Blog Archive

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Shape of the World

a tentative leap

(Raphèl maí amèche zabí almi )

I'm having difficulty.
The three parts of the Weighty Tome I'm working on...1. Historia(my story),2. The Shape of the World(the framework I've constructed on which to hang my apprehensions of Reality), and 3.what I've labeled “Alamo”...a monument to other words, what I reckon we should do about it all....
I'm having a hard time with the first two.
Historia is hard, because my life before Mason was pretty's a real chore to wander around in that history without re-living the pain that went with it. Of course, this can probably be dealt with with the proverbial Time, Distance and's the latter that I'm still working on.
With Shape, it's even harder...but for much different reasons.
The Thing I'm describing is so huge and complex that it doesn't lend itself to descriptions, especially given that the usual, conventional words are almost useless, as descriptors. Too, given the maxim, that all knowledge is Rigorous agnosticism...and that so much of what we take for granted regarding the shape of our world, our place in it, and the history of us, is simply inaccurate...if not purposefully clouded...I feel the need to start at the beginning....and to define terms as rigorously as possible.
The subject at hand is so large and interconnected that I often find myself lost in it.
I feel like a spider in her web...from me, all of these branching threads go out in every direction...a word stands for a whole host of things.
“Democracy” encompasses a million strands of thought, going back to tribal Neolithic social structures...there ain't a short and sweet.
One of the biggest problems facing our world, today...if not THE the destruction of Language as an agreed upon set of definitional symbols.
Our words have been poisoned, often on purpose, and for nefarious and short term ends.
This leads directly to the Ontological Crisis I'm always harping on.
A Politician can say “Liberty”, and mean one thing....but given ten listeners, there are ten definitions of “Liberty”....this is true with so many of our important words, that I find I cannot talk to anyone, any more....without spending a considerable amount of time defining, and arguing about the definitions, of terms.
Assumptions, while necessary for the usefulness of any model, tend towards dogmatism.
Economics comes to mind...especially since the early 70's in the USA.
The myriad assumptions involved with something as grand as the Shape of the World,( socially, politically,economically, ecologically) have been evident to me for some time.
Arguing online with sundry folks, I was often confronted with the brick wall of a different world entirely...right next to the world I inhabit...
It was confusing, at first...these brick walls that I always seemed to run into with folks; especially when engaged in a political argument. I would attempt to tear down their strawmen, and would end up having to go to First Principals...ever so patiently.
It turned out that a great many of the words I was using...and even historical events I was referencing...meant something different,or were remembered by my interlocutors in a completely different way.
This is a cumbersome task, abandoning all of the big words, and historical references, unless one has time and inclination to set out a grand argument.
I had the time, and was so inclined.
An example/digression:
I hit on the idea of Peak Oil independently.
I was curious as to why Lil George and the Gang were so hell bent on Iraq...and why they were so obviously lying about their reasons and desires.
So I stuck an old NatGeo map of the world on the wall, and began sticking a bunch of colored stick-pins into for oil/gas/coal and it's apparatus, red for the presence of the US Military, white for drugs, and so on.
The way those pins clustered was a surprise.
I intuited that there was something to I went online and rummaged around for weeks...and hit on something called “Die”
The implications of Peak Oil (and peak natgas, peak copper, and on and on), as is my usual habit, I attempted to prove it falsify it.
After years of these attempts, I found that I couldn't...lacking some unknown secret and esoteric knowledge.
Peak Everything seems to be “True”.
For me, it is now an Examined Assumption, and as close as I'm willing to come towards anything resembling an Absolute.
But other people don't do this, it turns out.
The violence I was sometimes confronted with was astounding.
Once, during a rather heated argument with an oil-field worker...who believed in the cornucopian version... instead of providing numerous links to numerous sources, all but proving that PO was, indeed, reality...I linked to the Wiki page on PO.
Out came the flaming brands!
Didn't I know that ...”Wiki is a government/liberal/communist plot...and the furthest thing from the truth”?!
Of course, I had already looked into the workings of Wiki...and was satisfied that it was genuine, mostly. It appeared to be as accurate as the physical encyclopedia sets that I compulsively collect...except that it was continually updated, in a democratic fashion...and that if I took issue with some portion of it, I was perfectly free to join up and argue my case.
(as opposed to...say...Britannica...wherein a bunch of all but anonymous “experts” compile that multivolume compendium of “Truth”...with the necessary tacit assertion of trustworthiness.)

The Wiki Page in question had hundreds of links to THEIR sources...many of a scientific was a shortcut on my part.
But one would have thought that I had shat on the church floor.

