I generally don’t read Time Magazine anymore. I am more interested in other less sanitized views of the world. But i did find myself with the “Person of the Year” issue honoring Pope Francis. Early in the long article there is a section about how the Pope can’t please everyone in his church.
The papacy is mysterious and magical: it turns a septuagenarian into a superstar while revealing almost nothing about the man himself. And it raises hopes in every corner of the world—hopes that can never be fulfilled, for they are irreconcilable. The elderly traditionalist who pines for the old Latin Mass and the devout young woman who wishes she could be a priest both have hopes. The ambitious monsignor in the Vatican Curia and the evangelizing deacon in a remote Filipino village both have hopes. No Pope can make them all happy at once.
The reason i bring this up is not because i want to talk about Catholicism, but rather because i want to compare this big church with another, which i actually identify with: anarchism. I stumbled across this comic on Facebook.
The definition is pretty much right on, but the explanation below leaves me grumpy. There is nothing inherent in anarchy which preclude chaos or lawlessness. Especially when governments collapse there can certainly be periods of lawlessness which ensue and this can certainly be an anarchistic circumstance.
And it is definitely not the case that all anarchists are peaceful, even if you try to leave out the issue of self defense. I have some anarchist friends who believe that the only way to move from the current extremely dangerous situation to a better one is to use violence against agents of the state – especially the police, the military and political leaders.
Perhaps the most famous anarchist, Emma Goldman, supported her lover Alexander Berkman’s efforts to kill Henry Clay Frick, the chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company for his ruthless treatment of mill workers and miners. US President William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz who identified as an anarchist. There is no accrediting organization for anarchists, anyone who says they are an anarchist just might be – or they might be messing with you.
More recently, black block/autonom protesters have chosen violent tactics and strategies in their struggles with police at demonstrations around the world, from anti-nuclear protests in Germany, to the famous WTO protest in Seattle in 1999, to the teachers protest in Brazil last fall.
Most anarchists i know don’t embrace violence. This can be because of the “pre-figurative” arguments – we don’t want to use tools to create revolution which we are not planning on using once the revolution is complete. Other anarchists argue that violence is not a very effective tool, because the state has superior access to violence, including a court system which almost never addresses excessive police violence. And because in many cultures you can not win the hearts and minds of the populace using violent techniques.
I’ve been doing political organizing for over 3 decades and in all that time, in many countries and several cultures i have never been convinced that embracing violence was going to advance our political goals. [I should be clear that violence is when someone gets hurt, property destruction is not violence and has on occasion been a tactic groups i work with employ.]
A paradoxical quip i quote is “All people who generalize are fools.” And so it is with generalizing about the large church of anarchism. There is not much you can say that is true about all anarchists, except that they don’t think the government is going to solve their problems.
If this is interesting to you, consider reading:
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
[This post is under reconstruction and reconsideration]
It was a comfortable and engaging New Years Eve party at Twin Oaks and a dense and gregarious New Years eve eve party at Acorn. After years of trying i finally timed my sleeping right so i went to the eve eve party, stayed up late, slept late and then was able to go all night at the NYE party. At 7:30 AM i was sweeping confetti, i did this until Abigail texted me to come to bed at 9:30.
Lots of people have been asking me for my grade for these parties. You might not be familiar with this curious custom, but as part of the quasi-science of funology, we evaluate events on an academic letter range. A passable party, where people say they “had a good time” garners a C grade. A novel party, where at least some significant aspect has not been done before can ear a B grade. And if you change someone’s life (hopefully in a positive way) you can merit an A grade.
If this party was demonstrating anything new it was that we can have a quite small and successful new years. Besides the Acorners, there were perhaps 50 guests. By comparison some years back the New Years Eve party with the fuzzy tunnels we had 120 RSVPs.
We also had a different building then (despite it being in the same location), with much more space. Tupelo has changed and we have a couple of babies in residence and a need to reduce the party impact in parts of the building. [Something i failed at as room assignor actually, but that is another post.] Also the Twin Oaks part of the Southern Exposure seed business is in the rooms above the chair shop and music room in Tupelo, dramatically reducing the amount of free space to put guests and functions into.
