Errico Malatesta was something of an anarchist super star, if such a thing is not self contradictory. Toward the end of his life, he was so popular he could draw crowds in the tens of thousands to hear him speak.
His political career started early, as a boy he was arrested for writing an “insolent and threatening” letter to Italian King Victor Emmanuel II. Many nations would look unfavorably at Malatesta, he was forced to leave Italy, he was blocked from entering Syria and Turkey, he was expelled from Switzerland. He also opposed syndicalism because he believed it created an elite class of trades people. He would spend ten years of his life in prison.
But it is his ideas and not his personal history which i find especially compelling. One of the many compelling points in his short book “Anarchy” was:
Anarchy literally means “without government”. It has taken on the common secondary meaning of “disorder and confusion” only because people have been conditioned to believe that the abolition of government is impossible. In the days when people believed that the abolition of monarchy was impossible, the word “republic” carried a similar meaning to “anarchy” today.
I find it fascinating that the people who control language choose a second meaning for the name of the style of government/self rule that they were afraid of with chaos and disorder, both for Republic a hundred years ago and for Anarchy today.
30 years ago i went to the Arcosanti community in the dessert of Arizona. When i was younger i was fascinated by the dense building ideas of Paolo Solari who was the original designer of this extraordinary community. When i was on the tour, someone kept explaining to our guide how this type of venture was impossible and would not work, they described all the businesses that they personally needed and how they could not see them there. A blindness i would consider a failure of imagination.
Most people can not imagine work environments without bosses and hierarchy. This failure of imagination leads them to think that these things are not possible. And everyday i am at Acorn i am amazed, pleased and impressed by the business which we run that has no managers or bosses, dynamically determines much of the work which needs to be done and still comfortably succeeds in supporting the community.
There are dozens of answers to the question “Who will build the roads?” The fact that some people can’t visualize how this would be done, does not mean it can not be done, it often just means that people have poor imaginations or are wedded to the status quo.
i breezed into commie clothes and got a funny t-shirt which i barely read. After walking around in it for half an hour and a couple of people saying, “are you wearing that to the wedding?” i decided i should go back to commie and upgrade my attire. On my return trip i found a nice embroidered light weight shirt, which was praised by several people after i emerged with it on.
The next day i walked into the Acorn smoke shack and guest Johnny said, “Oh i like that shirt,” to which i replied, “Would you wear it?” to which he unhesitatingly shot back, “yes!”. I immediately pulled the shirt over my head and handed it to him. He stripped his shirt off before a slightly shocked new visitor and put the embroidered one right on. The total length of our exchange was less than 2 minutes. i walked off wearing his simple green t-shirt.
The pitch i made to the PBS reporter who was just here is we basically have two choices: we can learn to share things, be generous and cooperate, OR we can continue to be selfish, possessive, and untrusting. In the latter case, the world dies. Let’s practice giving stuff away in a big way.
When i was in my early teens i thought (for some reason which escapes me now) that i should be more virtuous. i did a bit of research and found a long list of virtues in some book (this is before Wikipedia would direct me here). Having studied the list and being an efficient sort of teen (not wanting to have to work the new virtue problem too hard), i settled on patience. My thinking was this, all you have to do is wait.
Turns out in my particular style of parenting, patience is the key to success. Twin Oaks requires an increasing amount of work from it’s kids as they get older. Willow needs to work a handful of hours now and it will bump up to 8 hours a week when he turns 13. Mostly he is responsible for his homework and education.
For a while time i was worried that Willow would play video games and watch Star Trek and resist both school work and work around the community. Over the last few months he has been doing more of both. Hawina has been instrumental in helping him find work that he actually wants to do. Like helping Sky with preparing lunch or doing a Tupelo Serf (cleaning shift) or boxing tofu or stocking his residence’s kitchen.
And good things come to those who wait. And the big benefit to the more patient approach is that he feels he is making the choices (which he is), rather than being commanded by his parents to do something. And some times the easiest thing to do is the right thing to do.
My favorite moment from this Tupelo Serf shift with Willow was after i asked him to help me spell something he said “i love it when adults ask me how to spell things.”
[Willow has Read and Approved the Post]
About 20 year ago i got a call from Teddy Goldsmith. The British publisher, author and philosopher who was actually calling for his billionaire brother Jimmy Goldsmith. Jimmy wanted to assemble the worlds top anti-nuclear experts and campaigners and fund their best projects. I was happy to help organize the event, and despite not being experienced or important enough, Teddy asked me to come to the event which was hosted in Jimmy’s castle in France.
Sir Jimmy was hardly a progressive. We disagreed on immigration and a host of other issues. This was a classic case of political rap around, where the anti-government conservatives agree with the anarchists.
