Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anarchist Out-Reach, An Idea

During the past few years an interesting DIY mutual aid phenomenon has popped up. You may have one in your neighborhood, a tiny free library consisting of basically an outdoor cupboard with shelves for books. People leave books and others borrow or keep them. (Hopefully, more borrowing than keeping, but if someone loves a book so much they wish to keep it, fine by me.) With the decline in the number of book shops and the public library seemingly concentrating more on “best sellers” rather than keeping a large permanent stock, the little libraries are helping to fill those gaps. According to the web site, http://littlefreelibrary.org/ (SORRY, ONCE MORE THE HYPERLINK NOT WORKING, THE IDIOTS) there are 15,000 of these libraries world wide. But that includes only the libraries that have contacted the organization. For example, my city is credited with only a single little library, when I know of at least 4 others. So there may be more like 50 or 60,000!
Now here is a great opportunity to get people acquainted with anarchist ideas. Select some basic, introductory book on anarchism and leave it at your neighborhood little library. Some suggestions – Colin Ward's “Anarchy in Action”, Kropotkin's “Fields, Factories and Workshops”. Whatever... but they should be geared towards people who have no idea, or worse, the wrong ideas, about anarchism. Essentially, stuff too esoteric, weird or resonating with sectarian infighting should be completely avoided. Since these libraries often take pamphlets and periodicals, those too may be left, but with the same proviso as the books. Whatever you do, don't overdo it. People will get annoyed if you cram the shelves with anarchist materials. No one likes to have ideas shoved down their throats. A couple of books is enough. Monitor the library to see that the books are being borrowed. If it is plain that someone has taken them permanently, then replace them. If you have an anarchist group in your town, acquiring basic anarchist books and stocking the little libraries could be one of you activities. If your neighborhood doesn't have a little library, the group could take it on as a task to create one. I have no idea how many people actually use these libraries, but suppose it was only two hundred in the course of a year, with say 5 libraries in town, you have a potential readership of a thousand people, the vast majority of whom you would otherwise never be in contact with.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The BRICS Bank and US Global Empire

And you wondered why the US Corporate State is attacking Russia? http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/29/the-future-of-the-brics-development-bank/ Sorry but the hyperlink function is no longer working - typically designed by idiots

Thursday, July 24, 2014

ISIS - Made in the USA

Kevin Carson hits the nail on the head - as he always does - and exposes the role the US state and its British satrap played in creating the islamo-fascist terrorist group, ISIS. See http://c4ss.org/content/29482

Flight MH-17

Amid all the hate-mongering by the media about Flight MH-17, it is a relief to read an objective report. For anyone naive enough to believe the mass media, remember the lies that led up to the US attacking Iraq.
See http://cluborlov.blogspot.ca/2014/07/fact-free-zone.html#more

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Craftsman Bungalow



No style is better suited to the environment of the Pacific North West as the craftsman house. This concept of house design grew out of the arts and crafts movement initiated by the libertarian socialist William Morris in the late 19th Century. The idea was to build solid, tasteful houses of local materials that fit into the environment.
 
Fit in they did. Constructed of lumber and stone, they had steeply pitched roofs and wide eves for the rain. Deep verandahs on the front and sides provided natural air conditioning in the summer and an outdoor room in the mild but wet months. The houses were placed near the street and with the front porch made for easy communications with passers-by and thus helped stimulate community. The slight set-back meant for a large back yard on an otherwise small lot.
 
Most of the craftsman bungalows were one and a half stories high, allowing for upstairs bedrooms. Such compactness once again allowed for a smaller lot. It also meant that construction costs were cheaper than a sprawling one story structure. An extra four feet of wall costs far less than an 20 feet of roof and concrete foundation. Since heat travels up, these bedrooms cost less for heating. The problem of hot rooms in the summer could be offset by window placement and awnings.
 
The more expensive craftsman are truly a joy to the eye. Stained and beveled glass above the windows and the front door. Oak doors, wainscotting, stonework and stone fireplaces were common. This is a style that was never ostentatious, phony or tawdry, unlike some of the houses that came later. If the owners were trying to send a message to passers-by, it was one of good taste, modesty and decency.
 
Craftsman were built roughly 1905-1930, though I have seen houses dating from the 1940s still influenced by them. This perfect West Coast style was replaced by the idiocies of fashion and design disconnected from the environmental and social necessities. First came the ersatz Southern California Spanish style of flat roofs and pseudo adobe. So perfect for our rainy weather. Then the phony ranch house, sprawling across the enormous lot, now needed. Today, the hideous, vinyl-clad, three car McMansion, a true monument to bad taste, bad planning and poor construction.
 
The depths of this idiocy were plumbed with the “leaky condo crisis” here in BC. The building regulations were set for dry Manitoba and not the wet coast. Naturally the condos leaked. Thanks to the criminality of corporate law, those responsible for this travesty were never held to account and the poor devils who purchased condos had to cough up for the highly expensive repairs.
 
The change in house style mirrors perverse socio-economic change. From solidity and modesty to trashy, disposable show off. This represents the corporatization of society, something largely absent in 1905. Alienation is at the core of corporate domination, so it should be of no surprise to you that the front porch had to go and the houses were deeply set back to eliminate communication. The sprawling house needs a bigger lot and so the cost was driven up. The garage, at one time hidden in the back lane, is moved to the front and it its latest manifestation, the snout house, obscures the dwelling completely. Neighborhoods begin to look like industrial parks. This shouldn't surprise you, given that the corporatist mentality is essentially totalitarian.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Primacy of Politics in the Libertarian Revolution


The primacy of the economic struggle was a result of a rather mechanical economic determinism. While it is crucial in a revolutionary situation that workers occupy the means of production, that alone is not enough. We saw this in Spain in 1936, the workers took over the factories and the peasants the land, but failed to smash the state. Thus the revolution went only so far, quit and then was defeated by its enemies.
 