The counter=argument consisted of a lot of foul language...regarding communists and hippies...and a link to Fox News, World Net Daily and Drudge.
(because those are so obviously trustworthy sources.(sigh))

Hence, the Ontological Crisis...everyone is in their little Reality Tunnels...their Information Silos...and are perfectly content with their numerous Unexamined Assumptions.
I get discouraged by the enormity of the problem.
I want a bigger and better Reality Tunnel....a better Conceptual Framework than that provided by the “Conventional Wisdom”...or any of the Subcultural crannies that abound, today.(2 kinds of “Biker Culture”, Skate Culture, hot-rods, the various professional and amateur sports,fishermen, the various drug cultures, on and on...all the myriad and overlapping ways we segregate ourselves.)

There have always been Rulers....and those rulers have always had at least some of the regular folks fooled into supporting their rule...
But with the advent of the Information Age...riding on the back of the Right Wing* Counter-Revolution(ongoing since circa 1970)...what I've called the Dark Magicians of the Right* have, essentially, won; they have succeeded in overthrowing Reason and Thought and the Enlightenment Project, itself.
Now that I have a Monastery/Library, where it's quiet enough to get to work on a book or three, I find that I don't want to, any more.
The Confusion and outright Bullshit is so deep, now, that I can discern no way forward.
Locally, it's orders of magnitude worse, of course...I do live in Rural Texas, after all...but this confusion is widespread.
Recent polls(which I always take with a healthy dose of kosher salt...but still...) suggest that around 43% of Americans believe in “Young Earth Creationism”.
Another, from '07 or so, indicates that a majority believes that the First Amendment goes too far...especially regarding Freedom of the Press.
The Non-Existent “Liberal Media” still gets considerable coverage, by everyone from former presidents to the demented old man at the corner cafe.
We are surrounded and penetrated by Myths...myths that are taken as Reality.
Are we a “Democracy”?
Well...I can vote...but what are the actual choices?
Can Mr Smith get to Washington? If so, can he/she really do anything about the gigantic structures that encircle us?

Our language serves to delimit our thought...erect a fence around it...just like in Orwell, but with much more subtlety...and while there are certainly smoky rooms with powerful men in them...and while those powerful men do indeed implement policies that do indeed effect us all...they, too, are cogs in the Machine.
The System has it's own Logic...and it rolls on, no matter who gets to Congress or the White House or the Boardroom.
No one is really in charge...but plenty of people think that they are...and they serve to make things worse, generally...because no one, in power or out, has a clue as to the actual Shape of the World.(!)

It's easy to get all pessimistic about the shape of things....and where the various trendlines lead.
Every time I go look at news, it becomes a little clearer that we are fucked.
My usual news-haunts are Huffpo, Alternet, Cryptogon, and the 3 “liberal” Texas outlets,the Tx Tribune, Tx Observer and Burnt Orange Report.
I wander a lot, range far and wide...but these are where I go to keep abreast.
I spend a lot of time wandering in Wiki.
Many will say, “well there's yer problem, right there...all those lefty propaganda sites...”
I have heard this so often, that I habitually check myself ...part of my ongoing habit of mind of rigorous agnosticism.
Of course, those same folks, more often than not, then present as “evidence” something from Worldnet Daily,lol...without a hint of irony.
This whole deal is a mere cobble in the road we're on...but it is near the heart of the Ontological Crisis.
We cannot distinguish the Real....information silos, and Reality Tunnels abound.
If one believes Fox, one cannot believe MSNBC...and vice versa.
I spent a great deal of time, these past 13 years, digging around in data and opinion and purported facts, attempting to assemble a more realistic framework of Reality on which I could then hang my observations, and the numerous data-points I accumulate in a given day.
The result is the conclusion(tentative, of course) that ,again,no one is in charge...although plenty of folks believe that they are, and many of them have definite and falsifiable effects on our collective Reality.(Federal Reserve, or whatever.)
But even they are fallible....a situation made exponentially more damaging, by the fact that they are the most likely to believe that they know what they're doing, and that they have a good hold on what is real.
Most of us little people, also, believe that we, too, have a good idea of what's going on, and that we have some agency to influence our little corners of the world.
It is near intolerable to hint otherwise.
It's bad enough when an ordinary person learns of the more spooky actions of government....all of the surveillance and such.... dystopian visions of Big Brother, Corporate and/or Government, depending on one's political leanings.
It is orders of magnitude worse, when that same person , after following the money and power, learns that those proverbial smoke filled rooms are populated by people who are just as befuddled and confused as they are; given, to different degrees and areas of interest.
The whole of Human Civilisation is on automatic pilot, with myriad humans and groups of humans, scrapping over myriad steering wheels...all of which are connected to the steering mechanism, in ways great and small.
The Big Brothers, all 30 million of them, are as drunk and stupid and borderline insane as the rest of us.
Their steering wheels are just a little better connected than ours.
...and their self image is more positive....they believe more strongly in their ability and agency than we do.
Of course, this has always been the case. Since there's been enough of us, in one place, to amount to a Tribe, Culture or Civilisation, individuals, to varying degrees, have always believed as much. There's always been a few who are more in the know, and who have that much more power than their fellows, out in the fields.
The difference, is that we now have constructed the first Global Civilisation. Unlike in former times....ostensibly, within my lifetime...when one could ,with sufficient effort, get out of a given civilisation...either to another one, or to some barely inhabited, there ain't nowhere to escape to.
Every square inch of the surface of the planet is under the purview of one state or another, and many of those states are either beholden to, or a part of, some larger conglomeration of it Pax Americana, or Exxon(often the same thing)

