[Marxism] A Neglected Four-Color Problem: Green, Red, Black and White

Jeff Rubard jeffrubard at fusemail.com
Sun Mar 7 16:16:50 MST 2004

A Neglected Four-Color Problem: Green, Red, Black and White

Recently, there has been a rash of enthusiasm for "empirically"
generated results in mathematics -- set off by the "brute-force"
solution of the most famous probem in graph theory, the conjecture
that no more than four colors are necessary to ensure that any
map colors areas having adjacent segments differently.  But if
the common folk are to share in this excitement, perhaps the
interest need not be restricted to computer equipment severally
outside the reach of ordinary people -- "massively parallel
networks" already exist outside the box, and it is a traditional
complaint that they do too little.  So let us consider another
problem having to do with the ordering of pairs, the traditional
"valences" of the colors green, red, black and white under their
sociopolitical (political/economic) aspect.  Many of us will have
slogans like "Better dead than red" ready to hand for dealing
with those pale males in their flying machines: but perhaps there
is even more to these matchings than coloring souls beautiful, and
thusly I would like to invite the reader to participate in a little
thought-experiment involving a relatively tame form of concentration.

To begin, I will give the historical valences of the first three
colors.  As many of you will know, "green-label" products are
traditionally for "all the people": i.e., the cheapest such
product that you can buy.  "Red-label" products are a cut above;
they won't make you look bad, but they won't necessarily make
you look good either.  Black-label products are "beyond the beyond":
they are of a piece with a mystique transcending their conditions
of production, and you can probably stand it.  Now, for the fourth:
white-label records are strictly for DJs -- as many people know --
and we can say that "white-label" products are "beyond you": it
wouldn't do to meditate upon them, in a manner of speaking (or,
in another manner of speaking, perhaps there has never been a
proper thought about "white space" in publications -- it's something
to talk about to take your mind off text).  Now, since we have
"bracketed" one particular "color" as non-conventional,
let's have the thought-experiment: although we all know that
there are surprising "felicities" concerning color-coordination,
suppose for the time being that every use of color in
product-packaging is conventional: that a book with a brown
cover effectively says something "determinate" about the color
in its juxtaposition to the material.  

Now, suppose that the aforementioned four colors are the *political*
colors: that they correspond to four natural attitudes to political life
(populism, socialism, anarchism and paranoia "of any kind").  Then
think about the position of objects with those colors in social space --
that is to say, from the arrangement of items in your shopping cart to
magazine glossies featuring products you could never buy.  Finally,
think about what you are "investing" in the perception so generated:
do your beliefs about the object create many of your thoughts about
it?  Do you find a this a virtuous or unvirtuous way to understand it? 
Why would the former be the case?  Why would the latter not be
the case?  How many different impressions of this object can you juggle? 
How many are you allowed to juggle in the minds of other people? 
What gives you that impression? 

Certainly not the brackets that go around an ordered pair, but maybe
the piece of type which was handled to put those down on the page:
and if we are to spend a great deal of time on "face" as it is understood
by computer scanners, perhaps it is worth reflecting upon the traditional
limitations of graph theory (that it is not a theory of "graphs", but 
a theory of the content expressed in graphs) and the "traditional"
limitations of "massively parallel" computing architectures (they don't
drive so well, and you wouldn't want to take them home) -- but perhaps
you are also feeling, by the end of this, as though the furniture of the
world is not being "graphed" for you.

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