Friday, December 29, 2006


Over the years I've been reading many different view points concerning technology. The other day I ran across a clear and concise definition and view of technology by Derrick Jensen over at the Derrick Jensen Discussion Forum. Once again, It's given me a lot to think about!

Here is the post:

I was just fantasizing about being interviewed by Stephen Colbert (I'm not starting a rumor that I'm going to be on there: I was just fantasizing) and I came up with a couple of articulations I think are really good.

"He" was asking, "Won't technology save us?"

I've been asked this a thousand times, and I'm happier now with what came to me today:

Technology by definition leverages power. That's its purpose. I'm all for leveraging power in both large and small ways whenever appropriate, but we have to ask: Who already has more power to leverage? Who controls this technology, these tools for leveraging power? Who _develops_ these technologies, these tools for leveraging power?


Of course this is old news, especially to anyone who's read In The Absence of the Sacred, etc. But I get it to a deeper level than I've understood it before.

And then later in the "interview," "he" asked "Who cares if salmon go extinct? Who cares if the oceans die?"

And I was thinking about what Lundy Bancroft says in Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men about this. I quote it in Endgame:

“It is also impossible to persuade an abusive man to change by convincing him that he would benefit, because he perceives the benefits of controlling his partner as vastly outweighing the losses. This is part of why so many men initially take steps to change their abusive behavior but then return to their old ways. There is another reason why appealing to his self-interest doesn’t work. The abusive man’s belief that his own needs should come ahead of his partner’s is at the core of the problem. Therefore when anyone, including therapists, tells an abusive man that he should change because that’s what’s best for him, they are inadvertently feeding his selfish focus on himself: You cannot simultaneously contribute to a problem and solve it.”
Let’s once again explicitly make the connection to the larger scale. It is impossible to persuade the civilized to change by convincing them that they would benefit and simultaneously allowing them to remain within the framework and reward system of civilization, because the civilized perceive the benefits of controlling those around them (including humans and nonhumans; including the land, air, water; including genetic structures; including molecular structures) as vastly outweighing the losses. This is part of why so many of the civilized initially take steps—or at least mouth rhetoric and pretend to take steps—to change their abusive behavior but then return to their exploitative ways. There is another reason why appealing to the self-interest of the civilized doesn’t work (apart from the fact that the entire economic system, indeed all of civilization, is based on this limited and unsustainable sense of self which leads people to believe it’s in one’s self-interest to exploit others, indeed, which causes it to be, within this limited sense of self, actually in one’s self-interest to exploit others): the belief of the civilized that their own needs should come ahead of the landbase’s is at the core of the problem. Therefore when people, including activists, tell a civilized person—for example, a CEO or politician—that he should change because that’s what’s best for him, they are inadvertently feeding his selfish focus on himself: You cannot simultaneously contribute to a problem and solve it.


So I was thinking about that and came up with an answer that I think gets to the point. If someone asks, "Why should I care about whether salmon live or die?" an appropriate response is, "Why should I care whether you live or die?"

If someone is in Nazi Germany and doesn't care whether Jews, Slavs, etc live or die, then I see no reason why someone in the resistance should care whether that German lives or dies. If someone is an 1830s US and doesn't care (except for economic reasons) whether a slave lives or dies, I see no reason why someone who cares about people who've been enslaved should care whether that slave supporter lives or dies.

It seems pretty clear.

In some ways it's David Ehrenfeld's question, of when you make some impassioned defense of some creature and someone says "What good is it?" to ask "Well, what good are you?" It is the same question pushed out a little bit.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Religions of this Culture

Here is a post that Mark Merrit posted over at Anthropik talking about the religions of this culture. I've read The Story of B a few times and I've never really picked up on this point. I want to post it here so I know that I have it for future reference. And I think he does a good job at explaining what the religions this culture has created are all about.

Here is the post:

On this note, no pun intended, here are the lyrics to a song I wrote that's pretty much in the spirit of this piece.

Worth noting, though, that on some level, we could have the same conversation about many high ideals held by civilized cultures. Daniel Quinn, in The Story of B, says directly that religions are the highest expressions of our culture, and he does so while suggesting that all of the "good things" that religions want us to do are that very highest expression. At first, I was confused by this -- how could the highest expression of our culture be about things that are so hard to do/be in our culture? I later realized, that's exactly the point. Civilization makes it hard to be lots of the good things that are our birthright, that come far more naturally to people in tribal circumstances. Those things then become what we idealize, and religion is the highest expression of those idealizations. Virtues are things to strive for, to struggle for, and if you don't reach them, and especially if you don't try, then you're a failure as a person. It's the old flawed being syndrome.