There are lines and borders and jurisdictions everywhere...all overlapping and interconnecting...from State to city to MUD to HOA, to private enclave.
It's confusing, to say the least.
Of course, some have figured a way to exist sort of outside most of these lines...but it costs a lot of money. Corporations are Supra-National, Very Wealthy Individuals are “Cosmopolitan”, at least in practice, the UN, and the Vatican employ numerous defacto “citizens of the world”...and the “Intelligence “ Agencies, with the US versions safely at the apex, have long ago forgotten about those pesky international borders.
A few very rich “Libertarians” have been threatening to build various structures in the oceans....outside of national waters...floating and fixed.
Pirate Bay, operating on an abandoned oil platform in the English Channel, is another attempt to get Outside.
Folks in America work their tails off, to varying degrees of success, in order to get a place in the country, and to least a little bit.
The Christiana neighborhood, in Denmark, is an example of the same drive, but (mostly, and tentatively) accomplished through more Social Anarchist means.
A decade or more ago, there was a movement called the Free State Project...wherein a bunch of better off Libertarians would move, en masse, into a county, in order to overwhelm the apathetic voters, already extant, and to thereby shape, up from the county level, “Government”.
I am unaware fo the success or failure of this particular project.
Presumebly, those folks are either 1. busy implementing their plan, serving on school boards and city councils....2.fighting acrimoniously amongst themselves about “purity”, and such...or 3. have been, long ago, destroyed, imprisoned, disillusioned or otherwise marginalised by the Machine and it's agents...(there are many avenues to this, ranging from the rather mundane to the tin-foil.).
It's likely that a combination of these three is the case.
a tea person on slate sez that nazis were lefties:”The only group that could legitimately claim that the Nazis were to the right of the spectrum would be Communists and Marxists, since they were further to the left of the spectrum.  The National Socialist party had heavy backing from the labor unions in Germany.  They favored communal work programs, high taxes, redistribution of wealth, and the expansion of welfare programs.  The National Socialists also favored tight regulation of personally owned firearms, and the pre-eminence of the state over personal liberties.  All of those things are antithetical to a far right viewpoint favoring limited government and emphasis on personal freedoms.  There is a neo-con element to the TP which does favor military expansionism and restrictions on personal freedoms, however those in the TP who wax Libertarian find onerous restrictions on their personal freedoms and military expansionism to be anathema to their political philosophy. “
One, Jonah Goldberg's book(“Liberal Fascists”,) has been thoroughly sunk by everyone who ought to know about such things(I'm thinking of Paxton and Neiwert specifically)...but some folks just can't let go of an alligator.
Such nonsense is kept around to knock things over and contribute to the Confusion.
Two, after careful study, it appears to me that the freedom loving Libertarians are not the Teafaction that we should necessarily be worried about...though some of their ideas could be quite dangerous(“corporations=liberty”, somehow).
The Neocons are much more dangerous...their fantasies of Conquering and Laying Waste for “freedom” have already cost the US, and the rest of the world, far too much.
But it's the John Birch Society rejects...the neoMcCarthyists...the Brownshirts wrapped in the Flag and throwing Bibles at everyone who I worry about.
And this, my friend is indeed the “Far Right Fringe”.
The Nazis, and Mussolini before them, used some of the ideas of Socialism, yes...but Socialism is at least as complex a word as “Democracy” or “Republic”, “Capitalism” or “Liberty”.
Consider Social Security.... since it's inception, the Right Wing of American politics has been dancing on a tight wire...attempting to undo that wildly popular program, while appearing to do the opposite.
All politicians do this dance, on at least some issues, and to at least some degree.
The Nazis were no different in this regard.
The Democratic Party, similarly, largely voted for the Patriot Act...and Welfare “Reform”, and too many others for this space....