It was an eclectic, high powered gathering. There was a Russian nuclear scientist who had jumped to the anti-nuclear resistance after the wall came down. The head of Greenpeace International’s nuclear campaign was there. A US energy efficiency expert who would later be selected by Clinton as an under secretary of DOE. An expert in nuclear weapons non-proliferation attended. We tried to get Amory Lovins to the event, who was friendly with both Teddy and Jimmy, but his schedule did not permit it.
Jimmy asked the grilled the group with smart questions. In the end he said he wanted proposals from each of us for what we thought would be the most effective anti-nuclear projects. i was doing a fair amount of grant writing at the time and asked how long the proposals should be. He replied, “Just one page. If you can’t convince me in a page, you won’t convince me in more.” Various Goldsmith grants would fund anti-nuclear activities i was involved with for the following 7 years i was in Europe, mostly projects in eastern Europe.
One of the biggest projects Jimmy would support (not just in the field of anti-nuclear efforts) was his brothers environmental magazine, The Ecologist. Which recently put out a brilliant analysis as to why the so called Nuclear Renaissance was dead. The rest of this post is inspired and stolen from this article.
Globally, nuclear power is in decline. In 1993 it produced 17% of the global electricity supply, in 2013 it was 10%. Nuclear power suffered its biggest ever one-year fall in 2012 – nuclear generation fell 7% from the 2011 figure. And while most of this was from closed reactors in Japan, nuclear generation fell in no less than 17 countries, including all of the top five nuclear-generating countries. Almost half of the worlds operating reactors have been doing so for 30 years, yet the average life of reactors which started operations is 23 years.
In the US in 2009 there were 31 applications for the construction of new reactors. Only four of these applications turned into actual construction. All for of these reactors are in states which permit utilities to bill customers for construction costs far before the reactor is finished, and even if the reactor is never finished. At the same time, for the first time in 15 years, this year US utilities announced the closing of 5 rectors which will put the US below 100 reactors for the first time in decades.
In western Europe there are only two reactors currently under construction. The estimated construction cost in Finland has ballooned from $4.5 billion to $12 billion. The estimated cost for the new reactor in France has ballooned from $5 billion to $12.8 billion. Neither of these reactors are finished, there are expensive lawsuits which will add to the costs and further delays and cost overruns are nearly certain. The proposed new reactors in the UK at Hinkley Point are estimated at a staggering $29 billion, making them the most expensive reactor construction project ever proposed and at a cost over twice what the UK is paying for power, even if it comes in on time and budget.
Nuclear power has always been a con game. With efforts from billionaires and anarchists and the wake up call of a terrible accident, we might actually get to the other side of this terrible game.
I like it when our kids go to protests. Willow has been at a number of protests and has helped bail me out of jail. Yesterday an intrepid group of Oakers, including Edmund, Sapphyre, Christian, Tomato and Kaya went to the US Capitol in Washington DC to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership affectionately referred to as TPP.
What is it like to sit next to your mom and have her tell you that there is some chance she might get arrested? Fortunately, things did not go that way at the most recent protest of the TPP.
The TPP is barely a trade agreement. It is being called a trade agreement, because the business media likes these, corporations can justify lobbying for “free trade” and because what it really is is so ugly that it would be politically impractical to ask for it. It is a transfer of power away from governments and citizens to corporations.
It’s about corporations being able to sue countries for passing laws or making court rulings that might impact their future profits. It’s about Monsanto wanting a back door way to block labeling of GMO food in all the TPP countries. It’s about a hugely profitable pharmaceutical industry that wants to make sure that people in Vietnam can’t access affordable generic medicine. And no, this is not going to create good jobs in the US. TPP makes it even easier for corporations to move production to countries with unbelievably low wages and bad working conditions.
Here are a couple of the better propaganda pieces on it.
These trade agreement laws are such favorites of big business, that they can not avoid filling them with all manner of poor, unconstitutional, and corrupt structures. Just as the progressive movement helped push back the WTO negotiations in Seattle in 1999, now activists must rally to block this far less attractive “free trade” agreement. And TPP is in trouble. Many of the countries involved are not agreeing to the extreme US proposals in the negotiations. And there is a lot of opposition in the US Congress to passing TPP and to passing Fast Track Trade Authority (which hands over control of trade treaties to the executive branch). Without fast track, TPP itself is unlikely to pass in Congress.
Our folks did one of the few things you can do about this situation – they went and spoke truth to power. Now power was only willing to put up with a tiny amount of the truth. But the protesters danced nimbly between rules of the congressional committees and their rights to free speech.
The shirts were about North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA. TPP is an expanded version of NAFTA that includes more countries. Michael Froman (the US Trade Rep who was testifying at the House hearing we went to) was talking a few days ago about how great NAFTA has been, and he said that NAFTA created big trade surplus for the US. This is just plain false. The annual trade deficit with Mexico and Canada has increased by $155 Billion.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]