But in exit interviews with a number of party participants i asked “was that one of the 5 best parties you have gone to?” and most of the responders said it was and a handful said it was the best party they had been to and were thinking about community differently having come. That for me as a community recruiter and a funologist is exciting. Somehow without a novel aspect we managed to pull off an A- event, in my grading (and i am often accused of grade inflation).
But the new knowledge was in the “learn from our mistakes” column. Confetti gets a D. No one was hurt by it, but it was almost all downside. I was somewhat skeptical before the event; it was slightly interesting at the New Year’s moment when there was quite a lot of it in the air. But now 4 days later, even after cleaning it for hours, it is still everywhere, including at the houses of party guests who attended the party.
You won’t see it next year.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
A tiny bit more than 15 years ago Google did not exist. In it’s relatively short life it has helped revolutionized the world of advertising. Specifically, it has helped get people used to the idea that they could pay nothing for relatively high quality internet and software services if they were just willing to put up with a few ads on their screens. This had the significant side effect of shutting down thousands of newspapers and cutting print media advertisement in half between 2006 and 2011.
The internet is a disruptive technology. It has completely change the way we travel, wiping out most travel agencies. It has eliminated most video rental stores and is well on its way to closing most of the countries book stores. Music stores are shutting down and tremendous revenues have been lost by artists (but mostly record labels) due to people sharing music online.
Beyonce is joining the digital disruption revolution with her newest self titled album. Instead of buying a bunch of print advertising, lining up talk show presentations, pre-releasing a hit single on the radio, having a huge release party and partnering with big retail brands, she turned to the internet to promote her album which released on Dec 12. The totality of her promotion was a tweet which said “Surprise” and the release for the full album and 17 videos on iTunes. In the first week it sold 1 million copies on iTunes, where it debuted as number 1.
When asked why she had moved away from classical promotion formats, she replied “I am bored with that.” But what is also true, is that if you can get away with this type of release, with your fans doing the promotion over social media, you can save millions in conventional display advertising by crowd sourcing. And for the first week of sales for this album, you had to buy the entire album, rather than cherry picking songs you like. In a country which seems to have no patience, this also significantly increases revenues over the ala carte approach.
CNN and the NY Times believe that only an artist as big as Beyonce could pull this off. She has 7 million Instagram followers and 54 million likes on her new album. And what is true is that this unhyped album had significantly higher first day and first week sales than her previous album which used a more convention sales approach. And we can certainly expect to see other bands with loyal fans try to dodge conventional promotion strategies by trying this disruptive approach.
For the last few years in late December google has done a cute video of what people search. i started last year using this as an indication of how out of it i am as contrasted with folks who are watching the media more closely. So here are this years top searched terms.
As was true last year, just under half of these i had never heard of (Paul Walker, Cory Monteith, Harlem Shake, Adrian Peterson) . But i am not really embarrassed by this pop culture failing. The Fast and Furious film series i am convinced are safely skippable. The popular TV show Glee is similarly uncompelling to me. The only thing about the Harlem Shake which is interesting to me is elements of why it became so popular so quickly (the memetic structure of it) . i could care less about football.
It is balmy. I am walking around in a t-shirt and i am sweating. It is going to get warmer. Records are being broken, la de da.
It is the kind of weather which makes people think climate change is perhaps a fine thing, at least in the short term. It is also a state which is important enough to deserve a name. When i thought about uncharacteristically war weather and what it was called i remembered “Indian summer”. A term i assume is racist in origin.
I would call this transition winter. Something is changing, likely it is the climate. Though as Alexis is fond of pointing out, “the weather is not the climate.” And just as we ditched the term “Global Warming” for “Climate Change” we can expect that not only will we have uncharacteristically warm winters, we are looking at more “super storms.”
You can get bummed out by climate change and this will almost certainly do no good. Or you can look at it as an organizing opportunity. For days like today, the plan is simple – go out and enjoy the day [As i write there is a particularly iconic frisbee game going with lots of people in shorts and t-shirts.]