My point in this little aside, is that things are far too Complex for such Simplistic, often Ignorant, thinking.Left/Right, Conservative/Liberal, D/R...
Hakim Bey talks, cryptically, about Temporary Autonimous Zones(TAZ), as in Rave Culture, where a group of folks essentially take over a space, and occupy it for a while...doing as they please...until someone or some thing comes along to run them off or incarcerate them.
Note that every piece of real estate in America, to some degree, is a TAZ....if you fail to pay your property taxes, someone will come and take it from you.
Alodial Title does not exist, for all practical purposes.
“Owning” property is conditional on paying “Rent” to the state.
….and forget about “Privacy” on your rented parcel...anyone with a FLIR or an aircraft(or a drone) can fly 400 feet above you, and look all they please.Cops can. Willy-nilly, wander over your 1000 acre ranch, given the “Open Fields Doctrine”...coming right up to your actual Yard(“Curtilege”)...with no warrant, or by-your-leave.
Your phone and email and web history and financial information are recorded and scrutinised by millions of people and machines.
Satellites in the heavens look down upon you, in numerous spectra.
Even I can access older versions of such technology...and older and cruder satellite imagery... to spy on my neighbor.
The tools of oppression are everywhere, and more powerful than ever....but they are not perfect.
The people who attempt to use those tools are just as fallible as we are, all things considered...they are marginally less befuddled...but only marginally.
I remember being freaked out by “Total Information Awareness”....the nascent agency trying to be born out of Poindexter's head...
Enormous uproar from everyone, from bloggers to sitting US Senators.
...and Poindexter relented...or at least appeared to.
The reality is that TIA indeed became reality, just as a myriad, instead of a monolith. We'll never know the true extent of these activities.
We don't have the “clearance”.
This is terrifying, of course....but underneath and behind it is the fallibility of Human Kind, and their Creations.
Trillions of conversations happen every day outside the field of vision of anyone but those engaged in the conversation.
The dreams of the Thinkers at the NSA, or wherever, can never be completely realised.
The world, and even the Human portion of it, are simply to complex and chaotic.
If a system could be built to have total awareness of the world, it would be all but useless. Too much information.
Here is our Out.

“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to enquire. We know that the wages of secrecy are corruption. We know that in secrecy error, undetected, will flourish and subvert. “- J. Robert Oppenheimer


Turns out that I'm still a Libertarian.
I had abandoned them after Lil' George went to Washington(Darth was the proverbial Man in the Yellow Hat)...the Libertarian Party had moved even further to the Right...”Free Market” was their god, and the “Perfect Expression of Freedom” was the supra-national Corporation, and the whole zoo of “Finance” that goes with it.
With Lil George and the Gang running the show, it seemed imperative to join up with whomever was in opposition to I joined the Democratic Party.The Local Branch, in their Hillforts, sure liked my fiery letters to the editor of the local paper...but beyond that, had little use for me. Bill Clinton had given me a bad taste in my mouth, ever since NAFTA and Gramm-Rudman.
Taking kitchen shears to the ragged “Safety Net” and calling it “Reform” didn't endear him to me, either.
This is, apparently, in violation of some unwritten rule in (D)-Land.
The presence, near a Democratic President ,of someone like Larry Summers was enough to justify withholding my undying loyalty to Party.
The Bailouts...especially the one's we didn't find out about till years later...the Drone Strikes...the wishy-washiness on everything from Gay Rights to the War on all combines to make me leery as hell of the so-called “MainStream”.
So I'm a “Left Libertarian”.
...with Democratic Socialist leanings.(definitions for all of these terms are readily accessible, online. Google is your friend)
I'm a Hyper-Federalist,and keen on Re-Regulating the Very Large, and De-Regulating the Truly Small...local, state and federal.
I'm for Distribution of the Means of Production as far and widely as possible....Democritise Everything...which Idea can be found spelled right out in both Adam Smith and Karl anyone who has read both would already know.
Import/Export Controls, Capital Controls, Monetary Controls...all at the Tippy Top....a la FDR.
I'm for Vigorous Trust Busting....a la TDR.
But at the middle to the lowest levels, I'm for much more freedom to be left alone, barring injury to another.
I think that stringent limitations on Corporations, in all their iterations, is absolutely necessary. If I must maintain Liability for my truck, why should the owners of Exxon(indeed, Exxon himself!) be free from responsibility?
System selects for Psychopathy.

Cheaters and Liars win.
Corruption and Underhandedness are necessary for success.

As usual in Reagan's America, all of us little fish are blamed for the poisoned water we swim in. Worse, we are well trained to blame ourselves.
For all of the hollering about “Small Business” and the Entrepreneurial Spirit, we allow Giant Corps(e) to write the rules, and to trample on truly small business.
When, by some accounting trick, Walmart can be considered a “Small Business”, it should be clear to everyone that something is terribly wrong.
But we are stupid.

