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,
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.

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.

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.

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.

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