The Loony Left

After Crystal and i fought about the usefulness of memetics as metaphor (forget it being a science) he sent me an excited email about the Thrive video he had come across.

Crystal explains:

[It is an] interesting mix of new age, new left, and
libertarian thinking that is drawing in all sorts of different people.
Notice the production values and the incorporation of all these
different perspectives and prejudices into one story….

But quickly into this video it clear what this really is, another slickly produced piece of loony new age nonsense. Crystal is playing with me to point out that successful memes are not necessarily useful ones.   i did not watch the whole movie which appears to be a wild mix of conspiracy theories around banking and energy companies, new age silliness around crop circles, universal codes, free energy and UFOs and inspiring monologs about how we can build a better world. 

So as someone who is invested in the building a better world game, this is more than a bit painful to watch, even just the trailer for it.  [Though i did find a well reasoned debunk blog] The first part of the problem is that it pins solutions on things that dont work (free energy) or things which cant be tapped (UFOs) and seeks meaning in places where it is not (crop circles).  But the more vexing piece is that the righteous pieces they are bringing up – the need for wealth redistribution, problems with the Federal Reserves role in the banking system and more – are harmed by being thrown in with the whack job stuff.  It in essence takes serious issues off the table by linking them to occult paranormal nonsense.

Sadly, this is not the only version of this stuff.  One of the better articles about how Occupy might resume this Spring i just read in Reality Sandwich.  Reality Sandwich is part of the Evolver Social Movement which is the brainchild of NYC author and activist Daniel Pinchbeck.  Pinchbeck is slightly infamous for coming to visit Twin Oaks before my time and writing a not especially accurate slam piece about the place for the NY Times.  Evolver, sadly, also mixes occult and paranormal reports with more critical thinking like the Occupy piece above.

One of the better debunk pieces is the crop circle creation video below.

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About paxus calta

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found on Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

3 responses to “The Loony Left”

  1. Nexus says :

    I don’t recall a part of the movie calling for wealth redistribution (I’d have to watch it again to be sure, maybe I missed it.) I think it said something about poverty being caused by energy scarcity, and it would be magically alleviated by market forces once the government declassifies free energy technology. I especially remember Foster Gamble stating that we’ll have an ideal world once we agree to consider each person’s money and property as inviolate (I recommend watching this film in its entirety, to get the full impact of the lunacy we’re up against.) The minarchist/market anarchist utopia Foster Gamble advocates amounts to continued rule by the rich, and the maintenance of his position as a member of the 1%. Hardly a revolution.

    Also, his movie poster ( http://www.impawards.com/2011/posters/thrive.jpg ) contains a sunrise, one eye covered, and an “OK” hand gesture, each alleged by conspiracy theorists to be symbols of the alleged Illuminati organization, and he made a big deal of releasing his film on 11/11/11, which adds up to 33, the same as the number of degrees in the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. So as a conspiracy theorist himself, either he’s extremely sloppy and negligent about what he’s putting out into the world, or he’s subtly bragging that he’s part of the very conspiracy that he claims to be fighting.

    This silliness aside, whether he’s doing this deliberately or not, he’s playing the role of poisoning the intellectual well and muddying the waters of genuine inquiry.

    By narrowly defining a set of villains to be taken out, and positing simplistic (and possibly non-existent) solutions like free energy, his critique constrains the parameters of discussion, which is not serving our need to broaden our critique to be about the fundamental structure of our society,including questioning why we need money, property, and employment. Solving the problem of energy shortage, for instance, would not address shortages of water, arable land, fish, food, and minerals. Infinite energy would enable our current society to deforest faster, pollute faster, and produce unnecessary, emotionally unfulfilling consumer crap faster. Here is one of the best critiques of Thrive I’ve seen so far ( http://transitionculture.org/2012/01/09/film-review-why-thrive-is-best-avoided/ ) and the comments below that article add many more important nuances and angles on these issues.

    Evolver/Reality Sandwich is a seriously mixed bag (full disclosure: 6 months ago, I started the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Evolver Social Movement, but now I’m having second thoughts due to the prevalence of stuff on the looney end of the spectrum that is in the mix). Charles Eisenstein is one of their best writers in my opinion, and he also dissed Thrive in this essay: ( http://www.realitysandwich.com/thrive_story_wrong_spirit_right ), and then Foster Gamble shot back with this retort ( http://www.realitysandwich.com/gambles_response_eisensteins_critique_thrive ) which is basically one long ad hominem attack on Eisentein, quoting him out of context. Then Evolver Intensives hosted a pay-per-view Internet video conference, featuring a discussion between Foster Gamble and Daniel Pinchbeck. I would have like to see a no-holds barred critical debate around the dubious claims in Thrive, but I didn’t feel like paying the $10 or $20 to watch it, for fear that it would be one long festival of credulity.

    There is a side to Daniel Pinchbeck where he has his feet firmly on the ground and his finger on the pulse of potentials for tangible social change. This is the article he wrote that convinced me to join his movement, ( http://www.realitysandwich.com/war_control_story ), and I think that his recent essay (minus the paragraph about Thrive) could be reworked into a very useful activist manifesto for our present historical moment ( http://www.realitysandwich.com/answer_henry_baum ).

    • paxus says :

      Dearest Nexus:

      Thanks for this thoughtful reply. I have spoken with Pinchbeck and agree that he is clever, but fact/reality checking needed on Evolver.net is seriously lacking.

      Paxus at Twin Oaks
      9 Not here 2012

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