We rail against “Big Government”, yet continue to shop at the detriment of actual Small Business(our neighbors).
We bitch about the existence of Minimum Wage...a Floor for what folks make for working...and at the same time, bitch about the tattered Welfare System, that keeps those same working folks above Poverty levels.
I say, at this point, gooberment is all that's standing between giant monoliths and total control...a neo corporate feudalism...however corrupt and dysfunctional that gooberment is...we, after all, allowed our gooberment to be bought and stolen...we abdicated...and we ceased to Think.
We vote ...when we're not too busy eating chips, or something...for heartless assholes who obviously don't give a damn about the ordinary folks who work for a living, but pay half-hearted lip service to “the Values of Work”...These same soul-less assholes, then turn around, and fellate the super rich, and even hand over taxpayer money to the corps(e) and hedgefunds and trusts that these same very rich folks hide behind....being far too dishonest and sneaky to play their games out in the sunlight.(see: Gross, Mills,Domhoff, Chomsky,et alia)
“Welfare Queens” are pilloried...even though they cannot be objectively proven to exist, at all(driving through the Barrio does not count as “proof”, sorry)...but heaven forbid we should also direct our ire at the local rich folks who get “crop Subsidies”..often for running a few cows for “tax purposes”. That Government Handout is just fine, it seems.
The Minions of the Hidden Aristocracy...the one whose defining feature is its insistence that it does not exist...they keep us busy hating on each other, over details and relatively non-issues, in the grand scheme of things...fighting over the proverbial algal mat, floating on the surface of our pond, hogging the light and oxygen, yet blaming the minnows and copepods for the hypoxia and murk.
The Omnipresent and near Omniscient Machine:
A worldview...a Zeitgeist, even...adhered to by the uber-wealthy few, and their minions....then spread perniciously into the Mind of America.
Machine is everywhere.
I read Adam Smith, and then Marx'” Das Capital”(which, incidentally, I keep next to each other on the shelf...along with our true economic bible:Puzio's “Godfather”...)...Ricardo, and Malthus...Rothbard and Mises, Hayek and Friedman.
Many, many more.
All of this sounds pretty good, on paper...and after sufficient scotch...but it is nothing like the system we actually have.
“Free Market” is an all but meaningless phrase...yet another victim of the ongoing destruction of language.
As I've said,I am for Decentralisation...Democritisation...of Everything.
Toilet Paper as a Cottage Industry.
We need to Grow Our Own, instead of importing everything.
A lesson I learned from both Smith and Marx is the bedrock of entrepreneurialism....”Identify a Need, and fill it”.
How can one even try to do this , any more...with walmart just up the road...with economies of scale utterly dwarfing the small actor...with Barriers to Entry larded onto the tax code, the rules of business, and every other layer of government and corporate meddling in the economy??
There ain't nothing “Free” about the way we do things.

I'm reading, among other things, Theodore Roszak's “Where the wasteland ends”...
From Chapter 12:
“....And suppose the reality we live by should experience such a revolution...what sort of political program would follow from that?
Nothing less, I think, than that we should undertake to repeal Urban-Industrialism as the world's dominant style of life. We should do this, not in a spirit of grim sacrifice, but in the conviction that the reality we most want to reside in lies beyond the artificial environment. And so we should move freely and in delight toward the true post-industrialism: a world awakened from it's sick infatuation with power, growth, efficiency, progress as if from a nightmare.”