For the harsh side of transition winter, we can prepare to outperform the Red Cross. The idea is to use the opportunities of climate change to build new self-reliant (and hopefully ecological impact mitigating) local groups. This is another thing the Occupy spirit could grow up to be.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
Despite the hours a day i spend online, i am largely a pop culture media bimbo. Until i saw this slap down, i was unaware that the pop song i had heard in the car had a highly offensive video. i take some pride in only being aware of the satire and not the original, which i can full imagine from the cut up was crass and degrading.
One of the places with the most horrific women’s rights crisis is India. There is a 30% female infanticide rate, honor killings and until recently largely unpunished gang rape. Feminists in India are stepping up with one of the most potent device in the propagandists tool box: satire.
Part of what i love about this following video is that it is a beautiful bilingual presentation. Aware that some of her audience are more comfortable and comprehensive in Hindi than English, activist and actress Mallika Sherawat flows between the languages while clearly being enraged. What is also clear is the nationalism she is fighting is as bad as the sexism.
Sometimes your entry on the world stage comes when they put a bullet into your head and you survive. Malala Uousafzai beat the odds of the Taliban assassination attempt and became the youngest person ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. More importantly, she has leveraged her moment of media attention into a autobiography, high profile interviews (like this link to an interview on the Daily Show) and an enduring non-profit designed to bring educational opportunities to girls and young women in Pakistan.
These videos were all taken from a longer brilliant retrospective article from an online rag i have never heard of called PolicyMic.
i will confess, i have been acculturated to believe in science. i start from a place of believing that my cell phone is doing what it is programmed to. My experience says somethings else is happening.
With my Android it was clearly the machine. It always replaced Abigail with Gail Black, the phone number was Abigail’s but the picture, name and email were all Gail’s. I would try to edit, the phone would toggle back. At one point it had some strange soft ring going on. It would not stop, i turned off everything, including the phone itself. The ringing continued. I unplugged the battery and it finally stopped. Simply there was a ghost in that machine.
So i have gone to the dark side. i got an iPhone. Actually the hammocks business got me an iPhone as an upgrade to the Droid so that i could use the iPhone credit card slider for fairs. Aubby cleverly (or perhaps obviously) got me a bumper car case for it, which has already saved my butt several times. And i am pained to admit it, but it is a better phone.
No doubt the Droid is more programmable, but the iPhone is simply better designed. If you are guessing how to operate it at any step, you are likely to guess right. i don’t want to have to learn how my phone works, i want it to be figuring out exactly what it is that i want it to be doing next.
And even the iPhone has some annoying bug including apps you cant turn off. i am told all these problems will be solved when i upgrade, except i’ve been locked out of my iTunes account.
We just seem to disagree on what smart is.
Some of the folks who come through the communities conference have incredible energy. Nicole was this year’s hard charger. Working principally through social media she is building up a network of representatives from the communities which she calls Hybrid RBE for Hybrid Resource Based Economy.
She drives her members through hooking people up and asking what she hopes are penetrating questions. She posted this recently:
Which would you rather have? A. Your current wage with no guarantee of it covering all your basic needs rather long being able to afford your wants. or B. Basic needs guaranteed to be covered, with the possibility of your wants being met as well, and no wage at all.
Most of her hybrid RBE folks think they want choice B. Some feel that this is just a government handout, which it certainly is not in our case (though we did get some Obama stimulus money at Twin Oaks to put up solar panels). Nicole wants me to explain what we do for money:
At Twin Oaks we currently have 7 business areas:
- Indexing Books
- Conferences, Gathering and Workshops
- Outside Work
- Wholesale non-GMO seeds
- Growing and selling organic seeds
Acorn has the retail seed business, which is larger than any single business of Twin Oaks.
These businesses are exceptional because they are run largely cooperatively, and with as little hierarchy as we can get away with (which is fairly little actually). They permit flexible labor forces to work in schedules which permit child care and other regular schedule shifts. These businesses all have stable customer bases and in many cases continue to grow with minimal marketing. [Most people who are interested in sales and marketing don't want to live in a rural commune.] All the “supervisors” in these businesses do line work as well, there is a strong training culture in most of our business ventures. Excellent parenting benefits. Full health and dental coverage. Post secondary education support for children, etc, etc.