Hence, the old Socialists were right about the primacy of the political. They just had the wrong form of politics, reducing the concept to that of parliament alone. (Since the 1960s we have known that “everything is political”) In turn, the old time syndicalists reduced politics to the parliamentary and claimed to be anti-political, even though such actions as free speech fights and attempts to liberate class war prisoners were clearly political in nature.
 
The revolution is thus a political act (more likely a series of political acts) backed by economic power. The political minus the economic means a futile revolt. The economic minus the political means at best a few reforms, but more likely a vicious counter-revolution. Both the political and the economic have to work together. Workers councils unite both, as do neighborhood assemblies working together with syndicalist union locals. The goal is popular power through assemblies and delegation. (My translation of the term and concept, poder popular, crucial to the South American anarchist program.)
 
As well as syndicalist unions, a revolutionary political organization must exist. The revolutionary organization seeks not to control the population or the revolutionary process, but merely to: 1. prevent hostile, reactionary and authoritarian elements from seizing power, 2. push the movement to smashing the state and replacing it with popular power.
 
The assemblies, both neighborhood and workplace, delegate power with instantly recallable delegates to municipal, regional, provincial and national levels – as needed. Most effort will be expended at the neighborhood, municipal and regional levels, unlike the reverse situation today with the state and its top-down bureaucratic procedures. The assemblies thus destroy the state and replace it with direct democratic popular power.
 
The experiences of the German and Russian Revolutions, as well as the Occupy Movement have shown us the potential problems and the means to offset these problems. The assemblies – at all levels – must be run by modified consensus procedure, or at the minimum, a “super democracy” requiring two thirds, or three quarters majority. A system of simple majority at the assembly level would create a great danger for the revolution. Reactionary elements who seek to disrupt the movement and vanguardists who seek to propel themselves into power and reconstitute the state, are masters at manipulating simple majority democracy.
 
Every group has the right to exclude those hostile to it. Assemblies should have constitutions or points of agreement specifying that the assemblies are open to only those people who agree that the assembly shall be the means of governance. Those opposed to the assembly concept must be excluded. 

Political parties may become involved in the assembly so long as they publicly express the primacy of the assembly in writing. Thus, counter-revolutionary and authoritarian vanguardist elements will be effectively excluded from the assemblies and popular power will not fall victim to their machinations. (And as well, the revolutionary organization(s) will be working to expose and quarantine such elements.)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Not Dear Old Uncle Heinie! Compartmental Thinking and The Politics of Domination



Sociopaths are attracted to power hierarchies, but this is not our only problem. Dominator class sociopathology does not fully explain the crimes committed against humanity and the biosphere. Not all individuals, or even a majority of those involved in power hierarchies are sociopaths. The majority are skilled mental compartmentalizers. Compartmentalization involves splitting the emotions and morality in two. With friends, family and “acceptable people”, one acts humanely, with the victims, one is only limited by the orders of a superior officer or manager.
Not dear old uncle Heinie!” was how Heinrich Himmler's extended family greeted the news that he was the architect of the Holocaust. With his family, Himmler was a nice guy. Yet at work he could murder millions. So too, the Argentine military officer who would pat his baby's head with the same hand that an hour ago tortured an 18 year old student to death. So too, the stock manipulator who deliberately wrecks a business, throwing thousands out of work, then has an amiable game of golf with his friends.
 
Almost everyone in a position of authority will compartmentalize when ordered to do something cruel. A tiny minority will refuse and some will go insane when forced to commit crimes against humanity, but the vast majority will do what they are told. Compartmentalization is normal with people of an authoritarian upbringing. It is, like the associated condition of denial, a typical survival strategy of abused children. This is also one of the reasons many abused, in turn, become criminals and abusers or are attracted to positions of authority. It is much easier to bully or commit crimes when one has compartmentalized from infancy.
 
The key element in getting people to easily compartmentalize is the dehumanization of the victims. The “average” person finds great difficulty in assaulting, torturing or murdering their fellow human beings. One of the goals of military training is to overcome this aversion. Propaganda is used to make the alleged enemy out as subhuman, not worthy of any sympathy, to be killed like a vicious wild animal. Hence the soldiers on the other side are not considered soldiers, but Huns, Boshe, Slopes, Gooks, Sand Monkeys etc.,
Demonization is an important tactic, Communists and anarchists are not people who want a better world for the workers, but monsters destroying civilization. Environmentalists are crazies who wish take your car away etc., Unworthy of any consideration, and at the same time deemed highly threatening, these imaginary devils in human form kick the reptile portion of the brain into high gear. Away flies any empathy and down come the clubs, the electrodes are clamped to the genitals, and the machine guns roar.
 
How can we help overcome this problem, and at the same time weaken the hold that irrational authority has over a significant portion of the population? We must make people aware of compartmentalization, which means encouraging greater self-awareness. We must continue to encourage libertarian parenting and pedagogy and fight child abuse in all its many forms and rationalizations. We must continue to encourage the questioning of authority and the undermining of the mass media hate propaganda that demonizes the system's latest targets.


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