He then goes on to contrast the megalopolis with ancient Athens...and then into an interesting digression regarding “work”,”jobs”...and the monetisation of everything.
Would you rather buy your next tomato, computer or bar of soap from a giant, global artificial lifeform, who treats it's workers, and the environment, as just so much trash?
Or from your neighbor?
There's no reason, any more, to continue our headlong rush into bigger and bigger institutions and structures and mechanisms.
When we, as “consumers”, choose the latter, in spite of the marginally greater cost, we'll all be better off.
As it stands, and taking Mason as my guinea pig...we export our dollars to, basically, wall order to import the things we need and want.
That leaves fewer dollars in circulation around the truly local economy.
Which is depressive, medium to long term.
This means, necessarily, fewer jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs in the local economy...which means expanding poverty.
This, in turn, leads to greater usage of whatever passes for a safety it food stamps or crop subsidies.
And this leads to a populace divided against each other...when they should find common cause in the business of living together...and be at least somewhat united against those distant repositories of power...both government and corporate...sucking up all of the means of life.
What if these, and other, costs were figured into the price of a banana, or a gallon of gas?
For one, it would likely be much cheaper to purchase the locally grown agarita berries, or the locally produced biofuel.
For another, the price would more truly reflect the actual costs involved in producing and moving things, as well as the costs incurred by damaging the people and the land and water.
This is how I attempt to make my purchase decisions....but it's getting ever harder to do.
We don't make anything that I need.
The local wine industry is exorbitantly priced, and has only one outlet, by law, access to which requires one to submit to the tourist-y “experience” in order to purchase an overpriced bottle of wine.
They are forbidden to sell their wares at any other store...or anywhere else.
The sole milk producer, similarly, is forbidden from selling her wares anywhere but on her farm.
She also is forced to sell at much higher prices than her large, corporate competitors....they have so written the rules, and even the laws, that their milk is highly subsidised by tax money....artificially lowering their prices.
Again, free market, my shiny white ass.
My point is, that we...way out here...could be producing a hell of a lot more of what we need and want.
But it would take effort, and conscience and a little creativity.
Local Currency,for example.
It would also require an educated who, when presented with the cost benefit analysis that reflects the true costs and benefits, sans corpo-governmental obscurantism, would hopefully have enough care for their neighbors to choose them and their products and services, over those of the outside, and far away giants.
Maddow had a long segment last night on the various pseudo-uprisings of the far right, gun fondling militia types over the last 6 years, or so...connect those with the same sort of phenomena that occurred under Clinton, and a pattern emerges.
These outbursts of incoherent rage serve only to alienate the Tea People from ordinary Americans...but there's, as usual, a kernal of truth, somewhere in there.
I supported Tea, in the beginning...when it was a Ron Paul Joint.
But it was quickly gobbled up by the Kocks and other moneyed arms of the Machine, and turned into a Bircher Crazy Town....even though it has had a definite effect at the ballot box, and in state and federal legislatures, it is essentially a negative's defining feature is it's Palingenisis...a longing for a national rebirth, in the form that was thought to exist in some mythical golden age, before things got so complex.
This is an understandable sentiment...but it ain't gonna fix anything.
Contrast with Occupy...which, rather than mindless, was that it couldn't be co-opted by big money and the machine so easily.
It's effect was to shine a bright light on the heart of the Machine...namely, Wall Street.
It jump-started a national conversation regarding the effects of giant corps and the FIRE Economy(finance,insurance, real estate), as well as “Banks” who seem to produce nothing at all but zeroes and ones in a computer somewhere...what effect these have on Our government, and Our civilisation...but it was so decidedly and purposefully disorganised, that it didn't translate into actual change.
Consider what would happen if these two movements found a common enemy,lol...
while I support that, would have little effect...because the Machine has learned to absorb and co-opt it's opponents.
Roszak's program, on the other a non-program.
It is more akin to the Taoist concept of Wu Wei...action without action.
Water, falling like rain, gathering naturally into rivers...which move mountains.
It's also akin to Deleuze' Rhizomes....and Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous other words, it is Anarchism.
Mason is almost perfectly situated, both geographically, and historically, to be a Ark....and an Example.
Consider the all but forgotten heritage of the German Freethinkers who first settled out here...
Just thinking...outside the box...even outside the warehouse where the box is kept:

Taking as given the reality of Peak Resources, Peak Economics and Peak Climate....and taking, therefore, as given, that the Way We Do Things must necessarily change quite radically...
It is incumbent on us to begin to think about what form(s) a post-cornucopian society might take.
If Post Industrial,Post-Cornucopian life is entered into willy-nilly, without Thought, History indicates that some less than ideal forms will likely arise...I'm thinking here of Warlordism, and the sort of Corporate Feudalism that we see the beginnings of, even today.
In periods of Decline, Feudalism, or Manorialism, may be the best that can be hoped for...but these need not be the grinding, authoritarian edifices of the early Middle Ages.
During the European Dark Ages, what we call Feudalism grew out of the Roman Villa...which led to Monasticism...which , in it's turn, influenced what became Feudalism/Manorialism.
(see, among other things, Gibbon)
These were an Heirarchical, Authoritarian System...embedded in a larger System that was also Authoritarian and Heirachical.
The Serfs and Peasants, subservient to the Knights, who were subservient to the Lord of the Manor(Petty King/Strongman)...who was subservient to the High King...who, himself, was often subservient to the Pope...who was, at least theoretically, subservient to God.
The Roman Villa, that set the pattern for all of this, was similarly Authoritarian and Heirarchical.
In contrast, the early Christian Monasteries were essentially Communist, in everything but name....holding property in common, and having a communal and collective way of life.
Later on, most did, indeed, evolve(devolve?) into a more Authoritarian Model, with an Abbot or Prior in charge, even then, such leadership was often chosen democratically, and based on Merit....rather than by heredity, or any notion of Divine Right, Primogeniture, and the like.
The point here is that such arrangements need not, of necessity, be Authoritarian.
Monasteries...which is the model I wish to focus on,personally....were centers of learning, as well as local...or even regional Economic Engines.
(see: Cahill)
I think of the idea of Paruchia...the network of monasteries connected to each other, and to a central a sort of Federalism...the same could be replicated, today.
Too, the democratic nature of many Monasteries(or Manors/Villas) from the early Desert Fathers, to especially Irish well as Hindu and Buddhist Monasticism...could also be instructive. self-sufficiency...was also a feature.
And here's where we get at the root of applicability, in our own time, as we slowly descend into a new dark age.(go on...argue with me on that!)
It occurred to me, while explaining the concept and veracity of climate change to a friend, that our current system of property would likely be unworkable, after the trucks stop.
These thousands of acres of mesquite, for instance, would be denuded in as little as 5 years, without management(coppicing, etc).
Mesquite is not only a renewable fuel source(with coppicing), but the beans are a source of protein and an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, as well as numerous vitamins.
Since they grow here without human plowing and cultivation and irrigation...and are naturally resistant to pests and disease...they are an asset, par exellance, for a post-cornucopian environment.
But if left to management by Greed, this resource will soon be depleted.