But this is not what makes us really interesting. What makes us worthy of model value is that we have a tremendously powerful library system which dramatically reduces costs and shrinks our carbon footprint. Some of the libraries/insurances we have include:
- Commie Clothes
- Car Share
- Bike Share
- Cassette Tape/CDs/DVDs and now a huge digital media drive of TV, Movies and Music.
- Tool Library
- Catastrophic Health Insurance
So if we take just one important example, we have 17 cars. The average group of 100 US Americans (about our size) have 77 vehicles. Our vehicles drive about as much as each of the mainstream cars, only with many fewer miles per person served. We do clever collective shopping, don’t commute to work and carpool fiercely. And at the end of the day we are well over the needed 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that the UN IPCC is demanding.
We are successful business people who have a tiny carbon footprint and are living relatively low stress life, eating the food we grow in the buildings we build, surrounded by kids we are homeschooling. It is nothing less than a model which if scaled up would save the world.
But we probably won’t do it because we need to have our own stuff.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
There is one especially wonderful phrase that every busy organizer really wants to hear
“How can i help?”
Today it was Angie asking, and even from 500 miles away in the Amherst area, it brightens my entire morning. In part because distance is no impediment to her assistance, because she has super fast internet and an even faster brain.
Co-managing Acorn’s current problems after the arson requires a lot of critical path analysis. With 10 bedrooms displaced where do we put everyone? [3 Heartwood rooms were far enough from the blaze that they have been reoccupied after some cleaning.] Our short term solutions (often tents and treehouses) won’t work in a month when it gets really cold. We want to finish the new seed building so we don’t have to move the old office back into Heartwood, only to move it again when the new seed building is finished. But here our agendas are conflicting, because we have already stolen some construction crew away from that project to help with the clean-up after the fire. There is a large unfinished straw bale wall, which just lost its honcho.
But the longer i look at these problems, the more my analysis points back to getting the business running. The Southern Exposure website temporarily indicated we were not taking orders (immediately after the fire), then it indicated there would be a delay – but what we really don’t want is for income to start going down because of lost orders, so on top of everything, we picked seeds (locking ourselves in the picking room until we had everything done, to avoid letting smoke in) and then shipped everything except a few dozen allium orders.
And my particular piece of getting the business running is proposing seed price increases. Specifically, completing the comparison of our prices with our competitors and respecting the requests from our Twin Oaks and LEF growers that they need to be making a living wage all the while making an acceptable margin for Acorn to run both the community and the business.
So while others have been painting and cleaning endless soot covered objects or working with Strandbeest (the new straw bale honcha) or planning boards on the weekend with X-member Rob Jones, i have been tweaking giant spreadsheets and learning that pumpkins are part of the cucurbits family.
Angie can jump in and fill in the dozens of holes in this huge spreadsheet which have occurred for good and bad reasons. Using her fast internet and organizer’s mind (which will prevent her from either getting stuck or overworking problems), i will get a whole bunch of data in. She can rescue the lost 2008 price list which someone deleted rather than “hide” which is lost in one of the 200 versions of this spreadsheet.
And if Angie does this work in Amherst, we don’t have to have me, or some other communard, do it at Acorn, who can then focus on the many problems at hand. And thus she becomes a virtual clean-up worker.
If you saw this video, you might change your name to Strandbeest also.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
- The police gave us this building – Freedonia Chronicles
- Anarchism Talk – University of Hawaii
- From Point A
- Community Snapshots
- Community Quest – March 15th in Brooklyn
- What the mainstream media is not telling you about nuclear power
- Old Guard and Young Turks
- What Anarchism Isn’t
- Tell the USDA what you really think
- Legacy of Trust: MetaBehaviorism
- The Joy of Lex
- Eulogy for my Dad – re-post
- Nuclear Newsreel, Thursday, February 20, 2014
- I am, I’m asking you to quit.*
- McDonogh Prep Assembly Speech