field work and that's not my interest. Or literature, but there'd have to be literary theory and that hasn't yet grabbed my attention. Instead it could be Philosophy, where I could emphasize Philosophy of Science as upper division courses become available.

There's a deeper intuition at work, though, than merely the logistics of course loads. Anarchism is slowly losing its sway with me as I confront its inability to offer strategy. These other bodies of thought, Marxism especially, will at some point have to be tackled. The Marxists assert science as their banner. Even though I expect to continue to disagree with them, I'll need to better understand their claims, so that this secondhand conversation on the quad plants a seed in ready ground. The need slowly germinates to understand the nature of scientificity, because I intuit it may one day matter to my political commitment.

For now, though, today, here on the Revelle quad, I frankly have no idea what I'm doing. This academic experience isn't working , but I see no alternative, so that from day to day I'm sliding deeper into confused, disorganized depression.