The Fallacy of the “Tragedy of the Commons” must be dispelled...everyone takes it for granted that property/resources held in Common is necessarily abused and quickly depleted.
There is almost no empirical evidence for this...indeed, there is abundant sociological/economical empirical evidence to the contrary.
I understand that this single part of my Ramble is likely to be the most pitchfork worthy,lol...given the last 30-100 years of TINA(there is no alternative).
But the phenomenon of a sort of Neo-City State is busy being born right this Texas....indeed, it was the focus of an article in a recent Texas Monthly, as regards to Houston, Dallas, and the SA/Austin “Corridor”.In this, it would behoove Mason, and other rather isolated places to get out in front of that wave...lest they be sucked up into the periphery of one of the megalopolises.
The problem, as with almost everything having to do with decline, is how to to get from here to there.(overcoming the assumptions and mythos is a pretty big challenge, too)
It is unlikely that a top-down imposition would work, given the long-term focus on rugged individualism, and the concurrent taboo on anything “collective”.
So the way to do it, is by individuals, in groups, doing it themselves...and thereby setting an example.
As I've said, I would have done this, long ago...given the money, and the body and the well as the people-skills,lol.
This endeavor need not be the so-called Hippy Dippy Socialistic Utopianism that is often alleged....indeed, the Current Model of Free Market, World Without End, Top-Down-ism appears to be much more Utopian, when rigorously scrutinised.
There's no reason why a given monastery/villa/city-state, and environs couldn't be capitalist, or authoritarian....or socialist,anarchist ,theocratic...or any other system for Living Together. The model lends itself to the originalist Federalism...a bunch of Laboratories, united by a common federation.(the fence and floor that I've mentioned so often)...even Hayek went on at length regarding this.
The goal, here, is Re-Localisation of the Means of Production....Regional and Local Self Sufficiency. Whether the coming darkness is attributed to Sin, or to impersonal market forces,or just to Limits to Growth on a Finite Planet... the result is the same: an end to the way we do things.
Sustainability needs Arks...a whole bunch of Lifeboats...and an end to the enforced Bigness that is inherent in all of our current endeavors.
Think of the way the Internet/Web is put together...a million Nodes...interconnected...and therefore Robust and Redundant...and thereby all but immune from a Nuclear Attack.
Similarly, from Ecology and Horticulture...the field of weeds is much more robust and resilient than the field of wheat.
The Centralisation and practiced tendency to the Very Large...whether in business or like the field of monocropped wheat. One virus, one pest, one minor change in rainfall...and the whole damned thing dies.
Such uniformity is inherently NOT resilient...NOT robust.
The giant power outage, several years ago, in the northeast, is a prime example of the concept. A tree branch fell on a powerline...and since the Grid is pyramid shaped, and since the tree fell near the apex of the pyramid, a whole gigantic region of the country went dark.
Consider what would have happened if, instead, the grid were constructed of networked decentralised nodes...instead of 5-10 central power plants...we had a million small neighborhood power plants...all networked together. One goes down, and the rest stay on.
This is what I mean by resilience.
Instead of Vertical Integration...Horizontal Integration.
(see, again, Deleuze' Rhizomes)

Similarly, in 2005, when Hurricane Rita plowed through the Greater Houston Area, she cut the supply lines for Mason, Texas, 350 miles away. Our Grocer, our Convenience Stores, our Gas Stations....all were without the multiple trucks that usually come every week...the Trucks simply Stopped for almost a whole week.
And what happened in Mason?
All that was left at SuperS was corn shucks and canned oysters..the big gas tanks around town went dry...beginning with the cheapest...until all that was left was a little bit of the most expensive “premium grade”...
All of this after only six frikking days of no supply trucks!
Extend that for a month, and there'd be no natgas for the power plants where we get our propane to heat or cook with...
Extend the disruption to a year, and we'd be in Mad Max new parts for whatever machinery still worked...and on and on.
Contemplate the supply line connected to everything within 10 feet of you, right at this moment...and, if one is honest, one comes away with an appreciation that Civilisation is the thinnest of patinas.
Read the fine print on that package of toilet paper.
Where does it come from?
How did it get to the store where you bought it?
And why are not our under-and un-employed furnished with the means to produce such a necessary commodity locally? Perhaps from recycled cardboard and newspaper.(Toilet Paper as Cottage Industry)