So, on some level, it seems to me that the point here isn't so much that Christmas is subversive, not any moreso than any of the high ideals of civilized cultures/institutions are subversive. It's really simply that Christmas is one of a gazillion features of our culture that jumble up the ills of civilization with the positive traits that are our birthright as humans, serving the whole mishmosh up to us dressed up in high ideals and a sort of longing about those high ideals never really being achievable yet without knowing why and without bothering to question why or to really make any attempt at all to separate the chaff from the wheat, the baby from the bathwater.

On one hand, this is distressing. The subversion is itself subverted because it's structurally wrapped up with things that counter that subversion, that work against those "uncivilized" qualities, and so there really is no subversion at all -- the jumble is really the status quo everywhere we look and has been all along. On the other hand, by seeing that this is the case everywhere and not just with Christmas, we find little bits and pieces everywhere we look that can be built on to generate change in the direction we'd like -- using appreciative techniques, of course. Appreciative Inquiry to the rescue....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What kind is it?

This morning, I was out messing around in my study area (The study area is a circle with the diameter of 200 paces in your backyard that you get to know intimately through awareness and observation exercises. Getting to know this area really well is the backbone of the Kamana program.) and found this skull.

Does anyone want to take a stab at it and guess what it is?

And lastly, I recieved this petition about global warming in my email. I thought some of would be interested in checking it out.

Subject: Help Al Gore Send a Message to Congress


Al Gore is ready to build on the success of "An Inconvenient Truth" and start organizing to solve the climate crisis. He's working to get hundreds of thousands of messages to Congress demanding real action to stop global warming. And he's asking for our help.

Can you help out by signing the petition at the link below? If you do, Al Gore will personally deliver our comments to Congress. I just did it myself and it only takes a second.


Monday, December 11, 2006

The Economy is not Life Affirmative

There are times when I sit down with a book to thumb through it and pick out small excerpts to read. I did this other day with Derrick Jensen's book Welcome to the Machine: Science Surveillance and the Culture of Control. I ran across this in the footnotes section:

"Corporate crime, however defined and measured, is a small fraction of the subsidies that prop up what is called "free-market" capitalismTM. The whole economic system is actually based on subsidies, that is, the externalizations of cost. Indeed it's not to much to say that the primary purpose of government is to oversee and administer this process, and to neutralize or kill anyone who to strongly opposes it. The entire economy would collapse immediately without constant massive subsidies of money taken from the public as taxes and then handed over to various sectors of the economy as "incentives." These tax subsidies range from bailing out industries ( banks, airlines, auto manufacturers), to tax breaks (most of the largest corporations pay little or no corporate income tax), to the whole military-industrial complex. Tax subsidies cost American tax payers billions of dollars each year, but these are only tip of the externalization iceberg. Indirect subsidies are far more onerous. Work place injuries cost Americans more than $100 billion a year, and work place cancer costs us more like $300 billion. Price-fixing and false advertising costs American consumers more than $1 trillion a year. Air pollution causes more than $200 billion a year in health care. But these are only current monetary damages. See Ralph Estes, Tyranny of the Bottom Line: Why Corporations Make Good People do Bad Things. ( San Fransisco: Berrett-Koehler,1996), 177-78. The global trading system results in the transfer of wealth from the poor to the wealthy. When industrial civilization destroys the productive capacities of soils and forests, the reduction in productivity and the quality of life are passed on to future generations. The true costs of over-consumption by humans are also paid by other species, with their lives."

I read something like this and think how could it be any other way. Of course, I know there are other ways to be, but is somethinglike the complex global economy to hard for the masses to rationally undo? Is it because the whole thing is not founded on rational premises? I don't know. Another thought that comes to mind is that we work at jobs most of us would rather not be doing, wouldn't we rather be contributing to a system that is more life affirmative?

Sometimes it all seems to crazy to try and comprehend.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Is this what heaven looks like for a technosalvationist?

Check out the first post by MatthewJ in this thread.

Also, here is an article in the New York Time titled: "The End of Ingenuity."

Here is a quote from it that I thought was pretty amazing considering the fact it's the New York Times.

"But in the larger sense, we really need to start thinking hard about how our societies — especially those that are already very rich — can maintain their social and political stability, and satisfy the aspirations of their citizens, when we can no longer count on endless economic growth."

There is a really good discussion talking about this article over at MetaFilter.