My big point in all of this, is not only that this state of affairs is coming...whether in 10 or a hundred years....but that it is to our short term economic advantage to at least attempt to do something about it.
Drive around Mason County...look at all of the wide spots in the road that used to be thriving villages:Fredonia, Grit, Katemptcy(sp-2), Hedwig's Hill, Art, Cherry Springs, Doss....why were those places there, in the first place?
The answer, is that there were people there...who needed a dentist in Fredonia...a General Store and Post Office in Art.
Those people were there for agriculture, mostly....but machines made them superfluous....un-needed.
Those machines...and the poisons sold during the concurrent “Green Revolution” in Agriculture...are the same things that led the Farmers into perpetual Debt....and all of those former working folks into penury and uselessness.
One can argue that the gigantic changes in mechanisation and automisation in manufacturing and in ag, have created a huge surplus population...and that things like the War on Drugs, and the Pipeline to well as the “volunteer” military as career choice(leading to a tendency for foreign entanglements for justification, btw)....all of these type things were designed to soak up that surplus population.
Since the Machine couldn't kill them outright, and since the Rugged Individualism and Bootstrapping Ideology wouldn't allow some other system...and would only allow a half hearted attempt at a safety net...all of these millions of our fellow Americans were simply forgotten...and taught to blame themselves for their poverty.
I'm positing that perhaps there's another that doesn't rely on “Handouts” and other racialised euphemisms...but on re-organising our local and regional provide opportunities for folks to provide the sorts of things that everyone needs.

Go you now, and look up “Agorism”, “Counter-Economics”, “Intentional Community”, and “Left-Libertarianism”.
Don't be afraid of Wikipedia...only cowardly creatures who are afraid of everything, especially Knowledge, consider an Encyclopedia somehow dangerous.
Look up, as well, “Hydraulic Empire”..or “Hydraulic Despotism”....there's the fundamental Model for our current Civilisation.
90-some percent of all the chicken eaten in America flows through two gigantic,supra-national, immortal fictions...whose only physical manifestation is a collection of papers in a metal box in the Caymans, and a whole lot of people who believe, implicitly, in their actual existence.
Garden seeds, similarly, flow through a tiny handful of immortal fictions. Gasoline...and electricity...and of transportation...
All of this is embedded in a system in which a few giant organisational wonders sit astride the supply lines of life, itself...always with the implicit threat of cutting off or restricting the flow, if a sufficient number of us down-stream dwellers fail to pay homage.(now go read “Howl” by Alan Ginsberg...(“Moloch!”))
Don't let me even begin to holler about Money...the Holy Cracker of Moloch...
Or Banks....the Temples.
Look up, again, “Local Currency”, but forget the fever-dreams of the gold bugs.
How about Marijuana as the medium of exchange....(Phil Judah suggested this, over chess, some 2o years ago...)
In my Thought, I sometimes forget to make clear the distinctions that I habitually employ, between Small, Medium and Large in everything from Economics, to Politics to the safety net...On the Broad, Civilisational Scale, I vote Democrat...and lean towards the Green Party Wing of the Big Dem Party.
Given the concentration of wealth ,and of the means of production and distribution..., such things as the Safety Net,including “Obamacare”, are necessary, to take up the slack, as it were...the dysfunctions inherent in the Very Large Systems we find ourselves in.
People need healthcare, after all...and a Living Wage...which is something that our top heavy Systems have difficulty that lack of income, even when one works full time, is taken up by the various and sundry “welfare” systems.
Again, a necessary evil, till the systems themselves, can be re-worked.
(a fellow named Ron Paul, hardly a “Socialist”, has been saying this very thing for decades)
Locally, I'm all about taking care of our own, and providing, as much as possible for our own individual and collective needs and wants.
And That is what I'm on about.
So resist, please, the ingrained tendency to disregard everything I say, because I happen to vote (D), or mention the word “Collective” without the prerequisite condemnations.
It has become so difficult to even talk about Economics, and the like, because of all of these code words, which cause short circuits in Thought and in Discussion.
This confusion of tongues and it's resulting hatred and acrimony...and no accident.
It's how the Machine keeps us divided and disorganised...entirely focused on our differences, while missing, completely, our commonalities.
Whether you like or abhor your neighbors, near and far, is irrelevant.
History is pretty clear, that when some folks get too much, while a great many have too little, it always...Always...ends in disaster of one sort or another.
Unexamined, yet oh so comfortable, Assumptions, will do nothing to fix the many dysfunctions evident today.
And given that we Hate what we Fear, and we Fear what we do not Understand, folks are understandably averse to Change....even mere talk of Change.
But Change is likely the only Constant.
Status Quo has long passed it's throw out date.
Please consider the Thoughts behind this ramble, and join me outside the warehouse where the Box is kept.

“The Future is a different country...and people do things differently there.”-John Michael Greer, Archdruid Reperts.

“Study;Do;Harvest---NOT---Work;Paper;Buy”-George Ure

I'll wax poetic about “foreign policy”, at the outset of my next Ramble, as well as the intersection of FP with Globalism and the whole snake pit of exactly the wrong sort of global “governance”
(WTO,et alia)

No comments: